You're Researching What?!?

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Some of the stereotypes that one might bring to the kind of meeting of the minds that is going on at East Lansing's Kellogg Center this week are false.

"Aluminum foil hats," for example, organizer Mark Urban-Lurain suggests.

He's an MSU researcher who brought his group, the Society for Scientific Exploration, to the area for their annual meeting. Their research areas include reincarnation, healing, UFO's, and other kinds of paranormal.

Bill Roll, who studies poltergeist, explains, "I believe in science, and I believe even these strange things will sooner or later be explained by science."

Full members of the society are academic scientists, each with a degree and often, an impressive resume.

There are physicists, chemists, engineers, psychologists from universities all over the world. Many practice the more traditional science as part of their work, but study the paranormal on the side.

"A number of the members, past and present, have lost positions for taking a stand," member Dave Leiter explains.

The topics are controversial, like Joel Kauffman's study of medicine. "Normal organized medicine is the leading cause of death in the United States," he says.

The view of the world is foreign--and sometimes pretty cool. For example, Psyleron CEO John Valentino is selling computer softward that measures how a person's intention can affect seeminly random realities.

"When you do interact with it, it seems to respond to your intention," he explains. So really good fans can make their sports team win?

"Maybe," he says.

"It's a question of looking at the evidence with an open mind," Urban-Lurain says.

The society's members are first to admit they're on the fringes of science, but the edge, they say, that's where discovery happens--if you can endure a little skepticism along the way.

"They laughed at Galileo but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown," Urban Lurain says with a laugh.

The conference will be in town through Saturday night.

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