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In other words, the mindset of the scoffers is a mixture of intellectual superiority, moral superiority, and unvarnished cynicism, and their responses are based on only the most cursory and superficial reading of the article in question.

These traits are familiar to any person who has read "skeptical" websites and books. These individuals believe that current knowledge is complete or almost complete, or complete enough to scoff and and laugh of nonconventional ideas or fields.

There are no doubts, only certainty

This is the main reason to label them "pseudo-skeptics". Their "free inquiry" is just an apology for materialism and mainstream science.

And there is, of course, no possibility that we ourselves could be wrong ... ever.

I think "skeptics" would accept be wrong if being wrong help to confirm their worldview.

For instance, if a study about the paranormal by a "skeptic" ended with a positive result and after that the study is shown faulty, they happily will accept that and will claim "I was wrong, the study is faulty".

But if being wrong invalidates their own beliefs, they will stick with admirable stubborness to their original conclusions.

None of us can be totally immune to the influence of our temperament and mindset. It might be best, then, to become aware of our prejudices, parse our words carefully, and think before we speak.

That's a great truth. In the case of paranormal skeptics, we'll have to add ideology as a factor too. For them, it is not only a question of psychology, but a defense of a certain worldview (materialism) which is incompatible with the paranormal.

Accepting the paranormal equals accepting the invalidation of their core personal philosophical beliefs.

Sure, this has a psychological basis too. Worldviews are not chosen at ramdom, but that they are probably chosen to satisfy deep emotional needs, like the need of certainty--- partially for this reason, many prominent skeptics are so dogmatic and intolerant.

As Colin Wilson quipped after reading Martin Gardner's best-selling book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science: "I wish I could be as sure of anything as Martin Gardner is of everything

Michael, it seems the person who said that about Gardner is Robert Anton Wilson, not Colin Wilson (unless Robert is also known as "Colin", which I ignore)

I remember the reading of a book by Wilson (Robert) where he said that about Gardner.

Perhaps my memory is wrong.

Gardner has a particularly effective rhetoric. I was "fooled" and "taken in" by his books some years ago... but I wake up from my dogmatic and pseudo-skeptical slumber when I began to read the paranormal bibliography and evidence by myself :)

I have often wondered why some who appear to be so intelligent although I think it has more to do with intellect than intelligence and these intelligent people can be so closed-minded when it comes to even considering evidence for the paranormal. I think one of the reasons is the materialist lives on a very steep and slippery slope. One unexplained phenomena would crash their whole system of beliefs. Now many materialists claim they don’t have beliefs or paradigms. How is that for the ultimate in denial?

The religious folks can just punt when science proves one of their cherished beliefs false and without merit. Like the six day creation idea. Well God’s day is longer than 24 hours. Simple and neat. The materialists cannot punt to explain away any claimed phenomena because one unexplained phenomena would devastate their materialistic beliefs. It only takes one. That is a very fragile mode of being in the world. This is why they often tend to get so upset when someone challenges their cherished beliefs and name-calling and put-downs soon ensues.

Now I posted this before but I think it is worth repeating I have been blogging on an atheist website called the reason project meaning in their minds they are the only ones with reasoning abilities. What I noticed was they treat all evidence as antidotal even evidence that would be considered qualitative evidence that meets the standards of the scientific method. It appears these self-proclaimed reasoning people don’t fully understand the scientific method or don’t want to admit to the reality of the qualitative method that has supported the reality with a high probability of paranormal phenomena.

Why is this important to see this in others? Well if they have this unseen bias than I am sure we are blessed with it also. But of course we are not as blessed as they are in their cherished beliefs or paradigms because as an individual we see ourselves as more opened minded. And therein lies the problem for any seeker of reality. We see in others what we cannot see in ourselves.

In my mind not enough research has been done in a spiritual sense on how to overcome or at least learn to identify this bias.

As a side note the reason project has many advisors and it appears they are all atheists and materialists. How convenient for them. I feel confident that their research will prove that their materialistic beliefs are valid. Having all materialists on your research team is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse after the fox has eaten several of your hens. I.e. the research methodology and outcome is considered valid in spite of the evidence.

Also having all materialists as your advisors is like the preacher preaching to the choir then asking the choir if they thought the sermon was valid. We humans are an interesting species especially when it comes to religion and politics.

Can we explain both rabid true believers, and frothing pathological skeptics, by invoking Stephen Colbert's "truthiness"? Both groups seem to evaluate claims and data not with their brains, but with their gut impression...

