Checking for normal things first

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I don't know if this is the best place for this but I thought it would be good to discuss things to check for when an experience appears anomalous.

In this example, the reporter explains how he was unaware of how a button on a crossing could have been pushed when there was apparently nobody there.

https://www.assap.ac.uk/blog/detail/why-...-look-back
Quote:But here’s the crucial point. I looked around but NOT  behind me? Why not? Because I didn’t expect there to be someone behind me who had pushed the button. Expectation is an important, but little discussed, factor that can affect witness testimony. We know about the limitations of memory and perception but there is also expectation.  Witnesses will rarely look for the unexpected causes of what is an unexpected event. I might have confidently reported there was no one else there had the woman not passed me on the crossing. And I would have been wrong.
This seems to be an interesting resource.

https://www.assap.ac.uk/blog
Very recently had an interesting thing... bought some new Oral-B tooth brush heads, and opened a new tube of my regular toothpaste, I experienced quite a bitter taste... this went on for a while, before I tried a taste of the toothpaste by itself, and it seemed sweet as usual, I assumed it was the brush head, as the green bristles change colour over time. I've put up with it for a while since, then I decided to see if anyone else was complaining about these brush heads, but couldn't find anything online, so I tried using the toothbrush head without toothpaste. It was fine? So I started looking for bitter and toothpaste, and I found an interesting article explaining how the SLS content in the toothpaste was altering my sense of taste as it foamed up. this made absolute sense, I had a solution! Change toothpaste to an SLS free type! And I quickly found and ordered a new toothpaste that was SLS free from Amazon (which would take a couple of days to arrive).

Great so far... but here's when you find out just how ones experience can change... with I assume... new information...

That evening I went to brush my teeth as usual using my original toothpaste and brush head... and it doesn't taste bitter anymore? And it hasn't since?

Nothing has changed, apart from my new knowledge...
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
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(2023-07-04, 02:33 PM)Max_B Wrote: Very recently had an interesting thing... bought some new Oral-B tooth brush heads, and opened a new tube of my regular toothpaste
Presumably you've used that type of toothbrush before and you said it was your usual toothpaste (though a new tube).

The question then is what did change? The firmness of the bristles? The recipe and ingredients of your regular toothpaste?

It seems you concluded it was an ingredient in the toothpaste, implying I guess that the ingredients had indeed changed, though I didn't see you mention it.

edit:
There is another possibility - the firmer bristles together with the toothpaste was giving your teeth a more vigorous cleaning, thus it may have been material from the surface of the teeth which caused the taste. That effect would tend to subside after a day or so of regular use.
(This post was last modified: 2023-07-04, 03:01 PM by Typoz. Edited 1 time in total.)
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After spending many years studying paranormal phenomena and trying very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff I don't think there's a satisfactory list of normal explanations to check for that covers all cases. What must be checked varies too much with the context in which the alleged events happen so it's down to the competence of the investigator or investigators, and whether we can trust that they correctly identified the relevant and irrelevant variables with respect to the case in context, when they figured what potential normal causes should be looked into and ruled out. Skeptics treat this as a big problem for paranormal research but I don't see how it is, because it's not unique to paranormal research. In scientific studies, forensic investigations and all that there are always alternative possible explanations and it's easy to miss one or to not adequately investigate one or all of them. I guess there is some disadvantage in the paranormal world because the conclusion that something paranormal happened is usually purely negative, based on the absence of any normal explanation, whereas in normal studies and investigations, positive evidence for explanations can be easily obtained in addition to negative evidence for others. Still the same basic point applies: it's easy to get things wrong in any area of research or investigation. The fact that we sometimes incorrectly decide that a paranormal event happened doesn't count against the reality of the paranormal more than failures in scientific research related to incompetence, fraud and all that count against normal science.

Having said that I'm pretty sure that the most COMMON cause of cases having spurious paranormality is bad investigators and journalists reshaping people's testimony and even memories through suggestions and leading questions. Like I said in my post the other day it's best to just neutrally ask people to tell you what they remember. When you do that you get great reliable info the far majority of the time as a matter of scientific fact. When investigators don't do that you tend to end up with a situation where there's some sensational very impressive looking paranormal narrative that's highly promoted on the one hand, but then if you go back to the original eyewitness testimony and other more direct evidence, there's a pretty obvious normal explanation. Most of the at first promising cases I've run across that I had to "debunk" at the end of the day are like that. This thread is devoted to a case I'd put in that category: https://psiencequest.net/forums/thread-r...eard-voice

For that reason I only put stock in paranormal cases where the evidence is from excellent investigators or other researchers and where we've got highly contemporaneous records that fit a paranormal interpretation. That's why the Feilding, Baggally, and Carrington investigation of Eusapia Palladino where everything got taken down as it happened by a stenographer is a big deal and gives great evidence of the paranormal, the dumb criticisms of Wiseman many decades later not withstanding, but stories like the one in the thread I just linked don't.
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(2023-07-04, 02:58 PM)Typoz Wrote: Presumably you've used that type of toothbrush before and you said it was your usual toothpaste (though a new tube).

The question then is what did change? The firmness of the bristles? The recipe and ingredients of your regular toothpaste?

It seems you concluded it was an ingredient in the toothpaste, implying I guess that the ingredients had indeed changed, though I didn't see you mention it.

edit:
There is another possibility - the firmer bristles together with the toothpaste was giving your teeth a more vigorous cleaning, thus it may have been material from the surface of the teeth which caused the taste. That effect would tend to subside after a day or so of regular use.

just a new Oral-B brush head, and opened a new tube of toothpaste started it off, but I put up with the taste for about 3 weeks (and assumed it was the brush - strong green colours), before I tried tasting the toothpaste neat, it was fine. Then days later tried the brush (without toothpaste), also fine. It really does seem that finally finding out it wasn't the brush, and finding an alternative explanation (SLS) at the same time... somehow made my experience alter.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
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(2023-07-04, 11:42 AM)Brian Wrote: I don't know if this is the best place for this

It belongs better in the SvP forum. I've moved it there.
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I do think there is something worthwhile in studying things like cold reading and hot reading, because it is hard to gauge how good someone can be at faking mediumship or psychic powers if one lacks knowledge of how tricks of varied kinds can be done.

OTOH, I do think a lot of this depends on what a person is getting out of something like mediumship or any other practice. For example I largely just buy books on the paranormal, maybe attend some event that requires a ticket that isn't too expensive.

As such I don't worry too much as I am not sinking tons of money into these subjects.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2023-07-08, 04:56 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I do think there is something worthwhile in studying things like cold reading and hot reading, because it is hard to gauge how good someone can be at faking mediumship or psychic powers if one lacks knowledge of how tricks of varied kinds can be done.

OTOH, I do think a lot of this depends on what a person is getting out of something like mediumship or any other practice. For example I largely just buy books on the paranormal, maybe attend some event that requires a ticket that isn't too expensive.

As such I don't worry too much as I am not sinking tons of money into these subjects.

Funnily enough some of the best skeptical parasychology researchers do this exact thing. Dr Callum E Cooper has talked about his knowledge of cold and hot reading and uses it in demonstrations while teaching parapsychology to his students. To be a good investigator you have to know all the tricks, and it's why old mediumship tests use to bring in cold readers, skeptics, professional charlatans and magicians to make sure that mediums were using NO tricks.
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(2023-07-08, 12:40 PM)Laird Wrote: It belongs better in the SvP forum. I've moved it there.

Thank you.  It's not where I would have put it because I am not looking for debate, just information but that's OK.
(This post was last modified: 2023-07-09, 10:26 AM by Brian. Edited 1 time in total.)

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