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lestatdelioncourt

Response to "no scientific evidence" of ghost

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sinewave

Science is like a fishing net with inch-wide holes. With it, we can verify the existence of all fish larger than one inch. Does this mean that science refuses to acknowledge the existence of fish smaller than one inch? Not at all. It simply means that we are unable to currently verify it. Incidentally, the physical senses are neither the primary, nor even the preferred type of evidence for a theory. Science requires objective evidence and a logical path, not 'seeing is believing'.

Before long someone will reply to you and completely misinterpret what you said.

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moonshadow60

I didn't believe in ghosts until I saw one.

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Angel1510

Before long someone will reply to you and completely misinterpret what you said.

I thought it was a good argument for both sides, nothing like sitting on the fence!

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aquatus1

I didn't believe in ghosts until I saw one.

That's really all it took?

Setting the bar kinda low, aren't you?

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sinewave

I didn't believe in ghosts until I saw one.

I saw Teller catch a bullet in his teeth. If I implicitly believed my perception I would think it possible.

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aquatus1

It...it isn't?

*crap. Someone is probably going to misinterpret that too...

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moonshadow60

There may need to be certain air conditions and light conditions before you see a ghost. What I have seen are not like a shadow. They looked as solid as a human being. No white sheets or gossamer shrouds. I used to laugh at people who believed in them, but no more. You can laugh at me if you want to. Doesn't bother me. One day you may see one, too.

Edited by moonshadow60
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sinewave

There may need to be certain air conditions and light conditions before you see a ghost. What I have seen are not like a shadow. They looked as solid as a human being. No white sheets or gossamer shrouds. I used to laugh at people who believed in them, but no more. You can laugh at me if you want to. Doesn't bother me. One day you may see one, too.

I've seen and heard things that did not make sense too. I think most people have. While doing some IT work in a supposedly empty school building, I saw a woman enter the teachers lounge. About 10 minutes later I went to the lounge to check in with whomever it was. The lounge was dark and empty. Both washrooms were unoccupied. The sinks were dry and the bowl cleaner was still in both toilets. My work that night had me in every classroom and office so I figured I would catch up with her sooner or later. I worked for that district about 12 years and knew everyone on the staff very well. The woman I saw was not at all familiar to me. All of the rooms were dark and locked when I made my rounds and there was no indication anyone had been working there that evening. All of the exterior doors were wired to ring a chime in the central hallway when opened. I am reasonably sure where I was I would have heard if someone had opened a door to leave. The following day I described the woman to the custodian. Neither he nor the office staff knew of anyone working there who looked and dressed as she did. I never did figure out who it was. Did I see a ghost? Perhaps. Was I worn and tired from working long hours during a holiday week? Yep.

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Avallaine

The argument for ghosts is made entirely of speculation and pseudo-science.

The argument for ghosts in general, or the arguments I've personally made on this thread? I think you must mean "in general," because I haven't actually made any arguments "for ghosts" here. The closest I've come is saying that the only conclusion I lean toward (and "leaning toward" a conclusion is not the same thing as arriving at one) is that there's something more than delusion behind ghost reports because of a few patterns that occur across time and cultural borders.

The only arguments I've actually made are about the history of science and where it sometimes goes wrong. I've also responded to a couple of your speculations about why ghosts "violate thermodynamics" by bringing up equally likely speculations (or equally unlikely, if you prefer) in which they don't.

You do realize that most of the arguments you've made "against ghosts" are just as speculative as any believers' theories about how they "work," right?

The only thing you can state with any certainty is some people believe ghosts exist.

Well, no. I can state with certainty that some people believe in them, yes; I can also state that some people claim to have seen them; and that the two groups don't always coincide. I can also state that many first-person reports show a few patterns of details that cross cultural boundaries.

Note: I don't claim this "proves" anything about ghosts. I think it means they're "worth looking into," that's all.

That belief is predicated on the assumption some part of us survives death. An assumption not everyone is willing to accept.

