Paranormal Schmaranormal

Recently in a comment someone posted something particularly ignunt. Since it is my personal policy to exterminate all ignunce I spot, I shall respond with a toast. If only the commenter had been Catholic. That would have earned me quite a few points for Piss Off The Catholics Month.

“Stefano” wrote:

Compliment for your analytical s kills.
But that does not prove that there are no paranormal phenomena. Of course there are often possibilities of other explanations, but that don’t proves anything, too.

Why don’t you read a certain time paranormal books like the books from Jane Roberts? They are very psychologic and scientific, too. Only if you accept a certain time alternative theories, than you can speak about experience, otherwise your words are nothing than prejudices.

Greets from Germany
Stefano

PS: Maybe you respond me via e-mail?

I would imagine that this is a bit better than email, so I’ll use this (observe how “email” is beginning to look like a proper word, rather than a misspelling of “e-mail.” I’ll do a toast on this phenomenon soon.).

English is not his first language, so I won’t mock his spelling and grammar. What he is saying, however, is particularly ignunt.

When I do logical smackdowns, I like to go for elegant proofs over easy ones when possible. Using the burden of proof is simply too easy. It certainly does apply here, but I can’t make a 919 or 616 word post out of “Prove it”, can I?

Here’s the elegant proof: There are no paranormal phenomena because any “paranormal” phenomenon which is observed and have an effect on the universe is thus natural by definition. QED. Any philosophers reading this will likely feel obligated to respond to this using several times the word count and with half the content. I will say only that the idea of anything “paranormal” “existing” is absurd. Thus we have no reason to concern ourselves with “paranormal” phenomenon.

As to the statement that “Only if you accept a certain time alternative theories, than you can speak about experience, otherwise your words are nothing than prejudices.”, I say this: No, not really.

I should probably elaborate, though that’s certainly not necessary. Burden of proof strikes again. Nasty little thing, isn’t it? Regardless, I do not accept “alternative theories” because if they were anything more than bullshit, they would be theories, not “alternative”. “Alternative _______” is a creative way of saying “The mean Western scientists won’t believe that (insert claim here) is true despite the fact that it can’t survive logical scrutiny!”.

Homeopathy, ghosts, gods, and other “alternative theories” are all bunk. They are all based on the same premises as any other theory, but add some more, unfounded premises. Some examples of this are: “like cures like”, “spirits or souls can become trapped on Earth”, or “God created the universe”. These are added to the basic premise of science that the universe is objective and logical. Anyone trying to prove anything has to accept this premise, since logic is the way you go about proving things. If what you say is not logical, it’s wrong, simple as that.

For reasons I’ve detailed above, “paranormal” events are almost certainly nonexistent.

For some reason alien life is often grouped in with paranormal phenomena. Life on Earth is natural. Life on another planet would be just as natural. The idea of alien life visiting Earth is silly, but certainly less silly than the idea of houses being “haunted”, or god existing. If I had the capacity to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before, Earth would be the last place I’d visit.

It helps to remember that we are just a pale blue dot in a vast cosmic arena. Nothing of consequence happened today.

For anyone wondering about the recent lull in posting, a combination of recent events have kept Elles and I from the site. Posting will resume as normal now.

Unicorns are very difficult to find.

Bunnies.

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27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John Morales on July 23, 2008 at 8:59 am

    re: For reasons I’ve detailed above, “paranormal” events are almost certainly nonexistent.

    This is not in accord with your definitional proof (There are no paranormal phenomena because any “paranormal” phenomenon which is observed and have an effect on the universe is thus natural by definition. QED.)

    PS Not that I find the proof convinding.

  2. “Alternative _______” is a creative way of saying “The mean Western scientists won’t believe that (insert claim here) is true despite the fact that it can’t survive logical scrutiny!”.

    That is so well put.

    Though to try to help out these wingnuts who try to reinforce their childish fantasy worlds with awkward attempts at philosophy, its always good to bring up “falsifiability.”

    Essentially nothing can be scientifically proven unless its possible to prove it wrong.

    But..through methods that are falsifiable we have found that our senses often, and reliably deceive us, and our brains reliably and predictably invent the same kind of bullshit superstition to reconcile perfectly normal phenomena that we don’t understand with our world view.

    I have come to think of the brain, at least in small part, as a deception machine.

    This is why guys like Max Maven can easily fool a room full of skeptics.

  3. “Only if you accept a certain time alternative theories, than you can speak about experience, otherwise your words are nothing than prejudices.”

    Eep. If only you accept certain false premises, then then rest falls out as true!

    “I have come to think of the brain, at least in small part, as a deception machine. ”

    Deception is just an unfortunate side effect for an organ that is so powerful and wonderful, it simulates and integrates the world around us within our own head. How cool is THAT?!

