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Critical Thinking and The Paranormal

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posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 11:15 PM
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As many of you probably know, critical thinking and the paranormal don't always go hand in hand.

With the internet, every persons idea, theory, and misguided opinion has a platform, and a legion of people to pat them on the back and tell them they are special because of it. Every once in a while a sound minded individual has something interesting and valuable to say, and then they just fade away and become lost among the fluff. That tells me that most people are happy with their delusions, and everyone seems to accept that.

The modern paranormal community, for lack of a better term, exists only to make money, and in doing so encourages the acceptance of that kind of behavior. Believe in faeries? Hey I have a book here for $29.95 that'll teach you to how to catch one. Want to meet an angel? Here's a cream made out of Jergens lotion and lemon peel, $45, they like the smell of that. Catch the new episode of Mystery Psychic Ghost Hunters 2012 tonight after an all new episode of Night Vision Ghost Hunt, only on A&E! This seems to have become the norm, lately. Whenever I visit a bookstore, the paranormal section usually has six or seven books that seem to have good information, the kinds of books that simply present information in an organized fashion, the rest seem to be written by women who would probably be writing teen romance novels if not for the paranormal trivia they can regurgitate, or by guys who have watched too much X-Files.

So for people who may be turned off by that, where do they go? This is something I struggle with. The people who claim to be skeptics aren't really skeptics, but debunkers. And it's understandable. When you spend all your time explaining how and why Sylvia Browne, John Edward, Uri Geller, and similar performers aren't legit, it becomes very easy to dismiss just about every claim you come across. But because they are notorious for this, any time there is a legitimate gripe with someones claim, that opinion is not respected, and the individual to call the claimant out is branded as close minded or a debunker.

Both of these groups of people have given themselves the very loosely interpreted title of Paranormal Investigators, and both of these groups are present in each and every online community dealing with the subject, and neither have done a very good job being thorough or objective in their research. I'd love to see some sense of dignity restored to the subject.

I'd be interested to hear from people who feel the same way as I do regarding the paranormal. People who have a healthy skepticism, science minded individuals who have an interest in the subject beyond proving people wrong, and also those who have experienced "unexplainable" things in their lives, but aren't easily swayed by fluff and new age garbage. Do I think this would somehow "prove" the paranormal? No, absolutely not, but it would make the subject less rocky.



-What areas of the paranormal do you believe are worth being studied, and how should they be studied?


-Should the inability to repeat the phenomenon be viewed differently for certain phenomenon? E.g. An 'ability' such as telepathy vs. a random experience such as astral projection/OBEs or NDEs?


-What can be done to cast out, or at the very least, minimize the impact of individuals who aren't intelligent enough to objectively view their own experiences, let alone the whole paranormal field?


-What do you guys think could be done to get rid of the hocus pocus, and encourage a more scholarly approach to the paranormal?


I think even a modicum of critical thinking would do wonders for the entire subject, and would satisfy, even if just in a small way, the skeptics. It would also allow the believers to study their area of interest in a more efficient way, cutting through the personal philosophy and fluff that has embedded itself in paranormal material over the past 30 or so years.

I'm looking forward to your replies, people of ATS. This place has been around for a long time and I imagine there are some pretty strong opinions surrounding this. Let's hear them.




posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 11:59 PM
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-What can be done to cast out, or at the very least, minimize the impact of individuals who aren't intelligent enough to objectively view their own experiences, let alone the whole paranormal field?

The intelligence crux. Smart enough and not smart enough, who's to say. You? Me? Some agreed upon set of standards? Sure why not. The truly smart would lead and aid the unsmart don't you think? And guide them?
Would the truly smart feed on the unsmart, sucking them dry through their labor and genuinely unsmart gullibility, that simple truth that, the unsmart just don't get?



