So, I happened across this article on Digg earlier.
I felt after reading it, that it needed some commentary.
Number One, Lake Monsters. More often than not, I dismiss Lake Monsters. If one exists, ok, but evidence against them is rather strong, at least as far as what we expect them to be. That does not mean that people aren’t seeing monsters, just that perhaps they are not flesh and blood creatures, there may be a very good, and possibly more interesting explanation. However, number one holds some merit, good.
Number Two, Hoaxes. Also, good point, hoaxes at this point in time are so easy, not to mention the amount junk we have in our environment that may be misinterpreted. I find the UFO (read that as Unidentified Flying Object, NOT as Space Ship) sightings prior to our ability to fly sometimes more interesting because we know it couldn’t be us. There are plenty of those. Nowadays, hoaxes are so damned easy, and easy to make them look really good. So they are right that hoaxes are a problem, but they don’t argue against paranormal phenomenon, just a fact of culture and technology that it becomes a problem in determining real from fake.
Number Three, Unclaimed Large Cash Rewards. Here is where they lose ground. The problem with said cash awards is this, the die hard skeptics that offer them, make sure that no one will ever pass their tests. Of course they are unclaimed, they are more of a publicity stunt than anything else. If you live in New York City, and one day offer $100,000 to anyone who can bring you a live Moose in the next 5 minutes, good chance no one will, but that doesn’t mean that Moose are not real. Yet that is the logic of such cash prizes. Closed minded skeptics, like James Randi, mentioned in the article, will never see anything as proof. Nothing. Period. They have already made up their minds. No one will ever get the money, because no matter how much someone proves, it will not be enough. So on this point they fail miserably. This is not evidence against the paranormal, this is more a psychological exercise for the closed minded. Being an open minded skeptic is probably the best way to be, but a closed minded one will never learn anything new because they think they know it all already. It is not doubt that they have, but certainty.
Number Four, The Fermi Paradox. If we were to argue that space aliens were here, this may or may not add or detract from the argument. Basically, it is hypothetical. Everything in this point is hypothetical. What if. Sure, Richard Dawkins will tell you he is right, but that’s because he falls into that closed minded skeptic category. He already knows he is right about what he believes, so you can’t really make a point to such a person. Anyways, this is obviously an attempt to dismiss UFO sightings. Not only doesn’t it work on various levels, but any real analysis of the phenomenon does not point to ET, but something altogether stranger and more passive. And when that is comprehended, this whole point is, well, pointless.
Number Five, The God Helmet. This one is interesting. It proves that electromagnetic energy can produce interesting effects on the brain. This is a good point against the paranormal. Other things must be considered, though. Ok, so using this helmet can replicate certain paranormal mindsets. Feelings of others in the room with you, for instance. Two things must be worked out. One, are there? Just because we can’t see them in a normal state of being, by tweaking our brain, the brain in the case assumed to be a receiver, like a television, we tune to something outside the ‘norm’. Two, by pressing on certain nerves, you may feel like a part of you, which is not being touched at that time, is being touched. Does that mean that when it is really being touched it is just an illusion? Of course, you could go deep with this question, but I think we will stay on the shallow side for now. Research has been done that suggests that Ketamine can induce something that resembles a Near Death Experience. That is interesting. However, when someone has a real NDE, there is no trace of Ketamine in their system, so it really doesn’t work as a explanation, now does it? Just because something resembles the effects of something else, doesn’t mean that it is now explained. The people who did the initial research were pretty clear at the end that they did not think that Ketamine was in any way responsible for NDE’s, but that didn’t stop the skeptic army from eating that up and spitting it in everyone’s face. So, is the God helmet interesting? Hell, yes. Does it explain all spiritual states and paranormal experiences? Not even remotely. It is, however a tool that may be used for further understanding about the way our brain interacts with this reality that we share.
The problem with the paranormal is, for us to begin to understand it, takes a whole new concept of reality. As long as people try to squeeze it into our current conceptions of how things are, we will not understand. Our narrow belief in how things are does not accommodate many of these phenomenon, which is why you have people arguing that UFO's are space ships, while others arguing, that, despite the evidence of something going on that is causing these experiences, they are somehow not real (aka hoaxes, or hallucinations, or whatever). Both sides are operating in a narrow band of which the true UFO Phenomenon supersedes. That is what the term paranormal means, really. Outside the norm. Someday we may evolve the wisdom to understand many of these things, and then we will look back on what we believe now and laugh at how primitive we were...