2

The Journal of Parapsychology is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experiences.

It was established in April 1937 by Joseph Banks Rhine (Duke University). It is published by the Rhine Research Center and the current editor-in-chief is Sally Ann Drucker (Rhine Research Center). The journal is abstracted and indexed in PsycINFO. It publishes research reports, theoretical discussions, book reviews, and correspondence, as well as the abstracts of papers presented at the Parapsychological Association's annual meeting.

According to Anomalistic Psychology authored by Chris French, et al, it is "widely recognized as the highest quality journal within the field."

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journal_of_Parapsychology

See also: Eight Decades of Psi Research: Highlights in the Journal of Parapsychology

So it appears that parapsychology is considered relevant enough as a field of investigation to warrant its own reputable peer-reviewed journals. Is parapsychology a science, and if so, how does it integrate with established sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and others?

11
  • 17
    Anyone can make a peer-reviewed journal about anything - Bigfoot sightings. Snot flinging. Anything, really. The question would be what the quality of research / standards are (which is what we typically try to allude to by referring to it as "reputable"). And (one person saying) a journal is widely recognised as the highest quality journal on snot flinging wouldn't really say much about its quality. Also, you can scientifically investigate something that doesn't exist, by constructing a test and falsifying or failing to demonstrate it. And that's all we've ever done for "parapsychology".
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jun 13 at 23:18
  • 13
    There was, somewhat famously, James Randi's $1 million prize to anyone who could demonstrate some supernatural ability, which no-one managed to do. If I were being pedantic, my claim would be that there are no robust and reliable demonstrations of any "parapsychology", to the best of my knowledge. Then I'd probably go off on some rant about epistemology, how you can't prove non-existence, and how the burden would be on someone who wants to say it has been demonstrated to provide evidence of this (or just to demonstrate it).
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jun 13 at 23:36
  • 9
    "widely recognized as the highest quality journal within the field." which is not setting the bar very high if we talk about the field of telepathy and precognition... Kind of like saying "The Sun is the highest quality UK tabloid".
    – armand
    Commented Jun 14 at 0:27
  • 13
    @Mark I don't need 80 years of history, I just need 1 singular rigorous scientific experiment with a positive result that stands up to strict scrutiny, which ideally includes being reproduced by independent and unbiased scientists. Anyone who can produce that may very well have a Nobel prize waiting for them, given how significant of a result that would be, and that should lead to widespread acceptance by the mainstream scientific community and exponentially more parties researching the topic (which hasn't happened).
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jun 14 at 0:36
  • 7
    @NotThatGuy "Anyone can make a peer-reviewed journal about anything" indeed, it even happens within (bad) science. For example climate skeptics have set up several journals (one with an academic publisher) because they can't get their papers accepted by existing journals (because they contain obvious fundamental flaws) so they set up their own "pal review" journals (that everybody ignores), e.g. scienceofclimatechange.org . The existence of a journal means nothing. Commented Jun 14 at 8:39

8 Answers 8

7

Is Parapsychology a Science?

Science is a methodology of studying a subject. It is the application of methodological naturalism, with an attitude and desire to identify incorrect hypotheses about the subject, and improve them. Any subject area can, in principle, be studied as a science. Many subject areas, such as art, history, etc, however, do not lend themselves to the formalisms of science, hence science is not the be-all and end-all of legitimate study fields.

Parapsychology can be both practiced in the field, and studied scientifically. It has been a field of scientific study since the founding of the UK Society for Psychical Research in 1882, followed by the American society in 1885. Both of these societies attracted leading scientists as members.

The work of these two societies focused on investigating and characterizing psychic behavior in the field. It involved studying dramatic acquisition of unnatural knowing, and of psychokinetics. Of note, is William James summary of the quantity and quality of this accumulation of data: 'the concrete evidence for most of the “psychic” phenomena under discussion is good enough to hang a man twenty times over' (James, 1896: 650).

In the 1940s, parapsychology moved into laboratory testing, with James Rhine performing lab experiments on telepathy. Of his over 40 published papers on those studies, 37 of them show statistically significant positive results.

The most prominent parapsychic research society today is the Parapsychology Association, which is a member society of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the umbrella association of American scientific professional societies.

