The Paranormal

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From Astrology to the Bermuda Triangle: Paranormal events are alleged phenomena that are not subject to scientific or rational explanation.
 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Book: "How Life Really Works"

Book II: Man and Society

Chapter 10.00: Paranormal Phenomena

 

Due to space limitations, sections in Red are accessible only in the Book or CD "How Life Really Works".

 

Paranormal Phenomena

Chapter 10.10 PSEUDO-SCIENCE AND PARANORMAL EVENTS

    General Observations

    Why People Believe in Claims for the Supernatural

    Why Claims for Supernatural Events are False

    Introduction: The World of the Supernatural

Chapter 10.20 ASTROLOGY

Chapter 10.30 NUMEROLOGY

Chapter 10.40 FAITH HEALING

Chapter 10.50 MAGIC AND MIRACLES

    Chapter 10.60 OTHER ARENAS OF THE SUPERNATURAL

    Atlantis

    Bermuda Triangle

    ESP - Extrasensory Perception

    UFOs

    Life after Death

    Finis

    Chapter 10.70 CONCLUSIONS: Paranormal Phenomena

 

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Chapter 10.10 PSEUDO-SCIENCE AND PARANORMAL PHENOMENA

General Observations

    Why People Believe in Claims for the Supernatural

    Why Claims for Supernatural Events are False

    Introduction: The World of the Supernatural

 

General Observations

Paranormal events are alleged phenomena that are not subject to scientific or rational explanation. The world of the Supernatural is the arena of astrology, the paranormal, UFOs, clairvoyance, faith healing, spirits, near death experiences, witchcraft, dowsing, reincarnation: An endless list of manís excursion into the world of irrationality, flimflam, and superstition.

Many aspects of the paranormal are closely related to the underlying principles of religions, although the sphere of paranormal phenomena lacks the organizational, hierarchical structure of an established religion, cult or sect. Like all religions, the domain of the paranormal involves a faith-based belief-system instead of the fact-based knowledge-system that is the essential prerequisite of science.

Faith is necessary in order to accept as fact a statement already proven false by science. A religious person, or a believer in paranormal events, requires faith to support his position. Science has no need for faith. Science produces predictable results by reliance on verifiable facts and objective evidence. The Supernatural produces unverifiable, unreliable, unrepeatable, inconsistent, contradictory mirages.

Another arena of human irrationally, often referred to as pseudo-science, pretends to be part of the world of science but actually lacks all elements of logical, scientific determinants. Science and pseudo-science are diametrically opposed to each other. Pseudo science is easier to create and understand than real science. Pseudo-science deals with appearances whereas real science deals with repeatable and objectively observable facts.

Similar to religious persons who try to justify their irrational ideology, people who espouse pseudo-science often advance a rather spurious argument. They try to argue that, although they may not be able to prove the validity of their claims, neither can science disprove their claims. This argument conveniently disregards a basic axiom of logic: The burden of proof is always on the claimant. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof

It is logically impossible and logically contradictory to require another person to prove that something does not exist. We can only prove that something exists; nobody can prove that something does not exist.

An analytically inclined mind will stipulate that unless something manifests itself objectively, it does not exist. It may still exist in somebodyís mind as a hallucination, or in another dimension, or in the deep sea. However, as far as human beings are concerned, if an object or event does not manifest itself in any form, manner or shape to human beings, it simply does not exist. If it does not manifest itself to human beings, it obviously has no effect on our life and we can safely disregard it.

Religions are always stridently opposed to the world of the Supernatural. Alleged paranormal events represent competition for the miracles necessary to any religious belief system and thus compete for the allegiance and contributions of their believers.

It would be needless and futile to respond with detailed rebuttals to all of the numerous claimed manifestations of the supernatural. The dilemma, which underlies all paranormal events, is its failure to provide any proof of their veracity and existence. In the domain of religious experiences, we previously found that it is unnecessary to prove or disprove the existence of god, because we merely need to stipulate that there is no evidence that a god exists.

Since nobody can provide any evidence whatsoever that god exists, we can disregard the claim for the existence. There is a total lack of any evidence for the existence of god and there is a total lack of evidence for the existence of any alleged paranormal events. It is merely necessary to assert that whoever makes a claim has to prove it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

Anybody can claim that the moon is made of green cheese and that, if we want to get free cheese, we merely need to follow a prescribed ritual. Herein rests the difference between real science and pseudo-science: Science insists that, whoever makes a claim has to prove it. In pseudo-science, we find a constant stream of charlatans who claim visions, near death experiences or other subjective illusions and hallucinations, which no one has ever objectively demonstrated to exist.

