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Philosophy, Science, and the Unexplained

Discussion in 'General Freewheeling Chit-Chat' started by Usual Suspect, Oct 27, 2013.



  1. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Your point is well taken, but there are subtle yet important issues to consider. It's a bit involved but I would encourage you to follow me here: The first is that the question about Keppler 442b is a loaded question because it assumes that there are traffic lights there, whereas the question about UFOs asks if UFOs have been observed by humans, which isn't the same as stating they exist. The other issue is one of proof. Proof is evidence that is sufficient for someone to believe a claim is true. Some people require more or less evidence, or evidence of a different kind than what you require. So proof is subjective, not objective. It is based on belief.

    But still, if we go with empirical evidence, which is evidence that is gained via the senses, there is so much of it that many people, including myself, consider it to be sufficient proof. The evidence that isn't sufficient, is valid scientifically verifiable material evidence, which is moving the goalposts way down the field. Certainly valid scientifically verifiable evidence has been presented, e.g. the Battelle Memorial Institute statistical study of Blue Book case reports, but those don't include sufficient material evidence. So we've gotten the ball down to the 10 yard line, but that's still not enough to qualify as a win for some people. OK Fair enough.

    But now let's suppose we make it all the way to the touchdown. There would still be those who remain unconvinced. They'd say the game was rigged or the evidence was tampered with, or come-up with some reason or another to refuse to accept that the evidence qualified as proof. There are also still people who think the Earth is flat and we never went to the Moon. Is that reasonable? That depends on who you ask. So the question of proof really boils down to the question of reasonableness. Is the amount of evidence sufficient for a reasonable person to agree that it qualifies as proof? Personally I think the answer is "Yes".

    I base my answer on the firsthand accounts of many witnesses and our scientific understanding of how the physical stimulus response works. So let's return to your example of the traffic lights on Kepler 442b. Assuming that there is such a place, and many thousands of people had gone there, and many thousands reported back that there were indeed traffic lights there, and that furthermore they appeared to be red, yellow and green, would it be reasonable not to believe them unless they brought one back with them? I'd say most people would consider the claim to be reasonable without actually having the physical lights.

    But even if lights were brought back, there would still be skeptics who would claim the lights never came from Keppler 442b, and would find some traffics lights here on Earth that looked very similar to use as evidence that the lights brought back were in-fact mundane lights found everywhere on Earth. OK fine, but let's now assume that you yourself are one of the people who had gone to Keppler 442b and you had observed them with your own eyes? Still not enough evidence to qualify as proof for you? Would that be a reasonable position to take? I would suggest that most people would not think so.

    Nevertheless, we could still suppose that you're one of those skeptics who thinks that even your own personal experience isn't sufficient evidence to be considered reasonable. OK fair enough. Let's arbitrarily dismiss yours as a mirage or deception or a hallucination or whatever. How many more times do we do that before it becomes apparent that continuing to deny the rest is unreasonable? How about a hundred? A thousand? At what point do we stop telling ourselves that it is reasonable to think that all these people are lying or misperceiving or hallucinating or being deceived? Remember you've also seen the lights for yourself. Is continued denial still in the land of reasonableness?

    Only you can decide the answer to that question, but it's perfectly clear to me. I'm one of those people who have seen one. Not simply some static object that could be a decoy, but a craft that maneuvered and performed in ways nothing made from within civilization as we know it could. For me that evidence was proof enough, but I've also studied the subject for years. So even if I hadn't also seen one for myself, the evidence provided by others is in IMO still sufficient to consider it reasonable to believe that other people have, even if they cannot prove it to everyone. Therefore the issue has been proven to me from two separate perspectives.


    There might come a day when there is sufficient evidence to disprove alien visitation, but in the meantime, regardless of what I or anyone else believes, there is still only one correct answer, and it is independent of our subjective viewpoints. So agnosticism, from that perspective, remains flawed at its foundation. Add to that, that refusing to recognize that the game is over, despite the fact that there is still time on the clock, amounts to sheer denial. Sure it will be nice when someday we get a craft to put in a museum, but at this point it's a mere technicality. The question has already been answered for those who have had sufficiently convincing firsthand experiences or are reasonable and well informed on the subject.

