Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Science and the supernatural: the truth is out there

13.05.2003


Scientists are not prepared to dismiss beliefs about aliens landing on Earth in the past or that some houses are haunted by ghosts.



Researchers from the University of Leicester, UK, and Waikato University, New Zealand, found scientists to be much more open-minded about ‘new age’ beliefs than might have been expected.

Water divining and the healing power of crystals were beliefs that some scientists were prepared to accept according to the findings which the researchers describe as ‘remarkable.’


The study, submitted for publication to the International Journal of Science Education, reveals that there was even acceptance of the power of a ouja board in some cases.

The study was carried out by Dr Richard Coll and Dr Neil Taylor at the University of Leicester School of Education. They surveyed 18 scientists at the University of Leicester and Waikato University.

While the scientists gave much more credence to ‘superstitions’ than expected- they were dismissive of astrology and palmistry.

Dr Coll, who was a Honorary Visiting Fellow at Leicester from the Centre for Science & Technology Education Research, The University of Waikato, New Zealand, said: “We investigated scientists’ perceptions about superstitions and ‘new age’ beliefs. We were interested to try and understand how scientists think, how they weigh evidence and judge testimony.

“Two things stimulated the research; one was a study of UK school children that showed that in spite of years of science education many students were highly superstitious.

“Second, was an observation by the researchers that many reports in the science education literature work from a prior assumption that scientists work and think in certain ways - specifically that they are totally objective. We were suspicious of this rather simplistic stance and we decided it warranted investigation.”

Dr Taylor, who was a Lecturer in primary science education at the University of Leicester when the study was conducted, is now at the University of New England, Australia. He added: “The findings were remarkable, and provided a fascinating insight into the ways scientists think. Many of the scientists were much more open-minded than suggested in the literature. They were, for example, open-minded about things such as water-divining, acupuncture, and a few cases even in things like claims of the healing power of crystals, that aliens may have visited Earth in the past, and that some houses are haunted by ghosts.

“That is not to say that these scientists believed these notions - rather that they would not automatically discount them.”

Dr Coll said: “One would have expected them to say these things are complete nonsense - they didn’t. The ones they were more likely to believe were aliens and ghosts- the latter surprised me.

“Probably most important was a perception of at least a potential underlying theoretical basis to the belief. So water divining ‘might be possible’ because there is a physical difference between dry, waterless land, and land which has water flowing underneath it. The very possibility of such a link meant that the scientists were prepared to keep an open mind.”

The researchers conclude: “The findings suggest that scientists make reasoned judgments, wanting to see hard evidence, but that they do not dismiss unusual things out of hand. This we think means that the public can have more confidence in the human side of science, that scientists are human and make rational decisions, but are not automatically opposed to different ideas.”

Ather Mirza | alfa

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>