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Archive through May 14, 2002

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru June 2002 » Archive Thru May 2002 » Ouija Boards - The Real Shit? » Archive through May 14, 2002 « Previous Next »

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Mr_Rabid
Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 5:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"The fact that such a vast number of psychics are known frauds"

I don't think you can really go by that- the 'psychics' that are known of publicly are generally people trying to make money at it.

They're fucking televangilists with spoon bending thrown in.

I have never met one- but I have met a fair number of what I guess you could call 'psychics' from the old lady with the lottery dream (her numbers were right- I heard em- but no one played. She was pissed...) to devotees of several schools of magical thought.

I'm not basing my thinking here on science, but rather on empirical knowledge, experience I've had. And I have been able to reproduce, consistently, several of those. Could I do it in a lab? Shit, I dunno. Would I want to? Fuck no.

Why would anyone who could do such things want to go to a scientist? If you do manage to prove it, you've got a quick trip to seriuosly unwanted fame or a research facility that the nice men from the gubmint insist you stay on at for 'a while' whether you like it or not.

Not to mention, you know going in that IF the scientist is willing to talk to you, odds are he is known as a kook by his peers already.
_Blackjack
Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 4:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The difference is that the "guys" who told me about cosmic rays and positrons have concluded that they MIGHT exist (important distinction there) based on observable phenomena, and based upon mathematical models which are highly consistant with observable phenomena. They are also actively engaged in trying to find methods of testing their hypotheses.

The key here is that while things like positrons and cosmic rays (or, my favorite, quantum entaglement) fall farther from "certain" end of the spectrum than, say, the boiling point of pure water at 1 atmosphere, there is some evidence that they might exist, or leastways, their existance is highly consistant with the evidence we have gathered from observation.

I am quite skeptical of many aspects of quantum mechanics, as indeed are most physicists. It is really consistant with those data we can observe at that level, but it is clearly not complete. Which is why they are constantly testing its implications and looking for better models, and models which are accurate at a greater range of scales.


Quote:

There is only the world. Labeling something as paranormal is pointless. It either happens or doesn't.



Absolutely. And if it happens, it will create evidence. Which is why I tend to use evidence asa criterion for thinking something happened.


Quote:

As far as the reproducability thing goes, you can't get anything out of a squeegee board. I can't get anything out of an electron microscope.



Yeah, but the people who BELEIVE in the Ouija boards can't seem to get anything out of them under controlled conditions, either. You don't need to believe in electrons to work the microscope. You just need somebody to show you which buttons to push.


Quote:

For instance, most mystic traditions hold that to contact a 'spirit' you must invoke it- that is, you have to get spriritually, mentally in tune with them. Your external environment has a lot to do with that. Your preconceptions about the lab mean your psychic radio won't go there on the dial.



This would be a lot more compelling an argument if psychics tended to be REALLY accurate outside of the laboratory setting, but they don't, or at least, if there are ones who ae, they aren't telling anybody. The fact that such a vast number of psychics are known frauds does not prove that their cannot be real psychics, but it certainly proves that the feats usually demonstrated as proof of psychic ability can be produced fraudulently.

Of course, there are the people who insist that James Randi really IS psychic, and just doesn't know it, even tho he will demonstrate every step of the deception...

Like I keep saying, show me. Nobody has shown me a cosmic ray yet, but dammit they're trying.
Mr_Rabid
Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 3:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Blackjack:

Well- say you believe in cosmic rays and positrons, which I gather you do.

Say you never saw one. Some guy told you about them. And among guys like that, it's accepted as fact.

Much like, say, if you were a Lapp, and the local shaman told you about a ghost he'd seen once. And everybody knew there were ghosts.

This whole 'paranormal' vs 'normal' idea is fucked. There is only the world. Labeling something as paranormal is pointless. It either happens or doesn't.

As far as the reproducability thing goes, you can't get anything out of a squeegee board. I can't get anything out of an electron microscope.

Is that because there is nothing there, or because I don't know how?

All those tests they did with the cards in the 80s for the psychics to guess what was on them... they had much better than random accurracy for the first part of the testing, but as the weeks wore on they got less so. It was concluded to be inconclusive because of that.

There is something endemic to such things that makes it not fit in to a lab coat and endless repetition setting.

For instance, most mystic traditions hold that to contact a 'spirit' you must invoke it- that is, you have to get spriritually, mentally in tune with them. Your external environment has a lot to do with that. Your preconceptions about the lab mean your psychic radio won't go there on the dial. Just like it would be hard to summon a spririt of joy in a concentration camp.

