Debate and Discussion

The supernatural: fact or fiction?
Scardy at 5:41PM, March 13, 2008
posts: 12
joined: 2-6-2006
The paranormal and magic are just things that science hasn't yet come to understand. When it comes to ghosts, however, I think there's room in physics for that. All things are made of matter, and all matter is made of energy. You cannot create or destroy energy. You can only change or move it. If ghosts are beings of pure energy, then there's room for that in science should scientists ever come to enough understanding of that energy to reproduce it in a laboratory setting. Scientists insist on being able to reproduce something before they fully accept a hypothesis as a reasonable theory.
Since no one really has a clear understanding of ghosts, death, spirit, or the essence of life, you can't really reproduce a lot of these things in a lab. Someday maybe scientists will understand how all these things work, and they'll tell us exactly what causes what.
But I hope they don't. That would take all the mystery out of life.

“We've dug ourselves in pretty deep this time.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:24PM
Mr_Vortex at 3:30AM, March 15, 2008
posts: 10
joined: 2-7-2008
still fiction
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:08PM
ozoneocean at 4:35AM, March 15, 2008
posts: 26,050
joined: 1-2-2004

I'll just say that it worries me when someone claims to be able to make definitive statments about the nature of the world.
That used to be the preserve of the religious zealot, it's now increasingly the realm of the “scientific” neophyte.

It's like you've got a book of basic mathematics and believe that is the totality of mathematical knowledge because it's all in that one book, and you trust it. Someone hints that there may be other books… Advance trigonometry, calculus, more theoretical stuff… But you won't believe that because you can't see it written down in the book that you have.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:30PM
alibaba at 9:23AM, March 15, 2008
posts: 55
joined: 2-6-2008
ozone, you forget that there are always some unreasonable people who simply demand answers right away, so an agnostic position is not always an option.

honest scientists, who can usually only say things like “its likely that”, “with a high certainty”, “its very well possible”, etc. are opening the gates for conspiracy theorists to say “ha! these nerds don't know anything for sure. but behold! for my theory answers all questions with perfect certainty!!”

so proponents of conspiracy theories and the likes basically say: "you either tell me how that exactly happened or i must come to the conclusion that MY theory is correct!“
this is of course a fallacy, but scientists feel obliged to answer the questions.

the problem is that reality is often extremely complex and counter-intuitive. conspiracy theories and creation myths, etc. on the other hand are really simple and easy to understand.
therefore its really tough for scientific theories to gain public popularity.
in addition to that, scientists aren't skillful talkers like religious preachers (there are exceptions on both sides, tho…). it takes them hours to come to the point and after the listeners wake up they naturally don't feel very convinced :D .

so i completely understand it when proponents of science snap and say: ”fairys definitely don't exist!“ or ”evolution definitely happened.“

example: you've studied mathematics for years, read and understood countless books and gained a very solid and accurate knowledge - though surely not perfect, since mathematics always keep developing.
now someone comes and tells you: ”you know, everything that you've learned about math is a lie. there are some other books which completely disprove what you learned. where they are you ask? well, i saw them in a vision and i totally belief they exist!“

this is pretty much what conspiracy theorists do.
how to disprove that?

in order to understand how something happened, you've got 3 options:
1) go back in time and see how evolution happened/ check whether there were explosives in the twin towers/ etc.
2) invent a hypothesis based on what you personally belief and what goes with your interests to come up with an explanation.
3) collect, observe and examine all the available information and circumstantial evidence to form a theory which fits the facts and other theories.

number 1 is unfortunately not possible with the current technology, number 2 is what conspiracy theorists and creationists love to do and number 3 is what all reasonable people should do when they want to find out the truth. it goes without question that number 3 is also the most challenging option.
i dare say we gained a pretty good understanding of nature by following the scientific method, even though we may never know ”everything" (which is kinda obvious).

so, is it reasonable to think that science knows everything? nope.
therefore, is it reasonable to assume that ghosts, demons, aliens, unicorns, angels, etc. exist? hell no!
its likely that things way out of our understanding exist, but that doesn't make imaginary human myths true.

and i wouldn't worry about scientific neophytes as long as they understand the scientific method XD .
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:49AM
bobhhh at 2:40PM, March 15, 2008
posts: 893
joined: 5-12-2007
Some people still think the Moon landing was a hoax. There will always be some folks who are too stubborn to accept something that makes sense.

What's more likely? That there is some spirit world that has eluded scientific detection and corroboration for centiries or that we are too afraid to imagine existence ends with death and thusly have created a comforting and enduring fiction about the afterlife?

It wouldn't be the first trime the collective unconscious has made something seem true, hell even I knock on wood sometimes….
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:29AM
SpANG at 9:33AM, March 17, 2008
posts: 3,105
joined: 1-1-2006
I cannot dispute the existence of the supernatural. Nobody can, definitively. But, I cannot say I've ever witnessed a supernatural phenomena. Nor would I say the people that believe in the supernatural are “full of hooey”. Most seem to genuinely believe.

However, it seems to me that there are always scientific (or less scientific) explanations. People that witness ghosts may be having the same hallucination due to certain environmental circumstances, firing just the right synapses. Perception is not always reality.

Or, ideas could be unconsciously “planted” into your mind as well. You never know. Thought manipulation has been around for years. An experienced illusionist or con man can pretty much do the same thing.

“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
Doplegager at 9:59AM, March 17, 2008
posts: 62
joined: 7-12-2007
Perception is not always reality.
Ah, but perception is always the perceived reality. Funny how that works :-p
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
zaneeba at 8:32PM, April 17, 2008
posts: 2
joined: 1-30-2007
Of course ghosts exist, especially when there's peanut butter involved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you dance naked through the streets once a day nice things will happen to you. Live by that code.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:54PM
bravo1102 at 6:51PM, April 21, 2008
posts: 4,100
joined: 1-21-2008

Why People Believe Weird Things explains it a lot better than I ever could. It led me to Randi and then to Skeptical Inquirer.

That being said; there is no such thing as the supernatural, just nature.

If the supernatural is part of our world, by definition our world is nature so the supernatural is not super natural or above or beyond nature just beyond our current understanding.

Is there superstition? Sure. Is there the placebo effect? Sure. Can you believe you see or experience something that didn't really happen the way you think it did? Yes.

Eye-witness accounts are notoriously unreliable. Any lawyer will tell you that and it is absolutely true as the memory can change and distort over time and even be manufactured.

I have experienced things that do not have a current “natural” explanation. Ghosts for example.

I also saw a UFO. However, the UFO was only a flying object I could not identify. I am a trained observer of aerial phenomenon and have seen lots of stuff that the majority of people would say are UFO's and I'd positively identify as a UH-60H Helicopter or Boeing 777 or Venus etc. My favorite is the Gulf Stream Lights. Gulf Stream Florida is right next to a Naval Air Station. That's a real hard one.

Another one: “Black” Helicopters are mis-identifications of US Army helicopters which are painted an extremely dark olive drab that at any distance appears black or USAF special OPS helicopters which are painted a very dark grey or indeed black.

It shouldn't be dismissed but investigated and that's what CSICOP (now CSI) is for. James Randi, Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner. I've read them and learned a lot. But it doesn't stop me from reading Hans Holtzer.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:32AM
bobhhh at 9:21PM, April 22, 2008
posts: 893
joined: 5-12-2007
James Randi is my hero.

I love when he takes the piss out of blowhards like Uri Geller.
My name is Bob and I approved this signature.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:30AM

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