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Do you believe in ghosts/ spirits


  

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  1. 1. Do you believe in ghosts/ spirits?

    • Yes, I've had personal experience with them
      2
    • Yes
      5
    • No
      11


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When I was a child, perhaps about three years old, I saw white, transparent 'people' silently moving around the cellar of the old Victorian house I lived in. Since I was at that time not yet familiar with the concept of ghosts, I was not frightened of them, and what most impressed me about them was the puffed up, blocky appearance of their shoulders, possibly because they were wearing old-fashioned clothing. I asked my mother who those 'square people' living in the cellar were, and since she explained that there were no other people living in our house except our family, I simply let the matter drop, as children often do when adults correct them. I did, however, spend a lot of time working out my feelings about this conflict between what I 'knew' I had seen and what my mother said, and I expressed this by filling many pieces of paper with illustrations of the 'square people.'

 

When my father died last year I inherited all the contents of our old house and found among them the very large number of drawings I had made so long ago of the 'square people,' confirming at least that my sense of having perceived something like that had once occurred, albeit not that such things existed outside my perception or corresponded to what popular mythology thinks of as the souls of the dead.

This is such a fascinating story because you don't seem like the type of person who wouldn't be able to explain away their own childhood perception in terms of psychological phenomena. Do you remember if there were some media sources that portrayed victorian-style houses with people dressed the way your 'ghosts' were? If so, that might explain your imagination choosing to associate the two images.

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Our senses are flawed to an extent. That's why we try to use devices to measure for us. A good example:  

Is Klaynos a Puppet ? Klaynos , maybe you could take the time to read what is here ! You have defragmented a conversation that is totally relevant to the original posters questioning . These questions

i see the rules can be bent? just like time and space?

Lemur: Since those events happened so long ago, I can't rule out the possibility that there was some media input into my experience which prepared me to imagine what I thought I saw. Though I do remember quite distinctly that the experience did not frighten me and that I assumed that these entities were just an odd sort of normal people; also, the dismissive reaction of my mother to the story is further indication of the matter-of-fact way I asked her about the 'other people' living in the cellar. If I had imagined these people on the basis of some media presentation of ghosts, however, I'm sure I would also have associated the experience with terror and panicked over the image, as the media presentation no doubt would have induced me to respond. My calmness about the whole event suggests that I was simply not yet old enough to have been enculturated into the proper response to seeing such things, or thinking I saw such things.

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My point is , if a person or two people then ' see ' something undefined , is that proof of something happening ?

It may be proof that something happened, but not necessarily what they though was happening. As you said, it is "something undefined", so this could just be two people pulling a prank, a glimpse of someone who then moved off not even aware that they had caused a problem, pareidolia (seeing faces in inanimate objects - there is a whole suit of optical illusions that use this effect, it is well known and well documented), and many other explanations too.

 

Just because something "undefined" occurred, does not mean it is supernatural.

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Since it is a basic methodological assumption of the scientific worldview that there is nothing which is supernatural, but only things which have not yet received a natural explanation, you could say that no amount of evidence can ever establish the existence of the supernatural, simply because our methodology will not allow the evidence to count in this way. But are we just being like the Catholic Church in its response to Galileo in this resolve, since just as they said that no empirical evidence can ever establish that Church doctrine is wrong, so too we now say that no empirical evidence can ever count to establish that something supernatural is real?

 

How much intersubjective evidence is necessary to establish that something is real? If a thousand people see something which cannot be explained according to our established paradigms of scientific explanation, should we simply define them as all suffering from a 'mass delusion' or 'crowd hysteria,' or should we tentatively accept the empirical reality of what they are testifying to having seen? The old phlogiston theory in chemistry was sustained for a long time against its opponents by its defenders stubbornly insisting that contradictory evidence had been inaccurately detected or measured.

 

At the Battle of Mons in 1914, soldiers in both opposing armies, who could not communicate with each other to agree on a common fabrication, reported to their commanders that they had seen angels in the sky over the battlefield. Was this just a case of panicked men interpreting the same natural optical illusion in the same way, or should we take it as evidence against the universality of our existing paradigms of explanation? This is always ultimately a judgment call, which has been the subject of extensive investigation ever since Thomas Kuhn's 'Structure of Scientific Revolutions.'

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If ghosts were characterised scientifically would they be supernatural? I'd say no they wouldn't be, but we'd just be arguing over words and meanings which detracts from the real issue. It's unimportant what you call things as long as the evidence agrees with predictions.

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(...)

At the Battle of Mons in 1914, soldiers in both opposing armies, who could not communicate with each other to agree on a common fabrication, reported to their commanders that they had seen angels in the sky over the battlefield. (...)

 

There is a wiki entry that explains it is a hoax. And I see no mention of the german story.