It is a fact, that we can photograph atoms. It is difficult to understand how some people can accept as true the existence of miraculous events. They accept these spurious events but they refuse to furnish photographic evidence of gods, ghosts and other supernatural events.

We can define miracles as alleged man-induced changes to the basic laws of the universe. No church has alleged any miracles in the last two hundred years. Is the advent of photography and the video camera responsible for this recent lack of miracles? If these alleged supernatural beings cannot even move a few electrons on a photographic film, should we really place much reliance on the claims for their miraculous ability to help us in a situation that is so hopeless as to call for miracles?

The well known trained magician and investigator of paranormal claims, James Randi, has taken great pleasure in debunking many purported supernatural events. Mr. Randi has established a reward of one million dollars, secured by a deposit in negotiable bonds, to any person who can provide objective evidence of any psychic, supernatural or occult power or advent.

If a claimant submits a claim of this nature, independent scientists, researchers and statisticians design the appropriate tests. An applicant for the reward then agrees to the terms of the test, in advance.

There have been many applicants, but no one has ever proven his claim for a supernatural event. James Randiís investigations into the claims for supernatural events have been the subject of many television programs, including Public Educational Television and numerous network news specials.

Human existence is subject to many unforeseen events. This undeniable fact represents a powerful motivator for a belief in the Supernatural. The appeal of the occult lies in the erroneous assumption that certain supernatural powers or beings can provide security in an inherently insecure world. Security or the lack thereof, is an emotion based on the powerful human drive to project survival-needs into the future.

Gullible people will embrace anything that will seemingly satisfy this security instinct, no matter how far-fetched. The charlatans of the supernatural then exploit this intellectual deficiency. The human emotional need for religion and the paranormal is rooted in insecurity and the fear of uncertainty. Life is inherently uncertain. Wild flights of fancy into the land of mirages does not make it less so..

The arena of the paranormal is very attractive to many persons, practitioners and followers alike, because real science can be difficult to pursue and places demands on the rational mind. Real science requires hard evidence, demonstrable repeatability and logical thought processes.

Pseudo-science takes the easy route in explaining the complexities of human existence. Pseudo-science disregards any need for independent proof. Pseudo-science is easier to invent and to understand because it replaces facts and logic with flimflam, flights of fancy, and wishful thinking.

One of the favorite statements of the advocates of the paranormal is their contention that science does not have the ultimate answers to the mysteries of the universe. Therefore, the say, science cannot be certain of anything; it cannot know anything as a certainty. They then conclude that, since science does not know everything, science knows nothing.

Thus, it becomes the allure and the premise of the paranormal that nothing is impossible and therefore anything is possible. Any intelligent human being recognizes these apparently logical statements as illogical non-sequiturs.

Although science does not yet have all the answers, and cheerfully admits this fact, science has become a vast store of knowledge. We certainly have more knowledge that is factual and we understand infinitely more about the universe than Aristotle did 2500 years ago. Nobody can deny the fact that human knowledge has increased exponentially since Ancient Greece. We have acquired a tremendous base of scientific knowledge as far as the ordinary affairs of man are concerned. Nobody is implying that science knows everything.

Science may not know the ultimate secrets of the universe but, at the beginning of the third millennium, we come ever closer to it. In any case, the unanswered questions pertaining to the ultimate nature of the universe are immaterial to the conduct of human affairs.

We can only answer questions regarding the ultimate nature of the universe by responding that science does not know the answers at this time. Any such questions are irrelevant and immaterial to human affairs and the attainment of human happiness. String Theory, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are certainly of no concern to our pursuit of a fulfilling and happy life.

The world of the paranormal is the world of things that go thump in the night, fantastic stories addressed to intellectually challenged minds. The supernatural is an arena where there is no need to prove anything; it is a world without objective evidence. The Paranormal has only one design: To deceive and to prey on the gullible.

Religion and the domain of the supernatural suffer from identical problems: Claims not supported by evidence. If we choose to accept something as true that science had already established as false, we do so at the peril of losing predictability in our endeavor to achieve desired results, including our quest for enduring happiness.

