Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paranormal Fiction

Well, I've reopened this blog and yet I didn't post something new. Like half of my other blogs anyway. Some say, I shouldn't have so many blogs, or split my interests in several of them. Well, I will stick with it now, maybe in the future I am more into paranormal stuff than computers or psychology and have more to say here. And I will inaugurate the reopening of this blog with a new small post.

They have asked me why I am so much into paranormal and UFOs. Some wonder why I don't read sci-fi instead? Reading the next conspiracy theory is a waste but reading sci-fi isn't they say. I disagree.

I discover that I am not much into reading as many sci-fi or fantasy books as my geeky image would require. I might have some favorites but I am not much into it or I don't have much time to read everything. But the books that have hooked me most are books based on reality. I could read a scientific or philosophical book (but I still don't read enough, I couldn't easily name some favorites) or books on the paranormal or conspiracy theories. The later is like a mix of sci-fi/fantasy with clues (even if made up) that those things could exist. This is what hooks me so much! It's not so addictive when I read a book I know it's fiction. I am not impressed by the energy source of the Enterprise or the magic powers of Gandalf or whatever when I know it's made up and you can make up everything. Sometimes I prefer to see sci-fi or fantasy in a movie and still I want something more thoughtful and that's why I really like Star Trek the next generation compared to Star Wars which looks like a fairy tale to me. Star Trek is about the philosophical thoughts and not the futuristic.

But going back to the subject, the paranormal has lost it's credibility. If you are into it you might be a lunatic. Or, if you want to present yourself as a very smart person, you have to get away from it. That is the stereotype. But for me, the best way to see it now is like reading the most extraordinary fiction, one that tries to mangle reality with fantasy. Don't take things for granted but imagine how amazing it would be if some of these things have really happened. In fact, the more I get into it, the more I practice my critical thinking. That sounds like a paradox. But this is just me, I don't belong to the believers or the skeptics, so I can be more careful without trying to belong in either side. The more I approach it, the more I try to stretch my skepticism too. Because the most extraordinary things could possibly stay, when every other alternative is eliminated (to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes). Observing all different positions, eliminating what cannot be presumed, really staying with what one could really assume with a very high probability. I like this. It really stretches my brain. In the meanwhile I learn by my mistakes, I start observing how believers or skeptics work, how conspiracy theorists manipulate data and present you things in such a way that it's highly believable yet when you hear the story from the debunker's side you immediately feel the same way about non-existence.

Needless to say, one way why the paranormal world is a world mangling reality with myth, why I keep this view of  looking at the mysteries as fiction that pass as reality, hooking you more, this is the world of the entertainer and his audience. This is the same as a magician performing tricks seemingly impossible but then we are educated that they are just tricks and that person has not sold his soul to the devil or something. But in the world of conspiracies and paranormal we don't think like this. Yet observe, investigate and you will see that the stories are told in such a way and with only some pieces of the data presented as to construct that really persuasive fictional reality. Maybe not all of the people who spread the stories are hoaxers, maybe some really believe in these stuff, in such a way that they omit data and keep those that fit their story best, unwillingly. I imagine a big matrix of neomythologies in the modern world, urban legends, conspiracies, stories from mouth to mouth and also from networks of people to other organized networks, where some of the people might want to gain money yet most other perpetuate the mystery because they want to believe. It's like we have all created a mystery to entertain ourselves. A collective world that intermixes paranormality and the everyday life.

I was saying sometimes that I hate seeing myself just reading more of these stuff. I mean,. what I need to do is explore, let the books away and actually travel to those places where several UFOs have been seen, stare for 4 hours at the night sky (it's very relaxing actually), visit a supposedly haunted house, talk to people, join an exploration group, try strange experiments, really get into these stuff. Though, the fiction could still go on even when visiting the places, one could still imagine things because of wishful thinking, but I believe it would be interesting with myself, because I am such a doubt machine. And no, doubt machine is not one who is already certain that all these stories are bullshit and denies them at first sight. It's neither a debunker nor a believer. I like my stretchy skepticism while keeping the faith. Those opposite forces each correcting the other. Anyway, what would that be, if I went out and explored, not just read about these stuff in books but investigate them? Maybe I would find nothing. Or I would think I've noticed something and then my imagination would create a live fiction. Live fiction, like live action RPGs :)

So, I am still into it. Learning. Thinking about it. Stretching my mental powers. Living through it. Even if just with books. This is much better for me than any classy sci-fi book where you know the protagonist lives and wins. Where is the suspense in this?

Paranormality can really be thought as entertainment. Not many have made this assumption. I don't remember if or when I have heard this one from another person. We are the audience and conspiracy theorists, authors, paranormal journalist, UFOlogists, investigating groups, organizations, whether honest or not, they are the entertainers. Humanity creates it's own reality. Urban legends, modern myths, extraordinary stories, we crave for them and others like to tell stories and inspire (or make some extra bucks :).

p.s. Few days before that freaking day where everyone jokes about or waits for something extraordinary to happen. I don't believe something will happen (except if you believe that the collective consciousness of the world could somehow affect reality... well it's already affecting us anyway when we talk about it) but sometimes I joke that billions of people who expected their lives to change will be so disappointed the next day that they will go berserk and bring chaos and destruction. A self-fulfilling prophecy indeed ;)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Introversion and special interests

For about an hour and a half I was writing tons of thoughts in my private iDoneThis personal calendar. I would like to write a summary of some of these thoughts as brief as possible and that could prove hard.