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I have also seen an account of the 'Angels of Mons' which claims that it was the invention of an English newspaper writer, and another which said that it was a deliberate illusion created by German planes projecting film images against clouds to distract or terrify the English soldiers. But the specifics of that story are not essential to my point, since there have been many other instances where large groups of people have asserted that something miraculous happened before their eyes, so we do have some intersubjective evidence of phenomena that don't fit into the currently accepted paradigms of explanation -- or at least not prima facie, without some further investigation. Thus the well-documented report, before 10,000 witnesses in the Roman Colosseum, that Emperor Commodous flew over the stadium, was no doubt some elaborate stage trick, since the stadium was shaded along the rim by an elaborate system of screens and ropes manned by sailors, in which some mechanism for appearing to make someone fly might have hidden, so in that case it is easy to suspect how this apparent miracle can be woven back into the fabric of belief.

 

Ordinary science operates by strongly preferring to weave new data back into the existing forms of explanation, but it also has to be willing to open up those explanatory paradigms when something new appears or is figured out, even if it radically upsets large tracts of accepted theory structure. E.g., the challenges by Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Lavoisier, Einstein, Bohr, and others were only accepted after considerable resistance since they made as little sense according to the accepted theory structures as ghosts do now. In contrast, very serious experiments circa 1800 to break up storm clouds by firing cannons seemed peculiar and were rightly laughed at.

 

Calling ghosts 'supernatural' seems mistaken, since it presupposes that the odd phenomena which have been perceived by many people under that name are definitely non-mechanical or beyond all physical explanation. But so far as we know, this is not true: they may simply be illusions, some epiphenomenon of known physics, or might require some expansion of existing physics, but still one within the ordinary material worldview.

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Calling ghosts 'supernatural' seems mistaken, since it presupposes that the odd phenomena which have been perceived by many people under that name are definitely non-mechanical or beyond all physical explanation. But so far as we know, this is not true: they may simply be illusions, some epiphenomenon of known physics, or might require some expansion of existing physics, but still one within the ordinary material worldview.

Does "supernatural" imply that something exists beyond the natural mechanics of physicalities or does it imply that there is some "nature" that exists the same as natural physicalities but cannot be known in the same way or through empirical study with physical instruments? I tend to assume that everything physically possible can be explained in terms of empirical science. The exception is the realm of subjectivity, which can be more powerful in terms of what people perceive as empirical than the physicalities that empiricism is attributed to. Subjective phenomena would be the most logical basis for any rational understanding of "the supernatural" imo, thus, but maybe (as you say) that is my bias derived from materialist assumptions that everything works according to the known parameters of science and so everything has to fit with those. Still, if that were the case, what possible reasonable basis would you have to rigorously study things whose very nature is assumed to be "beyond science?"

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Since it is a basic methodological assumption of the scientific worldview that there is nothing which is supernatural, but only things which have not yet received a natural explanation, you could say that no amount of evidence can ever establish the existence of the supernatural, simply because our methodology will not allow the evidence to count in this way. But are we just being like the Catholic Church in its response to Galileo in this resolve, since just as they said that no empirical evidence can ever establish that Church doctrine is wrong, so too we now say that no empirical evidence can ever count to establish that something supernatural is real?

Of course, if something is show to be real, then it would no longer be called supernatural. It is redefined to become natural, rather than supernatural.

 

So evidecne could be gathered that would prove the existence of something we currently call supernatural. It would then cease to be supernatural and become natural.

 

So it is not the case that "no amount of evidence can ever establish the existence of the supernatural", but that once proven to exist, it is no longer called supernatural.

 

How much intersubjective evidence is necessary to establish that something is real? If a thousand people see something which cannot be explained according to our established paradigms of scientific explanation, should we simply define them as all suffering from a 'mass delusion' or 'crowd hysteria,' or should we tentatively accept the empirical reality of what they are testifying to having seen? The old phlogiston theory in chemistry was sustained for a long time against its opponents by its defenders stubbornly insisting that contradictory evidence had been inaccurately detected or measured.

The plural of anecdote is not evidence. Scientific evidence has to pass a set of criteria (one of which is repeatability). This is why anecdotes are not evidence.

 

Now, if a Ghost can up and said, each time you call my name out, I'll appear beside you no matter what the circumstance. Then this could be used as evidence as it is repeatable and can be subject to verification (like that you haven't got a hidden projector, or such nearby). It would allow experimenters to test things out and to try and disprove the phenomena (an important part of scientific experimentation).

 

This would not calling the person making these claims is faking it, but to prove that they aren't (or deluded, or whatever). If the phenomena is real, then no amount of disproof can disprove it. But if it is faked, then a single bit of evidence that proves that it is not true means that it is not true.

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It's interesting to consider that the challenges to ordinary scientific theory presented by relativity theory, the wave-particle duality of light, and quantum mechanics were actually more startling and revolutionary than the mere proof of the existence of ghosts might prove to be, yet people turned out to be willing to accept the former incongruities but would be much more reluctant to accept ghosts. I wonder if scientists themselves have a prejudice against accepting novelties requiring a deformation of established explanatory paradigms which have already been claimed by superstition, religion, or mysticism as their own property, as opposed to those which are untainted by 'anti-scientific' endorsement?

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