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 12:10 AM
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In my opinion, it seems somewhat silly to pass judgement on the idea of almost anything anymore. Seems we are learning more and more about how much ignorance has been spread throughout society. Case in point, we have discovered the remains of giants, which would have remained to be a myth and laughable amongst the skeptic community. So there is a strike against the skeptics. However is difficult if not impossible to prove the believers wrong because they believe in the unreachable. Telepathy has been proven, we now know the world is round, that religion is not perfect nor the answer to everything, we know we will have to fight for truths, it will not be given to us freely. Aliens exist by evidence alone. We need to setup asking if they exist and just move on to the next question. In my opinion, the is zero room for argument on some supernatural subjects existences. Like ghost demons spirits or aliens. But what I'm curious about is what would it change if anything if we know fora fact that these things and others not mentioned actually existed. Would we really stop going to work, or get violent towards others? If the proof of aliens were standing in you living room would it change your opinion on god if you believed i.e. him in the first place? And if so would that change your life in a way that would affect others in a negative way? If so then that is one of these reasons this kind of thing is kept from us.i also believe that if these knowledge is known it would not be shared for either a good reason or a selfish one. Humans are so lazy, we have everything we need to obtain answers and change the world yet we sit her and talk about how we wish for change and expect others to do it for us on a mass scale. The answers to most questions have been presented in different ways. But it's the fluff and that drowned the voices of truth. We have little or no idea of how deep the rabbit whole really is, and as much as i hate to say it with the people i see walking around every day, maybe is for the better. These zombies would roll over and explode if they knew half the truth. We need some serious population control to weed out the weak that are sucking up the resources and not making a contribution to the world. Lol ok wow i got of on a rant and went all over the place sorry folks.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 12:14 AM
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reply to post by Morgenstern89
 


Have to say that was one of the best posts I have read about the general experience of alternative belief-systems and the New Age Industry.


I might expect there to be some not happy campers with something to say about it.. but as someone who has worked within the new age INDUSTRY and seen what is happening with it.. I think it does require open discussion and all Beliefs left at the door.

My perception is that in its infancy the 'new age' had a lot of potential to work in bridging the gaps between 'Spiritual' Experiencers and Science, and in clarifying the massive misunderstanding within the religious belief-systems.

Sadly, what happened is it simply Followed the very same paths as all other human endeavours.. to unbalanced ego, greed, perceptions of superiority, and even solidified usurped Belief-Systems with newer variants and has been spoon feeding that to the masses... as Truth.

And yet no Belief-System, Science included, has begun to understand that it only holds one tiny part of truth within the massive Edifices they created for themself.. to be self-sustaining.

Most practitioners I have known over the past 20 or so years have done what I call Up-marketing.. moving to areas of higher wealth in order to charge higher fees, in order to obtain the Lifestyle that the masses now expect Success to provide.. so the masses 'know' who to go and see with their problems. It's based on perceived value.

We see this everywhere. You only have to see the ridiculous fees being charged for a session, a half day/full day or residential program.. way over the top for ordinary people to afford when they do need honest services of this type.

And yet the New Age Industry calls out, "In service to humanity." What a crock of steamy BS that is. It is in service to itself... as are the vast majority of its practitioners.

.. expecting a flaming for those words


I often say that there is a massive difference between a Teacher and a teacher. You may have read this perfect little truth somewhere before.. "If you see the Buddha in the marketplace, run the other way."

Teachers dress for the role, they use the words expected for the role, they charge fees expected as value, and they will always want you to keep doing more courses and programs that end up costing you many, many thousands of dollars.

A teacher will wear normal everyday clothing, they will use any words that can express an idea, if they charge a fee at all it will be affordable to even the poorest people, AND, they will show you how you can find and work with the real Teacher within you. Then once you "get it" they will know and they will leave you to your own path.

Science.. I love the stuff. It excites me, makes me think outside of the box, and has at times been the driving force behind my own "journeys" and experiences to find some big answers.

But as mentioned above, Science too must realise and accept its own limitations.

Science, like it or not, IS in its own Infancy, it cannot possibly KNOW everything and be 100% sure of that Knowledge.. even what it thinks is Known Truths will have information within it that we as yet have not observed, learned to understand or develop methods and machinery to quantify it.

So.. one of the biggest blocks to finding a common ground between real spiritual experience/information and the scientific method is that each "side" thinks it is Right.. a very human trait to be sure.

New agers cannot hope to satisfy the scientific method because most new agers really are only working from a Belief-System, and Science has not reached a point where it can identify the "unknown" and so too is only able to work from its Belief-System.

Both sides need to understand their own limitations, and come down off their medium to tall horses in order to begin finding some common ground to start a new wave of co-operative investigation that will create the methods and machinery to really prove or disprove things about what is curently "unknown".

Tha paranormal, the unknown, the mystery schools.. the names show the misunderstanding already.

I used to think spiritual stuff was totally separate from science and our physical world.... but I was only in my early 20's back then. It wasn't until I grew enough, experienced enough of our physical and unseen reality, and did not build any beliefs about it.. that I came to understand something so simple that it rocked my world....