Ah, now, if it's the theory that we have souls that you have a problem with, that's a bit different than just having a problem with ghosts. That's a matter of religion/spiritual belief, and science has centuries to go before it can really tackle those questions, I would think.

But, would it help if I pointed out that ghosts are not necessarily proof of spiritual survival? Most people assume they are, yes; but remember, a theory being popular doesn't mean it's right. I can think of two or three hypotheses off the bat that could account for the reality of ghost phenomena without proving that we have souls at all.

Our mortality is frightening so it is no wonder over the millennia we have fabricated so many mythologies about it. Other than fervent belief there is nothing to support the hypothesis. Rather than reaching conclusions based solely on faith, some people choose to set the matter aside until more evidence arrives. The topic of discussion is whether there is scientific evidence to support the notion. To date there is none.

Again, if it's the concept of souls that is your main objection to ghost phenomena, you've got far less ammunition from the scientific arsenal that can apply. When we speak of ghosts being energies, we can assume they share some similarity with energies we're familiar with (electromagnetism, gravity, etc.) about which science has found out a great deal, so analogies are possible. But when we shift the argument to a spiritual level, almost by definition we're moving outside the realm of science and into that of religion...a somewhat dangerous area to debate in (and besides, there's a couple of sub-forums more appropriate for that sort of discussion than this one).

Since the thread is about scientific evidence of ghosts (or the lack thereof), I'd really stick to talking about them on that level.

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sinewave

The argument for ghosts in general, or the arguments I've personally made on this thread? I think you must mean "in general," because I haven't actually made any arguments "for ghosts" here. The closest I've come is saying that the only conclusion I lean toward (and "leaning toward" a conclusion is not the same thing as arriving at one) is that there's something more than delusion behind ghost reports because of a few patterns that occur across time and cultural borders.

The only arguments I've actually made are about the history of science and where it sometimes goes wrong. I've also responded to a couple of your speculations about why ghosts "violate thermodynamics" by bringing up equally likely speculations (or equally unlikely, if you prefer) in which they don't.

The arguments in general, of course! Do you think I just started doing this? I have spent a fair amount of time reading up on the phenomenon since I was a kid. We don't have to get into how long that as been. :) Suffice it to say I did not get my information exclusively from this site or the Internet for that matter. I live in an area that has several ghost hotspots. Most of which have been featured on TV shows. I was always aware of those places and was intrigued enough to visit several of them quite often. I am an engineer by profession and always excelled in the sciences so it was a natural for me to apply those skills to my ghost interest. The more I applied science to the hypothesis the more it fell apart.

You do realize that most of the arguments you've made "against ghosts" are just as speculative as any believers' theories about how they "work," right?

Not at all. I speak in subjunctive tones on matters of science because that is the correct way to speak. There is always a measured amount of uncertainty when discussing hypotheses.

Well, no. I can state with certainty that some people believe in them, yes; I can also state that some people claim to have seen them; and that the two groups don't always coincide. I can also state that many first-person reports show a few patterns of details that cross cultural boundaries.

Note: I don't claim this "proves" anything about ghosts. I think it means they're "worth looking into," that's all.

True but the net effect is the same. People believe, and that is the spirit of my remark.

Ah, now, if it's the theory that we have souls that you have a problem with, that's a bit different than just having a problem with ghosts. That's a matter of religion/spiritual belief, and science has centuries to go before it can really tackle those questions, I would think.

But, would it help if I pointed out that ghosts are not necessarily proof of spiritual survival? Most people assume they are, yes; but remember, a theory being popular doesn't mean it's right. I can think of two or three hypotheses off the bat that could account for the reality of ghost phenomena without proving that we have souls at all.

But they tend to go together, don't they? Ghosts are usually said to be the souls of those who are not at rest. At any rate, people have used the terms interchangeably often enough to cause confusion. If there is in fact a difference, it has been lost on me. I have no religious convictions so the idea of souls is more or less meaningless anyway.