Relatedly, the reason most magical traditions use mummery is to destroy the preconceptions on the part of the average joes they sometimes work with (for healing illnesses etc.) A sense of 'anything is possible' on the part of your subject is very helpful, even neccessary. There is a certain interference produced otherwise.
Pikkle
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 1:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lithium brother, lithium...
_Blackjack
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 12:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

Fair enough, Blackjack. I really didn't mean to make a big deal about it - it's just some stuff that happened, that may or may not have been "real" in any objective sense, but the fear and distress it engendered was certainly real enough.



Hey, I spent the better part of 1997 huddled in a ball on the corner of my bed, so terrified by an overwhelming sense of impending doom that I rarely left the apartment. I do, however, recognize that this sense of doom was not rooted in the probabilty of any real danger, but in a dysfunction of the sense-of-impending-doom center of my brain. Hell, I even knew it at the time, but it didn't help.

Which is all the more reason to double-check anything you experience with the consistant observations of others. I spent the better part of my teenaged years following around my friends while they were on drugs to serve as their "reality-check", and it's a hard habit to break...
_Blackjack
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 12:37 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

Why when such phenomena seem to occur you take the stance that it must be due to some cause other than a paranormal cause?



First, you are begging the question. To my knowlege, it has not been detrmined to any certainty that "such phenomena seem to occur". If it IS determined that these phenomena occur, than I take the stance that the cause is not known, until such a time as sufficient data is collected to draw a conclusion. However, a "paranormal" explanation is going to require a GREAT deal more data to support itself than a "normal" one, simply because we already have much of the data supporting the foundations of "normal" phenomena.


Quote:

If you are open minded as you claim then why automatically shut this door so firmly and with such apparant strong feeling.



Who's shutting the door? I'm just asking for evidence to support a claim, and chosing the most likely explaation based upon hich has the strongest evidence to support it.

Let me reiterate: in order to function, at all, one must have some criteria by which one judges what is more and what is less likely to be factual. If one assumes everything is equally likely, it is impossible to make choices. If I am willing to accept that the likelyhood that Ouija boards are really controlled by spirits is no smaller than the likelyhood that they are a load of bunk, how can I assume that, for instance, that Jesus will decide that electromagnetism won't work tomorrow, or that my boss isn't really a demon who I need to slay in order to protect the universe, or that I can't fly if I flap my arms and try really hard. One has to assume that those things which are consistent with evidence are much more likely than those which are not, or the idea of knowlege is meaningless.
Lordhobgoblin
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 10:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Blackjack,

"This position is open to change as more data become availible." Presumably this is also your position on Ouija boards and other phenomena?

Why when such phenomena seem to occur you take the stance that it must be due to some cause other than a paranormal cause? If you are open minded as you claim then why automatically shut this door so firmly and with such apparant strong feeling. Not exactly a very objective approach is it?. As you admit, there are far more things we don't know than know about the universe.

Anatomist,

I have had my fair share of mind-altering substances in my time. I have also had a number of experiences which I put down as being paranormal. If it's up your ass, you know it' just about sums it up.

Hobgoblin
Artemis
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 10:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Fair enough, Blackjack. I really didn't mean to make a big deal about it - it's just some stuff that happened, that may or may not have been "real" in any objective sense, but the fear and distress it engendered was certainly real enough. In the larger scheme of things, it's of no great import.

I'm glad we apparently agree it's good to keep an open mind.
_Blackjack
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 9:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

I submit that those getting their panties into a knot about ghosts, etc. not being possible have a lot more to learn about reality than I do.



I didn't say they aren't possible. I just submit that they are so incredibly unlikely that, barring massive supporting evidence, it is practical to assume that they don't exist. This position is open to change as more data become availible.
Artemis
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 3:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Who's the halfwit following me around all day?
Pikkle
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 3:35 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

You know what my penis said to me the other day?????
Artemis
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 3:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

> In fact, I would even make the correlation that
> such people have expressly avoided taking such
> drugs, not having missed out on them by mere
> chance.

You did say "in general". When I start being like "most people" I'll kill myself. But I want to address what you said anyway:

What drugs? LSD? Been there, done that. MANY times. Psilocybe Cubensis? I used to RAISE those beauties. Not only did I not avoid them, there was a point in my life where they were an active pursuit, almost the only pursuit that occupied my waking moments, and when I slept, I dreamed about them.

> Whereas, if they had experimented with
> chemically induced mental weirdness, they would
> be less likely to leap to assume that such
> perceptions and impressions have such an
> external referent.

I don't leap and I rarely assume. I never said anything to do with a Ouija board had an "external referent". I never claimed an incubus (and that's merely a convenient label) was "external". I claimed there was a cause and effect relationship between the board and happenings that are unpleasant and/or dangerous, nothing more.

> an unwillingness to let go of cherished
> personal illusions.

