The Logic Paradox: Hostages of Belief

In recent years the primary focus of my research has been on human perception.  After all our perceptions are key, not only to the way we interpret the world around us, but also to the decisions we make and the things we believe.  Understanding the fallibility and  strengths of the way humans ‘digest’ their experiences is vital to my research in mysterious phenomena.

Part of the basic process in understanding human perception is simply observing.  Watching how individuals interpret various conditions or events and then comparing those observations with published research results from respected and accomplished scientists.  That basic process alone can be fascinating.   Over time it’s easy to become engulfed  in the subject and recognize the incredible power of bias and the limiting input of a singular perspective.  No one, including myself, is free from the power of this unyielding variable, however it does seem to affect some more than others.

Throughout my years of research, I have noticed a pattern. It’s nothing new really, but it seems as though people (mostly those of a spiritual nature)  tend to adopt concepts that seem “logical” based on their own personal experience rather than what seems “illogical” based on factual information.  It’s not really that difficult to understand why, after all if you’ve  “heard” voices in your bedroom, it seems like an easy assumption that someone or something is/was there speaking.

But very often the human mind is lazy, unwilling to invest its time in considering options that go beyond easily explainable occurrences.  If the simpler explanations (i.e. Another person in the room, Radio on, Television on, person outside) can be ruled out, they will accept their initial analysis and ignore other more elaborate possibilities such as psychological issues, neurological issues or even simple misinterpretations.

It’s easier for us as humans to believe our first impressions and so we tend to “accentuate the positive”, confirming our experiences even if it goes against the majority of demonstrated research or even if it seems too wild to be true.

It seems to me there’s a blinding element to this biased human perception process that seems to hinder a person’s ability to reason.  They are in essence a hostage of their own beliefs and some tend to be trapped into ideas that resemble the erratic rantings of psychotic behavior.

In 2008 I spoke to a woman in Western Massachusetts who claimed she was being tormented by demons. She claimed to hear them walking in her attic and was adamant that they were watching her at all hours of the night, waiting for the right time to kill her.  The woman’s husband was concerned and while he was not as sold on the idea of a spiritual entity he often humored her by attempting rituals to “scare” the beings away.

Later that same year I spoke to a woman who was subsequently diagnosed with a mental disorder called paranoid schizophrenia. She claimed that the police were building missiles on the hill in her home town and that all of her neighbors were breaking into her house every night to watch her sleep. She claimed that they were planning to do something awful to her.

Both women were adamant about their claims. These were sincere people who truly felt these things were happening in spite of the real world logic that discounted such fantastic claims. Other than the component of demons vs humans, what difference is there between these two claims?  Why is the highly irrational fear of stalking humans with bad intentions considered eligible for psycho-analysis but the equally irrational fear of attacking demons less concerning?

It is my opinion that the answer lies with the nature of each claim and the public perception of them.  The element of spirituality is often regarded as a type of religious belief and to suggest psychotic behavior in response to spirit based perspective would be both insulting and politically incorrect (imagine the religious consequences if this were accepted), so the subject becomes taboo and the experiences continue.

Of course this is not to suggest that all paranormal experiences are the result of a mental illness, but it does seem as though there are elements within our own psychological processes that maintain and foster our beliefs, even in the face of opposing logic. This restrictive behavior acts as a barricade, hindering our ability to logically process any new information that opposes our beliefs.

Perhaps discovery is best served not by finding new things, but by removing old ones.

Supporting research:

First Impressions Matter: A Model of Confirmatory Bias*
Confirmation Bias in Complex Analyses

How psychotic-like are paranormal beliefs?

Scientific Ghosts

Sadly this post (below) is missing out on some fundamental aspects of what true scientific research is really about. A major component needed to prove a concept using the scientific method is demonstrability. A phenomena must be repeatable on demand or repeat with some degree of predictability for it to be a viable area for science to study. Repeat-ability means testability, anything else is purely subjective.

