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Sam Harris vs. James Randi
Posted: 26 November 2007 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Mia - 26 November 2007 06:46 AM

It seems to me that the miraculous perception of coincidence mostly gets pointed out when it works in our favor, not when it brings about a situation that sucks.

Excellent point.

Do you think it’s valid to distinguish between claims about the supernatural and claims about ESP? I don’t reject the possibility of either. But I suspect the latter may have a greater degree of probability. Experiences such as Duckphup’s may involve some capabilities of our brains instead of a supernatural plane of existence, a concept that seems much more implausible.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Mia - 26 November 2007 06:46 AM
Dee - 26 November 2007 06:06 AM

But you know what ? The one thing that DOES make me wonder is COINCIDENCES ! Think about it : what could explain it ?  Ever have that happen to you ? It’s an erie feeling. I mean, I’ve read and experianced some stuff , and it’s too weird to be random.

How do you know what the limits of ‘random’ are? I’m only asking, because I wouldn’t claim to know.

Dee - 26 November 2007 06:06 AM

What force could cause evrything to come together at just the right time ? Especially when it’s a life-saving occurrence. ??

What force could cause everything to come together at just the right time to make a surgeon accidentally cut into a vital artery, causing someone’s untimely death during a routine operation?  It seems to me that the miraculous perception of coincidence mostly gets pointed out when it works in our favor, not when it brings about a situation that sucks.

Mia: by “random ” I mean when what happens is nothing more than an accident, and it just happens by chance. There’s no mysterious force behind it . You see why the “coincidence” thing makes me wonder if there is indeed, some kind of super intelligence behind these kind of things ?Also, the scene you just described is’nt really a coincidence- it IS just an accident. There’s nothing mysterious about it. Things like that of one kind or other happen all the time .  I burned my arm badly one day when I was reaching in the oven. This was’nt a coincidence; it was an accident; a goof on my part.

By life-saving coincidents here’s an example ( a true story ) : My husband’s freind and his brother went hunting one day. One brother decided he wanted to take a differant direction and ended up walking quite a distance from his brother , who was in a van . While he was there he was messing around trying to find something or get things in order , and he accidently shot himself. He was bleeding very badly and became halfway unconscience .It was a wilderness sort of area , but not so much that there were no roads within a mile away. There was a man driving on one of those roads and he decided to stop for no reason, other than a strange feeling came over him and he drove to where the wounded man was, and stopped the bleeding and saved the guy’s life. The man who rescued him happened to be a doctor . What caused that ?  Can anyone say or have something like that happen to him/her and not wonder if there could be something true about this “God” business ?

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Posted: 27 November 2007 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]is yet to amount to anything resembling a unified theory, especially considering that none of them aim in a clear-cut direction.

Clear-cut directions and unified theories don’t typify science or life in general.  Don’t expect them in any field.

[quote author=“Mia”]Lacking uniformity, the only way to currently categorize these reports is “unverifiable anecdotal experience”.

To what extent is anecdotal evidence verified by further anecdotal evidence?  There’s only so much anecdotal evidence I’m willing to ignore.  If it’s “this one guy saw this UFO once,” I really don’t care.  But if it’s, “most people who spend the night in that room see or hear things they can’t explain,” I start to wonder about just what’s going on inside that room.

And don’t think that everything is dependent on anecdote.  There are things that show up on film and/or physically manipulate environments.

[quote author=“Mia”]That’s mightly flimsy stuff compared to, say, a university which has set up a large, formal study with sensitive measuring devices and carefully screened participants. I’ll keep my attention on the latter, since I have no reason to believe that studies of the sort are not ongoing.

There’s actually an entire parapsychology department at Edinburgh University.  Not many researchers or funding, so “sensitive measuring devices” may be lacking, but they do conduct blinded studies sending screened participants into haunted places.  Parapsychology in itself purports that paranormal experiences are not just psychological in nature, but as yet unexplained psychological phenomena.  Parapsychological studies often do point towards causes external to the believer.  Loyd Auerbach would be a good author to consult on this subject.

