Anomalistics & Periphenia*

Knowledge changes over time. Ptolemaic cosmology gave way to the Copernican view of the universe. Lamarck’s worldview overtook the Creationists view of biology, which, in turn, was replaced by Darwin’s. Quantum mechanics has superseded Newton’s classical mechanics. The cognitive revolution in psychology has left the behaviorists behind. Every time, a new model, offering more intension, control, predictability and falsifiability replace the old, less scientific one. At the very heart of these revolutions is the study of anomalistics. Marcello Truzzi, a former professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, has written… Read more Anomalistics & Periphenia*

Analogies, all the way down…

“A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: ‘What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.’ The scientist gave a… Read more Analogies, all the way down…

First-Hand Inbuilt Knowledge vs. Epistemic Hand-Me-Downs

“[T]o us mind must remain forever a realm of its own, which we can know only through directly experiencing it, but which we shall never be able to fully explain or to ‘reduce’ to something else.” Hayek, F. A. The Sensory Order. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976, p. 194 How do we know reality? How do we know that we aren’t, say, in ‘The Matrix’? The French intellectual Jean Baudrillard claimed to have had difficulty differentiating between cable news programming, video game simulations, and the military-media narrative presented… Read more First-Hand Inbuilt Knowledge vs. Epistemic Hand-Me-Downs

Reason & the Rhetorical Revolution

The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason. Given the central role of language in our thinking, it is well past time to resurrect a Classical Liberal curriculum known as The Trivium. In the Classical Liberal education, there are seven branches of knowledge upon which our knowledge of the world is built. The first three, also known as the trivium, are made up of the three Rs—not of reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic, but of ‘riting (grammar), reckoning (logic), and rhetoric. The… Read more Reason & the Rhetorical Revolution

Whither Memory & History?

Any assessment of the accuracy of memory requires some record of the to-be-remembered events themselves. One way to get those records is to obtain immediate first-hand accounts of experiences that are likely to give rise to vivid recollections later. On the morning after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, it occurred to me that shock of hearing about this disaster might be just such an experience for many Americans. With this in mind I asked a number of Emory undergraduates to make written records of how they… Read more Whither Memory & History?

The Anomalists

The absence of proof is not proof of absence. —William Cowper (1731-1800) Two early American anomalists, Robert Ripley and Charles Fort, challenged preconceived notions and got wealthy doing it in the early twentieth century. The ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ cartoon strip started its very own cottage industry of books, television shows, and museums here in America while Charles Fort promoted his magazine The Fortean Times upon the strength of the demand for the unusual. In 1919, Fort’s book The Book of the Damned promoted the idea that social values… Read more The Anomalists


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