Schedule A and B examines the basic concepts and misconceptions involved in the world of the Supernatural:

 

We could view the arena of alleged supernatural events with a great deal of hilarity. Unfortunately, it is also an arena of deception and self-deception. Similar to other forms of deception, the acceptance of the supernatural leaves man vulnerable and unable to deal effectively with the reality of human existence.

The following chapters explore and examine some of the major arenas of the world of the paranormal but only provide moderate detail. When we examine claims for the supernatural, we must avoid falling into the trap of trying to prove that something does not exist.

We need merely point out that the burden of proof is always on the claimant and that such claims are in contradiction to common sense, common human experience, natural laws and honest science. In order to examine a claim for the supernatural we need to analyze it with due diligence relative to the factors outlined in Schedules (A) and (B).

No claims for supernatural events have ever survived objective examination. If a person still wants to believe in the paranormal, he must do so at his own peril. He must realize that it is not a harmless pastime. The acceptance of the Supernatural is an act of dishonesty to oneself. We cannot achieve alignment with Objective Reality, and thus provide for lasting happiness, if we base our actions and expectations on the reliance on apparitions that clearly do not exist in Objective Reality.

The following sub-chapters explore iconoclastic views of some alleged Paranormal Phenomena:

 

 

Chapter 10.20 ASTROLOGY

Astrology is a pseudo-science that claims divinations, based on the purported influence of the stars and planets on human existence. It predicts terrestrial affairs based on the position and aspects of celestial bodies.

Astrology has tried to deal with the fears and superstitions of man during a period in human history when factual knowledge was almost nonexistent and science had not yet evolved. Astrology is a precursor or a parallel-development of religions. Early man looked upon celestial objects as the home of the Gods and thus connected them closely to events in the earthly domain.

With the exception of religion, astrology is the most popular segment of the sphere of the supernatural. Almost every newspaper offers daily horoscopes for every human being ever born. Astrologers neatly divide all human beings into groups of twelve types of people who supposedly have similar mental characteristics. Since the birth date of persons in these groups falls within the same timeframe of the calendar, persons in these groups can expect similar events for a given day.

No astrologer pays the slightest attention to the fact that calendars have changed repeatedly throughout human history. A person, who lived in the first century, might have qualified as a Taurus two millennia ago, but, due to shifts in the calendar, the same person may now be a Gemini with very different personality attributes and destinies. Any attempt to correlate a personís birth date to a calendar based on the signs of the Zodiac is without any relevance to human existence.

Astrology has been popular with the scientifically and logically undemanding sector of the population. Many politicians, including a recent U.S. President, have subscribed to astrology. No scientist who cherishes his reputation as a scientist would expose himself to the charge of affirming astrology.

The appeal of astrology revolves around the innate human need to insert an element of certainty into an inherently insecure and unpredictable life, even if the security rests on nothing but blatant illusion.

Similar to religion, astrology is a faith-based belief-system. An element of faith is required in order to accept something as true, although science has already established it as false by scientific evidence or due to the lack of scientific evidence.

All major religions have been consistently opposed to astrology, partially because astrology is a competing faith-based believe system, and partially because it conflicts with the doctrine of free will which must be an integral part of any religion. Astrology calls for total pre-determination. Astrology insists that individual characteristics and destinies are irrevocably established when a person is born and determined solely by the position of heavenly bodies at that point in time.

On the other hand, religions cannot survive without a belief in the existence of a free will. This concept allows adherents to a religion to amend or atone for their imagined sins. By exercising their free will, they provide for their ultimate glory in a purported life after death. This contradiction seems to demand a choice between religion and astrology. However, religious persons who also favor astrology are rarely bothered by such unpalatable choices and do not hesitate to embrace both religion and astrology.

Numerous scientific investigations over many centuries have established beyond any doubt that the claims made by astrology are without any merit whatsoever. Their claims are utter balderdash. Horoscopes and other predictions by astrologers are so vague that, similar to the Oracle of Delphi, anyone can draw any inferences he wishes from horoscopes. The prognostications of astrologers lend themselves to multifaceted interpretations.

Since astrological pronouncements are extremely generalized, ambiguous and ambivalent, it is easy for the gullible to infer non-existing relationships between astrological predictions and actual events. Furthermore, if we make enough contradictory predictions, a small number of them must necessarily reflect eventual occurrences.

