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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2007
Evidence Against the Supernatural
There are millions of people in the world who have claimed to experience a paranormal, or supernatural event. These range from out of body experiences, claims of psychic powers, near death experiences, ghost sightings, answered prayers, miraculous healings, etc. I've stated many times throughout my writings that from my research, there is no evidence at all of anything supernatural in this world, and I decided to write this piece to answer the most common objections about the possibility of some supernatural realm. Many religious people claim that there is a supernatural realm, and point to some of the above examples as "proof", yet as I will show, these "proofs" are fraudulent because of these peoples' lack of knowledge about such events. From my research over the years, from reading articles online, and reading scientific research about these things, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a supernatural event. I will now present this evidence, though I'd also like to restate something I've said before. No religious person can make a claim that their god exists without invoking the supernatural. It's just not possible, and so I present this evidence not only to debunk these individual claims of miraculous events, but also to debunk the idea of a god, because if it can be shown that there is nothing supernatural in this world; nothing immaterial, then the evidence in favor of a simply material world sky rockets, and their god has no where to hide. People must prove that this is an immaterial world before their claims of god, and miracles can hold up. They have been unable to do this...at least not yet. I've written about these things before, but they are so spread out among my many writings that I doubt anyone has read all this information, so I decided to combine it all into one paper, that way it's organized in an easier to read format, and is easier to find. ▼ 2008 (200 ) ▼ October 2008 (10 ) Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is Crap David Marshall 2 Arizona Atheist With the history of such phenomenon as lighting storms, hurricane like winds, droughts, etc. I have no doubt that the people of the past felt these things were miraculous signs of their creator, yet in our more enlightened time now (depending on how you look at it), we don't see anyone claiming these natural occurrences have a supernatural cause. The problem is, just as in the past, we have many unexplained things which we experience, or hear about, and we just don't have a lot of answers about them at this moment in time. Or we have no information at the current time whatsoever. With such a history of human kind, I find it hard to believe that we are still using the old "god of the gaps" argument; using god (or whatever deity you believe in) as the explanation for something we know nothing about. This solves nothing, because you haven't even proven any god exists to begin with. I have no doubt that science will discover more about our world in the future, just as it has in the past, and fill in our "gaps" in understanding our world, so that we don't need to use some imaginary thing to explain it away. The first phenomenon I will address is psychic ability. Two noted "psychics" are John Edward (he has a show called Crossing Over with John Edward) and Sylvia Brown, who I've seen on the Montel Williams Show and I addressed her phoniness in a previous article I found online (see the post Sylvia Browne ’s Biggest Blunder, By Benjamin Radford for more information). There is even a show on Animal Planet called Pet Psychic and this women goes around and "helps" pet owners figure out what's wrong with their animals. So many people believe in these so called psychics' supposed powers to contact the dead, and predict the (a.k.a. The Gif... Jesus Dress Up! Atheism Is No Defense Against Ignorance It Looks Like Another Religious Individual Was Fol... Sugar and Carbohydrates to Gasoline The Updated Review of David Marshall's The Truth B... A New Book Review Is Coming...Sort Of No, We're Not Living in a Police State... The Lucifer Effect, October 2008 ► September 2008 (14 ) ► August 2008 (14 ) ► July 2008 (12 ) "It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies." Noam Chomsky
future, but it's nothing but a big, elaborate magic show. First, I'll cover Sonya Fitzpatrick, who is the "psychic" for the show Pet Psychic and I found a good article called Stupid "Pet Psychic" Tricks, by Bryan Farha . Here is the article:
► June 2008 (1 7 ) ► May 2008 (24) ► April 2008 (13 ) ► March 2008 (20 ) ► February 2008 (27 ) ► January 2008 (49)
Stupid "Pet Psychic" Tricks, by Bryan Farha, from The New England Journal of Skepticism, Volume 6 Issue 1 5/1/2003
► 2007 (202 )