There is no separation, other than what we humans create. Everything is 'spiritual' in a sense as everything exists as one energy vibrating at different rates.

I don't think we are ready for common ground yet. We have to finish with the mindset of Might is Right first.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 03:47 AM
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Originally posted by TerryMcGuire

-What can be done to cast out, or at the very least, minimize the impact of individuals who aren't intelligent enough to objectively view their own experiences, let alone the whole paranormal field?

The intelligence crux. Smart enough and not smart enough, who's to say. You? Me? Some agreed upon set of standards? Sure why not. The truly smart would lead and aid the unsmart don't you think? And guide them?
Would the truly smart feed on the unsmart, sucking them dry through their labor and genuinely unsmart gullibility, that simple truth that, the unsmart just don't get?


Perhaps the tone of the message is lost through text. I don't quite understand what you are implying from your post.

Who would be "feeding on" the unsmart? I really don't really think there would be a motive for intelligent researchers to exploit the unintelligent ones. When you exploit someone, you do so to gain something of value, and typically they don't have anything valuable to offer.

Obviously, there is a very big difference between being -new- to the subject, and being unintelligent. You can't be expected to know everything on day one, but you can surely get the basics down after 15 minutes of research on Google and Wikipedia. The intelligent ones tend to do that, and you can tell.

It would be hard to implement a set of standards, as there isn't one central authority on the paranormal. But we can all uphold our own personal standards, and encourage others to have high standards for themselves. The basic pillars of the paranormal, ESP/telepathy, precognition/premonitions, telekinesis, OBE/AP, are all things that can be experimented with, as apposed to open ended subjects like angels, or black eyed kids, that are very interesting, but don't really get us anywhere.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 05:03 AM
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reply to post by Morgenstern89
 



-What areas of the paranormal do you believe are worth being studied, and how should they be studied?

My belief is that there is a connection between most of the paranormal phenomena.So a person who decides to study the paranormal must choose an area and then move on by making connections.
How should they be studied?A)hit the books.Read everything that can be found on the subject.After a while you understand which is the real deal and which is BS.
B)Try to study science.Physics,chemistry,biology and geophysics.They help.
C)If possible visit the places that are supposed to be haunted or hot spots for paranormal activity.Try to visit more than once.



-Should the inability to repeat the phenomenon be viewed differently for certain phenomenon? E.g. An 'ability' such as telepathy vs. a random experience such as astral projection/OBEs or NDEs?

To repeat a paranormal phenomenon,you must recreate exactly the same conditions,which is a little impossible,because even a slightly different emotion can destroy the "experiment".Differences in electromagnetic field can also be an abstacle to recreate or relive certain phenomena.So yes each case must be viewed differently.




-What can be done to cast out, or at the very least, minimize the impact of individuals who aren't intelligent enough to objectively view their own experiences, let alone the whole paranormal field?

It's not a matter of intelligence.Ignorance of certain phenomena and the trend to google everything is the main problem.Educate them or give them the right direction to educate themselves.I don't think there is more that anyone can do about that.




-What do you guys think could be done to get rid of the hocus pocus, and encourage a more scholarly approach to the paranormal?

Proper education on the subject is the answer,but you can't force anyone to do it,they must want to learn.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 01:43 PM
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We start by blaming everything on Sleep Paralysis.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 07:19 PM
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Use common sense, logic, and reason as my guidelines while studying the paranormal or other unknown phenomenon? Why that's the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard!!! Actually, the majority of people on this site need to have them three words branded into their brain instead of jumping to the most idiotic, asinine thought that pops in their heads.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 08:31 PM
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To paraphrase Carlos Castaneda (or rather Don Juan), "you can't be wrong about what you experience, you can only be wrong about the conclusions you draw from those experiences." That pretty much sums up my approach to the paranormal. I don't really care for people's explanations or interpretations, I look for raw descriptions of the events in question, and keep an eye out for patterns in the various accounts.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 08:43 PM
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Originally posted by Phantom traveller


-What do you guys think could be done to get rid of the hocus pocus, and encourage a more scholarly approach to the paranormal?

Proper education on the subject is the answer,but you can't force anyone to do it,they must want to learn.



I agree, but.. and there is always a but to consider... who would do the educating?

