superstitious atheist >_<

50


Discussion by: demon
Hi everyone,
i’m Indonesian (from chinese origin) and i think i’m an atheist, i don’t believe in god or deities but i can’t reject the notion that there’s part of me that still can’t deny the existence of supernatural phenomenons (ghost, apparition, supernatural power, haunted places, and so on), and living in this country doesn’t help either. This is a country where corruption is rampant but still pride itself as one of the biggest islamic (and therefore: morally superior) countries…….the irony, the local cops in my city still sometimes use psychic to help them catch criminal, and few years ago one of the country’s minister dreamt about a buried treasure and proposed to make a search team.

Anywho, can someone give me scientific explanation to debunk these supernatural/paranormal thingy for me? you know, being an atheist who still has doubt makes me feel like a hypocrite. Of course so far i haven’t experienced any of the supernatural phenomenon myself, but still, stating disbelief without knowing the scientific reason is like saying “pic or it didn’t happen” ^_^

i’ve heard some stories about a psychic can give you a temporary spell to make you be able to see ghost, my logical mind says “perhaps the fraud fools the poor victim with hallucinogen“, but on the other hand i think “ow, you don’t believe it huh? just wait til you see one and shit your pants off“.

I’ve read some stories about 2001 sampit conflict and how dayak people used their psychic power when head hunting the madurese people, flying daggers, instant death spell, pretty cool if you hear that in videogames, not so much in real life.

And this one, it’s indonesian news about a cave in biak (which used to be used as a fortress by Japanese
soldiers in WW2) and how sometimes tourists got possessed by the spirits of dead japanese soldier. Sounded like a plot for cheesy horror movie, but still…..it’s news.

any opinion appreciated.

D

50 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t worry, atheists are protected from the supernatural by the Darwin Poopee stone that’s currently orbiting Uranus. Just keep repeating this fact to yourself & soon enough it will visit Indonesia and unravel every single strand of magic that’s draping it under a veil of superstition.

  2. Demon,

    I would recommend the book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan. It is one of the best articulations of the scientific method, and arms the reader with a “toolkit” for detecting bogus or fallacious claims.

  3. Hi Demon. I second GentlemanX’s recommendation of Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. In general, it is good to cultivate a skeptical approach to everything, accepting something as true or probable only if evidence and reasoning warrant it.

  4. I think GentlemanX [comment 2] has nailed it. Also go to youtube & watch “James Randi – Secrets of the Psychics Documentary” & some other little gems with Randi ~ for example when he exposes Geller, Popoff, Hydrick, Hubbard, Flynn [long list here]

    By the way ~ it isn’t YOUR job to debunk superstitious belief, the onus is on the other guy to provide proof. Especially if the “other guy [gal]” happens to be yourself sometimes. :)

  5. Hi Demon,
    Welcome, and I third, the recommendation on anything by Carl Sagan especially Science: A Candle in a Demon Haunted World.

    Don’t worry about still feeling superstitious, you can’t turn off feelings and instincts that have been in action for a lifetime, its a process. What you will find as you see how people come to believe these things and you become more likely to question you will get less and less superstitious.

    You asked specifically about police using psychic’s to solve cases. First, before you can judge the success of the psychic’s you need to know if the person is guilty or innocent. If your police are corrupt as you suggest then what guarantee do you have that they haven’t convicted an innocent party? Ask yourself who is telling you about it, if it is the psychic they may be lying.

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence (Carl Sagan).

    As for people hallucinating. We are pattern seeking mammals, our brains are hard-wired to look for patterns in the mess. For example we have millions of rods and cones in our eyes making for far more information than our brain can process at any one time. Your brain looks for patterns to focus on what is important. So in a jungle you need to avoid other predators or other people from other tribes who might mean you harm so we are wired to look for things that look even a little like a tiger or a face if we thing we see something similar we jump and can be convinced we’ve seen a ghost. In nature misreading a situation is a false alarm but better that than not being ready for action on the rare occasion it is a tiger/ enemy.

    Of course we are able to project and imagine things that are not real. I’m an artist and I have cultivated being able to see things to project them forward so I can see how it might look. Dream states can occur sometimes infiltrate your waking hours or if sufficiently prepared hypnosis or some other ritual you can slip into these states.

    Near death experiences seem very real to people who have them and I do not doubt they really experience something, only that they leave their bodies. This remains unproven. Quite a few experiments have been set up, for example items left on the top selves of hospital operating theatres and people claiming to have flown to the top of the room have so far, not ever been able to successfully guess what is up there. Time and again when put to the test psychics fail.

