IMG_1216 BW small
Blog powered by Typepad

« Guest post: A message from mom | Main | Medium uncool »

Comments

An interesting post.

I have long thought that IF 'reality' is some sort of simulation; a 'teaching tool' for spiritual development, then there would have to be mechanisms built into this simulation which prevent us from knowing with certainty that this IS a simulated reality.

This fits perfectly into the nature of paranormal phenomena - they are widely reported across all times and places, yet seem incapable of being proven.

When physical 'evidence' does occur, it is almost always ambiguous in its explanation.

So here we have what appears to be the function of the paranormal - it says to us 'this existence is much more than you know'; teasing our minds like the Black Obelisks from Arthur C. Clarke's "2001". Yet denying us complete knowledge of itself, for that would spoil the game!

Michael, I feel you overestimate our industrialized countries / western hemisphere perspective. As I see it, perception of individuals and societys (including governments) in less western influenced cultures can differ greatly from the situation you describe. (I don't want to dig deep, but just have a look at countries like India or Brazil - or even subcultures like evangelical congregations, where the "breath of the holy spirit" is felt all the time). So I would oppose your notion of a "universal truth" behind "our" way of dealing with paranormal things.

I can't say i forget the uncanny things (but then again im always immediately recording them somewhere online)but oddly enough on a very related point a few months ago i started a discussion on a message board about what i called a Fortean conspiracy of silence. That's to say as an Airbnb host of the last 18months i've encountered and conversed with far more people than i normally ever would have done...and that what i found, with no exceptions thus far, is that if ever the subject of my own experiences came up they - whoever they were - would always have stories of their own, whether direct experiences or within their family.

This intrigued me. The conclusion I came to is that everyone has brushes with the paranormal, but collectively we appear unaware that everyone does. And I couldn't work out how that could be.

Even in spite of coming to the conclusion that these things - by which i mean events around loved ones' deaths, precognitive dreams, family ghost stories etc - are truly universal, its not the kind of stuff you generally ever bring up with a stranger. Who would turn to someone on the bus and say "What's the spookiest thing that ever happened to you?". They'd quickly change seats. But I'm convinced that if you can find a casual way to raise the topic you'll struggle to find a human being , even among the most committed debunker, who hasn't had one or more of these experiences which as a society we're meant to disbelieve in...and collectively act like we do.

"If you look at it this way, doubts and even denial in the face of intellectually convincing evidence are actually additional proof of the "virtual reality simulation" nature of the cosmos." - MP

As the Bard said, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

One quibble; I don't if we can say that our world is *designed* to be a simulation. Rather, perhaps we - each of us - builds it to be that way due to karmic forces and, probably at least equally important, simply because there is only so much time and energy available to us and the concerns of the physical existence tend to get the mother load of both out of necessity.

Also, to focus on non-physical dimensions is to, quite literally, undo or destroy this world's order; or, at least, to relegate it to something seemingly relatively unimportant. That, naturally, both scares and insults a lot of people. I mean, why strive and struggle for position (or simply survival) in the material world if it's all just a fleeting and somewhat insignificant and arbitrary point on a band of infinite possibilities for an conscious entity that exists forever?

At least that is how a lot of people see it, though it need not be that way. One could say, "This world is a perfectly fine place on the continuum of possible worlds where I will strive to become a more perfect soul. Therefore it is as important (and as unimportant) as any other. I accept the challenge!" However, such fine mental and emotional balancing is something that most people are not good at. We see what happens when people join millennial cults and reject this world.

Or maybe at some subconscious/spiritual level, people are taking up the challenge in quotes above and have accepted the total immersion model and they don't want anyone rocking the boat as you suggest. IMO, it is a mixture of fear, ignorance and accepted challenge driving the phenomena of denial and forgetting of paranormal.

One thing I do know is that the need to transcend is innate to all humans (excepting psychopaths and a few other defectives). So people simultaneously seek insulation in the material world and seek to rise above its coarseness. They just need the rising above to be in manageable sized doses.

I have had similar thoughts. However its important to note that NDE experiences are normally of the exact opposite nature. Experiencers report having hyper-memories of them for the rest of their lives. This leads me to wonder if maybe "the rules" are in the process of changing.