You can't have a blinkered scientist doing it because they will be so far from the reality that no one will learn anything of real value.

And you can't have a blinkered new ager doing it for the exact same reason.

So that leaves you with trying to find real, honest, not-working-from-any-Belief-System practitioners or "spiritualist".. and as explained above they are rarer than hen's teeth, or gold needles in haystacks, etc.

The real issue to struggle with is BELIEF.. it creates all sorts of blocks to real direct experience or open research. So starting on a fresh page with no Attachments will be the only way to move forward, but how many people do you know who can unattach from their indoctrinated and learned Beliefs?

Very few would be the honest answer.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 08:57 PM
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I share your sentiments. I find paranormal topics compelling but New Age hocus pocus types tiresome.

If you haven't yet done so, you might want to check out the Society for Scientific Exploration. It is a group of scientists and scholars who study unusual and unexplained phenomena. You have to have a doctorate to be a full member.

www.scientificexploration.org...



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 02:14 AM
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reply to post by alkesh
 


Haha! Yes. This seems to be something that happens on nearly every site dealing with the paranormal, no matter what the topic. It's very easy to pick out fantasy driven individuals just by the way they describe their experiences. Granted, not every experience is going to be the same, but some are so outlandish. And this is coming from me, someone who has had a few outlandish experiences myself.


reply to post by The Cusp
 


I have one of Castaneda's books on my shelf, I really need to take the time to read and absorb it. I think that is a very accurate statement. And that is the key. It's so rare to find people who relate their stories in that raw, matter of fact way. I love reading experiences from people who have just recently experienced something strange, as it usually hasn't had time to be tainted by their own fantasies or by the information they have read elsewhere. It's always interesting to see the first telling of a story, and then the fourth or fifth. Fantasy driven individuals will have polished it up a bit and added little mystical sounding touches, and the more straight forward ones will generally tell it the same, or even under sell it, because it's not as fresh.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 04:31 AM
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reply to post by Tayesin
 




who would do the educating?

Both sides.Learn the scientific stuff that willhelpyou with your investigations from a scientist and the spiritual-paranormal from someone who you trust that can guide you well.Then it's up to every person's ability to combine the information in each case that is investigated.
The ancient Greeks were studying everything, from philosophy to mathematics and from religious doctrines to astronomy to be able to have a complete opinion about everything.Different teachers for different subjects.
I believe that this is the correct approach.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 09:13 PM
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The real bitch of it all is that when people pass on they hold onto their beliefs. That seems like an obvious statement and not many people argue the point, but the real impact of this part of being human is that if/when one of these passed people finds a way to reach back to the corporeal realm (yes, it happens) then what else will one of these folks pass along as eternal wisdom but the same misinformation they learned while they were still "alive". In fact, the only thing that they learn from passing over is what it "feels" like to be free of the flesh, blood and bones of material existence. These beings, after all, are 100% the net result of corporeal human perception, and as perception, what they believe they perceive is what they do ultimately perceive. That includes what they believe about themselves and everything that they believe to be real.

Mediums - and they do exist - get their information about the eternal realm from passed human beings, and only from passed human beings. Of course, considering what we know about the fallible nature of human perception, this contact ends up re-enforcing traditional "axioms" about the nature of the eternal realm, and feeding the insanity that builds ever denser as the centuries move along.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 10:40 PM
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I haven't found any site yet that adequately explains things. Using laws of Physics or comparing similar known phenomenon to a Paranormal occurrence doesn't always explain it. I have experienced things that the laws of Physics could not explain. I blame it on Theories that were turned into laws that have serious flaws. The Laws do not consider forces that we cannot comprehend having influence on things. All laws necessitate compliance to a discipline and regulated conditions in order for them to be applied. You can't take everything apart into pieces, sometimes you have to observe the whole to see what happens.

I talk to people about these weird things that have happened in their lives. They are real experiences. Their interpretations of their experiences sometimes differed than how I would interpret them. Sometimes they were just tricks that their mind played from not noticing what else was happening at the time. Other times they did experience Paranormal or unexplainable things. This then makes them think of Angels or Demons or Fairies or spirits of all kinds. Most of the time they associate it with beings that we cannot see that effect things.

