Paranormal Phenomena and Science: Experiencing and Analyzing the Inexplicable
That humans are constantly making new discoveries and inventing new techniques for interacting with the world implies that there are ever more things to discover and endless ways to do so. By examining phenomena that cannot easily be reconciled with or explained by present scientific knowledge, this course questions both skepticism and belief as responses to the anomalous. Some phenomena we’ll study are drawn from cultural systems outside the modern West, while others have already been subjected to scientific experimentation in modern labs. In all cases, we’ll analyze the phenomena to better understand how it challenges what we already know and consider alternate explanatory models that help us to make sense of it.
Recognizing that it is possible for us to participate in phenomena that we cannot explain (such as unaccountable voices appearing in audio recordings), and to benefit from such encounters without necessarily understanding why we responded as we did, or why the occurrences happened as they did, this class also involves first-hand experiments with the paranormal. Since experience, and the analysis of experience, are not mutually exclusive, we will reflect upon how anomalous experience might lead us to significant insights about ourselves and contribute to making our lives meaningful.