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Author Topic: Paranormal  (Read 6311 times)

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Offline KateTopic starter

Paranormal
« on: October 09, 2009, 11:25:22 PM »

Believer of Skepticism and Skeptic of Believers ?
or ...
Skeptic of Skepticism ?

Which ones do you think are real ?
Which ones do you think are due to over-active imaginations ?

... because you know you want to voice your opinion :)
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 08:40:07 AM by Kate »

Offline The Overlord

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2009, 07:21:14 AM »
Believer of Skepticism

There is not such thing, it’s like an contradiction of terms. You can do the research etc., but ultimately skepticism doesn’t take a degree in anything, all it takes is for you to say ‘I don’t believe that, even if the evidence is compelling’. Despite what you see with some media programming, no one can be a ‘professional Skeptic’.


Skeptic of Believers ?
 

Skepticism of believers is generally aimed at the realm of the paranormal, and again I feel it’s only so useful. If someone believes they saw or encountered something, say a shadow person or ghost.

The skeptic can say you didn’t actually see an apparition, but they can often no more disprove what you saw than you can prove you saw it, if it was a personal experience.

Up until last year the place I worked had fairly frequent allegedly paranormal events, I heard about them here and there over a five year span. Some claimed to have seen actual shadow apparitions, where others working in this store overnight heard voices from people who were not in there, and this is after-hours when a handful of people were on the clock and could all be accounted for. There were also strange electrical or ‘hot smelling’ events that would pop in the store like you’d expect from bad wiring, but it was always very localized and never got pulled through large areas by the air system. On one occasion a smoky ‘hotspot’ appeared in the isle I was in and lingered at one end for a short time, before migrating some 30 feet up to the other end and eventually fading.

I still have no suitable explanation for that. I always took the middle ground with it, not ruling out something genuinely paranormal, but also hoping to get more evidence of a corporeal cause and explanation.


Skeptic of Skepticism ?


On one hand it seems to be yet another contradiction; ‘I don’t believe that you don’t believe’, but there’s more than that. Generally, I disdain the true skeptical mind, generally I dislike the personalities that tend to have them. Plainly put, they tend to be very practical individuals but to a degree where they are smug and offensive to be around.

What I perceive of those I met is a soft and fragile psyche armored under a hard exterior; these people take extreme comfort in believing they how the world around them operates. Among us, they are some of the least flexible to change, they are often ready with an explanation in hand if something pops up that’s slightly off the norm. They’re often the first to sneer at something unexplained, but they never really offer a compelling argument for saying something akin to that’s bullshit.

That’s the kind of skepticism to be skeptical of.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2009, 07:57:43 AM »
I do agree with your statement of those quick to judge anything paranormal an imature or uneducated reach for the fantastical when they should have faith in existing science providing "rational explanations".

To me science is a like faith in a method, the scientific method, regardless of technology there may be some things that the method itself will stay elusive to.

I think for many things the rational explanation IS "its paranormal"

Paranormal doesn't mean there isn't a scientific explanation, it means its para-normal
phenomena (experience beyond what is typical phenomena noticed in this world). What I think is more "unbelievable" is that ALL ghost experiences or ALL ufo experiences
are wrong / or the product of sensory delusional or memory failing.

Also being on drugs does not mean that the experience is a product of the drug alone, to some, some drugs may not be causing the experience they may be removing a shroud of experiences prevalent around us.

People only see what they can beleive. There was this famous case of Captain cook dropping ankor a mile off shore by a coast on an island populated with natives that have not seen a large ship before. They could see the rowboats the English used to approach their shore - but couldn't see the ship (only a weird hase around where the ship was - their shaman at the time stared for days around where the ship was thinking the water patterns about the area seemed surreal ... none really paid him attention).

Only when they were invited on the row boat and moved so close to the ship as it took over 20 percent of their view did their mind switch and just showed them what it saw without filtering it into the context of their own understanding.

It makes you wonder - how much is in front of our faces which our own mind doesn't have models for so just screens out you even seeing it in the first place ?

I think that is why on many occasions "Ghosts" can be seen in photos but not easily seen. My theory is your mind "sees" them, but screens it out from your consciousness for its own reasons. Sort of like a "internal censorship" for your own sanity's sake.



Offline Jude

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2009, 10:23:40 AM »
Paranormal doesn't mean there isn't a scientific explanation, it means its para-normal
phenomena (experience beyond what is typical phenomena noticed in this world). What I think is more "unbelievable" is that ALL ghost experiences or ALL ufo experiences
are wrong / or the product of sensory delusional or memory failing.
I suggest you learn more about the power of the mind then revisit this notion.  The human mind has an incredible ability to convince people things're true that they believe to be or have the smallest of hunches based on many sets of principles.