"Michael, it seems the person who said that about Gardner is Robert Anton Wilson, not Colin Wilson ... I remember the reading of a book by Wilson (Robert) where he said that about Gardner."

Your memory is partly right. These words do appear in Robert Anton Wilson's book "The New Inquisition" -- but R.A.W. was quoting Colin Wilson. Confusing, I admit.

Here is the excerpt from "The New Inquisition":

"Mr. Gardner has an infallible method of recognizing real science and of recognizing pseudo-science. Real science is what agrees with his Idol and pseudo-science is what challenges that Idol. Colin Wilson has written, 'I wish I could be as sure of anything as Martin Gardner is of everything.' "

(I found the quote online at: )

Thanks Michael.

My memory is not so bad... :)

Historians always say they view history objectively and without bias, but even they recognize that no human being is totally free of bias. A skeptic is someone who has his basic belief threatened and is forced to defend it by attacking the object of that threat instead of understanding the threat or trying to reconcile the differences.
Creationists refuse to accept all the scientific proof of fossils, geology, astronomy and archaeology.
Hard scientists refute the soft sciences and paranormal regardless of the proof offered.
To a certain respect we all operate on the basis of: My mind is made up, don't confuse it with facts.

I long ago learned to qualify my remarks or commentary for just the reasons you site, though mine came about after reading most of Bertrand Russell's philosophical writings after I got out of college. To this day, I habitually will say that somesuch "seems" or "appears" rather than put forward an absolute statement, if only because I can't discover indisputable "proof" of a perfect absolute (excepting death & taxes). Even mathematics don't qualify, given Godel's Incompleteness Theorem. To ever remind myself that there is always a measure of uncertainty, I came up with a little aphorism: "Beware of Absolutes...even this one". All that noted, I'll offer the observation that it SEEMS (there I go again) that MOST (and again) desire the warm comforts of Certainty rather than Actuality, a tendency which connects the seemingly (again) disparate views of religious adherents, Scientism adherents (including self-proclaimed skeptics) and the otherwise scattered. Due to my own personal experiences, I've had to continually work at accepting the Ambiguous, the (near)certainty that I won't get all the answers to all of my questions and that perfect understanding is unattainable (I guess). I suspect I have a reasonable stand on shaky ground. At least, it SEEMS that way...

"And when we find ourselves speeding a little too recklessly toward a conclusion -- hit the brakes.".......and save energy?

A perfect encapsulation of a universal syndrome, Michael.

It turns up everywhere: politics, art, religion - you name it.

I'm personally deeply aware of it because I've got a perfect set of exactly the same mental reflexes myself.

Countless times I've thoroughly dismissed something that contradicted my own preconceptions only to eventually be forced to wonder how I could've been so mistakenly opinionated in the first place.

These days, as soon as I hear myself start to say, "I'm not having that!" or, "That's a load of shi-", I slam on the brakes and make a point of consciously treating the idea much more seriously.

There's a university chant that goes something like, "I am the Master of Balliol College, and what I don't know isn't knowledge" which, to me, rather than reflecting how phenomenonably knowledgeable he is, actually sums up the terrible perils of the ego, i.e., if aliens don't visit me, then there's no way they would've visited someone like you; if I can't see ghosts, then you mustn't be able to; if I wasn't the one who first thought of the idea of Continental Drift, then it must be a load of rubbish; if I - or someone I approve of - didn't discover Flores ("Hobbit") Man, then clearly it's a hoax or a perfect example of someone who's misunderstood what they've found as a result of not having been taught the subject properly by me or my associates.

Personally, I'd be less hostile to complete out and out sceptics if they were similarly sceptical towards everything else, (such as all these Astronomy 'photos' which're actually only algorithmic interpretations of data on the scale of one photon per 100 million light years), because, to me, that'd be more in the true spirit of the scientific method: i.e., don't accept anything as a fact until you've verified it for yourself.

But that's never going to happen because a lot of ego's antics are pure fear based on an inability to admit to the incredibly tenuous hold we have on what we take for reality, which is why so many of 'em're so hostile to the likes of the so-called 911 'Truthers' or the 'No Moon Landing' brigade, rather than admitting the simple truth: the only way we can be REALLY sure people landed on the moon is if we ourselves were members of the original lunar landing crews, (and even then it's perfectly possible 'we' merely underwent a clever simulation designed to convince us we left the Earth).