A great post, Michael. I have always suspected that our very existence and the world we inhabit are a vast conspiracy perpetrated by powers beyond our ken (indulging in a little semi-paranoid speculation).

Of course there are many believers in New Age rationalizations that claim our limited and trouble-prone existence on the Earth has indeed been engineered, but by the highest level of ourselves - our souls. I have always doubted that, my human self noting that it is certainly somebody else that made such a decision in my own case. And certainly many others would agree with this. At best, if it really is ourselves as our souls responsible for this pervasive underlying coercion to believe with all our being that the physical world and our physical bodies are all there is (and that death is the end), then there is a vast gulf between the human and his soul, vast to the extent that the two should really be considered separate beings. Of course, this last speculation could really be just a great misunderstanding and underestimation of the power of intentional separation of levels of consciousness.

It's interesting that despite this invisible coercion and thought control by the "powers that be" that is going on there is at least one large community of spiritualists in the world. Apparently, Brazil has the largest number of Spiritists in the world: over 2.3 million followers, around 1.3 percent of the total population and the third largest religious group, behind Catholics and Evangelicals. The Spiritists follow a belief system created by Allan Kardec in France in the 19th century recognizing and incorporating the existence and presence of human spirits in large number which can be communicated with and which can help in the healing of ailments and injuries. This belief system also recognizes and incorporates reincarnation.

It is likely that at least those Spiritists living within their own community have little anomie or alienation due to their belief system. I wonder what nefarious plans the powers behind the curtain have for suppressing and eradicating such rebellion from the enforced "immersion in the illusion".

At some point though the ruse will have to be up. It likely won't happen in our lifetimes, but if humanity continues advancing technologically those that are living will eventually become physically immortal. Then what does the Other Side do when nobody returns?

It is odd how so many people disdain the paranormal, and many consider it "superstitious" and low-brow to believe in the possibility of an afterlife because it's not readily apparent through our senses. And yet we believe in the reality of invisible things such as electricity, WiFi connections, radio transmissions, quantum physics, and the like, none of which we can actually see with the naked eye, but accept as being real.

I also think that some people get a cheap feeling of intellectual superiority by totally dismissing the paranormal and the possibility of an afterlife.


"Michael, I feel you overestimate our industrialized countries / western hemisphere perspective. As I see it, perception of individuals and societys (including governments) in less western influenced cultures can differ greatly from the situation you describe" - Spiritual Seeker

That is a really good point! I had a friend who was an Apache Indian and I spent time on the reservation with him and attended some ceremonies. The Apaches - like most Native Americans I have known - generally not only believe in what we call "the paranormal", but it is incorporated into their spiritual life; not just theoretically, but in real demonstrations in every day life. These people witness this stuff (as did I when I was their guest). Their medicine men create effects and are believable and are, indeed, believed. Witchcraft is a common fear and most everyone can cite instances. Spirits are considered real and many can relate personal experiences involving them.

The Shamans of Siberia also produce effects that resemble the best of what we call "physical mediumship" (Skeptico had an interview about this recently - "shamans don't use cell phones" - I think it was called. The people all participate and readily accept that it's all a normal part of life.

My understanding of East Asian culture (Buddhists, Hindus, etc) is that also involves demonstrations of paranormal. The sutras even talk about development of the siddhis (psychic powers) as a result of yoga practice.

Then there's all the ancient religions and practices - like the Oracle at Delphi.

So, I do think "Spiritual Seeker" is onto something that strengthens my idea that nothing is *designed* to be full immersion. Full immersion is something that modern materialistic Western society demands, but that is not some cosmic imperative.

I can certainly agree with this post. I have studied NDes for two decades now. I can easily flog the hallucination argument, I consider it to be weaker than wet toilet paper yet deep down I sincerely wonder if NDEs are but a hallucination. I have studied the cases of Seeing Dead People Not Known to Have Died: “Peak in Darien” Experiences and factually I know just how weak the hallucination explanation is... yet I wonder. I have studied all the evidence, yet I wonder. I cannot accept at the gut level yet I can accept other far weaker evidenced claims at the gut level. It is very frustrating to be sure.

[Note: This comment is from a different Michael, not me. It might prevent confusion if this commenter could use a different screen name — MP.]