    James Randi has for many years had $1000 000 up for grabs for anyone who can prove scientifically that psychic powers exist. So far again they have failed every time. So I’d strongly challenge any you meet to go get their million dollars if they can.

  6. I understand your hope that debunking some things will allow your mind to rest. I never believed in god either, but certain superstitious beliefs nagged at my brain. The way I put this to rest and gained a kind inner-peace was by being open-minded and accepting truth no matter what the evidence showed. Being open minded means not rejecting evidence.

    As for the two examples you give, there is evidence that people have hysterical responses. There is evidence that people lie. Spreading lies about military strength (psychic powers) is very common. There is no evidence of the supernatural. What you know is people say they were possessed by ghosts. You know people get hysterical. You also know people lie for a variety of reasons. Accept the evidence, the things you know.

    Padre Pio was a Catholic priest whom many witnesses saw flying in the sky over Italy in WWII, shooting down Allied aircraft with energy beams. This was witnessed by scores of people, including top military officials. It never happened. At the time when people claimed this, no one knew Hitler would lose the war, so God giving Padre Pio superpowers to fight on Hitler’s side was not so strange. If Hitler had won the war, this miracle would be celebrated. There is an unlimited supply of these stories, so you could debunk forever. It’s better just to accept the evidence that people can not fly, but they do lie a lot.

    Why do you entertain these ideas at all? If I tell you I am not typing this, but rather I’m using telepathy to control a little bird who dances on the keyboard, you won’t believe me. What if thousands of people make that claim? That’s a logical error called “ad populum”. The number of people that believe something does not matter. Who believes a thing does not matter. We are all equal, and you have every ability to discern what is true.

    As for ghosts, ghosts are impossible. Souls are impossible. This is because metaphysical dualism is logically impossible. This has been known by philosophers for thousands of years. Science has revealed the material basis for consciousness, and there is no soul, nor can there be. That’s the evidence. I’ve seen ghosts, and lots of other things that don’t exist. I have evidence that I was hallucinating (without drugs). I have no evidence ghosts are real. Being open-minded, I accept evidence,

    • In reply to #10 by This Is Not A Meme:

      I understand your hope that debunking some things will allow your mind to rest. I never believed in god either, but certain superstitious beliefs nagged at my brain. The way I put this to rest and gained a kind inner-peace was by being open-minded and accepting truth no matter what the evidence showed. Being open minded means not rejecting evidence.

      All of the super natural is impossible until we understand it. Then it becomes natural because we are natural beings. Super natural occurrences are things unknown until they are known which then become natural occurrences lol. Circular as hell or maybe rectangular idk. But…to debunk that there is no supernatural things I will say I talked to God. Yea that’s right I talked to God. Prove me wrong.

      As for the two examples you give, there is evidence that people have hysterical responses. There is evidence that people lie. Spreading lies about military strength (psychic powers) is very common. There is no evidence of the supernatural. What you know is people say they were possessed by ghosts. You know people get hysterical. You also know people lie for a variety of reasons. Accept the evidence, the things you know.

      Padre Pio was a Catholic priest whom many witnesses saw flying in the sky over Italy in WWII, shooting down Allied aircraft with energy beams. This was witnessed by scores of people, including top military officials. It never happened. At the time when people claimed this, no one knew Hitler would lose the war, so God giving Padre Pio superpowers to fight on Hitler’s side was not so strange. If Hitler had won the war, this miracle would be celebrated. There is an unlimited supply of these stories, so you could debunk forever. It’s better just to accept the evidence that people can not fly, but they do lie a lot.

      Why do you entertain these ideas at all? If I tell you I am not typing this, but rather I’m using telepathy to control a little bird who dances on the keyboard, you won’t believe me. What if thousands of people make that claim? That’s a logical error called “ad populum”. The number of people that believe something does not matter. Who believes a thing does not matter. We are all equal, and you have every ability to discern what is true.

