I've been reading some old science fictions stories from the 1950s in Galaxy Magazine. I'm up to 1953, and I've noticed a common theme in several stories: Humankind is evolving into a new species that has psychic powers and the first mutants of the new species are considered a threat to the normal people who are going to be left behind or become extinct. One story makes an analogy with Neanderthals.
Fear of psychic phenomena is one reason for pseudoskepticism and prejudice against psychics but it might be more than just fear of spooky phenomenon like having someone read your mind or fear of ghosts. It might be fear of being inferior or of being left behind in evolution. Evolution is an area of great importance to materialists. They might not like to think that they are on a terminal branch.
If you believe in the afterlife or reincarnation, there is no reason to fear a new superior species of humanity because at the spiritual level we are all the same. The physical incarnation is just a temporary condition taken on for particular purposes but the souls all come from the same place.
But if you are a materialist, if you don't believe in the afterlife or reincarnation, then the fact of ESP forces you to confront the possibility that you are a member of an inferior species that might go extinct. Evolution is important to materialists because it is part of their creation myth. Faced with the reality of psychic phenomena, faced with the possibility that they are an evolutionary dead end, it would create a existential crisis of epic proportions. It would shake their faith that they are rational, intellectual, supermen and instead suggest that they are like the dodo, which was doomed to extinction because of stupidity. It would suggest materialists are inferior to people with psychic abilities, particularly since psychic ability seems to run in families and thus probably has a genetic and therefore (according to materialist belief) an evolutionary basis. The existence of ESP threatens materialists' most sacred faith about their origins and their place in the universe.
Just to be clear - I am not saying psychics are superior to other people. They are not. Being psychic is no different than having any other talent such as musical ability or mathematical ability. I am saying materialists who lack spiritual understanding will misunderstand the implications of the existence of people who are psychic and it could lead them to reject evidence for psychic phenomena and explain why they persecute psychics.
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