Insight on the News
Hypnosis—Aid to Memory?
At a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an expert contended that hypnosis cannot be trusted as a memory aid in police investigations. Martin Orne, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that television dramas often portray a hypnotized witness recalling some detail that catches the villain. But he said that in real life “at best, the evidence that hypnosis can significantly increase recall is highly controversial.”
Professor Orne told the scientists that a problem with hypnotic recall is the fact that the hypnotist can influence his subject’s memory: “If the hypnotist has certain beliefs, he will create memories in the subject’s mind.” As a result, he said, even though “you may consider hypnosis-enhanced testimony in investigations, . . . in court you’ve got to prove that you didn’t alter that witness’s memory.” But once a witness has been hypnotized, Orne stressed, there is no way to be sure of that.
Such information should cause a Christian to consider carefully how submitting to hypnotism could affect his relationship with God. For example, could it be said that one who submits to hypnotism, with its potential to alter memory, is acting in harmony with the “greatest commandment” to “love Jehovah your God with your whole . . . mind”?—Matthew 22:36, 37.
A Look Into the Future
In a review of the book entitled Predictions, the British magazine New Scientist admitted the bias of modern skeptics against Biblical prophecy, saying that it has “become fashionable to date the books of the Bible by the predictions they contain.” To illustrate, the reviewer cites the fact that “Luke, which contains an apparent prediction of the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 19:43, 44), is confidently dated after AD 70 when the event actually took place.”
The reviewer goes on to disparage human predictions cited in the book and then ridicules “Daniel’s prediction of ‘the spectacular rise of Alexander the Great and the fall of the Medo-Persian Empire,’” which, he quips, “turns out to be, ‘Therefore the he-goat waxed very great; and when he was strong the great horn was broken.’”
Though there may be reason to scoff at most human predictions, in attempting to demean Biblical prophecy, the reviewer illustrated his bias and apparent lack of research. Daniel’s prophecy did not include merely a pictorial “he-goat” and “horn.” Using similar figures, it graphically forecast history both before and after the time of the he-goat and identified characters specifically: “And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece; and as for the great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first king.”—Daniel 8:3-22.
“An incalculably long life of lasting productive vitality is expected from the medicine of the future,” said Professor H. E. Richter to the Thirtieth German Convention for Graduate Medicine in West Berlin. However, the doctor asserted, people have been misled by “excessive claims” resulting from medicine’s sensational boom during the past century.
Instead, Professor Richter insisted, “the limitations of medicine have become clearly perceptible” in recent times, but society still “persists in holding to its deeprooted false expectations, making scapegoats out of the doctors who fail to fulfill the utopian demands people make of medicine.” Rather than holding to unrealistic expectations, the doctor said that “we must accept sickness, infirmity and mortality as mankind’s lot and must bury medicine’s dream of permanent fitness and vitality.”
From a human standpoint, Professor Richter is no doubt correct in his assessment of medicine’s potential. Nevertheless, perfect human health will come not through medical breakthroughs but through healing benefits provided by the Great Physician, Jehovah God. He promises that soon he will make a “new earth” where “mankind’s lot” will be no more death, “neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:1-5; compare Isaiah 33:24.