Science

Parascience – Hocus pocus? Testing miracles

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  • Astrology, fortune telling, alternative medicine: In Würzburg, science scrutinizes the supernatural.

    They can sniff out gold veins, measure the poison in apples with a pendulum and make women levitate; these people claim to experience the supernatural. Once a year in Würzburg, they have the chance to prove their supposed skills. The Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences offers 10,000 euros in prize money to anyone whose supernatural claims can withstand rigorous scientific testing. The society is a gathering of physicists, biologists, and psychologists who don’t want to discount those who delve in the paranormal as crazy, but analyze their claims in laboratory conditions. But so far, all candidates have failed the test, and the 10,000 euros are still in the pot.

    Parascience is the study of subjects that are outside the scope of, or phenomena that is not recognised to exist by, the natural and social sciences because their occurrence is not established and cannot be explained by accepted scientific theory, or because it cannot be tested by conventional scientific methods.

    According to a more specific definition of parascience, the term covers “non-scientific practices that are not pseudoscientific”, for example history, philosophy, art, and religion.

    The Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences offers 10,000 euros in prize money to anyone whose supernatural claims can withstand rigorous scientific testing. The society is a gathering of physicists, biologists, and psychologists who don’t want to discount those who delve in the paranormal as crazy, but analyze their claims in laboratory conditions. But so far, all candidates have failed the test, and the 10,000 euros are still in the pot.

    Directed by: Axel Rowohlt

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