Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A miscellanea of things...

I noticed that David Jacobs has appeared on Coast To Coast to offer a defense of his practice in the face of "attacks" and "criticisms" of his work (as per the blurb on the C2C website). In fairness, I probably ought to listen to what he has to say, but I don't think that anything he could say would convince me of his side of the argument. I stopped paying attention to the standard abduction argument about a decade ago. Dr. Jacobs in particular bothered me with some of his more conspiratorial alarms concerning alien encroachment of, and gradual assimilation of, the human race by a presumed extraterrestrial species. While I won't rule out his scenario completely (there's always a chance of it happening), the evidence he musters in his defense is highly flawed. In essence, both he and Hopkins have constructed an elaborate and detailed model of "alien" and human interaction from flawed methodology and highly questionable evidence. Hard to believe that both he and Hopkins had me scared shitless about twenty years ago with these theories--which just goes to show that the demons of our imagination are far scarier than the real ones. At the time, I remember thinking that Phil Klass was incredibly naive for labeling Budd Hopkins as the "Typhoid Mary" of abduction research. Phil Klass?? The arch debunker? Turned out... he was right.

Which should demonstrate that while you are not obligated to apply the scientific method to a pseudo-scientific venture, it doesn't hurt to borrow what are the best aspects of science when studying the paranormal: objectivity, collection of evidence, repeatability (I believe that paranormal phenomena can be replicated), and above all, emotional detachment from "your" theories so that if your theories are proven false, you can easily discard them.

Which, in a nutshell, means that if you collect evidence in the wrong way (either ethically or procedurally), if the evidence is demonstrably flawed, I'm not going to bother to listen to any theories you construct on that evidence. And that's the bottom line. That's how science works. We did not drag ourselves from the dark ages of superstition and fantasy, to reach the height of technological achievement of being able to blow up several worlds based on what a supreme being tells us what to do, for naught.

The second thing I want to mention (unfortunately, I have no segue for this), concerns "sleep paralysis." This topic has come up quite a bit on paranormal shows and forums. Usually, "sleep paralysis" is offered as the scientific explanation of the various visions and experiences that experiencers associate with "abductions." While usually much of my writing addresses subjects that I know diddly squat about, I actually do know a bit about "sleep paralysis." Anyone who has experimented with out-of-body experiences is very familiar with the sleep paralysis stage: It is an in-between state where the ego consciousness begins to lose awareness of the physical body and transfers this awareness to (for lack of a better term) the "astral" body. I always know when an OOBE is about to happen: my physical body feels paralyzed. At this stage, you have essentially two choices: you can either push on out and try to launch yourself beyond your body, or you can try to reactivate the physical body and terminate the OOBE. This sleep paralysis state is frequently accompanied by various sounds; the most common sound is of rushing wind. Other sounds that I have "heard" include something that seems to be radio broadcasts, low-frequency rumblings, and--music. I really don't know why these sounds happen, or what they mean. They may not mean anything--they may just be an aspect of the out-of-body experience. But what I'd like to do for the next few blog entries is write about some of the things that I've encountered. I think that this is important because many people have experienced the paralysis state, accompanied by unusual sounds, right before the stereotypical "alien abduction." The skeptic points to this aspect and says, "Ah ha! You weren't abducted--you just had sleep paralysis." But for me, "sleep paralysis" is a validating experience--it indicates to me that you were undergoing a tangible experience, albeit non-physical, and that your encounters afterward were very "real."

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