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April 5, 2014 / newsynapse

Science and Scientism


scienceScience is:

“The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.”
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

According to Charles Tart (March 30, 1997),

“Scientism… is a perversion of genuine science. Scientism in our time consists of a dogmatic commitment to a materialist philosophy that “explains away” the spiritual rather than actually examining it carefully and trying to understand it (Wellmuth, 1944). Because people caught in scientism have an emotional attachment to a totally materialistic view of the world, they won’t really look at data like Near Death Experiences that imply a spiritual, non-material side to reality. They don’t recognize that their belief that everything can be explained in purely material terms should be treated like any scientific theory, i.e. it should be subject to continual test and modified or rejected when found wanting.”

– Charles T. Tart, Six Studies of Out of the Body Experiences [This article is in press with the Journal of Near Death Studies, as of March 30, 1997.]

The phenomena of the energetic dimensions is worthy of a thorough investigation, and it is this new frontier that the boldest scientists are researching. This expansion is a natural result of scientific curiosity and the drive to explore the unknown: as the physical world becomes more and more categorized and well-examined, the next arena is naturally the nonphysical, energetic realms. After all, energy is a phenomenon that we encounter every day.

Scientism is, in short, science in which the materialistic paradigm has become a dogma.

“Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.[1] It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology, nationalism or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself.”
– Wikipedia

Science, in the academic community, is severely stunted in its growth by the prevalence of scientism. This prejudice against energetic, nonphysical phenomena stands in the way of true scientific neutrality and objectivity in this area. This utter refusal to even look at certain phenomena is not a scientific stance. It is convention based on fears, cognitive distortions, logical fallacies, and intellectual and emotional attachments.


I believe this prejudice has many causes, but could it partially be due to the cognitive distortion “over-generalization”?

Psychiatrist Dr. David Burns was able to delineate ten strong human tendencies towards illogical, irrational thinking. Over-generalization is one of these Ten Cognitive Distortions he compiled.

It is true that the members of our society who have commonly investigated these energetic, paranormal phenomena have many times been incoherent, religious, and superstitious, and have ended up making untrue claims. Pseudoscience. Magic. Voodoo. Witchcraft. Soothsayers and Fortune Tellers. Tricks and Schemes. Fantasy and Imagination.

The scientist is naturally skeptic, using the strong traits of logic and reasoning to cut through this nonsense. However, it is not logical and is not good reasoning to form a prejudice against the phenomena based on these motley messengers. It is over-generalization to say that, “As the individual expressing their views is superstitious, incoherent or inexact, so are the phenomena.” Such is not necessarily the case. The over-generalization, “If I take these phenomena seriously, I too am superstitious, incoherent or inexact,” is equally illogical.

Whenever a scientist discounts the world of the paranormal, the scientist is in that moment not a scientist. As I have just pointed out, he or she may actually be an irrational thinker, using over-generalization to place a stigma that belongs on the messengers onto the observed phenomena as well.

There are many other factors of course.

Fear of the Unknown

Could it be that on an unconscious level some scientists fear phenomena that relate to multidimensionality and energy?

By discounting anything mysterious that exists beyond the physical universe, perhaps they preserve their sense of a secure and predictable exterior reality. By maintaining the belief system of scientism, they may continue to exist as big shots in a small universe rather than neophytes just beginning to catalog a vast, unknown universe beyond the visible, tangible world.

Other possible reasons for scientism:

– Do scientists treat materialistic science as a religion, unconsciously holding onto it just as a religious person holds onto their beliefs?

– Could arrogance, reputation and appearance be involved? If proved wrong, would it make them look bad?

What do you think causes scientists to suffer from scientism?

Heidi Hanson 6/1/03

explore the universe


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