The truth is, we can never REALLY be certain of ANYTHING - and that's a very difficult truth for the ego to accept.


Vladimir Lenin, Bertrand Russell, Ayn Rand, James Randi - they are always convinced that they are doing the world a favor by condescending to rule it with their self-evidently correct Rationality.

Aleister Crowley generated a lot of Nietzschean rhetoric along these lines. I'm not quoting exactly, but it tended to go something like, "Those of us who are masters by nature must follow natural law by ruling, and those who are sheep by nature should be grateful when we pen them and shear them. For them to resist us would be for them to resist natural law; for us to lower ourselves to regard them as our equals would be a violation of natural law. I incarnated as a master because it was my True Will to be a master; the sheep may bleat it is his will to be a master, but it is his True Will to be a sheep." Etc. ad nauseam.

Fantastic article.

“The truth is, we can never REALLY be certain of ANYTHING - and that's a very difficult truth for the ego to accept.”

I am not so certain this is a true statement. I think a realization gives us a certainty or a knowing beyond knowing that removes all doubt. Now most people confuse all types of emotional or intellectual events with a realization. If you have one you will know it and it will remove all doubts.

The reason the materialists can become so hostile is that they still have many doubts that they cover up with an air of certainty. It is a very fragile confidence.

Insights and discoveries are often confused with a realization.

At this stage of our soul’s journey it is probably best to keep an open mind. The ego can be very deceptive. It lives a very fragile existence much like the materialists on that steep and slippery slope.

>Now most people confuse all types of >emotional or intellectual events with a >realization. If you have one you will know >it and it will remove all doubts.

Are you referring to Plotinus' non-discursive knowledge? Can this "realization" be put into words, or is it a case of "he who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak"?

>Vladimir Lenin, Bertrand Russell,
>Ayn Rand, James Randi - they are
>always convinced that they are doing
>the world a favor by condescending to
>rule it with their self-evidently
>correct Rationality.

The enlightened sage is NOT benevolent - he treats people as dogs of grass.

Ayn Rand WAS benevolent, because her ego convinced her she had the KNOWLEDGE to be benevolent.

KevinW said: "Beware of Absolutes...even this one".

alanborky said: "The truth is, we can never REALLY be certain of ANYTHING"

The saying I recall (and sometimes use) is "Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain."

"Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain."

At this stage of our evolutionary journey this quote above may well be a good idea to keep in mind. As it appears we are at the beginning stages of this journey many call the evolution of the soul. This is the role of doubt; it keeps “nagging” at us and propels us on to seek greater and greater knowledge.

Now knowledge is not realization as realization removes doubt. A realization cannot be shared with others if the intent is to have them see what you see. Knowledge can be obtained but we are not sure how to obtain a realization, but a lot of people make a lot of money telling others they can help them obtain a realization or enlightenment. We can do knowledge through effort not sure we can do a realization though effort.

The quality “guru” I studied for five years and taught for 20 years somehow had this knowing beyond knowing of this universal reality and he was for the most part unsuccessful with his teaching organizations of his wisdom. One exception may be Toyota. He predicted the state of affairs we are now in America almost perfectly if we did not come to accept his knowledge as valid.

"he who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak"?

And then they or he went on to write a book about truths. What does this statement say about Jesus and Buddha? Maybe it is better to state he who knows does not give unsolicited advice or pretend to others that they know when they do not know.

I attended a Christian service this past weekend and the preacher who was a very nice person and gave a very relevant sermon and a very sincere person. He kept talking about meanings in life and there is only one truth. Of course that one truth was his truth. I.e. Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins.

I have been doing a lot of reading of a Frithjof Schuon’s work listed in the link below and some on here may find his articles and books interesting. He came so close to discovering the origin of ignorance in fact in one sentence he nailed it but kept right on writing without realizing the significance of what he had just written. It is amazing to me that his early religious upbringing appears to have overwhelmed his rational mind. I.e. the fallen man paradigm.

I've come to the point now where I place little value in what the scientific establishment has to say about paranormal phenomena. In a society that seems to be growing more and more 'scientific', I find myself less and less interested in science. And it is primarily because of the attitudes of the scientific establishment. Ironically, despite their tendency to shun religion, many among the scientific establishment seem to have a 'holier than thou' attitude. They don't want their beliefs questioned and they don't want to hear new ideas that don't fit with what they already believe (see Ben Stein's movie Expelled for good examples of that).

