Belief VS Evidence

Our own view of what is and is not possible in reality affects how we perceive identical evidence. But that view shifts with time, and thus, evidence that might at one point seem meaningless can come to hold a great deal of meaning. Think of how many ideas seemed outlandish when first put forward, seemed so impossible that they couldn’t be true: the earth being round; the earth going around the sun; the universe being made up almost entirely of something that we can’t see, dark matter and energy. And don’t forget that magical things did keep happening all around as Conan Doyle came of age: the invention of the X-ray (or the Röntgen ray, as it was called), the discovery of the germ, the microbe, radiation—all things that went from invisible and thus nonexistent to visible and apparent. Unseen things that no one had suspected were there were, in fact, very there indeed.

In that context, is it so crazy that Arthur Conan Doyle became a spiritualist? When he officially embraced Spiritualism in 1918, he was hardly alone in his belief— or knowledge, as he would have it. Spiritualism itself, while never mainstream, had prominent supporters on both sides of the ocean. William James, for one, felt that it was essential for the new discipline of psychology to test the possibilities of psychical research, writing: “Hardly, as yet, has the surface of the facts called ‘psychic’ begun to be scratched for scientific purposes. It is through following these facts, I am persuaded, that the greatest scientific conquests of the coming generation will be achieved.” The psychic was the future, he thought, of the knowledge of the century. It was the way forward, not just for psychology, but for all of scientific conquest.

This from the man considered the father of modern psychology. Not to mention some of the other names who filled out the ranks of the psychical community. Physiologist and comparative anatomist William B. Carpenter, whose work included influential writings on comparative neurology; the renowned astronomer and mathematician Simon Newcomb; naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who proposed the theory of evolution simultaneously with Charles Darwin; chemist and physicist William Crookes, discoverer of new elements and new methods for studying them; physicist Oliver Lodge, closely involved in the development of the wireless telegraph; psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner, founder of one of the most precisely scientific areas of psychological research, psychophysics; physiologist Charles Richet, awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on anaphylaxis; and the list goes on.


Many great minds have been taken in by supernatural ideas.

Folksonomies: religion empiricism magic evidence paranormal

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Alfred Russel Wallace (0.980216): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Psychology (0.875577): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Arthur Conan Doyle (0.842498): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Spiritualism (0.803509): dbpedia | freebase
Evolution (0.752809): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Charles Darwin (0.728076): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Psychophysics (0.618696): dbpedia | freebase
Gustav Fechner (0.612291): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Konnikova , Maria (2013-01-03), Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Viking Adult, Retrieved on 2013-03-21
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: psychology mindfulness