From Gestalt Psychology to the Placebo Effect, human beings are capable of twisting the truth into a gigantic pretzel on many issues.  The only thing that can really be taken as reliable, concrete evidence of any phenomenon is to come up with unbiased, impartial ways to defining said phenomenon and using methods and means to test it (i.e. the scientific method).  Why is that?  Because the human mind is not reliable enough for sensory experience or memory alone.

Also being on drugs does not mean that the experience is a product of the drug alone, to some, some drugs may not be causing the experience they may be removing a shroud of experiences prevalent around us.
But that's not how drugs work.  They poison your brain and mess up the mental processes.  It has nothing to do with anything supernatural or eye-opening like many people believe.  We know how they work.

People only see what they can beleive. There was this famous case of Captain cook dropping ankor a mile off shore by a coast on an island populated with natives that have not seen a large ship before. They could see the rowboats the English used to approach their shore - but couldn't see the ship (only a weird hase around where the ship was - their shaman at the time stared for days around where the ship was thinking the water patterns about the area seemed surreal ... none really paid him attention).
I've heard that story, but one story doesn't prove anything.  A concept or conclusion only matters if it's replicable, because that's the only way it can be explained as a reliable phenomenon.  I can give many instances where human beings have come into contact with amazing surprises and still saw them.  You can't use one anecdote and exaggerate that to all of human experience.

Only when they were invited on the row boat and moved so close to the ship as it took over 20 percent of their view did their mind switch and just showed them what it saw without filtering it into the context of their own understanding.
There are so many explanations for this and potential problems with such a scenario to be used as a basis for a psychological principle.

It makes you wonder - how much is in front of our faces which our own mind doesn't have models for so just screens out you even seeing it in the first place ?
It's true that the human mind does a lot of touch-up, but it's more like airbrushing than it is photoshopping, to use an analogy.  Again, check out Gestalt Psychology, it deals with twisting of perception to fit expectation.

I think that is why on many occasions "Ghosts" can be seen in photos but not easily seen. My theory is your mind "sees" them, but screens it out from your consciousness for its own reasons. Sort of like a "internal censorship" for your own sanity's sake.
But they can't be seen in photos.  There's never been any airtight empirical evidence of the supernatural.  Whenever anyone has the slightest bit of evidence it's always vague and unreproducible.

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

I think more than anything that's a good explanation of why the paranormal probably doesn't exist.  It can never be ruled out, but that's compelling evidence when you consider that challenge has been going on in one form or another since 1968 and still no one has been awarded a cent.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 10:27:59 AM by Jude »

Offline The Overlord

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2009, 12:15:42 PM »
This all goes far beyond the scope of actual professional and practiced science. All manner of layman derive on some level of skepticism against the paranormal without conducting any actual research or observation. They’re simply being skeptical at a given topic because for one reason or another it defies and challenges their notion of what is right with universe.




A word or two regarding ghosts and apparitions: Most every bit of material on the topic I’ve seen, heard, and read suggests that they work on an energy level. The famed cold spots that accompany many alleged haunting are said to be caused because a presence, human or otherwise, must utilize local energy to manifest in some way and interact with the corporeal. Even the ambient heat in the air is thermal energy, consuming it makes sense it would produce a cold spot.

So many times something appears on film, audio (often in the form of EVP’s), or video. If we’re actually talking of something that’s manifested energy, all these electronic gizmos we use in this day and age record with and are susceptible to electromagnetic energy.

In that regard it may indeed be more than internal censorship when encountering something that defies rationality (at least your definition of it).

Our eyes, ultimately, are imperfect gelatinous orbs in our skulls that work only a very limited slice of the EM spectrum. The impulses sent along our optic nerves are processed by an imperfect brain with limited capacity of its own, however complex it may be. Cutting edge physics that’s trying to crack the nature of the quantum and the reality of reality realizes that our limited and processed senses automatically introduce all manner of bias in our observations.

It makes one wonder what it actually is to ‘truly see’ the universe around us. Certainly our eyes cannot perceive everything that occurs around us…the jury is still out on the stuff deemed paranormal, IMHO.

Offline Serephino

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2009, 12:29:39 PM »
It can't be proven scientifically because hard science and paranormal activity are like apples and oranges.  They're completely different animals.  I believe in ghosts because of the many experiences I've had, but I don't believe there will ever be any scientific way to prove they exist.  Whether or not someone believes will just have to be let up to each individual.

There is a show in Scyfi called Ghost Hunters.  They use scientific equipment like electro-magnetic detectors, cameras, thermal cameras, and digital recorders.  They've caught some very interesting stuff that could not be explained with any rational explanation.  That is what paranormal activity is, and always will be; things that cannot be explained by science.  Scientific equipment can catch things like the shape of a man walking across a hall on a thermal camera when the people operating the camera saw nothing, but there will never be a way to analyze it and prove what it was.   

