Sir Isaac Newton: “So, as you see, gravity causes all objects to be attracted to one another, in accordance with the following formula…”
Open-minded observer “Does not! It’s just a coincidence!”
Isaac: “Coincidence? It’s one of the fundamental laws of nature! All matter attracts matter! That’s why everything falls down! See, here, I’ll drop this brick.”
:::Brick lands on observer’s foot:::
Observer “It’s just a coincidence! You rigged the bet, since you deliberately picked something heavy! Here, look, THIS doesn’t fall, so obviously you’re wrong!”
:::Helium balloon floats up to the ceiling:::
Isaac: :rolleyes: :wally:
The preceeding conversation probably never happened, but something similar may have. The point I hope to make by this example is that there have always been believers, and there have always been skeptics, and never the twain shall meet. Not without a lot of name-calling, at least.
I have to wonder what sort of demonstration would be needed, to convince those on this board that there actually was something beyond their experience worth investigating. Is it even possible?
Or is it more likely that the concept of ‘fighting ignorance’ actually does include vehemently denying any possibility of such things as ‘psychic phenomena’ without considering that we still don’t know everything there is to know about the universe.
Until Isaac came up with the theory of gravity, nobody could understand why bricks fell and birds didn’t (usually). This is because a very fundamental force of nature was completely unknown, and it took a great thinker to understand what was really happening.
By rejecting the common model and “Thinking outside the box” as it were, pretty much everybody on earth now believes in gravity.
Experiments were done. Some worked how we thought they would: Rocks fall down. Others didn’t: Balloons fall UP! What’s that about? But, rather than being proof gravity was a false idea, as one might initially deduce from such a result, this was additional evidence that the theory was correct. Balloons fall up because the air around them is falling down even harder. Gravity works.
I do not have a theory to explain the ‘psychic’ abilities and phenomenon which appear, over and over and over again, in the history of our little human race. But I am also equally unwilling to chalk EVERYTHING up to ‘coincidence’ and ‘wishful thinking’.
I believe that every story relating to psychic phenomena has a rational and scientific explanation.
I believe that, in most cases, this explanation involves such things as fraud, or mistaken or selective memories, or other ‘rational’ causes behind what appears to have happened.
For example, Yuri Gellar bending spoons ‘with his mind’. Well, yeah, he’s using his mind… to move his fingers… to bend the spoon. It’s really a simple trick, when you know how he does it (it takes some really subtle finger-motions, there’s no ‘magic’ involved at all.)
Or, a fictional example wheren someone suddenly gets the overwhelming urge to get up out of their seat and go into the kitchen, but can’t figure out why they did it. Then, two seconds later, a van crashes through the wall and runs over the chair they were sitting in. This could, possibly, be explained thusly: “The person subconsciously heard the sound of squealing tires and honking horns coming closer, so they instinctively got up and moved away.” This, too, could be psychic powers or it could be ‘rational scientific phenomena’.
Or, and this is the point I hope to make, it COULD be something else. We don’t really know.
To simply say “That’s fraud” or “That’s coincidence” or “That’s a trick” is NOT fighting ignorance, it’s spreading it!
My question is this: What level of impossibility is required for something to be “Inexplainable” but NOT automatically labeled “Coincidence”?
What would it take to, for once and for all, convince (You, your friends, the SDMB board, the scientific community in general) that there is in fact something going on that you do not understand? That, possibly, this is worthy of attention and investigation?
I would like to offer for your examination the following four events from my recent life, involving things that one would think I could not possibly have known. Two of these are currently documented on these boards. Two occured online through instant messages with friends, and should it be needed, I may be able to get them to post here and help confirm they did in fact happen.
To be continued: