The BBC has recently published (on Halloween, no less) a piece that sets out to explain paranormal phenomena. Ghosts, telepathy, lucky charms - you know those things that bring the ire of the uber-rational among us, all are examined from a psychological perspective.
Now this isn't an overly negative piece. It is pointed out that superstitious thinking can provide benefits. even "boost[ing] your performance in a range of skills." Still, I think the overall thrust is given in the article by the following quote from psychologist Adam Waytz: "We create beliefs because we don’t like believing that the universe is random"
Ah, the crux of the matter, that. But what if the universe isn't random? What if those of us who are continually discovering overly coincidental coincidences aren't just being silly or superstitious?
The paranormal is one of those words like supernatural that I'm not fully comfortable with. Too easily they become pejorative.
The problem I have with paranormal is this: if so many millions of humans throughout history have experienced these weird occurrences (and there is abundant testimony that we have), why is it considered paranormal, as in beyond? It seems fairly typical, or normal, to me.
It further seems to me that whether we first believe the universe is a coincidence or designed leads us to our conclusions about the so-called paranormal. Cosmologist and physicist Paul Davies has been intrigued by what he calls the Goldilocks Enigma, the question of why the universe seems just right for intelligent life
Okay, I'm not denying it all isn't a huge cosmic coincidence. On the other hand, it seems excessively cynical to deny the possibility it might not be. Some folks are just too uncomfortable with the idea that existence might have an intelligence back of it.
For my part, believing the universe is random just doesn't make good sense to me, doesn't jibe with my inner sense of reality. I do think psychology can tell us a lot about so-called paranormal experiences. I don't tend to dismiss all of it as bogus. If the universe is intelligent and designed, it makes sense that we are designed to detect that fact (if fact it be) and make sense of it. For me it is all a matter of mind. It makes better sense - if not perfect sense - viewed this way.