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Old 03-02-2016   #1
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Topic Nominated Do you believe in the paranormal?

I was actually going to post this with a different title. It was originally going to be: "Do people raised in a catholic home have a higher propensity to believe in the paranormal than lets say a in a protestant society"?

I will stick to the new title however. I'll get straight to the point. Do you believe in ghosts, lurking and dormant energies in places where bad things have happened? the sleeping memory of a loved one wandering for ever in this earth?

Obviously, for smart people like you this might sound like a bunch of crap . But really, if you give the concept of the paranormal a little more thought it is not that absurd. We seek to be tortured by fear, but not the normal earthly fear of not affording bills or ill death, but rather the intangible fear of that which we cannot comprehend because we can't stop it. It exists beyond our control and it doesn't matter how flawed you might be as a person, if the dead rise tomorrow it won't be your fault. I guess that at the same time, that line of thought could be applied to a solar flare that wipes out our communications or an asteroid hitting our planet.

I like to believe that 99.1% of most of what happens in our surroundings can be explained by science, yet the 0.01% left over is so morbidly attractive. I want to believe. Hauntings, demons, insanity due to having seen what you should not have is so damn attractive!

Do you want to believe but you cant allow yourself? Do you believe in the paranormal?

"I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death"

Thomas Ligotti-The Red Tower
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Old 03-02-2016   #2
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

No.

The attractiveness of a notion, by the way, has no bearing on its validity.
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Old 03-02-2016   #3
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

Well, I agree with you sir/madam.

But for the sake of discussion, why do you not believe in the paranormal? Do you find the thought abhorrent? old fashioned superstitiousness? ignorance?

"I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death"

Thomas Ligotti-The Red Tower
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Old 03-02-2016   #4
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

I do not believe in anything specifically paranormal, but I am not a staunch materialist and am in constant doubt about what my mind presents to me about the world, so the idea our scientific understanding is false in certain key areas or that our brains have incorrectly separated reality and folklore whilst translating our dark surroundings seems a possibility to me.

I do not hold a belief in ghosts or demons or gods, but I would not be completely 100% surprised if they existed. I just – hallucinations aside – don't understand why anybody would feel certain ghosts or vampires or demons exist, in the same way I don't understand why people are certain God exists. Gut instinct and the poetry of an idea aren't enough for me to form a foundation of a worldview. I need more.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 03-02-2016   #5
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

Thanks for your reply James!

I think that it is a necessary part of being human, that is, searching for meaning in the things that are not tangible. Recently, perhaps I am becoming older I have started to search out for a deeper meaning to my existence. The sobering answer being that probably there isn't any meaning to it. The same way the sun rises everyday with the implacability of the laws of the universe, I wither and die little by little each day.

In a way writing fiction and consuming horror appeals to a necessary need to be afraid of that which I cannot control. I like to think that the beauty of being human is to see all the flaws in our existence. Like TL writes in TCATHR, animated puppets and all.

I want to buy a haunted house. I need to experience that type of horror, even if it is imagined. There is got to be something to it?

"I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death"

Thomas Ligotti-The Red Tower
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Old 03-02-2016   #6
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

I think a lot of dismissiveness about the paranormal is arbitrary. It's as if there's a list of things that one should be skeptical about to qualify as a true skeptic. I'm reminded of Sei Shonagon's whimsical lists in The Pillow Book:

Disgusting Things

The inside of a cat's ear
Lice
A poor person who doesn't bow at the appropriate moment
A butterfly's tongue

Etc.

I think until we've established what objective reality is (we can assume it exists, without assuming we know what it is), it's hard to define what's paranormal anyway.

I believe in ghosts in the following sense: We are ghosts, gradually being abolished by our own 'common sense'.

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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Old 03-02-2016   #7
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

I want to go back to the paranormal and god thing. So believing in the paranormal can be either complementary to being religious or an alternative (not mutually exclusive). Is the bible a good horror book?

I ask this not trying to be an edgy atheist, honestly. I am at the most an agnostic with an interest in religion.

If we are to become scared of non-tangible realities or creatures. that is, if they scare us at all, shouldn't we at least be attracted to the thought of said paranormal creatures being real?

"I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death"

Thomas Ligotti-The Red Tower
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Old 03-02-2016   #8
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

I think it’s more like even accepting the term “paranormal” entails a kind of worldview or paradigm that I can’t really take seriously - specifically, scientism or reductive materialism. This isn’t to say that I don’t believe the scientific method is useful, just that it has nothing to do with basic questions of ontology, and in fact the more science we learn, the murkier things tend to become. I spend a fair amount of time around scientists and it’s safe to say that the popular understanding of matter is almost comically reductive. To give an example, the other day I met up with a graduate student friend of mine and another friend, and we spent something like two or three hours discussing what an electron is - and after hours of the graduate student’s patient explanations, I still only came away with something along the lines of “something that can’t really be isolated in any one place and occasionally behaves like a particle and occasionally like a wave and is kind of smeared across the valence like a ripple in water” - in other words something that doesn’t make much intuitive sense to me and to which the single neat word we’ve developed for it doesn’t do justice. My friend eventually got bored and said “It doesn’t make sense until you get pretty deep into the math anyway.”

Things which “intuitively” make sense to humans are usually very bad predictors of reality. The actual, scientifically-observable universe makes VERY LITTLE intuitive sense, as modern physics has revealed. Our language still hasn’t caught up with any of this. Similarly, anyone who has had significant experience with altered states of consciousness will know that the way we normally perceive “reality” is only one setting or tuning, and that things which others would dismiss as “hallucinations” may have a higher “reality quotient” than what we normally take to be reality. 

As to whether ghosts, demons, hyperspatial machine elves etc. have an existence external to us, or whether “external to us” is even a meaningful concept, I’d have to just say “I don’t know.” But I’ve met enough reputable people who’ve reported extraordinary or otherwise incommensurable-with-the-everyday experiences that reports of “paranormal” phenomena don’t seem immediately absurd or unlikely. Something like gravitational lensing, dark matter or the existence of black holes probably would have seemed equally absurd or unbelievable to people living hundreds of years ago. 
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Old 03-02-2016   #9
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

As far as demons and/or communicating with "spirits" I absolutely do not believe in such things.

Can people see "ghosts" or images of those now dead? I think it is entirely possible, but not in a spiritualist sense. Rather, I think it is a matter that science has not yet evolved to such a point to be able to explain how or why these images occur. But there does seem to be something to these imagines that too many people have seen over time to be completely dismissive of it.

What we may be seeing is nothing more than a "film" of the deceased, a sort of mild rip in the fabric of space and time, if that idea doesn't sound too hokey. The how and why remains at issue.

But yes, I do think many people are legitimately seeing something (though not a "ghost" in our traditional sense of the word) and one day our own science will be able to explain how it occurs.

"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H. P. Lovecraft
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Old 03-02-2016   #10
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Re: Do you believe in the paranormal?

Good topic. Interesting responses and conversation so far.

For my own contribution, I'll simply link out to my own extended thoughts on the subject. I think the full introduction to my paranormal encyclopedia is readable through Google Books preview. The last part of it, where I summarize a new paradigm regarding the paranormal that has emerged in the last few years out of religious studies, anthropology, and related fields, pretty much states my own position (which has evolved a bit since I addressed the same subject from a more skeptical position in my TLO interview a few years ago).

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