Do You Like To Be Wrong?
I understand parsimony: It is reasonable to say the existence of a ghost is not supported by currently established scientific fact. What I don’t understand is why some skeptics adopt this as a personal view. Furthermore, I don’t understand why some skeptics go beyond this reasonable statement to say that some paranormal claims are flatly false, even though they have never been thoroughly tested.
Modern skepticism uses this “logic” to evaluate paranormal claims, but it has a critical fault:
It assumes our current knowledge is an accurate representation of future knowledge. Our knowledge is based upon a tiny glimpse into the universe from Earth. In the vastness of the Universe and the possibility of other dimensions there is far more left unknown than known. We have no concept of how this future knowledge will change what we believed in the past. We have plenty of examples of scientific facts becoming invalidated by new knowledge. For example the speed of light is not a constant and an increasing amount of evidence points to the idea that black holes don’t exist.
Knowing this would you bet against the unknowns? I don’t think it is a wise bet.
So with the knowledge that there is so much left unknown, and plenty of past instances where science has been proven wrong, why hold onto the faulty logic that past science is a great judge of future knowledge. Let claims be proven or disproven by the scientific method, and let’s separate scientific method from personal belief.
Parsimony is useful in science under certain conditions, but when used as a universal guide to truth it fails miserably.
Perhaps it all comes down to psychology. We like explanation to fit into our systems of thought. It is hard to be right and logical because it often involves admitting mistakes and the constant pursuit of improvement. It is a tedious, tiresome endeavor with no end in sight. Decades of work can leave a truth-seeker with a big question mark. Most people want answers and they want them now!
Believers want to believe and doubters want to doubt. I just want to get it right. Ironically on my path to be right I often prove myself wrong. Scientists, investigators and explorers of all types should share my insatiable appetite for truth. And that means taking a dose of humility and doing a little introspection every once in a while. I may be asking for too much.