      As for ghosts, ghosts are impossible. Souls are impossible. This is because metaphysical dualism is logically impossible. This has been known by philosophers for thousands of years. Science has revealed the material basis for consciousness, and there is no soul, nor can there be. That’s the evidence. I’ve seen ghosts, and lots of other things that don’t exist. I have evidence that I was hallucinating (without drugs). I have no evidence ghosts are real. Being open-minded, I accept evidence,

  7. If you refuse to believe in all supernatural entities, they are so upset they refuse to have anything more to do with you. That´s my experience :-). Of course: the more logical explanation is; they never existed, or just in the mind. I find it very interesting to read your post, someone embedded in the culture you describe. It can´t be easy to come to a sober state of mind when there is so much superstition around you. Try to keep a cool pragmatic head, Are those superstitious things you hear likely true, or likely fantasy? When you mention hallucinogenics true, or not you are on the right track. ALWAYS seek the more logical, material, natural answer. The problem with many is, they prefer the more colourful superstitious answer. Its more fun, more exciting, and requires less, or no intellect. Superstition is lazy, ignorant fun. Reason is harder work, but also fun, better understanding how all we experience really is. .

  8. I have seen plenty of ghosts and have had psychic occurrences. I had these back when I was a deist, but have not had anything like this happen to me since. I have even seen ghosts in plain daylight, unlike the typical night stories you hear. So what’s going on? There are several explanations. Sometimes when we awaken from a deep sleep, we are still partially asleep and still in a dream state. Our mind can then project dreamed images as if we are seeing them in front of us. We think we are fully awake, but not really. One time I was in bed and saw a flicker in the hallway. I sat up in bed and watched it. Soon I saw a little girl walking down the hallway carrying a candle. Frightened, I quickly turned on the light which was in arm’s reach of me. I figured it had to be real, since I was awake and the light switch because I was sitting up. But there were no previous owners to the home, so why would there be ghosts? There wasn’t. Although I was sitting up, I was still in a dream state.

    The one I experienced at my job can also be explained. It was in the morning and I was working at my computer. I have a design job so my creative right brain was busy at work visualizing. Then from the corner of my eye I thought a woman with shoulder length hair entered my cubicle and put a folder on my desk. I even heard it slide onto my desk. I picked up a pen and turned to sign it, and nothing was there. I asked a co-worker at a table just outside my cube if she just came in my cube and she looked at me like I was crazy. She obviously saw nothing and no one else was around. It was completely inside my head. Interestingly, I was looking to buy a house a couple days earlier. The home I entered was older, the type you would think had ghosts. So my brain was already primed and expecting to see something. I thought about the house since I first saw it. I have also seen stuff from the corner of my eye, my peripheral vision – usually when I’m tired.

    If you ever watch some of those ghost hunter shows notice how people overreact to a little sound and then say it was caused by a ghost. It could be the sound of water in the pipes and they quickly assume it is a ghost. Our brains are also wired up to see faces in things. A shine on a dark window could look like a face, but it is just because we look for patterns in what we see. Look up paradolia. If you have been listening to the news, consider the situation in India in which a status was thought to be crying. People quickly believed a miracle occurred, but a man named Sanal Edamaruku noticed the water was coming from a leaky sewer pipe. Rather than hearing the truth, they’d rather throw him in prison for blasphemy.

    Seeing a little girl and young woman may not be scary enough to “shit your pants off” but I have also seen some horrific demonic types of visualization. Stuff that tormented me for a month afterwards. So dark, ugly and evil — thin creatures like skinned humans torturing me in bed. Are they real? No? They are creations of my mind, my clinically depressed mind at the time. They were dark fears that showed themselves when I felt completely out of control in my life and saw no purpose. They were creations of an ill mind fearful and angry. I never have these dreams when I’m well and feeling happy. They don’t exist and don’t you believe anyone who says otherwise. Our minds are much more creative and powerful than the average person realizes. I can create whole new worlds in my dreams. I can see buildings, people, places, and landscapes that do not exist. I have created entire art gallery shows featuring art that I never created except in my mind. Our minds work in lightning speed. But our thoughts are not real. They reflect our mental state, our moods, our health and what we see during our waking hours.

    Still not convinced. If you ever have surgery, realize that anesthesia can take away hours of your life. Drugs can manipulate and change your mind. Brain surgery can alter who you are permanently. Know that our brain can also play tricks on us and I am a testimony that these things are not real.

  9. Hi Demon,

    First, it should be said you can be an atheist and still believe in the supernatural or paranormal. You could not believe there are any gods, but still believe in ghosts or the ability of identical twins to “talk” to each other through telepathy. You are not transgressing logic here. However, once you take religion out of the picture, you will find it is easier to laugh at all the other woo and reject that too.

    Just remember there is no proof of the paranormal – never has been – and if there was, what would it look like? If something happens that can’t be explained, well, you can conclude “this can’t be explained”. But that is a long way from saying “it’s paranormal”.

    After you’ve been looking at things like that for a while, you can improve your answer to “this can’t be explained by me, right now and later that can become “this can’t be explained because I have insufficient information” or “because I have been given false information”.

