Beyond Scientism: Towards an Open-Minded Science

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Quote:Surveys show that the majority of the general public believe in the existence of psi phenomena such as telepathy and precognition. A majority of people believe that they have personally experienced such phenomena. The evidence for psi is compelling, and has been consistent and significant over decades of research. This presentation explores the reasons why many academics continue to dismiss – and even refuse to examine – the existence for psi.

Materialism (or physicalism) is a belief system, similar to a religion in that it is based on a number of basic assumptions (or tenets), many of which are lacking in evidence. I explore the psychological reasons why belief systems have such a powerful hold – they bring a sense of control, certainty and identity. As a result, materialists (like fundamentalist Christians or Muslims) defend their belief system against any contrary evidence. They also aggressively attack people who put forward contrary beliefs, and feel a powerful missionary zeal to spread their beliefs to others.

However, the belief system of materialism is completely inadequate as a model of reality. It cannot account for a phenomenon such as altruism. which can only be explained in non-physicalist terms. I briefly outline my own metaphysical model of ‘panspiritism,’ which has a great deal more explanatory power and cohesion than physicalism. I also offer some optimistic signs that there is a movement beyond materialism, as exemplified by the ‘third way in evolution’ movement.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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