Are there any paranormal phenomena AT ALL??

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by Kai, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. Kai

    Kai New

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    Seriously folks, the flame I keep burning for these things has burned lower and lower over recent years. It's probably now at real risk of guttering out to a skinny column of smoke. There is not a single phenomenon of "paranormal" or "psychic" or "occult" or "religious" attribute which is reliably replicable in any way.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but anyone with a head on their shoulders, and who isn't haunted by the thought that this is all junk, really hasn't been around the block with it enough.

    When one is prepared to draw one's chair far enough back from these phenomena, it becomes evident that their entire history (of which the following is just a small segment) is littered with the sorry corpses of "phenomena" that at one time seemed anomalous or wondrous:

    Spiritualism.
    Psychic Kids
    Remote Viewing
    Out of Body Experiences
    UFOs
    Bermuda Triangle
    spoonbending
    alien abductions
    Crop Circles

    Etc etc. Truly ask yourself what of these or their ilk have EVER actually come to anything?
    None of them, because their real engine is a kind of complicit mythology we are all involved in. The pattern will sadly recur as well, not because we never learn, but because (to be honest) we don't want to learn this. It does us too much psychological harm.

    It is common sense that if the slightest degree of PK, for example, was a reality, this would be enough to enable assassinations of key personnel remotely from around the world. If there were the slightest truth in it, all military powers would by now be deploying such exceptional people instead of risking real soldiers or even complicated tech like drones to achieve it for them.

    It is common sense that if "psychics" were of the slightest use to the police forces of the world, every single such force would now have them in their employ. They do not. I'm not saying they've never been foolish enough to try, especially back in the 70s, but this is not far shy of half a century later and there are no more psychics in use by the police than there are necromancers.

    It is common sense that if "remote viewing" were of the slightest use to the military, intelligence personnel around the world would now be using precisely this method instead of deploying intelligence operatives in the field at risk of their lives. Now yes, they really did try this in the past, and the results were useless and unreliable. Only conpsiracy theorists are foolish enough to have swallowed the bait that it's somehow still happening.

    No it's not a pretty picture. And if we *are* able to be honest with ourselves about this, it is hard indeed to conclude that there is even anything there at all. The very idea of paranormal phenomena relies on this notion of the "interconnection" of beings and things, but in practical terms there is just no interconnection between beings and things except the physical interactions we observe. There is no "interconnection" visible in the world between physically separated beings, and please, leave the quantum entanglement shtick in its bed where it belongs, I'm talking about a real, discussable connection between this snake and that bird a mile away that actually makes a difference to anything in the lives of either. There is none. There is no connection between me and distant persons that has stood up to the test of time or replication. The latest failure is the multiple attempted replications of the Bem "precognition" study. They have all failed, indicating again that even the most careful attempts to acquire real evidence for these type of phenomena invariably go nowhere. It's a pattern that is entrenched now, and has existed since the first formal investigations ever began.
     
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  2. I think this post is basically saying if you think there are any possible phenomenon then you are deluding yourself?

    This seems more like trolling than a topic for discussion.
     
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  3. chuck.drake

    chuck.drake Guest

  4. electricfunk

    electricfunk New

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    This is a terrible argument Kai, well it's not really an argument, more an assertion. Can you explain why you think it's common sense that "the slightest degree of PK" would be enough to kill someone?
     
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  5. Not to mention all of Krippner's work. None of it is a smoking gun, obviously, otherwise we'd have general acceptance of Psi.

    But the arguments in OP come off as (perhaps unintentional) trolling. It's like the skeptical claim that since no one has won the Randi prize there's nothing to talk about.
     
  6. Kai

    Kai New

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    It's not "trolling" at all, it's an authentic response to decades worth of being interested in this stuff. Someone smart once noted. "The paranormal seems to resemble something that appears to exist from a distance, but the closer you approach to it, the more it seems to evaporate." I think this is one of the most accurate things ever said about the subject, and it pretty much conforms to my own experience.

    As to PK, if people really could bend spoons or twirl itty bits of paper under domes, then they could pinch a blood vessel about a millimeter across in a crucial region of the brain, or destabilize an already weakened heart muscle, or rupture the wall of an already thin artery. A little imagination would disclose numerous other ways it could be achieved...were it actually possible.

    As to anecdotal tales...they are without value, imo, without corresponding roots in reality that exist outside of those anecdotal tales and independent of them. It's the same problem with some of the major claims made, for instance, in NDEs. "Love is the most powerful force underlying reality." Nope. Show this to be the case. Don't just state it. Etc.
     
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  7. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    No pk! Say it ain't so.

    Kai has a legit argument, like it or not.

    Kai, whenever you raise the specter of doubt you can be sure someone will call you a troll.
     
  8. Raise a specter of doubt, but don't write an essay about how psi is fake using tired arguments that seem like Rational Wiki talking points.

    For myself, I don't know if there's anything to the paranormal and have repeatedly said so. But I'm not demanding Psi fit into something out of X-men comics, or asking why no one has claimed the Randi prize.
     
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  9. chuck.drake

    chuck.drake Guest

    Kai,

    Can you approach Max's blog post in any detail?