Copyright Information If David Letterman wants to expand his "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment on the Late Show to include stupid pet psychic tricks, I believe we have a winner. Move over James Van Praagh and John Edward, there's a new television show in town. The Animal Planet cable network has launched, "Pet Psychic," which is hosted by England?born Sonya Fitzpatrick. During Sonya's introductory bio on each telecast, she claims to be able to "hear the thoughts" of all animals in her vicinity. On the show, Sonya "reads" the thoughts of a variety of animals?asking questions to the pets, and claiming to get answers from the critters. She then communicates the answer to the pet owner, who feels comforted after the alleged telepathic communication. Sometimes questions are requested by animal owners, who are often interested in finding out reasons for peculiar pet behaviors. And she's multi?talented, also crossing over to communicate with pets that have died. Further, Sonya also professes ability to function as a pet psychic detective. For example, there is a $4,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons who abused a cat named “TLC.” The abused cat “told ” Sonya that the guilty person was a thin male with dark hair who didn't like cats. One member of the veterinary staff who treated TLC said of Sonya's psychic detective work that the staff was “shocked ” at her accuracy and that “any kind of skepticism fades away. ” Excuse me, but this is where skepticism enters. Let’s look at some “Stupid Pet Psychic Tricks ” used by Sonya Fitzpatrick to make her appear psychic. All are taken from a single program, which aired on July 1, 2002. Prediction Based on Prior Knowledge “Tony ” the Llama Sonya made a house call to a ranch outside her current residence of Houston for this alleged telepathic experience. She accurately pointed out that Tony had some behavioral issues. He ’s been a problem llama. Confirmation from the owner made this seem very impressive. Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: Immediately before her psychic vision of behavioral problems, Tony jerked and flailed noticeably while being observed by Sonya and the owner. After watching this unruly behavior, just how psychic is it to predict disciplinary problems in the llama? Before being told of their problem anyone could have the same psychic vision of a child who misbehaved like this. Yet the owner seemed convinced. Much of the television audience likely was as well. Percy & Bogie It was never established which one was which, but referring to one of the dogs, this dialog took place between Sonya and the pet ’s owner: Sonya: When did he have some medication? Owner: He’s had an ear infection. Sonya: Yah?he [dog] says that was bad. He says he ’s had that on and off. Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: Notice Sonya only makes this last comment after already hearing the owner say the dog had an ear infection. If Sonya can communicate with animals, why didn’t she just ask the dog initially what the medication was for and report the answer to us before the owner did? But she asked a general question about medication and got a specific answer from the pet’s owner, and wants us to believe that the dog told her the experience was bad? Please, Sonya. “Bonnie” the Dom This dog kept growling and snarling before Sonya said anything. Therefore, Sonya’s first comment on the dog ’s behavior was, “she’s a talker.” Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: How hard is it to convince an owner of this given the free prior knowledge of snarling and growling? Please, Sonya. Making the Obvious Seem Telepathic Get the Democracy Now! widget and Two Cats Sonya asked the owner if one of the cats crawls under things. The owner confirmed with amazement by saying many other great free widgets at Widgetbox ! A Little More About 'Arizona Atheist' Welcome to Arizona Atheist
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they both go under the covers with her. Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: What ’s amazing about this? What cat doesn ’t crawl under things? And it didn ’t have to be the covers. Don ’t most cats crawl under desks, tables, sofas, beds, crawl spaces, etc.? The owner was impressed enough to believe one of the cats told Sonya she ’d prefer it if the owner would buy a second litter box ?one for each cat. Please, Sonya. “Bonnie” Again Sonya states, “she’s [Bonnie] asking me why is it that you [owner] don ’t want her on you sometimes? ” Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: The owner’s answer is the same that most of us would give ?because sometimes we’ve got other things we need to do like cook, work on the computer, etc. Maybe this category should have been labeled, “Duh.” Please, Sonya. Crossing Over Willie Willie was a Golden Retriever whom the owner arranged to have put to sleep by a veterinarian. Sonya had a vision?with owner confirmation??that Willie used to scratch behind his ears. Really? A dog scratch behind his ears? Need I even comment on this one? Please, Sonya. Miatok Miatok (unsure of the spelling) was a living dog whose companion, Wendy, had died. Sonya said Miatok told her that he really missed Wendy. Amazing? Who wouldn ’t miss their companion? Please, Sonya. Making it Fit & Gullibility “Joy ” Who Crossed Over Joy is a cat who ran away without apparent cause and supposedly died. In an effort to find out why Joy ran away, this dialog ensued: Sonya: When did you [owner] change a floor in your house? [no response]. Or a carpet? Owner: We just cleaned our carpet. Sonya goes on to say that Joy ran away because they cleaned the carpet. But if Sonya can communicate with dead animals, why didn ’t she just ask the departed cat the