Monday, February 15, 2010

Failure of imagination

I was so overwhelmed with Fashion Week this past weekend that academics were the last thing on my mind -- not exactly the model Columbia University student, I admit. I reluctantly decided to skip out on the shows today because I passed out in the afternoon and needed to go to class anyway.

I trudged to my psychology class across campus, thinking about the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation show and Alexa Chung for Madewell presentation that I was missing. The throbbing pain in my head prevented me from paying attention fully.

However, at the very end of the lecture, my professor, a brilliant and renowned researcher, talked about extrasensory perception. According to the textbook, "Little or no good evidence supports the intriguing idea that some people have additional sensory systems that allow them to know what other people are thinking, for example, or to predict the future."

He told us about a researcher named Charles Honorton, who performed an experiment in which participants were contained in a sensory deprived environment, preventing influence from the external world. They were asked to guess which cards out of four cards were flipped. While they should have guessed correctly one-fourth of the time, the cards were guessed correctly one-third of the time.

Honorton performed his experiments to the utmost of scientific experimental standards because he was ridiculed and laughed at for his belief that there could be the possibility of extrasensory perception. He fought to publish his paper in a scientific journal -- which was only published after his death. In that same scientific journal, there was a rebuttal from another psychologist, who basically stated that Honorton's findings were false because extrasensory perception was not real. I don't know about you, but neither I nor my professor thinks that the rebuttal is conclusive.

After telling us about this, my professor said, "This rebutting psychologist committed a fallacy that we in academia are so prone to: the failure of imagination. Just because you cannot properly explain something, does not mean that it does not exist. Do not let the limitations of so-called reality prevent you from exploring the world."

And with that, class was over. And I walked away, feeling renewed as a student again.

Miss Couturable
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