Lawrence B, I think you are spot on. I also believe the majority of people have had some encounters with the paranormal, in most cases not spectacular but clearly paranormal in nature nevertheless. Many people will not spontaneously start telling their experience out of fear of being ridiculed (this fear is not unwarranted), but given the right (safe) context and atmosphere people can become less reluctant. Two of my colleagues told me in all sincerity an experience they had when we were just having coffee at our break, because I , very prudently, had started talking about some paranormal topic. Both persons are very down to earth, sincere and are not really interested in spiritual or paranormal things. As far as I know they don't even believe in God.

The first was a male colleague who recounted to me that he and his girlfriend once saw soda cans move around the table out of their own volition. It happened just once, he practically never thinks about this anymore but it easily comes back to mind in these types of conversations.

The second was a female colleague who related to me and another colleague, also in response to a small paranormal remark I introduced in the conversation, an experience she had when she was on a holiday in France accompanied by her sister (we live in Belgium, a neighbouring country). They stayed with an aunt and she and her sister slept in one room in separate beds, but they had moved the beds rather close to each other so they were practically adjacent.

One night my colleague woke up because something seemed to move in between the beds. Frightened she woke up her sister who noticed the same thing. It was as if a male person wearing heavy clothing walked in between the beds to the wardrobe and went in there. When they put on the light they saw the beds had moved apart.

Both stories were related to me in the most casual way, for some reason both colleagues felt the setting was safe enough to express the experiences.

For me personally these spontaneous, little stories are the most convincing. It is so easy to get lost in elaborate and complicated discussions, even fights, about NDE's, mediums, psychics, double blind studies, you name it. At the end of the day it doesn't convince me deep down, on the contrary, it just confuses me.
We might have a tendency to forget these things easily, but they are there, they are facts. No strong and advanced intellect is needed to be able to take note of these things, anyone who is willing to seek can find.

As the Dutch writer Frederik van Eeden wrote: '... a single fact can overturn an entire system'. It doesn't take years of lab research to find such a fact, it happens all the time.

Hey Michael, I also think that one of the reasons that we tend to doubt what we encounter in what is termed "the paranormal", is that we don't encounter it much in our daily lives. Although I've had some shared dreams, synchronicities, etc. these experiences get drowned by the otherwise normal experiences we have daily.

Mundane life often shows no trace of any kind of psi, much less of survival. I just finished Chris Carter's Science and the Afterlife, I found it extremely compelling, to the point where while talking about Myers' communications I was totally on board with the narrative that we are souls on a journey.

But as the days keep rolling in, it's hard to hold that belief intimately, because none of that appears evident in our daily lives. Moreover, most of the knowledge we have acquired as a species seems to make psi and the paranormal quite unintuitive. Take for example the development of a normal human being, babies don't seem able to form complex thoughts and ideas, only after the brain develops are they able to do it. On the other hand, a lot of the evidence for survival, for example, is just.. weird? Take mediumistic communications with children, they often come across just as childlike as they were incarnate, in one case which Carter talks about, the medium communicates as a child would, with odd grammar, etc. Are we to believe that this soul got "stuck" at the level of cognitive development of a child? What are we to think about infants that die when, as far as we know, they have quite a basic mental life? As they die, does the mind expand and gain cognitive abilities?

What I am trying to say is that despite the fact that the evidence is so compelling, the fact that paranormal situations are so rare, coupled with the fact that when taken into consideration as a whole, the evidence generates all kinds of scenarios that when taken at face value seem.. absurd? I don't know. Maybe this all contributes to the idea that this reality is fully immersive.

On the other hand, maybe the development of life in the "material plane" acts like nursery, where consciousness is given form and, in beings that achieve a degree of high mentation, we somehow persist beyond the death of our body with those capacities intact, or enlarged.

My understanding is that shamans etc. are marginalized in traditional societies. Members of these communities may well believe in spirits, but they also regard the spirit realm as something to be avoided. There are often taboos against occult practices such as spirit communications, unless conducted by the shaman, who lives apart from the community and is effectively "quarantined." The general attitude, from what I understand, is that spirits are real but dangerous, and that it is safer to have nothing to do with them — perhaps not even to speak of them, except in whispers and euphemisms.

In other cultures, there may be a strong tradition of ancestor worship or other spiritualist customs, but often these practices and beliefs are carefully compartmentalized, much like religious belief in the West.

