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Feb18-12, 08:09 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
It came out on an episode of Decoded that aired tonight that Arthur Conan Doyle was a staunch believer in spiritualism. Apparently he was astonishingly gullible about it, which is very surprising for the man who created Sherlock Holmes.
It might be just a feature of the times. I don't know much about Conan Doyle, but there are many other rationalists of the time who also seemed swayed by spiritualism, such as William James.

It could be that the belief in spirits or telepathy were encouraged by scientific advance in fact - once you start seeing a material/mechanical base to everything, then this makes ideas about ectoplasm, a spirtual plane or whatever, a "more rational" belief than some immaterial idea of soul.

If you want to believe in religious teachings, then a rationalist would want to find a substantial explanation. It may seem kooky from our modern standpoint, but it would have been the more scientific view in Victorian times - if you were taking the arch-materialist position of the reductionist thinker.

Exactly the same dynamic still operates today when it comes to things like quantum approaches to consciousness. People are looking for a substantial explanation of something they feel needs a properly material answer.