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Supernatural vs. Paranormal vs. Psychological


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#1    Paranormalcy

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Posted 28 July 2004 - 07:29 AM

I was watching "The Entity" tonight, and again found myself thinking about the great three way debate, especially since they brought it up pretty well in the movie.

When you read stories, or posts, from people who seem to be sincere but whose experiences read like a bad horror writer's work, where is the line to make a call, from one category to another?

I know some of you here are total skeptics or debunkers, Klassics, if you will - Houdini and the Amazing Randi are role models. wink2.gif  For you too, I would like to ask this, but also for others who have developed their own idea that "unusual" things do happen, but who have their own biases and ideas for what the nature of something is.

I see posts here, people seeing things, hearing voices, objects moving by themselves, etc. To me, because of my own personal leanings and I guess to be honest because I really don't WANT to think otherwise, that these reports can be explained as a combination of psychological and parapsychological events, such as depression, fatigue, possibly dissociative personality and maybe a touch of recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK or "poltergeist") and such. A lot of times, I ascribe visions or "feelings" and such to the experiencer being upset, naive, suggestive, etc. For me, I guess this keeps things fairly "neutral" and makes more sense (and is, again, more comforting) than saying that they are "haunted" or demons are out to get them, etc.

I try to be rational and stay grounded in fact when I can, but I DO believe there are things that occur that the normal scientific community does NOT take seriously (and should, after all, "everything" is not discovered - science is about making NEW finds, not just sitting behind an impenetrable fortress with the facts you currently have). Again returning to "The Entity", a good example of the conflict between normal science and parapsychology is shown, as the therapist tells the victim its all in her head, meanwhile she has welts and bite marks all over her, numerous people have witnessed the events occurring to the woman and even gotten some on film. This is never enough for the true skeptic, who appears to disbelieve for the sake of disbelieving, rather than because there is truly a "normal" explanation that is obvious. The parapsychologists on the other hand are more sympathetic to the woman's plight and provide her a more supportive environment, as believers in things-that-should-not-exist.

Now, to add at least two more angles to this conflict which aren't really touched on in the Entity, where does the supernatural (demons, spirits) split from parapsychology (yes its all in your head, but it can hurt you and other people because you manifest it in a still unknown way)? I'm lumping religion in with the supernatural as well, though some will say "its a spirit" and others will say "its a demon", its still a conscious willful entity.

The question is how much bias do we ALL have, when it comes to things like this? Is it possible for the skeptics to see ENOUGH evidence that they are convinced that *something* outside of what we know, exists? If an unseen force just sledgehammers them in the back of their own head - is that still mass hysteria or do they say SH**! ? Can the more scientifically-oriented parapsychologists get enough readings and analysis to determine various stresses and psychological and physiological triggers, and hard evidence, to show WHY or even how someone is manifesting violent telekinetic abilities themselves, without the supernaturalists/spiritualists say "well, obviously she's possessed/tortured by demons"? And on the flip side of this more than two-sided coin, how many personal experiences and activities do the parapsychologists have to hear about before they decide that the victim is not using her own psychic powers to sexually abuse herself, to manifest a "fake" form to create the illusion of an entity - will they ever bow and admit "ok, maybe it IS an entity"? For that matter, how much scientific and pure psychological data do the hard scientists have to present to the supernaturalists and parapsychologists and say "Look guys, she's NUTS okay?! There's nothing there, she's just insane!" and for that to get through?

I wonder this for the sake of all research, in mainstream as well as fringe science - how much of a disservice is each of us doing by sticking to our guns and not considering (I mean REALLY considering, not just weighing it for a moment and dismissing it) an alternate and opposing point of view?

| Ouija/Ideomotor | Sleep Paralys./Hypnogogia | Ouija: 252 hrs/4yrs



#2    Xenojjin

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Posted 31 July 2004 - 07:01 AM

Congratulations , you managed to just state everything we argue about on this forum .

Have you been handed your straight jacket by one of the mods yet ?

ThEy COZY . original.gif  

In the way, the supernatural is what's behind the curtain. Normally, you only need to see what's happening in stage. That's how reality works. If you don't know then it's for the best. Actually, learning about the supernatural only increases the number of things you don't know.

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#3    aquatus1

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Posted 31 July 2004 - 04:07 PM

QUOTE
I DO believe there are things that occur that the normal scientific community does NOT take seriously (and should, after all, "everything" is not discovered - science is about making NEW finds, not just sitting behind an impenetrable fortress with the facts you currently have


You are blaming this on science?  A scientists has a choice:  Research the phenomena that offers imperical evidence and objective data, or research the phenomena that has not as of yet, in the millenia that it has been reported, offered up a single piece of imperical evidence.  How about the scientist think it over during lunch?  Oh wait, he needs money to buy lunch, doesn't he?  He gets the money from his boss.  His boss pays him for results.  Should this scientists ask his boss to support him finacially as he investigates a field known for its unreliability and lack of hard evidence, or stick with the one that has the evidence that will allow you to make the new discoveries that scientists are so eager to find?

