Chicagoans May Want to Attend…

Guess who is promoting his book Ghosts Among Us near Chicago tomorrow (Friday) night…?

James Van Praagh.

jamesvanpraagh.jpg

Clairvoyant. Cold reading specialist. Liar. Fraud.

The event is at 7:30 p.m. at the Borders in Oak Brook.

I can’t go, but it would be a shame if his methods went unchallenged during a Q&A session…

Better yet, someone could conjure up a fake dead relative, have Praagh admit he “spoke” to the person, record the entire thing, and send it to me.

How sad that someone people still believe he’s legit. He even sells courses to gullible people who want to “enhance their intuition”!

His peers are no better.


[tags]atheist, atheism, skeptic, magic[/tags]

  • Jennifer M

    Cool! I wish I lived in Chicago. I would love to go. By the way, to you people who are determined to prove he’s fake make sure you give a full name to that “dead” relative. Otherwise a real one might come through and you’d never know the difference. I don’t know much about Van Praagh but given I’ve seen, heard, and communicated with the otherside myself, I know this is not a fraudulent ability. Sigh…of course, is there anyone here who would believe me? Just go see James van Praagh. Oh, by the way, to those of you who live in Minneapolis, MN there’s a group that meets at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community. It’s Sunday at 2:00, I believe…at least it was a year ago when I went there. They have some neat people with all kinds of spiritual abilities.

  • http://daybydayhsing.blogspot.com Dawn

    He was on Dr. Phil a week or so ago ( I ranted about it on my blog). Now I know Dr. Phil ain’t exactly an ethics expert but the idiot let Van Praagh plug his book, his Tv show (he producers Ghost Whisperer), cold read his audience unchallenged AND offer help to a woman in some obvious mental distress who thought she was being haunted.

    Damn the both of them.

  • http://www.jarrodmartin.net Jarrod Martin

    Nationally syndicated talk show hosts Steve and DC did do a sham on one of these guys. Not sure it was Van Praagh, but it was well done. The guy supposedly talked to one of the host’s dead sister…who did not exist.

  • Richard Wade

    Jennifer M, you asked:

    I don’t know much about Van Praagh but given I’ve seen, heard, and communicated with the otherside myself, I know this is not a fraudulent ability. Sigh…of course, is there anyone here who would believe me?

    Yes, I would believe you, IF you could provide evidence for your claim. Evidence gathered in a controlled experiment, recorded and documented by reputable researchers who have no financial motive attached to any outcome, an experiment that when reproduced by other reputable researchers produces very similar results.

    The claim you are making is an extraordinary one, by its nature harder to accept on face value than a claim such as say, you have 45 cents in your pocket. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Jennifer, please understand that I am not attacking or ridiculing you or anything like that. I am answering your question respectfully, letting you know what I would need to believe you.

  • Jen

    If I had any idea who this guy was, I would go. I tried to do something like that for Allison DuBois, medium faker. Unfortunately, she did not allow for questions.

    I got my picture taken with her, and I can’t decide if that makes me a sell-out.

  • Kevin

    Oh man, not worth the time or aggravation.

  • Siamang

    Evidence gathered in a controlled experiment, recorded and documented by reputable researchers who have no financial motive attached to any outcome, an experiment that when reproduced by other reputable researchers produces very similar results.

    I’ll go for something easier than that. Just tell me something specific that only my grandmother could tell you.

    Ask her the title of the last two movies she and I watched together.

    Ask her her favorite living composer.

    Have her name five celebrities she admired.

    Have her name five things she was famous for cooking.

    I spent years chasing ghosts. I spent years fooling myself about this stuff. None of it ever panned out, although I was quite convinced of it at the time.

    Now I’m pretty certain that this is all a bunch of hooey. I’m completely certain that people like Van Praagh are vultures who prey on human misery.

  • Jennifer M

    Richard,

    California Psychics does that. I can’t guarantee that the researchers don’t have a financial motive but I do know that if you’re not happy with your reading you’ll get a refund (the only condition is they won’t let you call back). Their website is http://www.californiapsychics.com.