  4. Posted by Travis Bedford on July 23, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    “John Morales Says:
    July 23, 2008 at 8:59 am e

    re: For reasons I’ve detailed above, “paranormal” events are almost certainly nonexistent.

    This is not in accord with your definitional proof (There are no paranormal phenomena because any “paranormal” phenomenon which is observed and have an effect on the universe is thus natural by definition. QED.)

    PS Not that I find the proof convinding.”

    I can tell you do speak English fluently, so I will mock the fact that you failed to correct your misspelling of the word “convincing.” Either you were too lazy to correct it, or didn’t notice because you’re using a browser with no built in spell checking feature (i.e., not Firefox, or an exceptionally old browser). Either way, I laugh in your general direction.

    For anyone wondering, yes, I am being mean. I save all my nice for people I like.

    Now, to actually address his “point”. I applied an implied, logical definition to the word “natural” under which anything “paranormal” cannot exist due to falling under the classification “natural” because of its properties. Is that sufficient, or do I need bigger words?

    Please, feel free to explain why approaching the issue using a few sane definitions is so flawed.

    For anyone wondering, I’m trying to outdo Reed at http://gaytheist.wordpress.com in snarkiness. I’d say I’m off to a good start.

  5. Please, for the love of all things cute and fuzzy, join “The Brights” group on the Atheist Nexus. We are currently having a discussion on this very topic (called “Supers!”) and would love your input!

    Oh, and “fuck you, homeopathy!” *shakes fist*

  6. arg! attack of the random winky!

  7. Here’s the elegant proof: There are no paranormal phenomena because any “paranormal” phenomenon which is observed and have an effect on the universe is thus natural by definition. QED. Any philosophers reading this will likely feel obligated to respond to this using several times the word count and with half the content. I will say only that the idea of anything “paranormal” “existing” is absurd. Thus we have no reason to concern ourselves with “paranormal” phenomenon.

    This is not a convincing proof, because it depends on one specific meaning of “paranormal”. However, interpreting Stephano as meaning this particular interpretation is unjustified by the principle of charity. Furthermore, as noted above, an an analytic proof, it is absolutely certain, at least insofar as “paranormal” is being used as you assert.

    One alternative meaning of “paranormal”, however, is natural phenomena that fundamentally contradicts our present scientific understanding. As this sort of natural phenomena, the paranormal is possible, and it is possible to have scientific knowledge about the paranormal. However, it seems highly unlikely, as our present-day scientific understanding is quite sophisticated and it’s implausible that it’s so fundamentally incorrect.

  8. Posted by Travis Bedford on July 23, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    True, Barefoot Bum. My proof applies more to the woo-woo paranormal the average moron is prone to believe in.

    The double slit experiment in quantum mechanics is a good example of something which could be considered paranormal when first discovered. Today, though, we know it’s perfectly natural because of… *drumroll* … QUANTUM PHYSICS!!!111

  9. I kiiiinda understand Stefano’s point: Can’t discredit something without exploring it first.

    So look at it, take a few seconds to discount it and there you go! Can’t say you’re being close-minded, but at the same time you’re now allowing anything sensationalist through the crap filter.

  10. Posted by Travis Bedford on July 24, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    That’s why I have a multi-layer crap filtration system. It’s proven to be up to 97% more effective than standard single layer systems.

    For the record, I did seriously consider the idea of the paranormal for 0.68 seconds. For a sentient A.I. designed to eliminate ignunce, that is an eternity.

    Toast.

  11. Posted by John Morales on July 26, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Travis Bedford, what you mock is my disdain of spellcheckers – I type, I post. It is amusing you find my consideration that to further post to correct an obvious typographical error would’ve been redundant a lack of ability. You were pointlessly being petty.

    Regarding your putative proof.
    You should define your terms if you want to call something a proof, and you should be aware of polysemy when defining. You’ve done neither.

    Accordingly, I do not find the “proof” convincing.

    And my scare quotes serve a purpose, please note.

  12. Posted by John Morales on July 26, 2008 at 4:57 am

    Travis, to advance things, I will take you up on “Please, feel free to explain why approaching the issue using a few sane definitions is so flawed.”
    Furthermore, I will do so using a similar tone and manner to your own.
    So:

    Now, to actually address his “point”. I applied an implied, logical definition to the word “natural” under which anything “paranormal” cannot exist due to falling under the classification “natural” because of its properties. Is that sufficient, or do I need bigger words?

    Your quaint belief that to threaten to employ polysyllabysms is somehow meant to be patronising towards me is rather pathetic.
    Please, go ahead.

    If you stand by the above quote, it implies that you don’t consider that, for example, were a phenomenon to be empirically and repeatedly observable yet have no apparent causal basis under known theory, it should be denoted by the term paranormal.

