Don't You Believe?
One of the curses of being a well-known science-fiction writer is that unsophisticated people assume you to be soft in the head. They come to you for refuge from a hard and skeptical world.
Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?
No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.
One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out, "Don't you believe in anything?"
"Yes," I said. "I believe evidence.I believe observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be."
For instance, where do I stand on telepathy, which I consider among the less wild suggestions along the fringes of knowledge?
I don't consider telepathy to be intrinsically impossible. After all, the brain produces a small electromagnetic field and the intensity of it wavers, rising and falling in irregular fashion, but with noticeable periodicities. These "brain waves" can be, and are, observed and measured by the technique of encephalography.
To be sure, the brain-waves are the overall product of some ten billion neurons, so that trying to make sense of them is like trying to make sense of the noise of the world's population all talking at once in all their various languages.
In listening to the world's overall human noise, we could tell the subsidence into a soft, drowsy hum when night covers a region; or the rise into