Mod+ 264. JACK HUNTER ON PARANTHROPOLOGY, PARAPSCYHOLOGY AND SPIRIT COMMUNICATION

#2
What is the experience of ritual?

My attitude toward religion is best explained by something I learned when I took classes in spiritual healing. I was taught that all that is needed for healing to occur is the intention of the healer to act as a conduit for the healing energy to flow through him from a higher source.

One implication of this is that despite the fact that there are many different forms of energy healing, the particular method of healing is not important, only the intention of the healer is important. The best method of healing would be the one that helps the healer maintain his intentions best. If dancing around wearing a grass skirt and shaking a rattle helps you maintain your intention best, then that would be the best method for you.

When I judge a group of people meeting to practice their religion. I don't judge them by the form of their religion, I judge them by their intention. There are many people who practice religion with the right intention and their religion helps them to maintain their intention. That is good.

In a realm where there is no physical reality, a mind can do nothing but dream, ie create / share reality through thought.

The afterlife cannot be understood entirely by analogy to the physical world.
The afterlife is the ultimate reality, our "objective" world is what is unreal.

It seems absurd to me to criticize religions for being false when the entire physical universe is a dream and what seems even more absurd is that many of the critics are materialists who are much farther from the truth about consciousness than the religions they criticize.
Does experience matter?

Experience matters because:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/04/near-death-experiences-and-afterlife.html#facts_alternative
When deciding the best explanation for a phenomenon, the beliefs of experiencers must be considered. They are there on the spot. There is no one more qualified to asses their experiences than they are. NDErs consistently say their experiences are real and that is a strong argument in favor of the reality of their experiences. As shown above, none of the known causes of hallucinations or ESP can explain NDEs.

The opinions of non-scientist experts should also be given due weight. The expertise of mediums is shown above in the links to different forms of mediumship. Mediums live with afterlife phenomena every day. They know all the fine details that do not get published in books and parapsychological studies. Many mediums also experience other forms of ESP and they can tell the difference between spirit communication and ESP. Mediums say they perceive and communicate with spirits. They are the foremost experts in spirit communication and there are no better qualified experts on ESP and survival of consciousness.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/p/the-science-scam-is-one-of-biggest.html
It is possible to know things without science. Science has been around for barely a few hundred years, yet people have amassed huge amounts of empirical knowledge for millennia. Drop a scientist into a desert or a tropical jungle and he will be dead in a day or two, unless he happens to have native inhabitants of those environments to show him how to survive in the wilderness. Look at the ruins of past civilizations and you will see great architectural accomplishments that were accomplished before any one ever thought about the scientific method. Willow bark was used as an analgesic long before science discovered the aspirin in it. Moldy bread was used to treat infections long before penicillin was discovered.
There is a certain arrogance among scientists where members of the Priesthood of Data (PhD's) believe they are the sole source of knowledge for the rest of humanity. Experience matters because scientists too often get it wrong because they prefer to believe their own faith instead of objective empirical observations that ordinary people or scientists challenging the orthodoxy report.

There are several causes of blind faith among scientists.

Perceptual bias is a huge problem among scientists.

Neuro-plasticity can cause scientists to become hidebound from a lifetime of education and work in science:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/08/george-orwell-scientists-themselves.html
Most people know that George Orwell wrote about the dangers of authoritarian government in his novels 1984 and Animal Farm. What is less well known is that Orwell also wrote about the danger of the authoriarian potential of science. In his essay What is Science? Orwell argued that society confuses science, the "method of thought which obtains verifiable results by reasoning logically from observed fact", with narrow areas of knowledge such as chemistry and physics. Because of this confusion, society mistakenly attributes broad authority to scientists when their specialization actually makes them narrow minded and so unqualified to exercise broad authority.

Orwell wrote that scientists encourage this confusion in order to protect their own prestige and power.
Other causes include:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/01/someone-in-internet-discussion-forum.html
  1. Habitual reductionist thinking prevents scientists from accepting anything that they can't explain in terms of simpler phenomena, such as non-physical consciousness, qualia, and psychic phenomena.
  2. Indoctrination into philosophical naturalism during science education.
  3. Psychological attachment to the status quo scientific world view because it is the source of their status and livelihood.
  4. Fear of alternative means of obtaining knowledge about the universe that might supplant science as the most important source of knowledge. If you can ask a psychic or a spirit, why would you need scientists?
  5. Persecution of heretics. If Nobel prize winning physicist Brian Josephson is ostracized because of his interest in psi, what chance does an ordinary scientist have?

From the interview:
I wanted to do with Paranthropology the journal was to make a space where both anthropologists and parapsychologists could come together and sort of share ideas on what’s going on in these kinda situations…there are anthropologists who have done parapsychological experiments in the field as well, which is quite an interesting area.