    This leads to the next obvious question: What now?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  2. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    That's a well-posed question, and I think the answer is 'yes' based on demonstrations of substantial physical weight of craft touching down on the ground (for example, in the case in France where a craft landing on railroad tracks bent them to an extent indicating several tons of pressure on the tracks); of persisting biological effects on vegetation and soils at locations where such craft have been observed to land; of simultaneously obtained radar data during many ufo events; and of cases in which terrestrial military jets have fired upon 'ufo' craft and observed bullets bouncing back rather than penetrating the craft. Note that in all these cases we have not only significant physical data but the confirmation of various pilots, technicians, and ordinary people involved in or witnessing the event.

    This is just a quick summary of types of data that taken together support the objective reality of solid, material, craft of unknown origin visiting earth over the last seven decades. In addition we have the evidence of the capability of such craft to shut down both our SAC missiles and the operational control of our advanced defensive aircraft as in Tehran 1976. In the latter case pilots and navigators of terrestrial military jets pursuing the unknown craft experienced the loss of control of their weapons systems, their communication systems, and their control of their own craft. Not only were these systems disabled; they were also instantly restored as soon as the scrambled terrestrial jets turned away from the ufo. These kinds of hard data demonstrate not only the physical presence and advanced technological capabilities of some of these anomalous crafts but the fact that these ufos have doubtlessly been either piloted or remotely controlled in their intelligent intentional interactions with pursuing terrestrial jets at specific times and places in numerous planetary locations over many decades.
     
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  3. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    I recommend that you read the second edition of Max Velman's Understanding Consciousness cited by @Soupie in the C&P thread today. The link he provides presents a descriptions and reviews of the book's second edition as well as the table of contents and extensive extracts.

    Here's a link to @Soupie's post including the link to the description of Velman's second edition:

    https://www.theparacast.com/fofile:...he-paranormal-part-8.17985/page-2#post-250761
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  4. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    So What Now?

    If you haven't read the post above, it makes a case that it is reasonable to believe that the question of alien visitation has been answered in the affirmative. So what do we do now? I advocate leaving those who refuse to recognize that the game is over sitting in the bleachers so that they can argue technicalities with all the armchair quarterbacks and commentators. Nobody is going to push the ball all the way back up the field to the other end and score with evidence that UFOs don't exist or haven't been here. The best the skeptics can do is debunk this case or that, which is fine. We need that, and people can play or watch that game if that's what they're into, but what about the rest of us?

    It seems the only choice is just to go back to business as usual, but that doesn't work well for the players in the game. They have to keep playing if they want an audience, and this is where it seems that we get a lot of nonsense. The vendors have run out of quality official merchandise so they just begin creating their own, and if it sells, great, create more. Some of it is fine, like obvious fiction with an alien theme, artwork, music, meet-ups, talk shows, and forums. But sometimes things go too far. Players like interest groups and the media start to run on politics and play into their respective markets rather than focusing on playing fair and getting at the truth.

    This situation can be fairly interesting to the serious objective ufologist who for the most part, quietly sits and documents what goes on, but some days, speaking from personal experience, it just seems like another day at the office. Ufology is a fascinating subject, but it needs to move to the next level, and as I put forward on another thread recently, serious ufology needs to mature into the realm of academic study. To do so it needs to dissociate itself from the realm of games and entertainment. It needs to be treated in an objective and historical fashion, where it isn't seen as a science unto itself, but has learned to cooperate with genuine science where and when it is possible.
     
  5. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    ^I can't get the link to S's post to copy for some reason, so you'll need to go to the most recent post in C&P part 8 to read it and obtain the link to the Velmans download.
     
  6. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Thanks for the suggestion. For those who are into contemplating consciousness, Velmans is definitely has more than a few things to say. Personally, I've contemplated Reflexive Monism and I don't see how it could advance my present view. Below is a fairly lengthy video in which he talks about his book:

    Max Velmans On Consciousness


    TIP: The easiest way to link posts ( in MSIE ), is to right click over the post number ( bottom right ) of post, and select "Copy shortcut" from the drop down menu, then past it where you want.

    For Soupie, I presently have him on ignore because I got tired of the innuendo that implied I don't comprehend the content. He and Steve are entitled to their opinions about that, but either way it makes discussion pointless. If I do understand it and they don't think so despite my best efforts to get on the same page, then it's pointless. If I really don't understand it, despite the fact that I seems to think so, and they have no way to make me understand what it is I'm missing ( which they haven't been able to do ), then it's still pointless, and that wouldn't be entirely intolerable, but it started to become personal, and I have no time for that.