People often cite Brazil as a center of spiritist activity, but statistically, only about 2% of Brazil's population identify as spiritists (about 4 million people, out of 210 million total — although estimates vary widely). And this is probably the most openly spiritist/spiritualist country in the world.

I think in general there is a pervasive and almost irresistible undertow pulling human beings back to physical reality, regardless of their beliefs. Taboo, shunning, ridicule, compartmentalization, and other forms of marginalization all play a role in this process.

I lost my father in February 2016. He was 94, so it wasn't a shock by any means, but the conclusion of a life well lived. During the time I was visiting him in his last days, my inner experience was that it was going to be tough to say goodbye, but that there was a certain "rightness" about it all. This translated to enforcing my belief in the reality of the spiritual existence we all have and doesn't end at death, but continues on on another plane. I never seriously considered that he was facing anything else but a transition that is completely natural.
Fast forward to now, I am going to turn 65 on the last day of this year, and like most people in my shoes, the sense of my own mortality is not something I can suppress any longer. With what I had experienced with my dad, you would think that I would have confidence in the reality of continued existence after death, but in my "immersive experience", I do not have the same rightness feeling about it at all.
Back when my dad was dying, I even spoke with a Hospice nurse who told me stories of deathbed visions witch I had no doubt of at the time. In retrospect, my doubt seems irrational, but it just doesn't want to leave me permanently.

I follow, lightly, developments in Ufos, cryptobiology, cold fusion and such-like. It's all the same. Convincing, sometimes very. And the certainty drifts out of mind when my back is turned. Points to a normal mental defense/spiritual block. Or to a common non-material background for all.

Except for cold fusion. Baby, that's REAL. Just wait. (Have to admit that early results looked very much like paranormal research. Trickster and all.)

Michael,

Great post, leading to a great conversation!

Some comments:


||The issue we were discussing was why we are so inclined to doubt or deny psi phenomena and postmortem survival even in the face of considerable evidence.||

I don't think that most of the world has traditionally denied these things, actually. I think it's safe to say that that there has not been, until perhaps the 20th century, an atheistic society in history. People believed in an Afterlife, and they believed in what we would call paranormal phenomena.

I was a Latin major at one point, and if you read Roman history by such writers as Tacitus, they frequently talk about omens, such as statues moving on the Forum, etc. The society simply took it as fact that divination worked (augury, etc.).

Same thing for medieval Europe. They believed in Heaven and Hell, and everyone just "knew" that witchcraft was a reality.

We could look at societies around the world and come up with the same kind of thing. This point has been made by others already, but I think we ought to keep in mind that Skepticism and Atheism have been the norm only in very recent times.

That isn't to say what you said is wrong. I think we do, collectively, resist ripping away the veil and seeing Roger Ebert's "hoax." But I think different societies have performed "veil management" in different ways. I think Western Society's current management method, in which anything and everything is doubted and denied, is a historical extreme.


||The more certain we are of nonphysical existence, the less "fully immersed" we are in this environment.||

I don't really think this is true. I grew up Catholic and in complete confidence of the Afterlife, and I think many, many people throughout history have lived their lives without any doubt of it.

That said, the ironic part is that I doubt it more now, having experienced psi and mediumship myself, than I did in my young and naive state. I think the current atheistic pull of collective consciousness, with the media and other elites in effect supporting materialism, is very strong.

||In this regard, it's interesting to note how easy it is to forget (or suppress?) evidence of psi [...]||

Even as a psychic, I find this to be true. I often quickly forget the content of my readings for others. Even so, however, I do remember many of my big hits and experiences.

||It’s as if the whole field of psi research is in a state of permanent denial, or at least doubt.||

I think this is the mundane effect of the media and elites not treating the phenomena as really, as well as the deeper effects of collective consciousness.

||George Hansen, author of The Trickster and the Paranormal, would probably ascribe all this to the liminality (marginal nature) of psi. [...] This socially mandated liminality, he would say, keeps us from accepting the paranormal or even taking it seriously.||

I have read the book and admire it, but I think Hansen does a lot of "othering" of people like, well, me. I have many psychic friends. We're not rare; we're an everyday part of society. Hermes was the god of boundaries and a psychopomp, but he was still an Olympian.


||I'd argue that Hansen's "liminality" may be best understood as a built-in feature of the universe, which helps to ensure our continued full immersion by marginalizing anyone who starts to see "behind the veil," and by sequestering and scrubbing our own memories before they can be preserved long-term.||

Yet seers, sages, and prophets have also founded world religions, many of them quite mystical and veil-piercing.

||Why would we feel impelled to dismiss and forget our own experiences and to marginalize and ridicule those who claim to be in touch with other levels of consciousness?