The error lies in the presumed causal relationship between the prediction and the event. People conveniently ignore predictions that turn out to be erroneous. The very few predictions that actually coincide with reality find wide appeal as alleged evidence of the validity of astrology.

Daily horoscopes, as published by different newspapers, vary drastically from newspaper to newspaper in their predictions for the identical sign of the Zodiac. It is difficult to understand the mental gymnastics necessary for the disregard of such obvious discrepancies and contradictions.

The indefinable and contradictory attributes of horoscopes renders them completely without meaning. Indeed, it is very easy for anybody with a reasonable imagination and vocabulary to invent such utter nonsense. Horoscopes are nothing but a source for humorous entertainment, or as food for the extremely gullible.

It is interesting to note that generic horoscopes in daily newspapers are provided free of charge. However, anybody who desires a custom horoscope, presumably with personalized vague generalizations, may call the Oracle directly.

He will then have to pay for a computerized telephone horoscope at a fixed rate per minute that is the equivalent of hourly rates charged by a physician or attorney. This arrangement provides a nice income for a predatory person with a minimal education but a predilection for flimflam.

Clearly, there is not one shred of evidence to support the claims of astrology. Instead, there is a preponderance of factual evidence invalidating astrology. Astrology has nothing in common with the science of astronomy.

In ancient times the lack of readily available factual knowledge compelled people to believe in the predictions of astrology. The religious believes of such primitive people connected celestial bodies with the home of their gods. Supposedly, primitive people considered this link a connection between the stars and terrestrial affairs.

However, modern physics and astronomy have made such assumptions untenable because we know that gods do not exist and that, if they existed, they would certainly not live on stars or planets. It is a violation of the basic tenets of physics and common sense to assume that the infinitely small and subtle gravitational forces produced by planets over vast distances can have any effect on human beings during their birth or, even more absurd, that they would continue such influence during the entire lifespan of a person.

While evaluating the connection between astrology and our desire to achieve happiness, we are encountering the same problems associated with all faith-oriented belief systems, such as religion. The danger of astrology and other pseudo-sciences rests in the human inclination to seek security in astrology while abdicating responsibility for one's activities and destiny. It is easy to assign blame for our problems or shortcomings to the influence of impersonal stars, but it is much more difficult to accept responsibility for our own actions and for everything that happens to us.

Human activities can only achieve desired results with consistency, if we base our actions on our close alignment with Objective Reality, with the way the world really is, with truth. If we substitute faith and superstition for sound judgment, knowledge and logic, our efforts to achieve predictable results are severely impaired, including our ability to achieve happiness.

The unwarranted belief in and acceptance of astrology is detrimental to our financial welfare, poisonous to our reality-based initiative and destructive to our desire for lasting happiness.

 

 

Chapter 10.30 NUMEROLOGY

Numerology is a close relative of astrology. It represents an attempt to define the character and destiny of a person by assigning random numerical values to the date of birth and to the name given to a person at birth. Other factors that numerologists may take into account are the measurements of a person at birth. Secret or mysterious calculations interpret the numbers thus derived.

Numerologists proudly announce their knowledge of Latin by proclaiming: "Omnia in numeris sita sunt" (Everything lies veiled in numbers). The use of Latin implies that the Romans accepted numerology and that numerology has a distinguished scientific pedigree. After all, Biologists, jurists and physicists use Latin words; if numerologists know how to use Latin words, they must deserve scientific status, too. However, in the case of numerology, this assertion is a non sequitur and is without logical merit.

Even persons who believe in astrology may frown on the validity of the methodology of numerologists. Just as a horoscope or astrological prediction is readily available from the daily newspaper, it is possible to obtain a detailed personality analysis based on numerology by accessing one of the many sites on the internet that tout numerology.

It is obvious, even to a casual observer of these trends, that computers perform all such purportedly scientific analyses, which are subject to manipulation by the slightest variations in input. Although an initial numerological analysis, a teaser, is free of charge, the believer in numerology is required to make a generous financial investment in a more detailed, personal numerological determination.

Even the most gullible of persons would find it difficult to defend the validity and truthfulness of numerological hocus-pocus. Numerology is one of the most obvious varieties of flimflam and has no factual significance.

