A third reason scientists are reluctant to examine paranormal phenomena is that they appear to contradict known physical laws. What is the point of studying the impossible? Only a fool would waste his time. The problem of data in conflict with existing theory cannot be overstated. Arthur Eddington once said you should never believe any experiment until it has been confirmed by theory, but this humorous view has a reality that cannot be discounted.
As the practical value of altering consciousness becomes recognized, procedures to effect these alterations will become increasingly ordinary and unremarkable. The whole concept of changing states of consciousness will cease to have a threatening or exotic aspect.
They don't have intelligence. They have what I like to call 'thintelligence.' They see the immediate situation. They think narrowly and they call it 'being focused.' They don't see the surround. They don't see the consequences. That's how you get an island like this. From thintelligent thinking.
Kids didn't have huge backpacks when I was their age. We didn't have backpacks at all. Now it seemed all the kids had them. You saw little second-graders bent over like sherpas, dragging themselves through the school doors under the weight of their packs. Some of the kids had their packs on rollers, hauling them like luggage at the airport. I didn't understand any of this. The world was becoming digital; everything was smaller and lighter. But kids at school lugged more weight than ever.
But now science is the belief system that is hundreds of years old. And, like the medieval system before it, science is starting not to fit the world any more. Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways---air, and water, and land---because of ungovernable science.
Human beings are so destructive. I sometimes think we're a kind of plague, that will scrub the earth clean. We destroy things so well that I sometimes think, maybe that's our function. Maybe every few eons, some animal comes along that kills off the rest of the world, clears the decks, and lets evolution proceed to its next phase.
La actual preocupación casi histérica por la seguridad es en el mejor de los casos un derroche de recursos y un obstáculo para el espíritu humano, y en el peor de los casos una invitación al totalitarismo. Se necesita con urgencia educación pública.
I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.
I suspect that scientists are driven by the sense that the world out there - reality - contains a hidden order, and the scientist is trying to elucidate the hidden order in our reality. And that impulse is what the scientist shares with the mystic. The impulse to get to the bottom of things. To know how the world really works. To know the nature of things.
My own sense is that the acquisition of self knowledge has been made difficult by the modern world. More and more human beings live in vast urban environments, surrounded by other human beings and the creations of human beings. The natural world, the traditional source of self-awareness, is increasingly absent.
Skeptical scientists often point out, as Carl Sagan has, that the wonders of real science far surpass the supposed wonders of fringe science. I think it is possible to invert that idea, and to say that the wonders of real consciousness far surpass what conventional science admits can exist.
A hundred years from now, people will look back on us and laugh. They'll say, 'You know what people used to believe? They believed in photons and electrons. Can you imagine anything so silly?' They'll have a good laugh, because by then there will be newer better fantasies... And meanwhile, you feel the way the boat moves? That's the sea. That's real. You smell the salt in the air? You feel the sunlight on your skin? That's all real. Life is wonderful. It's a gift to be alive, to see the sun and breathe the air. And there isn't really anything else.
This may be why Einstein once said; "Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind." The fact is that we need the insights of the mystic every bit as much as we need the insights of the scientist. Mankind is diminished when either is missing.