Friday, November 20, 2009

Mesmerism: How Science Adapts and Adopts Spiritual Phenomena

Over at Dean Radin's blog there is a post speculating that the study of quantum entanglement may lead mainstream science to the discovery of telepathy.

It will be nice if and when that happens, but I doubt one discovery will overthrow materialism.

The example of how mesmerism evolved into hypnotism shows how science corrupts a spiritual phenomena when it is adapted and adopted by mainstream science.

Mesmerism is a paranormal phenomena first demonstrated by Franz Mesmer a German physician who was born in the 18th century. The mesmerist "mesmerized" the subject merely by waving his hands around the person in a process called "making passes". This was believed to demonstrate "animal magnetism". The subject came under the influence of the mesmerist the way a steel needle may be magnetized by rubbing it with a magnet. Being mesmerized was a form of spiritual healing and in some cases could lead to psychic perceptions such as clairvoyance or obedience to the thoughts of the mesmerist.

At first, mesmerism was considered complete hogwash by mainstream scientists. In the long run, the facts couldn't be ignored when patient after patient underwent painless surgery after being mesmerized in the days before anesthetics. However, mainstream scientists digested only what they could swallow and mesmerism evolved into modern hypnotism. Spiritual healing was jettisoned or replaced with suggestion. Psychic perceiving was relegated to a fringe anomaly and ignored by most scientists. Passes were replaced with a verbal induction into a deeply relaxed state.

(Therapeutic touch is a modern method of energy healing similar to mesmerism in that the healer moves their hands near the patient but without touching them in a manner that is similar to the passes of mesmerism. However the patient is not entranced. This is practiced in some hospitals by nurses in the US, but it is not generally accepted by mainstream science.)

From studying the example of mesmerism, one may speculate that if telepathy is demonstrated by physicists, it will not end science's materialist orientation. Scientists studying quantum entanglement and telepathy may discover the interface between the spirit and the brain at the quantum level, but scientists may not recognize the spirit's role in the process of telepathy. Instead, they may start searching for a physical link between brains. If this happens, it could take another century or more for science to take the next step towards full knowledge of our spiritual nature.

Will this happen? I hate to make predictions, especially about the future, but historically there is very little reason to be optimistic that one discovery will eliminate materialism. Science tends to evolve gradually rather than drastically.

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