    If there is some specific point you would like to focus on about some specific idea, then we can have a meaningful discussion, but I don't maintain a database of philosophical trivia from which to assemble shorthand for discussion. I prefer to deal with specific ideas on the spot, not the players associated with them, and I like to think for myself rather than parrot other people's analysis.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  7. William Strathmann

    William Strathmann Paranormal Adept

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    Wow. There's an idea! :D

    Ya know Murph, I was informed just the other day that my 12,000 word paper, that I'd worked on for about a year and a half, had passed peer review and is scheduled to appear in coming months in a rather obscure theological journal. So from my perspective, yes, I agree with your comment that ufology needs to make a bigger academic splash. I am just wondering if you ever thought of compiling your own Top Ten encounters, rigorously investigated, and written up for an academically published journal, that prove or strongly support your claims. I'd be interested in reading it. Much more than your 7K posts here that are argued at levels, and tones, that probably wouldn't fly that well in a controlled journal.

    Just to clarify: I do think that humans have encountered non-humans who use physical objects in their interactions with humans, and who generally interact with our physics of the Newtonian and Einsteinian (and whoever else needs to be mentioned) kind. But it seems that they are not limited to constraints we humans are limited to. More than that, I don't think there is clear enough evidence to prove anything empirically: neither interstellar ufonauts nor daimons. But if you write a compelling, rigorous essay, then I might be persuaded to modify my views.
     
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  8. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Thanks for the feedback. The Paracast is indeed where I do most of my editorializing and debating. So it's not intended to be up to academic standards. When it comes to academia, the challenges for ufology are different than most other studies because there's not much in the way of academic work to reference, and original thinking isn't always smiled upon in academic papers. Personally I find that a bit ironic because I thought the purpose of academia was intellectual advancement rather than parroting other people. But every field had to get started someplace, so it should still be possible.

    Along those lines I am about halfway through a book that outlines the case for academic ufology, and it isn't so much a field manual, or to prove the existence of ET, as it is on how and why the same standards that apply to other academic fields, like the humanities, social sciences, and arts can be applied to ufology, and how the hard sciences can be applied at arms-length to the field to assure unbiased application. This is a different, and IMO a much more sensible approach than trying to jam ufology ( as a complete field ) into the science box, when most of it simply isn't science, or even suited to science to begin with.
     
  9. William Strathmann

    William Strathmann Paranormal Adept

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    Would you care to give the name of the book? Sounds like it's on the right track.
     
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  10. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    I'm still wrestling with that. I heard one author ( maybe Hanks ) say that he had to have the word UFO in big letters on the front or the publisher wouldn't print the book, and I saw someone else comment on how spell-checkers often leave ufology out of their database, auto correcting it to "urology" ... lol. The current title is stuffy and boring so I'm not going to throw it out there just yet. Any suggestions?

    Here's some tips: How to Title a Book: Making Titles that Sell


    So going with that we might start with something like: "Blondes, UFOs & How To Get Both of Their Attention"
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  11. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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  12. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Natural vs. Supernatural in Ufology

    Excellent. Now we're starting to overlap in terms of reasoning. We can only answer a question if we know what is meant by the question, and that's where defining the terms comes in ( standard critical thinking approach ). As you can imagine I've already reflected on this at some length, and there's a thread here on the forum in the distant past someplace, but it probably doesn't hurt to bring it up again. So to reconstruct the line of reasoning, you've come up with one definition ( above ) and if we look in Encarta we find:

    su·per·nat·u·ral

    adjective

    1. not of natural world: relating or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws
    2. relating to a deity: relating or attributed to a deity
    3. magical: relating or attributed to magic or the occult


    noun
    1. supernatural things: supernatural beings or phenomena
    2. world of supernatural things: the realm of supernatural beings or phenomena

    If we do some more cross referencing we find The Oxford English Dictionary defines it this way:

    supernatural

    Belonging to a realm or system that transcends nature, as that of divine, magical, or ghostly beings; attributed to or thought to reveal some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature; occult, paranormal.
    NOTE: Several other cross references result in the same sort of definition, but for economy we'll be using the above as our baseline. So we now have 3 authoritative and objective versions from which to work.