The statement “you can’t ‘mathematically’ prove emotions but they exist.” is incorrect. Emotions are demonstrable, and they CAN be measured and even identified through multiple methods such as chemical measurements, MRI scans, observations of behavior etc. In many cases they can even be predicted. That’s how antidepressant medications and mental health treatment regimes were developed.

Simply because some areas of science seem wild or ‘out there’ in nature does not mean science should, by default, automatically support wild ideas. The unusal things science often presents are theories (not to be confused with hypotheses). The scientific method does not solve “Big Questions” (such as “Do multiple dimensions exist”) directly, instead it answers many smaller questions and their outcomes help to form a theory (kind of like an educated guess). Time travel is a theory that has several observed elements that support the possibility. Most recently research conducted on the Mir Space Station is a good example. An occupant of the station, Sergei Avdeyev (who had been there 747 days) experienced time dilation. He went approximately 27,360 km/h and thus aged roughly 0.02 seconds (20 milliseconds) less than an Earthbound person would have. This along with many other attributes found through research point to a possibility that Time travel is possible.

Multiple dimensions (or Multiverse) is a hypothesis (not a theory) and was brought into a potential research position mainly by those interested in cosmology, astronomy, religion, philosophy, transpersonal psychology, and fiction. It is hotly debated in the true physics world as to whether it’s a valid research pursuit, however, Some physicists do think parallel universes are present in those extra dimensions. This multiverse notion IS testable too. In fact physicists will be looking for evidence of mini black holes when the data produced from the Large Hadron Collider is analyzed. Right now all we have is indirect evidence for things like super-symmetry, but future testing may eventually give us more direct evidence.

Extra-Terrestrial life is hypothesized (not theorized) mainly through mathematical statistics.The apparent size and age of the universe suggests that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations “ought” to exist. However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it. This is known as the Fermi paradox (A conflict between an argument of scale and probability and a lack of evidence.)

Theories developed through scientific research typically contain several testable, repeatable elements that actually support the possibility of the claims made. Sadly the concept of “Ghosts” does not have such a significant foundation. The many claims of “Ghosts” made over the years are not repeatable or predictable and are mainly anecdotal testimony from people who may or may not have misunderstood natural events, hallucinated or even outright lied. The “variable” of human fallibility is too over powering for the mainstream science community to embrace the concept beyond a psychological nature. However, one of the great things about scientific research is its ability to change position when new information is discovered.

Rather than trying to continue to capture useless subjective evidence (i.e. photos, video, and audio – which will never be conclusive) it should be the goal of every paranormal researcher to find patterns of predictability, or a method of inducing phenomena for repeatability and testing. They should openly embrace, publication, third-party peer review and experimentation because only through these methods will their claims be verified and taken as seriously as many feel they should.

Demonstrability will surely change the view point mainstream science.

meyerfilm

Why do so many people choose to ignore the existence of ghosts? Especially the ‘scientific’ types. Is it because they can’t mathematically prove it? you can’t ‘mathematically’ prove emotions but they exist.
It’s funny these scientists are the first to believe the possibility of time travel, multiple dimensions, people walking through walls due to quantum mechanics, invisibility, hybrid humanoids and even extraterrestrial life BUT ghosts are out of the question.
Well here’s one nugget that might make them think twice. Metaphysics was the first to explain how the universe has multiple dimensions and that we are multiple-dimensional beings. Also that the basic building block of our worlds are made up of varying vibrations…
Recently a theory has become very popular among the scientific community which is string theory. A theory in which the smallest element of the universe is a vibrating string and these strings make up a multitude of…

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Critical Groupthinking

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An excellent post examining the aspect of critical thinking within a group. Critical thinking is a quickly diminishing attribute in today’s television and social media based society. Sadly, not many people I speak to understand the concept. That being said here’s an article from someone who does:

How Do We Know?

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We have here an interesting and well written perspective on what some believe are the inherent flaws in the scientific method. While the writer’s perspective is well received and understood, personally , I do not feel the text represents a true understanding of how and why the scientific method is applied and why it’s so important. The author mentions that a blind commitment to the scientific method (called “scientism”) suggests a “closed mind”. I do disagree.

