One of my favorite articles of blogging past was the piece I did on “Spiritualism Camps” in which I mused over just how it was that a camp counselor medium like Judy Ulch could litterally see “stubble on their faces” of ghosts. Just today I received the first and only comment on the piece… and was given a terrible review. “Jean” even said that I looked stupid: trying to apply scientific hypothesizing to spirits, pshaw! I’m crushed.
Of course, Jean was apparently so outraged by the mere idea of examining spiritual phenomenon that she didn’t bother to read far enough to see all her complaints addressed. And her post did spark an bright idea of bloggy back-issue synergism.
You see, just last week I came across a story about some scientists at Berkeley who are working on an MRI technique that could potentially allow scientists to reconstruct the images that a brain is seeing. Now, for mediums like Judy Ulch to be registering anything ghostly as a visual image at all, let alone something detailed enough to have distinct facial features, it almost certainly has to show up in her brain. And if we can reconstruct that image… well you probably see where I’m going with this. If we can see what they see, then we can see if they really see what they say they see. See?
Of course, most mediums will probably balk at the very idea of testing their powers of paranormal perception in such a definitive fashion, and are as unlikely to let scientists strap them into an MRI machine set up in the middle of an Indian burial ground as they were to take James Randi’s million dollar challenge.
Which is a sad thing really. If spirits really did exist, and mediums really could perceive them, then even a failure in this case could teach us all something. That is, if a ghostly visage fails to appear on the processed MRI scan at the moment the medium claims to see one, then at the very least we’ve been able to rule out yet another false model of how spirit images work. We could rule out all sorts of things in fact:
- The possibility that mediums have special rods and cones in their eyes that allow them to detect spiritual radiation.
- That any kind of optical image (light waves hit the ghost, bounce off, are captured by human eyes, etc.) is involved at all.
- That mediums are really “seeing” the ghosts in any meaningful sense, as opposed to the ghostly gaze being somehow superimposed onto the mental results of regular vision.
And of course, there’s always the possibility that spirits would show up on the MRI technique, in which case mediums would be vindicated and heralded as ingenious and overlooked pioneers in a entirely new realm of scientific exploration.
I’m game. I bet most skeptics would be. All we have to lose is the money for the use of the machine. What we have to gain, however, is knowledge, one way or the other. Sounds good to me.
So how about it, mediums? Ready to do your part for human knowledge?