  10. The simple scientific explanation to debunk all these paranormal claims is that there is no reliable evidence to support them.

    If there were reliable evidence to support them, science would acknowledge them, just as it acknowledges gravity, evolution, etc.

  11. I recommend the book In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion by Scott Atran. Also, on a less scholarly more common sense point of view some of Michael Schermer’s books and articles like this one: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=smart-people-believe-weir

    The bottom line is that humans are hard wired to see the world in terms of agency. For example, as a primate looking for food in the wild if I hear an unknown sound or see an unexplained shadow its to my evolutionary advantage to treat that unexplained phenomena as a potential predator. The cost of worrying about a non-existent predator is far less then the cost of not realizing that an actual predator is there.

  12. As well as Demon Haunted World, try The God Dellusion (if you’ve not already). Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett will help you become more sceptical about your own beliefs.

    For a more entertaining way to release your mind from superstition, go online and find as many TV shows by Derren Brown as you can and also Penn & Teller. Once you’ve seen a few tricks debunked and seen how a man claiming no “special” powers beyond some practice and showmanship can outdo the most famous of self-appointed mystics.

    the key is training your brain to recognise something has happened that you can’t explain, but that gives less, not more credence to those who’d use their superstitious beliefs to explain the phenomena.

  13. You don’t need to ‘debunk’ supernatural phenomena.

    If a person proposes something, that person has to offer evidence in support of that proposition.

    Even if the proposition defies logic, or is ‘supernatural’, it is still the responsibility of the proposer to provide the proof.

    Being an atheist isn’t simply not believing a particular god or gods exist (which would make believers of one religion, atheists for all other religions), its understanding that there is no evidence for the existence of (any) gods.

    Psychics are people whose only power is convincing other people to give them money, and they make a very good living from it, so they will never admit that all they really are, are skilled liars.

    Similarly, all of the ‘paranormal’ occurrences you give in your original post will be things that one person heard from another, who heard it from someone, who was told it by someone else, who read something about some person who says he knows it must be true, and that isn’t evidence, that’s just gossip.

  14. Hi Demon,

    I would recommend some videos from the old Richard Dawkins site. I found this one which suits this situation best and I think it will help you:

    Why We Believe in Gods

    It’s a good video about the mind and why we believe in superstitious nonsense by Andy Thompson.

    There are other good videos there to look at as well as they haven’t been transferred to the new site yet.

    On being superstitious and how easy it is to fall into that I’ll give a bit of a personal account. My wife and I found her mother dead in her apartment a few years ago. It’s an experience that I don’t wish to ever repeat. For a few weeks, maybe even months afterwards and my being an atheist for years and not having any spiritual ideas or superstition felt ‘haunted’ by that image and could have easily swore I saw her ghost several times. My wife still has nightmares from time to time.

    Our minds are easily tricked and our feelings (part of our mind) are more powerful than what we give them credit for. There are many things that happen to us in life that can easily swing our thinking one way or the other. I am still an atheist, even more so now but that experience has still shaken me to this day. Not that I believe that there are ghosts or that I was haunted but it gave me insight into how weak our minds truly are.

  15. Demon,

    I don’t know how long you’ve been an atheist, but you should have received your official membership card by now. On the back it lists the fringe benefits of being an atheist. One of these perks is the instant evaporation of irrational fears.

    Is your address updated with the regional atheist meet-up group?

    Mike

    /humor-Welcome to the forum!

  16. Hi Demon, I can understand your position. You live in a country where Pancasila is the base for the constitution of UUD 45; Which sila no.1 is clearly stated that the country is based on One God. Furthermore, your government use the child indoctrination through the “Moral” and “Religion” education starting from elementary school, yet discredit the atheism as if it is the same as the communism. Worse, the indoctrination put the communism as the latent danger for the country’s growth, yet they neglect the fact that China as the Communist country has more success stories than the corrupt Indonesian religion and Pancasila based government.

    FYI communism is the type of government. Atheism is NOT the type of government. To explain, Cuba country is a communist country, yet it is highly populated with Catholics.

    Back to your writings:
    I don’t open the link you gave. But I just jump to the solution.

    Why I mentioned the above things? Those are the main reason why you still believe in those paranormal things, even if deep inside your heart you don’t believe in religion or God. There is not enough scientific based education being taught at school since the early years in Indonesian education system. The Indonesian government didn’t support it enough. Worse, just recently, they even propose to have more religion education hours into its education system.

