Monthly Archives: January 2018

ESP – Misconceptions And Frauds

Unfortunately, this subject is very polarising, some people opting for a completely materialistic view and others leaving themselves prey to claims which hold no water (so-called service providers robbing them blind).

The extremes are a matter of either refusing to consider it at all cost, despite being told perplexing stories by sane people with no interest in lying, or wanting to believe just anything, even against one’s better judgement.

Of course, there is the middle path of those who know ESP occurs indeed, yet are equally aware of the mass deception by shysters who trade in illusions.

Which is why I think the following observations are in order.

  1. It’s a series of limited personal experiences, not an ability, or better yet, a profession.

Most people, sceptics included, have had an eerily accurate premonition, the odd dream predicting a future event down to details, or telepathic connection with someone else. What these phenomena tend to have in common is a purpose at that point in time, in the person’s life. Often that purpose is to warn of an incoming danger or prepare them for an unavoidable shock (the unexpected death of a loved one for instance).

The other commonality is that they do not happen constantly (which would be distressing, I imagine).

They are small glimpses into what should be the unknown – the potential future, the life of someone who is estranged etc. They come in grain size, not by the bucket; they are like droplets in an ocean of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Hence, when you hear a flouncy describe her nightly conversations with her spirit guide named Zorg, who tells her everything from the weather to who will get divorced in the neighbourhood, the suspicion that it’s verbal diarrhoea seems correct.

2. It occurs spontaneously, not on demand.

Perhaps a reiteration of the point made above – ESP is not an ability, as this term describes something you can control and use at your discretion.

The limited information you receive arrives unexpectedly when necessary, not as a result of you looking for it (that’s why fortune telling is such BS), let alone demanding it.

There is no unlimited database of the past, present and future people with ESP can tap into at will, to reveal hidden facts about themselves and others. If that were true, nothing would remain a mystery to them. Those who claim to have an access card to such a place, and charge money for a quick peek, are charlatans.

I’m sure many people with good intuition make an honest effort to gauge others’ problems in this manner, yet have no proof of their assertions being anything but a guess.

And I’m sure many who failed at demonstrating their presumed gift in a controlled environment had some genuine phenomenon over the years, yet could not artificially reproduce a natural occurrence. Because it happened to them, as opposed to them making it happen.

3. It is often verified in hindsight.

When someone claims the infallible capacity to predict the future because they’ve done so once or twice, they are mistaken. The only way to verify a prediction is after the fact, which is why people should not become hysterical when someone puts forth apocalyptic views.

The estimated number of daily thoughts crossing someone’s mind ranges between 50 000 and 70 000. Many of them will be irrelevant. Of the many premonitions someone might have, only some stand the test of time, whilst the rest are forgotten. Some will be steeped in subjectivity; their own hopes and fears. Dreams, likewise, can be useful in terms of psychological analysis, yet rarely do they actually reveal crucial information to be used in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, when it does happen it’s something to marvel at – yet that doesn’t mean every dream should be given the same importance a priori.

There are no prophets whose every word should be regarded as likely accurate by default.

4. To my knowledge, there has never been a way to establish where the information comes from.

In other words, we should all beware of those who claim to be in communication with divine beings or aliens, or anything of the sort. Or those who claim their occasional accurate predictions are proof of the existence of some deity.

5. The direct line to Heaven is a scam.

I’ve yet to see a psychic asked to contact a client’s dead relative, to shrug and say “sorry, dear, he wasn’t available”, or alternatively, “sorry, he’s in Hell and they only allow visitors on Saturday morning”. Isn’t it amazing how the departed are always calm and happy, wanting to reminisce about some fishing trip twenty years prior?

A couple were claiming the room was full of the client’s dead relatives, and that they wanted to make contact. It’s funny how it’s only the living who initiate these conversations through a paid medium and the dead, although present in such close proximity, are hapless in terms of communication. If it’s an open line, why don’t the dead ever ask for messages to be passed, of their own initiative? Can’t they afford the fee? No one thinks to ask “honestly; if they’re here all the time anyway, what do I need you for?”