    Unfortunately, I’m not gifted enough to qualify as a psychic myself but let me tell you what I’ve been able to do:
    1. See and hear people when I first wake up in the morning;
    2. Hear this deep male voice when I’m in this deep (I wouldn’t say sleepy, but meditative) state. (This happens very rarely)
    3. Leave my body (It’s weird. You can’t remember most of what you know when you’re in your body. When you return it feels like you’re out of breath);
    4. Use cards (I just ask a question run my hand over them then pick the right one. Again, I’m not accurate enough enough of the time to do this professionally).

    Richard, maybe you’re not going to ridicule me but I know some of you will. It’s OK. I believe if you’re happy being an atheist why change that.

    I just saw Siamang’s comment. Wow, I’m a target already.

  • http://blackskeptic.wordprss.com blackskeptic

    Are those his real eyes?

  • Siamang

    Jennifer,

    I’m not targeting you any more than you’re “targeting” me. We’re just two people on a website disagreeing about the existence of psychic powers. I’m telling you what it would take for me to believe you. If you don’t think I’d believe you, well, here’s your big chance to prove me wrong. I don’t think that you’ll be able to come even close, nor would any psychic, to answering any of those simple questions that anyone spending any time with my grandmother would have no trouble answering.

    Instead, they’d say “I’m getting an R… or a J…. maybe a man’s name? An elderly gentleman… he’s touching his heart… was it his heart? Did he have an animal? I’m getting a very strong attachment to an animal… a dog? Is it a dog?”

    I spent years of my life searching for psychic powers. I visited trance-channelers, ufo-occultists, witches and warlocks. I attempted A Course in Miracles, I read the Sleeping Prophet, Carlos Casteñada, Richard Bach… I tried being a dream warrior, a theosophist and a lucid dreamer. I attempted astral projection on a daily basis for years. I meditated, I prayed, I chanted, I kept a dream-diary, dabbled in divination, numerology, pyramid-power, spoon-bending, Bio-rhythms, and I attempted to live for a time as Jung had, based on the divination readings from the I Ching. I even tried a Ouiji board!

    Then I started asking the questions that must not be asked.

  • Richard Wade

    Jennifer, someone who practices psychic phenomena isn’t the researcher. They would need to demonstrate the phenomena in front of the researcher who would be a person detached from the outcome. The four things you have experienced sound interesting, but they are so vaguely described that I can’t see how they are significant. You see and hear people upon awakening, a voice when you meditate, you leave your body and return breathless, you pick the “right” card. This would all have to be demonstrated carefully as something clearly beyond your imagination for the first three things and pure chance for the fourth. I’m not saying it isn’t so, I’m saying I need clear, demonstrable evidence. I also understand that your experiences may not be reliably demonstrable for you, so that’s okay. It’s just that my default setting is to withhold belief. In anything. Until I see evidence.

    A skeptic is not someone who refuses to believe. A skeptic is someone who insists on seeing it demonstrated, not just hearing about it from someone else. The Greek root skeptikos means to look. I’m first and foremost a skeptic. It’s my very nature to need to see things, not just hear about things. Atheism is merely a consequence of my skepticism, my need to see first. So when you say,

    It’s OK. I believe if you’re happy being an atheist why change that.

    I’m not being an atheist so I can be happy, nor am I happy because I’m an atheist. It is built into my nervous system that I must look for myself, and see for myself before I lend credence. It’s extremely basic for me, like the reflex of blinking when something comes toward my eye. I am a happy person, but that’s because I have been fortunate and because I’ve made wise decisions.

    Jennifer, I’m glad you are here and lending your interesting viewpoint to the various conversations. This place is full of skeptics, some of whom are not quite as gentle as I, so you may be a target once in a while. (It hasn’t happened yet.) I get targeted myself. It goes with the territory and it’s part of the game. Put your helmet on and enjoy.

  • MTran

    Jennifer M said: California Psychics does that.

