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Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

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Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby caniswalensis » 02 Jun 2010, 04:01

Hi All,

I stumbled upon your Website & forum today while googling up some paranormal stuff. I was hooked imediately!

As someone who values critical thinking skills and puts them into practice almost every day, I thought this looked like a great place to find some really interesting discussions. Honestly, I get bored easily when talking to my fellow skeptics. Not that i think they are boring people! lol It is just that I love paranormal topics, and while I am not really a believer, I am fascinated by the beliefs of others. I love hearing them from the believers themselves. if I want to here some killjoy skeptic yammering about what he doesn't believe, I can just listen to myself! lol.

I guess I should tell you a little about myself. It is written from my personal viewpoint, so if I say something that you find to be untrue, just consider the source. :-)

Mine is the tale of a skeptic and atheist who wishes he could believe. I am truly jealous of those that live in a larger, more interesting and more comforting world than I do. Sadly, I cannot wish myself into being a believer. I must be true to what my heart and head tell me is the right course. The worst part of it is that I was not always like this. If you are not bored yet, read on and discover how I was transformed from happy believer to resigned skeptic. It happened quite by accident.

When I was young, my mother, brother and I all believed to one extent or another in virtually any paranormal topic you can name. We were also nominal Christians, but did not really go to church.

Edgar Casey, Atlantis, Bigfoot, ghosts, & UFOs were particular favorite reading topics of ours. We even owned a complete set of the "Man Myth & Magic" encyclopedia and my brother and I just about wore them out. I just knew that with all the witnesses and evidence, all these things had to be true. I even had some “paranormal” experiences myself; a couple of out-of-body experiences, and a strange encounter with a ghost late one night in lonely wooded spot.

In our teens, my brother and I made a hot air balloon and launched it one warm summer night. Little did I realize we were also launching ourselves on the path to dreary, boring enlightenment. That balloon, glowing in the night sky, caused a UFO scare in our town. Reading of it in the paper the next day, we were amazed at the extraordinary abilities that the eyewitnesses bestowed upon our little balloon. Naturally, we immediately built and launched three more! By the time the “invasion” was over, we had racked up a respectable amount of press coverage and enough amazed eyewitness reports to give Area 51 a run for their money. All that from a couple of little balloons. We attached little significance to it at the time aside from the fun of a prank well played, but I did have this nagging little thought; the eyewitnesses had been completely convinced that our balloons had flown in formation, shot missiles, done impossible acrobatics and flown away at incredible speeds. How could they have been so wrong, and yet believe so strongly in what they were saying? I thought about it a lot as I grew to adulthood.

The balloon incident notwithstanding, I was still a true believer in all things paranormal. I turned eighteen, graduated high school & joined the navy. As I pursued my new life as an adult, both my desire to really understand these things and my reading spectrum grew with me. I began to read books having to do with science, logic and critical thinking. I realized from my reading that “evidence” and “proof” are not the same things. I came to understand the difference between subjective and objective reasoning. I discovered alternative explanations for my own paranormal experiences. Though it all, I kept thinking of those earnest reports from sane, honest people that had turned a child’s toy into an extraterrestrial craft. I then knew that I had to look beyond my own wants & feelings if I were to see the truth.

I was still reading voraciously about the paranormal, but it all seemed much less plausible to me now. I witnessed the rise of the ghost hunters and thought “Hey, the scientific approach!” After looking at their methods, I was quickly disillusioned. I generally became aware that the evidence mostly amounts to personal experience, and there is not a single scrap of objective proof for anything paranormal. I do not discount the eyewitness testimony or personal experiences. I wholeheartedly believe that people who report such things have had very real, profoundly moving experiences. I do not think they are crazy or foolish. I simply have come to the understanding that we humans are subject to mental processes that make us prone to misinterpret events. After a few more years of hanging on, I eventually “gave up the ghost” and admitted to myself I was a skeptic. The tattered remains of my religious beliefs quickly followed suit.

These days, I live in a drab world where the aliens, Bigfoot, ghosts and goblins have all long departed. If some real concrete proof of any of these things were to surface, no person in the world would be happier than me. Until then, I content myself with finding the meaning of existence in my family and friends and I pass the time with my hobbies. Those hobbies being: history, painting, vintage toys, old monster movies and my most favorite of all, anything paranormal.

Regards, Canis

P.S. if anybody actually made it all the way through this mess, you get a prize............the prize is knowing better next time! :-)
Last edited by caniswalensis on 02 Jun 2010, 04:15, edited 1 time in total.
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby NinjaPuppy » 02 Jun 2010, 04:03

Welcome!
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby ciscop » 02 Jun 2010, 04:32

awesome!!
welcome

is it possible to find those ufo sighteings online?
you know the ones you created?

how difficult it is to create a hot air balloon as the one you created that could be taken as an ufo?
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby caniswalensis » 02 Jun 2010, 04:51

ciscop wrote:awesome!!
welcome

is it possible to find those ufo sighteings online?
you know the ones you created?

how difficult it is to create a hot air balloon as the one you created that could be taken as an ufo?