question and provide the answer before asking the owner about changing the floor? More importantly, wasn ’t Sonya ’s question really implying that a different floor was installed? When people are asked if they’ve changed a floor, aren ’t they assuming a new floor was installed? Yet the owner had no problem believing in Sonya ’s accuracy. People who already strongly believe are going to make it fit. “Tony ” the Llama Sonya reports that Tony wanted to know why he didn’t have a scarf around his neck like the one she [Sonya] had on, and why he didn ’t have a hat. Why would a llama want a scarf or a hat? According to Sonya, Tony said he wants to be an actor. Please, Sonya. The following dialog (excerpt) took place at the ranch with Tony ’s owner, Bob: Sonya: Have you been planning to go somewhere?in your thoughts? Bob: Yes [horse show trip]. Sonya: He [llama] says you ’re thinking of going somewhere [and doesn ’t want him to]. Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: A “nolose ” situation for Sonya if Bob answers the question “no,” Sonya doesn ’t get counted for a miss because she can claim it was only a question rather than a prediction or a comment from the llama. If Bob answers “yes, ” only then does Sonya say it was a concern of the llama. It ’s also “no lose ” because what constitutes “going somewhere? ” Rather, what doesn ’t constitute going somewhere? If Bob didn’t have a horse show trip planned, wouldn't a grocery store trip constitute “going somewhere? ” The use of sufficiently open ended criteria means that Sonya cannot be incorrect in that exchange? She couldn ’t. During the owner ’s reflection on her reading, Bob said, “I was truly surprised to find out he [llama] really wanted to be a movie star. ” So the owner feels confirmation even though there ’s no way to verify that Tony expressed desire to be an actor. Gullibility. Willie the Dog This is the same Golden Retriever from before that crossed over. Felicia, the owner, emotionally told Sonya she’s been considering adopting another dog. Sonya immediately said, “he wants you to. He says `do it'. ” Stupid Pet Psychic Trick: Not even a second elapsed between the owner communicating her consideration of buying another dog and Sonya ’s reply. Sonya didn ’t even pause (as she had on every other occasion) to “telepathically ” communicate the question or thought to the pet, then allow time to get the animal ’s I'd also appreciate it if anyone who is browsing the site finds a link, or video, that isn't working to please tell me about it even if you're not interested in getting the information. That's just so I can go fix it, and repost the information for future visitors. Thanks.
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response. Busted, Sonya. Comforting Themes Recall the old rule of fortune telling: “tell `em what they want to hear. ” Pet owners want to hear things that will make them feel good about their animals. It ’s especially important for grieving owners to feel comfort when the pet has “crossed over. ” Sonya made the following comments during this single July 1, 2002 show about various pets that had died and were “telepathically ” communicating their thoughts to her: “He loves you; ” “He’s with you all the time;” “He comes around you a lot; ” “She’s around you, darling; ” “She didn’t suffer;” “She’s with you all the time. ” These statements seem pretty comforting, huh? Further, Felicia is a pet owner who was feeling guilty about putting her dog, Willie, to sleep. Sonya said the departed Willie told her to tell Felicia, “I was ready to go. ” “. . .you did the right thing. ” Very comforting, indeed. Concluding Remarks Obviously, Sonya is using rehashed old fortune telling and psychic “tricks ” (cold reading) that appear new since they ’re under the guise of the pet thing. It ’s difficult enough for skeptics to verify human psychic claims, because of the vagueness of the readings. Since animals don ’t speak our tongue (sorry, Sonya), verifiability is even more difficult with pet psychics. But some of her claims do lend themselves to controlled testing if Sonya would agree to ask the animals direct and specific questions and let the owners verify the answers. Sonya has not provided substantial evidence that she has psychic ability. But I would like to challenge Sonya to air an episode of Pet Psychic live, rather than taped for the purpose of viewers seeing a more realistic proportion of perceived “hits and misses.” I’d also like to invite her to take the Million Dollar Psychic Challenge from the James Randi Educational Foundation. If she's not the type to seek money, she can donate the earnings to her favorite animal charity. Television is about money, too and surely this type of programming sells. It just doesn ’t seem like it belongs on the Animal Planet?an otherwise damn good network. If Sonya won ’t contact James Randi, maybe she ’ll contact David Letterman. References Fitzpatrick, Sonya. 2002. The Pet Psychic. Animal Planet, July 1. Bryan Farha is a professor at Oklahoma City University and a Licensed Professional Counselor. He teaches a course called "Psychology & Skepticism " and is a member of CSICOP's astrology subcommittee. Correspondence to email@example.com or Oklahoma City University, 2501 N. Blackwelder, Oklahoma City, OK 73106 Tel: 405/521?5387.
