Hi! My name is Natalie!

Hi Skepticos! I'm Natalie and I'm a long time listener and I want to add some ideas out on the forum. and I'm a big fan of the show and Alex for providing evidence based reasoning for some of the things I beleive but couldn't get into mindset to argue for!

I have this one argument I want to try out, because it's something I've asked to a lot of people who are skeptical of the paranormal and I never felt I got a satisfactory answer out of them. It concerns the experience of the paranormal and the supernatural. There is this belief that we can't trust anecdotal evidence for the paranormal, because there are problems with memory/sight and senses/mirages ect.

But this seems like a rather odd thing to assume to me, because our memories and senses are still right most of the time, if they weren't we wouldn't live very long or live successfully if they were so untrustworthy. But since skeptics tend to believe the supernatural or anything like that as inherently false and untrue, it seems that they assume those things are just by their very nature unlikely, despite what they might have seen or heard.

I remeber someone I had an argument with claimed that a supernatural explination should never be used when a more mundane explination could account for it. But that seemed like a biased explination to me, why are supernatural explinations by their very nature less true then what we consider mundane? If someone saw a bigfoot in the woods, why assume it must be someother kind of mundane animal or mirage, when the memory implies they've seen something out of the ordinary? Senses and memory can be false sometimes, though why must it always be false when someone has sighted something out of the ordinary?

He went on the explain to me that the supernatural was by default, unscientific. Like reports of alien activity went against the natural laws of science, so regardless of what someone saw, it couldn't have happened because the existance of the supernatural is impossible because it goes against all known laws of nature. Though that argument seemed false to me as well, since scientists can only know what they've studied and tested, they certainly don't know everything. Hypothetically there still could be some way for the supernatural to exist, just in unconventional ways.

Just like the claim "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" rests on a preconceived bias against the supernatural, it seems to me that the bias against anecdotal evidence is based on assumption. Especially considering it's based on the very reality of something existing, not some general assumption about how the world works or anything like that.

I grew up Atheistic, though I eventually realized that mainstream skeptics based their ideas on faith just as much as most religions were. There were assumptions about how the universe was, with it's own version of myths and moral values to go along with them. It turned into an all encompassing belief system that tried to explain everything.

At this point of time, I certainly can't claim to know all the answers though I feel there's a lot of mystery around us. Odd things sometimes happen to us and we really don't know what their all about, but it seems to indicate that there's a lot more to reality then our initial immpressions imply. Like there's this undercurrent of mystery and magic quietly flowing through the fabric of reality. Which sounds like a lot fun to me!

That argument about witness reliability (lack thereof) never holds up for me. Sure people get confused about what they see, but take this example. Somebody is standing outside, and they see another person (30 feet away) get hit by a car. 1 year later, they are asked for the details. They may get the persons hair color wrong, the model of the car, other various details etc. But she knows sure as hell she saw somebody get hit by a car! That's why this argument has virtually no merit. Witnesses get details of a murder wrong, but they still know that they saw a murder!
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Welcome Natalie,

Continuing Wormwood's thoughts, too much reliance on the fallibility of human memory/logic ends up undermining science itself. So for example, if a scientist says he tested something (X) in a machine, and here is a printout of the test results, stop and think! Didn't fallible people have to design that machine? Didn't another fallible human have to make a decision that X was suitable to be tested by that machine, and didn't he/she have to interpret the results?

This becomes particularly severe when you try to deal with those who say we have no free will. Don't you need free will to design anything - otherwise you are creating a blueprint regardless of your intellect, and don't you need free will to interpret the results - otherwise why should anyone trust your interpretation!

Though that argument seemed false to me as well, since scientists can only know what they've studied and tested, they certainly don't know everything. Hypothetically there still could be some way for the supernatural to exist, just in unconventional ways.
Well of course one of the most difficult things to explain by conventional science, is consciousness - which is an ingredient of just about all paranormal phenomena.

Imagine explaining how consciousness becomes aware of pain if you hit your thumb. First a signal travels up a nerve to your back (I think), where it is relayed on to the brain. After that, maybe it causes some hormones to be released, and is relayed on to other parts of the brain, etc. etc. The problem is, how do you explain the last step in that chain, when you become consciously aware of the pain? This is basically what is known as the Hard Problem!

Thus anyone who argues like that is forgetting that no scientific argument that involves consciousness has a step where the scientist waives his hands in the air!

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