To continue dropping names: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake.  Although Hancock likes to do drugs, and Sheldrake tends to make people foam at the mouth among atheists, I think they should have something to offer in their studies – even if most of what they say will never be part of accepted science. 

I’d also recommend watching the first season of Ghost Hunters (the first season because in the second and third seasons they get more famous and make more money).  The Atlantic Paranormal Society was running for almost fifteen years prior to getting a TV show, all the while working as plumbers, which made them familiar with the inner workings of people’s houses.

[quote author=“Mia”]I’m not denying that it’s an area of intense interest for many, and begs to be investigated in depth, especially as our ability to study the brain keeps improving.

From this I gather that you remain open minded, which is all I ask for really: that you don’t end up like James Randi.  It will take your own motivation and study to make anything proven by your standards.  You’ll have to define just what your interested in, and/or what requires the most investigation.

Spend some time browsing around the abstracts and proceedings published by this organization.
http://www.scientificexploration.org/


[quote author=“Mia”]Are you aware that the experiences of an OBE can be intentionally triggered in a lab setting?

I’m not sure about OBE’s, but I know experiences strikingly similar to alien abduction have been replicated in the lab.  A little lysergic acid can trigger an OBE wherever you want, but the question of what it means remains.

[quote author=“Mia”]I have engaged in hundreds of such talks with friends, and we all have weird mental experiences to yack about.

Doesn’t this contradict your previous statement “that a great many have NOT had these experiences”?

The problem does arise in attributing too much to the paranormal.  It only becomes a belief system if you let it.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Dee - 27 November 2007 06:10 AM

By life-saving coincidents here’s an example ( a true story ) : My husband’s freind and his brother went hunting one day. One brother decided he wanted to take a differant direction and ended up walking quite a distance from his brother , who was in a van . While he was there he was messing around trying to find something or get things in order , and he accidently shot himself. He was bleeding very badly and became halfway unconscience .It was a wilderness sort of area , but not so much that there were no roads within a mile away. There was a man driving on one of those roads and he decided to stop for no reason, other than a strange feeling came over him and he drove to where the wounded man was, and stopped the bleeding and saved the guy’s life. The man who rescued him happened to be a doctor . What caused that ?  Can anyone say or have something like that happen to him/her and not wonder if there could be something true about this “God” business ?

I think Mia’s idea of coincidence still applies here. As is often pointed out, we remember the hits, and forget the misses.

Recently, a driver in my area spent a week in a ditch, with heavy traffic running constantly by. There were even people actively looking for them, but no one seemed to just get a “funny feeling.” If I remember correctly, he was discovered quite by accident.

The DC area sniper, John Allen Muhammad, was discovered quite by accident as well. A driver just happened to notice a car that matched a description of a vehicle that he had heard on the radio, and he noticed that 2 men were sleeping in it. No funny feelings at all.

Recently, a 50 foot tall statue of Jesus had it’s arm fall off. The collapse was declared an accident by the church, but it was declared a miracle that no one was harmed.

Things like this happen all the time. Bad things occur, and we call them accidents, mistakes, or “acts of god.” When the opposite occurs, we want to claim that it was providence, synchronicity, god looking out for us. However, the same rules apply.

Think of it this way, have you ever gone on a trip, or just out for the night, and had a funny feeling about your home? That you’d left your lights on, or perhaps an iron, or the stove, or even had a powerful feeling that you forgot to lock the door? How often do those “feelings” turn out to be true?

I know that I once had a perfectly nice day out spoiled by an intense feeling that I had forgotten to lock the door, only to rush home to find it securely secured.

On the other hand, I’ve also had times when those feelings have tuned out to be correct. It’s nothing more than coincidence. We assign meaning because we are pattern seeking animals. And we hate coincidences.

