This post is by Jesse Galef
We always have better explanations for unknown phenomena than resorting to saying “a supernatural force did it.” Richard Feynman, as always, put it well in this quick black-and-white clip:
From my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the result of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence rather than the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.
It brought to mind a great line of reasoning that Hume has in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding:
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish… When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened.
There are known flaws in the human brain. Not only are we are terrible data-gathering devices, but we have biases and imperfections that affect our interpretation of the data we do gather. If a person tells you that they’ve had a religious experience, the first question should be how they know it’s due to an external entity, and not just the inner workings of their brain. And as it turns out, we have an excellent scientific explanations. When the brain is deprived of oxygen a simple centrifuge people report the same visions and feelings as the so-called near-death experiences. When the temporal lobe of the brain is stimulated, it recreates these “mystical” experiences in labs.
But for anyone who thinks otherwise, I present you with this holy pattern from the Church of Jesse, which I am moving and distorting with my brain from many miles away. You have the opportunity to directly experience my power with your own eyes! Kneel before me, preferably while sending a check.
Can you PROVE that I’m not responsible? (Disclaimer: I get bored sometimes and decide not to make it move, especially if you’re testing it too closely.)