Volume 94, Issue 90

Tuesday, March 13, 2001


Editorial Board 2000-2001

Who you gonna call?

Editorial Cartoon

Who you gonna call?

If you ain't 'fraid of no ghost, it's probably because you generally don't believe in the occult, psychics and paranormal mumbo-jumbo to begin with.

So, a new study from the University of Arizona that looked into the truth behind psychic mediums and their ability to communicate with the dead might not be of too much interest to you.

And if spooks and spectres don't simply make you skeptical, but also cynical, you may even be wondering why a university would put its good name behind research of this nature.

After all, the laboratory is a place where you'll hear words like "empirical evidence," "quantifiable research," and "fact." How does something as personal and subjective as psychic activity fit into an academic, laboratory setting? And how does a university stand behind results of a study that has more in common with late-night 1-900 commercials than academic research?

The answer lies squarely in the lap of a university's academic freedom to pursue knowledge. Even if it's really only manifested once a year during times like Halloween, it's pretty obvious that society has a huge fascination with the occult. What society doesn't know, it either dismisses outright, or becomes completely devoted to finding the truth.

This recent university study is one attempt to locate that truth, and for this it should be commended.

Nevertheless, all this begs the question of whether or not any upstanding academic should put stock into something that cannot be quantified by any scientific method. Any self-respecting scientist might shudder at the thought of becoming the butt of jokes within the faculty.

"Who's that new professor?"

"Oh him, he's the fifth ghostbuster."

But whether or not paranormal activity exists is almost beside the point. The point is that humans are naturally curious. This is another instance of human beings simply trying to find out about the world around them. Being in a university environment, we've been trained to question everything. That means being skeptical, asking why things are the way they are and how they got to be that way.

Bearing this in mind, it would make sense to approach a topic of this nature with a healthy amount of questions.

Still, one thing we are also taught is that minds work like parachutes; they only work when open. That means being open about even the most easily dismissable things in this world, and psychics fit into this category quite nicely.

Despite all the skepticism and fakers that make people cynical, it's worth our while to look into stuff like this, if only in a minor way.

The day university research shuts its doors to a topic of research simply because societal norms deem it unworthy, will be the same day academia takes a big step backwards.

And that's something everyone should be 'fraid of.

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