When I was researching scientific errors and hoaxes for a chapter in a book I just finished writing, I realized that there isn't much point in asking science to provide us answers for questions on the paranormal. It seems that the goal of mainstream science is to disprove the paranormal...or at least explain it away as something relatively mundane. So why should we even bother to look for answers from scientists? Paranormal studies can still benefit from the use of the scientific method, but I think it may be best if scientific dogmas are left out of the equation.

Scientists are all about the 'data', yet I've come to realize that data isn't necessarily infallible. Data may be open to interpretation. Interpretations of data can very often be based on preconceived notions.

In addition to preconceived notions, science can also be influenced by funding. I think it can be very easy for someone to jump on a particular scientific bandwagon if it will result in gaining funding. It seems even among scientists, there isn't always a single consensus...the Evolution vs. ID debate one example, the global warming issue is another. There are many people including credentialed scientists that dispute the validity of global warming being caused by greenhouse emissions. Yet, it seems the group that espouse doom and gloom scenarios being caused by excessive greenhouse emissions have the loudest voice by far. Could it be that scientists that who jump on the greenhouse emission bandwagon get better funding? Could it be that it fits a political agenda? Such as an agenda to start a 'global carbon tax'?

Anyways, the point I want to get across is that we may be putting to much faith in science. Should we really be asking people who already believe the supernatural doesn't exist to prove it does exist? Would we ask a Muslim to prove the validity of Christianity? Would we ask a a Hindu to prove the validity of Islam? The skeptic may have some viewpoints worth noting, but ultimately, they probably aren't the people to be asking for 'proof'.

The scientific method is one thing, scientific dogmas are another. other point I forgot to mention. I just read an article the other day about a professor who said that based on the standards of any other area of science, the results of a study about remote viewing indicated proof of the existence of remote viewing. Yet he also stated that science needed higher standards for studying the paranormal.

How convenient is that? Suddenly the standards of science need to be raised whenever a study indicates something the scientist doesn't want it to indicate.

Here's the article I was referring to:

William how can you be sure that Jesus didnt die for the sin's of all who believe in him? and how can you be sure his spirit isn't working in those who call his name, refining their soul and preparing them for the afterlife? If this is true, it's a Truth, not a truth for some (ie christians).

Just as a side, it's interesting to note your christian service attendence. I think I've read over the year or two you've been a few times, this is highly unusual for someone who isn't a believer,no doubt your supporting your wife's christian belief which is admirable, and it's great you keep an open mind.

Beware of Absolutes...even this one

I think the intention of avoiding dogmatism could lead us, in some cases, to other kind of dogmatism, a kind of dogmatic doubt, i.e. to doubt of anything as a matter of principle.

But doubts and certainties are psychological states, not facts of the external world (except, as psychological facts)

The objective of science, philosophy and human inquiry in general is not doubt, but knowledge.

And knowledge excludes specific doubts.

If I believe the proposition "This is Michael Prescott's blog", I can't in the same time and in the same way to doubt of it. It would be illogical and intellectually self-destructing.

Perhaps I could have some doubts about related matters like how much Michael has blogged here, or something like that. But if I believe that it's his blog, I can't doubt it at the same time.

I can't believe/disvelieve and doubt of the same factual proposition at the same time and at the same way.

As far I know, all the principles or maxims that predend to justify relativism fall into a self-defeating contradiction.

For instance, if I say "Beware of Absolutes...even this one", it entails that I have to beware of that principle too.

And if it is correct, it means that at least some absolute principles don't require to be beware of them, because the own rule imposing that command is subject to doubt or question.

Trying to consider the rule as the only exception of itself would force us to ask why it's an exception. And to justify this, the person will have to give absolute ideas or arguments that warrant the exception (otherwise, the exception is arbitrary and in itself subject to invalidation)

Being sure of something is not the same than being dogmatic. I'm sure of many things, like:

-That this is Michael Prescott's blog.

-That at least some of you speak English.

-That at least some people disagree with me.

-That some people don't like US' president Obama.

-That neuroscience has not refuted that Hitler existed.

Factually, all the above statements are true or false. And, psychologically, I'm absolutely certain of that they're true.

Problems arise when dogmatism is not justified, for instance when discussing about consciousness or about God, which are controversial.

