Apparently Paranormal Phenomena: Hoaxes and Delusion

Essay by MingLingUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2006

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The study of paranormal events and abilities is unique in that the name given to the discipline suggests the anticipation of findings that are beyond what one might normally have expected. Science is the method by which we learn about the various aspects of our reality in a systematic and efficient way, opening up to the possibility of new discoveries, abilities, and experiences. Science applied to paranormal phenomena can be described the same way, so where does all the controversy come from? Inherent in the idea of studying that which is beyond or outside the laws of ordinary science is the implication of an anticipated finding, a pre-existing expectation. That is, scientific inquiry into the existence of paranormal phenomena comes with its own hypothesis: that there exist phenomena that stray from the laws of ordinary science.

Critics of parapsychology and other paranormal studies can point out the bias that comes with a field of scientific investigation that is founded on the assumption of events happening independent of accepted scientific laws.

Those who would advocate for paranormal studies might point out that all science is inquiry into the relationship between the known and what has yet to become known. When all linguistic conflicts have been set aside, to discover the difference between the normal and the paranormal is the fundamental task of all scientists, skeptical or otherwise.


To validate any paranormal phenomena requires that we are able to discern truth from illusion as we investigate anecdotal evidence. Skepticism is among the most ancient philosophical traditions, and it has been employed in various areas of thought and science for good reason. The credibility of an observation or claim comes from its ability to withstand attempts made to disprove it. In this way, doubt is not the enemy of paranormal studies; doubt...