    Now we have one set of goalposts. But what about the other? If we're talking about super-natural, the logical inference is that we also need to know what we mean by "natural". Coincidentally, or otherwise I've been reflecting on this issue in some depth outside the context of the unexplained, and it can get quite murky. However as I often say, "Context is everything", so we're not dealing with just any sort of definition.


    What we're doing is attempting to find something that is diametrically in opposition to the supernatural. We tend to have a vague intuition about it that tells us that it means something responsible for the workings of the universe, and among the various entries in The Oxford English Disctionary we find:

    Nature

    a. The phenomena of the physical world collectively; esp. plants, animals, and other features and products of the earth itself, as opposed to humans and human creations.
    b. In wider sense: the whole natural world, including human beings; the cosmos.

    Encarta puts it this way:

    Nature
    physical world: the physical world including all natural phenomena and living things​

    Given the above, when we put what we're talking about into it's widest context everything that exists can be said to be in some respect "natural" by virtue of it being part of the cosmos on the grandest scale.

    Cosmos

    1. PHILOSOPHY, COSMOLOGY whole universe: the universe thought of as an ordered and integrated whole. - Encarta

    Logically this would make the word "supernatural" either redundant or impossible by virtue of it either existing as part of nature or not existing because if it existed it would be part of the universe as a whole and therefore non-supernatural by definition. In this context current scientific understanding is not relevant as it is assumed that the physical workings of seemingly supernatural phenomena can be explained given the knowledge to do so. You alluded to this above and it makes perfect sense, otherwise entanglement of particles is supernatural, everything now taken for granted but not understood by those in the past would be supernatural, etc.

    How this distills down is: So what if cargo cults see airplanes as supernatural? That doesn't make airplanes supernatural. That sort of thinking is "divine, ghostly, magical" and as such is psychological in nature as opposed to objective. Things are only divine because we deify them in our minds. They're magical because we impart the idea of transcendence to it, but objectively, all that is being transcended is our understanding, not the universe itself. Once we have this clear in our minds, the answer to the initial question becomes immediately apparent:

    Yes. UFOs can be seen as supernatural by those who choose to use magical cargo-cult type thinking to elevate them into a mythical realm beyond nature. However that in no makes UFOs supernatural in any objective sense.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017 at 12:47 AM
  13. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Why Afterlives Are Impossible

    In several places scattered throughout The Paracast forum we've touched on the idea of afterlives, and during the exchanges I was involved in, it became increasingly clear that afterlives as they are commonly interpreted must be impossible. Consequently, while participating in the forum since then, there were a number of times I've made the point that afterlives are impossible, and that has evoked criticism that hasn't always been pleasant. Recently the issue surfaced again along with the usual offhanded criticism. But one forum poster @Jimi was keen enough to ask the key question seen above. Why are afterlives impossible?

    The reason why afterlives are impossible is a consequence of
    deductive reasoning based on what is typically meant by an afterlife as examined in the context of what is and isn't logically possible. It gets a bit complex, and as @Christopher O'Brien stated on a recent episode of After The Paracast, the claim is a rather big "meat cleaver" type statement. Perhaps that's why it's so hard for some people to accept, but let me put it this way: If there is an tool analogous to a meat cleaver that is capable of separating the possible from the impossible, it is the ability of human intellect to examine complex problems through the lens of critical thinking.

    What Do We Mean By Afterlives

    Before we can answer any question about afterlives we need a solid understanding of what we mean by the idea. Otherwise the goalposts will tend to shift in the sand according to biases and our path to the conclusion will diverge into footprints leading aimlessly through a desert of correspondingly shifting paradigms, all of which are illusion. Sometimes I think believers prefer to be the ones to wander aimlessly through that desert because to them it makes it seem that everyone's view is as good as the next, and somehow that situation imparts validity to their beliefs. Unfortunately that's not the case. This subject can be distilled down to expose the raw truth. So let's get to it.

    The common assumption about afterlives is that there is some unseen realm where people go on living after they die in this one. This is so obvious that it really shouldn't need to be stated, but in order to be clear it must be emphasized, and that's because sometimes people try to reinforce their belief in afterlives by saying that's not what they mean, even though they claim to have been in contact with such individuals in such a realm. Unfortunately for them, making the claim that someone is in contact with their dear departed grandmother on the other side is exactly the same as making the claim that there is some unseen realm where people go on living after they die in this one.