    Thanks,

    Chuck
     
  10. electricfunk

    electricfunk New

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    Ah, so this is what you meant when you said "if the slightest degree of PK was a reality", i.e., so-called macro-PK. And what of so-called micro-PK? Indeed, what of the general question "is the mind caused or causal"? Are you willing to accept the possibility that PK could exist at a level not sufficient to allow for what you're talking about?
     
  11. Kai

    Kai New

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    I find it becomes problematized when people start talking about supposedly real world influences that in fact can only be inferred from statistical tables. If I am supposed to look up such tables to conclude that "psi" or "pk" exists, then I find that claim problematic. The thing about dog bites and earthquakes and mad axe murder breakouts by psychotic grandmothers is that they all exist outside of, and independent to, statistical tables. It's one example of what I mean by "seems to exist when viewed from a distance."
     
  12. Kai

    Kai New

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    With respect to Max's blog post, there isn't really anything to say because it occupies the landscape of anecdotal account. Information wasn't formally tracked etc. I'm sure he's telling the truth, but as with all such cases, it doesn't corroborate to other demonstrations outside of anecdote. This is a systemic problem with these 'phenomena'.

    I still don't say it's impossible that these phenomena might exist. I just think it is very very unlikely.
    If they do exist at all, they must operate almost uniquely by an extremely recalcitrant relationship to demonstration. And to me, that raises all kinds of amber and red flags.
     
  13. electricfunk

    electricfunk New

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    Then it seems like you are creating a straw man by insisting that PK be some kind of "force". Yet we know that certain properties of reality don't work that way, i.e., those described by quantum mechanics.
     
  14. P.J.

    P.J. Member

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    Why are you lumping everything together into a single category like this? You sound exactly like George Hansen.
     
  15. Kai

    Kai New

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    Electrofunk, "Kinesis" is a force. If not, then it is misnamed. But even if it be called an "influence" its existence should leave some footprint in the discernible world. The problem with "micro PK" is that it does not seem to me to be separable from the statistical argument put forward for it.

    PJ, my point is that real phenomena are discernible in the physical world. This includes quantum phenomena, to the extent that theories concerning them can securely be said to interface with reality. Without that, we have "rhetorical science" (superstrings, multiple universes, dark matter, etc...)
     
  16. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    Out of all of the things in your list, pk would be the least problematic to demonstrate, yet that has not happened as far as I am aware. The PEAR Research Group performed 33 million trials yet could only declare a marginal success for micro-pk. A lab in Germany performed the same trials yet could not corroborate the prior success. The university where the PEAR lab conducted its research was shut down a few years ago
    There are videos on Youtube that supposedly demonstrate macro-pk. What to make of this? Maybe strong belief bias is at work.
     
  17. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    I think Kai is pointing out some of the strangest things are so easily demonstrated and yet nothing of the paranormal ever is.
     
  18. chuck.drake

    chuck.drake Guest

    From the blog post:

    1 "I awoke in terror, in the early hours of one morning, after having what seemed like a nightmare, but the content of which had a noticeably different and unusual quality."

    2. "I had dreamt that I was on the street at night, at the rear of this property. The green wooden paneled yard gate off the street was unfastened, and was opening and banging shut again, and again, in the wind. I approached the gate and the gate opened, the peeling paint and grain of the timber was shown in incredible detail."

    3. Also from the dream--> "As the gate swung open revealing the small back yard, I noticed that the white half-panel kitchen door had been pushed completely open, leaving just a dark rectangular hole in the wall. The top opening pane of the small kitchen window was also broken, and partly open."

    4. "I immediately went downstairs and told dad about the dream whilst he was having his breakfast. I explained the dreams unusual quality, and made clear that I believed that something had happened to the property, pestering him to drive over to it immediately."

    5. "My dad, myself and my two elder brothers, drove over to the house. We pulled up at the rear of the property, opposite the green gate, which was indeed blowing open and shut in the wind, both my brothers turned to look at me in the car, and pulled ‘spooky’ faces at me. We left the car and entered the back yard through the gate, to find the kitchen door wide open, because it had been pushed right back against the kitchen units so that it was not visible. The top pane of the kitchen window was also broken and slightly open, just as in my dream."

    So do you accept the fact that Max had the dream and that they drove over to the house and found some congruence between the dream and present reality?

    But the fact that this is an anecdote completely negates the idea of any kind of informational transfer?

    What about the fact that we don't just have one person relating this kind of anecdote? There are at least tens of thousands of such anecdotes recorded. Likely many times that were never recorded.
     
  19. Kai

    Kai New

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    Chuck, I'm sorry, but I must stick by my position here. My position is that anecdote should rightly be considered prima facie evidence only. That is "evidence in waiting" for other forms of corroboration. If they are in fact never corroborated (and this appears to be the case) then the likelihood greatly increases, imo, that we are dealing with a socio-belief sort of event bed. That in itself is fascinating, but perhaps the real phenomena is our determination to believe in the paranormal rather than its actual existence. Unpopular, I know, but, there's just something wrong here. And it's not just a curiosity in the details.
     
  20. Bart V

    Bart V straw materialist Member

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    The problem with commenting on a personal anecdote is that it is almost impossible to avoid the "are you calling me a liar" gambit.
     
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