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"Maybe this is why militant skeptics are getting a little desperate, as witness their dogged attempts to purge Wikipedia of any facts or opinions favorable to parapsychology."

After reading the article on Guerrill Skepticism, in addition to being saddened by the disinformation campaign of these misguided souls (yes I did use the word "souls,") I was reminded of Orwell's 1984, where the state has an entire department dedicated to rewriting history called The Ministry of Truth. These people are both misguided and kind of sad. Imagine having nothing better to do but spend time spreading disinformation. In the article they try to carefully distinguish between what they do and ordinary vandalism. I'm afraid the difference, if there is one, is minimal.

The popular attitude on this subject does seem to be changing. There is less of a taboo about discussing it, and knee-jerk skeptical dismissals don't seem to have the impact they once had. - M.P.

I feel confident that this attitude will grow and develop over time, and we can credit the the internet and e-publishing for making it happen.

Balanced, objective discussion of the paranormal is still slightly hard to find, but it's out there if you look for it. Right now, most of the overall online conversation is dominated by breathlessly credulous New Ager's and cynical skeptics, but there is a small but growing bubble of sanity breaking through.

Robert McLuhan has been reporting in his Paranormalia blog that The Society for Psychical Research is developing a Wikipedia-like website. I keep noticing thoughtful, well-written long form iconoclastic articles by younger (post baby boom) mainstream scientists and journalists popping up with increasing frequency. Respectful scholarly critiques of religious literature is becoming more accessible to everyday people.
A mushrooming, yet uncoordinated movement is afoot.

There will always be a struggle to cut through the cacophony of horse-squeeze laid out by the credulous, fanatically religious, and pseudo-skeptical, but those with discerning ears will hear, and I'm sure their ranks will grow in numbers and influence.
After all, people know what they've experienced, and sooner or later they will seek the comfort and support of community.

It must be very frustrating to be a Guardian of Officially Approved Reality (TM).

No matter how hard you try, the damn trickster keeps showing up and getting the people off message.

You should also read the comments to the Atlantic article. I like this one from "Carl":

Hahahahaha. There's no mystery? Let's take it for granted that there is no God and the Big Bang is the sole material cause of the universe. Why was there a Big Bang? Why are these the laws of physics and not other laws? Do we humans discover mathematics or invent it? What is "consciousness," and under what circumstances does it arise? Is morality "real" in any important sense or just an evolutionary adaptation, or is it real and hence evolutionarily adaptive? …

Seriously, the mysteries don't go away if you just give up on superstition. It's fine to be against superstition, but to argue that there's no mystery is just blinding oneself to the world.


Excellent post!

This reminded me: I work as a medical interpreter, and one group of people that on the whole believes in the paranormal is nurses. They deal with life and death on a daily basis, and they see all kinds of things happen. You can find ghost stories (real ones) online by nurses and other medical professionals. They will also insist that a lot more accidents and problems happen when the moon is full.

Japan is a country where the paranormal is largely treated as real and believable on TV and elsewhere. There was never strong Christianity there; consequently, there was never a strong atheistic pushback against "belief." Thus, believing in the paranormal has never been politically incorrect. That said, most people do not have a strong vision of "how it all works." They tend to reside anywhere from mild atheism to mild "there's something out there." Of course, there is a strong minority of people who take spirituality seriously and have beliefs that match up with what people express here pretty well (they integrate Shinto, Buddhism, and the phenomena we discuss, since of course they experience them too).

The skeptics would probably like to believe that we "believers" are constantly hallucinating all manner of apparitions, but I have not seen that to be the case. I have heard a ghost once, seen a ghost once (it may have been the same ghost; it was in my mom's house, which I feel was quite haunted until I cleared it; but the occasions were separate), and perhaps saw a shadow person once (well, twice in short succession on the same night).

Maybe this is why militant skeptics are getting a little desperate, . . . .
Craig Weiler's Sept. 2 e-mail contains this:
It's not good news for JREF. They've been bleeding donations for a number of years, going from $1.56 million in 2011 to $887.5K in 2013. They appear to be consolidating with their administrative offices, which can only mean that the reduction in funding is really hurting them.

One of my favorite ghost stories takes place in England where this guy was lying in a bed in an Inn and he saw these Roman soldiers all marching past him. Intent on going somewhere they ignore him completely. What is interesting is he sees the soldiers from like the knees up like they are marching on a road that existed a foot or two below the floor he is on. So, supposedly there was a Roman road there some time in the distant past and the soldiers are like some kind of holographic echo embedded in film that gives rise to our reality.

Great phrase, Michael:

"...the usual motley crew of know-it-all scoffers."

Art, you bring up an interesting point - are ghosts some kind of holographic echo as you say, perhaps something imprinted in the fields that I think we all exist in, and not something that we can interact with? Or are they real conscious identities that can interact with us? My own experience is that they're conscious identities. I've only a few experiences, but one of my favorites was when I was having dinner in old building dating back to the 1800s. Someone seemed to whisper in my ear, "Thank you for coming!" It was a happy, light voice, that of a young woman, who genuinely seemed happy that I was there. But, as with many people still, I still feel uncomfortable relating my few experiences. It's good to know others are becoming more comfortable relating they're experiences.

Maybe some apparitions are echos and others are conscious beings. As an example of the field experience, I once visited Paris, and wound up in the plaza where so many people were executed during the French Revolution. I had no idea I was at this place - a lot of these places begin to look the same after awhile. But I had such a cold, horrible feeling when I was there, I'll never forget it. It was only later that I learned that I learned what had taken place there.

There's a very good interview with a man who was doing some work in a cellar in York. He witnessed Roman Soldiers. It was in an episode of Ghost Hunters, a documentary shown in the UK in which people talked about their experiences and even included an interview with "Captain Bob" who recounted an conversation with a fellow-pilot at Glasgow airport, and subsequently found out that the friend had died some time earlier after a short illness.

The guy in the cellar seemed very rational to me and genuinely scared by the experience. He even provided information on their uniforms which experts initially rejected as incorrect but later agreed it was in fact right. Very curious.

The common people have various problems about ghosts.

1 The term "ghost" is loaded and presupposes an answer to what are the anomalous phenomena, but most people are unaware of the existence of apparitions, a term that does not presuppose the nature of anomalous phenomena, observed in the history to the point that the question is not whether the apparitions exist, but what are the apparitions.

2 There are reasons to consider that there are different types of apparitions with different natures. Once discarded hallucinations and misinterpreted perceptions, most recurring apparitions in one place do not interact with witnesses, suggesting they are residues of the past. On the contrary, there are a few cases of apparitions that interact, provide new information for witnesses and have the appearance of deceased humans, suggesting they are sentient beings who identify with deceased human beings and presented a body other than the biological. Then there are the apparitions of crisis and apparitions of living as the reciprocal apparitions, pointing to the presence of the second body separate biological body in life.

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