The Parapsychology Association summarizes the issues which have been definitively settled in psi research on its FAQ pages. https://parapsych.org/articles/36/55/what_is_the_stateoftheevidence.aspx Quoting:

ESP exists, presentiment (physical changes in skin reactivity, pupil size, heart rate, and other factors indicating precognition before a stimulus is applied) exists, telepathy (direct mind-mind communication) exists, and mind-matter interaction (previously known as psychokinesis or PK) exists.

ESP is statistically robust, meaning it can be reliably demonstrated through repeated trials. However, it may vary it but it tends to be weak when simple geometric symbols are used as targets. Photographic or video targets often produce effects many times larger, and there is some evidence that ESP on natural locations (as opposed to photos of them), and in natural contexts may be stronger still. Also, a lot has been learned about what kinds of conditions (such as the partial sensory deprivation used in the Ganzfeld) can enhance psi.

Some mind-matter interaction (MMI) effects have also been shown to exist. When individuals focus their intention on mechanical or electronic devices that fluctuate randomly, the fluctuations change in ways that conform to their mental intention. Under control conditions, when individuals direct their attention elsewhere, the fluctuations are in accordance with chance.

Parapsychology has led the rest of science in the development of good statistical practice, and good journal practice. In the 1980s parapsych journals implemented policies of publishing all quality submitted papers, ending the preferences for "interesting" research and positive results. This reduces the bias in science in favor of only showing positive, not negative or indeterminate outcomes, increasing the size of paper databases on a phenomenon. It also increases the number of replications published in the field. Both of these shortcomings continue to plague most science fields and their journals, which have generally not yet adopted these polices.

Parapsychology has shown steady improvement in understanding of telepathy, with card guessing running only about 5% above random, sleep telepathy about 9%, and Ganzfeld improving the effect size to about 14%. See this list of Ganzfeld study effect sizes: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883320/

Parapsychology pioneered the development of meta analysis, which is now the gold standard of evidence in science. Rhine was the first to attempt a meta analysis, and Bem's 90 study metanalysis of precognition, showing a greater than 6 sigma level of confidence in a real effect is one of the more recent stellar examples of the methodology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4706048/

Practical applications have been achieved with Remove Viewing (which has about a 35% above random effect size, see https://osf.io/preprints/psyarxiv/r9yw5), which was implemented by the CIA for over 25 years. In more recent years, precognition remote viewing was used to fund one Psi lab's operations, and has been used in archaeology.

Under all criteria for what is science the answer for parapsychology is "yes":

  • Does it use methodological naturalism? Yes
  • Is the Research Programme open to accepting and addressing questions and concerns? Yes
  • Does the Research Programme demonstrate real effects, with improving understanding and theory? Yes

Additionally, some other posters have asked for additional criteria, not normally considered pre-requisites for something to be science, but they have been satisfied too:

  • Have "definitive" evidences been compiled? Yes
  • Are there practical applications? Yes

So, by all standards parapsychology IS a science.

Why is there any dispute?

It is notable that there are multiple ideological movements in society, which find science study of evidences that challenge their ideology to be uncomfortable. These movements often assert "skepticism" of science, or of other legitimate fields. I note that skepticism is not just of science, as Holocaust skepticism also challenges history.

Examples of science skepticism include Smoking health skepticism which challenged cancer research on smoking. YECs who challenge much of science which shows an old earth. OECs challenge evolution. ID advocates challenge Abiogenesis, and some aspects of evolution. Climate skeptics challenge AGW. Vaccine skeptics challenge medical science. And physicalists challenge parapsychology. The challengers of the evidence against all of these ideologies call themselves skeptics, and they follow a common script:

  • Attack the reliability of the evidence they dispute, with cherry picked examples, and impossible standard fallacies.
  • Smear the researchers who are producing the data in question.
  • Engage in showmanship deflections from science questions.
  • Practice data or analysis fraud when doing research or analysis

This particular community does not have a high representation of the other denier movements, but physicalists are a plurality within philosophy, so parapsychology denialism has a significant representation on this board.

Note I listed two non-standard "requirements" that members here posted relative to parapsychology being a science, those of practical application, and definitive evidence. Neither are actually requirements to be a science, and the invoking of them is the invoking of a fallacious special pleading standard against the offending science.

There have been many snarky smears of parapsychology and parapsychologists on this page -- none substantiated, of course.