    Anything other than the interpretation above isn't actually dealing with the concept of an afterlife. It's dealing with something else, e.g. some sort of psychological or environmental phenomenon. So let's be clear here. The idea of an afterlife is in no uncertain terms the idea that there is some unseen realm where people go on living after they die in this one. If that wasn't the case then there would be no belief that people would be "reunited in an afterlife" because whatever they'd be reuniting with would not be the person they lost. So, logically, afterlives have to be defined this way in order for them to exist. There's no room for fudging.

    Person's & Identities

    Okay, so if we are to believe that there is some unseen realm where persons go on living after they die in this one, the next thing we need to do is pin down what we mean by a person. We all tend to think we know exactly what we're talking about when we think of people we are familiar with. Therefore most would feel well qualified to recognize their dear departed on the other end of a phone call from the dead. But is that really the case? What is really happening there is a leap in logic. No person has presented themselves. All that is experienced is some sort of sound that resembles the voice of a person who has died. Are persons voices? No. A person is much much more.

    Apart from personality profiles, virtually everything that identifies us as who we are is a physical trait of some kind, like height, hair color, fingerprints, DNA etc. Even those who report seeing ghosts of their dear departed recognize them because of their appearance, and normally this would be a good reason to believe that they were in-fact the person who they appear to be. There's just one small problem. It can't be because the person they were died and their body is now ashes in an urn in the family crypt.

    One could argue that perhaps they were given a new body on the other side. However what that amounts to is only a copy, not the original. Would you be happy if someone killed your spouse and replaced them with a copy? Perhaps some ungrateful husbands in Stepford Connecticut might be, but either way, the copy is no longer the original, and therefore there is no continuity of personhood for the original. Worse yet, these ghost copies are rarely very good copies, lasting only short periods of time and being very ethereal in nature.

    Of Spirits & Consciousness

    When it becomes obvious that at best, the physical aspects of personhood after death can only amount to a rather poor copy rather than the real thing, believers will shift their focus to the idea of some sort of spirit or consciousness as adequate representation for personhood, but these concepts ultimately have the same demise. It is well established by neuroscience that biology is a major component of personality. For example various regions of the brain correspond to different personality traits and mental capacity. Without a functioning brain we're no longer considered to be alive, even if the rest of our body is working.

    So in an afterlife, what stands in for our brain and body and all the physical biochemistry that goes into the formation of our living personality? Again, even if there is something in that realm that has replicated the workings of the deceased's brain, once again we're still dealing with a copy of some sort rather than the authentic person who has died.

    Summary

    What the term "afterlives" means can only be reasonably interpreted as people living in some other realm after they die in this one. At best that can only be made superficially possible by some mechanism ( natural or otherwise ) capable of recreating a person in the afterlife who is indistinguishable from the original. But no matter how perfect that copy is, it will never be the same person who died. It can only be a copy. The copy might even believe it is the original. But it can't be, because the original died and left all her Earthly possessions to her pet cat. Everlasting life is only possible if one never actually dies ( at all period ). Ghostly copies simply don't count, and therefore it appears to be the case that afterlives are impossible.

    _____________________________________________________

    This has been a brief recap of why afterlives are impossible. There are other more deeper reflections on the whole subject that can be addressed here if anyone is interested in further discussion. It would be great if someone can come up with a good enough reason to discard the reasoning here in favor of a real possibility for an afterlife. Many have tried. None have succeeded.


    Lastly: the ATP that we broached this subject on is IMO one of the best we've had. It includes Chris, @spacebrother ( Greg Bishop ), and myself. I wish we'd had another hour or two, but you can find it here if you're an ATP member: https://www.theparacast.com/forum/resources/after-the-paracast-september-17-2017.343/
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017 at 4:30 PM
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  14. Jimi

    Jimi Paranormal Maven

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    Many thanks for the post Randall.

    Some very interesting points, I am wrestling with this topic in my mind without having reached a firm conclusion either way!

    I will be sure to listen to the AP episode again.
     
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  15. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    No problem Jimi. It is a deep question that takes us to the core of our beliefs about our lives. Please feel free to post any further thoughts or questions. Chances are good that I've covered the same ground at some point and can maybe add some perspective ( or maybe vica versa ) . I'd really like to think we go on after dying in this realm, so if you come up with a solution please share!
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017 at 3:55 PM
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