Having strong opinions on controversial topics doesn't mean beign dogmatic either, but refusing to consider alternatives, avoid to examine the own position, ignoring contraty evidence and similar is a sign of dogmatism.

“Could it be that it fits a political agenda? Such as an agenda to start a 'global carbon tax'?”

Governments can be very innovative when it comes to finding ways to tax others. You are concerned about a global carbon tax how about a tax to pay for our wars as we are fighting them. Why tax at all just print it and borrow the rest from a communist country. Politics and religions have one thing in common they know how to gather up a lot of money.

“Suddenly the standards of science need to be raised whenever a study indicates something the scientist doesn't want it to indicate.”

Scientists’ beliefs survive on a very slippery slope and not only slippery but also very steep. Think about how steep that slope is; one unexplained paranormal phenomena and the whole materialistic paradigm goes tumbling down the mountain with their careers and their articles published in peer journals become obscure.

And their prestige never to be returned to its former status.

“William how can you be sure that Jesus didnt die for the sin's of all who believe in him?”

Yes I should have left that little bit of information out of my comments.

What I am basing those comments on is that none of my research indicates that anyone has to be sacrificed for our sins. I did a lot of research into why Christians or anyone believes that someone has to die or be sacrificed for their sins. It goes back to the history of religious beliefs and the need to appease an angry God. After all it does look like God is angry with us with all the natural disasters and suffering we experience in the world.

My truth may not be your truth Hope so read it with a grain of salt. Maybe Jesus was making the statement not to continue to sacrifice anything including humans. My point was this preacher’s truth was given as an absolute and he suggested in so many words that the eastern religions were inferior to Christianity. From my point of view this statement that my religion is thee religion comes from a self centered ego.

Here is a website of a preacher that preached for 40 years and then he began to see the world and Christianity differently. It is worth a peek.

“no doubt your supporting your wife's christian belief which is admirable, and it's great you keep an open mind.”

Thank you. I find the music and the choir especially inspirational and the sermons are often all about love and service to others. I find the evangelical part of Christianity potentiality dangerous and often destructive. I think evangelicalism is based in doubt not certainty but that is my belief and not meant to be stated as a truth.

In my above comment, to avoid misunderstandings, change "Problems arise when dogmatism is not justified..." by "Problems might arise when certainty is not reasonably justified..."

Should we really be asking people who already believe the supernatural doesn't exist to prove it does exist?

Jeff, scientists are human and the range of beliefs about the paranormal among scientists is as diverse as it is among any other group of people. It is difficult to go against accepted ideas in science. And let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of funding available for anyone interested in doing parapsychological work. But you can’t say all scientists are dogmatic disbelievers.

I just don’t think many scientists have any idea that anyone is doing legitimate parapsychological research. When I had questions about my own anomalous experiences, I started looking for information on psi and pk but I had no idea of where to start. When I went to the library at my university I found books that were very old on the topic of psychical research, but it was difficult to locate newer materials. As it turned out, the information on current research is right there among those peer-reviewed journals that I have been taught to respect. But you have to know where to look.

I do think that if the funding were available there would be scientists willing to investigate psi phenomenon. Not just scientists like myself who are stuck with trying to come to terms with their own personal experiences, but others as well. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know that it is even an option to consider this material outside of a religious framework.

As a kid I liked doing the science fairs every year. In Junior High my best friend and I thought it would be fun to do an ESP experiment using Zener cards for our project one year. The judge wouldn’t even consider our work as a legitimate entry. He told us that it was a shame that we had wasted our efforts on such nonsense. He wouldn’t allow our entry to be judged with everyone else’s, so we were basically kicked out of the science fair. Pretty harsh treatment of 12-year-old girls, if you ask me. The next year we entered a really lame rock and mineral collection (no statistical analysis or discussion of theory, just a nice collection of rocks to look at) and won first prize. No wonder I turned my back on science for so long. (I went back to school to study science in my 30’s after a NDE.)

The thing is, a lot of scientists are curious about psi. They might not want to dedicate their life’s work to it, but I think there is a very quiet interest in it. At least that’s a start.

"A great many skeptics ... seem to share the perspective of the scoffers quoted above."

That's why I call them "scoftics." It's a far better term than "psuedo-skeptics," being more concise, memorable, and light-hearted. And it's more accurate than "debunkers," which has a positive connotation.

“The judge wouldn’t even consider our work as a legitimate entry. He told us that it was a shame that we had wasted our efforts on such nonsense. He wouldn’t allow our entry to be judged with everyone else’s, so we were basically kicked out of the science fair.”