The James Randi Challenge was also cited, and it is an excellent example of a showmanship distraction. Randi was a magician, with no science background, but a good grasp of showmanship. His challenge was designed not to be met. to undertake the challenge, both the claimant and JREF had to agree on a protocol, and if a claimant was credible, JREF would just be unreasonable in its protocol negotiation. As one would expect form such a showmanship test, no actual scientists could expect to actually be tested. And sure enough, something came up in "working out the details" prevented EVER testing an actual parapsychology result in any of the JREF tests. If JREF never tested real claimants, then the failure to have any successful tests, tells one nothing about psi. The claims here that JREF's test never having been satisfied, supposedly showing something, are -- straight up misrepresentation, and an example of invalid reasoning.

For data fraud, I will point to three examples:

  • The leading parapsychology skeptic society, CSICOP, conducted a series of efforts to debunk data supporting an astrology effect, the Mars Effect. The initial test definitively refuted CSICOP, but the organization did not concede this, instead asking for a separate sub-study of the astrology sample. This is basic dishonesty and deflection, but not yet fraud. However, when the sub-study also confirmed the astrology effect, CSICOP threw out half the data (all people born outside Paris, and all women), to find a sample that did not show the effect. This is data fraud. CSICOP then called for a further test, of American rather than European athletes, and continued collecting and analyzing data incrementally, until a sample finally did not support the astrology effect, THEN declared the compilation and analysis to be over! This is called selective stopping, and is also data fraud. the fraud was revealed by one of the participants who blew the whistle, but he was then purged from the CSICOP board, and another fraudster installed in his place. Here is the expose: https://www.newdualism.org/papers/D.Rawlins/Starbaby.html

  • One of the leading lights of the parapsych skeptic movement, Susan Blackmore, who was a former parapsychologist herself, claims to be a better researcher than her peers, and to "never found psi" in her own work, which led to her conversion to skeptic. An evaluation of her work, found a very different outcome. https://www.parapsych.org/uploaded_files/pdfs/00/00/00/01/17/susan_blackmore_critique_1989.pdf this evaluation showed that approximately 30% of Blackmore's own studies shows statistically significant results, AND that basically all of her experiments were of poor design. What Blackmore did, was assert that whenever she got a positive result, it must have been an artifact of her poor study design! AND Blackmore was already a convinced skeptic at the time she did most of her experimental work, so this post-test rationalized dismissal of positive results, actually had nothing to do with her becoming a skeptic! Blackmore's narrative -- of her being a superior experimenter, of her never finding psi, and of her subsequent conversion -- all are falsehoods!

  • Another leading light of the skeptic movement studied dog ESP, where a dog was claimed to know when his master was returning home. Dr Rupert Sheldrake found that when he mapped the time the dog was at the window per 10 minute period, the dog was there over 80% of the time, when his master was returning home. Wiseman instead cited when the dog FIRST went to the window, and found no correlation to when the master returned home. The dog was young and active, and moved around a lot, so this "first visit" metric was -- inappropriate. Wiseman had seen Sheldrake's results, and Wiseman deliberately chose an invalid metric to mask the actual dog psi! This is data fraud. See details here: https://www.sheldrake.org/reactions/richard-wiseman-s-claim-to-have-debunked-the-psychic-pet-phenomenon

Ideologues, who will never be convinced by any evidence, are about as anti-science as one can get. Blackmore, in her autobiography, explicitly admits to this. She will never believe any psi data, as she considers physicalism to have been SO thoroughly justified, that she will consider the possibility of either fraud or data error to always be greater than that psi is present.

Another leading light of the skeptic movement has a similar anti-data focus. This would be Dr Steven Novella, the founder of the site Science-based medicine. Novella advocates against "evidence based medicine" because so many psi-based medical techniques show positive results when tested (acupuncture, reiki, etc). He dismisses any medicine which is not based on a physicalist worldview, and advocates against their being tested, or test results published.

When the "skeptical defenders" of physicalism resort to dismissal of testing, the rest of us can know we are dealing with an ideology and set of ideologues. The anti-psi skeptical societies are just advocates and agents for a close-minded anti-science ideology.

1
28

The topic of a research is unrelated to whether it's science or not. Following scientific methods is. You can certainly scientifically research parapsychology, astrology, homeopathy, you name it. There's just a high chance the outcome of the research is "it doesn't work". You still did science then. When you do the research badly is when it stops being science.