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I also saw a Pen & Teller's Bullshit show on Showtime about these psychics, specifically John Edward and James Van Praagh, among a few other lesser known frauds (I mean psychics), and they exposed a few tricks of these so called psychics, so I will rely on the show to give you the tricks of the trade. The information comes from the episode called Talking to the Dead from the First Season of Bullshit , which originally aired January 24, 2003 (Source: Wikipedia.org List of Bullshit Episodes). There are basically two kinds of readings a "psychic" can perform: "Cold" or "Hot" readings. "Cold" readings are when a "psychic" doesn't know anything about a particular person, and must therefore, "fish" for information, by throwing out vague statements. Such an example could be that a "psychic" asks a group if there was anyone who lost someone by the name of Joe, John, or James. The more people that are present, ups the success rate of this kind of shot gun like tactic. They throw out a few random, vague guesses, and hope that someone in the audience has lost someone who had that name, or some other derivative. Though, common sense should tell people that, if someone were truly psychic, they wouldn't need to "fish" for information like that! They would be able to simply point to someone and say, "Your name is Mary, and you lost John last year on November 12th..." No need to ask questions whatsoever! Though, unknowing subjects gladly hand over, and confirm, anything which a "psychic" gets correct, which gives them something to grab on to, and use, to get more information from someone. For example, if the "psychic" asks if your loved one liked planes, and you answer yes, they will hone in on that information, and use it, and ask more questions, such as, "They were a pilot, weren't they?", and the audience member says "yes", and gladly hands this information over to the "psychic". The thing many people don't realize, is that they were the ones who told the "psychic" the information. The "psychic" asked a question...it wasn't a statement. "Hot" readings are when a "psychic" is making very accurate guesses. What this implies is that this "psychic" did
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TalkOrigins Archive "Hot" readings are when a "psychic" is making very accurate guesses. What this implies is that this "psychic" did their homework, and found out information about someone, or a number of people, before hand, and therefore has some basic knowledge already that they can use to fool unsuspecting people. Perhaps the "psychic" has an assistant talk with some audience members to get some information, or maybe even the "psychic" themselves mingles with the crowd before the actual show, to "fish" for a bit of information. Microphones have also been used in waiting rooms where guests are located, if they happen to be talking with people while waiting. In fact, on Bullshit they showed one of John Edward's information packets which has information for audience members. It says that you should "bring a copy of your family tree to the show, just in case" because John Edwards "does not know your friends and relatives". I find it odd that, the paper also says that an audience member can be helpful by giving "feedback" by giving a "nod of the head" or a "yes or no answer". Now, if John Edward was really psychic, why in the world would he need you to confirm what he is saying??? Wouldn't he already know??? Some might claim that these "psychics" simply want a confirmation that they're correct for the people around them. Alright, then why so many "misses" when they're "fishing" for information? Again, wouldn't they just know the correct answer without having to throw out so many guesses? Also, why would these "psychics" even need to ask what each person is here for? Wouldn't they just know?! The thing is, many people who go to these shows subconsciously want to be fooled. They want to be able to contact their loved ones, and so when the "psychic" is throwing out all these incorrect guesses (as in a cold reading), the person will usually only remember the correct guesses, and not the wrong ones. This same phenomenon is also seen with supposed answered prayer. They only remember when their prayers were supposedly answered, and not when they weren't. I will cover this topic later. The International Center for Inquiry is a group which was featured on that episode of Bullshit and they did some investigative work at James Van Praagh's TV show. The point about there being many more misses, than hits, is very apparent with the information which The International Center for Inquiry was able to obtain. They claim that Van Praagh came out to greet the audience before the taping of the show started, and talked with the audience, gathering information beforehand. Then, according to the Center for Inquiry Van Praagh used some of the information he got from the audience for the taping of his show. One of the members for "the Center" says that Van Praagh was "very poor at doing his readings" and that when the edited footage of the show aired on TV they only showed all of his hits, and none of the large amounts of misses by Van Praagh. One might wonder why you don't hear about any of these misses. The reason is because of the contracts which audience members have to sign. Van Praagh's contract states that, "Neither anyone acting on my behalf, nor I...shall speak to any...media representative or source about any aspect of my participation in the series..." Why are they being so secretive? Do they have something to hide? I'd say yes, they do. Bullshit went to see one of John Edward's shows and was unable to enter because of the cameras, so they asked audience members afterwards what they thought of the show. The few people they depicted said how Edward's statements could apply to a large number of people, and that "anybody could do it" when it comes to this scam. Of course, I don't doubt that Bullshit interviewed some diehard believers as well, though they didn't put that in their final cut. On the show, they even had a former "psychic" who used to con people with this skill, but started feeling guilty about manipulating people, and quit. He helped Bullshit uncover the tricks of these so called psychics. That's enough with the idea of psychic phenomenon; I think I gave enough evidence to handily debunk those "supernatural" claims. Next, I will address the supposed "power of prayer". Religious types love to boast about the power of prayer. They claim that their god heals them, and heals others, and that there is evidence in their own lives for such evidence that prayer actually works. Well, sorry to say that with probably every claim of "answered prayer" there were ten times more unanswered prayers, it's just that the religious types don't count those, and dismiss them. There are even some who say that god always
