spiritualizing the paranormal
Posted: 03 April 2013 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]
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If you look at sites like Radio Mysterioso and Binnall of America, you’ll notice a phenomenon I like to call ‘spiritualizing the paranormal’. This is where people have come to admit that we’re not dealing with nuts-and-bolts spacecraft, flesh-and-blood beings, or dead people hanging around houses and trying to scare people. Rather, things like big foot, fairies, ufos, aliens, goblins, ghosts and angels are all coming from the same source. There’s some kind of strange intelligence out there that’s toying with human beings and is somehow able to change its appearance according to our expectations or the culture of the time.

This strikes me as a desperate attempt to hang on to beliefs in the paranormal in the absence of good evidence. A theory like this is unfalsifiable, because no matter what happens in the world, it can be made to fit with the theory. Also, this kind of position tends to move the paranormal closer to religion/spirituality and further away from science. Still, there will always be a temptation for paranormal believers to move in this direction, especially when they get depressed about the lack of good evidence.

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Posted: 03 April 2013 08:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I agree. It’s not a new phenomenon though, people like W.B. Yeats, A.E., and obvious charlatans like H.P. Blavatsky touted this stuff back in the 19 century.  More recently, people like Jacques Vallee, Colin Wilson, and John Keel have kept it going.

Vallee is actually a scientist who tried to explain paranormal phenomena “rationally” in his books, but he’s got at least one foot deep in crackpot territory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Vallée

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Posted: 04 April 2013 01:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, these people always cite Vallee as a major influence, and they also have a lot of time for Whitley Strieber. One of the key ideas seems to be that there’s some kind of interaction going on between this mysterious intelligence and human consciousness and culture. This is meant to explain why the paranormal entities keep changing over time, and it also has the advantage that they can keep on believing that the world is much weirder than most people realize and that they and their friends are cooler than other people because they’ve seen through all the bullshit and have access to this truth. In other words, they can have all the benefits of being a paranormal believer, but they don’t have to believe that aliens are actually coming here in flying saucers from another planet. 

Another advantage is that believers in this kind of theory don’t have to believe in a big government conspiracy. Whereas nuts-and-bolts ufo people tend to think that the US government has all the really good evidence hidden away somewhere and that the government is so powerful and smart that they make sure none of this ever gets out, spiritual paranormal believers can just say that this paranormal intelligence is itself incredibly smart and powerful and can do pretty much whatever it wants. Of course this intelligence won’t let us see a big foot corpse or a flying saucer, they’ll say. It has a sense of humor. It’s playing games with us. It can hide from cameras and skeptics. It can change its appearance. It can destroy evidence. It can do anything!

[ Edited: 04 April 2013 02:05 AM by Dom1978 ]
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Posted: 04 April 2013 02:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Dom1978 - 04 April 2013 01:44 AM

Yes, these people always cite Vallee as a major influence, and they also have a lot of time for Whitley Strieber. One of the key ideas seems to be that there’s some kind of interaction going on between this mysterious intelligence and human consciousness and culture. This is meant to explain why the paranormal entities keep changing over time, and it also has the advantage that they can keep on believing that the world is much weirder than most people realize and that they and their friends are cooler than other people because they’ve seen through all the bullshit and have access to this truth. In other words, they can have all the benefits of being a paranormal believer, but they don’t have to believe that aliens are actually coming here in flying saucers from another planet. 

Another advantage is that believers in this kind of theory don’t have to believe in a big government conspiracy. Whereas nuts-and-bolts ufo people tend to think that the US government has all the really good evidence hidden away somewhere and that the government is so powerful and smart that they make sure none of this ever gets out, spiritual paranormal believers can just say that this paranormal intelligence is itself incredibly smart and powerful and can do pretty much whatever it wants. Of course this intelligence won’t let us see a big foot corpse or a flying saucer, they’ll say. It has a sense of humor. It’s playing games with us. It can hide from cameras and skeptics. It can change its appearance. It can destroy evidence. It can do anything!

