Metaphysics & Psychology
Can skepticism blind you to the truth ?
By T.K. Randall
March 31, 2014 · 225 comments
Can blind skepticism be literal ? Image Credit: sxc.hu
Can a deeply ingrained skepticism of the paranormal blind a person to what's in front of their eyes ?
In a recent experiment, electrical engineer Prof Arthur Ellison decided to end one of his lectures a bit differently by inviting several volunteers to come and stare at a bowl of flowers on a table and chant "om" with the intention of making the flowers levitate in the air.
When the flowers actually did raise up off the table Ellison himself remained unshaken - not only had he known it would happen but he had himself set up an electromagnet underneath to ensure that the levitating effect could be turned on and off whenever he wanted.
The purpose of the experiment was to see whether those who had participated, many of which being hardcore skeptics of the paranormal, would react to what they were experiencing. Despite the expectation that nothing would happen, would those skeptics report the same thing ?
The most interesting result came when one of the participants claimed that they hadn't seen anything at all during the experiment - to them the flowers hadn't even moved an inch.
Can a hardcore skeptic literally blind themselves to the truth based on their own expectations ? The results of Ellison's experiment remain controversial, but the fact that at least one person failed to see anything happen at all does lend credence to the idea that a firmly held disbelief can have the potential to alter one's perception of what's in front of them.
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