[ Edited: 27 November 2007 02:46 AM by Celsus]
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Posted: 27 November 2007 02:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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ligh+bringer,

Glad it interests you. It interests me, too, but nowhere near as much as back in my [more] credulous years. 

Since I’ve now heard most everything the average Art Bell guest has to say on any given paranormal topic, I’ll hold off now until something is worthy of publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. Gotta hand it to Art, though—he’s sold a lot of those hand-crank radios based on paranormal fear-mongering. . . and yes, I bought one wink. Great radio, but bought for incredibly silly reasons.

.


[quote author=“ligh+bringer”][quote author=“Mia”]I have engaged in hundreds of such talks with friends, and we all have weird mental experiences to yack about.

Doesn’t this contradict your previous statement “that a great many have NOT had these experiences”?

 

I’m not sure what you mean. I have friends. Over the years, I’ve shared wine and swapped stories with those friends, or the friends of friends.  Some of those stories involved freaky dreams, or cool episodes of synchronicity, or visions they had while stoned (this almost always  happens to me while on nitrous at the dentist), or glimpses of suspicious lights in the sky. I have little doubt that much gets embellished during the telling—isn’t that pretty typical? But were any of them perhaps ‘genuinely paranormal’? Who knows? I don’t claim to know, so I leave it at that, and just enjoy the occasional weirdness. If it ever feels like I should get more excited than that, I definitely will, I promise.

What I meant by “a great many”, was that there are millions, if not billions of people who have never had what they would consider a ‘genuinely paranormal’ experience, or what anyone else would label as such. Does that clear up what you thought was a contradiction?


.

[ Edited: 27 November 2007 02:35 AM by Mia]
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Posted: 27 November 2007 02:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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ligh+bringer - 27 November 2007 06:13 AM

To what extent is anecdotal evidence verified by further anecdotal evidence?  There’s only so much anecdotal evidence I’m willing to ignore.  If it’s “this one guy saw this UFO once,” I really don’t care.  But if it’s, “most people who spend the night in that room see or hear things they can’t explain,” I start to wonder about just what’s going on inside that room.

And don’t think that everything is dependent on anecdote.  There are things that show up on film and/or physically manipulate environments.

The question here would be if they had prior knowledge of the strange goings on in the room. Could not prior knowledge elicit phantoms of the mind to appear?

Think of a roller coaster. Your intellectual side will tell you that a roller coaster is simply a ride, engineered for safety, that few, if any people have been injured on it, and that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the amusement park to allow for the ride to injure you. However, there are still people who will be afraid to ride a roller coaster, and even those who aren’t, the ride will take on a greater sense of thrills than perhaps it actually warrants.

There’s actually an entire parapsychology department at Edinburgh University.  Not many researchers or funding, so “sensitive measuring devices” may be lacking, but they do conduct blinded studies sending screened participants into haunted places.  Parapsychology in itself purports that paranormal experiences are not just psychological in nature, but as yet unexplained psychological phenomena.  Parapsychological studies often do point towards causes external to the believer.  Loyd Auerbach would be a good author to consult on this subject.

Colleges offer courses in all kinds of goofy things. There are colleges that offer classes on Homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractics, and even cryptozoology! Just because something is taught at a university doesn’t mean that it’s a valid course of inquiry. Many colleges offer courses because of student demands, or because something is trendy, and they are hoping to attract students interested in those ideas to drop more cash their way.

To continue dropping names: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake.  Although Hancock likes to do drugs, and Sheldrake tends to make people foam at the mouth among atheists, I think they should have something to offer in their studies – even if most of what they say will never be part of accepted science.

You’d be better off reading Michael Shermer. His books, such as “How We Believe,” and “Why People Believe in Weird Things” are not only fun to read, but illuminate logical fallacies. Of course, it almost goes with out saying that you should also look into Carl Sagan’s classic, “the Demon Haunted World.” I’d suggest Randi’s book “Flim Flam,” but you don’t seem to be a fan.

