A Clear Mind: The Paranormal

28Jun11

Speculations about nonlife are completely beyond our experience.  We simply do not, and apparently will not, know much (if anything at all) about prelife or post-death phenomena.  A few individuals have had experiences that convince them personally.  But for humanity as a whole, we are very far from having solid knowledge that there even is any such thing as conscious existence before birth or after death.

Paranormal phenomena occurring during our lives are a different matter.  Almost everyone has probably had at least one experience that seems rather uncanny if not downright otherworldly.

For example, people sometimes encounter remarkable coincidences.  Something unusual happens at precisely the right or wrong time or place.  These are often explained with the observation that even the most unexpected outcome will occur sometimes, if you provide enough opportunities.  With billions of people having trillions of experiences every week, by sheer coincidence there will be a certain number of bizarre events.  And that — mere coincidence — may well be the explanation in many cases.

But not everyone will be convinced.  Some “coincidences” happen too often, or seem to be informed by an extraordinary kind of knowledge or ability.  For instance, a person might have a disturbingly realistic dream that correctly predicts some future event, or might experience déjà vu in circumstances where he or she could not possibly have known, in advance, precisely what someone was going to say or do next.

It can seem, in such situations, that one is experiencing something with special significance.  These experiences set the stage for a conflict between a belief in the paranormal and the views of science.

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