These beings, if they do really exist, are of interest to me. I believe these people did experience something. If there were some sort of beings that somehow interact with us and steer us than this would explain things. They would not be Alien because they have always been here. They can possibly put images in our head and make people do things to cause a series of events to happen. They seem to be extremely intelligent beings. If they wanted to they could take over someones body for a minute or two and they wouldn't remember it. In the meantime they have done something to set the stage for a planned action. These beings are in communication with each other beyond what we could perceive. I don't think they mean us any harm. I think they observe us. I also think they have great power to move things or bend things or even delay things with forces of some sort of magnetism. These beings seem to be good or bad by our personal perceptions, "out of all good comes some bad and out of all bad comes some good". Maybe I will some day find out if I am right.



posted on Feb, 26 2012 @ 09:56 PM
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I guess I never viewed the solution as being one person educating a group of people, or moving to change a groups opinion, but by being an equal and opposing force, and leading by example. What I see on most forums, in most discussions, is delusional people feeding into one another. Even if they are just well meaning people, trying to be encouraging, it's wrong to feed it.

"You are wrong" needs to be hammered into some people. Not by being condescending, or cruel, but by explaining in a clear and simple way why they are mistaken with their experience or belief. Disbelievers are bad at doing this, because it doesn't matter if the person is using sound logic or not, for them everyone's wrong about the paranormal being real. But people who have an interest in the paranormal can say "Hey, this isn't what's happening, but you may want to look into this." It's something I try my best to do. But they will fight against you so hard. The paranormal community has to be in a pretty bad state when even people who believe in paranormal phenomenon get shouted at when they point out something that isn't legit.



posted on Feb, 26 2012 @ 10:06 PM
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Originally posted by Morgenstern89
The paranormal community has to be in a pretty bad state when even people who believe in paranormal phenomenon get shouted at when they point out something that isn't legit.


Rule #1 of critical thinking: stop thinking of people in association or groups and start treating them as individuals without using limited experience to condemn everyone associated with similar phenomena.

I really don't care what Frank in Maryland demonstrates to me or lies about. It doesn't mean John in Texas is doing the same, nor are they part of any community; that's a fallacious thought-device to paint everyone with a broad brush. It's bad critical thinking.



posted on Feb, 26 2012 @ 10:23 PM
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Originally posted by Tayesin
reply to post by Morgenstern89
 


There is no separation, other than what we humans create. Everything is 'spiritual' in a sense as everything exists as one energy vibrating at different rates.



As my head was continuously nodding in agreement with each of your statements, I realized that this one summed up the entire dilemma and is the sole reason why the OP's proficiently stated questions can't possibly be answered yet - not until such a time as enough people become aware of this simple truth and are able to let go of the downloaded dogma that it so greatly threatens by its sheer power of simplicity.

My hat is off to both you and Morgenstern89.



posted on Feb, 26 2012 @ 10:54 PM
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reply to post by Morgenstern89
 
I want to figure out some of these things I've seen or heard of but it's hard when we were programed from when we are young to explain away these things with known beliefs or scientific facts. There also doesn't seem to be any proven good way to test things. I was going to get a negative ion tester but it won't help here anyway because of moving underground water and the trees around here.



posted on Feb, 26 2012 @ 11:59 PM
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Originally posted by imherejusttoread

Originally posted by Morgenstern89
The paranormal community has to be in a pretty bad state when even people who believe in paranormal phenomenon get shouted at when they point out something that isn't legit.


Rule #1 of critical thinking: stop thinking of people in association or groups and start treating them as individuals without using limited experience to condemn everyone associated with similar phenomena.

I really don't care what Frank in Maryland demonstrates to me or lies about. It doesn't mean John in Texas is doing the same, nor are they part of any community; that's a fallacious thought-device to paint everyone with a broad brush. It's bad critical thinking.


Another post I'm somewhat puzzled by. It seems that we agree on this, but the tone of your post seems like it's a counter to mine. Maybe I'm wrong about this, or perhaps you have misinterpreted the intent of my post.

I do treat people as individuals. But that does not mean that their behavior does not closely match that of a large number of other individuals. I don't believe I've painted anyone with a broad brush, though. I'm not condemning all believers of a certain phenomenon -because of- the less experienced ones, I'm criticizing the less experienced ones themselves. For example, I'm not criticizing all people who believe in ghosts, I'm only criticizing those who think that every time a light flickers, a ghost did it. Know what I mean?

Because the paranormal community (what would you have me call it?) largely depends on people coming together and sharing their knowledge and experiences, it would seem reasonable that those who are interested would want to phase out that kind of flawed logic.



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