I’d also recommend watching the first season of Ghost Hunters (the first season because in the second and third seasons they get more famous and make more money).  The Atlantic Paranormal Society was running for almost fifteen years prior to getting a TV show, all the while working as plumbers, which made them familiar with the inner workings of people’s houses.

Here are few links about Joe Nickel, a real “paranormal investigator.” I wish I could find a link to his article on the “Ghost Hunters” show, but these should suffice:
http://www.joenickell.com/
http://www.csicop.org/si/2006-05/i-files.html
http://science.howstuffworks.com/ghost-buster2.htm

From this I gather that you remain open minded, which is all I ask for really: that you don’t end up like James Randi.  It will take your own motivation and study to make anything proven by your standards.  You’ll have to define just what your interested in, and/or what requires the most investigation.

I wouldn’t say Randi is closed minded, but rather that he is a “put up or shut up” kind of guy. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Randi speak live, and he stated then, as he has on many other occasions, that he would be tickled pink if someone did claim the prize. Much like Houdini before him, Randi isn’t against the idea of the paranormal being real, he just doesn’t give it a high probability of truth. All Randi is asking for is proof. Keeping an open mind is fine and all, but I would rather be skeptical of most extraordinary claims as a rule, than to give them a “guilty until proven innocent” benefit of a doubt. Many a huckster are just waiting for you to believe.

[ Edited: 27 November 2007 02:46 AM by Celsus]
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Posted: 27 November 2007 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Dee - 27 November 2007 06:10 AM

By life-saving coincidents here’s an example ( a true story ) : My husband’s freind and his brother went hunting one day. One brother decided he wanted to take a differant direction and ended up walking quite a distance from his brother , who was in a van . While he was there he was messing around trying to find something or get things in order , and he accidently shot himself. He was bleeding very badly and became halfway unconscience .It was a wilderness sort of area , but not so much that there were no roads within a mile away. There was a man driving on one of those roads and he decided to stop for no reason, other than a strange feeling came over him and he drove to where the wounded man was, and stopped the bleeding and saved the guy’s life. The man who rescued him happened to be a doctor . What caused that ?  Can anyone say or have something like that happen to him/her and not wonder if there could be something true about this “God” business ?

To put it simply, if even one person had to die without similar intervention, after an asinine self-inflicted accident like that, then NO. . . Unless of course this god chooses his interventions capriciously, and he just felt like saving the clumsy hunter instead of the baby dying of AIDS. .  in which case the only thing that would be “true” about this “God business” is that he’s criminally insane, which is pretty much where all the literature points.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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I been thinking about the whole anecdotal evidence thing.

Light+bringer, you said that a large number of similar accounts would be convincing to you. You say that we should keep an open mind. However, how long do we need to keep our mind open?

See, look at, say, dowsing. There are a great many people who will claim, beyond the shadow of a doubt that it does indeed work. This is anecdotal evidence.

Randi, on the other hand, says that the majority of claimants to the million dollar prize have been dowsers, and that all his test of them have come up negative. Others who have tested dowsers also say that they never perform better than chance.

So, is it OK to close my mind to this, or must I still cling to some small shred of doubt that this has some veracity?

Think of the Loch Ness Monster. Short of draining the loch, it would seem that the evidence points strongly to his non-existence. Should I delay judgment anyway?

Also, consider just who is relating the anecdote. If I meet 20 people who tell me that they’ve seen a woman sawed in half, and that it must be real because they have no idea how it was done, and then meet one person who claims to be a magician, who tells me in no uncertain terms that it is a trick, and here’s how its done, should I listen to the 20 or the one?

This is not to claim that everyone who cites a paranormal experience is ignorant, but how much weight must I give their testimony if it is uninformed. Some people have a greater knowledge on certain issues than others. Shouldn’t their testimony be preferred to those who don’t?

Psychic phenomena has been under the microscope of science for well over a hundred years. To date, no conclusive evidence has been brought to light. Indeed, the only compelling evidence seems to be uniformed anecdotal evidence.