Again, if it's the concept of souls that is your main objection to ghost phenomena, you've got far less ammunition from the scientific arsenal that can apply. When we speak of ghosts being energies, we can assume they share some similarity with energies we're familiar with (electromagnetism, gravity, etc.) about which science has found out a great deal, so analogies are possible. But when we shift the argument to a spiritual level, almost by definition we're moving outside the realm of science and into that of religion...a somewhat dangerous area to debate in (and besides, there's a couple of sub-forums more appropriate for that sort of discussion than this one).

Since the thread is about scientific evidence of ghosts (or the lack thereof), I'd really stick to talking about them on that level.

No, again I care little for the notion of souls. I leave that to people of faith. Attacking religious beliefs is not my thing and I tend to avoid it. I am more interested in this idea of some kind of energy surviving our deaths that can somehow permeate a place and when conditions are right (mostly when science is not looking) reach out and make itself known.

There is no compelling evidence that has ever come my way for such an idea. And getting back to it, the thermodynamics problem comes into play here. The nature of energy is to dissipate and not remain static.

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Avallaine

The arguments in general, of course!

Well, I can't really respond to arguments that aren't directed at me. The arguments "in general" are far too numerous and varied to make a cohesive argument for, even if I believed in them all, which I don't.

I'd much rather you you respond to the arguments I'm actually making; otherwise, we'll always be talking at cross-purposes.

Not at all. I speak in subjunctive tones on matters of science because that is the correct way to speak. There is always a measured amount of uncertainty when discussing hypotheses.

Subjunctive tone...? I'm not sure what you mean here. I wasn't talking about your grammar....

What I meant by "speculation" is you taking a speculative theory (like "ghosts are free-floating energy clouds" or "spirits are created every time a person is born") and then arguing against it. It's fine if you want to disprove those particular theories, but the concept of ghosts is not dependent on those theories (except in the least sophisticated side of popular imagination).

But they tend to go together, don't they? Ghosts are usually said to be the souls of those who are not at rest. At any rate, people have used the terms interchangeably often enough to cause confusion.

Yeah, but is that really the kind of people you want to argue with?

If you really want to take on a subject, you can't just sit back and attack the weakest theories. First, it's unsportsmanlike; it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Second, it's pointless; those theories are usually only held by people with a casual interest who don't think much about the subject to begin with. People who are serious about the subject put a lot more thought into it and come up with more sophisticated theories. It's them you should be going after, if you really want to challenge the concept of ghosts in general.

When we deal with ghosts, there's two sides to the issue: the side of folklore, and the side of scientific investigation. Ghosts as souls who are not at rest is right out of folklore. If it's the folklore side of ghosts you want to argue against...I'm not sure who your audience would be. Most of the "folk" who believe the "lore" without question aren't going to care about what science says; while the people who care about science already know the popular conception of ghosts is based on folklore, and take those notions with a grain of salt.

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sinewave

Well, I can't really respond to arguments that aren't directed at me. The arguments "in general" are far too numerous and varied to make a cohesive argument for, even if I believed in them all, which I don't.

I'd much rather you you respond to the arguments I'm actually making; otherwise, we'll always be talking at cross-purposes.

Fair enough

Subjunctive tone...? I'm not sure what you mean here. I wasn't talking about your grammar....

What I meant by "speculation" is you taking a speculative theory (like "ghosts are free-floating energy clouds" or "spirits are created every time a person is born") and then arguing against it. It's fine if you want to disprove those particular theories, but the concept of ghosts is not dependent on those theories (except in the least sophisticated side of popular imagination).

Grammar is how we communicate, after all. When speaking in the context of science it is correct to express an appropriate level of uncertainty.

How else would you describe ghosts? Granted, witness accounts run the range from normal human appearnace to faint mist-like clouds but the consensus seem to be (and people here have said as much) they are "energy beings". Likewise how else do you characterize the creation of the spirit / life force / creamy filling that supposedly survives the death of a person? Leaving out the notion of recycled souls for reasons stated earlier, I have to assume this particular attribute is created along with the person.