1
18

When we get down to brass tacks, 'science' merely means coherent, systematic, empirical investigation. There are no restrictions on what we can be 'scientific' about. Science is just a commitment to following certain rules of evidence and reason even if those rules lead us to conclusions we dislike or disagree with.

Science isn't about what we study; it's about how we study. If we do the how right, the what will take care of itself.

We don't need to make comparisons to 'established' sciences, except by noting the way they handle evidence and reasoning. There was a push in early 20th century Popperism to qualitatively distinguish 'science' from 'pseudo-science' and 'non-science' (using physics as the archetype of 'science'), but that ultimately collapsed into arbitrary a priori claims about which areas of research qualified. Ultimately we can't make such a priori assumptions: all we can do is make our assertions about the world, test them, and abide by what our tests tell us. That's as true of parapsychology as it is of physics.

8
  • Evolution is the bottom line, let failures fail.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 14 at 23:45
  • How did Popper's falsifiability collapse into a priori claims of qualification? Is it based on what background assumptions you make?
    – qwr
    Commented Jun 15 at 5:31
  • @qwr: Popperism collapsed mainly around pseudoscience. It adequately identified established sciences as sciences, and it adequately identified non-science as such (e.g., religion is non-science, since it doesn't try for empirical validation but rests entirely on faith). But pseudoscience amounted to subjects that seemingly followed some systematic methodology, but that didn't produce tangible empirical results. Popper and his followers thought that such fields — acupuncture, homeopathy, psychology, etc — should have been abandoned, and couldn't understand why people carried them on. Commented Jun 15 at 6:13
  • 3
    @qwr: In short, Popperism had to start importing things like 'intention' or 'delusion' to explain why people continued to practice such things. Take homeopathy, for instance: Popperists couldn't see any physical reason why homeopathy might work, and couldn't see any measurable results from its use, but couldn't deny that homeopaths followed (in their own way) quite rigorous and analytical procedures. So they had to assume that homeopaths were either charlatans pretending to be scientific or honest people self-deluded into thinking they were doing something meaningful. Commented Jun 15 at 6:22
  • @qwr: those are both a priori assertions about the mental states of homeopaths. But if we assume the first then homeopathy is simply non-science, and if we assume the second homeopathy is failed science (science that didn't work out yet but may still be worth investigating). It's only 'pseudoscience' if we blur the distinction between different a priori assumptions. Commented Jun 15 at 6:25
8

Astrology is a science. It has a central claim, "The position of the stars at the time of your birth will allow us to make predictions as to what will happen later in your life". Tests of the central claim repeatedly fail, and people continue to practice this science. As for how astrology integrates with phys, chem, and bio: mostly ignores then, occasionally tries to hijack a bit of their legitimacy when possible.

Being "a science" doesn't mean what people think it does - you can perform many of the activities that people doing science perform, but just do bad, failed science. It's kind of like how I had being ISO 9001 certified explained to me: it just means you've documented many of your procedures. Your procedures may be less than useless, but you've documented them. (I'd be quite happy for sometime who knows ISO better than I do correct me, but I like to think the analogy still holds.)

1
8

Science is the most reliable set of methods we have found to study reality. By constructing more and more precise models of how reality works, we as a species have been able to develop remarkable feats of technology, that is to say the know-how of using knowledge (the aforementioned models) to do stuff in a measurably more efficient way.

Grossly put, when it comes to knowledge the proof is in the pudding: valid knowledge works, it adequately fits with reality, and false beliefs don't work because they don't fit.

This application aspect is, ultimately, what separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to science and pseudo-science. Pseudo-science can mimic the appearances of science to a T, the lab coats, the research papers, the peer-reviewed journals, etc. But can it produce stuff that works reliably?

Physics gives us planes that fly with a high degree of safety. Astronomy can predict eclipses to the second, and compute trajectories for space probes who reach the expected planetary bodies billions of kilometers away. Biology gives us vaccines, life enhancing surgery, raising crops productivity, drops in infant mortality. Psychology helps patients in identifying and recovering from trauma.

Now, where are the applications of parapsychology? I'd bet the military or stock traders would, without hesitation, invest billions in a reliable method to communicate at a distance without any device, or know in advance the movements of the stock market, or the location of the next air strike. Why don't we have people making a fortune on the stock market with their precognition abilities?