Ghosts – Misconceptions And Frauds

Throughout time, regardless of location or culture, ghost sightings have been a common occurrence. Phenomena presumed to involve the spirits of deceased people (haunting, poltergeist activity etc) remain of interest, not only to those experiencing them but to the curious in general.

Accounts of these phenomena are extremely interesting, usually connected to places and involving no reason to suspect those giving them of fabrication. They are isolated stories told by people who are not into making careers out of it. If anything, they risk being ridiculed for describing what they’ve witnessed.

Others, however, are set on using this mysterious side of human nature for personal gain, an easy con for centuries. They prey on the thirst for thrills, as well as the grieving, the latter being inexcusable.

Ghost hunting is the practice of observing a location believed to be haunted, in attempts to spot or/and make contact with the spirits thought to be lingering there. Paraphernalia is often used (cameras, motion detectors, devices based on measuring temperature etc). The “instrument” most sought after, however, is a medium, also known as a psychic or channel, claiming to facilitate this communication.

Whilst those reporting a haunting can normally be trusted and those seeking to observe it directly can at least be given the benefit of the doubt, most mediums are full of it.

Moreover, paranormal investigations produced for television, in order to cater to viewers, can be remorselessly suspected of BS. Whilst capturing phenomena on camera does happen, it happens spontaneously, and rarely, if ever, in a scheduled manner; that is just too convenient. The proof found is usually limited to noises and sensations experienced in the area. The chances of it all being staged are very high, even when based on a true story.

Identifying the deceased person

For the sake of keeping it brief by not constantly repeating the words “ghost”, “deceased”, “dead person” etc, let’s just refer to a spirit observed by the living as Bob.

Whereas in some cases people are confident of knowing who Bob is, through some of the things he does (like moving or smashing certain possessions), in most cases, his presence is nebulous and he is connected with the place he manifests himself in, rather than those currently occupying it. He might appear partially, as a shadow, as a vapour, or be downright invisible. He might vociferate but never show any physical traits. Whilst he may inadvertently give clues about his reason to be there, identifying him is very difficult, and likely a result of meticulous research; even then things can’t be certain.

To think that someone can walk right in, off the street, and give an accurate portrayal is not plausible. Mediums are known to make up elaborate stories on the spot.

Making contact

This is presented as the medium calling Bob and expecting a sign; perhaps asking a question or two.

First of all, this is a person, not a house pet. You can’t just whistle and expect him to turn up.There are no guarantees he’s even there in real time, that he hears the medium or that he’s in any way inclined to respond.

Assumptions are made beforehand, due to popular culture:

  • He knows he is dead;
  • He spends all his time at that particular location;
  • He knows he shouldn’t be there and is aware he owes an explanation for his presence;
  • He is aware of the current year and of the people living there;
  • He wants to go elsewhere but can’t for some reason.

There are no guarantees any of these apply.

“Go to the light, Bob, go to the light!”

First of all, Heaven was a religious invention; there isn’t any way to know what lies beyond the material world and where people go after dying, if they go anywhere at all (they might just be here but difficult to perceive by the living). What the medium really means is “piss off”. Whilst many have seen ghosts, no one has ever seen Heaven. James Randi pointed out how funny it is that mediums never try to reach someone who is in hell, or, I assume, likely to go there if “passing on”.

Secondly, let’s assume there was such a place where spirits are supposed to go. Now, if Bob has refused to move on for, say, 300 years, he must’ve had his reasons all along. It’s unlikely that the medium saying “you must go home now”, with self-attributed authority, will suddenly change that.

If he is not aware he is dead (a hypothesis detailed below), saying that is pointless. And if he is aware of his circumstances and options, should there be any, he doesn’t need pointers from the medium; he is there because he wants to be.