Again, this whole thing is predicated on perception and belief. Accepting it as fact is an act of faith. Being "open to it" is good. Hell, I am "open to it" too but not until every mundane explanation is completely exhausted.

Yeah, but is that really the kind of people you want to argue with?

That is a well taken point. :) I agree 100 percent. There is no chance of an intelligent conversation under those circumstances.

If you really want to take on a subject, you can't just sit back and attack the weakest theories. First, it's unsportsmanlike; it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Second, it's pointless; those theories are usually only held by people with a casual interest who don't think much about the subject to begin with. People who are serious about the subject put a lot more thought into it and come up with more sophisticated theories. It's them you should be going after, if you really want to challenge the concept of ghosts in general.

When we deal with ghosts, there's two sides to the issue: the side of folklore, and the side of scientific investigation. Ghosts as souls who are not at rest is right out of folklore. If it's the folklore side of ghosts you want to argue against...I'm not sure who your audience would be. Most of the "folk" who believe the "lore" without question aren't going to care about what science says; while the people who care about science already know the popular conception of ghosts is based on folklore, and take those notions with a grain of salt.

The Mythbusters determined it is actually really difficult to shoot fish in a barrel. To be honest, all of the ghost notions I have ever heard are weak at best. No argument is any stronger than the weakest part. They are all based on perception and / or belief. Not sturdy stuff if you are trying to build something that will endure the rigors of peer review. One would have to demonstrate conclusively it was not due to gray matter frailties. Hey, it would be interesting if someone were to pull it off. I think it is highly unlikely that will ever happen.

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White Crane Feather

They never saw their gods but they did see space debris streak through the sky and hit the ground.

How do you know they never saw their gods?

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Angel1510

Fair enough

Grammar is how we communicate, after all. When speaking in the context of science it is correct to express an appropriate level of uncertainty.

How else would you describe ghosts? Granted, witness accounts run the range from normal human appearnace to faint mist-like clouds but the consensus seem to be (and people here have said as much) they are "energy beings". Likewise how else do you characterize the creation of the spirit / life force / creamy filling that supposedly survives the death of a person? Leaving out the notion of recycled souls for reasons stated earlier, I have to assume this particular attribute is created along with the person.

Again, this whole thing is predicated on perception and belief. Accepting it as fact is an act of faith. Being "open to it" is good. Hell, I am "open to it" too but not until every mundane explanation is completely exhausted.

That is a well taken point. :) I agree 100 percent. There is no chance of an intelligent conversation under those circumstances.

The Mythbusters determined it is actually really difficult to shoot fish in a barrel. To be honest, all of the ghost notions I have ever heard are weak at best. No argument is any stronger than the weakest part. They are all based on perception and / or belief. Not sturdy stuff if you are trying to build something that will endure the rigors of peer review. One would have to demonstrate conclusively it was not due to gray matter frailties. Hey, it would be interesting if someone were to pull it off. I think it is highly unlikely that will ever happen.

History has shown that many famous scientists have been dismissed by their fellow peers for their 'outrageous' claims and have later been proved to be right. Einstein for one and also Ludwig Boltzmann. Surely we must learn from history!

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White Crane Feather

Scientific methodology cannot predict life, it could not discover the expansion of the universe, or even other galaxies if it were a trillion or so years from now. It cannot not probably will never be able to tell you why virtual particles do their dance or where they come from, why quantum tunneling exists, or even ultimately why stars shine.

Why? It's because science is necessarily based on physical philosophy. If there are ghosts and spirits they are a NONPHYSICAL phenomenon. Quite obviously one cannot use physical methodologies and tools to investigate no physical phenomenon. The only non physical thing we interact with is our minds.

With this in mind ;) there is plenty of evidence for spirits and other phenomenon. It's just not scientific evidence. It falls within the religion and dogma of sciencism to suggest that there is nothing but what exists inside of ones own accepted phiisophical methodologies.

