How Long Does it Take to Disprove the Paranormal?


Scientific skeptics love to use this line: “It’s been __ years without proof. It must be false.” It is cited in one form or another as a logical argument against everything from Bigfoot to ESP, but is it valid?

The short answer is no. For this to be a logical argument we would first have to know how much time it would take to theoretically prove a claim. This would be affected by variables like:

1. Ease of measuring and characterizing the phenomena (Do we even have the technology to make the measurement?)

2. Involvement by credible researchers (Are scientists seriously studying the claim and if so, how many?)

3. Ease of designing and conducting a test for the phenomena (DO we have the tech, money, understanding, and people to run the experiment?)

And each of these sets of variables could be influenced by natural disasters, weather patterns, changes in policy…

If we could account for all of these variables and predict the future of these variables with a high degree of certainty, yes this could be a reasonable argument. But since this would require capability far beyond the reach of our current understanding of the natural world, this argument fall flat.

So next time you hear someone use this argument as evidence against a paranormal claim call them out on it. And maybe point them back here for reference;)