The public menace

When Bob interferes with the lives of the living, it is often assumed he is doing it on purpose; some people think ghosts are set on chasing the present occupants away. However, that needn’t be the case. Bob might be experiencing the living in the same manner they are experiencing him (fleeting, blurred interactions which are difficult to make sense of).

Some apparitions have indicated there just might be an overlap between the past and present. For instance, somewhere in the UK, the ghost of a monk was seen walking down a street. The observer only saw the monk’s upper half, and after researching the history of the area, realised the road used to be at a lower level, which would explain why the monk’s legs could not be seen (he was walking on the old road, the old and current scenery overlapping). That was one of the most interesting stories I’ve come across and indicates occasional glitches, as opposed to spirits deciding to haunt a place (which is not to say the latter doesn’t occur).

The same can be said for noises, voices etc inside a house; perhaps the living are simply getting a glimpse of past events, without any interaction per se. Of course, when it comes to poltergeist activity, there seems to be a clear intention, when objects are thrown around for instance. There are cases when people are physically attacked.

Yet lacking any indication of violent intentions, it’s unnecessarily distressing to make assumptions, simply based on Hollywood tropes.

Mediums freaking out on camera

There are sensationalist programs showing mediums scared half to death in dark basements, squirming and squealing about being touched on the shoulder.

“I talk to the dead on demand; I even let them possess my body to speak through it, but if I think one is near me I scream and run away.” Makes sense, right?

There is one thing I know for sure about ESP – if you’re someone who experiences it regularly, you’re not afraid of it, regardless of how it manifests. You take it as a normal part of life.

Granted that if you reject the idea, you might be negatively impacted by such phenomena. But if you embrace it fully and call yourself a medium, it makes no sense to run for the hills, especially when you seek out such encounters.

It’s all done for show.

 

 

 

 

 

Puritanical Groups: Frankenstein’s Monster

A story emerged recently, not nearly as interesting from an ideological point of view as from a psychological one.

In a way it’s classic: someone founds a group or participates in its founding, based on a set of principles. Overtime, the disciples grow more radical than the founder, turn on this person venomously and take the reins, going as far as making false accusations or starting a smear campaign.

This happened recently to Cenk Uygur, the founder of The Young Turks but also co-founder of Justice Democrats, a group seeking to contribute to the success of its candidates of choice. Besides contributing to the very start of Justice Democrats, he gave them substantial popularity through his alternative media channel (perhaps the most successful on the left).

Their gripe with him? Well, it turns out no less than 18 years ago (19 in fact, now), he wrote some pretty unsavoury things on a blog, regarding his frustration with women, general opinions on them etc.

Almost two decades ago. If anything should still matter for incrimination after two decades, in the life of any individual, it would have to be extremely serious. Something in the vein of war crimes, murder, rape or child molestation. Certainly not blog posts written on a whim, showing opinions which evolved overtime into their polar opposites.

It’s a total witch hunt. Whatever you can call Cenk Uygur, you cannot call him sexist, racist or anything else they claimed. He’s one of the leading voices on the left (far left in fact), at least in the alternative media; anyone who has followed TYT even sporadically is aware of the absurdity of these labels. They called him “part of the patriarchy” and claimed “he perpetuated rape culture”; something along those lines.

They called those off-the-cuff rants “horrifying”. Which leads me to believe said characters must’ve reached their (presumed) maturity during the SJW culture and haven’t read much worse. As others have mentioned, my first thought was whether they were, in fact, still wearing nappies when these blog posts were written. And whether their lack of understanding of someone’s opinions evolving is due to their lack off opportunity, age-wise, to go through such changes themselves.

So they’ve known this guy for a year (at least), interacted with him frequently, and somehow “failed to notice” he was “racist and sexist”, until these old posts popped up. It doesn’t seem to strike them as odd. A switch was activated in their heads and, boom – their views on him turned on their head.