The funny part is that science is actually so effective that it has prooven its own philosophical premis wrong, yet still people absurdly cling to the idea that there can be nothing other than what is boxed in by the physicalist premis. In truth we measure things by their effects. Especially things like gravity. We would not know gravity exists if we could not see its effects on matter. it's an entity that magically attracts all matter. Not even Einstein really knew what it was, he could only describe its behavior. The problem of course arises when we eroniously decide that it's behavior absolutely must be consistent. When we discover it isn't, we don't modify what we know we cling to old habits and rules for a few generations until the younger generation comes to full acceptance and moves on.

We are not going to box in the universe. It has us boxed in. It's probably larger and more complicated than can even fit into our perceptions.

Over entities exist in some sort of substrait reality or encompassing one. I have seen them, interacted with them, called on them, am friends with a few, and have physically interacted with a couple. Although only one class of entity seems to me to have that ability.

One can deny the affects they have on our culture and society if you wish, but its a bit like explaining away gravity with no real evidence for your explanation. From our earliest ancestors to modern day institutions, from childhood interactions to laws of world powers. The powers that be are interwoven into the very fabric of our societies and always have been. The off shoot of physical fundamentalism is but a fad that has already been prooven wrong by its own methodologies. It is to be respected but not worshiped, used but not taken for grantid, checked with but not constitute our reality as we move foreword.

Ultimate reality is defiantly not a physical reality as shown to us by quantum mechanics. There is a substrate reality the writes the rules. This opens the possibilities up like a piñata and negates the religion of physicalism.

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aquatus1
History has shown that many famous scientists have been dismissed by their fellow peers for their 'outrageous' claims and have later been proved to be right. Einstein for one and also Ludwig Boltzmann. Surely we must learn from history!

History also shows that for every scientist dismissed and found to be right, there are dozens dismissed who's outrageous theories went absolutely nowhere. Heck, part of the reason why some of these scientists are so famous is because being right when the entire scientific community is against you is such a rare occurrence it merits attention.

Just because we can point to dozens of people who won the lottery, you shouldn't take that to mean that buying lottery tickets is a reasonable way to plan for your economic future.

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NewAge1

Great post White Crane feather. That sums up pretty well my feeling on the topic. I couldn't have explained it better.

I've a passion for science but it appears to me that the actual scientific methodology might not be the right filter to encompass paranomal phenomenon and modern science. That may be due to the fact that our understanding needs to be improved and so the methodology will be optimized and refined in the process as to acknowledge nonphysical phenomenon. Whatever ''ghost'' truly are, I am optimistic that a form of progressive science will one day find out at least part of the truth and the mechanisms involved.

Edited by sam_comm
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Angel1510

History also shows that for every scientist dismissed and found to be right, there are dozens dismissed who's outrageous theories went absolutely nowhere. Heck, part of the reason why some of these scientists are so famous is because being right when the entire scientific community is against you is such a rare occurrence it merits attention.

Just because we can point to dozens of people who won the lottery, you shouldn't take that to mean that buying lottery tickets is a reasonable way to plan for your economic future.

You just have to keep an open mind to all possibilities.

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sinewave

How do you know they never saw their gods?

Figuratively, perhaps.

You just have to keep an open mind to all possibilities.

Again, science is open to anything with substantial supporting evidence. Feelings and anecdotes are not enough.

Edited by sinewave

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White Crane Feather

Figuratively, perhaps.

Again, science is open to anything with substantial supporting evidence. Feelings and anecdotes are not enough.

Science isn't open to anything. It's a method. How do you know they did not see their gods like you are seeing these words on a screen? Do you think a god is going to jump through hoops for human scientists?

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sinewave

Science isn't open to anything. It's a method. How do you know they did not see their gods like you are seeing these words on a screen? Do you think a god is going to jump through hoops for human scientists?

