Why do you believe, advocates/skeptics?

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So I'm new here, only just joined, and want to get an idea of why people think the way they do. I don't want this to be a thread about arguing or debunking, just people say why so we can all be on even ground with each other.

My question is, why do you guys believe, or don't believe, in the diffirent PSI related stuff on this forum?

For me, I didn't believe, once. To me materialism/skepticism/physicalism/reductionism whatever seems like a really comfortable place to sit. You're currently in the majority, ever since we started using these techniques and ideas we've been very successful and you can sit back and don't have to worry about someone coming along one day and just shaking your whole world up, it's just slow incremental progress.

But what changed my mind was mostly the people, and the advocacy. I've never been religious, and seeing the way people talk about the current worldview really gave me the bad vibes. Seeing stuff like string theory and multiple universe touted around with zero evidence just because they make math look pretty, seeing people come up with excuses to avoid philosophical questions like the hard problem just because it doesn't fit in with what we know right now. And seeing outlying science topics be responded to with such hostility, when we should be seeing what's there to be know, not just know what's comfortable to our views at the time. PSI has a lot of strong evidence done by smart people with increasingly better methods, that plus just the general idea among the majority that somehow we finally have it figured out and the current paradgim isnt going to change is really what made me more interested.

But that's just me, I wanna know what put you guys in the spot you are, both advocates and skeptics, so I know how everyone is for when I talk on the forums, and so maybe everyone else can see plainly how other people think too.
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Apart from my christian faith I don't consider myself either a proponent or a skeptic.  I have, in the past, called myself a skeptical proponent but I find myself jumping backwards and forwards over the fence with each new piece of evidence or new thought.  I feel certain that reality isn't as concrete as perhaps we like to think it is but I fall short of having any precise explanation for the crazy things that seem to happen to people.  Anyway, that's where the evidence has led me - to an unending curiosity about the nature of reality and consciousness with no hard and fast answers.
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Welcome Spaw.

My journey isn't all that different from yours.  I probably have less conviction for a lot of the phenomena we discuss here (while certainly interested), but my worldview on scientific materialism mirrors your closely: its still "faith" or if one prefers a promissory note from science that says "I can't explain it now, but have faith I one day will be able to do so".  Combine all that with a deep sense (desire?) that there are things like purpose and meaning, and viola!.... I'm a seeker.

Good group here.  Folks that are into evidence and logic and science for that matter.  But all seem to be seekers (IMO).  You should enjoy the content and dialogue.
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I've had varied experiences when I was around four years old that made me think the world in dreaming and the "real" world can blur together.

Sadly the one piece of evidence, a physical mark left on my body, faded away by the time I in my twenties. After that I've wondered about things, shifting into different positions (even leaning toward Physicalism) before eventually settling on being convinced Physicalism is false but none of the other "isms" are necessarily true.

As for the rest of it, the paranormal stuff, after listening to many people tell me about their experiences and reading up on cases I decided to lean into the position that at least some of it is true. Could be wrong, and I'd never tell you to bet your life or savings on it, but for me that works.
'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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Quite young and having a natural pronounced bent towards engineering and science I early became convinced of materialism, and rebelled against my parental spiritual upbringing (Bahai). This was in my teens and twenties. I was a convinced agnostic or atheist depending on my mood. I loved science fiction, which really thoroughly indoctrinates one in materialism and worship of science. Later on, out in the world as a professional electronics engineer and programmer, I had some very difficult experiences of despair and desperation that forced me to investigate whether there was something else. What seemed to me to be outlandish and improbable claims of the existence of a whole world of spirit beyond the physical. Still a rationalist, I found that the only path for me was to exhaustively investigate and study the actual evidence. In order to recognize even the possibility of there being more I needed to convince my intellect of the reality of psi, esp, and of even more unlikely (to me) claims of an afterlife, communication with the deceased, reincarnation and other psychical phenomena. 

So over many years I have studied that evidence, focusing particularly on verified empirical evidence beyond strict lab experimentation, which is completely unsuitable in investigation of most of these phenomena. I mostly respect people's actual experiences as reported in particular when backed up by thorough investigation and verification. Also, I have come to recognize some powerful philosophical arguments that are strong evidence at least against materialism and indirectly for the possibility of the psychical paranormal phenomena mentioned. Philosophically, I think that interactional dualism is by far the best most in accordance with the evidence theory of mind/brain.  

In summary, I have become 99% intellectually convinced of the reality of these phenomena and their obvious implications regarding the real nature of human beings as spiritual beings having an Earth experience. There is also a degree of emotional conviction. There are, however, in my mind some greatly important issues remaining, having to do with whether what appears to be the designed spiritual/physical system is ultimately a good thing from the strictly physical human standpoint. And there are still some niggling doubts that occasionally intrude themselves. I think it is impossible to completely eliminate them.
(This post was last modified: 2020-10-28, 10:59 PM by nbtruthman.)
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I think that from a young age I was open to all sorts of possibilities, and growing older and learning more simply didn't dispel them as possibilities; instead, I came to believe that many of them were realities too, simply because of the many accounts of strange things happening that I either heard directly through the people to whom they occurred or heard/read about through other sources. It seemed unlikely to me that all of those accounts were made up, and since I had not arbitrarily closed the door on those sort of possibilities, I readily came to accept that "weird stuff sometimes happens".

Then, I began having my own "weird" experiences, which only confirmed that acceptance.

I hadn't looked into (or even been particularly aware of) the evidence from parapsychology until semi-randomly discovering Skeptiko a few years back, and while I have still only looked at a very small selection of that evidence, it could perhaps be described as "the cherry on the cake" for me.
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My belief comes from a combination of personal experience and a lot of experimentation. Though my case is somewhat unique as my experiences have been overall pretty severe.