    In short, your “implied, logical definition”* is ontologically ambiguous and incomplete and avoids, rather than explaining away, the concept of the paranormal; your “proof” boils down to asserting that, if it can be observed, it is not supernatural.

    Regarding errors, did you proof your own post?
    They are very psychologic
    a combination of recent events have kept Elles and I from the site
    Posting will resume as normal now.

    * How exactly is a definition logical? Definitions are natural language assertions. To call a definition logical is malapropos.
    Further, to base an a definitional proof on an implied definition is, um, unusual.

  13. Posted by John Morales on July 26, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Dang. Travis, I just saw my post and note I’ve misspelt polysyllabism.

    I post this correction as, apparently, it’s expected.

  14. Posted by Stefano on July 26, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Hi Splendid Elles,
    well, you left with that post the scientific way. Your post is nothing more than a bunch of opinions, buzz words, personal attacks and rhetorical sentences.

    And yes: This approach may be for someone “convining”, but in which way? Surely not in scientific way.

    You wrote:

    > There are no paranormal phenomena because any “paranormal” phenomenon which is observed and have an effect on the universe is thus natural by definition.

    Of course paranormal phenomena are natural. But everything, that seems for the majority nowadays unnatural, is definied at least temporarily as paranormal. So I speak in “paranormal” and not in “natural”. So please, don’t stuck in wordplays!

    >I should probably elaborate, though that’s certainly not necessary. Burden of proof strikes again. Nasty little thing, isn’t it?

    It’s not nasty, it’s stupid!

    > Regardless, I do not accept “alternative theories” because if they were anything more than bullshit, they would be theories, not “alternative”.

    Bullshit. Every theory was first an alternative theory and controversial!

    Well, it makes no further sense to talk to you. You have your beliefs, just as any person on planet, too. So, live with them.

    Greets
    Stefano

  15. Posted by John Morales on July 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Hm, about to retire and no response.

    Anyway, to be on topic, I’ll note that Travis, in his response to me, said “Now, to actually address his “point”.”

    Actually, my point (as should be evident) was not addressed.

    1. There are no paranormal phenomena because […]

    2. For reasons I’ve detailed above, “paranormal” events are almost certainly nonexistent.

    My original comment related to your claim that the cardinality of the set paranormal phenomena was both zero and not (possibly) zero.

    For a sentient A.I. designed to eliminate ignunce, you sure miss the obvious.

    Travis, I look forward being corrected by you. It’s not often I encounter someone who can so surely determine their superiority to me on the basis of a single comment (which was, as it happens, misunderstood).

  16. Posted by John Morales on July 26, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Correction: I missed the “of” (or “comprising”) between the words “set” and “paranormal” in my third-to-last paragraph above.

  17. Posted by Stefano on July 26, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Of course I meant “convincing” and not “convining”!

  18. Posted by Travis Bedford on July 26, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    John, I’m in the process of writing a response post. In the meantime, note that I consider myself corrected, and applaud you for responding in a way much like my own. I should have the post up… soonish.

    Now that Stefano has responded as well, I think I’ll respond to him too.

    Have a very pleasant day.

  19. Posted by John Morales on July 27, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Thanks, Travis.

    I suggest that we can now cease the pissing contest.

  20. Posted by Stefano on July 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    There are not only crazy Guys that are talking about the existence of UFOs.

    http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=RhNdxdveK7c
    http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=-7ByWlRZlq0&feature=related

  21. […] of the moon ironic when you take into account Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell. On “Paranormal Schmaranormal” Stefano left this comment: There are not only crazy Guys that are talking about the […]

  22. Posted by John Morales on August 1, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Poor Stefano. No wonder Travis saw his puffy ego as a soft target.

    It’s evident that his opinions are based on reliance upon the perceived credibility of his selective choice of claims from those he perceives as authorities, rather than on any substantive basis or rational considerations.

    And, of course, he’s a trollish fool:

    July 26, 2008 at 11:11 am Well, it makes no further sense to talk to you. You have your beliefs, just as any person on planet, too. So, live with them.

    July 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm
    There are not only crazy Guys that are talking about the existence of UFOs.

    Apparently, Stefano dimly realises he’s one of the “crazy Guys” – but unfortunately, his only recourse is to try to huddle under the shadow of less idiotic crazies. Which is pretty pathetic.

    Further, I suspect even the average fool knows better than to expound in a foreign-language blog about their fringe-group claims; on the evidence, Stefano needs to work pretty hard to reach merely average foolishness.

    Poor Stefano.

  23. Posted by Stefano on August 1, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    @John Morales: I’m poor?! Your posting is poor and has nothing to do with the topic. Are your arguments too weak or why are you attacking me?
    Due to my impression, that guys like you listen better to authorities, I posted these two videos.

    You criticize my language skills… What language do you speak? What books did you read in a foreign language? Have you ever watched a movie in a foreign language without English subtitles?!

