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Nicholas Humphrey

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Psychologist/Author

Humphrey, author of the 1996 book Leaps of Faith, is highly critical of claims of supernatural phenomena and provides scientific explanations for them.

"Perhaps, instead of meekly assuming that the world we live in is so much less meaningful and our prospects so much less promising, we shall have to try to show that the real world -- a world without soul-power -- is after all unsurpassably rich, and that the alternative world -- the world with soul-power -- would have been nothing more than a snare and a delusion. Perhaps, instead of pining for our lost souls and absent psychic powers, we shall have to begin to take pride and pleasure in the facts of our embodiedness, our mortality and individuality.

"To do so will of course mean undergoing a revolution in our typically obsequious attitude towards the paranormal: the attitude of 'even if it isn't true, I wish it were.' We shall have to stop conceding, as many sceptics -- myself, as you saw earlier, included -- have been prone to do, that people require the promise of the paranormal to make sense of their lives. We shall need to distance ourselves from those beautiful lamentations about humanity's sad plight: the elegiac cries for mercy of Pascal, the existential cynicism of Camus or Monod, the puritanical asceticism of Russell. We shall have to banish the very idea that 'it would be pretty to think otherwise.' Our purpose, instead, must be to show not only that in the last analysis it is the normal world and not the paranormal one that has all the best tunes, but that the paranormal world would in reality not be pretty in the least -- certainly the end of life as we know it, and very possibly unable to support life from the beginning." (p.219-20)

--KO