I got my inspiration from an incident today. I was out with some of my geeky friends and a girl who was into our geeky world sometimes but usually gets bored with our discussions. You could think if you have met us for the very first time that we are extremely talkative and that she is the introvert. But thinking about her, in several other occasions she is always the one who stars conversation with the next random person she just met and she seems to be more interested about meeting and talking to people than talk excessively about special interests. She is actually quite the extrovert with the more proper definition of the term if you think about it.

It also happens that we don't look introvert because we are a small group of geeky people with very similar interests and we know each other and know that we can freely talk about these subjects. If I was in a party with lot's of people and my friends where there and we didn't know each other, maybe I would not get the opportunity to talk to them about my special interests if I decided to hide these because most probably nobody would be interested to listen to these things at the party place. And those people too, would avoid to talk about these and maybe prefer to do small talk, because everyone is expected to respond and connect more easily with everyday matters and little stuff. Then we would possibly look introverted. Introverted in an extroverted world, but what if suddenly the party is occupied mostly by geeks that know each other well and only very few people who don't know why the heck they visited this party in the first place? Then we would actually be extroverts among very few introverts.

So, if our niche interests are not easily found in the majority of people in society and that makes it hard for us to connect with new people, would it ever be possible for that to change in our favor? I think not, because the thing that connects people is the most common denominator and that is casual talk about everyday life, things you see in TV and everyone is familiar with and that stuff. It's not technicalities, it's not the detail, not a hobby for fewer, more intelligent or weird people. And this even works in a vicious circle. If more people connect through common subjects, more people who are interested in connecting with an even higher number of people would continue spreading these subjects and more people would become familiarized with what everyone talks about and the cycle will go on. It reminds me of how common opinions are spreading, memes gaining weight endlessly.

So, the question is, why don't we also learn to start talking about common everyday things so that we connect this way to more people? And this is where the answer lies, one important dichotomy of different cognitive styles. When we start conversations we do it for the sake of transferring our ideas, discussing our special interests with someone else who understands and shares the same passion. Most people talk just for the sake of talking, in order to connect to even more people, without being specially interested in the details of what they are talking about. We don't particularly like talking about things just to talk about anything.

So if our obsession with ideas and interests that fascinate us doesn't help us connect with many people, while common everyday subjects helps more people to get together, it's bound that at the end 90% of social situations would be filled with more of the casual discussions and that would gradually form a social "reality" where most people's image would be the norm and niche interests would be stereotypically connected to introversion and abnormality. It works like a magnet where the majority attracts the most common denominator of frequently discussed subjects and also like a self evolving organism where it ends up to create the image of what came to be considered social or not.

This is one basic cognitive dichotomy I find very important about different temperaments. It's a quite different way we prefer to think and interact with people, whether we are truly interested about ideas or just want to connect with more people. Besides that, I am still feeling like being quite close but not exactly touching the whole connection of it with introversion either the stereotypical one or as it's defined by Susan and other psychologists. I mean, I am still trying to connect the whole puzzle here but the whole feeling of a certain answer slips away from me. In a world where more supposedly extroverted people make more casual conversations, this social mode doesn't exactly favor us and so we don't usually take part in the process and look like introverts in the eyes of most people. In terms of the later definition, there is this vague reference to losing energy while socializing and gaining while being alone and lost in our thoughts or hobbies. It's vague because I don't feel exactly like loosing/gaining some sort of physical energy in any way. But maybe it's just a context for being "energized", being passionate when revolving around our personal thoughts and special interests alone or with few friends sharing similar passions but being bored (not "energized" or demotivated) at the same time in most social situations where connections matter and you can't have a more thorough or interesting discussion.

Either way, we always fall as introverts in a majority that favors the extrovert style of socialization because that attracts most people and thus perpetuates the situation in a vicious circle. Now the strange thing is, Susan in her book Quiet suggests that according to statistics at least 1/3 (to maybe half!) of the population consists of introverts and what explains that we never see them is the fact that most have learned to play the role of the extrovert person because it's considered better to look like one. I would be quite surprised actually if something like 90% of that 1/3 would all really be the thinker person, passionate about ideas and special interests and dispassionate about forming too many people connections, yet they all hide under this pressure. Although I do believe that we live in a prison that we have created for ourselves, that we can be such schizophrenics, that the true revolution would be if each one of us would try to be a little bit more of his true self and less of the expected social image. But one third? I hope so really. Imagine the size of the prison we have build for ourselves if this is true though. The hypocrisy! A whole society, a whole world, living in self denial.

I have my doubts for this one and yet my hopes that it's true. Time will tell. And I hope for a revolution in the way we perceive the whole human condition concerning this issue. Time will tell.
Locations of visitors to this page