This is exactly what I mean about arrogance. Evidently anthropologists and parapsychologists are the only people who can understand mediumship, the mediums themselves who live with the phenomena 24/7 and know all the fine details that never get published in scientific journals can be dispensed with for understanding the phenomena.

I have a high regard for what Jack Hunter is trying to do and I am sympathetic that he is trying to do it in an environment as dysfunctional as the modern academic community, but the fact that a student has to go to the anthropology department to study séances is a testament to how pathetically low the scientific, materialist, naturalist world view has fallen. Séances should be studied by physicists like Targ and Puthoff. The problem is funding and funding is ultimately controlled by national governments under the advice of the Priesthood of Data.
 
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#3
Peer review is a ritual.

Most Published Research Findings Are False
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

Retraction Wach
http://retractionwatch.com/

Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals
http://jrs.sagepub.com/content/99/4/178.short?rss=1&ssource=mfr
Slow and expensive
...
Inconsistent
...
Bias
...
Abuse of peer review
...
So peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works. Nevertheless, it is likely to remain central to science and journals because there is no obvious alternative, and scientists and editors have a continuing belief in peer review. How odd that science should be rooted in belief.
"How odd that science should be rooted in belief."
 
#5
Really interesting interview Alex. The particular paranormal discussed was an area that I resisted researching till just 5yrs ago. Then I would've almost immediately dismissed and often ridiculed it, but as I began to follow a few researchers from the UFO field that crossed over, I was exposed to it. Eventually I had to accept what was being revealed, that there was indeed some underlying or overlying reality at the fringes of perception was interacting with humanity.

But, what I found and still do have difficulty reconciling is the great hypocrisy and irony of ritualistic paranormal in the west. While Jack Hunter struggles to bring the practices of the so called primitive society in the light, there are groups from the highest and effluent of western society that are deeply immersed in the occult. The research that reveals this is clear and available. And one name that will likely be read and heard most often is Aleister Crowley.

I've heard you mention him Alex, so I know you're familiar, but you seem to avoid really diving into the subject. Why is that? Controversy aside.


And your disappointment and berating of the science and academia was the primary reason I joined Skeptiko. It's only forum I'm aware of that actually practices skepticism IMO. I'm sure there are others, but I didn't find them. I used to think skepticism had been effectively hijacked and lost, but you're taking it back one show at a time.
 
#6
Alex's questions at the end of the podcast:

Does experience matter?

Scientists generally ignore experience, but what does experience mean from a social standpoint: how does culture and ritual factor in?
 
#7
Does experience matter?

Scientists generally ignore experience, but what does experience mean from a social standpoint: how does culture and ritual factor in?


Well, there are paranormal things that happen, and stuff that people feel they have to do to make them happen. The fact that this stuff varies from place to place and from circumstance to circumstance tends, for me, to indicate that it isn't essential in the sense that only that ritual will do the trick. However, it might be essential in the sense that it allows participants to get into the right frame of mind.

Take an analogy: In order to score a goal in rugby, a sportsman may have developed a routine. He tees up the ball; he takes three long steps back; he looks at the goal; he takes three steps to the side and looks at the goal again; then he composes himself, takes another look and then concentrates on the ball as he makes his run up without looking at the goal; then he kicks the ball. With luck, it goes through the posts and the goal is scored. Another sportsman may have a different regime, and a third, a different regime. The result is the same: the great goal kickers may score 80-90% of the time, even though the ritual varies from kicker to kicker.

Trying to take this to the lab situation, it may be as if the experimenter wants to eliminate the ritual; he just wants the kicker to kick the ball and record what percentage of scores he makes. Maybe he'll insist that the player doesn't wear sports gear; has to stand on the spot and just kick the ball; doesn't actually operate on the rugby field, but instead in the gym; doesn't have the hushed expectancy of the crowd, and so on.

Thing is, the ritual, as Jack suspects, although it varies, may actually matter. The kicker employs it to heighten his chances of scoring. Dispensing with it and concentrating on the aim, i.e. the scoring of the goal, misses the point of the ritual. It may be that some individuals can dispense with the ritual, but the majority might not.
 
#8
Does experience matter?

Scientists generally ignore experience, but what does experience mean from a social standpoint: how does culture and ritual factor in?


Well, there are paranormal things that happen, and stuff that people feel they have to do to make them happen. The fact that this stuff varies from place to place and from circumstance to circumstance tends, for me, to indicate that it isn't essential in the sense that only that ritual will do the trick. However, it might be essential in the sense that it allows participants to get into the right frame of mind.

