THE WAYWARD GATE: Science and the Supernatural by Philip Slater

THE WAYWARD GATE: Science and the Supernatural

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Early chapters in this collection of philosophical musings serve as an autobiographical prologue describing the author's slow conversion from dispassionate observer of the drugs/mystical/supernatural scene to hearty participant. They also underline his skills as a writer of some wit and imagination (several myths and cautionary tales are interwoven). One is prepared to go along with Slater's intent to create bridges between science and The Other. What follows, however, is a disquieting slay-the-dragon approach. Scientists are damned for their rationality, caricatured as smug individuals ""insensitive to their own motives or feelings."" (Has he never read James Watson? Pauling? Darwin?) Science itself is condemned as aggressive and capitalistic, committed to belief in randomness and accidents and ""not attracted by the unusual."" Of course one can cite examples of bias and blindness in science but Slater ignores the vast and growing literature and evidence that science is a form of creative endeavor that reflects and reacts to the whole body of cultural attitudes and traditions. It is not the slow, inexorable march toward Absolute Truth that Slater naively attacks. If it were, then indeed it would be difficult to reconcile its canons with UFOs, out-of-body phenomena, clairvoyance, Yetis, and everything else Slater has tucked into his Other bag. Slater redeems himself somewhat by exercising critical judgment on certain anti-democratic and corrupt practices in the Eastern tradition. For the rest, this is a book to warm the hearts of those who would put down science, but it is not a science many of its contemporary practitioners would recognize.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1977
Publisher: Beacon