The paranormal has always fascinated us. Lacking scientific evidence
and the scientific will to pursue it methodically, the subject has
been relegated to intuition, belief and personal experience that
cannot be reproduced or validated. Surrounding it is fear by some and
contempt by others. It is couched in terminology that grew out of
esoteric rites. It is entrenched in belief, the antithesis of science.
As we become more dependent on science and its myriad inventions, it
is imperative that we bring this subject into its purview. We have
neglected this experience as much as the believers have vehemently
ostracized science from their experience.
Samuel Johnson once wrote that we condemn and vilify what we don’t
comprehend. This was the position assumed by science when belief
denounced it. And yet, the very same science still abhors to give
consideration to matters arising out of belief. It is easy for science
to study nature and deduce laws, but to study belief is more arduous
and challenging as it is shrouded in mysterious rites. Even the
language of a people is steeped in its belief systems. Nature is one,
but belief systems are many; yet another obstacle to science. An
obdurate refusal in taking up the study of the paranormal is in itself
a negation of the science’s first principle: curiosity followed by a
The paranormal is obviously experiential and therefore subjective.
Objectivity is the cornerstone of science. Its laws derive from
repeatable experiments. Two people see the same thing at the same time
and undergo the same sensory experience. It can be repeated on any
part of the planet with the same result and can be predicted to be the
same on other planets as well after making due corrections to the
conditions there. The paranormal experience, however, is neither
repeatable nor can it be quantifiable. It cannot be recorded or
studied in a laboratory. It cannot be predicted to occur in time or
space. It is for this reason has been termed paranormal, above and
beyond the normal plane of experience.
Science is not just a study of matter. It is a study of life as well.
The science of the mind has made great progress in unravelling its
activities. Thought is now understood to be a material process, as a
manifestation of matter. Belief must stem from thought bred no doubt
by experience. Science can no long take the Brahminic position of
exclusivity. It must study thought in all its ramifications. An
all-inclusive science cannot take up sides with regard to any issue.
Taking sides automatically sets the parties in a conflicting position.
Exclusivity is an invitation to conflict, which as everyone knows
inevitably breeds dogmatism.
Perhaps science is not ready yet to tackle the insidious and sometimes
invidious matter of belief. Scientific principles are perhaps too
rigid in allowing non-material experiences for study. Perhaps the
scientific will is unaccommodating, being unsure of treading into
areas not likely to yield tangible results or not amenable to lay down
incontrovertible laws. The study of Truth, not in a rigid logical
sense, but in a fluidic intuitive sense, without foregoing reason and
rationality, seems to be beyond the reach of science as it is
practiced. The arrows with which theology attacks science are the same
arrows that science hurls at theology.
The unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates, whose
unflagging and meticulous analysis into every aspect of life inspired
generations of scientists, philosophers and artists. The paranormal is
the unexamined part of our lives and we need to inquire into it
scientifically, that is rationally and sanely; though, it may not be
understood in terms of measurement and refuse to be bound into a
theoretical framework. But laws it must follow, even the paranormal,
laws that science cannot or would not formulate. Ignoring the
paranormal in its search for truth, science cannot hope to attain it,
for it is excluding something unexamined.
The surreal is not just an artistic device or a way of explaining
things away. Nor is it an invocation of the divine or the demonic to
shun rationality. It is not a mind spinning a web of fantasy in order
to overpower the gullible. It is an expression of life that is little
understood, steeped as it is in mythical lore and esoteric practices.
It must be studied in the light of day, in the laboratory of science,
in the sane and rational thinking, in the same way a man of love
studies and expresses compassion, kindness, generosity, humility and
other enduring qualities of the human beings. The surreal is not just
an amalgam of fact and fiction, but a poorly understood part of the