What a sad but revealing story about the state of affairs when it comes to people thinking they understand the scientific method. We humans are an interesting species but a species that has profound potential. I suspect this experience had a profound effect on your life and maybe a very positive effect as fate often has more to do with our lives than choices we make.

When we are standing in the middle of the forest whether we are religious or a materialist we have a very difficult time visualizing the forest as a whole. We only see small pieces of the forest and make decisions based on those small frames of the entire forest.

We keep talking about scientists and if they are open to the paranormal; the issue is the materialistic paradigm they have acquired that they are unaware of. Paradigms are hidden from our view but yet they have a profound effect on our view of reality.

I did get to meet one scientist that admitted first day of a seminar I was conducting that he felt he was closed minded. I later found out this scientist had invented something that at one time was used as a guidance system on every commercial plane manufactured in America. His bio would read like a scientist who’s who in America.

The most interesting part his greatest invention came to him in the middle of the night on his bedroom ceiling. He has no idea how or why that occurred but it was a perfect design.

My point is I suspect there is a causal correlation between one’s admitting to being closed-minded and being able to be the top design engineer within this company. Humility may even have benefits in the field of science. I.e. the meek shall inherit the earth may have been a valid statement.

"What I am basing those comments on is that none of my research indicates that anyone has to be sacrificed for our sins. I did a lot of research into why Christians or anyone believes that someone has to die or be sacrificed for their sins. It goes back to the history of religious beliefs and the need to appease an angry God. After all it does look like God is angry with us with all the natural disasters and suffering we experience in the world."

I think it's more ancient and profound than that, William.

Recalling the very lengthy Hamlet's Mill, which I read a while ago, I believe there are striking similarities in multiple unrelated cultures that conceive the birth of the universe as a result of God's sacrifice of himself to be destroyed and eaten.

I can't be sure, since I don't have the book, but I think I recall some Vedic and Mayan myths about that from the book, but it's been a while, and the book was very long, and profusely footnoted.

But from what I recall, this mythic sense of sacrifice wasn't to appease an angry God, as it is not in Christianity, but a giving of life that the universe, and we, may live.

What Jesus did literally changed the consciousness of mankind. And that may have been what it was for all along. Not to appease an angry God, but to change an angry humanity.

“What Jesus did literally changed the consciousness of mankind”

I am not sure how much it changed the consciousness of mankind because from my point of view most of Christianity died on the cross but many of Jesus’ words and teachings certainty gave humankind much to think about and has inspired great things from many people.

If we compare much of Jesus teachings with what is referred to an enlightened Hindu teachings they are very similar as his teachings are similar with what the mystics are telling us about reality.

We cannot see or feel that reality that the mystics see and feel so the world pays little attention to their words.

“In ancient cultures, offering sacrifices through priests was normal and even necessary to please deities. The ancient Greeks for a long period of time practiced the ritual of animal sacrifices involving sheep, swine, goats, fowls, etc., in order to maintain their relations with the divine power. ……….People in many agrarian communities also sacrificed not only animals but also crops to appease the angry gods who they thought caused storms, earthquakes, and other miseries because of their wrongdoings. ………..The ritual of human sacrifices was done in some other ancient cultures.”


I never thought of what happened as being fate. But maybe you are right about it having a positive effect on my life. I am willing to read someone's material before coming to an opinion about it. Even material that I find difficult, which is what most parapsychological research is like for me.

BTW, sorry to go off topic, but I've tried to do a better job of describing my NDE than my initial attempt that was linked to before. I've posted it in my blog for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing.

I don't dispute the sorts of sacrifice you are talking about existed and still do. But not all sacrifice is due to the same reasons.

Brief but interesting piece on Aztec sacrifice here:

The author finds multiple reasons for the sacrificial rites, but the principal one seems to be feeding the hungry gods so the sun would continue to rise. This was not appeasement, exactly. The idea was that if the gods didn't eat, their strength would fail and the universe would grind to a halt.

By analogy, it's sort of like feeding a pack of sled dogs. You're not trying to appease the dogs; you just need to keep their strength up so they can keep pulling you.

Appeasement of the gods clearly played a role in some other cultures, though.

I like how the author in that snipurl link tries to make that level of sacrifice and cannibalism acceptable. They had no livestock!

Some people just scare me.

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