    It’s a big difference between talking in a foreign language or just reading/listening in a foreign language.

    If you want to know some facts: I’ve never met an American exchange student that had skills enough to speak in German. The conversation was always conducted in English.

    You just exposed your foolishness yourself.

    No further comments from me in future…

  24. Posted by Stefano on August 2, 2008 at 12:00 am

    There’s another thing I want to say: I don’t get the idea why all of you are treating people with different opinions in such an unfriendly and disrespectful way. I’m sorry to say that, but someone who grew up in mind would never do that. Why should he?!
    Maybe you should question yourselves, what you think about people who spit on somebodys face. Just think about it!

    Greets
    Stefano

  25. Good sir Stefano,

    President Bush said there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Considering that Bush is the President of an entire country by your logic it would be completely sane to believe that Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs. As it is, it’s not completely sane to believe that Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs because there is no evidence.

    It’s natural to trust authorities, but what is natural is not right.

    Oh, one more thing. I speak two foreign languages. Spanish and Chinese. Just because one American who you met could not speak German well doesn’t mean that you’ve proven the foolishness of all Americans.

    These are all examples of something called a logical fallacy. If you are interested in learning more about logical fallacies and the pseudoscience of UFOlogy, I recommend Carl Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Since you have left two comments with quite understandable English, I imagine it won’t be too difficult a task for you at all.

    Greets
    Elles

  26. Posted by John Morales on August 2, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Stefano, you may be foolish, but you’re certainly feisty. I like that.

    First, the topic was your muddled thinking, hence my post was directly on topic.

    Second, to say that “to expound in a foreign-language blog about their fringe-group claims” is foolish is not to criticise your language skills, but your choice of forums. To choose one where you struggle to communicate is foolish.

    Third, your point about American foreign-exchange students is neither relevant to your situation, nor is it relevant to me; Spanish is my native tongue and I’m Australian.

    Fourth, you’re apparently incapable of learning and clearly don’t necessarily mean what you write:

    Stefano,August 1, 2008 at 11:38 pm: No further comments from me in future…

    Stefano,August 2, 2008 at 12:00 am: There’s another thing I want to say:[blah]

    Last, regarding

    I don’t get the idea why all of you are treating people with different opinions in such an unfriendly and disrespectful way.

    Is it not clear to you that it’s not that your opinions are different that engenders acrimony, but that those opinions are fringe and rationally vacuous.

    Poor Stefano.

  27. Posted by Stefano on August 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Dear Elles,
    at least you are showing some kindness and respect (basics of communication and common sense), so I’ll take the liberty of responding you.

    I’ve explained why I posted these two videos.
    Authorities can be smart, or can be foolish. I never trust a statement from somebody, no matter from who, as long as I can’t agree with the statement on base upon logic or experience.

    > Oh, one more thing. I speak two foreign languages. Spanish and Chinese.

    So, are you capable of reading books and watching movies in these two languages?!

    > Just because one American who you met could not speak German well doesn’t mean that you’ve proven the foolishness of all Americans.

    I’ve never said, that I met ONE American exchange student, that couldn’t speak German. What I meant is, that ALL American exchange students I’ve ever met, weren’t capable of speaking German. I’m fair enough to admit, that this apply also to other foreign exchange students. So, if we met French exchange students, we conducted the conversation in French. Maybe German is a difficult language?!
    There’s another thing, where I’m sure you are not aware of: In some American movies where some American actors are representing German guys, I often notice bad translated sentences. For example in “Die Hard 1” or 2, when an actor is asking “Kann ich ein Licht haben?” (“Can I get light?”). Correct is “Kann ich Feuer haben?”. “Licht” in German is the light of the sun or a lamp. So the director had the money of awesome special effects, but not for a good translator. There are many other examples in other movies like “Indiana Jones”, that I watched in American English.

    Now, where you know this, do you still think that it is fair, that you are attacking me, because I have some problems with your language and even famous American movies are revealing problems with foreign languages?! Just think about it. You don’t have to answer me.

    Attacking people personally is not an indication of smartness and has nothing to do with argumenting. It’s only an indication of personally problems and of problems accepting yourself. Or what do you think is smart in this procedure?!

    You always have to consinder that you are talking to humans and humans get injured when they were attacked. There is nothing better getting attacked psychical than physical. You have the advantage that you can defend well verbal, but can you defend yourself physical? Any person has weak points, do you think that you can change the world in a better world when you continue the principles of suffering in a mental way?
    There is no point against enlighten the darkness and even criticism, but please not in an insulting way.

    And there is an another point: You always can learn something positive and productive from other people, even if he is less smart than you. But you can’t see those things, if you are just despising persons, who are not very interested in science or less smart than you.

    Greets
    Stefano

    P.S: By the way: I’m not German, I was only born in Germany. My parents are Italians.

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