    No, they do not. Refunding money to disgruntled victims has nothing to do with the willingness or ability to provide any evidence in support of their claims to special abilities. They are simply marketing their woo and attempting to pre-empt lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

    Jennifer, I hate to say this, but you have consistently misunderstood the comments and challenges directed at your belief in superstitious phenomena. This might merely reflect a lack of understanding as to how to identify, quantify, and assess evidence in support of your position rather than sidestepping the genuine questions raised by Richard Wade and Siamang. But if you want your ideas to carry any weight, you’re going to have to understand why your responses are unpersuasive.

    Your personal experiences aren’t unusual at all and provide no support for your promotion of superstition. I’ve had 100s of OBEs and dozens of NDEs, lucid dreaming since early childhood, and enough other experiences that most people label as “psychic” or supernatural in some way. So have countless others. But there’s no reason to expect any origin for these experiences outside of neurochemistry.

    Why do you think that your experiences are evidence of supernatural or psychic phenomena?

  • Darryl

    1. See and hear people when I first wake up in the morning;
    2. Hear this deep male voice when I’m in this deep (I wouldn’t say sleepy, but meditative) state. (This happens very rarely)

    I’ve found that waking up sometimes involves a transitional state of consciousness somewhere between dreaming and waking, during which I have heard voices. I once was wide awake and heard my mother call my name as clear as day (mom was 3 hours away at the time).

    Musicians, like me, often hear music in their heads, but they don’t think that means anything supernatural is going on. I was mixing down a song this week and in one section kept hearing a man’s voice humming. I isolated each track thinking that there was a vocal track where we had forgot to mute someone humming, but there was none. I listened to the song again today, and I hear the humming clearly, but it’s not on any vocal or instrumental track. Somehow, the aggregate of all the tracks is producing this aural phenomenon. I wouldn’t think of attributing this to some spirit trying to speak to me through the music, or conclude that I was hearing voices in my head. The phenomena only occurs when I play that section of the song, and it is the same every time. Which is more likely, the supernatural explanation or the physical one?

  • http://gentlepath.wordpress.com GentlePath

    A young man very dear to my family died last week after a year long battle with bone cancer and we are overwhelmed with grief. This psychic would be perfectly willing to use my (or anyone’s) emotional vulnerability for personal enrichment. I can’t think of a single nice thing to say about a person like that.

    There’s a difference between the genuinely deluded or the hopeful people in the audience and the career psychic. The first are prey animals. I bet many of the latter are sociopaths.

    Clairvoyant. Cold reading specialist. Liar. Fraud.

    I’d add “predator” to that list.

  • TXatheist

    Hemant,
    This is a test. I just posted a comment that included a link to a youtube video and it didn’t appear.

    youtube.com/watch?v=slRB5-ThKug

  • TXatheist

    It called it spam…you’ll have to add www. to view

  • Jennifer M

    Guys, thank you for sharing your views with me. I was always curious why having experiences like these is not enough to convince an atheist. I really appreciate your feedback.

    Siamang, bless your heart. You have really tried. Please do understand, I am not a medium nor would I even consider myself psychic enough to call myself psychic. And, MTran your right, these experiences are not that unusual. Your argument on neurochemistry can explain the first 3 things on my list. What they cannot explain is why my cards are accurate for me almost 85% of the time when I can concentrate and am not rushed. What I need to clarify is they’re accurate for me answering questions in a way that is meaningful to me but for other people I don’t know because I really just do them for myself. I won’t dare do it for the people in this forum. Sorry. As I said earlier, I know I’ll get ridiculed.

    Let me see if I can think of something for y’all. Richard, could you give me a specific example of a controlled experiment that would be proof for you. With what y’all are doing to Van Praagh, I don’t know if I can be brave to get that for you but I’ll try.

  • ash

    my thoughts…

    i hallucinate naturally; this means i often see, hear or smell things that aren’t there. it’s usually fascinating, occasionally annoying, sometimes a little scary, but fortuneatly it’s been going on so long i can generally recognise the difference between these and reality. given this, it’s also unsurprising that ‘psychic’ phenomena intrigue me. i tried a ouiji board once with 2 people that claimed it had worked for them before; it didn’t with me there. the upside was that 1 of the 2 admitted she was now skeptical of the previous time and suspected the other person was so desperate to contact a particular someone he may have unconciously been directing the action. i wasn’t quite sure what to do with the massive piece of board we had used so stuck it under my mattress and slept on it for 6 months. curiously, that raised eyebrows and dropped jaws even amongst my non-supersticious friends.

    i have a couple of decks of tarot cards and occasionally read them for people i know; apparently i’m quite good at it. i presume that i’m better at reading people than i thought. i see them as a useful tool for comment and advice that i wouldn’t normally profer, and, frankly, people are naturally inclined to draw their own conclusions, see patterns and apply vaguery into personal meaning.