Why would we react in a panic to the very idea of experimenting with mind-altering chemicals, even throwing people in jail for doing so?||

The basic answer to these and your other questions, I believe, is this: an unspoken alliance between Christians and atheists. Neither worldview wants these things to be true or valued, so they both oppose them, and that double punch has been killer. Evangelical Christians don't approve of the DIY nature of psi, and if you leave them, you have cool-headed scientists telling you that it's impossible anyway.

||We are biologically hard-wired and socially conditioned to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.||

Socially conditioned, yes. If we were biologically hard-wired, then how would we be having this conversation in the first place? If the "seal" is a systematic part of biology, then the "leak" would seem to be equally so.

||If we notice him anyway, we are inclined to forget. If, despite everything, we remember, then we risk our own social, professional, and intellectual banishment (a prospect that gives us an additional incentive to forget).||

Isn't that more about orthodoxy? If one was an atheist 30-40 years ago, that could easily have made one seem like a crank, etc., and could have led to the same type of jeopardy.

Ollie wrote,

||Mundane life often shows no trace of any kind of psi, much less of survival. […]But as the days keep rolling in, it's hard to hold that belief intimately, because none of that appears evident in our daily lives. […]the fact that paranormal situations are so rare […]||

I find it interesting (though not strange) when people have this kind of perspective.

As I said to Michael above, I'm psychic, and many of my friends are psychic. We "read" for each other all time: sometimes formal readings, but often psychic impressions given as a part of everyday conversation. For us, it's not rare at all.

Matt

I hope one day I can develop and cultivate those skills. I've had very peculiar "coincidences" in dreams and one shared dream. Enough to lead me to believe something odd is happening, but otherwise I don't find a whole lot of psi in my daily life. I wish I did though.

The conditions of modern life are so regularized and mundane that they seep into our consciousness. Everything is mapped, especially in urban areas. We are in a "one-up," masterful, causal stance vis-a-vis the outer world, no longer trembling at its vastness, strength and mysteriousness. The cosmos doesn't inspire a feeling about "all and everything" that "it's cosmic!" (beyond our containers), but rather, "it's unmapped, as yet."

This strengthens the role of our inner calculator / computer in our mental life. Our ego becomes centralized. But a decentralized, "one-down," acausal ego is needed to reside in the "beyond-it-all" state.

Walk right in
The door swings wide
On the keyless side
unhinged, unpinned

But this is only a partial explanation for our current “immersion.”

Do I know that Timbuktu is a real place? I have heard the word before and have heard that it is a place somewhere. I may have read about it and I may have seen pictures of it but I don’t remember if I did. I do not know anyone who has been to Timbuktu and come back to talk about it but I understand that there are some people who have come back from there and told of its wonders. Is Timbuktu real for me? I don’t know---probably not! I just have to take other people’s word for it. If I believe them or not is a judgement I make based upon my belief in their credibility. If I do believe them I might incorporate what they tell me into my belief system but I still can have nagging doubts that what I was told was true. Only until I visit Timbuktu will I know that such a place really exists.

Perhaps that is stating the obvious. - AOD

Amos

I've sometimes thought about it in the same way. I believe there is life after death in the same way I believe Timbuktu exists.

The problem I have with that line of thought is that Timbuktu, or any other place that I know exists but nevertheless have not visited, usually is associated with some degree of creative output that tells me that there are living beings there. I've recently been reading about channeled material, a lot of it is persuasive, it seems to have intent, to be the product of independent minds, but if there is life after death and spirits continue learning, producing knowledge, etc; why don't we see any more of that? No science, art, no mathematics, etc.

Something that also makes me doubt is that "survival tests", in which a cypher or something of the sort is left behind, have never been successfully solved by the purported communications of the deceased personalities that left them. If we keep our memory, maybe we even have a more direct experience of our memory, how come those things don't come through?