So do we just keep testing and testing the same propositions over and over again until the test themselves become meaningless? How many times would a paranormal phenomenon have to fail before we can safely say that it isn’t valid? How long do I have to leave my mind open before I can just shut it up and go home?

[ Edited: 27 November 2007 04:12 PM by Celsus]
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Posted: 27 November 2007 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]Since I’ve now heard most everything the average Art Bell guest has to say on any given paranormal topic

Yeah, I used to listen to At Bell a lot; still do once in a while.  It does get repetitive.  Sometimes you just wish he’d screen his calls for a change.  I never bought the radio though.  A few authors got a few more books sales, but I’ve made sure my interest in the paranormal isn’t a drain on my finances.

[quote author=“Mia”]I have little doubt that much gets embellished during the telling—isn’t that pretty typical? But were any of them perhaps ‘genuinely paranormal’?

I’m not sure what you mean by embellished.  If you’re talking about dreams, drug experiences, and synchronicity things are easily explained away as mental phenomena, even before the story is related.  I’m wondering if you’ve ever asked anyone if they’ve had an experience that they truly could not explain, as rational minded science loving individuals.  See where that sample puts your estimations of millions or billions.

[quote author=“Celsus”]The question here would be if they had prior knowledge of the strange goings on in the room. Could not prior knowledge elicit phantoms of the mind to appear?

Think of a roller coaster.

A roller coaster is definitely a good analogy.  But for people who are unfortunate enough to be living in a haunted house, they don’t have the choice to get off it.  There was a recent episode of Ghost Hunters where they investigated a home in which a criminal had committed suicide via self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in order to evade capture and punishment.  The mother that moved in wasn’t about to tell her child about this event, but the child described a man in her room with a “boo-boo” on his head, and could see his brain.  Lack of prior knowledge is one thing, but how much detail can you go into before occam’s razor fails to cut it?

[quote author=“Celsus”]Here are few links about Joe Nickel, a real “paranormal investigator.” I wish I could find a link to his article on the “Ghost Hunters” show

I’ve read that article.  It’s pretty paltry, full of ad hominen attacks and typical skeptic’s mind games and jargon, which refuses to approach the problem that TAPS has collected evidence.

Put it this way: If Joe Nickel filmed a full body apparition of a ghost, he couldn’t go back to CSICOP and say, “look at what I found guys!”  He’d be roundly dismissed a hoaxer and would lose his job.  The same goes for Shermer’s skeptics society and Randi’s so called “educational” foundation.  They’re not a in a position to examine evidence when their employment and continued income, not to mention reputation, depends on certain things being fake.  Don’t get me wrong, these professional skeptics do some good work with religious extortionists and people doing magic tricks outside of an entertainment context, but I wouldn’t trust them to investigate the paranormal with any modicum of open mind or tempered bias.

[quote author=“Celsus”]I wouldn’t say Randi is closed minded, but rather that he is a “put up or shut up” kind of guy.

Believe it or not, the Ghost Hunters themselves had James Randi on their radio show, which should be archived here.

http://beyondreality.podbean.com/2007/08/25/skepticism/

The result was they agreed it came down to a semantic argument about what is paranormal, with Grant saying it’s just not normal, while Randi was yelling at he top of his lungs about how “it’s not paranormal”.  Jason told Randi about some of the success they’ve had identifying leaking EMF fields in homes, and how fixing those electronics has actually put an end to some people’s paranormal experiences.  To my surprise, Randi just commended them on their work.  He seemed happy to commit the sin of “credulity.”

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Posted: 27 November 2007 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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ligh+bringer - 27 November 2007 09:21 PM

A roller coaster is definitely a good analogy.  But for people who are unfortunate enough to be living in a haunted house, they don’t have the choice to get off it.  There was a recent episode of Ghost Hunters where they investigated a home in which a criminal had committed suicide via self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in order to evade capture and punishment.  The mother that moved in wasn’t about to tell her child about this event, but the child described a man in her room with a “boo-boo” on his head, and could see his brain.  Lack of prior knowledge is one thing, but how much detail can you go into before occam’s razor fails to cut it?