    Jennifer M., you may be interested to read more on the fascinating subject of neuroscience and the peculiarities of the brain; i’d recommend Oliver Sacks as being a great author and enjoyable, easy reading. given your personal bent, i also thought you may well enjoy this book; it’s one of those ‘close your eyes, think of a question, open at random for an answer’ things. great fun.

  • ash
  • Jennifer M

    Uh, guys…please don’t mess with ouiji boards. They are filled with negative energy. Also, don’t get any card decks with negative messages. What can happen is spirits (oh, boy, I’m such a nutcase) in the lower realms can play with you and give you responses that are not true but appear to be because they are so specific. You might want to try Messages from Your Angels by Doreen Virtue. What you’ll want to do is knock the card deck, make sure your hand touches each card then fan it out over your heart and bless it. The booklet will tell you how to do this. What I like to do is shuffle the cards, spread them out over a table then run my hand over them. If I feel a tiny tug at any of the cards I’ll pick it up and usually it’s very accurate. Sometimes it’s really hard to find the tug. It might help to try a different subject. Usually the higher realms won’t answer unless the question will really help you spiritually. Just keep working at it…Or of course laugh at me. :)

  • David D.G.

    Uh, guys…please don’t mess with ouiji boards. They are filled with negative energy. Also, don’t get any card decks with negative messages. What can happen is spirits (oh, boy, I’m such a nutcase) in the lower realms can play with you and give you responses that are not true but appear to be because they are so specific. … Usually the higher realms won’t answer unless the question will really help you spiritually. Just keep working at it…Or of course laugh at me.

    Jennifer, for any of your comment here to be taken even remotely seriously, you first need to prove the following:

    1. The existence, nature, and mechanism of “negative energy.”
    2. The existence and interactive nature of “spirits.”
    3. The existence and nature of “lower realms.”
    4. The existence and nature of “higher realms.”

    And that’s just to get started on the underlying assumed premises for the phenomena you’re discussing. There has been no evidence whatsoever for any of these. None. At. All.

    So until and unless someone provides consistent, repeatable, and compelling extraordinary evidence to support such phenomena as you refer to here, I’m sorry, but you sort of deserve to be laughed at if you persist in treating them as real and are at least 10 years old. This stuff is even less plausible than the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    please don’t mess with ouiji boards. They are filled with negative energy.

    Good to know. We let my daughter (10 months) play with one all the time, we keep one in her crib, and we used one to help prop up her car seat. She just being born on Friday the 13th and I really wanted a demon baby so it’s good to know I’m on the right track with the ouiji boards.

    Also, don’t get any card decks with negative messages.

    I have some cards with nekkid ladies on them. Is that negative or positive? Guess that depends on your stance toward silicone. :)

    Just keep working at it…Or of course laugh at me.

    Or maybe a little of both. :)

  • Jennifer M

    David,
    Be like HappyNat! You take life way too seriously.

  • David Crespo

    …be nice, guys.

    Jennifer,
    Interesting that you reads this blog in light of your beliefs, considering you probably would have come to those beliefs on your own, rather than being indoctrinated during childhood. To be inquisitive enough to read the blog and also not be deeply tied down to an established religion, I would think you would be an atheist.

  • ash

    Jennifer M said,

    May 30, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    David,
    Be like HappyNat! You take life way too seriously.

    with respect Jennifer, i think you may be taking the ‘supernatural’ way too seriously and actual life maybe not enough. just a thought.

    personally, i’d love to see a ‘psychic-off’ with someone like this guy and Derren Brown. on a related note, psychics are up in arms in England right now because they’re going to have to pretty much advertise a disclaimer that their function is for entertainment purposes only. however, if any can prove otherwise that rule won’t apply to them…

  • Jennifer M

    with respect Jennifer, i think you may be taking the ’supernatural’ way too seriously and actual life maybe not enough.

