Psychic Phriday

This week’s Psychic Phriday will be a little bit shorter than most. I have some familial obligations this week that are cutting into my foolin’ around time.

I’m pretty happy with the traffic I’ve been getting so far, and I think the move to WordPress was the right one. Sadly, I didn’t get the 10 comments I needed to release/create the fork-bending video, but maybe I’ll give you all another chance this week. 😉 In any event, it seems that I do have some regular readers and I’m entirely thankful for you all.

That being established, I’d like to give you all a chance to get involved. I have some topics that I plan on covering in the future (dowsing, ufo’s, homeopathy, etc.) but I want this to be useful to you. Otherwise I’m just another random guy ranting on the web. As gratifying as that may be, I’d rather spend my time doing something useful to the community at large. So here are a few questions that will help me shape the future of “Things that Never Happened”

Are there any paranormal topics you want discussed? Any experiences that you’ve had (or heard of) that you can’t explain? What are the areas that you want to explore?

Are there any topics that you think should be “hands off” I’m very interested in discussing religion, and I’d really like to talk about my recent experiences with it, but should that be taboo? How about politics?

How about tone? More factual? More humorous? Sarcastic and snarky? Dry and to the point? Whatever the meds make me say?

I’m also really interested in the tech world, how about Tech Tuesdays and Psychic Phridays? Or are there other topics that you want an ill-informed blowhard to write about on a semi-regular basis? (I’d suggest Fox news if that’s really your thing)

Finally, I’ll leave you with a few of the “rules” I set up in my first “Psychic Phriday” post on Xanga. I think they’re a pretty good guide to where I’m coming from and for critical thinking in general. (you can find the post, in its entirety at The Phirst Psychic Phriday )

Rule number 1: No appeals to authority. Whether it’s me, your professor, or the guys from TAPS, just because someone claims to be an authority a) doesn’t mean they are and more importantly b) does not raise their opinion above questioning. Everyone can be wrong

Rule number 2: Anecdotal evidence is not good enough to prove something is real. Just because some guy said they saw it once, it is not good enough. (Even if that guy is me, or even you.) Does that mean I think that everyone who disagrees with me is lying or stupid? NO! It’s just that we’ve learned that no matter how trustworthy or experienced, people are not good witnesses. The human brain is a marvelous thing, but it is not flawless. We often see things that can’t be real, yet our brain convinces us that they are. What am I talking about? Just crack open any kid’s book of optical illusions. Every single one of them is taking advantage of a flaw in the brain’s methods of discerning reality. (This is a big topic, we’ll cover it fully in another entry) Simply put, our legal system doesn’t allow hearsay when trying to find out the facts, so why should we?

Rule number 3: The most important. Just because we don’t know the explanation, doesn’t mean it can’t be explained. In logic this is called the argument from ignorance. Example: I don’t know that that weird, flashy light in the sky is, therefore it must be a spaceship full of tiny creatures with big black eyes and an penchant for cattle mutilation and orifice probing. Get it? You can’t say “I don’t know what it is, so it’s X” You can’t both know and not know what something is. The difference between a true skeptic and a true believer is that “I don’t know” is a good enough answer for the skeptic. Some people need to have an answer, no matter what, and they’ll take whatever they’re given (if it fits in with what they already believe, or if it feels good to believe it)

Okay I think that’s enough for today. We only got halfway to my goal of 10 comments last week, but with actual questions for you to answer I think we have a good shot this week. So my challenge remains: 10 comments (with answers to today’s questions) by next Phriday, and I’ll share my AWESOME FORK BENDING POWERS with the world!

Or you can just come see me at the 99. 😉

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Paranormal, Psychic Phriday, Psychics, spoonbending

2 responses to “Psychic Phriday

  1. Eric G.

    Hi Scott. I’m excited to read your articles.

    I hope that I’m not being picky, but since these are discussion ground rules, I had a couple of thoughts:

    Rule #2 – Yes, it’s true that people (in general) make poor witnesses, but it’s also true that some people make excellent witnesses. Also, hearsay IS allowed in our court system; moreso in civil cases, but also in limited circumstances in criminal cases (for example the first person that a sexual assault victim tells about the assault can testify about what he/she heard, etc. Another example is where the “knowledge of one police officer is the knowledge of all.” This allows one PO to arrest someone on the (hearsay) information of another.

    Don’t we use a certain amount of hearsay in most conversations? For example here you cited a concept in logic of argument from ignorance. While each of us can certainly study, test, and publish about this concept, it’s not practical to do this all of the time. Therefore a certain amount of trust is placed in you as discussion leader that you’re presenting a valid, tested, peer reviewed concept. Regardless, though, it is hearsay since you are communicating information that another person has provided…

    Rule #3 – The same logic holds true for, “I don’t know what it is, so it’s NOT X.”

  2. dezrah

    I’d certainly agree with your addendum to Rule #3. I didn’t stress it, but the whole point to healthy skepticism is saying: “I don’t know what it is, therefore, I don’t know what it is and I’m going to withhold judgment until more information is available.”

    As far as first-hand witnesses go, I did overstate the point when I went into the legal arena, and I’m glad you corrected me. I was not aware of the “..knowledge of one officer…” rule, but I can certainly see its importance in law enforcement. In most of the situations that do go to court, everyday experience and observation makes the majority of people “expert” enough on what they’ve seen so that their testimony can usually be accepted at face value.

    However, I do feel that first-hand accounts of the “supernatural” do fall into a special area. Almost by definition, paranormal events are unusual and far from the average person’s daily experience. Add to that the emotional, cultural and even religious “charge” associated with most of these events and the idea of a dispassionate, critical observer seems less and less likely.

    Finally, we are also dealing with many well-known psychological phenomena that an observer can understand. It’s very easy for someone on the outside to see how these mental “illusions” can lead to mistaken beliefs, but it’s almost impossible for the person experiencing them to accept the fact that the experience they had, or the event they witnessed was simply the result of some quirk of the human mind or a misinterpretation of the evidence.

    There has been more than one occasion when I’ve done a trick for someone, and explicitly told them that it was a trick, only to have that person say, “That’s okay, I belive it’s real and I know you just have to say that”. There are people who just want to believe and if what they see confirms their beliefs, no amount of truth can shake them. Because we can’t necessarily separate these “credulous” witnesses from the rest, it behooves us to be very careful when considering first-hand testimony of the incredible.

    It’s hard to admit that we didn’t see what we thought we saw.

    More simply: Humans don’t like being wrong. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s