Thanks much! :)

I doubt that anyone has ever heard of our little invasion. In the end, it was just a little excitment in a small midwestern town back in the 70's. I am not aware of any articles about it online. The good news is that I have the clippings around somewhere and i may be able to get those scanned soon. i will post them if I can find them.

It is extremely easy to make the ballons that we launched there were a few tricks we learned by trial and error, but no special skills were required. They were made from common materials that were easy and cheap to obtain. As I recall, it took less than 30 minutes to assemble one of them. I hesitate to describe them exactly, because they carry a lit candle and could start a fire with a little bad luck.

........but that's another story. ;)

regards, Canis
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby NinjaPuppy » 02 Jun 2010, 05:20

caniswalensis wrote:I was still reading voraciously about the paranormal, but it all seemed much less plausible to me now. I witnessed the rise of the ghost hunters and thought “Hey, the scientific approach!” After looking at their methods, I was quickly disillusioned. I generally became aware that the evidence mostly amounts to personal experience, and there is not a single scrap of objective proof for anything paranormal. I do not discount the eyewitness testimony or personal experiences. I wholeheartedly believe that people who report such things have had very real, profoundly moving experiences. I do not think they are crazy or foolish. I simply have come to the understanding that we humans are subject to mental processes that make us prone to misinterpret events.

Ditto!
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby Scepcop » 09 Jun 2010, 02:11

Welcome Canis.

Try to keep an open mind :)
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby ProfWag » 09 Jun 2010, 02:28

Scepcop wrote:Welcome Canis.

Try to keep an open mind :)

Yes, welcome Canis. And I support Scepcop's comment to keep an open mind. 'Course, I'd like to add keep an open mind and think logically... ;-)
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby caniswalensis » 09 Jun 2010, 10:12

Thanks everyone for the nice welcome.

Special thanks to Skepcop for the undeniably good advice. :)

Regards, Canis
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby Scepcop » 09 Jun 2010, 16:32

caniswalensis wrote:Thanks everyone for the nice welcome.

Special thanks to Skepcop for the undeniably good advice. :)

Regards, Canis


Canis, what do you make of the Bentwaters UFO incident? It's been undebunked and is one of the best cases. You admit that some things are just unexplainable right?
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby ProfWag » 09 Jun 2010, 18:25

Scepcop wrote:
caniswalensis wrote:Thanks everyone for the nice welcome.

Special thanks to Skepcop for the undeniably good advice. :)

Regards, Canis


Canis, what do you make of the Bentwaters UFO incident? It's been undebunked and is one of the best cases. You admit that some things are just unexplainable right?

Sorry to step in here, but it most certainly HAS been debunked.
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby caniswalensis » 09 Jun 2010, 22:55

A great question Scepcop, and i hope you will allow me to answer in a general fashion. I do not want my answer to get bogged down in the details of a specific case. (although Bentwaters is a facinating one and I would love to talk about it. Do we have a thread about it here?)

Let me state for the record that I certainly agree there are some things that are beyond our ability to explain.

The scientific method is a wonderful system for gaining an objective understanding of the world we observe around us. It has proven over time to be the best at that, in my opinion. It is not perfect however, and its followers do not always apply it in a perfect manner. Additionally, there are things that fall outside of its scope.

So there will always be some mysteries and unexplainable events things that we wonder at, things that science may give us a glimpse of, but no more.

I have one thing to add to that, and it is a very important point; When something is truely unexplainable, it is just that. While some explanations may seem more likely, we are not allowed to then pick our favorite theory and proclaim it to be the answer. We need objective proof to do that.

So unexplainable things, like the origin of the universe, are great fodder for thought & conversation, but they ultimately add nothing to our knowledge base.

Regards, Canis
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby Scepcop » 10 Jun 2010, 01:25

ProfWag wrote:
Scepcop wrote:
caniswalensis wrote:Thanks everyone for the nice welcome.

Special thanks to Skepcop for the undeniably good advice. :)

Regards, Canis


Canis, what do you make of the Bentwaters UFO incident? It's been undebunked and is one of the best cases. You admit that some things are just unexplainable right?

Sorry to step in here, but it most certainly HAS been debunked.


It has not. Prove it.

You are just saying that cause it's YOUR RELIGION to believe that 100 percent of paranormal cases and experiences have been debunked.

Can you name one that hasn't? If not, then you are religious, not objective and not a true skeptic. You show your true colors yet again.