    Ash, no matter how absurd this stuff may seem I have to tell people what to be careful about. Most people here will laugh but there are going to be some who will decide to try it. For the rest of you, just do what I’ve been saying earlier, call me a nut.

  • David Crespo

    I just might.

  • Awesomesauce

    Let me see if I can think of something for y’all. Richard, could you give me a specific example of a controlled experiment that would be proof for you. With what y’all are doing to Van Praagh, I don’t know if I can be brave to get that for you but I’ll try.

    Count me in! If there is any way you can muster up any paranormal phenomenon, there’s a ton of money being offered.

    All you have to do is provide any sound evidence for a researcher. Any simple experiment that would convince even a novice scientist will do to qualify.

  • Richard Wade

    Jennifer you asked:

    Richard, could you give me a specific example of a controlled experiment that would be proof for you.

    Your description of what you do with cards (and I have to assume that these are Tarot cards or something of that nature) involves you interpreting the meaning or significance of a particular card in light of the question you have posed. The fact that you think that you are “accurate” in picking the “right” card rests on the creative, facile and limber ability of your mind to interpret the ambiguities of both the question posed and the “meaning” of the card you picked. In other words, there’s plenty of wiggle room. Your motive greatly biases your later assessment of how well you did. You want the answer to be correct and useful, and you’re good at finding some way to make it fit. I suspect that if you could find a way to pick the “wrong” card, with a little practice you could still be able to tweak and spin an encouraging, intriguing or helpful sounding response from the card to the question posed.

    To eliminate all those interpretive variables you first would have to declare and define in crystal clear terms what you are trying to do. Psychic phenomena come in a zoofull of types, so since you like to use cards, let’s narrow them down to a few forms of extra sensory perception, or ESP. The most well known and the most carefully studied are clairvoyance, telepathy and precognition.

    Clairvoyance involves sensing correctly the reality or nature of an inanimate object without the use of the five senses and without the involvement of another person.

    Telepathy involves being able to sense the thoughts or the experience of another person without the use of the five senses. Since people are very good at empathizing, which means knowing correctly what another might think or feel simply by knowing their personality well and their recent circumstances, empathy would have to be eliminated as a variable, and the thought or experience that is sensed would have to be far beyond the reach of simply understanding another person.

    Precognition involves knowing beforehand events in the future. This also has to be measured in great detail to eliminate people’s ability to simply predict the future outcome of events that are already in the process of coming to pass. For instance, predicting that a dead, crumbling tree is going to fall in the next big windstorm would not be a convincing example of precognition. The appropriate response to such a prediction would be “Well, duh.”

    To test clairvoyance you would need to use a brand new, well shuffled deck of ordinary playing cards and have another person, whom you do not know, spread them out face down on a table in front of you. Without touching the card you would point to a card and say, “that is the three of clubs” or whatever is your choice. The other person, whose face you cannot see would then peek at the card and silently write down the result, correct or incorrect. Then the cards are reshuffled and you repeat this attempt at least 100 times. Each time you do this your purely mathematical chances of a correct declaration is one in 52. Your correct choices would need to be far more than one right out of 52 attempts in order to be convincing of clairvoyance.

    To test telepathy you could use a procedure similar to the above, but the person with you looks at a card he picks, stares at it and thinks about it. You cannot see his face or hear his breathing. You say “twelve of diamonds” or whatever and he quietly makes note of the answer. Again after over 100 procedures, your score would need to be far higher than 1 out of 52 to be convincing of telepathy.

    To test precognition a person whom you do not know could pose a question for you to write down in detail an event in a place and time of his choosing, not yours. It would have to be unrelated to your knowledge and the details would need to be verifiable. This could be something like, “Write down the full names of everyone who will get on elevator number two on the ground floor in the Chrysler Building between 12:00 pm and 12:05 pm on July 18, 2008. “ Or it could simply be something like “Tell me how many cards will land face up when I toss them into the air.” That one would need to be repeated several times, since there’s a 50-50 chance of the cards landing one way or the other.

