|This little shop in Boston|
could change the world.
1. Have multiple, reliable witnesses.
If you tell me you saw an exorcist stick a Bible in a demon-possessed man's face, causing such an adverse reaction that his head spun around, all you have is a spooky story. There's absolutely no reason for me to believe you, because it's far more likely that you're either lying or mistaken. It's far better if you have other people to corroborate your story, but the character of those people is also important. If they have a history of drug use or mental illness, or have been known to lie, or have some conflict of interest, or have been primed to expect certain things out of exorcisms as a result of a highly religious upbringing, they're not going to be very convincing. You'll want skeptical, upstanding citizens as witnesses to your supernatural event, and the more the better.
2. Write down what happened.
Memories are delicate things, prone to being erased, altered and rewritten—especially in high-stress situations. Maybe you think you saw the head spin around... but you really only saw it jerk violently to the side, you turned away in horror, and your brain filled in the rest. The best thing for you and your witnesses to do is to write down, as soon as possible and in meticulous detail, exactly what occurred during this event. Don't discuss what happened beforehand, lest you influence each other's interpretation of events. Later, if it turns out that one of you saw the head turn clockwise and another counterclockwise, consider the possibility that you both just got caught up in the excitement of the moment.
3. Get it all on tape.
Witnesses are helpful, but ultimately people can say anything they like. Audiovisual recording devices trump them any day of the week. If you show me crisp video footage of a man's head doing a 360, I won't believe you right there on the spot, but I will sit up and take notice. Can this sort of thing be faked? Absolutely. There are prosthetics makers and computer animators who create effects like these for a living. But that's okay: weeding out the particularly crafty charlatans is what the final step is for.
4. Replicate your results.
Got your reliable witnesses, consistent testimonies and recorded evidence? Great! Now you're ready for the big leagues. In fact, this final step is the only one that really counts, but supernatural phenomena fail it so reliably that it's only worth unleashing it on the serious contenders.
You will be asked to repeat your supernatural event of choice in a controlled setting. That's it. Simple, right? Just have your exorcist use his Bible to spin another person's head like a corkscrew, and you've made history. We'll be watching, of course. There will be cameras and scientists watching closely to make sure there's no funny business. But I'm sure that won't be a problem. Oh, and once you do shock the world by offering proof of the supernatural, there's just one more thing we'll need to do...
Tinker like there's no tomorrow.
You didn't think it was going to end there, did you? That we'd just destroy naturalism and call it a day? I certainly hope not.
By doing the apparently impossible, you've piqued the curiosity of every scientist on the planet. A kinesiologist will ensure these people can't somehow turn their heads that far all on their own, and do x-rays to understand the mechanics of that twisting motion. A linguist will analyze the demon's vocabulary and speech patterns. A psychologist will conduct extensive interviews to get the demon's complete mental profile. An anthropologist will try to glean information about past cultures that the demon presumably lived through. A neuroscientist will do fMRI scans to compare brain activity before and after exorcism. We'll also want to find out the mechanism of the "Bible corkscrew" effect. Does it work with a different book disguised as a Bible? How about half a Bible, or one that's written in Wingdings? What if the possessed person is blindfolded or on the other side of the room? Now that we've opened up this can of worms, we'll need to know all this and a whole lot more.
Okay, let's face it.
We're probably never going to get to this point. If the supernatural is real, destroying naturalism ought to be easy, but the fact is that anyone who actually tries to replicate their results in a tightly controlled setting fails miserably. No one ever makes it past step four, and that doesn't bode well for the existence of spirits, magic and psychic phenomena.
But even if naturalism were to die, science would enter a new era of exciting opportunity. Why? Because we will have proven that the supernatural interacts with the natural world—and if we can interact with it, we can measure, test, explain and understand it. The religious often see the supernatural as unknowable, but they couldn't be more wrong. If it's an observable part of our world, it's just one more realm for science to conquer.