Reality Cracking

Bashing the paranormal crap

by Furtim ~ furtim(at)usa(dot)net
20 January 1999

Courtesy of fravia's pages of reverse engineering

I know I will have some 'hard' reactions, but I'll tell you what I think nevertheless: paranormal experiences (like religious experiences) are total crap (with few exceptions that CONFIRM this rule).
There's a r/c essay 'in preparation' about religion, and we'll discuss the religious cracking there (some religious aspects deserve indeed a very careful and serious thorough approach).
But paranormal experiences... jeez... hey? We can pull the trigger without even aiming exactly here... it's much too easy actually, like shooting the red cross... Let's begin stating that obviously a good reverser will NEVER even be able to believe such bogus matters.
Yeah, come to me and tell me that you've seen an UFO and I'll put you on my email killfile... chances are that you actually did not see any ufo over your oncle's farm in Arkansas, you see... :-)
This crap seems most of the times like just another (and quite obvious) whip for the gullible slaves... they slurp TV, they read books (if ever they read) written with the electronic feet of some ignorant dick writer from the States, they eat at MacDonald... they might as well believe in paranormal UFOs or whatever...
So let's read and enjoy Furtim's first "paranormal debunking" essay... but take note: a lot of works await us... at your desks, +friends! Awaiting your essays!
Esteemed Fravia+,

I have read most of the articles on your site with great interest; I think it's of utmost importance that people know what tricks are used to influence, convince, and seduce them. In this perspective, I found it really surprising that nobody has taken up the challenge of doing some reversing on paranormal activity yet. In the following piece I'd like to put some momentum into this subject.



For ages now, man has been obsessed by the unexplainable, and many theories about the hidden truth behind Life, the Universe and Everything have succeeded each other in rapid procession. After evidence - not proof! - of invariants of nature (laws, constants, etc.) became more and more available, some reality models (or Paradigms or Meme Complexes, whichever you prefer) were dropped, and some were adapted to the new ideas. But whichever reality model was prevalent, there have always been things that could not be explained, causing people to adhere to belief in the occult.

The Truth is Out There, Yet Not As Apparent As It Seems

Before I go into more detail about reversing the Truth about paranormal events, I'd like to give some examples (or "beef", as Fravia+ calls it) of how paranormal or occult activity has been proven a hoax or misconception time and time again, while objective evidence for the existence has been scarse (to say the least). For more examples, see for instance: "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural", James Randi's very enlightening work on the subject.

In the times of the cavemen, there were Nature Gods representing Thunder, Wind, Sun and Water; now that we know what these forces are, these Gods are no more.
In old Egyptian times, the Pharaos were believed to be Gods, too; their mummified remains are now displayed as artifacts in musea.
In the Middle Ages, Alchemists were looking for Philopher's Stone, a mineral holding mythical powers (such as the ability to turn base metals into gold, and various healing powers); activity on the alchemy front has been low since the discovery of the Periodic System, at least concerning the gold-producing qualities.
Again in the Middle Ages, mystics thought they could predict events in the future by a certain re-ordering of the characters in the Holy Scriptures; statistics shows that you can find just about anything in the Ancient Hebrew Texts (partly thanks to the lack of vowels in Hebrew, which makes for short words, and a high probability of finding a certain word in a random sequence).
Through the centuries, numerous Gurus have stood up, gathered believers, failed to make good on their promises (end of the world and what have you) and died (see Joa's essay about Sects). Dowsing rods (Y-shaped branches that supposedly detect water) have been shown in experiments to perform no better than chance in finding moisture (see for instance the Kassel Dowsing Test, in the German journal "Der Skeptiker" of January, 1991).
UFO corn circles have been shown to have been made by pranksters. UFO 'experts' refused to believe the patterns were a hoax even after the pranksters showed how they did it. Strictly speaking, UFOs don't fall under the category of occult or supernatural, but I think there are many similarities in how and by whom these ideas are spread.
Psychics talking to spirits and/or God(s) have often been shown to be frauds, relying on information that has been gathered before the psychic event ('hot reading'), or that rely on the willingness of people to find connections between themselves and certain facts that were simply guessed by the psychic ('cold reading').

The list goes on and on... Humans are not really hard to fool, apparently. We have seen this in other reality cracking essays.