Take an analogy: In order to score a goal in rugby, a sportsman may have developed a routine. He tees up the ball; he takes three long steps back; he looks at the goal; he takes three steps to the side and looks at the goal again; then he composes himself, takes another look and then concentrates on the ball as he makes his run up without looking at the goal; then he kicks the ball. With luck, it goes through the posts and the goal is scored. Another sportsman may have a different regime, and a third, a different regime. The result is the same: the great goal kickers may score 80-90% of the time, even though the ritual varies from kicker to kicker.

Trying to take this to the lab situation, it may be as if the experimenter wants to eliminate the ritual; he just wants the kicker to kick the ball and record what percentage of scores he makes. Maybe he'll insist that the player doesn't wear sports gear; has to stand on the spot and just kick the ball; doesn't actually operate on the rugby field, but instead in the gym; doesn't have the hushed expectancy of the crowd, and so on.

Thing is, the ritual, as Jack suspects, although it varies, may actually matter. The kicker employs it to heighten his chances of scoring. Dispensing with it and concentrating on the aim, i.e. the scoring of the goal, misses the point of the ritual. It may be that some individuals can dispense with the ritual, but the majority might not.
Sorry Im such an abuser of the obvious. Not all experience is equal. Any scientist can prove empirically that my cat just puked on the rug.Thats different then the experience of the paranoid schizophrenic who thinks my visit to her room is part of a conspiracy to kill her. There's the NDE experience of Howard Storm, which totally transformed his life. There are experiences which are totally abstract such as the understanding of complex math formulas. Yet it can be verified by others using a shared symbolic language. We certainly have a myopic view of experience as a science based culture. We have no idea what the experience of a bird or dolphin is. Its primarily a human experience based on what we can perceive with our limited 5 senses and intellectual capability. Brian Greene speculated that we may be limited by what we can understand just like a dog is limited to understand relativity theory. Which brings us to what experience is when we don't have experience but a symbolic construct. How much of what we experience is that?
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#9
Enjoyable interview Alex!

Good of you to also mention your invitation to listeners to contact Skeptic/atheist (or any) podcasts for further dialogue.

The interview brought to mind a book I read not that long ago, both a history and an ethnographic/social science 3-year research study of Spiritualism in America, called Talking to the Other Side (2005), by Todd Jay Leonard, Ph.D. At some point, the author also recounts how in the process of his study (which included interviewing a lot of contemporary Spiritualist mediums), or afterwards I forget, he converted to Spiritualism and became a minister.

He could possibly make a good future Skeptiko interviewee.

http://www.toddjayleonard.com/Todd_Jay_Leonard/Profile.html
http://www.amazon.com/Talking-Other...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299904105&sr=1-1
 
#10
Enjoyable interview Alex!

Good of you to also mention your invitation to listeners to contact Skeptic/atheist (or any) podcasts for further dialogue.

The interview brought to mind a book I read not that long ago, both a history and an ethnographic/social science 3-year research study of Spiritualism in America, called Talking to the Other Side (2005), by Todd Jay Leonard, Ph.D. At some point, the author also recounts how in the process of his study (which included interviewing a lot of contemporary Spiritualist mediums), or afterwards I forget, he converted to Spiritualism and became a minister.

He could possibly make a good future Skeptiko interviewee.

http://www.toddjayleonard.com/Todd_Jay_Leonard/Profile.html
http://www.amazon.com/Talking-Other...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299904105&sr=1-1
fascinating. thx. kinda overbooked with interviews right now.
 
#12
So interesting to here Jack talk. Great you managed this Alex ... I liked this where he says ... I think is that there seems to be something going on (laughing). There’s something that human-beings are kind of tapping into, or at least trying to tap into. Which suggests, again…there’s something going on.

Just saw in the October Paranthropology that David Bohm (quantum physics foundations expert - as many may know) is covered a lot. Bohm says this in his book "Thought as a System" ...

The idea, then, is that space is mostly full, and that matter is a small ripple on it. You can make a very strong case for that according to modern physics. Similarly, we could say that whatever is behind the mind - the consciousness, or whatever you want to call it - is a vast stream; and on the surface are ripples which are thought. This seems to be an analogy. Even when we talk of things being "here", they are really small ripples on some vast energy which is circulating. The only reason that this energy doesn’t show up is because matter and light go right through it without deflecting. What we experience is empty space. But it may also be regarded as the fullness of space, which is the ground of all existence. Matter is, then, a small variation on this ground."

Physics-wise space kind of "holds up" elementary particles in that mass, in particular, depends on space (e.g. the Higgs field pervades - is part of space - and gives mass to particles). So saying ... "Matter is, then, a small variation on this ground" is right. By seeing all matter (and mind) then as a part of space, not as objects in space (apart from space) is counterintuitive but right.

Bohm also said this about intuition (same book), which links with the above ... Now, maybe mind is another "side" of that same thing - that which we call energy on one side is mind on the other side. That is, energy is pervaded with a kind of intelligence, out of which perhaps insight comes, or deeper perceptions of truth. That's the suggestion.

