Paranormal dismissal

The escape from dismissal that the paranormal community provide is that the phenomena do not work in the same way under scientific conditions. This is such an easy escape route it invites derision. I think in a truly open minded sense  though we should possibly pay more attention to it as a proposition, not least because in fact it makes perfect sense with the subject matter.

This at least makes sense with magick, because any text on this will witter on about the perfection of the ritual to achieve the result and how easily this can go awry. Successful results as such by science can be attributed to apophenia and to the magickal community  as success -it has been my aim to point out how this division is irreconcilable. By this extension though, if telepathy etc whilst in the life of a psychic seem to be fluid and relatively frequent it does not seem outrageous that whatever level of informational transfer that is happening could be being interfered with by the informational structures themselves (the experimental conditions). We must note at this point that a thesis like this does not say that this infers the anecdotal claims are true rather it maintains that the explanation given by the experimental dodging paranormal community is cogent within their own framework. I do not know all the history of the experiments but it seems to me it might have been as surprising to the practitioners themselves when they were unable to reproduce results.

What I would add is that this difficulty is entirely commensurate with the phenomenological results herein. These again do not state anything about anything that ever ‘really’ happened but do say that there is nothing in the manifestation of these phenomena that can be dismissed by a thorough scientific explanation precisely because of the possibilities about reality they invoke. Any system that is making information capable of affecting a putative substance is going to be prone to be affected by another informational system. This doesn’t need to invoke any quantum physical knowledge, it is all laid out in the phenomena themselves.

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4 thoughts on “Paranormal dismissal

  1. “The escape from dismissal that the paranormal community provide is that the phenomena do not work in the same way under scientific conditions.”

    What’s funny is that – at least the paranormal investigators on popular TV all use the latest technological gadgets to promote just the opposite: the appearance of scientific investigative technique, as if they were conducting a carefully orchestrated and thorough examination of the data and crafting a narrative that could be accepted by science etc. Noise boxes, electromagnetic readers, computer analytics, graphings; thermal and other types of cameras, etc. all to appear as if they were “experts” just like scientists.

    I almost see this trend as part of an even more global wide return to religious belief systems, that even philosophy seems to be moving toward (i.e., the so to speak religious turn in philosophy). Even so to speak atheists like Badiou, Zizek, and other mainstream thinkers have written books on St. Paul, Monstrous Christianity, Belief, etc. One goes back to the postmodern era with such as Derrida and Levinas returning to infinity and God talk etc.

    It’s like beliefs in UFO’s just another way con-men can make a buck in our superstitious and anxiety ridden societies… sadly some of these dupes dupe themselves into believing their own con.

    1. I don’t know where to begin. A while ago I might have said that it’s in some sense healthier to allow these beliefs insofar as not allowing them involves a repression of the Kantian problem of the limitation of knowledge -it is repressed in favour of actually knowing things as they are, also a fantasy. Now I’m not sure any value laden knowledge like healthier is really appropriate. What I would continue to say is though, varieties of these kinds of thought can only continue to manifest precisely because of the reasons I bang on about like a scratched record. People who believe paranormal or religious things can find an epistemological bolt hole precisely because the matter they are dealing with puts itself outside a scientific epistemology, or at least gives it this escape route. If someone takes a lot of LSD and conducts a thelemic ritual with ‘results’, an alternative ontology of ‘hallucination’ can be intimated but has no especial power over the person to make them concede this because of the other ontology accepted in the first place. Successful results in terms of causation are a confirmation, but the heightened looking for the ‘effect’ of the ritual will always make ‘something’ manifest. I think contrary to the intuition that the science perspective would win out if people would only listen, this isn’t necessary true because at a level of apodicticity it cannot come up with the goods to peep round the corners.

      1. When one takes a look at all the basic Cognitive Biases: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases one is tempted to believe that all those Vedic texts that spoke of Maya aren’t half-cocked. In later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem”. In the oldest pre-Vedic texts Māyā meant wisdom and extraordinary power, but from the Vedic period onwards, the word came to mean “illusion, unreality, deception, fraud, trick, sorcery, witchcraft and magic”.