This reminds me of the story Stephen King tells, I think in Danse Macabre, about a boy who was afraid of “the twi-night double-header.” It would seem that he had heard his father talking about back to back baseball games, and the boys imagination ran wild.

Wonder just how much that little girl had over heard about the dead guy who dwelt in her house? Just because mommy tried to keep the information from her, it doesn’t mean that she never heard about it.

[ Edited: 27 November 2007 05:10 PM by Celsus]
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Posted: 27 November 2007 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Mia - 27 November 2007 08:22 AM
Dee - 27 November 2007 06:10 AM

By life-saving coincidents here’s an example ( a true story ) : My husband’s freind and his brother went hunting one day. One brother decided he wanted to take a differant direction and ended up walking quite a distance from his brother , who was in a van . While he was there he was messing around trying to find something or get things in order , and he accidently shot himself. He was bleeding very badly and became halfway unconscience .It was a wilderness sort of area , but not so much that there were no roads within a mile away. There was a man driving on one of those roads and he decided to stop for no reason, other than a strange feeling came over him and he drove to where the wounded man was, and stopped the bleeding and saved the guy’s life. The man who rescued him happened to be a doctor . What caused that ?  Can anyone say or have something like that happen to him/her and not wonder if there could be something true about this “God” business ?

To put it simply, if even one person had to die without similar intervention, after an asinine self-inflicted accident like that, then NO. . . Unless of course this god chooses his interventions capriciously, and he just felt like saving the clumsy hunter instead of the baby dying of AIDS. .  in which case the only thing that would be “true” about this “God business” is that he’s criminally insane, which is pretty much where all the literature points.

Indeed it does. And as to the question of what caused the doctor to have a ‘funny feeling’ can we not just accept that we know what we know and we’re working on the rest - without having to just invent ‘answers’ for the sake of it?

I could aver that the reason the doctor was able to save this rather amateurish hunter was that he’d been controlled telepathically by a highly-evolved pan-dimension pizza from the Planet Epsilon IX, whence all Earthly business is overseen by various, and to us intangible, advanced foodstuffs. And there would be no more or less evidence for this being correct than that he was saved by Jesus or Santa.
In fact, I’m betting almost anyone here could, should they wish, detail just how, when and why the Comestible Overlords of Epsilon IX control the fate of humanity - thus demonstrating how easily imaginary answers can be provided for virtually anything provided you have a sense of mischief and some free time.
Furthermore, I’d wager said book, written by amateurs and concerning the antics of pan-dimensional foodstuffs, would still be less difficult to believe than the Bible.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Occam’s Razor - 27 November 2007 10:11 PM

I could aver that the reason the doctor was able to save this rather amateurish hunter was that he’d been controlled telepathically by a highly-evolved pan-dimension pizza from the Planet Epsilon IX

Goddammit! Who told you?

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Posted: 27 November 2007 06:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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[quote author=“Celsus”]See, look at, say, dowsing. There are a great many people who will claim, beyond the shadow of a doubt that it does indeed work. This is anecdotal evidence.

I don’t think so.  Anecdotal evidence would be a specific case in which dowsing worked.  Those cases could be categorized and compiled – analyzed independently.  The people claiming it works are not anecdotal evidence.  Like the people who saw the women sawed, they have no idea how it works.  They can’t even offer any small explanations or theories.  That’s willful ignorance, that’s belief, that has nothing to do with the evidence.

I’m not saying leave your mind open to believe in dowsing, to believe in the loch ness monster, or to believe people have psychic powers.  I’m saying leave your mind open to evidence that dowsing works, to evidence that there’s something in Lock Ness, to evidence that people have psychic abilities – evidence which some people actually have. 

Saying “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” closes your mind to the very ordinary and mundane observations that can support paranormal activity.  I would just say: “claims require evidence.”  That’s all.