    The importance of Scientific Based Education:
    You need to have the strong analysis / critical thinking on anything. Because there are so many types of education, the useless ones and the fruitful ones. If you grow up in the “Faith based education”, then the habit you have is to believe in what you see / hear without any scientific evidence.

    However, If you grow up in the scientific based evidence education, then you have the habit of critical thinking and cross check evidence. Furthermore, even if someone give you the evidence, this scientific based education will build you the habit of analyzing those evidence in many different levels. Because, many times, what you see is not necessarily the truth until it is scientifically proven.

    I’m afraid that, you don’t have this critical thinking habit, so that no matter how many books the other commentators suggest you, your habit built from the faith based education in Indonesia since you were young, makes you still believe in those black magic paranormal things, even after all the scientific evidence laid on your table.

    If you have a chance, you can check youtube about the magic performance done by Cyril Takayama, where he transformed the black coffee into latte (milk coffee). It is the similar trick where you see some black magic things in Indonesia where the old shaman transform the water into blood.

    There, Cyril Takayama also put an egg inside the orange. And that same egg which is taken at the supermarket, have a little bird inside, alive!!!. This is the similar trick as those shaman use the bloody egg on sick people. As if they got cursed and the shaman take the curse out of those uneducated patient (victim of fraud) and teleport the curse into the egg. When the shaman breaks the egg, there is blood inside.

    And I suggest you to watch more the high level of illusions and magic shows performance or street magic, such as David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Chris Angel. Furthermore, there are a lot of youtube clips that DEBUNKED the black magic, white magic done by famous people such as the Christians pastor who claimed that his God can heal the handicapped, Sai Baba from India etc.

    Last but not least, you should expand your knowledge by reading Prof. Dawkins’ book The Magic Of Reality.

    And if your common sense start thinking those superior magic performance are just tricks, then why don’t you also have the same common sense to those shaman cheap tricks.

  17. A lot of superstition (IMHO) hinges on a failure to understand the nature of probability. Despite the popularity of lotteries: the odds against any particular ticket winning are very large, and yet, some ticket does. Must be that lucky charm the winner was wearing, after all, there MUST be SOME explanation!

    You can be certain only that highly improbable events will continue to occur.

    Or, if it’s unlikely, it’s bound to happen. A variant of Murphy’s Law, well known to engineers, which goes along the lines of “if it can go wrong, it will. And if it can’t, it will anyway.”

  18. In reply to #22 by Sample:

    Demon,

    I don’t know how long you’ve been an atheist, but you should have received your official membership card by now. On the back it lists the fringe benefits of being an atheist. One of these perks is the instant evaporation of irrational fears.

    Is your address updated with the regional atheist meet-up group?

    Mike

    /humor-Welcome to the forum!

    Funny that you say this. I recall my first time of becoming a nonbeliever — I instantly no longer feared the idea of ghosts.

  19. In reply to #26 by QuestioningKat:

    In reply to #22 by Sample:

    Demon,

    I don’t know how long you’ve been an atheist, but you should have received your official membership card by now. On the back it lists the fringe benefits of being an atheist. One of these perks is the instant evaporation of irrational fears.

    Is your address updated with the regional atheist meet-up group?

    Mike

    /humor-Welcome to the forum!

    Funny that you say this. I recall my first time of becoming a nonbeliever — I instantly no longer feared the idea of ghosts.

    Me too. Though I was never so beholden (as an adult) to the idea of ghosts/hauntings as other people I’ve known. But yes, being an atheist, I can now watch scary movies in the dark without having my brain be concerned that a ghoul might interrupt my cinema experience. Though, it doesn’t seem to help keep the spaniel out of the popcorn.

  20. No worry Demon,

    When I was investigating a case in Kalimantan, one of the suspect intimidated me saying “you better be wary, this is Kalimantan.”
    He is explicitly telling me that I should not accuse him of the wrongdoing, because it is possible for let say a bag of cash flying and become transparent before vanishing into thin air.
    It was a midnight interview session, and yes, we felt the shiver.

    But guess what?
    After hours of evidence gathering….

    no ghostly apparition nor flying dagger nor flying head came.
    And further CCTV record showed that…. ta daa…. He was the culprit stealing the cash.

    Nothing mystical happened.. only a way of people preserving authority over outlanders.

