It seems there are two main types when it comes to the Paranormal, the Believers and the Skeptics. Or so the case is put forth in Fringe-ology by Steve Volk. He takes a look at such topics as Near Death Experiences, Ghosts, UFOs, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming. He tries to keep an Open Mind and prefers fringe events that have real scientists doing real scientific research about them. Needless to say, any serious scientist who pursues the study of the paranormal is not treated very seriously once they put forth their data.
And Steve Volk seems to think it is wrong that people using the Scientific Method are shunned by the greater scientific community-to the point that fringe scientists’ papers are not published, their data is ignored, and no one takes them seriously once they leave the hard sciences for the slightly softer ones. One of the funny bits being that Physics is now about as soft as you can get-Quantum Mechanics quite simply work with rules outside of most of our understanding-just as ghosts, UFOs, and Near Death Experiences do.
I have to admit that I have always had mixed feelings about these kinds of things myself. I tend to fall back on Morpheus from the Matrix-What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. At one point in Frige-ology Steve Volk talks about the fact that none of us really see the real world-our brain translates everything our senses receive into the world we perceive-which are not the same things.
I found it odd that Meditation and Lucid Dreaming were included in a book about the Paranormal-since I have been meditating and having lucid dreams for some time, but apparently doing any scientific research into these subjects is still considered a bit nuts.
Fringe-ology also brought to my attention my general tendency to disregard the many things that other people believe in which I don’t and my feeling that those people must be a little crazy. Seems everyone thinks people who don’t believe what they believe is crazy. It makes perfect sense that this would be a normal human condition, but it was surprising to read just the same.
Steve Volk also shares the story of his own experience with what I tend to think of as the paranormal-he lived in a haunted house when he was growing up and his parents brought in a Priest to exercise the place. And the exorcism seems to have worked. Hmm.
By the end of Fringe-ology, Steve Volk has allowed himself-and encourages his readers-to give up on their hardline beliefs and take a chance on the idea that all believes have something going for them. Would it be so bad if Science proved the existence of God or if all paranormal events were merely science we haven’t yet worked out? A willingness to try things on and see how they fit is all he is asking for, but he know he will not get it. It is fun to think about though.
Being a Portrait Photographer I often complain about the Author’s Photo I find in the back of the books I read, but this time, I really liked Jeff Fusco’s portrait of Steve Volk. It’s the kind of image that I shoot once in a while.