Why Do So Many People Believe in the Paranormal?










For a long time, I prided myself on being a rational person.  College did it to me: take one philosophy class, become drunk on the ability to think.  I’m really grateful for that experience, and consider it worth the hefty heap of student loans.  However, I soon became disillusioned with the rational explanations for everything.  I sought answers to things in pseudoscience and mysticism.  I call this my “Grant Morrison” phase, because while it’s embarrassing to admit that one’s whole life view could be changed by comic books, that’s exactly what happened.  Sometimes we have the overwhelming urge to believe what we wish to be true rather than what we know to be true.  What if there really were aliens that existed outside of our dimension?  What if they created time to watch things grow?  These ideas stuck with me, and though I’d never see them repeated in science magazines or, you know, reputable sources, I chose to roll with them.    I started seeing connections in things, and rather than dismissing it as a function of the brain, which is wired to create connections, I saw them as fantastical occurrences, synchronicities that hinted at a future event that I couldn’t predict but somehow had a feeling would happen.

Like I said…yeah.  It’s weird.  It’s also a lot more fun to think that way.  And now, thanks to this article by Richard Wiseman in Scientific American, I can rest easy, knowing full well that I’m not as kooky as I thought I was.  Apparently, according to this article, it just means I’m right-brained.

In a series of experiments that began in the late 1990s, neuropsychologist Peter Brugger of University Hospital Zurich noticed that many of the effects that cause people to think they have experienced paranormal phenomena are associated with the right hemisphere [of the brain]. For example, these individuals tend to value intuitive thinking over rationality and are especially good at perceiving faces where none exist. Brugger speculated that those who regularly undergo seemingly supernatural happenings might have a more dominating right hemisphere.

The article goes on to explain why folks might see ghosts, which is rooted in an evolution: we have to be able to recognize the intricacies of our fellow humans’ faces.  Therefore, we are hypersensitive to anything that even remotely resembles a face.

So, the next time I get an overwhelming sense of the paranormal, I’ll brain myself on the right side.  That’ll clear up all that pesky weirdness.

via Scientific American

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