  21. Demon,

    I’ve been an atheist for many years and have still – even fairly recently – had some experiences that you and I might describe as possibly being “supernatural”. I wouldn’t dismiss the supernatural or paranormal entirely because atheism or more accurately, naturalism, rules it out by definition. The bottom line among we science-inclined atheists when it comes to this subject especially is simply to revert to the most likely (read: natural) explanation (aka Occam’s Razor). However, this does not negate that in some cases a more complicated explanation is the truth; but if so, the burden of proof (another rule!) lies with the side claiming the extraordinary.

    Personally, I wouldn’t expect (intelligent?) supernatural entities such as demons or djinn to be easy to prove. If they exist, they are likely elusive. One argument that might support their existence is the so-called efficacy of what people claim invoking them can do. Generations upon generations of people have at some point found using their services – through a shaman or witchdoctor probably – to have been satisfactory. Whether or not it was simply a chemical or some other form of trickery that also worked as promised is hard to tell. If we went back in time and actually saw an ancient Egyptian architect commanding some unseen force to lift 100-ton stones in place at the pyramids, we would still be skeptical that he was using some kind of “technology”. In fact, alien technology would be more plausible than demons or djinn. And here’s the thing. Even if these things exist and we could catch one of them, they would simply then become part of the “natural” world as a new type of creature.

    So in summary, it’s not that atheism or science is inherently against demons, djinns, angels or what-have-you. It’s just that whatever exists must exist in some natural form at some point in order for them to be of any concern to us. In the meantime – while you’re still a “believer” – try to enjoy it. 😉 It’s one of those “thrills” you’re going to miss as you become more educated and less gullible. Kind of like how magic tricks seemed to you as a kid. I miss that feeling too.

  22. But guess what? After hours of evidence gathering….
    no ghostly apparition nor flying dagger nor flying head came. And further CCTV record showed that…. ta daa…. He was the culprit stealing the cash.
    Nothing mystical happened.. only a way of people preserving authority over outlander

    In New Mexico there is a beautiful place called Ghost Ranch. Cattle rustlers said that the there were evil spirits in the canyon. Later it turned out that they used this story to keep people away from finding their hidden stash of stolen goodies. I bet there are plenty of other stories using the idea of spirits to keep people from looking in places they don’t want them to. Or in the case of religion – from doing things they don’t want them to do.

  23. “i can’t reject the notion that there’s part of me that still can’t deny the existence of supernatural phenomenons”

    If you can’t then how are you an atheist. If you believe that the supernatural is possible , then why not God? His a supernatural entity.

    “Anywho, can someone give me scientific explanation to debunk these supernatural/paranormal thingy for me?”

    There’s not a shred of objectifiable evidence. It’s just superstition

    “I’ve read some stories about 2001 sampit conflict and how dayak people used their psychic power when head hunting the madurese people”

    In terms of psychics and mind trickery , you should listen to what Derren Brown has to say on the subject. He is very acomplished at what he does and he will reason it out for you if you wish to listen.

  24. hi guys, wow so many replies…. ^o^
    i always thought being the one who defies the mainstream idea makes the burden of proof lies on your side. guess i was wrong then….

    In reply to #32 by Pauly01:

    If you can’t then how are you an atheist. If you believe that the supernatural is possible , then why not God? His a supernatural entity.

    that’s exactly why i make this topic, i wanna be sure that my “not believing” isn’t just a form of rebellious/anti conformity act or plain arrogance. Perhaps reading sagan’s book will help, but then again i read that people seek information based on what they want to believe (confirmation bias), so maybe after asking the question here, i’ll ask around in some religious forum…..for the sake of objectivity…..and trolling…… ^o^

    hey, about James Randi video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MFAvH8m8aI (the peter popoff scene)
    it reminds me about the movie RED LIGHT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Lights_(2012_film))

  25. If you want to go to a religious forum then go right ahead. The ‘evidence’ that they will point you to is just positive psychology. There are many ways to gain a positive outlook in life. Religion works for some , but it does not constitute evidence for the supernatural. Happy hunting.
    In reply to #33 by demon:

    hi guys, wow so many replies…. ^o^
    i always thought being the one who defies the mainstream idea makes the burden of proof lies on your side. guess i was wrong then….