Offline The Overlord

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2009, 01:04:46 PM »
It can't be proven scientifically because hard science and paranormal activity are like apples and oranges.  They're completely different animals.  I believe in ghosts because of the many experiences I've had, but I don't believe there will ever be any scientific way to prove they exist.  Whether or not someone believes will just have to be let up to each individual.


I disagree. If the things classified as paranormal 1) actually exist and 2) are either part of our universe or a parallel dimension or reality, then they are part of reality around us. They are classified as paranormal because current science has no known ways of defining them or even verifying them. This is not to say science in the future won't be able to.

I am an agnostic, and I’ve heard it explained more than one that an agnostic believes that god, whatever god may be, lies beyond any human definition or determination and thus denies established religions.

Well…that’s not quite true of all of us. I for one believe that everything can eventually be explained, it just comes down to enough time and effort.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2009, 02:53:13 PM »
This is wordy, I apologize in advance, but this discussion hits several of my pet topics.

You can do the research etc., but ultimately skepticism doesn’t take a degree in anything, all it takes is for you to say ‘I don’t believe that, even if the evidence is compelling’. Despite what you see with some media programming, no one can be a ‘professional Skeptic’.

  The above is a very misguided notion brought upon by a fast & loose use of the term scepticism in modern society. Scepticism is a school of philosophy set down by Pyrro and recorded by Sextus Empericus in the 2nd century CE. In a professional and academic sense one of the fundamental principle of scepticism is "To every argument establishing something dogmatically let us oppose some conflicting argument that proceeds dogmatically and is equal to it as regards credibility and lack of credibility." (The Outlines of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus, translated by Benson Mates, emphasis mine.)

  Saying "I don't believe that, in spite of evidence." Is not scepticism, a sceptic has the burden of bringing an equally plausible and credulous argument and setting it up against that which they do not believe. To say I don't believe it without a reasoned, credible account of your non-belief is just being contrary.

  Also the idea that there is no such thing as a professional sceptic is ludicrous. Every scientist is a sceptic, professionally. If they weren't control tests wouldn't exist. However, I agree that a "belief in scepticism" is an oxymoron. Scepticism is a manner of inquiry or a manner of processing information, it is not a belief system.

I think for many things the rational explanation IS "its paranormal"

That isn't an explanation it is a categorization.

Paranormal doesn't mean there isn't a scientific explanation, it means its para-normal phenomena (experience beyond what is typical phenomena noticed in this world).

I highly agree with this. Our understanding of the world around us is not in any way near complete, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just selling a belief system. In The Almagest (an astronomical work written sometime in the 100's, don't remember the exact year at the moment) Ptolemy gave indisputable mathematical proof that the solar system moved around the Earth in beautiful and elegant epiciclic motion. It was perfectly sound and corresponded to all observed data. Prior to Harvey's vivisection experiments we firmly believed that the liver was the primary organ of the circulatory system. And for about a hundred years starting in the mid 1660s the world believed that things were combustible due to there being a mysterious gravity defying substance inside them known as phlogiston. The true verifiable facts that make up science do not automatically line up with our observations (a book of optic illusions is all that is needed to prove this).

What I think is more "unbelievable" is that ALL ghost experiences or ALL ufo experiences are wrong / or the product of sensory delusional or memory failing.

There is indeed something to be said for this point, and it does seem initially compelling, but we must again take the example of the book of optic illusions. What we see on first glance is not always the verifiable, reproducible truth. Just because many or even most people are taken in by an optic illusion, does not make it real. For instance, anybody standing on a set of train tracks will look down it and see these two parallel lines meeting at a point on the horizon, it is just how our eyes work, but if we actually walk down the tracks, no such point will ever be encountered, it simply doesn't exist.

It can't be proven scientifically because hard science and paranormal activity are like apples and oranges.  They're completely different animals.  I believe in ghosts because of the many experiences I've had, but I don't believe there will ever be any scientific way to prove they exist.  Whether or not someone believes will just have to be let up to each individual.


If a particular paranormal phenomenon exists, it will be successfully and reliably reproducible. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in our lifetimes, maybe a new instrument needs to be devised to detect it, but science marches on, and if it is out there we will reproduce it. The Jainists, in the 6th century BCE proposed the concept of the atom, they had to wait two millenniums until Dalton came around and provided evidence, but it happened. Anything phenomenological is within our grasp.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 02:55:27 PM by DarklingAlice »

Offline The Overlord

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2009, 03:39:02 PM »
This is wordy, I apologize in advance, but this discussion hits several of my pet topics.