In short, I’ve had a really, really paranormal life right from when I was a kid. If you name it there’s a pretty good chance I’ve experienced it. A lot of it revolves around my supposed past. It’s all a very long and complicated story that I will spare you from.

I’ve spent years testing the claims of my memories, namely about how “magic” works and how to train it. It was one of my very few possible means of verifying the memories themselves, though I had other motives too. It turned out that things work the way I remember, which is both good and bad. It also turned out that the field of parapsychology existed, and its finding are largely the same as mine across the board. Likewise with a couple other areas of science. Though technically that doesn’t actually prove the story of my supposed past. But I can’t deny that at this point my remaining hesitation to just go all in with it isn’t really based on evidence and is probably just me being paranoid of becoming a spiritualist who will believe anything so long as it feels good and matches their worldview. Ironically, my reason for not believing my memories despite increasingly copious amounts of evidence was because I didn’t like myself and didn’t at all want to be that person.

I got pretty far with magic, developed all the neccessary pieces, demonstrating that what I was trying to do was indeed possible. I’d wanted to teach it to others as a way to allow people to live more freely and independently. But I’ve stalled at the final integration stage, largely because of the emotional trauma from my past which has forced me to reevaluate large portions of my values, motives and identity. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pick it up again and finish it off, but I have been making progress through my issues and maybe I’ll get to the point where I can.
"The cure for bad information is more information."
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I got somewhat into new age stuff in my early twenties, enjoying the comfort the position offered, and the sense that everything was as it should be, and all interlinked...that led to reading a number of new age books which claimed that quantum physics was in lockstep with new age belief, which was really comforting to me...that inspired me to start to learn physics, and I then began to realize that the new age folks were bending the ideas of the physics to fit their preferred narrative. Sadly, that pushed me to become a skeptic, as I felt so betrayed by the new age energy folks, and their willingness to play so fast and loose with the ideas from physics. I gobbled up books like "The Demon Haunted World" and "Science Friction" and became a hardcore materialist.

I then happened upon Alex's original forum at mind-energy-net, and watched from the sidelines as the skeptics battled the proponents over the questions of the scientific evidence for psi (both anecdotal and meta-analysis). This pushed me to actually engage with the science of psi, which I did, originally with massive skepticism. The more I read the papers and the books, and the more I read and examined the arguments Linda and Jay were having with Maaneli and Johann about the Ganzfeld, the more I became convinced that it was a debate worth having, from a scientific point if view. I know that those arguments were infuriating to many people, but to me they were the best thing about that forum. 

Johann's measured approach was a revelation to me, and was the thing that pushed me to really consider the evidence with as little bias as possible. I also appreciated Linda's participation. Uh, oh. I know that is a minority position, and I acknowledge that she was sometimes a pain and would definitely obfuscate in order to avoid losing an argument, but I think she was also very sharp and extremely capable of pointing out issues with proponent arguments. The fact that so few proponents would acknowledge when she was right and would simply resort to ad-hom attacks was really eye-opening to me. 

The following are the books that really helped me embrace the possibility that psi might be something more than wishful thinking:

Debating Psychic Experience: Human Potential or Human Illusion?
An Introduction to Parapsychology

Now I'm somewhere in the middle, leaning towards the proponent side. I think it's clear that psi has been demonstrated in the lab, at least by the standards of social science (though I wonder what that's worth in the end). I find the anecdotes very persuasive as a whole, but also slippery by themselves and hard to use as firm footing. Still searching...
(This post was last modified: 2020-11-01, 02:43 PM by berkelon.)
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(2020-11-01, 02:16 PM)berkelon Wrote: Now I'm somewhere in the middle, leaning towards the proponent side. I think it's clear that psi has been demonstrated in the lab, at least by the standards of social science (though I wonder what that's worth in the end). I find the anecdotes very persuasive as a whole, but also slippery by themselves and hard to use as firm footing. Still searching...

Curious - have to tried to achieve your own Psi experiences or investigate cases yourself?
'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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(2020-11-01, 07:58 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Curious - have to tried to achieve your own Psi experiences or investigate cases yourself?

I've participated in many online experiments for telepathy and precognition. I've never tried to remote view something, or communicate with a deceased relative..never tried to manifest PK...in terms of investigated cases, do you mean as a primary investigator? Like trying to go out in the field and interview people claiming to have experienced psi effects? If so, no. 

I remember going pretty deeply into a few reincarnation and synchronicity cases (can't remember which, but I remember offering some thoughtful, possible mundane explanations on skeptiko and basically being told to shut up ). I looked pretty deeply into the Indigo Children when the researcher was on Skeptiko, I was keeping up with the Aware project, looked into the dogs who know their owner is returning stuff, looked into whoever Sandy B claimed was the best macro pk guy on youtube, looked at dean radin spoon bending parties, went pretty deep in Uri Geller and the Stanford experiments, etc. I'm sure I've read about 10-15 other cases in some depth over the past 15 years (Pam Reynolds, a case with a some veridical info regarding a shoe acquired during an obe, many I can't remember for sure) just through following links from skeptiko threads but none have left me with a distinctly different outlook or left such an impression that I can't ever forget them. 

Like I said, I find the totality of the anecdotes somewhat persuasive, but I find it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and no single case has had such a profound effect on me that I feel forever changed by it. If you have a particular case you think is a slam dunk, I'd love to hear about it.  That said, I'm not interested in getting shouted down by ideologues (got enough of that on skeptiko), so I'll tread lightly when it comes to responding and potentially questioning the "obvious proof of psi" from whichever anecdote. As much as this forum represents a distinct improvement from skeptiko, I still think there is outright disdain for materialists (not that I am one, but I respect them) here from a few of the members.

Berkelon
(This post was last modified: 2020-11-02, 01:08 AM by berkelon.)
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