You’ve hit the bulls-eye here! Totally correct assessment of their attitude.

It is most definitely hurting paranormal researchers’ smidgen of credibility.

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Posted: 04 April 2013 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Another advantage is that believers in this kind of theory don’t have to believe in a big government conspiracy. Whereas nuts-and-bolts ufo people tend to think that the US government has all the really good evidence hidden away somewhere and that the government is so powerful and smart that they make sure none of this ever gets out, spiritual paranormal believers can just say that this paranormal intelligence is itself incredibly smart and powerful and can do pretty much whatever it wants. Of course this intelligence won’t let us see a big foot corpse or a flying saucer, they’ll say. It has a sense of humor. It’s playing games with us. It can hide from cameras and skeptics. It can change its appearance. It can destroy evidence. It can do anything!


That’s because it’s easier to blame “big government conspiracy” than to do the science to either prove or disprove the contention that aliens exist or bigfoot is out there. And if they have done the science and found nothing to defend their claim, something or someone must be purposefully hiding the truth. Everyone knows that the fun is in the research whether it’s trekking the wilderness for Bigfoot “nests” or searching lakes for the elusive prehistoric animal or traveling to exotic places to film that elusive UFO because we all know that they always land in isolated areas or over trailer parks. Whole organizations exist to perpetuate the obvious myths and without their raisin être they would cease to exist. Then what will I do? In essence, part of the reason these myths continue is to give the believers something to believe. It is the glue that keeps them together, and it’s lucrative. I have made light of this in the past but there’s a whole tourist industry i.e. Loch Ness that depends on the perpetuation not to mention the magazines that are sold to members and the television shows. There’s more out there than meets the eye!


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Posted: 05 April 2013 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I was channel surfing the other day and came upon a religious program (Sid Roth).  At first I was surprised that they believed in UFOs and alien abductions, but they believed the aliens were demons!  Then they started saying the Catholic church was in kahoots with them!  Why does the Vatican operate observatories searching the skies for UFOs?  What is Project Lucifer? smile  At that point I changed channels.

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Posted: 08 April 2013 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I had never heard of “project Lucifer” until you mentioned it but apparently the conspiracy nuts are barking about it on the net. It appears that the “government” (who else) has hatched an elaborate plot to redirect the Cassini satillite into Saturn to create a nuclear explosion that will turn the ringed planet into a new sun. It will kill millions here but a small cadre of from a secret organization will then rocket to and live on Saturn’s moons. Where in the hell does this crap come from? The aliuminum foil hat guys really outdid themselves with this one!


http://www.universetoday.com/15905/project-lucifer-will-cassini-turn-saturn-into-a-second-sun-part-1/


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Posted: 08 April 2013 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 04 April 2013 05:57 AM

Another advantage is that believers in this kind of theory don’t have to believe in a big government conspiracy. Whereas nuts-and-bolts ufo people tend to think that the US government has all the really good evidence hidden away somewhere and that the government is so powerful and smart that they make sure none of this ever gets out, spiritual paranormal believers can just say that this paranormal intelligence is itself incredibly smart and powerful and can do pretty much whatever it wants. Of course this intelligence won’t let us see a big foot corpse or a flying saucer, they’ll say. It has a sense of humor. It’s playing games with us. It can hide from cameras and skeptics. It can change its appearance. It can destroy evidence. It can do anything!


That’s because it’s easier to blame “big government conspiracy” than to do the science to either prove or disprove the contention that aliens exist or bigfoot is out there.

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Jack.  That would explain ALL conspiracy theories. It’s an easy way out. 