  The above is a very misguided notion brought upon by a fast & loose use of the term scepticism in modern society. Scepticism is a school of philosophy set down by Pyrro and recorded by Sextus Empericus in the 2nd century CE. In a professional and academic sense one of the fundamental principle of scepticism is "To every argument establishing something dogmatically let us oppose some conflicting argument that proceeds dogmatically and is equal to it as regards credibility and lack of credibility." (The Outlines of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus, translated by Benson Mates, emphasis mine.)

  Saying "I don't believe that, in spite of evidence." Is not scepticism, a sceptic has the burden of bringing an equally plausible and credulous argument and setting it up against that which they do not believe. To say I don't believe it without a reasoned, credible account of your non-belief is just being contrary.

  Also the idea that there is no such thing as a professional sceptic is ludicrous. Every scientist is a sceptic, professionally. If they weren't control tests wouldn't exist. However, I agree that a "belief in scepticism" is an oxymoron. Scepticism is a manner of inquiry or a manner of processing information, it is not a belief system.

 

Actually it’s not ludicrous, as you’ve missed my point, perhaps I didn’t explain in detail.

A good example is Michael Shermer, who is very often presented as the opposite number on many paranormal shows I’ve watched on cable. Despite a doctorate and being a professor of science and history, the guy regularly fails to put up an argument that’s any more credible than what he’s trying to debunk. When I say ‘professional skeptic’ I am referring to a select few that seem to make a career out of saying ‘this is bullshit.’


But by definition of ancient skepticism, virtually no one is a skeptic in this day and age. Most of the would-bes today just choose not to have certain things violate the sanctity of their bubble of perception.

Offline Jude

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2009, 03:59:53 PM »
It can't be proven scientifically because hard science and paranormal activity are like apples and oranges.  They're completely different animals.
This is a statement of belief not fact.  If you have reasons to believe this, I'd like to hear them, but to me it just sounds like an idea which you've adopted because it fit what you wanted to think.  What evidence have you gathered to make this plausible?

I believe in ghosts because of the many experiences I've had, but I don't believe there will ever be any scientific way to prove they exist.  Whether or not someone believes will just have to be let up to each individual.
Relying on the experiential is flawed for reasons previously stated.

Take "Near Death Experiences."  People who go through them often sense an experience that confirms their religious beliefs.  The key thing of note here is that they all experience things that confirm personal beliefs, which if all are taken to be true, then we have quite a paradox.  This is, in itself, evidence that what they've experienced is based off of their expectations.  Add in the way we know that the brain deals with trauma, and it's quite obvious that what people are seeing is simply some version of a dream.

There is a show in Scyfi called Ghost Hunters.  They use scientific equipment like electro-magnetic detectors, cameras, thermal cameras, and digital recorders.  They've caught some very interesting stuff that could not be explained with any rational explanation.
Have you looked for such explanations, or did you just decide this on your own?  Because I've seen quite a few blogs, podcasts, and television shows devoted to explaining the supposedly "unexplainable" phenomenon of these ghost shows.

The equipment they use measures predetermined things.  Fluctuation in heat, electromagnetism, et cetera, not the presence of ghosts.  The problem with those experiences as reliable evidence is that there is an operational definition being proposed based on nothing.  They claim that if something happens with the various meters and devices they employ, it is proof of the existence of the supernatural.  No, it's only proof that whatever those devices are designed to measure has happened.

Television shows are created to make money.  If they had real, documentable, solid evidence of the paranormal, why wouldn't they publish a peer-reviewed paper on it?  Don't you think evidence of the paranormal would be a contender for the Nobel Prize in Science?  Or the Million Dollar Paranormal prize I keep referring to.

That is what paranormal activity is, and always will be; things that cannot be explained by science.
Again, according to this principle which has no basis whatsoever.

Scientific equipment can catch things like the shape of a man walking across a hall on a thermal camera when the people operating the camera saw nothing, but there will never be a way to analyze it and prove what it was.
I'm wondering what your background in science or technology is to actually make such a strong statement.



The bottom line is, things that're considered now part of everyday phenomenon were once considered paranormal (as Alice alluded to).  There was a time in human history when we understood very little and even the rising of waters in Ancient Sumeria was considered to be paranormal and driven by some unseen force, gods as it were.  By induction, it can be reasoned with a fair degree of certainty than anything in the world will eventually be explained by science; every event that science has been able to tackle thus far serves as corroborating evidence to this claim.  And there is no solid proof so far that even a singular event exists that science cannot analyze.  Thusly, that argument is completely without merit.