The scientific method is a process of testing hypothetical concepts. The application of this process in research in no way a suggests that ONLY the results derived through this method are valid. Instead it focuses on one very specific question at a time. Answering MANY of these specific questions will allow a scientist to now form a theory (basically an educated guess) and additional information that is gathered through peer review and third party testing either supports or rejects the original theory.

The application of a scientific method and a proper approach to scientific analysis leaves the doors wide open to corrections should new information be presented. To me, this is the epitome of “open mindedness” not a closed mind. The scientific method does not  answer the big questions in our world. It instead examines many smaller questions to separate false perspectives from facts. It does this through replication and experimentation. Those pieces are then put together and a theory formed. The new theory then spawns further tests using different approaches and as a result we end up with a very likely (but not always proven) answer.

To be considered viable, the scientific community has one main requirement. A phenomena MUST be demonstrable (i.e. repeatable) – not much to ask. Again this does not suggest that non-demonstrable things do NOT exist in our world (that would require supposition), but simply that in a world of research we can only test the things that WILL or can be replicated.

Since proving a negative is not possible. the burden of proof lies with the person making a claim. No matter how real the experience may seem to the claimant, no matter how compelling subjective evidence may be, if it can not be observed or repeated by a third party, it is not capable of being researched. That concept may be frustrating to some, but in a world with flawed human perceptions, confirmation biases and outright lies it’s the only way to work with things we “know” rather than the things we “believe”.

If we were to open the door and accept the possible existence of all “untestable” things, where then would we draw the line? By that standard, every single claim, no matter how bizarre or unlikely would need to be accepted and clearly that is not a logical approach.

Again, I appreciate the authors article and I want to present it because it represents a well written alternate view. What are YOUR thoughts?

hughcurtler

For the most part inquiring minds embrace the scientific method. They may not know exactly what that method is, but they would swear that this is the only way we really know anything for sure; it is the heart and soul of what we loosely call “common sense.”  That science has advanced civilization in numerous ways is incontrovertible — especially  scientific medicine which has prolonged life and made suffering comparatively rare.

The scientific method relies on empirical testing: seeing is believing. An investigator asks questions, suggests a possible explanation and then devises a test to determine whether the hypothesis they have come up with seems to bear out. If it does, it is regarded as true — at least until at some future date another test disproves the theory. The most reliable theories are those that can not be disproved: if no matter how hard we try we cannot dislodge…

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Radio Head – Can We “Hear” Radio Transmissions?

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Just over two years ago my sister told me that she had been hearing what sounded like a muffled radio playing at night when she was in bed. She said it sounded like a radio playing behind a wall. Sometimes playing music and sometimes just talk. The sound was muffled enough that she couldn’t quite make out the words, and the music was not recognizable. Try as she might, she never could find the source. My father who lived with her at the time also heard the mysterious radio in his apartment, but neither of them could find it. She questioned whether the source might be paranormal in nature and asked me to give it some thought.

Interested in this claim I started doing some research. I located a radio broadcast tower just 5 miles from her house. It was an AM broadcast station broadcasting at 770 MHz. Interestingly, it was christian broadcast station that had talk shows and played music. I had my sister tune a radio near her bed to 770 AM and instructed her to turn the radio on when she heard the mystery radio and see if the sounds matched. They did. She didn’t recognize the music because she’s not familiar with christian music and the talk show schedule coincided with her experience of hearing talking. It was an amazing find. I was curious to see if any other people were experiencing this strange phenomena. Doing an internet search I found many forums with people describing the same experience as my sister. It seemed to be a common phenomena.

Later that same year, I put out a call for people who were experiencing these mysterious radio broadcasts. 25 people responded and to my amazement I was able to tie the majority of the reports to radio towers near their homes. All within 15 miles or less. All AM towers, mostly lower band frequencies. This was truly a phenomena, but I simply couldn’t find anyone who was researching it. I was baffled. How could something so strange exist, affecting what I believe to be thousands of people and no body is researching a cause?

