Post by Jack Hunter on Oct 2, 2012 15:28:40 GMT -5
After some interesting discussions at the Exploring the Extraordinary conference in York a week ago, it has been decided that the January 2013 issue of Paranthropology will have the theme of "Thinking About Experience." Some of the general themes for this issue will include:
* Different ways of talking about experience * Different ways of interpreting experience * How to write about personal and social experience meaningfully * Experience as an aspect of consciousness * The effect of taking experience seriously... and so on.
The deadline for submissions to the January issue will be 15th December 2012. Please see www.paranthropology.co.uk for submission guidelines. If you have an idea for an article that you would like to discuss with the editor please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Post by Erika A. Pratt on Oct 21, 2012 18:18:12 GMT -5
Very excited to read this issue. It seems like "clinical approaches to exceptional experiences" is picking up popularity in the parapsych community. The university I attend (University of West Georgia) even has a course on it this semester. So it definitely seems like paranormal experiences are being considered in a therapeutic capacity, which is great. Long time coming!
without 'explaining it away' in reductionist terms.
From a sociological point of view, I'm always puzzled by the fact that what skeptics consider to be simply explaining a phenomena is always perceived as "explaining away" by psi-proponents.
Since when explaining a phenomena has become something "bad" in science, something people should fight against?
For example, is the theory of evolution "explaining away" the diversity of life? Or is it just "explaining" it? If it's "explaining away", thus that mean that the goal of the "away" in "explaining away" is to leave room for a designer (aka God)?
I would be interested when and why that epistemological divide came about.
Post by Jack Hunter on Oct 30, 2012 3:57:03 GMT -5
When I say "'explaining it away' in reductionist terms" I am referring to the apparent disconnect between a reductive account of an experience (in terms of cognitive psychological processes such as, for instance, pareidolia), and the richness and intense meaning of the actual experience to the experiencer.
When I say 'explaining it away' in reductionist terms I am referring to the apparent disconnect between a reductive account of an experience (in terms of cognitive psychological processes such as, for instance, pareidolia), and the richness and intense meaning of the actual experience to the experiencer.
OK. I agree with that, but I think many people in parapsychology uses it differently.
Let's say someone see a UFO. He has a profound experience because of it. His worldview changes. Maybe he gets involved in a UFO group or joins a UFO cults... Then a ufo-skeptic comes around, does an investigation, and proves beyond doubt that he saw Chinese lanterns.
Not being reductionist in the usage you propose here means that science should not only try to explain the source of the perceptual mistake (here Chinese lanterns) but also the effect that this experience had on that person (the change in worldview).
Of course! That's what anthropology, sociology and psychology are all about. The sociopsychological model for explaining the UFO phenomena will try to do just that: not just explain what people really saw when they claim they saw a UFO, but why people believe in it, what it is such a powerful narrative in Western culture and so on.
But many UFO-proponents will say that ufo-skeptics try to "explain away" the UFO phenomena, not to "explain" it; because they're convinced that there are extraterrestrial visitors. So when a skeptic explains a case, he's labelled "debunker".
I agree that science shouldn't be reductionist in the way you defined it above. I don't think the UFO phenomena is explained only by explaining sightings. But my feeling is that most people don't use "explain" vs. "explain away" in the same sense as you do here.