When I was 8, I was afraid of ghosts.  I asked my dad, "How can you be sure ghosts don't exist?"  He responded, "I've lived 30 some odd years and I've never seen one."  This deceptively simple statement has a nugget of wisdom to it.  Anyone who tells you all of these paranormal phenomenon have no grain of truth to them is making a statement of opinion backed by all of the evidence in their life (including every waking day which they've spent living and observed nothing paranormal) and all of the evidence that has been collected throughout human history by science and individual experience.

Those who claim to have seen firsthand these events are in the vast minority and there are rational explanations that serve as perfect rebuttals to their experiences.  I guess it all depends on what you're going to believe, plausibility or implausibility based on confidence in personal experience.

There is one fact to be gleaned from all of this that no one can deny:  Paranormality is an improbability.

EDIT:  An amusing afterthought.  If ghosts could be left behind after a person's death for a variety of reasons, wouldn't the amount of paranormal reports have increased exponentially with the population?  More people, more deaths, more ghosts.  You would think there'd be a paranormal overcrowding issue too, if the ghosts don't go away on their own.

If ghosts exist, it's gotta be the worst in China given population density and the human rights abuses that would cause the trauma that leads to supernatural persistence as postulated by the average ghost hunter.

...funny that the Chinese government isn't concerned about their hypothesized "ghost problem."
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 04:13:50 PM by Jude »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2009, 05:40:14 PM »
Reply to The Overlord
Actually it’s not ludicrous, as you’ve missed my point, perhaps I didn’t explain in detail.

A good example is Michael Shermer, who is very often presented as the opposite number on many paranormal shows I’ve watched on cable. Despite a doctorate and being a professor of science and history, the guy regularly fails to put up an argument that’s any more credible than what he’s trying to debunk. When I say ‘professional skeptic’ I am referring to a select few that seem to make a career out of saying ‘this is bullshit.’

Ah, you are correct, I did miss your point. I am afraid I have no idea who Michael Shermer is, one of the consequences of not having television service. If what you say about him is true then he is indeed not a skeptic, and the only ludicrous thing is his assumption of that title. I am actually quite upset to learn that there are people doing this. The good litmus test is that a skeptic says: "This is bullshit and here is why." Instead of just "This is bullshit." And ideally he says it in a respectful, intelligent tone.

But by definition of ancient skepticism, virtually no one is a skeptic in this day and age. Most of the would-bes today just choose not to have certain things violate the sanctity of their bubble of perception.

I really don't think that all us struggling grad students and life long academics don't add up to anything in the virtual reckoning. Maybe we could say virtually no one on popular television? I will agree that a great mass of people aren't likely to go far beyond the 'This is bullshit," phase, but I would like to think that I and others like me are not no one.


Reply to Jude
When I was 8, I was afraid of ghosts.  I asked my dad, "How can you be sure ghosts don't exist?"  He responded, "I've lived 30 some odd years and I've never seen one."  This deceptively simple statement has a nugget of wisdom to it.  Anyone who tells you all of these paranormal phenomenon have no grain of truth to them is making a statement of opinion backed by all of the evidence in their life (including every waking day which they've spent living and observed nothing paranormal) and all of the evidence that has been collected throughout human history by science and individual experience.

I have to say this line of reasoning has always displeased me. Look at the examples I used above:

Ptolemy made an accurate mathematical model of the motion of the planets (so accurate in fact that to this day we still use his formulas to calculate perceived planetary position as they are more accurate and elegant than later mathematics based on heliocentrism) that persisted for ages precisely because it seemed so intuitive and backed up by experience to believe the earth was the center of the solar system. Imagine the hellenistic child asking his father wether the sun really went around the earth. Wouldn't the father respond "Isn't that what you see, every day? The sun moving quickly across the sky?"However once we had more sophisticated optical devices we still proved Ptolemy wrong.

The Jainists, they went around saying there were atoms. Now if you went to them every hundred years and asked: "So seen any atoms yet?" They would have to say no, repeatedly for century after century. However they would still be vindicated by Dalton.

Or think about the process of exploration. If you were to purchase a map of the entire world one day in 4rth century Rome, and asked your cartographer "How do you know this is the whole world?" He would respond "Because, we've been expanding for the entire history of our empire! That is over 1,000 years! If we haven't found it by now, it must not exist!"

To put it statistically: If I roll a hundred sided dice, the number of times it comes up with a number not seven, makes it no more or less likely that the next roll be seven.

Those who claim to have seen firsthand these events are in the vast minority and there are rational explanations that serve as perfect rebuttals to their experiences.

The italicized emphasis in the quote above is mine. This line of reasoning is a significantly stronger source of argument than competing personal experience. We can sit here and throw personal experiences at each other all day and in the end not go anywhere. Rational analysis and good faith attempts to reproduce paranormal phenomenon are the only sources of answers one way or another.