I'm not saying that a scientific discovery has to make money to be a real one. For example, it can't be said that sending probes to outer space has generated a flow of profits so far. I don't know that there has been yet any profit that was made with the Higgs Boson or gravitational waves, but both of those are demonstrated by way of devices that work: they reliably produce the expected effect, independently of whether it is useful or not. But in the case of incredibly useful abilities like precognition, with very evident potential for huge financial gain, it's reasonable to expect that if it worked reliably people would put it to use.

5
  • 2
    Maybe they have learned to hide the results? You can't prove they didn't...
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 15 at 0:25
  • Plus, there's a second fact: quantum uncertainty says that anything is possible, so astrology is doubly correct. Commented Jun 15 at 7:02
  • @ScottRowe but then there are no available proof that it works... so it's still not science as far as we are concerned. And certainly no the science published in the Journal of Parapsychology.
    – armand
    Commented Jun 15 at 10:19
  • @Miss_Understands maybe it's possible. Never said it wasn't, take a look. But it's still unproven.
    – armand
    Commented Jun 15 at 10:24
  • 4
    @Miss_Understands "quantum uncertainty says that anything is possible" If you believe this, then your user name is perfectly appropriate.
    – D. Halsey
    Commented Jun 16 at 0:33
5

Parapsychology is today mainly a pseudoscience, since all honest attempts at detecting anything have failed to find conclusive evidence of anything not explainable by naturalism.

So it appears that parapsychology is considered relevant enough as a field of investigation to warrant its own reputable peer-reviewed journals.

Peer-reviewed does not equate reputable. A madman's rant does not become better by another madman's confirmation. The reputation of a journal can be measured by how many submissions it gets, how much it sells and how often it gets cited (in positive ways, from more reputable journals). Lack of peer review is a sign of bad quality, but that does not mean peer reviews are always a sign of quality.

Reputable journals won't allow articles in parapsychology as it would soon ruin their reputation. But other journals will accept and take your money, to put food on the table.

From wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parapsychology):

Criticized as being a pseudoscience, the majority of mainstream scientists reject it. Parapsychology has also been criticized by mainstream critics for claims by many of its practitioners that their studies are plausible despite a lack of convincing evidence after more than a century of research for the existence of any psychic phenomena.

The scientific consensus is that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of psi phenomena.

Research has also shown that people's desire to believe in paranormal phenomena causes them to discount strong evidence that it does not exist

I would cite from the SEP, but the topic is of so low interest in philosophy that apparently SEP could not be bothered to even dismiss it in a main article.

In sum, the research is no stronger that that for

For a more complete list see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_topics_characterized_as_pseudoscience

All of those have supporters, publications, evidence... but that does not make them any less pseudo-science. It is actually this desperate attempt to "make it look like science" that makes them pseudo-sciences. That there are so many pseudo-sciences with people supporting them financially and by public support, no matter how ludicrous the claims are, reveals more about the human ability to delude oneself than about the nature of the universe.

Wikipedia on:

  • precognition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precognition There is no accepted scientific evidence that precognition is a real effect, and it is widely considered to be pseudoscience.
  • Telepathy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telepathy: There is no good evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.
  • Clairvoyance: Parapsychology explores this possibility, but the existence of the paranormal is not accepted by the scientific community. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clairvoyance The scientific community widely considers parapsychology, including the study of clairvoyance, a pseudoscience.
  • ... and so on

Obviously, if parapsychology worked, it would be used in Casinos, and would be detected, since Casinos closely monitor the statistics of all their games to detect fraud. A self-proclaimed mystic would not need to win every bet, just doing a little better than skill and random allows to become filthy rich in many casino games, and Casinos would invest in anti-psi shields (or go bankrupt). Las Vegas would not be able to exist. Mystics would not even need the Randi challenge to become the richest people alive, any gambling would be an opportunity to unthinkinkable riches easily earned.

As with all the other pseudosciences, if there were anything to them, we would not stop hearing about it in the news.