Sometimes I worry that channeled material is the expresion of a creative unconscious/subconscious that the medium personifies and that comes across as spirits. I don't exactly mean conventional notions of super-psi, I mean that the medium could be someone that has an easier time accessing that creative force that underlies the conscious experience of human beings.

Ollie,

Right, I think almost everyone has them. I think that the more one goes looking for them, the more one finds them. "Cultivation," as you say! :)

There is a connection between emotion and memory. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. If we knew absolutely 100% for certain that the people we loved who have died were alive and well and waiting for us on the other side death would cease to be the powerful lesson in separation that it is.

If this Earth life is a school and we simply learn here the things that can't be learned in "heaven" (which is suspicion it is) "not knowing" may be necessary to help us remember all the lessons we are challenged with in this life.

I believe we are here to experience and learn what it means and how it feels to be separate, what time and space looks and feels like, what it is like to be in a body and control that body and the parameters of the body, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

Emotion makes the memories last,
https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

Ollie commented that, “Sometimes I worry that channeled material is the expression of a creative unconscious/subconscious that the medium personifies and that comes across as spirits.”

Maybe that is the case with some less talented mediums. I recommend the YouTube videos of John Edward, Lisa Williams, George Anderson and Christopher Stillar that can be found online. Some of their ‘hits’ are beyond belief any way you want to look at it. It is too bad that they get ridiculed by the mass media since I think they are really some of the more exceptional mediums.- AOD

||The issue we were discussing was why we are so inclined to doubt or deny psi phenomena and postmortem survival even in the face of considerable evidence.||

I think I do not agree with you, because I think that most people have not had any experience of the paranormal, or if they have had it, those experiences are too weak to change their beliefs, nor is the psychic evidence something that is usually speak in public, on TV, newspapers, etc. Besides that most scientists still do not accept the existence of psi and afterlife because there is a lack of reproducible effects and psi does not have practical applications either.

||It is odd how so many people disdain the paranormal, and many consider it "superstitious" and low-brow to believe in the possibility of an afterlife because it's not readily apparent through our senses. And yet we believe in the reality of invisible things such as electricity, WiFi connections, radio transmissions, quantum physics, and the like, none of which we can actually see with the naked eye, but accept as being real.||

But that is not odd, but it has a simple explanation: many people do not believe in the paranormal not because they have not seen it, but because there is no repeatable evidence or technological applications or theories that explain it. Electricity is not seen but there are theories and technologies based on that phenomenon.

||For me personally these spontaneous, little stories are the most convincing.||

What happens is that these stories although they may be very widespread, are not reliable because we can not know if they are the result of misinterpretations, sensory leaks, etc., that is, something not psychic or paranormal.

||I find it interesting (though not strange) when people have this kind of perspective.

As I said to Michael above, I'm psychic, and many of my friends are psychic.||

On the other hand, I find your posture strange, I believe that you and the regulars to this blog are a minority, not a majority. I do not think I'm a psychic and I do not know any psychic. I do not think that psychic phenomena are something everyday for the majority, otherwise they would not be so controversial. I think this blog has gathered certain people but not representative of the majority.

Juan,

I am the 'Michael' who posted the comment with the sentence 'For me personally these spontaneous, little stories are the most convincing'. Michael Prescott justly remarked my use of the name 'Michael' is confusing, so from now on I will comment under the name 'Mike B'.

I fully agree with you that misinterpretations, sensory leaks, etc. can be (and very often are) in play. I am interested in the paranormal since my early teens (I am 45 now) and have studied the field thoroughly.
I don't easily believe things, in fact I don't believe most things, claims or stories that I encounter. In my opinion the paranormal is real, but it is also a minefield. It is very difficult to find the gems between the rocks of stone.

I consider the two anecdotes I mentioned in my post to be very trustworthy, but I am simply human so of course I can be wrong. To me they just stood out, also because I know the people involved well.

One last clarification on my original comment: when I wrote paranormal experiences happen 'all the time' I did not mean it happens all the time to an individual person. My colleague who saw the soda cans move on the table will probably never or very rarely encounter anything paranormal in his life again. But I think phenomena like this happen almost everyday somewhere on the globe.