Ideology aside, there is no difference between these zealots and religious ones. This prudish, couch-fainting reaction to anything slightly unpleasant from someone’s past, however inconsequential. Either they are the embodiment of a perfect record, not old enough to have ever offended anyone significantly, or they are just as susceptible to the same type of attack (likely to come from their midst at some point).

All that said – the far left created this cannibalistic “monster”.

I’ve come across gloating on TYT about people losing their jobs over tweets (not necessarily from Cenk Uygur; I can’t recall), and this is very common in the progressive camp. This isn’t the same as he was volunteering there; however in terms of one’s reputation being tainted, it’s comparable.

What the Justice Democrats did was to apply what they understood as one their immutable principles (thoughtless condemnation and banishing of other people).

 

 

The Wankery Of Guaranteed Divine Protection

It’s quite funny when one mostly has atheist or agnostic pages in their FB news feed, yet somehow gets Christian propaganda every few days. Some groups actually target non-believers.

One recent example was an inspirational tale of how a young woman was nearly mugged on a back alley one night, the only thing keeping her safe being the two angels walking beside her.

It goes like this: when walking home on a dark street to take a shortcut, a young Christian woman saw a man in a doorway and immediately prayed for safety. He left her alone, but went on to mug someone else passing by, whose guardian angels must’ve been sleeping on the job. Oddly enough, the lucky girl heard about it the next day and went to the police to see if she could help identify the thug. As soon as she pointed him out, the thug confessed and told the story of her having had “two tall men by her side”.

Of course no location or names were present in the story; that might lead a person or two to try to verify it. Though such an outlandish story would need chances of verification in order to not be dismissed straight away.Apparently, the mugger was able to see angels (an extraordinary ability not many hardcore Christians have).

And of course it’s rather odd that being pointed out by the one he’d actually mugged was not enough for him to confess. She was the first to go to the police and give details, accurately enough for him to be found and taken into custody. But the climax (his confession) only occurred when the second one turned up. Not to mention the second one (angel girl) had no proof this had been the same person who had mugged the actual victim.

So basically, a guy who mugs women and doesn’t give a shit about the victim identifying him suddenly confesses when recognised by someone who has no proof of any wrongdoing on his part (who just passed him by in the street the same night). Makes sense, right?

But let’s indulge the story for a second. Even so, it would be no proof of the mugger actually seeing a couple of angels. Perhaps he was stealing to feed his drug habit; who knows what he was on and what else he might’ve seen besides the “two tall men” who weren’t actually there.

As a disclaimer, I’m not saying I don’t believe in apparitions; they are common throughout the world, yet equally enigmatic. I don’t, however, believe spirits can be brought into manifestation at the drop of a hat, by simply wishing for it. And I don’t believe in guardian angels who presumably allow all kinds of atrocities against innocent people daily, yet are credited for intervening sometimes.

The moral of the story might be either one of these:

  • Putting oneself in risky situations is fine provided you ask for protection from your guardian angels;
  • The victim of the mugging didn’t have God on her side;
  • We should thank God when others are harmed instead of us;
  • God loves people so much he lets anything happen to those who aren’t smart enough to pray to him in real time;
  • Angels are protection mechanisms needing activation (unless you ask them for help in real time they remain dormant or stand by and watch).

I wonder then why people are turned into martyrs for Jesus across the planet. Presumably they pray for safety as well, but the “two tall men” never show up.

The Law Of Attraction – Not An Absolute

For many years now, this law has been predicated as the key to ultimate success – attracting positive elements into one’s life by visualising them or reaching certain levels of inner peace.

To an extent, it’s verifiable, as is the reverse – pessimism is likely to keep attracting the negative, perhaps because an individual is unwilling to take steps in the other direction. However, there are limits to this theory, as there are limits to the idea that one chooses which body to incarnate into, which I don’t find particularly plausible.

There are methods of improving one’s chances which apply to anyone anywhere, yet they’re mostly related to physical care or skill development.

