When I looked up from my exercise machine, I could hardly believe what I was witnessing. Fox News was reporting that a respected scientist published in a respected science journal. He claims . . . hold on to your hat, that he has found evidence for ESP—Extra Sensory Perception.
OK. I was kidding about knowing in advance this was going to come on the TV screen. But I’m not kidding about the ESP study.
As first reported in the New York Times, the peer-reviewed study will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Its author is Daryl J. Bem, an emeritus professor at Cornell University.
In particular, Bem studied the ability of humans to sense future events. In one experiment, Bem tested to see whether “memory works both ways,” meaning, can a person “remember” things that happen in the future. Bem subjected 100 college students to a fairly simple memory test: Seated in front of a computer, the students would see a few sets of words and then be tested to see how many words they could recall.
After the test, the students got to review some of the words and categorize them according to whether the word was, for example, a food or an animal. Well, lo and behold, on the original recall test, the students had been better able to remember those categorized words that they had seen after the test! The paper claims, “The results show that practicing a set of words after the recall test does, in fact, reach back in time to facilitate the recall of those words.”
In other words, according to the study, there is evidence for ESP.
If the study is true, imagine the implications! If science has suddenly discovered a sixth sense, what are people going to do for science fiction movies?
Or what happens when someone is arrested for killing his neighbor and claims he heard voices in his head telling him to do it? There goes the old insanity defense.
Ok, kidding aside, scientists understand the true ramifications of this study. And that’s why most scientists are either embarrassed or outraged by it.
If the study is sheer quackery, science—and a respected journal—get a black eye. As the Times article stated, “claims that defy almost every law of science are by definition extraordinary and thus require extraordinary evidence.” The Times is filled with quotes by scientists claiming that the evidence in the ESP study comes nowhere near the level of “extraordinary.”
Now, I have no idea whether the study will prove anything. But scientists know that if there is any validity to it at all, it would completely undermine the naturalistic, materialist worldview that dominates modern science—the idea that nothing can be true that is outside of science.
If there is something beyond the five senses that we can test and measure, if humans can sense the future or communicate without speaking, who is to say that things like prophecy or prayer are figments of people’s imaginations? And who is to say there is no God? Or that those of us who believe in God can claim, as we do, to know the mind of God and His will for all of human existence?
Either way, no wonder the alarm bells are ringing in the world of science.