"Generally the theories we believe we call facts, and the facts we disbelieve we call theories."
In times past, the word "supernatural” designated the phenomena of interest here. That term hints at something ominous, dangerous, and unsettling. More recently the word "paranormal” came into vogue. It suggests that the phenomena are more mundane, odd perhaps, but not worrisome for most people. In the last two decades, a few scientists have begun referring to them as "anomalous,” indicating that they are merely minor curiosities, without threat or of much immediate import. The new labeling makes the topic slightly more acceptable in academe, and the term "anomalous” is not incorrect, because the phenomena do not fit within mainstream scientific theories and when entire cultures undergo profound change, there is often an upsurge of interest in the paranormal. During the breakup of the former U.S.S.R. there was an explosion of paranormal activity throughout eastern Europe. Healers and psychics featured prominently in the media. This should not have been a surprise because anthropologists have shown that the supernatural has figured in thousands of cultural revitalization movements. However, such labeling divorces the phenomena of today from their historical predecessors, and previous knowledge about them is disregarded. In earlier cultures, the supernatural was known to be dangerous and was surrounded by taboos. Today’s scientists have no comprehension why, and with their naive terminology, they become vulnerable to the phenomena
Numerous mystics have displayed extraordinary paranormal powers, but many of them were outsiders, marginal characters whose lives were exceedingly odd. St. Francis of Assisi performed many miracles, but he was mistrusted by church authorities and caused them many headaches.
Magicians (performers of magic tricks) have played central roles in paranormal controversies, not only recently, but for hundreds of years. Magicians on both sides of the dispute have faked psychic phenomena, thereby contributing to the ambiguity surrounding them.Skeptics understand that frauds and hoaxes plague the paranormal, but parapsychologists naively consider them only a minor problem. Parapsychologists have amassed overwhelming evidence for the reality of psi; skeptics ignore it and even deny that such evidence exists.
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common. ~John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.........
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