 


And if they have done the science and found nothing to defend their claim, something or someone must be purposefully hiding the truth. Everyone knows that the fun is in the research whether it’s trekking the wilderness for Bigfoot “nests” or searching lakes for the elusive prehistoric animal or traveling to exotic places to film that elusive UFO because we all know that they always land in isolated areas or over trailer parks. Whole organizations exist to perpetuate the obvious myths and without their raisin être they would cease to exist. Then what will I do? In essence, part of the reason these myths continue is to give the believers something to believe. It is the glue that keeps them together, and it’s lucrative. I have made light of this in the past but there’s a whole tourist industry i.e. Loch Ness that depends on the perpetuation not to mention the magazines that are sold to members and the television shows. There’s more out there than meets the eye!


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Posted: 08 April 2013 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Jack.  That would explain ALL conspiracy theories. It’s an easy way out. 


Yep. Research is hard work and if pursued eventually makes you a skeptic and no longer able to, as the old hymn says, “trust and obey”. It can also shake the very foundations of your learned or programmed belief system, e.g. No bigfoot, no angels and that can be very discomfiting when you finally realize that there is no being out there to guide you or who actually gives a kitty about your existence. What’s more, you can’t go back into the matrix (pardon the movie pun) and even self delusion won’t work. That’s why I’m teaching my grandaughters that science is fun, more fun than tucking your fIngers under your chin and trying to communicate with skydaddy and real animals are far more interesting than fake ones. They like snakes and sharks at the moment.


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Posted: 12 April 2013 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dom1978 - you bring this same basic idea up over and over. You appear to be on a mission to actively convert people to a pro-science view (and btw I’m as pro-science as they come).  Why is that? I can understand if we were talking about Fundies or one of the major religions.  They do active harm and their adherents actively try to remake the US into a theocracy, or try to shove their agendas into education, etc.  But paranormal investigators, people who believe in ancient aliens, UFOs, ghosts, unicorns, whatever, what are they doing that’s so bad as to require your active pursuit of stopping them?  Maybe I’m misisng something, honestly. Is there a Washington Lobby for getting UFOlogy taught in science classes? Are these folks trying to stop science (versus just ignoring it personally)?

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Posted: 14 April 2013 05:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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CuthbertJ - 12 April 2013 10:12 AM

Dom1978 - you bring this same basic idea up over and over. You appear to be on a mission to actively convert people to a pro-science view (and btw I’m as pro-science as they come).  Why is that? I can understand if we were talking about Fundies or one of the major religions.  They do active harm and their adherents actively try to remake the US into a theocracy, or try to shove their agendas into education, etc.  But paranormal investigators, people who believe in ancient aliens, UFOs, ghosts, unicorns, whatever, what are they doing that’s so bad as to require your active pursuit of stopping them?  Maybe I’m misisng something, honestly. Is there a Washington Lobby for getting UFOlogy taught in science classes? Are these folks trying to stop science (versus just ignoring it personally)?

When did I ever say I wanted to convert people to a pro-science position? Actually, what I want to try to do is understand how human beings work and why we believe the things we do. I think many of us have been through a paranormal phase at one time or another, and we’ve probably been through the same stages of first of all having some kind of nuts-and-bolts view, then changing to a more sophisticated (as we see it) spiritualized version, and then rejecting pretty much all of it.

[ Edited: 14 April 2013 05:08 PM by Dom1978 ]
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Posted: 14 April 2013 11:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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We are able to understand the concept of causality. But when we cannot identify the causality of seemingly intelligently designed formulas, we tend to ascribe causality to greater (superior) forces and we have symbolized those forces with names and characteristics of gods, spirits, demons, etc.

The problem lies in the fact that many keep clinging to those “naïve” pre-scientific notions and ignore or try to justify any new information which explains causality for almost every “miracle” ascribed to direct intervention of supernatural entities.

Science has it’s gods also. IMO the scientific definition of a scientific god lies in the term Potential (a latent excellence which may become reality).  I think this is a very spiritual statement, and describes an implacable and absolutely neutral plenum with inherent qualities which may be expressed in reality.

[ Edited: 14 April 2013 11:43 PM by Write4U ]
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