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answers prayer, it's just that sometimes he says no, and other times, he says 'wait a minute'. This is simply a psychological ploy because, in reality, you can pray to anything and get the same results! Let's say, for example, that you pray to your dog and your dog gives you either a yes, no or wait, answer. Now, does anyone really think that a dog has any special powers? Of course not! You can pray to anything and get the same results if you say the answers can be yes, no, or wait because either something you wish will happen, or it won't, or it might later down the road. Also, I don't see how a "no" answer from god could possibly count as "answered prayer". This is simply a rationalization for the fact that their prayers were not being answered. Nothing even happened. It's not like god yelled "No!" to you. Nothing happened! Therefore, your prayer didn't work. Period. There have also been several studies on the effects of prayer and there are mixed results, however these can be explained simply by the placebo effect. Many of the studies I read about where prayer seemed to do something didn't mention if the patients knew about them being prayed for, which would change the results. The placebo effect could be the cause, if the person was aware that they were being prayed for. But, I will cite three different studies, where they did a proper control group in each study. The first study was reported in the December of 2000 Southern Medical Journal (I saved the PDF file for anyone who would like to see it) where patients with rheumatoid arthritis would be prayed for, both in person, and afar. The results were that the in person prayers "showed significant overall improvement during [their] 1 year follow up", while the prayers from separate locations had no effect whatsoever. Some might claim that prayer did indeed help when the person praying was in the same room as the patient. Well, this is simply a case of the placebo effect. This effect can sometimes be very powerful. Studies have shown that placebos ("sugar pills" for example), in about 35 percent of cases, can provide benefits to people who are in pain (Source: Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking, by Thomas Kida, page 59). Another reason I think it's the placebo effect at work here is because according to theology god is Omnipresent (always present everywhere). If god is supposedly everywhere at all times and god is supposed to be the reason for answered prayer, then prayer should work no matter where an individual is located but from these studies this is not the case at all. Because prayer doesn't ever work when the person doing the praying is in a different location than the person being prayed for, I would logically conclude that prayer does not work, and it is only in the person's head thus the placebo effect. In another study, from an article in the Seattle Times,July 15, 2005, called Medical study sees no effects in prayer from afar , it reported that there were no differences among the different test groups. The final study which I will cite was reported in the American Heart Journal , from April of 2006. This study was funded by the Templeton Foundation, and cost 2.4 million dollars. The experiment, took a total of 1,802 patients from six different hospitals. Prayers were delivered from three churches, one located in Minnesota, one in Massachusetts, and the other in Missouri. All the patients had received coronary bypass surgery, and were divided into three groups: Group 1 received prayers and didn't know it. Group 2 (the control group) received no prayers and didn't know it. Group 3 received prayers and did know it. The comparison between groups 1 and 2 tests for the efficacy of intercessory prayer, while group 3 tests for possible psychosomatic effects of knowing that one is being prayed for. The praying individuals were only given the first name and the first letter of the last name of each patient for whom they were to pray for. They were all just told to say during their prayers to pray for a 'successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications.' The results were clear cut. There was no difference between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not. There was a difference, however, in the third group, who knew they were being prayed for. They suffered significantly more complications then the other groups. The experimenters explained it as being a result from the stress, or 'performance anxiety,' from having the knowledge that they were being prayed for (Source: The god Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, page 63). Next I will tackle the claims of out of body experiences, near death experiences. These two claims are related, as they happen most often when someone is badly injured and the surgeons work to bring the subject back to life. When they awake they claim to have seen their bodies from above, as their
soul, or spirit, rose above themselves and looked down at their body and all that was going on. I don't doubt that these people are telling the truth about their experiences, but what they experienced, I argue, was not anything supernatural at all. In fact, it's been shown that stimulation of the brain by electric current and electromagnetic fields, effect the brain and the person's perception of reality.