    In reply to #32 by Pauly01:

    If you can’t then how are you an atheist. If you believe that the supernatural is possible , then why not God? His a supernatural entity.

    that’s exactly why i make this topic, i wanna be sure that my “not believing” isn’t just a form of rebellious/anti conformity act or plain arrogance. Perhaps reading sagan’s book will help, but then again i read that people seek information based on what they want to believe (confirmation bias), so maybe after asking the question here, i’ll ask around in some religious forum…..for the sake of objectivity…..and trolling…… ^o^

    hey, about James Randi video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MFAvH8m8aI (the peter popoff scene)
    it reminds me about the movie RED LIGHT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RedLights(2012_film))

  26. Hi Demon (an ironic name perhaps?),

    As I’m brand new on the site I thought I’d pop into a discussion and I saw your post. I have been a philosophy student for many years and teach Religious Education in Secondary schools in the UK. I often spend time musing superstition, which seems to be at the heart of religious experience.

    My first comment to you is for you to try to understand how your fear is affecting your behaviour. You know that there are no ghosts, and I know that you know this because you imply it in your writing. However, it does seem that you clearly enjoy the thought that there are supernatural beings (perhaps because it is in the media and your culture as you say), so this is really what needs to be challenged. What I think you don’t need is to think that you have one or two knock-down arguments against the supernatural (in fact most arguments against the supernatural are specific because the claims are philosophically wide-ranging). What I think you do need, right now, is to notice how much you’re ‘drawn’ to repeat these thought patterns.

    After that, I suggest you try to state as clearly as you can why you think ghosts/supernatural beings exist. Really force yourself on this point. Then, and only then, can you make up for yourself a few basic experiments – in thought or in reality – and test your belief. When you’ve done these things the fear will vanish of itself.

    One thing – only do very small thought experiments first – never go in a ‘haunted house’. It should, however, be possible to be impervious to ghosts eventually, but to be honest nobody has to test their reality to the extent that they put themselves in haunted houses, because long before they would need to do that, they’re cured, and there simply aren’t any haunted houses for them to go into!

  27. fear does not signify the existence of the supernatural. True, fear can be rational and is necessary at times but it can also be irrational , delusion inducing , a hallucinogenic , lots of things.
    In reply to #38 by joost:

    In reply to #37 by Pauly01:

    what you are talking about is fear. nothing to do with the supernatural.

    Yes, but fear of what?

  28. In reply to #38 by joost:

    In reply to #37 by Pauly01:

    what you are talking about is fear. nothing to do with the supernatural.

    Yes, but fear of what?

    Fear of what might jump out and surprise you at any moment.

  29. Perhaps reading sagan’s book will help, but then again i read that people seek information based on what they want to believe (confirmation bias), so maybe after asking the question here, i’ll ask around in some religious forum…..for the sake of objectivity…..and trolling…… ^o^

    Reading Sagan’s book really will help. It goes a long way toward addressing confirmation bias. We are highly vulnerable to fooling ourselves and being fooled by others. He was not trying to manipulate people into agreeing with him. He was trying to teach people how to think clearly about all claims.

    I would suggest you investigate some of the excellent links that have been provided for you before you venture into a religious forum. Darren Brown was another great example.

    Never underestimate how wrong we can be if we don’t learn to think critically. It’s very easy to be fooled by ourselves and others. This is why we have religion. 😉

    i always thought being the one who defies the mainstream idea makes the burden of proof lies on your side.

    I’m glad you’ve learned differently. It’s fairly simple. Claims require evidence.

    @joost

    I wonder how many here would honestly be willing to spend the night alone in a cemetery. Just curious.

    That would have bothered me a long time ago but I don’t think it would bother me a bit now. There are far more frightening places to spend the night alone.

  30. In reply to #36 by joost:

    I wonder how many here would honestly be willing to spend the night alone in a cemetery. Just curious.

    Maybe, I’d be more afraid of getting raped. I did eat lunch at Rockefeller’s obelisk once. If you pull up enough chairs it’s big enough to have a small party. I frequently visit historic cemeteries when I travel and noticed several homeless people leaving in the morning. I catch them rolling up their bedroll and heading out early in the morning. Lots of bushes, soft grass, buildings to cut the wind…seems like a good place to me. When I visited the Salem Massachusetts cemetery, some glassy eyed young guy with stringy black hair was reclining/napping on a grave that had a head stone marked “WITCH.” All the tourist came by to see the grave and he just crazily stared back.

  31. After years of being brought up in a society that only nominaly propogates religion and in a non religious culture that entertains its self with fairy stories, ghost stories and science fiction, it is almost impossible not to be infected with the notion that it may be true.
    I had no religious upbringing except for nativity plays and once a week unconvincing prayers at school. At the age of fifteen i knew it was all bullshit but it wasn’t until I was about 25 that the faint nagging doubts disappeared. I guess one needs a few years of actual evidential experience that nothing supernatural exists before one can dismiss it as fancifull nonsense. At 47 I still have no evidence of the supernatural and the only people i have met who claim to have had such experiences are those i wouldn’t trust.