        When you study Kant and his progeny you get this feeling that our very subjectivity is a form of psychosis. That Transcendental Subject is withdrawn and cut off from reality, locked in a web of signification and illusory intuition and understanding that neither relates to things-in-themselves, but to things for-us. What later philosophers like Meillassoux terms correlationism, etc. Studying postmodernist anti-realists who all believed we were cut off from the external world, trapped in the prison house of language, roaming the inscapes of endless signifiers seeking out the undecidable holes in rhetoric that we’re all mad.

        Then you have Wittgensteing, Frege, and the analytical tradition fixated on getting our statements and descriptions about reality right, rather than knowing or testing reality itself, etc.

        And, of course the whole gamut of difficulties surrounding the various realisms from Platonic realism of Ideas, to the naïve realists, to the new or not so new Speculative realists of objects (Graham Harman) who seek to peer behind the curtain into the inner void of the object, etc.

        Or Ray Brassier seeking a scientific naturalism that will reduce our intermediations between Mind and World in the “concept”. As Deleuze likened: philosophy as the creation of concepts, etc.

        Or, like my friend R. Scott Bakker on his blog Three-Pound Brain who takes a form of elminativism to heart and promotes the notion of “medial neglect”; or, that we are blind to our cognitive biases, cut off from the very knowledge we need to know things, because our evolutionary heritage and brains were constructed to solve very local environmental issues, not the abstract issues and complexity of our modern worlds.

        So here we are with paranormal con-artists who want to by-pass the de-sutured Subject and manipulate and communicate with the noumenon, constructing ghosts out of their own mytho-poetic cognitive biases as if they were all failed poets of the Gothic “night of the world” (Hegel).

        As John Barth the novelist once said: “Welcome to the fun-house of Culture! Enjoy the ride!”

  2. But look, and here’s my caveat: I’m not saying these phenomena are real, that’s not my point.
    However… I will defend the manifestation of these phenomena insofar as when they are pushed out of pretending to be real real (measurable detectable) into hidy holes of ‘you can’t touch me here’. And the hard nosed rationalist wants this place to be an unreasonable place for them to be but actually it isn’t, because this is really the place a lot of this business was said to be in the first place (utterly reliant on particular circumstance). I don’t mean ‘dude some of that 23 shit is pretty scarily fucked up, it must be true!’ but I do mean that someone experiencing a series of 23 like synchronicities cannot be swayed out of it by the law of large numbers, because the former experience is already accepting a non-solid kind of being and expecting them to be corrected with recourse to a different ontology is unconvincing. And the end result of that is that the person who wants to dismiss the 23 person might think they are on the side of ‘truth’ but actually they have nothing to prove their case.

    This is the case because to do so you would need to ‘show’ that seemingly strange strings of numbers found about the place are not messages ‘that your higher mind is awakening’ or ‘from the lizard people around sirius/some other dimension’. And of course you can’t show them that so they (the synchronicity advocate) can continue with ‘ah but you don’t know’ and the rationalist may hold their head in their hands in despair but, equally so might the synchronicity advocate wishing that if the rationalist would just take the goddamn LSD and read the kabbalah book then they would see!

    A paranormal con artist is definitely a kind of thing that exists (an intention to distort and as you say sometimes possibly someone self deluded but this is a tricky area a propos exactly my other reasoning) but I would say there is something akin to a transcendental capacity to perceive phenomena in this light which can indeed be driven out of the central disclosure but then hovers outside the count of one, purely because you would need an entirely different kind of certainty to shut it up. This legitimates a better phenomenological exploration of this kind of realm.

    I always find Wittgenstein particularly interesting precisely because the manifestation of magick is the only thing that prevents his later work from having things sewn up. Magick needs designation, meaning as use does not. This again does not say magick is real but for any ontology that accepts magickal thinking designation in some manner applies.

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