I pointed out to Blackjack that I have no investment in what he believes. I also have no investment in what *I* believe. I am not chained to it; it does not weigh me down. I submit that those getting their panties into a knot about ghosts, etc. not being possible have a lot more to learn about reality than I do.
Pikkle
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 12:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cuz they're all pale and scary looking, with pointy jutty teeth and they speak in tongues, I.E. Margaret Thatcher...
Chrysippvs
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 11:25 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Why do people keep asking me that?
Pikkle
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 11:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

You're talking about the British, right?
Chrysippvs
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 11:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I know the great dark ones, there beyong the cold wastes of Kadath, you know down the street from the plateau of leng, they call always comes when I use my board:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1731120641

for only 65 dollars you too can summon those same unspeakable horrors.

- J
_Blackjack
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 7:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Anat-

Well, I found "Contact" to be a little too...pro-faith for my money. It's been long enough that I don't recall the specifics of the conclusion, but I do recall that somebody ELSE had to inform her of the anomaly of the length of "static" on the video from the pod. All I could think was "why didn't she CHECK that, immediately?" Why wasn't she tearing the aparatus apart trying to figure out what had happened? She seemed content to just "accept" both that she knew what had happened AND that she couldn't produce evidence to support it.

I agree on your comment regarding mind-altering substances. It is easy to fool individual perception, especially for a short period of time, not just with drugs, but by encouraging highly emotional states, or simply exploiting the limitations of the senses. That is why repeatability and external verification are so important.
Anatomist
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 6:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

BJ:

I still don't see your point about 'Contact'. As I recall, she admitted that as a scientist, there was room for doubt about her experience, but as a person, she believed it. I suppose you could contend that such a disclaimer wasn't enough, and that ethically, she shouldn't have mentioned it, but considering the historic import of first contact with intelligent non-terrestrial life, I would think her personal observations and conclusions would be of public interest as well - not just the by-the-numbers day job stuff.

Art:

"The ONLY fact necessary for Ouija boards to be as consistent and understandable as a clock radio is the fact that there are things in the universe we don't yet understand."

This is the worst atttempt at perpetrating illogic I've ever seen. What this says is:

'There are some things in the universe which aren't understood, therefore weegee boards produce consistent results, and weegee boards are understood.'

Absolute nonsense. With regard to weegee boards, the only thing that can be concluded from that premise - taking as another given premise that they are in the universe - is that they may or may not be understood.


General:

In my experience, the people who are most adamant about believing in specifics about the supernatural - such as weegee boards, reincarnation, demon posessions, etc.. - have been people who have never experimented much with strong mind-altering drugs. In fact, I would even make the correlation that such people have expressly avoided taking such drugs, not having missed out on them by mere chance. I used to think that, because they had not experienced such artificially induced radical alterations in their perceptions, beliefs, and feelings that they were more likely to conclude that their own weird personal experiences referred to external 'realities' such as spirits, past lives, etc... Whereas, if they had experimented with chemically induced mental weirdness, they would be less likely to leap to assume that such perceptions and impressions have such an external referent. That's one theory. Here's another. Their avoidance of deliberately induced radically altered states of consciousness is itself another symptom of the same propensity behind the hocus-pocus beliefs: an unwillingness to let go of cherished personal illusions.

K.
_Blackjack
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 4:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

When it happens to you, you'll believe it.



No, as a matter of fact, I probably wouldn't, not unless I could reproduce the effect, and others could verify it. If I could not reproduce it, I would chalk it up to some sort of anomolous occourance, some malfunction of my senses or memory or such.

If I could reproduce it but others could not, I would make precious sure that I wasn't undergoing a psychotic episode before moving any further. If my brain checked out clear, and the experience was isolated to, for instance, an Ouija board, I would be willing to accept that there was SOMETHING going on, but I would forego any conclusions as to what. I would, rather than "believing", begin studying, attempting to isolate all of the variables until I could produce some meaningful, reproducible data.

And yeah, I sat "Contact", and it was a piece of shit, because no self-respecting scientist would go before the public and say "you've got to believe me even tho I have no evidence". A real scientist would have been open to the possibility that the experience had been some kind of delusion, but would likewise have gone over every minute scrap of data related to the trip that she could get her hands on, not to prove she was right, but to try to discover the most likely explanation.

Y'see, here's the thing. You all seem to think I am saying that science knows everything. On the contrary, I would suspect the set of what is known to some certainty by human science is almost infinitessimal compared to the set of what is not known, given the apparent size and age of the universe, if nothing else. Science's virtue is in that it is structured in such a way as to provide a very effective means of determining which models of the universe are more consistant and relyable. Forget ancient mummies or the Nazca plains. We don't understand the mechanism by which gravitation takes place. We don't know how the force is transmitted, or even if there is a force involved at all. But, constarn it, it sure does work, at least when dealing with superatomic masses. Massive bodies just keep on accelerating towards one another at a rate proportional to their mass and distance. The do so with enough reliability that when they DON'T, we know there is probably some other factor involved which we need to investigate and try to account for.