    For many years clairvoyance, telepathy and precognition have been tested under far better conditions than what I have described, and so far I have not read or heard of any results that show credible evidence for ESP.

    Jennifer, you see that these methods all attempt to eliminate the wiggle room of ambiguous claims and the hidden feedback that people give to psychics, such as saying “uh huh” or nodding, or even the way their eyes dilate as their hopes and expectations are being teased out. They want it to be true, and they help the psychic along without realizing it. Watch interviews with bereaved families and psychics. Watch the family, not the psychic and you’ll see dozens of feedback clues, both verbal and non-verbal that they are unconsciously giving the psychic. When shown videos of their behavior during the interview, the family members are astonished to see how much information they were giving out.

    People want their loved ones to be still alive somewhere. They want to continue on after their own death. They want there to be both mystery and meaning to life. They want a parent in the sky to tell them what to do and make it all okay. They want it all so badly that they will pay good money for it and they will overlook the holes in the services they get. Like in the Wizard of Oz, they are willing to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” because it feels so good to have their desires confirmed.

    All that wanting, longing and painful hunger should not be ridiculed by skeptics for it is a part of what makes us human. But it also should not be toyed with, exploited and manipulated for selfish gain both in money and power. That is the ugliest, most tragic moral crime of the psychics, the shaman, and the holy men.

  • David D.G.

    David,
    Be like HappyNat! You take life way too seriously.

    Actually, I was just trying very hard to take you seriously by showing you what you really have to do to earn some credibility for your claims. You were the one making dire warnings; I would have thought that you wanted them to be taken seriously. I was also trying to treat you (as a person, if not your beliefs) with a certain amount of respect rather than just point and laugh, which is hardly respectful or constructive. But if you’d rather I just do the latter, well, that’s your call.

    I can’t help but think, though, that your apparently good-natured attitude is really just a way of taking the lazy way out — refusing to even address all the myriad hard questions for which you have no worthwhile answers, and encouraging the substitution of laughter for the evidence you don’t have. It doesn’t solve anything and doesn’t make you look any smarter or more credible; it just makes you look like a perfectly cheerful fool.

    ~David D.G.

  • David Crespo

    If I wasn’t an atheist, I’d think Richard Wade was god.

  • Richard Wade

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    Thank you, David, that was great.

  • Jennifer M

    Guys, I’m sorry. I’ve been pushed over the edge. I do want to tell you people it was never my aim here to prove anyone wrong. My aim was to make connections regardless of our differences. To those who wanted to become theists, my aim was to provide tools, stepping stones, evidence to look into if that’s what they chose. Honestly guys, if I really were to outright prove to you that the other side exists how would that make you feel? Defeated right? Would I make any friends in here? Probably not. Sorry guys. I will not be placing any more posts.

  • MTran

    “if I really were to outright prove to you that the other side exists how would that make you feel? Defeated right?”

    Uh, no, not at all. Your assumptions here and elsewhere, however, are getting in the way of any actual understanding or useful communication.

    Your default assumption seems to be that if you cannot grasp the underlying mechanism of an experience then it is evidence of the supernatural. You have a lot of company among the general population, but you will not find that sort of conclusory thinking among rational and dispassionate people. Conclusory thinking is a barrier to learning and sharing information and ideas.

    Plus, I’ve really got to wonder why you attribute certain motivations, mental states, emotions or attitudes to people you haven’t actually met. For instance, why do you assert that access to new or inexplicable data would cause anyone here to feel “defeated”?

    Why do you claim that you are being “targeted” when it was *you* who purposely sought comment on ideas that *you* said you expected to be the basis of ridicule?

    Most of us have deliberately made statements at some point, knowing they would provoke disagreement; that doesn’t mean we were “targeted.” It just means we have attempted to engage in a discussion or a dispute.