Juan wrote,

||[...] because I think that most people have not had any experience of the paranormal, or if they have had it, those experiences are too weak to change their beliefs,||

I think there is widespread latent belief in the paranormal that people suppress because of what you point out next:

||nor is the psychic evidence something that is usually speak in public, on TV, newspapers, etc. Besides that most scientists still do not accept the existence of psi and afterlife||

Yes, it's not a part of the current prestige belief system (which is not believing in much at all).

||because there is a lack of reproducible effects and psi does not have practical applications either.||

Well, I don't agree. I think pretty consistent effects have been obtained in the laboratory. No, it's not like physics or chemistry, but then again, nor are any of the social sciences (which are now starting to get dismissed as well).

Psi has practical applications. It lets one see the past, present, and future and know what otherwise is unknowable. It allows one to talk to the deceased. And so on.


||What happens is that these stories although they may be very widespread, are not reliable because we can not know if they are the result of misinterpretations, sensory leaks, etc., that is, something not psychic or paranormal.||

One may doubt any one story, but in the aggregate, they cannot all be doubted.


||On the other hand, I find your posture strange, I believe that you and the regulars to this blog are a minority, not a majority. I do not think I'm a psychic and I do not know any psychic.||

If you were one and knew it, you would likely know many others. I can go to my Facebook friends list and name dozens, literally. I think it's a birds of a feather thing. We typically have a New Age-ish belief system and run in the same circles. We are not a rarity. But not the majority, no... Self-identified psychics are probably less than 5% of the population.

However, I think that number would climb dramatically if people felt that it was okay to think along these lines. A lot of people have abilities they have suppressed due to familial or social conditioning.

||I think pretty consistent effects have been obtained in the laboratory.||

That may be true for telepathy, but what about an afterlife? The evidence of afterlife is even more unstable and telepathy has not become an everyday fact.

||Psi has practical applications.||

But it does not have reliable technologies, such as Internet or a nuclear reactor.

||One may doubt any one story, but in the aggregate, they cannot all be doubted.||

Anomalous psychology may doubt all of them, because there may be inherent biases to our own human condition. I do not think it's true, but that's why the scientific approach is necessary.

Juan,
I agree with you. I think that a true psychic is a rarity. People who claim they are psychic may in fact be psychic but if they are, then I think they should "put up or shut up." Lay out the evidence that they are truly psychic.

I think it is easy for some new-age types of people to regard any uncommon experience in their life as evidence of spirit influence or that they are psychic when what they are experiencing are just natural random coincidental occurrences that everyone experiences from time to time. Guessing the future by making a 'hit is not evidence of being a psychic nor is describing a 'client's' living environment or relationships from afar especially when you are friends or acquaintances. We all can do those things if we are an intelligent person with any experience with people and what's going on in the world. If someone truly has psychic powers then do the "book test" for example. That is, without ever being in someone's house, identify a book in the house, tell the page and location on the page of some key word or phrase which turns out to be true. (This reportedly has been done before.)

I mean no disrespect to anyone, but coke cans moving on the surface of a table in my opinion are not evidence of spirits or psychic activity. I have many times seen empty aluminum cans moving around on the surface of a glass table on a thin film of water, which is commonly found on the surface of a table under a cold beverage can. Better to see a computer typing by itself giving a relevant message to a bereaved from the recently deceased, a la "Sam" in the movie "Ghost". - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle,

No offense taken on your comment concerning the moving coke cans. Water under the cans was in fact the first thing that came to my mind when I first heard the story from my colleague. I don't think it was the cause in this instance however, but I agree one should always keep this natural explanation in mind.

Through personal experience I am convinced of the reality of certain paranormal phenomena, but I certainly wouldn't base my conviction on an isolated account like this, no one should.

I am also concerned about human biases. I do not know how to account for the fact that we tend to be unable to account for perceptual and cognitive biases.

I've recently been going through a tough time and found myself asking whatever is out there for some signs. I was with my girlfriend and we sat down to watch a movie and the opening dialogue was almost verbatim what I had been concerned about: "Do you ever think about death, how everything and everyone will die, etc". The next morning I came into this blog and Michael had written an article about the purpose of us being here, or something to that effect, and quoted a passage in the bible about love. Then me and my girlfriend started watching a TV series and before being executed a character recites that same passage that Michael quoted.

Coincidence or something else? At the same time, how do we account for the confirmation bias that is embedded in the common sense of materialism? We tend to discount these events as nothing important, but I'm not sure if that's just another kind of confirmation bias.