Right, it is a framework for assigning probability. All hypotheses are considered valid but are assigned value based on correlation with existing science. Science is open to any hypothesis but only accepts those for which strong evidence exists. Ghosts have no such support so are considered fringe belief.

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White Crane Feather

Right, it is a framework for assigning probability. All hypotheses are considered valid but are assigned value based on correlation with existing science. Science is open to any hypothesis but only accepts those for which strong evidence exists. Ghosts have no such support so are considered fringe belief.

You have said it absolutely perfectly. By assigning probability and only accepting things close to the top of the bell curve, you have effectively eliminated the margins. This does not mean that the margins do not exist. It only means that you are marginalizing a great bit of reality. It dosnt mean that science says that spirits don't exist. It dosnt even say they probably don't exist. It says that we are sure within these margins about these specific things that we can and have tested. We know that there is a non zero chance that I might simply disappear from my living room and apear right in front of you. We have labeled things like this and say they are impossible, but in truth it is accepted physics.... So which is it? The chance is so tiny that we marginalize it and say impossible, but that is completely incorrect.

The point being, is that science says nothing about the existence of spirits and frankly I'm tired of people claiming they know how science works saying that science has spoken on the matter. It's not true in the slightest. Science has nothing to say about the matter.

You should read "the undiscovered self" where Carl Jung discusses the fallacy if marginalization in "scientific" proclamation.

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sinewave

You have said it absolutely perfectly. By assigning probability and only accepting things close to the top of the bell curve, you have effectively eliminated the margins. This does not mean that the margins do not exist. It only means that you are marginalizing a great bit of reality. It dosnt mean that science says that spirits don't exist. It dosnt even say they probably don't exist. It says that we are sure within these margins about these specific things that we can and have tested. We know that there is a non zero chance that I might simply disappear from my living room and apear right in front of you. We have labeled things like this and say they are impossible, but in truth it is accepted physics.... So which is it? The chance is so tiny that we marginalize it and say impossible, but that is completely incorrect.

The point being, is that science says nothing about the existence of spirits and frankly I'm tired of people claiming they know how science works saying that science has spoken on the matter. It's not true in the slightest. Science has nothing to say about the matter.

You should read "the undiscovered self" where Carl Jung discusses the fallacy if marginalization in "scientific" proclamation.

Yes, that is the way science works. It separates the likely from the unlikely. No reality is being marginalized. Where is the evidence to the contrary? What reality is being ignored?

BTW - I am pretty sure Carl Jung was not suggesting science should value irrational belief the same as verifiable evidence.

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aquatus1
By assigning probability and only accepting things close to the top of the bell curve, you have effectively eliminated the margins. This does not mean that the margins do not exist. It only means that you are marginalizing a great bit of reality.

Just to nitpick, the margins of the bell curve don't really represent the great portion of...reality (or whatever it is you are measuring). That's kind of the purpose of bell curve chart: To show us where most of the beef is by lumping the greatest distribution in the middle of the curve.

Again, not really significant, just a nitpick.

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White Crane Feather

Yes, that is the way science works. It separates the likely from the unlikely. No reality is being marginalized. Where is the evidence to the contrary? What reality is being ignored?

BTW - I am pretty sure Carl Jung was not suggesting science should value irrational belief the same as verifiable evidence.

Of course not. He was describing that what is considered irrational is not always irrational because of a tendency to marginalize things especially human experiences. You should read it.

I gave you the evidence. Most would say that it is physically impossible for me to disappear right now and appear right in front of you. It is not. In fact an advanced physics student can calculate the odds. This is just one example of marginalization.

I can tell you the believing in spirits, spiritual entities, and gods is categorically, and completely not irrational nor illogical. It may not be right, but it is not an irrational belief for everyone. Certainly there are those that attribute certain things to spirits irrationally for a verity of reasons, and that even may be the bulk of the curve, but there is always the margin. And in this case it's not nearly as thin as the possibility that I might teleport to mars at any given moment.

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