Hope also seems to help people stay alive; however, it doesn’t guarantee survival when greater forces are at play, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee the accomplishment of a person’s highest aspirations. There’s a theorising of hope going on at the moment, with systems of rules being developed and paces one must presumably go through in order to successfully apply it. It’s a coping mechanism and raw human emotion, not  an up-the-ladder strategy which is subject to regulation.

  1. This “thriving theory” is aimed at people with a pre-existing level of comfort. A level of subsistence (at a minimum) is necessary.

Whenever I hear a seemingly uplifting video on how life can be turned around through sheer attitude, I can’t help but think of all those who are stuck in famine-stricken countries or otherwise desperate situations they cannot change. I doubt a copy of “The Secret” would make a difference in their lives when they are struggling to subsist. Wishing on it will not fix a draught or a corrupt political regime.

Hence I conclude the theory is addressed to those who are doing well enough in terms of survival, but not well enough compared to their aspirations.

I hear people in conferences, in well-ventilated venues, going on about how each individual should live in order to achieve their full potential. How most people “are doing it wrong”. And I can’t help but think of those in a mud hut or a tent in a refugee camp, unable to access the “life-saving” advice on “how not to do it wrong anymore”.

This cannot be a universal principle if it doesn’t apply to every single person. If “the universe wants you to thrive and it’s all up to you”, why are so many trapped in hopeless situations?

2.An individual is, sometimes, not able to subtract him/herself from the conditions of a community.

Connected to the point above – we often hear that “it’s up to the individual to improve their chances in life through their attitude”. This certainly doesn’t apply to those living under genuine oppression, extreme danger, in war zones etc. An individual can only do so much but cannot help the impact of their environment, not even to the point of guaranteeing personal safety, let alone thriving. It certainly cannot be said they attract negative things into their lives when those things are common occurrences around them.

3.Hazards are a real issue.

There are, according to some theories, children “choosing to incarnate” into bodies which die before birth, during birth for lack of medical attention, or shortly after, when bombs happen to strike their houses. The only spiritual explanation would be the one religion is trying to forge – “God’s will, God knows what he’s doing”.

Whilst the real explanation is that some fuckers gave the orders for the bombs to be dropped. Are those people a part of God’s plan? I don’t think so. They make their own decisions. They could always decide differently.  If “the supreme creator” gives everyone free will, those bastards upon whom hundreds or thousands of lives depend also have free will. It’s human, not divine action. It happens in real time, not as a part of a “divine plan” “every soul agreed to beforehand”.

The same goes for natural catastrophes – was there a plan “up there” for thousands to incarnate in a certain area just so they could all be struck by the same tsunami? Or was it a random event created by tectonic plates, because this is the kind of planet we happen to be living on?

If this happens at all, it must only happen to some (I can’t dismiss a possibility I can’t invalidate). There are case studies overwhelmingly in favour of reincarnation. But there is nothing to indicate, to my knowledge anyway, that it is voluntary down to details.

4. It implies blaming the victim (of hazard, other people’s actions etc), just as religion does.

Fundamentalist Christians, some of them anyway, are of the conviction that if someone has enough faith, they will be healed of just about anything, and will thrive financially. That is how the “prosperity gospel” operates, church upon church collecting pensioners’ last savings, promising a better future through faith.

In a similar fashion, there are alternative healing methods out there, based on “making peace with life and everyone around you”. There are testimonials from those who claim to have been healed from deadly diseases simply by forgiving everyone who had ever wronged them.

I’m not disputing the role of the psyche in healing the physical body; a positive attitude certainly seems to help.

However, let’s not slide into (and some Christians do) insulting theories about how people who weren’t healed “just didn’t have enough faith”, or alternatively, “were not at peace with life and those around them”. Not everything, and surely not every disease, can be solved in such manners.

In conclusion, this doesn’t seem to work universally, regardless of a person’s conditions. It works for some people sometimes and that’s about it.