Honestly, at this point in my life, if it seems like a meaningful synchronicity or a message or "nudge" from a higher source, I just go with it.

It’s possible to overthink these things.

My suggestions:

1. The witch hunts in Europe and America in the past few centuries have weakened the genetic pool 0f people who can "see"
2. Ability to "see" is time variable - there are periods when you can and periods when you can't. This makes repeatability of experiences difficult.
3. In folklore iron (and salt) diminish paranormal phenomena. Most of us live in cities surrounded by steel-frame buildings and everyone has salt (formerly rare) in their kitchen.

I see some of your points, Juan, but not everything can be replicated in a lab. For instance, zoologists can observe behavior of wild animals out in the wild, but once those animals are in cages, their behavior changes. But the scientists' observations in the wild are still valid. And we can't for ethical reasons test for NDEs. (I know about the Parnia study, but not all NDErs report that they observed their physical surroundings.)

And one thing that's almost made me wonder is why people across centuries and different cultures report seeing or hearing ghosts. I saw one myself when I was small child. I wasn't sick, I certainly wasn't doing drugs or drinking,there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, mentally or physically, so why out of the blue do I see a ghost? And it's not just me of course who has experienced them.

||I see some of your points, Juan, but not everything can be replicated in a lab.||

But not only that, but psi lacks predictive theories or reliable technologies; most people live as if that did not exist. Also, you say you saw a ghost, but even if that is true, what did you see? That is, what is a ghost? There are numerous cases throughout the history of apparitions, but it is not enough with experience to conclude that they are apparitions of spirits of the deceased, but research is needed.

Also another thing that has not been clear to me is if there is a kind of censorship on the evidence of the afterlife to maintain the immersion, why is it also going to have applied to phenomena such as telepathy and psychokinesis? They are something totally different and I do not see why those skills are going to break the immersion more than any other phenomenon.

That's an interesting question, Juan - how do I know what I saw was a ghost? What do know is that what I saw was clearly not human, it was a person composed entirely of light. I've just started reading Swedenbourg's "Heaven and Hell," and it occurred to me that he would classify it as an angel. Materialists would say it was a hallucination, even though I've never had a hallucination before or since. Nor have I ever since seen a being manifest like that.

Overall,accounts of ghosts are just too widespread for me to dismiss. It seems there is definitely something there, we just don't know what.

\\"I've just started reading Swedenbourg's "Heaven and Hell," and it occurred to me that he would classify it as an angel." - Kathleen//
---------------------------

I've read several Swedenborg books. I bought them from Amazon. From the books I've read Swedenborg says that all angels were once humans and lived on Earth so saying they were ghosts or angels is saying the same thing. A ghost is a former human and an angel once lived as a humans so a human soul, a ghost, and an angel are all essentially the same thing.

\\"In his writings, Swedenborg often describes things he has seen in heaven, ... Swedenborg declares that every angel was once a human being living on earth."//
https://swedenborg.com/emanuel-swedenborg/explore/angels/

Interesting, Art, yes, now I do recall reading that somewhere else.

You know, the interesting thing about whatever it was was that it took the appearance of a Native American brave - tomahawk-like weapon and all. Naturally I was at first terrified, but then came to realize it meant no harm. Maybe he was just curious.

Years later, I also researched what clothing and gear Native Americans located in eastern Long Island, New York (where I saw it) actually wore. Wouldn't you know, the images I found matched what I saw.

I've concluded that it was either a bizarre hallucination the likes of which I've never experienced again, or a curious ghost. It was also very significant that this apparition was not malevolent in the least - although if he truly was a ghost, he probably had every right to be, since Native Americans were not treated very well in Long Island by early settlers.

Michael have you heard of a book called "The Reign of Quantity and Sign of the Times" by Rene Guenon?

Guenon believed we were in the Hindu cosmological dark age known as the Kali Yuga and that the first phase of that Yuga would involve the hardening of the Materialist shell in which the humanity would become cut off from the divine in appearance with the peak of this phase occurring in the 19th century. According to Guenon, cracks would eventually begin to appear in this materialist wall which would first expose us to psychic fissures from inferior dimensions before the end of the cycle where a large crack would finally allow us to reconnect with the divine again.

This is a massive oversimplification of what Guenon wrote but I thought it might be of interest.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)