  32. In reply to #38 by joost:

    In reply to #37 by Pauly01:

    what you are talking about is fear. nothing to do with the supernatural.

    Yes, but fear of what?

    That’s the mistake right there. Fear does not have to be “OF” anything. It’s just Fear.

    Fear is a feeling, a shift in the balance of the chemistry in your brain. It can be turned on and off like a tap. We mostly assume fear OF, but that’s not the case. Drugs can turn the tap. Appropriate response to sensing dangerous circumstances in your surroundings – such as seeing a predator, or an enemy – can turn the tap. A hypnotist can turn the tap. A good storyteller can too. You can probably turn it via introspection, if you try hard enough. Horror movies and ghost stories are entertainments that play around with the tap, challenging you to let it turn, or prevent it. Harmless exercises for the pathways of Fear, an essential component of our survival to date. Some unfortunates have the tap stuck, partly on. Dripping. Is that Anxiety?

    Psychologists and Neurologists please enhance or correct this broad-brush summary of mine. Thanks.

  33. Maybe, I’d be more afraid of getting raped.

    I’d be less afraid of being raped or robbed or any number of undesirable things in a cemetery than I would in many other places. Cemeteries are where most people would be afraid to spend the night. Where humans gather, danger from humans increases. Cemeteries at night seem like a safe place to be by comparison.

    I’m not afraid of dead people at all, but I am afraid of a small percentage of live people. Predatory humans would most likely gravitate to places where they will find prey. Cemeteries don’t seem to fit the bill. If I were an isolated human and needed to spend the night somewhere, a cemetery seems like a pretty safe place, all considered.

    Interesting point about the stringy-haired guy asleep on the WITCH head stone in Salem. I wonder if he was there for sentimental reasons or because he was smart enough to know that nobody was going to mess with him there.

    Nothing says, “Don’t fuck with me.” like sleeping on a grave marked WITCH.

  34. Opinion? Teach ALL homo-sapiens that there is no god and all would be happy. Theres something about the human DNA that has to think we are better than any other animal. We dominate only because of evolution. If the human brain wasn’t so evolved, we would still be “the strongest survive,” and kill the weakest, but that is against the law, think about out.

  35. In reply to #44 by OHooligan:

    That’s the mistake right there. Fear does not have to be “OF” anything. It’s just Fear.

    Well, strictly speaking yes, but given how thoroughly connected the emotions are to thoughts and internal brain states, I think it’s a bit premature to dismiss any particular fear as not being “of” anything. One of the big things that people fear is the unknown, and that’s for roughly the same reason people fear the dark: they know it’s a good place for an ambush.

    The ambush doesn’t have to be by a physical threat, like a predator or unstable ground. It could be an emotional, social, or a personal one (like the fear of sudden treachery, the fear of how one will react under pressure, or the fear that everything you know about the world is wrong). These are tangible fears which could be defended from an evolutionary standpoint, based on the basic logic of risk assessment. After all, the devil you know (and can therefore assess and prepare for) is better than the devil you don’t.

  36. I wonder if he was there for sentimental reasons or because he was smart enough to know that nobody was going to mess with him there.

    Considering his crazy glassy eyes (on drugs, mental or a combo of the two) slight smirk, and disheveled appearance….Both. I got the feeling that he traveled all night on foot just to sleep on the grave or maybe it was his nightly bed. As more people came into the cemetery, he eventually left. I imagined that he probably came back at night. I still remember that black hair and crazy eyes – head resting at the base of the headstone as if it were a headboard to his bed.

  37. For those above wondering whether fear can be said to be fear of the supernatural, or whatever you wish, the answer is yes. Freud defined fear as having an object, whilst anxiety (he said) does not have an object. So now you know. I’m not a Freudian but I think the distinction is helpful, and we’re talking about anxiety rather than fear (the conjuring up of whatever imagined objects we can imagine, vis skeletons, ghoulies, a hand pulling on your trouser leg etc. is some tiny effort by the mind to achieve some tiny step toward mastery. God can be like that too). The supernatural isn’t good however as it leads to further anxiety.

  38. In reply to #7 by d0of:

    “Anywho, can someone give me scientific explanation to debunk these supernatural/paranormal thingy for me?” you ask. These topics are not worthy of scientific consideration.

    “These topics are not worthy of scientific consideration” you say lol. Oh god no please don’t make science sound like a freakin religion or elitist.

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