Here is a magazine article from Nature: Electrodes trigger out ofbody experience: Stimulating brain region elicits illusion often attributed to the paranormal. 19, September 2002 By, HELEN PEARSON
Activity in one region of the brain could explain out ofbody experiences. Researchers in Switzerland have triggered the phenomenon using electrodes. People describe out ofbody experiences as feeling that their consciousness becomes detached from their body, often floating above it. Because these lucid states are popularly linked to the paranormal, "a lot of people are reluctant to talk about them", says neurologist Olaf Blanke of Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland. Blanke found that electrically stimulating one brain region — the right angular gyrus — repeatedly triggers out ofbody experiences. Blanke and his team were using electrodes to excite the brain of a woman being treated for epilepsy. The right angular gyrus integrates visual information — the sight of your body — and information that creates the mind's representation of your body. This is based on balance and feedback from your limbs about their position in space. "It makes perfect sense," agrees Peter Brugger of University Hospital, Zurich, in Switzerland, who studies the phenomenon. "We have representations of our entire body that can be dissociated from our real body," he says. But this is an isolated case, he points out. With gentle stimulation, the woman, who could speak during the operation, felt she was falling or growing lighter. As the intensity increased she told them: "I see myself lying in bed, from above." When asked to look at her raised arm, she thought it was coming to punch her. This observation suggests that 'alien hand syndrome' — when people feel that a limb is foreign — or 'phantom' limbs that people can feel after amputations could be related to out ofbody experiences, says Blanke. Weird science Outofbody experiences are incredibly common, says clinical neurologist John Marshall of the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, UK. Some are part of near death experiences. Some believe that the events have religious or spiritual causes, or that a person really leaves their physical body behind. They may, for example, interpret them as evidence that the physical and spiritual body can separate again after death. The new experiments cannot disprove such ideas, says Marshall: "It doesn't show that people with paranormal beliefs are wrong" it simply demonstrates one way that the experience can be stimulated. Nevertheless, "I think it would give great comfort to patients" who, he says, frequently question their own sanity. Thrillseekers will be hard pushed to artificially create their own outofbody experiences, adds Brugger. "You can't stimulate that precisely without opening up the skull," he says. . References: 1. Blanke, O., Ortigue, S., Landis, T., Seeck, M. Stimulating own body perceptions. Nature, 419, 269 270, (2002).
To debunk near death phenomenon I will cite an episode of Pen and Teller's Bullshit. The Bullshit team went to a place where they do centrifuge testing, and about 18% of those who were whipped around by the big machine at nine G's experienced what many people call a near death experience, but they were not anywhere close to death. As they were being flung around, they just passed out because blood drained from their heads. One man interviewed claims to have had twenty to thirty near death experiences while being put in the centrifuge test. The things these people experienced were the same things that people who were near death report. Watching yourself from high above, seeing people you know, seeing a bright light, etc. It's not really clear why these things happen, but many people say it's because when your body and brain become traumatized because of serious injury and impending death, or some other traumatic experience (like being flung around at nine G's) your brain takes you on a bit of a mind trip. Instead of putting you through the agony of whatever you're experiencing, your brain puts on a little show for you, to make things easier, much like a dream. Sources: http://home.comcast.net/~neardeath/nde/001_pages/31.html, and an episode of Pen and Teller's BULLSHIT. Season One, titled Ouija Boards / Near Death Experiences, and aired on April 11, 2003 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bullshit%21_episodes What these experiences show is that there is nothing supernatural going on. You'd think that if something truly supernatural was going on, we would not be able to recreate these experiences by simply stimulating the brain. If near death experiences are real, why is it that people who were completely healthy, and who were nowhere near death, experienced such things? According to a PDF document I have, called, The Neuropsychiatry of Paranormal Experiences , by Michael A. Persinger, Ph.D., it says, "Distortions in subjective time, the sensed presence of another sentient being, out of body experiences, and even religious reveries have occurred during spontaneous seizures. Direct surgical stimulation of mesiobasal structures within the temporal lobes, particularly the right hemisphere, has been shown to evoke comparable experiences." It's clear that these experiences are