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Cynics,paranormal evidence
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Written by Tony Hart-Wilden   
Wednesday, 28 December 2005
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Cynics,paranormal evidence
Page 2
Closed Minds


Closed minded sceptics and cynics may claim they formed their opinions without being subjective or biased, but this is rarely the case. This is directed at those that chose not to believe whatever evidence of the paranormal may be presented to them. And disbelief without question is equally as biased as belief without question 


Top 12 arguments cynics use
 

1) There is no scienCynicstific evidence

2) It can't be measured scientifically

3) If you can duplicate it, it's fake

4) Eyewitness testimony is invalid

5) I only believe things I have seen with my own eyes

6) I never take peoples word as evidence

7) I don't accept hearsay

8) Disinformation

9) Occams Razor principal

10) Stacking the odds

11) Why isn't there more evidence?

12) There's is no evidence


1)There is no scientific evidence

Here is a definition of the words science and scientist. Nowhere does it mention you must have a PhD, work in a laboratory, wear a white coat or be more intelligent then any other member of the population.

Science

"The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment".

Scientist

"A person learned in science, a scientific investigator".

Cynics always claim that science and therefore they are always right, but here are a just a few examples of science being wrong.

"For 40 years scientists in England were fooled into thinking that a missing link in the evolutionary scale had been discovered, they named it Piltdown man. However Piltdown man actually turned out to be a hoax in which the jawbone of an ape, had been stuck to that of a human skull.

In 1983 Astronomer Dr Carl Sagen calculated that a nuclear war would cause a nuclear winter with the fallout causing a temperature drop that could end civilisation. In 1990 he later wrote a retraction that due to overlooking several crucial factors he had miscalculated and that the nuclear winter would only have reduced temperate climate by at most 36F.

Research Scientists claimed the drug Thalidomide was safe to prescribe as a sleeping aid for pregnant women but it actually caused over 12,000 severe birth defects, and 4,000 premature deaths.

In 1986 during a test of a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl Russian scientists used only 8 carbide rods instead of the required 15 to control the fusion rate. In the resulting explosion over 4,000 people died and almost 70,000 were injured.

In 1999 the $125,000,000 Mars Orbitor disintegrated, Nasa scientists had calculated its descent in metric newtons, but the engineers of Lockheed martin had engineered the craft in the English units of poundals". Science is clearly not always a "self correcting system of understanding" as is so often claimed.

Another definition of science is that it attempts to create a standardised set of re creatable experiments to prove a theory as fact. But does that mean that that while these experiments are being formulated and tested that the people that perform them are not scientists until the theories are proven ? What if these theories are never proven, or the variables are such that they can never be standardised does this mean that it isn't science because its contrary to its definition . But these are the same allegations that are often levelled at those that are researching the paranormal.

There is a condition referred to as an "experimenter effect", this is when a scientist or researcher expects a specific result due to their own bias, and therefore unconsciously (or consciously) manipulates and interprets the results of an experiment to suit that of their own beliefs.

Debunkers and cynics are not always neutral testers they are often people with ridgid , often inflexible opinions, and these opinions simply invalidate their test results, no matter what they may claim to the contrary. Scientists are members of the general public just like everyone else, and like everyone else they can be influenced by what is a social bias against the paranormal. It is the same bias that is the reason that many would not choose to investigate the Loch Ness Monster, or Big Foot, as even to be associated with the subject invites ridicule from the general public and more importantly their colleagues.

Gravity has never been photographed, or witnessed by anyone, does that mean it doesn't exist. If someone is found murdered do we need to see who did it to know there was a murderer? Cynics are always looking for a way to continually "raise the bar" to make a logical and tested response to their accusations impossible.

The cynics continual reference to the 1979 Project Alpha hoax , doesn't mean that all tests to determine psychic ability are flawed just that particular one, but this is the implication . This was over 25 years ago, research and testing methods have progressed, but not the cynics arguement that this single incident is reflective of all psychic testing that has taken place since.

Such claims that ultrasound, sleep paralysis, or hallucinations, can explain every or even the majority of paranormal occurrences simply are not correct, because there are such an infinite number of varients . Just in the same way that one medicine, may treat a specific disease, it never works under all conditions, on all patients. Proof of paranormal phenomana doesn't require that their be multiple examples of evidence, just one.