Arbitrary premises form the basis of numerology and random events serve to manipulate meaningless data. Numerology represents one of the most glaring attempts to dupe the gullible

If we wish to achieve desired results, including the achievement of happiness, we need to align ourselves with Objective Reality as closely as possible. Numerology will not enhance this endeavor but will, instead, mislead us and inevitably deprive us of our financial means and our most perishable resource, our limited time.

 

 

Chapter 10.40 FAITH HEALING

We can find another dangerous expression of pseudo-science in the popular concept of faith healing. This process purportedly restores physical or mental health to a person, solely by reliance on the intervention of divine powers. The idea of faith healing rests on the unscientific assumption that all diseases represent afflictions of the mind or the spirit or the soul. The practice of the laying on of hands is one of the many egregious manifestations of faith healing.

The most famous claim for faith healing traces back to the Bible. The Old Testament (2 Kings 5: 1-14) describes how Elisha cures Naaman of leprosy by washing him in the River Jordan. The New Testament relates stories of a number of faith healings and other miracles allegedly performed by Jesus.

The sole basis for claims of such miraculous events is hearsay. No objective, supporting evidence has ever been available regarding the efficacy of faith healing. If a church insists on declaring a certain event a miracle, the public receives no objective evidence of the alleged miracle and the church performs all evidentiary examinations in secrecy.

The trouble with miracles is that nobody has ever captured one on photographic film or image sensors. There have been no claims for miracles since the advent of photography and camcorders.

The alleged faith healing power of religion, as claimed by evangelists, saints or shrines like Lourdes, prevents millions of people from seeking scientific medical care and is thus extremely detrimental to their health. Many of the reported cures involve nothing more than the reversal of psychologically induced illness.

A large number of afflictions that plague man are psychosomatic in nature. Just as readily as our mind imposes these symptoms on our body, our mind can remove them. Although a psychosomatic illness may produce symptoms similar to physical disease, it is not a physical disease but a mental affliction. Symptoms that merely give the appearance of physical disease lend themselves to removal solely by psychological means, including rituals, prayers or other displays of faith healing.

Witch doctors have always played a large role in the spiritual life of primitive tribes. They could not rely on scientific medicine because it was not available. In order to justify their existence and their upkeep, they resorted to hocus-pocus and to a variety of rituals related to their faith in imaginary, supernatural spirits.

We can also observe faith healing in well-established religions. The Christian Science Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church practice faith healing. These religious groups consider illness a manifestation of evil forces that need to be expurgated from the soul by faith healing": By the laying on of hands, by prayer, by incantations or by other magical rituals.

Nobody has ever established any scientific or objective evidence for the connectivity of prayer or faith healing with an enhancement of the human immune system. The absence of a readily discernible, natural cause for recovery, in conjunction with faith related activities, has obfuscated cause and effect relationships and has resulted in the attribution of cures to something as ethereal as faith or divine powers.

Often, people take the attitude that faith healing will not hurt anything and, heaven knows, it may even help. This is an understandable assumption when faced with the inability of conventional medicine to help the patient. A belief in omnipotent gods and prayer at that final stage in life may bring some spiritual comfort to some people. However, this stance deprives them of their dignity as rational human beings at a time in their lives when they most need esteem and dignity because there may be nothing else left to them. In all other, non-terminal, circumstances, the reliance on religion, gods, faith healing or pseudo-science will frequently result in the failure to seek reality-oriented solutions. Faith healing is detrimental to our health and our finances.

Solely as the result of scientific medicine, human life expectancy has more than doubled since humans progressed beyond the age when medical resources consisted of prayer, magic and faith healing. Any person who relies on the imaginary benefits of faith to heal physical ailments can expect to revert to the life expectancy that was common in past centuries. In addition, this person will receive the Darwin Award, posthumously. If we wish to achieve happiness, we will defeat our objective if we resort to faith healing. We will not even live long enough to enjoy happiness.

Chapter 10.50: MAGIC AND MIRACLES

Chapter 10.60: OTHER ARENAS OF THE SUPERNATURAL

    Atlantis

    Bermuda Triangle

    ESP - Extrasensory Perception

    UFOs

    Life after Death

    Finis

    Chapter 10.70 CONCLUSIONS: Paranormal Phenomena

 

Due to space limitations, sections in Red are accessible only in the Book or CD "How Life Really Works".

 

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