Bill Bengston | Let’s Move On! Transitioning to Pragmatic Applications of Anomalies

In this talk I take a wide perspective look at the potential benefits of developing practical applications of scientific anomalies. The traditional approach to scholarly activities has emphasized the gathering of rigorous data and the development of theoretical models to explain those data.

I take no issue with those traditional emphases, but suggest they be supplanted with parallel work investigating pragmatic applications. For too long researchers in anomalies have somewhat defensively, and perhaps naively, thought that with sufficient data critics might be persuaded to soften their criticism. This has, for the most part, not been a winning strategy.

I suggest that acceptance of the reality of any particular phenomenon deemed anomalous might be due not simply to sufficiently persuasive data, but also the possibility that acceptance might also be due to either personal experience or practical application. Given the current explosion of knowledge expansion, everyone, scientist and layperson, must increasingly rely on those socially deemed to be experts and therefore worthy of our attention. The problem of acceptance of most anomalies, then, can largely be reduced to questions of “belief” and “conversion” to particular points of view.

The younger generation seems less interested in empirical squabbles or theoretical arguments, and more interested in personal experience and practical applications. I suggest that societies such as the SSE and the PA might benefit from supplementing their traditional basic research with more pragmatic applications. A brief look into some recent healing research serves as an illustration.

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Published on May 12, 2022