Even Canis admits that there are things we can't explain, that do not fit any conventional explanation.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby Scepcop » 10 Jun 2010, 01:27

caniswalensis wrote:A great question Scepcop, and i hope you will allow me to answer in a general fashion. I do not want my answer to get bogged down in the details of a specific case. (although Bentwaters is a facinating one and I would love to talk about it. Do we have a thread about it here?)

Let me state for the record that I certainly agree there are some things that are beyond our ability to explain.

The scientific method is a wonderful system for gaining an objective understanding of the world we observe around us. It has proven over time to be the best at that, in my opinion. It is not perfect however, and its followers do not always apply it in a perfect manner. Additionally, there are things that fall outside of its scope.

So there will always be some mysteries and unexplainable events things that we wonder at, things that science may give us a glimpse of, but no more.

I have one thing to add to that, and it is a very important point; When something is truely unexplainable, it is just that. While some explanations may seem more likely, we are not allowed to then pick our favorite theory and proclaim it to be the answer. We need objective proof to do that.

So unexplainable things, like the origin of the universe, are great fodder for thought & conversation, but they ultimately add nothing to our knowledge base.

Regards, Canis


Yes, Eteponge posted videos and articles about Bentwaters in the UFO board here. Or use the search feature to find them. The skeptics had no explanation so they ignored it.

Canis, do you religiously believe that every unexplained case MUST have a nonparanormal explanation?
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby caniswalensis » 10 Jun 2010, 02:56

Scepcop wrote:
caniswalensis wrote:A great question Scepcop, and i hope you will allow me to answer in a general fashion. I do not want my answer to get bogged down in the details of a specific case. (although Bentwaters is a facinating one and I would love to talk about it. Do we have a thread about it here?)

Let me state for the record that I certainly agree there are some things that are beyond our ability to explain.

The scientific method is a wonderful system for gaining an objective understanding of the world we observe around us. It has proven over time to be the best at that, in my opinion. It is not perfect however, and its followers do not always apply it in a perfect manner. Additionally, there are things that fall outside of its scope.

So there will always be some mysteries and unexplainable events things that we wonder at, things that science may give us a glimpse of, but no more.

I have one thing to add to that, and it is a very important point; When something is truely unexplainable, it is just that. While some explanations may seem more likely, we are not allowed to then pick our favorite theory and proclaim it to be the answer. We need objective proof to do that.

So unexplainable things, like the origin of the universe, are great fodder for thought & conversation, but they ultimately add nothing to our knowledge base.

Regards, Canis


Yes, Eteponge posted videos and articles about Bentwaters in the UFO board here. Or use the search feature to find them. The skeptics had no explanation so they ignored it.

Canis, do you religiously believe that every unexplained case MUST have a nonparanormal explanation?


Hmmmm…..I try not to believe anything religiously. :) To believe something religiously implies that it has an element of immutability to it. I try to maintain an open mind and accept any changes as the evidence dictates.

Like I said, unexplained things by definition defy explanation. It is not possible to rationally choose on explanation from the many possibilities. To prefer non paranormal over paranormal or vice-versa is to give into the temptation of our personal bias. I personally would prefer that ghosts, aliens, yetis and what-not are real, but I have reached a point in my life and understanding where I strive to not allow my personal bias to influence my thinking.

Let me put it in the terms I think most accurately describe my thinking.

First, i try to look at any given incident on its on merits, without pre-judging it based on similar incidents.

Any given incident or phenomena will yield some evidence when examined. That evidence is either sufficient to objectively prove what is taking place, or it is not. If it is not sufficient, then the case must be considered unexplainable. Unexplainable things are fun to speculate on, but at the end of the day, we have to discount them in terms of what we know. They cannot prove anything.

Logic dictates that the null hypothesis is the default position. It makes little sense to accept something as concrete fact with no objective proof. I let the unexplained things remain that way until there is objective proof.
So unexplained incidents are not enough to make me accept anything as beinga fact. Looking this over, I am not sure if this is clear or just a bunch of yammering. :) Feel free to ask for clarification.

Regards, Canis
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
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Re: Greetings from someone who considers himself a true skeptic

Postby caniswalensis » 10 Jun 2010, 03:06

Scepcop wrote:
You are just saying that cause it's YOUR RELIGION to believe that 100 percent of paranormal cases and experiences have been debunked.

Can you name one that hasn't? If not, then you are religious, not objective and not a true skeptic. You show your true colors yet again.

Even Canis admits that there are things we can't explain, that do not fit any conventional explanation.


Hey guys, I don’t want to get involved in your personal squabbles! :lol: (just kidding)
Scepcop, I would like to clarify a point on my position.
You wrote: “Even Canis admits that there are things we can't explain, that do not fit any conventional explanation”
To my mind, if something is unexplainable, it means there is not enough information, or clarity to assign an explanation. Nothing more. So it would not be possible to eliminate a conventional explanation in such cases.

It could be we have different definitions of “unexplained” in which case we should define our terms. :)

Regards, Canis
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
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