  • Richard Wade

    Jennifer, I am sincerely sorry to hear that you are going to clam up. I do not think that any of the responses to you so far have been have been abusive. I thought we were making connections regardless of our differences, because the discussion was centering around what we skeptics needed to accept your beliefs, rather than simply attacking your beliefs. It was about understanding each other rather than who’s right or wrong. There are people here with whom I diametrically disagree, but we still have a connection of respect and for a few even fondness. I was enjoying the conversation with you, and not in any kind of sadistic way at your expense.

    If you were to outright prove to me that the other side exists I would feel elated! I would not feel defeated, but relieved of my ignorance. You would be greatly appreciated and admired. We are not in a contest of who has the truth and who does not. We skeptics simply need to be shown the evidence, as we described in order to accept a claim as the truth. If you can’t provide that we can still play, and hopefully we can play nicely.

    Consider taking a break rather than entirely abandoning the dialogue.

  • Xeonicus

    I’m pretty much on the same wavelength as Siamang on this.

    Things like psychic powers and other various phenomenon have always held intense interest for me. I delved through encyclopedias as soon as I could read, researched magic circles, tried astral projection (a lot), and all kinds of crazy stuff. I really want that stuff to be true and I’ve been seeking it out the entire time I was growing up.

    But yea… nothing. I’ve always been intrigued about the possibilities, but the results never came. Not once. Ever. Sure I’ve had intense dreams before, but that’s not supernatural. They’re just dreams. The human brain is capable of some pretty amazing mind tricks.

    To this day I still kind of hope that things like telekinesis are real, but they’re beyond our mental capacity and we aren’t sophisticated enough yet to detect it or produce reliable results. Ahh… I have my flights of fancy every now and then. Maybe ghosts are real, but I seriously doubt it. One thing I can say for certain… ghosts have nothing to do with popular cable syndicated celebrities. One look at that guy and all I can think is “used car salesmen!” He has that face with “I’m gonna con you” written all over it.

    One positive thing though…. it makes for good fiction. That’s why I like stuff like that. Even if I know it’s fake, it keeps my imagination going. That’s why I like exploring “haunted” houses, even though I know their not haunted. The atmosphere is the same, and there is a certain sense of “mystic” that is just interesting to study.

  • Darryl

    I imagine that one day people will be able, without the use of drugs, to connect themselves to the net and induce whatever imaginary worlds they choose–kind of like the holo-deck on the Enterprise, only its in your brain. Experiences will seem so real that no significance will had by distinguishing between the real and the imagined. Religion or mysticism will once again be available to all, but exquisitely private. Perhaps then all those malcontents that long for “God’s Celestial Shore” can just remain there and leave the real world for the rest of us.

  • David Crespo

    Gee, I hope she comes back and reads the last few posts. I think Jennifer is simply not working within the empirical paradigm, and it should be explained to her.

    Empiricists love to be convinced of things, because if they’re more confident in their new belief than the old one, they know more than they did before. Unfortunately, a statement positing the existence of the supernatural is inherently unfalsifiable, because its first premise is that it is outside the natural world, AKA the realm of empiricism.

  • David D.G.

    David Crespo: Agreed. I wasn’t trying to tell her to buzz off, or even trying to insult her (believe it or not); I never called her a fool, but explained that the way she was going about this could only make her come across as such.

    Most of all, I was just trying to make clear to her that “all claims are not created equal,” and that if she wants her claims of spirits, lower/higher realms, negative energy, and so on taken as anything but nonsense, she needs to play by the same rules as anyone else making falsifiable claims: until there is evidence, acknowledge that these things are only hypothetical speculations at best, not proven facts (which is how she was treating them). Evidence talks, and BS walks.

    As Richard Wade pointed out earlier, skeptics aren’t people who just refuse to believe anything: Skeptics generally like being challenged by new information that’s properly supported with evidence, and thus having their views brought ever more closely in line with reality. That is what’s called LEARNING. Jennifer M, you might give it a try sometime.

    ~David D.G.

  • Jennifer M

    Guys, I’m sorry. I guess I’ve spent too much time around evangelicals and I have to be super careful about implying they’re wrong. I’d love to continue this conversation but maybe it would be better to have it one on one. If anyone wants to talk just e-mail me at jlmbb5@gmail.com.


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