And that is the difference here. I am willing to accept that gravitation takes place, not because I understand the unseen forces behind it, but because it is so frikkin' consistant. My skepticism towards Ouija boards (and associated nonsense) is not based in my lack of understanding of the forces involved, but in the fact that they aren't consistant. Not like gravity. Not even like the taste of a McDonald's hamburger.
Verawench
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 2:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Blackjack, you ever see that movie / read that book "Contact"?
Artemis
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 2:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"Prove it. Produce for me, with your magic hunk of plastic from Milton Bradley, some verifyable data."

What is it about "If it was up your ass, you'd know it" that you don't understand? Let me explain what the phrase means: When it happens to you, you'll believe it. Until then, you will not.

I have nothing to prove to you, nor have I any investment in what you believe. I recounted my experience, you recounted your (lack of) experience with Ouija boards. And to back up your lack of experience, you explained why what hasn't happened to you, could not have happened to anybody, because it doesn't happen often enough (you think) to enough people (as far as you know) in ways that would satisfy people with many thing sticking out of their pocket protectors.

The question posed was, "what is your experience with Ouija boards". I recounted mine. I'm not going to be sucked into a useless debate about "science" vs. "superstition". As Uncle Al said, let both of *those* asses be set to grind corn.

"As it happens, there is an organization offering $1,000,000 dollars for verifyable proof of paranormal claims, but I suppose you don't need it, since you can get next week's Lotto numbers from your invisible friend..."

That's like saying I'll give this million dollars to anybody who can claim it (if I decide to give it). And I never said a Ouija board could reveal lottery numbers. I said it can bring things into your life you don't want.

"Put up or shut up."

Now that's just rude.
Lordhobgoblin
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 12:25 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Of course some things seem more likely than others.

If I walk across a quiet road it is more likely that I will get to the other side alive than be flattened by a speeding car with a maniac behind the wheel. But I still look very carefully before crossing the road.

It is far more likely that you will not get blown up by a bomb while sitting at your desk at work tomorrow than you will get blown up. But that does not mean it is a ludicrous thing to consider, someone somwhere probably will get blown up when they least expect it.

The most unlikely things happen all the time.

Anyway what I experience is real to me and in the end that is all that matters to me. There are things beyond the perception of our normal 5 senses and while science relies totally on these 5 senses science will never be able to explain such phenomena successfully. By it's nature, science will always attempt to reduce phenomena to mundane explanations that fit within conservative, scientific tradition.

Bring back the days when scientists were alchemists, astrologers, artists, painters, philosophers, theologians etc. all rolled into one. When there were no scientists, just men of learning. Today scientists have such a narrow view and consider themselves alone as the valid seekers of truth.

Hobgoblin

As for weird stuff that doesn't fit with theories. How did primitive man, over 4000 years ago, transport huge lumps of dolerite all the way from the Prescilly mountains in Wales to Salsbury in the South of England to construct Stonehenge? This happened a long time before motorways and heavy goods lorries were invented. I like Stonehenge, it's just a shame that the stones are now fenced off from the public and you can only walk around them at a 50 yard distance.
_Blackjack
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 11:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

How do you have the time to do anything while you are gathering all this evidence and testing it?



Like I said, my demand for evidence is proportional to the degree to which something is contradicted by readily availible data. If you tell me you have a car that runs on ethanol, or even hamburger grease, I'm not going to be too skeptical, because this is fairly consistant with what I have observed about combustion. If you tell me you have a car that runs on cold fusion, I'm going to require a bit of data to support the claim, because this is, at least, unlikely given present technology. If you tell me that you have a car that runs on nothing but the power of your will, I'm going to want to see it work, and then have it dismantled and gone over with a fine-toothed comb, because this is VERY inconsistant with what has been observed about the way things tend to function.

Answer me this: are you so totally agnostic that you are not willing to accept that some things are far more LIKELY than others?
_Blackjack
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 11:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

The ONLY fact necessary for Ouija boards to be as consistent and understandable as a clock radio is the fact that there are things in the universe we don't yet understand.



Prove it. Produce for me, with your magic hunk of plastic from Milton Bradley, some verifyable data. Give me ANY piece of information which you could not possibly know right now but which I could independently verify at some point in the future. Because, as I've said, even when BELIEVERS have been subject to testing with Ouija boards and divining rods and such things, they have failed to produce result distinguishable from random chance. As it happens, there is an organization offering $1,000,000 dollars for verifyable proof of paranormal claims, but I suppose you don't need it, since you can get next week's Lotto numbers from your invisible friend...

Put up or shut up.
Pikkle
Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 9:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't understand talking heads yet... how do they work?

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