Offline Jude

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2009, 06:16:04 PM »
Or think about the process of exploration. If you were to purchase a map of the entire world one day in 4rth century Rome, and asked your cartographer "How do you know this is the whole world?" He would respond "Because, we've been expanding for the entire history of our empire! That is over 1,000 years! If we haven't found it by now, it must not exist!"

To put it statistically: If I roll a hundred sided dice, the number of times it comes up with a number not seven, makes it no more or less likely that the next roll be seven.
You're only highlighting the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning.  Inductive reasoning suggests a possibility whereas deductive is airtight.  All of the assumptions made were reasonable given their current level of knowledge and seemed accurate as you said, just as there being no ghosts, etc. seems accurate given our world.  The important thing is the term seems, it can be corroborated, but never confirmed in this manner.  Inductive reasoning isn't just used in this way; it's also used in science itself.

Example:  Newtonian physics; by inductive reasoning offered from experimentation and development of theories it was pretty much 'proven' beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were correct; but now we know they weren't.

The importance here is if you're going to apply inductive reasoning, have faith in the process and not the conclusion.  The process is what generates plausible conclusions, whereas the conclusion always has the chance for fallibility.

That's why I said it's improbable, not impossible.

The italicized emphasis in the quote above is mine. This line of reasoning is a significantly stronger source of argument than competing personal experience. We can sit here and throw personal experiences at each other all day and in the end not go anywhere. Rational analysis and good faith attempts to reproduce paranormal phenomenon are the only sources of answers one way or another.
Personal experience can be used to formulate a hypothesis for testing or decide whether or not to test in the first place, but I agree, it ultimately comes down to a rigid experiment when you want to really confirm or deny.

The important thing is realizing that such a rigid experiment is necessary if you want to truly glimpse at truth.

Online HairyHeretic

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Re: Paranormal
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2009, 06:26:30 PM »
The problem is that a lot of what would be considered paranormal experiences are not repeatable, and in some cases not even measurable.

If I see or hear something I cannot explain, and no one else is around, personal testimony is all I can offer, and I'm aware of how unreliable that is.

At the same time I've seen, heard and felt things that I cannot explain away scientifically. I'm not in a position where I can offer them for testing, but they're enough to make me think that there are more things that science can at the present time account for.

Offline Serephino

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2009, 06:54:46 PM »
Like Hairy said....

One night I was sitting at my computer on a hot summer evening with my cat curled up in my lap.  I was minding my own business playing a game.  Then all of a sudden my right upper arm was ice cold.  It felt like someone had put an ice pack on my arm, and my cat was staring at the space beside me.

That is what one would call a paranormal experience.  I can't explain why the rest of me was hot, but one spot on my arm was so cold it went a little numb after a few minutes.

I may not have a fancy degree, but I do understand the scientific process.  In order to prove a theory, one must be able to repeat it over and over with the same result.  There are also experiments involved. There are controls and variables, so on and so forth.

So how exactly would you go about proving that the cold spot on my arm was caused by a ghost?  What experiment could you do?  How could it be recreated?  I sit on my computer every night and haven't had that exact experience a second time.  I've had many other experiences I could not rationally explain, but that one has not repeated itself. 

Things like atoms, and the fact that the earth revolves around the sun could be investigated because it's a constant.  Paranormal activity is finicky at best.  It doesn't happen on demand and the same experience is hardly ever repeated. 

Offline Oniya

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Re: Paranormal
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2009, 07:12:57 PM »
I would put forth that the Chinese have no need to worry about their 'ghost population', because their culture already accepts them.  As for the number of ghosts increasing - why do you say that the number of reports hasn't increased?  There's obviously an increased interest, otherwise TV shows wouldn't be trying to make money off of the concept.  I wonder what might be driving that?

Offline The Overlord

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2009, 02:33:51 AM »
Reply to The Overlord
Ah, you are correct, I did miss your point. I am afraid I have no idea who Michael Shermer is, one of the consequences of not having television service. If what you say about him is true then he is indeed not a skeptic, and the only ludicrous thing is his assumption of that title. I am actually quite upset to learn that there are people doing this. The good litmus test is that a skeptic says: "This is bullshit and here is why." Instead of just "This is bullshit." And ideally he says it in a respectful, intelligent tone.
 

I’ve watched enough of this programming that when they call in the skeptic to give a rebuttal, Shermer invariably comes up, it’s like peanut butter and jelly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Shermer



On paper the guy has an impressive background, all the more interesting because he dabbled in the paranormal and then just turned 180º. He’s usually the opposite number for guys like Stanton T. Friedman, a Canadian ufologist and original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident.

He never really presented anything new and insightful, usually falling back on the same old rebuttals vs. UFO’s, ghosts and entities, etc. that are never really more compelling than what they’re trying to disprove.