If the primary basis of your argument against the paranormal is that there is no scientific evidence for its existence, your using a validation that is clearly not infallible, and therefore neither is your argument.

The standard “paranormal research is pseudoscience” accusations by skeptics, is based on principles that are flawed. The definition of pseudoscience is a “theory, methodology, or practice that is considered to be without scientific foundation”. But in regard to the paranormal how can these methodologies be judged when the vast majority of scientists refuse to study them. Being a scientific expert in one field does not automatically make you an expert in all scientific fields.

 

Why would a Professor with a PHD in Astronomy be more knowledgeable of the paranormal if they never studied it, as opposed to an investigator that has been doing their own research for a lifetime?

Scientists can, and have faked data. So why should we always believe that their evidence is always truthfull or accurate but those that believe in the paranormal isn't. Don't forget that scientific research is often dependant on grants, and that scientists have to produce results in order for those grants to continue.

"1996: Shrink Copies Shrink

Scientific fraud makes headlines in Holland, when popular psychologist René Diekstra (Leiden University) is accused of plagiarism. Diekstra is said to have copied entire pages from other researchers % and even from himself. Oddly, Diekstra also copied autobiographical details from others. Diekstra is suspended and loses most of his freelance assignments.

1997: German Scam

Germany is shocked to learn that two prominent cancer researchers, Marion Brach and Friedhelm Herrmann, have been concocting research results for years. In perhaps the biggest scientific fraud scandal in Europe to date, the two researchers are accused of faking data in at least 12 publications.

2000: Caught In The Act

Japan's most respected archaeologist, Shinichi Fujimora, is caught on film while reburying ancient stone tools he had earlier uncovered. Fujimora is fired, and Japanese history books are suddenly outdated.

2002: No 118

California's prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory woefully admits that one of its scientists has fabricated the discovery of two new chemical elements: elements 118 and 116. The researcher, Victor Ninov, is fired. The embarrassing stain remains, however. How could a sole researcher fake the discovery of something so massively important as two new elements? (MK)"

There are of course scientists that do believe in the paranormal such as Cambridge-based Nobel prize winner Professor Brian Josephson, and J.B Rhine P.H.D founder of the Rhine Institute, so the blanket claims that sceptics make that you can't be a scientist and believe in the paranormal are incorrect. According to recent polls about 40% of scientists believe in God, which is a belief that has far less supporting evidence then anything paranormal.

Probably the foremost critic of the paranormal is James Randi who is not a scientist at all but a magician. Sceptics who are the first to point fingers at anyone else that doesn't have a scientific background when it comes to making claims about the paranormal are quite happy to allow him to be their "skeptic figurehead".

There are of course scientists that do believe in the paranormal such as Cambridge-based Nobel Prize winner Professor Brian Josephson, and J.B Rhine P.H.D founder of the Rhine Institute, so the blanket claims that skeptics make that you can't be a scientist and believe in the paranormal are incorrect. In this instance the skeptics “critical thinking” is not based on these scientists research and their adherence to scientific principles but because their beliefs are different to those of the skeptics. This is just “pseudo skepticism”.

2) It cant be measured scientifically

The first crude thermometer was not invented until the 16th century, Energy could not be measured until the late 20th century. Does that mean that prior to that temperature and energy didn't exist. The only reason that paranormal phenomena can't be measured could be that there simply isn't the ability to do so at this time. The universe is believed to be composed of over 90 % Dark matter. It is something which cannot be observed directly, be photographed or recreated in laboratory conditions by anyone including scientists, but they believe that it exists. But the majority of these same scientists would refuse to apply these same criteria to establish proof of the paranormal. No matter how advanced we may believe our science is today, in 500 years time it will be considered primitive. The fact that after many years of serious research into a particular phenomena, that there may still be no definitive proof, is not a criteria to say that there never will be. Science itself demonstrates that this is not the case.

3) If you can duplicate it, its fake

One of the major arguments used against the existence of the paranormal is that if something can be duplicated it's fake. Does that mean if someone takes a picture of a bird sitting in a tree, and then someone else takes a picture of the same bird and tree separately, then uses Photoshop to recreate the picture that this makes the original fake. In reality the recreation is actually the fake. What if a car manufacturer designs a prototype then decides to put it into production, does the fact that there are thousands of exact duplicates of the original make the prototype fake ?

