The Account of a Lifetime

November 9, 2009

Get some perspective (or ‘Hey, that’s cool!’)

Filed under: A day in the life of...,Cogitations,Tea. Earl Grey. Hot — xisor @ 6:10 pm

Good news, anyone!

I’m having a lovely cup of sencha tea and feeling exceedingly 1930s about things. It’s ‘the Great Depression’ again (I had to nip down to the job centre today and it felt very ‘depression era’; a wee collection of folks huddled outside for a smoke, folks inside avidly searching any available lists of jobs going, yet folks were surprisingly cheerful despite the grim nature of the situation: you’re out of work!) all over again, I’m sporting a trilby (I think), fingerless gloves, a brown coat, wearing a shirt and tanktop (not that that’s a surprise), but I felt simultaneously rather well dressed and destitute. It’s surprisingly enjoyable being at the bottom of the heap, so to speak. (But, if I don’t speak to soon, I still have my health! Cue: illness!)

Anyway, as said: I’m having tea, some nice sausages for dinner and I’ve more than a few ideas rattling around in my head which I hope to get noted down for future reference. (Foremost at this instant transforming my Tau RPG, at some point, into a Rogue Trader Tau RPG!)

Some Perspective

A fellow poster on a site I frequent brought this up in a discussion of paranormal stuff…

“I’m the least sceptical person I know and will believe just about anything, especially about the government, aliens and other stuff.

I’ve only had one paranormal experience: I was about six and very tired.
I used to sleep with the hallway light on and with my door wide open into my bedroom.
One night at about midnight, I woke up and saw a silent, spectral creature.
His face was moon shaped and smiling and he wore a white tuxedo, he hovered just close to the roof looking at the lightbulb and then I fell asleep.

It was strange and a little scary at the time.

Other then that not much to report, but I do believe, funnily enough though, despite my post, I don’t believe in ghosts.

Something about if you die you continue drifting through places and haunting people is silly to me, good for movies, not real life.”

I found it amazing that he first announces himself as ‘the least sceptical person ever’ but then goes on to be almost the definition of sceptical. Recount an experience ‘exactly as he saw it’, then dismiss the idea of ghosts on the simple basis that it sounds silly! Marvelous!

 

My own take?

Well, as a few folks will know, I’m very resistant to the idea of propagating idiotic ghost stories. That is: I repeatedly ‘naysaid’ the senior student’s idea for doing ‘Ghost Walks’ and retelling stories and such as part of the hall freshers’ week experience this year. I think she happily disregarded my thoughts on the matter, but that’s beside the point. I’m not saying people didn’t have these experiences, or belittling them themselves, but I do belittle the very idea of ghosts. I mean, honestly, it’s ridiculous!

 

Some awesome words for everyone.

My response called me to bring into the discussion some words with which I’m particularly enamoured. I think they’re very important to consider in almost every discussion of the odd, weird, unexpected or ‘paranormal’.

Credulous
Apophenia
Chinese Lanterns

 

Credulous

The opposite of incredulous. You, anyone being credulous, believe things without question or consideration. Don’t do this, it’s silly.

 

Apophenia

Discerning patterns in random noise. You’ll be familiar with paradolia; the name given to seeing (or hearing) things which aren’t really there. ‘The face on mars’, ‘shapes in clouds’, ‘goblins in hedges’. All of these are very easily explained by paradolia (and apophenia).

Most of the things in life don’t have particular meaning or significance. Many things do have significance, but sometimes we’ll wrongly categorise things.

 

Chinese Lanterns

They’re lights. That fly. Probably one of the most common modern-day causes of folks seeing unidentified flickering lights in the sky.

Fairly self-explanatory, but I think they’re really important. Well, perhaps Chinese Lanterns not as much, but apophenia is a great counterbalance to any ‘really significant anecdotes’ you hear. It’s closely related with all sorts of biases in the reading of experiments, data and experience. But, by the same token, I don’t think it diminishes the beauty or wonder. Some people seem to not be able to accept ‘scientific explanation’ as numinous (in the Contact ‘secular’ sense of the word, not the more prominent and heavily religious sense).

From Army of Ghosts:

Jackie: You’re always doing this, reducing it to science. Why can’t it be real? Just think of it though, all the people we’ve lost, our families coming back home. Don’t you think it’s beautiful?
The Doctor: I think it’s horrific.

Personally, I’m really ambivalent about stuff like this. I get uppity about it, and I’m a real pain for folks in ‘pub discussions’ on stuff like that (the flashbacks I get to the Whey Pat and all sorts of similar discussions is really quite astounding!), but intellectually, cooly logically, I can’t deny that ‘if there’s evidence; hooray, if not; pfft’. I’m confident there’s plenty of cool and awesome stuff, I’m sorry to say that just basic ‘thinking’, a little bit of research and some supposition about the nature stuff tells me that ghosts, vast tracts of alternative medicine, UFOs, miracles and such are probably not the really ‘cool’ bits of reality.

 

For my part…

There’s every reason to be sceptical about things, but almost no good reason to be overly cynical or pessimistic. It’s very well to keep an open mind, but don’t have your mind so open that your brain falls out!


What’s really cool about the world?

Everything. Not taxes and CVs and washing machines, but look: trees. They’re pretty damn weird! And how about stars? Or people? Not enough? Sex too. And love. And chums. And coincidences. And folks slipping on banana skins.

 

But is this really all there is?

Billions of years, trillions of miles, innumerable permutations of things happening and people want really stupid ghosts on very little evidence?

Get some perspective!

The Pioneer Anomaly
Logical paradoxes
Numbers. All of them

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