My personal feel is that he is snide and smug and hasn’t really backed it all up. It’s not that I entirely disdain the man, a look at his site proves he’s written some very logical articles on a number of things, I’m just not convinced he should be writing on everything.

Offline Cythieus

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2009, 02:51:50 AM »
Remote viewing is interesting and I am semi-familiar with the case, at the end of the video the ruins he saw were supposedly on Mars. (which is why he said they were millions of years old.) Still the thought is very chilling to think about.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2009, 03:52:15 AM »
I think all here should google it and try and train ourselfs up on it.

If "soldiers" can be taught remote viewing ... that means we all can.

and if any here pulls it off - teach us ! :)

then we can all be ... psychic perverts ... lol !

... the brave new world
« Last Edit: October 11, 2009, 06:07:30 AM by Kate »

Offline Jude

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2009, 05:24:16 AM »
There's obviously an increased interest, otherwise TV shows wouldn't be trying to make money off of the concept.  I wonder what might be driving that?
I don't know about that.  If anything I'd be willing to bet the amount of people who believe in ghosts has taken a sharp decline in the western world.

There's more TV shows about any topic today, it has to do with economic reasons related to the production and broadcasting of TV shows as well as a diversifying demographic more than anything.

The problem is that a lot of what would be considered paranormal experiences are not repeatable, and in some cases not even measurable.

If I see or hear something I cannot explain, and no one else is around, personal testimony is all I can offer, and I'm aware of how unreliable that is.

At the same time I've seen, heard and felt things that I cannot explain away scientifically. I'm not in a position where I can offer them for testing, but they're enough to make me think that there are more things that science can at the present time account for.
It really depends on what framework for paranormality you're proposing.  Sure, if you honestly believe ghosts are rare, transient beings that appear randomly throughout the world to bother the living every now and then like spiritual nomadic pranksters, then yeah, that's gonna be hard to test.

But if you follow the accepted ideology of most people who believe in them, then you accept the existence of "haunted houses" which are places where paranormal phenomenon regularly occurs according to them.

Science still hasn't been able to observe anything inexplicable in those places either.

I still don't understand the logic.

I went to college to get my degree in mathematics.  Sometimes I would get the answer wrong when doing homework.  If I was very good at the subject, this did not happen very often.  When I got an incorrect answer my first assumption was, "okay I did something wrong" not "I just had a paranormal mathematical encounter!  Somehow 1 + 1 equaled 3?!"

Your brain messes up.  It's just a fact.  People imagine thing, they see things that aren't there, they have dreams, hallucinations, etc.  That's an explanation for any one-off event you've experienced which is perfectly scientific and probably what happened in your case.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2009, 05:30:52 AM by Jude »

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2009, 06:19:32 AM »
Jude, yes "false memory" or "false experiences" exist - none are debating that.

Do false memories or false experiences account for all ghost sightings etc ... is what we are discussing.

For something to be accepted by science it has to be testable and repeatable - in highly idealistic circumstances - and confirmed statistically with a degree of confidence.
Science doesn't know e=mc2 ... it just seems to be the case when some some thigns are tried a few times enough to be deemed exploitatably true, ie "science".

Para-normal (As in atypical) imply that things are not as typical as other physical phenomena, repeating tests for a ghosts existence based on say otherwise unaccounted for sights or sounds - attempting repeatability is only really a useful approach for testing theories of what intices them to appear in the first place if they do exist. Some beleive the ghosts themselves may not be aware they are "incarnate" ...
and like are wondering around blink into and out of reality randomly.

Science may be "prove" that the paranormal exists statistically without any additional showings if  later accurate models of the mind's experience v's false
reports on average etc were understood in more detail.

Until science disproves something existing - which it can't ... it can't be used as an argument to be a condition for something's existence.

Offline Jude

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2009, 06:43:34 AM »
Jude, yes "false memory" or "false experiences" exist - none are debating that.

Do false memories or false experiences account for all ghost sightings etc ... is what we are discussing.
I don't understand why you would conclude that they don't explain ghost sightings; they're rare enough that there's no problem with such an explanation.  So why reach outside the hierarchy of normality and suggest an ad hoc hypothesis of a paranormal world when a normal explanation works just fine?

For something to be accepted by science it has to be testable and repeatable - in highly idealistic circumstances - and confirmed statistically with a degree of confidence.
Science doesn't know e=mc2 ... it just seems to be the case when some some thigns are tried a few times enough to be deemed exploitatably true, ie "science".
Well, no, science isn't about proof, it's about making very damn good guesses which can be relied upon almost as truth.

