Constructive ‘Paranormal’ investigation
Posted: 26 December 2010 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m a pretty hard skeptic but retain a touch of the Fortean. When I was kid I loved reading ( yes laugh, but it seemed important then!) all about the J.B.Rhine et. al. . Thing is, if we just keep blowing it all off we may miss something. That something may be a wonderful and mundane explanation for things which cause a lot of people anxiety or fear.
There was a psych. prof. at one of the universitys I taught at who (on the side, hush, hush) collected information on a particular type of ‘psychic’ phenomenon. It made facinating reading and there were a number of people ( few, it’s true) who could and did correctly locate a certain something when there was no chance of cheating .

I hate the term ‘paranormal’ because it immediatley brings up spoon-bending fools and ooky-spooky bullsh_t. I do think there is a place for studying this kind of thing. Let’s face it, *millions* of people allow such things to effect their lives, we should be able to say something other than ” you’re hallucinating over there’ about it. But no prof. in their right tenure-seeking mind would publicily announce such research ( unless they had independent funding and a few big name collegues ).

I don’t happen to believe in the ‘paranormal’ but I’d sure like to find out , even if it’s just some kind of social semiotic, what the heck people are on about. If people were having mass delusions of T-Rexes stomping around , we would at least try to find out what they have been imbibing. I’m not concerned with the people who choose to willfully disregard empircal evidence that makes hay of their claims. But there are many people who unwilling experience odd phenomenon that is disturbing to them but are afraid to mention it and I think it’s worth investigating by actual scientists rather than those sorry publicity-seeking ‘ghost hunters’ and aught. We should not infantalize sincere people by simply saying ’ you didn’t * really* experience such and such’. How much better it would be if one could explain what it was they experienced and so calm the fears.

But then I’m always interested in those things which effect human perception and behavior . I have no problems in stating I think ‘religions’ are a crock but at least I have a place to start from.

Pelagic

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Posted: 26 December 2010 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sarcasm alert:

We should not infantalize sincere people by simply saying ’ you didn’t * really* experience such and such’. How much better it would be if one could explain what it was they experienced and so calm the fears.

  Isn’t that what psychiatrists are for?

Occam

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Posted: 26 December 2010 09:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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*EDITED - because I didn’t see the sarcasm alert. So sorry about that Occam. I’m going to let it stand though ‘cause what you were saying in sarcasm is what too many people think. I’ll go sit in the dark scary place now in penance - I blame Boxing Day exhaustion.

Occam. - 26 December 2010 07:53 PM

Sarcasm alert:

We should not infantalize sincere people by simply saying ’ you didn’t * really* experience such and such’. How much better it would be if one could explain what it was they experienced and so calm the fears.

Isn’t that what psychiatrists are for?

Occam

Golly! Dismissive, much? Why assume someone is suffering from psychopathology? That’s the kind of reaction that keeps people from open and frank communication. Something could be perceptual or environmental.

I wonder if somewhere in some Shrink’s file vault is someone named Zwicky? For sure poor Semmelweiss paid dearly for his claims that that *something* that caused death was passed to patients when surgeons went from the dissecting rooms to the birthing rooms and that simply washing hands could cut down patient mortality. Too bad he died a laughing stock before Pasteur demonstrated what that invisable thing was.

I’m all about empirical tests and I don’t think anything should be excluded that effects people, but that’s just me.

Pelagic

[ Edited: 26 December 2010 11:18 PM by pelagic ]
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Mihi, quanto plura recentium seu veterum revolvo, tanto magis ludibria rerum mortalium cunctis in negotiis observantur - Tacitus

” I knew that!” - me

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Posted: 27 December 2010 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I think you’ll like a lot of the studies they regularly publish in Skeptical Inquirer magazine then, Pelagic. Particularly those by Joe Nickell. You might also want to listen to some of his past interviews on Point of Inquiry.  He never tells someone they didn’t experience something, but always goes into it as a private investigator would, with an open mind.

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