happening at the level of the brain; the material brain, and thus no evidence for the supernatural in regards to out of body experiences or near death experiences. Through the study of the body, science has discovered that there is no soul, just a pure biological machine (though one that often goes very wrong!) and no magic, mystical "stuff" makes up any part of it. It's been shown that the brain is simply a biological computer, and that all senses and emotions happen at the level of the brain. There is nothing magical about how our brain works and is fairly well understood. I will tackle one more common experience. One which I used to believe in very much, when I was younger. Though, anymore, I don't believe in ghosts. In fact, I've discovered some research that points to electromagnetic fields as being a very possible cause of ghost sightings. A PDF document I have called "An investigation into alleged 'hauntings'", by Richard Wiseman, Caroline Watt, Paul Stevens, Emma Greening, and Ciaran O'Keeffe, and was published in the British Journal of Psychology, detail the findings. Within the document they report on a experiment which took place at two supposedly haunted locations. One was at Hampton Court Palace in Britain and the other was done in part of the South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland. According to the document (page 2) it says how media reports about hauntings can influence peoples' beliefs in the paranormal. I think this is correct because if a large amount of people claim to be experiencing something, it's like a form of suggestion, and someone will more likely think they are experiencing some odd phenomenon. On page four of the document, it states that, "a relatively large amount of research has suggested a strong relationship between alleged hauntings and magnetic fields...", within the range of 0 to 3 kHz. Finally, on page nine of the PDF, it says, "[T]he variance of the local magnetic field was significantly greater in 'haunted' than 'control' areas, and there was a significant relationship between the magnetic variance and the
mean number of unusual experiences reported by groups of participants. These results seem consistent with previous research suggesting a relationship between local magnetic field activity and haunt reports." While I'm at this debunking of supernatural events, I think I'll briefly talk about one more set of phenomenon: Electronic Voice Phenomenon. After watching a movie which featured this kind of supernatural claim, I did some research online and found several clips of these so called voices from the grave through some electronic devices, like a radio or TV. After listening to these recordings I laughed this phenomenon off as nothing more than peoples' imaginations. After all, you have to first prove the existence of life after death, and second, these examples were mumbled and garbled sounds, which sometimes did sound like a voice, but I'm not sure where the recordings were taken, so they were probably from some TV or radio which picked up a very weak radio signal and it came through on whatever device the examples were taken from. On many of the recordings I couldn't make out anything that was claimed to be said, and I think it was just peoples' overactive imagination which made them hear a human voice. So, in a nut shell, I think this is yet another example of human personification of natural objects. Human beings naturally seek out other human like shapes in dark rooms, which so many kids mistake for a ghost or monster, when it's really nothing more then a coat hanger with a coat on it. The same for the human voice. This is what I suspect is happening. These people trick themselves into hearing a human voice amongst all the static on a TV set and other devices. Either that, or people really do hear a voice, but I think it's due to the fact that we have so many cell phones, CB radios, radios, TV signals, etc. floating through the air and I think these electronic devices pick up many of these signals which are constantly flying around us, and people mistake them for some ghostly presence. I won't list any examples of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) because you can easily find samples of it on the internet. I suggest you go do some research on your own and see what you think. I think that's all for my debunking of many supernatural claims. I hope I presented enough evidence for you to see that there really is no such thing as a paranormal event, and I think more scientific research will do well to uncover some of the mysteries of the brain, and how the rest of this materialistic world works. I know that so many people will still claim that there is in fact some supernatural realm, but once again, the burden of proof is on the ones who make the claim that there is a supernatural realm, because to date, there hasn't been any solid evidence of such a thing.
POSTED BY ARI ZO NA A T HE I S T AT 1:31 PM LABELS: ELECTRONIC VOICE PHENOMENON , EVIDENCE , E V P , FAITH , FALSE , GHOSTS , NDE , NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES , OBE , OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCES , PLACEBO EFFECT , PRAYER , PSYCHIC , RELIGION , STUDIES , SUPERNATURAL
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