The argument that if something can be duplicated then it's fake although one of the most often used can actually one of the weakest. Duplication is not the same as analysis.

 4) Eyewitness testimony is invalid

If you were to constantly evaluate eye witness testimony and verify its accuracy you would in fact find it is consistently valid. While someone's degree of recollection may diminish when required to recall something extremely detailed, this degree of accuracy is very rarely applicable in regard to an event of a paranormal nature.

Cynics will often point to examples of discrepancies in eyewitness testimony that revolve around criminal investigations, and compare them to the testimony of those that have claimed to have witnessed something paranormal. But any conflicting details that while critical in a criminal investigation are often not in a paranormal one. If you saw a ghost you don't have to remember the colour of its eyes, how tall it was, or what it was wearing, you just have to know if it vanished in front of you, was transparent or appeared to walk through a wall. If two people in a murder investigation witnesses someone being shot a few feet away, you rarely hear about a conflict between them as to if they saw they the murderer shoot the person. The discrepancies if they occur, will be about the description of the person that did it. It's just another example of how a cynic will compare one example with another one although it's completely irrelevant, and present it as a supposedly definitive response.


Remembering if you witnessed something that was extremely unusual or out of the ordinary is always going to be easier then trying to remember or describe a trivial everyday event or experience. Which could you remember more, seeing a person in front of you suddenly vanish, or someone that simply walked out of view. Would you be more likely to remember a cylindrical glowing object in the sky that moved at abnormally high speed, or a passing passenger jet. If you have ever practiced any mparanormal scepticsemorisation techniques that help you to remember things by associating them with something else, it is always suggested that the association item is something bizarre or out of the ordinary, never an everyday event or item.

And why do cynics always assume that they are in a better to position to judge what someone else saw then the person that actually saw it just because it may concern the paranormal. One person didnt see it, didn't witness the exact conditions it was seen under, and the other one did. If one person watched a T.V programme, and the other didn't who would be in the better position to judge the T.V programme. Just because the setting may change, the laws of logic shouldn't .

Eye witness testimony is valid in a court of law and can be considered a crucial factor even in crimes that are serious enough to warrant the death penalty. But apparently this is not considered sufficient for it to be taken as evidence to determine if ghosts exist or not.

Eyewitness evidence has proved to be reliable from people with a wide variety of vocations, even Winston Churchill stated that he saw an apparation of Abraham Lincoln when he stayed in the Whitehouse. His powers of observation and logic were enough to lead an entire nation into war, but presumably not enough to convince a cynic that he saw a ghost. But sceptics are equally dismissive of the many police or military personal that have witnessed something paranormal, and claim their observational and recollection skills are equally as flawed as everyone else's.

If you look at any of the major police recruitment websites, one of the key criteria for hire, is for the applicant to have observational skills, and they are consistently evaluated on this and their powers of recollection throughout their entire career. As arresting officers their eyewitness testimony is also used in a court of law on a regular basis.

Military personal are also tested and evaluated on their observational skills. Military pilots who have often observed UFOS, are regularly put in high pressure situations where correctly identified a target can literally mean a life or death situation. Just as with any skill, if something is constantly used and evaluated, it reaches a higher level of efficiency then if it isn't.

Ask a cynic on trial for their life, whose eyewitness testimony they would prefer to rely on for their acquittal, a police officer a fighter pilot or the person that stacks the shelves at their local supermarket ?

5) I only believe things I see with my own eyes

Cynics often state that they don't believe something unless they have "seen it with their own eyes". So by implication it means that if someone else witnessed an occurrence but they didn't, they don't believe that person is telling the truth. But If they genuinely believe that then they should uphold that belief at all times, not decide under what circumstances to apply it. What would happen if they returned to their home and a policeman was outside warning them not to go in as there was a ghost in the house ? Presumably they would not believe him. But what would happen if the same policeman said there was a man with a shotgun inside threatening to shoot anyone he sees. Would they go into the house to find out for themselves, as they only believe what they "see with their own eyes" ? Of course they wouldn't go in, and therefore their acceptance of eye witness accounts are in fact subjective which is often the argument used against people with a belief in the paranormal. Once you start deciding that you only abide by the statement "I only believe what I see with my own eyes" under circumstances that you chose, it invalidates the statement.



 
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