Well in the months that followed I gathered more claims of people experiencing the mysterious radio syndrome, but could only guess at how it could be concurring. My initial thought was that the human brain must be able to detect radio frequencies and transferring them to the auditory system, but that was just a guess. Then, in the middle of my endless scouring of published research papers (one of my research techniques), I found a paper published in 1982 by Chung-Kwang Chou, Arthur W. Guy and Robert Galambos.

They were conducting research to explain the claims of radar workers (since World War II) that they were able to “hear” the microwaves emitted by the radar. What they found was amazing and fully supported the research I had done to date. According to the paper:

” Microwave hearing is most easily explained by the mechanism of thermoelastic expansion, i.e., absorption of microwave energy produces nonuniform heating of the exposed head; a thermoelastic wave of pressure is then launched, presumably through bone conduction, to the cochlea where it is detected. After auditory-nerve excitation in the high-frequency portion of the cochlea, transmission of the microwave-induced neural response follows the same auditory pathways as do all of the .acoustically induced responses through the brainstem and thalamus to the auditory cortex. ”

In other words, through a form of heated expansion the radio waves are absorbed through the bone in the skull and is audibly detected by the cochlea (the spiral cavity of the inner ear containing the organ of Corti, which produces nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations.) and wa la! people are hearing a radio broadcast. The idea is similar to hearing through vibration, and the result would be, as in the many claims, muffled sound not easily to discern.

I know not many people would be excited by finding a paper like this, but for me it was a validating experience and it feels good to know I was on the right track all this time. Here is the paper I discovered (for those interested)

https://thepierianelement.com/2015/05/19/auditory-perception-of-radio-frequency-electromagnetic-fields/

What are Ghosts?

I’m looking to gather some statistical data pertaining to the popular concept of just what a “Ghost” is.  Please take a moment to help with my research and tell me your opinion. (Check all that apply)

Are You Hallucinating?

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After researching “strange things” for more than a decade I have found little evidence supporting the idea of dis-incarnate beings (Still Searching). The “ghosts” I used to fear as a kid have somehow succumbed to research and rationalization. That is NOT to say however, that strange things do not occur in this world. We are far from discovering everything and “weird” occurrences are not owned solely by those with new age perspectives.  Science certainly has it’s share of bizarre.  All of that being said, over the years I have realized that “most” of what is claimed to be paranormal is simply a product of flaws in perception, either induced by environment or by the failure of a rational thought process.

I know there are thousands who will argue with what I have just said. People who claim to have personal experiences very often defend those claims to the death. But what I find interesting is that most people making these claims will be more likely to believe that a dis-incarnate being is existing in their home and tormenting them, before acknowledging that the idea that the whole experience is a hallucination or misconception.

I had a discussion a while back with an individual who claimed to see a young girl in his bedroom one night.  According to to his claim, she stood in the corner of his room for almost 5 minutes before disappearing. I asked him “How do you know you weren’t hallucinating?” his reply was “I never hallucinate, so that’s unlikely” I couldn’t help but challenge his statement by replaying “So, it’s more likely you are being visited by the soul of a dead girl rather than simply hallucinating in a dark room?” He never replied.

In relation to this subject I have recently found a fantastic article that speaks about the common nature of Hallucinations. According to the article written by Dartmouth University, it’s not all that uncommon and interestingly the age brackets seem to fit with those most commonly claiming a paranormal sighting.

Excerpt:

In general, hallucinations occur slightly more often in males than females. They are most common in males between ages 25-30, while females peak around age 40-50. Aging increases hallucinations in both sexes (2). The increase in hallucinations with age might have to do with the deaths of loved ones. It is not unusual to see dead friends and relatives; these hallucinations are considered normal, perhaps part of the grieving process. Almost half of widows and widowers have hallucinations of their dead spouse, most commonly in the first 10 years of widowhood (3). The occurrence of these hallucinations is unrelated to social isolation or depression— they actually increase with length of marriage, the happiness of the relationship, and parenthood. They are even considered helpful accompaniments and a coping mechanism of widowhood.”

You can read the full article here: Hallucination: A normal phenomenon?