Sunday, February 15, 2009

On skeptics side.

The more I am reading magazines about the paranormal, the more I am listening to what people involved in the metaphysical say, the more I watch specific tv shows or being informed about it, the more I side on with the skeptics. And so much more I can understand the war they are on, why some of them are so radical, why this fight can now be considered as a humanistic process.

Don't get me wrong, this is not my style. I always disliked the way radical skepticism works. It's sad that it happens, when bringing specific subjects into discussion (about unexplained phenomena) some so-called skeptic people spontaneously rush to reply that all these stuff are bullshit. It's like they already have prepared the position they hold and you can't change their mind.

I prefer honest skepticism. Although, the more I accumulate knowledge about the whole issue (not only the phenomena, but even articles concerning how easily we are deluded or the question of why do we believe) the more I come to side with skeptics, even the fanatical ones. It's not the way I perceive and work on situations, but I can now understand their anger. Not only that, but now I discover that this side is more reliable than it's opposite.

The paranormal is a world that always interested me. At least some portions of it. I was always (and still am) fascinated by the stories about UFOs or other strange phenomena. I can't say why. If you tell me a reason, it might or might not be that. Everybody must have his own reasons for being interested to these stuff. For example, I never really dug the new age alike ideas, somehow I hated it when they were talking about higher planes of existence, the universe being one and such stuff that are usually more popular among girls. UFOs or extraterrestrials (even though it's not sure they are necessary connected with each other) were more close to my interests, maybe because space always fascinated me and the phenomena as described were very strange and outlandish. Of course all that could be seen with other more down to earth explanations. Although I preferred to keep an open mind or that was (and still is) the way I am used to think. Some people have a need to skeptically respond to such claims as if, when they don't it would feel like they accepted. But this is not how I think. I am fascinated at first and then let it open. It doesn't mean that I believe or I accept a story if I don't counteract. Imho.

Anyways, arriving from that world and after few personal frustrations with the paranormal community (because for some reasons I am a real maniac concerning the search for some answers and I got fed up by the ever-growing confusion in these cycles) I started reading more skeptical articles on the internet. Even if at some times they make equally improbable assumptions in order to debunk some improbable claims, there are some really good stuff in there, which for my case it was something new and I felt like I was reborn. (That teaches me that when I am stuck for years in the same ideas, I should try switching to the opposite information, the one I always avoided taking into consideration or even touching)

Nowadays I trust and sympathize more with any kind of skeptics. I still prefer the more honest and less radical ones. In any way I feel like I can trust these people more than others concerning reliability, if I wish to know more about these subjects and avoid confusion.

There is even another interesting kind of war here. Maybe it's not a bad thing. Needless to say, it's very interesting to me. It seems that there is some kind of split up in worldviews of scientists that could be described as a war between materialism and spiritualism. Some scientists believe that we are nothing more than a brain mass but others keep a more dualistic view of ourselves, either believing in the existence of a soul, higher planes of consciousness or generally something unmeasured with conventional scientific methods that is parallel to the material world. And the fascinating thing is that scientists around the world are eager to research these assumptions.

If you ask me, I am more on the side of the monistic view that all we have is a brain. Two and a half reasons for that. First, I am fascinated by the whole research on how the brain works. Although I don't have a clue about neuroscience, I am really curious about the answers the research into this field might give us. The second reason is an aftereffect of the first, the fact that this research gives us more clues than the dualistic views do. At least I think so. And all I want is some good answers, not metaphysical confusion. The half reason is already mentioned several lines above. I am allergic to several new age worldviews. I don't know why but they either sound so naive or I simply hate them. And the dualistic views of many of these fringe scientists are sounding alike.

So, would I dismiss the fringe science? No. I am not one hundred percent on the side of materialist scientists. I just found them more reliable and more compatible to my worldview. But I do have a keen interest in those things that scientists are afraid to touch, the ones that could produce an outrage and I like that these scientists have the guts to do their research on those taboo fields. At the same time I really enjoy and support the skeptic reactions towards fringe scientists because I believe that they help to keep a balance between radical denial and naive openmindness. It's only the best when both sides have strong and honest arguments.

Yet the question remains. Would even these fringe scientists be "dangerous"? In what way? What are we afraid of here? I was watching some greek tv show today (pyles tou anexigitou) and then I really started worrying and understanding the humanistic aspect of being a skeptic. There is such absurd meta-literature on everything that makes you cringe and wonder how come people blindly believe all these stuff and what could be the forecoming consequences. And then there is the dilemma whether I worry too much or whether each side is a bit too radical or too crazy or too deluded.

One thing is for sure though, that I am clearly getting closer to the skeptics side rather than the naive metaphysical worldview.

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