I was reading some articles on Turing today, trying to understand the Church-Turing hypothesis, and what a Turing machine, with varying degrees of failure, I thought some things were interesting, like how two people who worked on the Manchester One married and their son invented the world-wide-web, or how those weird letter things on websites that demonstrate that one is not an automated agent are called ‘reverse Turing tests’.
Anyhoo, as I read a bit about Turing, I went on the Babbage, who is said by Turing’s friend that the former had been influenced by the latter, just so happens, that Babbage, in turn was continuing work made by the likes of Leibniz and Pascal (among others), seeing old Leibniz in my reading, I thought to myself, “I cannot escape the philosophers!!”, while also reading about the Church-Turing Hypothesis, I also came across some stuff in the philosophy of mind, then I gravitated to the Churchlands (a pair of philosophers who advocate a view known as ‘eliminative materialism’, where folk psychology concepts must be revised in the light of neuroscientific research and findings), I found out they have a book about them, called “Conversations on Consciousness”, by a Susan Blackmore. I’ve not heard of Blackmore before, so let me check out her credentials. Sure thing, I thought. When I read that she has a PhD in Parapsychology, my face just dropped. I was struggling to understand these wonderful notions of a ‘head’ reading a finite strip of ‘tape’ and tests to establish whether computation is possible, and then, digress to learn about some of the philosophers and the nature of the mind, all very noble and interesting causes, then, PARAPSYCHOLOGY?!?!
Maybe I have assumed too much: the assumption that Parapsychology is a bullshit subject that misappropriates science as a naturalistic endeavour which by definition excludes the ‘para’ of parapsychology, and refers to ontologically and epistemologically queer entities, which (perhaps) fail Popperian desideratum for scientific knowledge. But hey, that’s just an a priori intuition based on the insights of analytic philosophy! This Ms. Blackmore seems an interesting character, she seems to be a skeptic, she seems to be an atheist/humanist. Anyhoo, lets talk about parapsychology.
What is Parapsychology?
I don’t want to look like I am outright dismissing parapsychology. Let us understand what such an endeavour entails. What is parapsychology?
Parapsychology is the understanding of psychological phenomena that pertains to the paranormal.
Lets assume we know what psychology is, and phenomena (hehe, Kant uses that word a lot), but what is paranormal?
The paranormal is any phenomenon which is anomalous
Okay, that doesn’t seem TOO bad. There are a lot of anomalous physical phenomena in the world that we have come to understand better, that is how revolution in science takes place! A well said example of this is how Special relativity accounts for certain things that Newtonian mechanics does not.