Para-normal (As in atypical) imply that things are not as typical as other physical phenomena, repeating tests for a ghosts existence based on say otherwise unaccounted for sights or sounds - attempting repeatability is only really a useful approach for testing theories of what intices them to appear in the first place if they do exist. Some beleive the ghosts themselves may not be aware they are "incarnate" ...
and like are wondering around blink into and out of reality randomly.
Isn't it more logical to incorporate the observations into a previously existing framework, i.e. hallucinations, etc, than to propose an entirely new theory as the framework of understanding for those events?

Belief in such a framework has no utility, needlessly complicates the situation, and is admittedly untestable.  The first two defy basic principles of science (occam's razor and I forget the other one...).  Thus the scientist chooses to reject paranormality.

Science may be "prove" that the paranormal exists statistically without any additional showings if  later accurate models of the mind's experience v's false
reports on average etc were understood in more detail.
I don't understand what you're getting at exactly here.

Until science disproves something existing - which it can't ... it can't be used as an argument to be a condition for something's existence.
You're making two separate statements here...

1)  "Until science disproves something it can't be used as an argument to be a condition for something's existence."

2)  "Science cannot disprove the existence of something."

Which by deductive logic means:

3)  "Science cannot be used as a condition for something's existence."

I think the problem with those statements is "prove."  Science doesn't prove anything ever.  It's all about probabilities and likelihoods.  The goal of science is to produce a statement which is confirmed or denied to a high degree of certainty.

Science can, in fact, imply to a high degree of certainty that specific objects do not exist.

Furthermore (and this is what we're talking about exactly) we have two possible explanations for an event.  One is compatible with current scientific theory which is based on the gathering of evidence, rationality, etc; and another which diverges in another direction entirely and if it were accepted as truth, would require a massive reworking of many scientific areas.

Why on earth would a rational mind not choose the explanation that falls in line with all of the established evidence, simply based on their own fallible experience?

Online Silk

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2009, 07:33:43 AM »
Open-mindedness

Will I need to say more?

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Re: Paranormal
« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2009, 08:15:53 AM »
I don't understand why you would conclude that they don't explain ghost sightings; they're rare enough that there's no problem with such an explanation.  So why reach outside the hierarchy of normality and suggest an ad hoc hypothesis of a paranormal world when a normal explanation works just fine?

In my own case because I cannot rationally explain away the things that I have experienced. I have an engineering degree, and work in the telecoms field, so I'm quite used to scientific, rational, deductive thinking.

The experiences I've had down through the years, I have not been able to explain them away. A couple were one offs, others have been variations on a theme that I have experienced .. let say 10 times, though it could be more.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Paranormal
« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2009, 10:33:00 AM »
Silk - no you don't NEED to say more but your link doesn't really prove anything, what you have shown is a suitable argument for "those beleiving in god" not to insist others adopt their belief - a god that does not have traits of the physical world - and is "outside" our existence or awareness.

What we are talking of is experiences and reports of things that ARE noticeable and do effect our environment (I can link a famous poltergeist case if any are curious) - that stump many's faith in our current science's explanations.
*

Jude, yes "false memory" or "false experiences" exist - none are debating that.
Do false memories or false experiences account for all ghost sightings etc ... is what we are discussing.
- Me

"I don't understand why you would conclude that they don't explain ghost sightings; they're rare enough that there's no problem with such an explanation.  So why reach outside the hierarchy of normality and suggest an ad hoc hypothesis of a paranormal world when a normal explanation works just fine?" - Jude


Because for some cases the conditions of false memory or "sensors misfiring" is are MORE improbable explaination than "ghost" to some experiencers.

I hear strange voices often, but I dont think that much of them - enough for me to beleive that perhaps its my mind mis-firing some nerons or something..

BUT some experiences are not explained so easily - for example those that effect several sensors - sight, temperature and sound - or effect several people or a person
AND a cat - when they are witnessed by many at the same time its harder to beleive they are "false memories". YES it could be true that a false memory effects more than one sense, YES its true that the mind can "impose" its belief system on a memory, yes after a fact two can talk about something then come to a mutual conclusion which is false.... BUT ... to many these seem more unlikely than"entity / energy that is conscious"


« Last Edit: October 11, 2009, 10:59:11 AM by Kate »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Paranormal
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2009, 10:47:22 AM »
I don't understand what you're getting at exactly here.
You're making two separate statements here...

1)  "Until science disproves something it can't be used as an argument to be a condition for something's existence."

2)  "Science cannot disprove the existence of something."

Which by deductive logic means:

3)  "Science cannot be used as a condition for something's existence."

Just because you can't (or that it is very difficult to) prove a negative (statement 2) does not imply that you can't prove a positive.  Gödel's incompleteness theorem states that all consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions (Hofstadter 1989).  Does that mean that mathematics can't be used to prove anything?