Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth
To gain a better understanding of the psi controversy (and topics labeled paranormal in general) from a sociological point of view, I recommend this 2007 book by Jeremy Northcote. Until I became involved in psi research, I didn't pay much attention to the sociology, politics, philosophy or history of science. I just assumed that science was as we were taught: a rational, logical enterprise, independent of all those troubling human frailties so evident in sociopolitics. But of course the way science is actually practiced is nowhere near as pristine as we were led to believe. As I encountered the irrational side of science, this led me to wonder what in the world had gone wrong with the way that science is taught. And that led me to study the human factors involved in science as a social effort towards "truth-making." As a sociological study this is fascinating, so I'm grateful to Northcote for publishing this book (and likewise to Chris Carter for his book, Parapsychology and the Skeptics), because if he hadn't done so, I would have been motivated to write a similar book myself.