Now you can argue that there isn’t enough evidence; that you need an extraordinarily large amount of evidence to prove extraordinary claims.  Or you can argue that certain evidence is of a low quality - a blurry picture versus a magazine cover.  But know which road you’re taking in debunking, as opposed to forcing yourself to debunk everything you perceive as extraordinary. 

Open mindedness is not easy, but every scientific discovery has depended on it.  It doesn’t have to be a long period of time.  A split second’s consideration can lead to an oscillation between acceptance and disbelief over time.  That means your thinking.  That means you’re examining your own beliefs and assumptions. That’s good.

If you’ve gone through this process and still decide, like I have, to chuck dowsing and Nessie, that’s a decision you’re free to make.  Don’t let someone else make it for you - especially failed magicians named Randi and Nickell.

[quote author=“Celsus”]So do we just keep testing and testing the same propositions over and over again until the test themselves become meaningless? How many times would a paranormal phenomenon have to fail before we can safely say that it isn’t valid?

If the question is how long do we keep testing things scientifically the answer would be forever.  As far as specific paranormal phenomena, the question should be is it still happening.  If so, there should be something to study, even if it’s folklore.

[quote author=“Celsus”]Some people have a greater knowledge on certain issues than others. Shouldn’t their testimony be preferred to those who don’t?

Absolutely.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Celsus - 27 November 2007 10:06 PM

This reminds me of the story Stephen King tells, I think in Danse Macabre, about a boy who was afraid of “the twi-night double-header.” It would seem that he had heard his father talking about back to back baseball games, and the boys imagination ran wild.

A coworker of my dad’s lived in an old house in England, where his daughter had an imaginary friend.  He thought his daughter’s imagination was running wild, until one day when he saw his daughter’s imaginary friend.

[quote author=“Celsus”]Wonder just how much that little girl had over heard about the dead guy who dwelt in her house? Just because mommy tried to keep the information from her, it doesn’t mean that she never heard about it.

From who?  How many other people even knew what happened that she would interact with?  Can this young girl even conceive of the concept to suicide? (I think she was four)

It’s an open question, with effectively no way to answer it.  For this girl’s imagination to have rendered such a specific event, just hearing about something bad that happened wouldn’t suffice.  It would take someone telling her exactly what happened, which, according to her mother’s testimony, never happened (not to mention that it wouldn’t be a very nice thing to tell a little girl).

If you’re saying some amount of prior knowledge is required, you run into these types of scenarios where no conceivable medium to transmit the knowledge is present.  It may be that prior knowledge manifests paranormal experiences due to the roller coaster effect, but now you’re looking at the real possibility of receiving information psychically.  Taking the route in which it’s actually something inherent in the place, external to the observer, becomes more parsimonious.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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ligh+bringer - 28 November 2007 12:03 AM

From who?  How many other people even knew what happened that she would interact with?  Can this young girl even conceive of the concept to suicide? (I think she was four)

I sometimes work with children, and I’ve heard all kind of stuff pour out of their mouths. I remember a kindergartener telling me that her mommy was breaking up with her boy friend because he was bad in bed. Another told me that her mommy said her daddy was a sex machine. Do you think that either child really understood these things? Do you think that their mommies were explaining this to them? You’d be surprised what kids can pick up on when you don’t think they are listening.

A child wouldn’t have to understand the concept of suicide to understand that having a “boo boo,” or wound to the head would be bad. By four, a good number of kids have had accidents, many involving the shedding of blood. By the age of four, I’d already had a hernia operation, and had to run to the emergency room with my father to see him get stitches after jamming an exato knife into his knee. By four, most kids would know what a wound is.

I also wouldn’t discount what some kids are exposed to. I’m not blaming the media, but I have met four year old girls who talked about seeing rated “R” horror movies with their parents. I know that seeing gory images of Jesus gave me the creeps as a child. We always assume that all children know is Sesame Street, and I can tell you from experience that this just isn’t so.

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