19
  • Yes, the evidence is in. But I keep feeling shameful about actual Science that was denouced vigorously for a long time, like, say, the germ theory. I know someone whose Philosophy is summarized by his quip: "people are no damn good." There doesn't seem to be a pre-test for that, we have to run the experiment over and over.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 17 at 11:03
  • 2
    Wow. Every citation is from Wikipedia!!!! And none, from a science professional society. Cherry picking bad references to support your preferred ideology is often described as to drink one's own bathwater. The essence of philosophy, and of science, is to learn to QUESTION one's own preferred worldview.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Jun 17 at 21:05
  • 1
    The Wikipedia articles I cited in turn cite several hundred other sources. You need me to copy them here? I assumed it's bad style to do a full copy of Wikipedia to here.
    – tkruse
    Commented Jun 17 at 22:02
  • 2
    And what is a "science professional society"? Other than fundraisers funding anyone no matter how crazy who is willing to part with 10% if donations to said "society"? That's the least trustworthy standard, such organization ar entotal sellouta without any standards other than money-grabbing. Follow the money.
    – tkruse
    Commented Jun 17 at 22:09
  • 1
    Have you read the links I have provided on the number of studies, the methodology of the meta analyses, checked out how metanalyses is the gold standard of science, and read the fraud citations for the skeptics? This is a consilience of support, which is another alternative science criteria. Why reject this data and prefer Jimmy Wales' biased web site, where claims and citations can be to lies, and Wales policy is to prevent links to good science on psi and CAM?
    – Dcleve
    Commented Jun 19 at 15:14
4

You need to unpack what you mean by science. What distinguishes science is the application of certain methods, and it is possible in principle to strive to apply those methods to a wide range of subjects. Conversely, it is also possible to approach questions in physics, say, in a non-scientific way (you only have to read some of the claimed 'refutations' of relativity on Physics SE to appreciate that).

When we say that physics is a science, we mean that it is a body of knowledge that has been determined through the application of scientific methods, and that there are well-established practices to ensure that non-scientific claims have a high probability of being weeded out. Is parapsychology a science? It could be, but it is not at present. There may well be parapsychologists who approach their subject in a rigorously scientific way, but it will not be a science until all of them do.

1
  • 1
    You could say that the folks who follow scientific methods are Scientists and those who do not, aren't. It doesn't require affirmation, acclimation or validation.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 14 at 23:50
0

You've settled on the answer, but I thought I'd offer a quick analysis given your recent questions about the relationship between science and metaphysics that are perceived broadly to be unscientific.

Devil's in the details! Good parapsychology is scientific, and bad parapsychology is pseudoscientific. This invokes Popper's demarcation and a long winded debate about what is and is not a science. See the history of the philosophy of science. :D

The answer selected by Dcleve is a decent prima facie argument for good parapsychology being science. Being familiar with some of his arguments, it is possible to drill down into the metaphysics of what constitutes the divide between the natural and the supernatural, and Dcleve has a reasoned position. So well reasoned, in fact, that despite my overwhelming tendency in discussion to reject the supernatural as a category, it is not easy simply to reject his argument on rational grounds.

This is illustrative about the nature of philosophy in general. One's definition of science are often very firmly embedded in one's first principles. And it is hard to settle disputes of first principles, because such first principles themselves have presuppositions (SEP). And if we are to believe Quine, we tend to function with a web of belief and confirm our views holistically. Therefore, scientists (often ignorant of philosophy) are quick to dismiss well thought-out positions that are outside of the orthodox paradigm, but it takes a life's work to deal with highly rational metaphysics in support of just about any belief.

And science itself, if you recall, has a primary strength or flaw depending on how you consider it in the form of the scandal of induction. Add to that an interpretative uncertainty in the form of even weak underdetermination of theory, and science often must demure as a fallibilist art in the face of those with a tremendous amount of certainty.

Interestingly, an anthropomorphized science can reach back and steal from those claiming the supernatural in the form of exotic natural hypotheses. One instance of that is the religious miracles of Our Lady of Fatima. It's a rather well documented miracle with a large number of witnesses some of who were decidedly secular in their views. The event was so expansive, it warrants its own article here: Miracle of the Sun.

Note a scientist who is skeptical of the supernatural could simply interpret the event through a distinct epistemological theory; that of UFOs! In this case, someone like Avi Loeb could argue that the supernatural interpretation is merely a result of the unsophisticated scientific understanding of the religious folk in the view. (This is underdetermination at the epistemological level, rather than a strictly scientific one.)

1
  • Note that both orthodox science and religion tend to attack unsanctioned theories of the supernatural. It's easy to draw many parallels between the thinkers in both traditions. :D
    – J D
    Commented Jun 17 at 20:28

You must log in to answer this question.