So there's an energy in space but with so much more to it ... mass giving properties, the source, in some respects, of intuition, a medium for parapsychological phenomena (Bohm knew of psi-stuff), the ground and sustainer of all reality. It's very responsive, mind-like ... etc. and it's in us not the other way around.

I may have said all this before here but maybe from his ideas come this new paradigm, re what Jack said ... Hypotheses in Search of Paradigm.
 
#15
Alex, I contacted Jessica Utts, and she agreed to give an interview! :D

She will be a brilliant guest. She's a super-prominent statistitian - and the leading authority on statistical issues in parapsychology.

I'm sending you the e-mail with her contact information via private message. :)
Nice work Vortex. That's going to be a sick dialogue once it happens. Chomping at the bit to edit it already...
 
#16
& to answer the question: Of course experience matters. Even materialists base their entire false-edifice of "objectivity" on a subjective experience of the world as a narrowly-defined Newtonian billiard-ball table (as Alex put it). Experience provides the impetus to do anything & everything-- good, bad, or neutral. We experience through perception (which is both a combination of our natural faculties and our acculturation/indoctrination), form thoughts/beliefs/bias, and then act (either creatively or destructively). To deny the importance of it, or brush it all off as a scientific frivolity because it's only "illusionary" (which we know is faith-based conjecture at best), is to not let the experience speak for itself. Behavioralists have muddied the waters for far too long by insisting only one reality, despite the fact that even materialist science-as-we-know-it has been FORCED to accept the existence of improvable, immaterial/dark, multiple dimensions for their Big-Bang mythology to make any "sense" whatsoever. Esotericism is permitted only when its practiced in the halls of power. When someone like Philip K. Dick has a "hallucination" that gives him insight into why his son is deathly ill, which the doctors overlooked, how can this be mocked up to "anything that can happen does", but when the Higgs Particle is "discovered", well below the statistical threshold of "proof", it's celebrated as an obvious "reality". Like what Sheldrake has said on Skeptiko in the past -- what's at stake is dogma, not science. It's all one big fucking joke -- and we're on the ass-end of it.

Here's a quick-and-dirty interview w/ Dick's ex-wife about his VALIS experience: http://www.dickien.fr/dossiers/tessadick/interview-tessa-dick.html
 
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#18
& to answer the question: Of course experience matters. Even materialists base their entire false-edifice of "objectivity" on a subjective experience of the world as a narrowly-defined Newtonian billiard-ball table (as Alex put it). Experience provides the impetus to do anything & everything-- good, bad, or neutral. We experience through perception (which is both a combination of our natural faculties and our acculturation/indoctrination), form thoughts/beliefs/bias, and then act (either creatively or destructively). To deny the importance of it, or brush it all off as a scientific frivolity because it's only "illusionary" (which we know is faith-based conjecture at best), is to not let the experience speak for itself. Behavioralists have muddied the waters for far too long by insisting only one reality, despite the fact that even materialist science-as-we-know-it has been FORCED to accept the existence of improvable, immaterial/dark, multiple dimensions for their Big-Bang mythology to make any "sense" whatsoever. Esotericism is permitted only when its practiced in the halls of power. When someone like Philip K. Dick has a "hallucination" that gives him insight into why his son is deathly ill, which the doctors overlooked, how can this be mocked up to "anything that can happen does", but when the Higgs Particle is "discovered", well below the statistical threshold of "proof", it's celebrated as an obvious "reality". Like what Sheldrake has said on Skeptiko in the past -- what's at stake is dogma, not science. It's all one big fucking joke -- and we're on the ass-end of it.

Here's a quick-and-dirty interview w/ Dick's ex-wife about his VALIS experience: http://www.dickien.fr/dossiers/tessadick/interview-tessa-dick.html
We all heard about Michaels Sherman brush with a strange coincidental experience during his recent wedding. Sometimes the skeptic is gob smacked by personal experience.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com...oodbye-the-strange-case-of-terminal-lucidity/
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#20
Great interview. From an aesthetic perspective, I like that the Anthropology logo uses what looks to be a Trickster figure. ;-)

I love this idea of cultural backdrop influencing paranormal phenomenon - it sort of touches on the idea of psi being a projection from a crowd, but not as directed as the socio-psi arguably at work in Marian apparitions and UFO phenomenon. Here it seems cultural backdrop softens reality rather than projects varied forces, the latter taking leaps to explain (explain away?) the aforementioned phenomenon.

What I like about the anthro approach of looking at cultural influence is it gets us passed the standard assumption that a couple people have X-men like powers, which may still have some merit but shouldn't be our sole focus when dealing with phenomenon that run counter to our usual mechanistic, materialist expectations.

More later...
 
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