Science is all about new finds.  But you can't make new finds without imperical evidence to find it with.

QUOTE
a good example of the conflict between normal science and parapsychology is shown, as the therapist tells the victim its all in her head, meanwhile she has welts and bite marks all over her, numerous people have witnessed the events occurring to the woman and even gotten some on film. This is never enough for the true skeptic, who appears to disbelieve for the sake of disbelieving, rather than because there is truly a "normal" explanation that is obvious.


As much as I detest to even pretend that Hollywood is a good source of accurate information, let me clarify what the scientists are thinking here.  Welts and bite marks are not evidence of a supernatural entity.  A therapist that sees signs of abuse can coclude that they are self-inflicted, that they are from another person, or even that they are signs of extreme obsession (people in this state can, have, and do manifest bruises, welts, and in such cases as stigmata, even blood loss, through the sheer power of the mind over the body).  All these options have been documented, studied, and verified to be actual causes of bruises and welts.  Occam's Razor:  The simplest explanation is that the woman is suffering from psychosis, as thousands of others do, as opposed to her being the victim of a supernatural entity, for which there has never been a credible case.

Oh, and as a former Master-at-Arms (Military Police), I can state unequivically, that witnesses to the exact same event can describe it in incredibly variable ways.  Subjective evidence is never considered positive proof.

QUOTE
Can the more scientifically-oriented parapsychologists get enough readings and analysis to determine various stresses and psychological and physiological triggers, and hard evidence, to show WHY or even how someone is manifesting violent telekinetic abilities themselves, without the supernaturalists/spiritualists say "well, obviously she's possessed/tortured by demons"?


Well, no actually.  This is why.  The very first questions that has to be asked in science (and this is something that paranatural researchers would dearly love to ignore, but cannot) is not How something can be explained, but rather Does something exist in the first place.

Seems almost obvious, doesn't it?  If something doesn't exist, there really isn't a point to trying to explain it.  Unfortunetely, in the case of paranatural phenomena, it is always assumed that the phenomena exists, and that leads to problems with bias in the data.  If you cannot provide empirical evidence of a ghost, then you cannot define what a ghost is.  If you cannot define what a ghost is, then you cannot measure it in any way.  Without measurements, you cannot have classifications.  So, when confronted with a victim of possession, the parapsychologist and the spiritualist are pretty much restricted to giving an unfounded opinion on the matter, whereas the therapist can say "This person is exhibiting the exact same symptoms as all these other poeple who are suffering from possession syndrome.  Chances are, if she is treated in the same manner that the others are treated, she will regain self-control."

Science is very straightforward about what it would accept as proof of paranatural phenomena.  It has to be repeatable, it has to be imperical, and it has to be objective.  Explanations, to be perfectly frank, are not even necessary at this point.  Right now, what is needed is evidence that these things exist in the first place.


#4    Paranormalcy

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Posted 31 July 2004 - 07:47 PM

I tend to agree with, well, all of your points to one degree or another. And I didn't mean to infer I was "blaming" science itself or scientists for not taking some things that seriously - as you state, "hard scientists" are also at the mercy of necessity, such as funding, equipment, etc. I'm sure there are many scientists (more than currently are doing so) that would indeed enjoy going out into the field and researching some of these "fringe" events or setting up lab-based experiments, so I will apologize for the wording of my previous statement.

The "Entity" which many of you probably know, was based on true events, and while yes I know Hollywood is notorious for "artistic license" with "true" stories, some of the reported incidents were factual (according to the researchers and people involved), so I wasn't basing my suppositions on pure entertainment. But that wasn't the point; I was using it as an example that I thought perhaps a few people had seen, so would be a better example than something arbitrary.

I do think a great many things in the world today that are attributed to "otherworldly" forces are natural or conventionally man-made phenomenon, maybe as yet undocumented, maybe misidentified, and a lot of the hoo-ha surrounding some popular stories and "paranormal" past-times and hobbies make me shake my head at the lack of reason and amount of gullibility of man as a whole. Also though I do think some things that are dismissed as hoaxes or misidentifications, but whose "mundane" explanations are even less believable than their "paranormal" counterpart, are a disservice to science, reason and our own adaptability. For the record I like the phrase para"normal"as opposed to para"natural" because the former indicates something that is simply different than what the everyday person expects or knows to be a part of their daily life, while para"natural", to me, infers more something existing outside of nature and existance - I think the paranormal is perfectly natural, its just a "subtle" part of nature.

Anyone else have any ideas?

| Ouija/Ideomotor | Sleep Paralys./Hypnogogia | Ouija: 252 hrs/4yrs






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