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Dr. Jeffrey Kripal On Science Fiction As a “Trojan Horse” For the Paranormal

Industry: Science

Interview with author and professor of religious studies examines how paranormal experiences have fueled the work of famous science fiction and comic book authors.

United States (PRUnderground) July 11th, 2012

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Rice University Professor of Philosophy and Religious Thought, and author of, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, Dr. Jeffrey Kripal. During the interview Kripal discusses how science and culture affect our worldview:

Alex Tsakiris: It’s also interesting how you used the term “Trojan Horse” to describe the relationship between science fiction and science.  One of the themes of the book is this indictment against science as we know it — science that insists not only that the paranormal doesn’t exist, but that it’s impossible.

Dr. Jeff Kripal:   Basically what I’m trying to get out there is that the thoughts we think and the worldviews we inhabit are determined by our cultures. The reigning culture is this scientific materialism that essentially argues that we’re only matter and that we can never get outside of our bodies and the particular historical context in which we find ourselves. What happens to human beings all the time is that they have these sorts of extraordinary experiences that do seem to take them outside of their context, outside their bodies, even outside of space and time which is how my artists and authors talk about it today.

So I’m simply pointing out that those sorts of experiences are dismissed or ignored because there’s no way to fit them into the reigning paradigm. But once we just open up the paradigm, then they make actually a good deal of sense. They actually become really interesting and powerful experiences to take into consideration. You can’t think yourself out of a box with the terms of the box. You have to find some other way to get out of the box.

Alex Tsakiris:   Right, but the paradox is that that’s what we’re required to do. I mean, we’re reading this book in this here-and-now-reality and yet we’re exploring this very different reality. Maybe you want to expound on this idea of “human as two” that recurs in your writing.

Dr. Jeff Kripal:   So the book came out of a series of interviews and a series of readings of artists and authors who create these forms of popular culture. A lot of them are very clear that when they have these paranormal experiences they were not in their normal sense of self or their normal psyches. The experience is essentially one of being split in two where part of the human being is outside of space and time and part of the human being is in space and time.

The Skeptiko interview with Dr. Jeff Kripal (audio and transcript) is available at:


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