I'm using words as 'true' and 'truth' here, but what is truth anyway?
I don't agree with some of the writers here at Fravia's site, that there is no such thing as THE truth; there must be, by definition. Things cannot be two conflicting things simultaneously. Sure, an event or law can have statistical behavior, but that doesn't invalidate the truth of the law itself. Mind you, I am not saying that we, as humans, will be able to under- stand the Truth completely (to put it in cryptography terms, our perception of reality might be the output of a one-way hash). But we can still determine which things happen under certain circumstances, and particularly which don't happen. So at least we will be able to tell what is NOT truth, making the list of possible truths smaller and smaller as we go along.

The Science of Paranormal Activity

How has science dealt with paranormal activity so far? Several research groups exist that work in the area; they have not been terribly successful, however, results being not much better than statistical average shifts of some percents, and their methods often attacked by peers. On the other hand, sceptical societies provide evidence of non-existence of paranormal activity in specific instances on a regular basis. One of them, the James Randi Educational Foundation, even has a 2 million dollar reward out for anyone that can prove paranormal activity in a controlled laboratory environment (agreed upon by BOTH parties). Claimants abound, but no-one has won the prize so far. Supporters of the occult claim greed and lack of fair play on the part of Randi; Randi's defence is that in all cases, the claimants agreed on the conditions beforehand, and only started having objections when their powers failed them.

So, should we just discard any ideas that do not fall in the realm of today's views? By no means! Those views can't be proved either; as Popper stated, proving a claim true is impossible; one can at best find evidence supporting the claim, or prove the claim false. In order to have optimal progress, theories should be stated in such a way that they may be proved false by experiment. Discussion between supporters of opposing theories should be stimulated; once the differences have been clearly stated, performing falsi- fication experiments should yield the wrong theory (and maybe all theories are proved wrong!).

Now we finally come to how we may separate the wheat from the chaff: we should not accept ANY models which are not falsifiable. So, if a certain person claims to have paranormal abilities, sie should be able to indicate which experiments can be performed that invalidate their claims. For instance, sie should be able to predict the outcome of a certain experiment ("I will move this cup around the table, without directly or indirectly touching the table or the cup. I will not use magnets, static charges, air flow or any other form of force known in physics, but only my telekinetic abilities"). Of course, in these experiments all possible forms of trickery must be eliminated.

Unfortunately, the requirement of falisification disqualifies most religions, which ultimately falls back to Divine Intervention, which is unfalsifiable.

An interesting fact of (non-genuine) mediums is that they don't agree about the most fundamental things. Look up the horoscopes in a couple of magazines, and compare them - they will differ (unless maybe, the magazines are part of the same organization which decided to save some money by printing the same horoscope twice). You may say: "Hey, you just stated that discussion between opposing parties should be stimulated, so what's wrong?", but note well, there is no discussion between the occultists, just disagreement, because they are usually dogmatic and have unfalsifiable theories.

Why do people believe?

Let's now turn our attention to grasping people's apparent eagerness to believe in the supernatural. We might say that believing starts with an open- mindedness towards the (as yet) unexplained; a curiosity for things that cannot be perceived as easily as a table or a sound. The belief develops when 'evidence' is presented that support the occult reality model.

But is it really curiosity from which these occult theories originate, or something else? If people wanted to know about invisible powers, they could put some effort in learning basic physics. So maybe it's something else.

We know the three modes of persuasion from Kuririn's essay: authority, emotion, and (slanted) truths. Fear is one of the emotions: in my eyes the one with the biggest impact, whilst being the most easy to affect.
Being faced ultimately with the certainty of death, yet having no evidence about what happens next, man tries to quench the fear for what's Beyond by embracing ideas that give peace of mind. The existence of spirits implies that death is not the end, therefore the idea of spirits or God(s) settles easily. As Terry Goodkind put it, "Wizard's First Rule: People Believe What They Want To Believe".

It is interesting to see the modes of persuasion for most of the paranormal mediums. They rely on authority, being a charismatic person with an established entourage. Also, they play on your emotions by promising to cure a disease, mediate to a lost loved one. Once the experiment proves them wrong (and I submit many of the mediums are not confidence tricksters, but genuinely believe in their own powers), they revert to bending the truth to make up for their failure. All three modes are used!


Looking at history doesn't really stimulate confidence in the occult for me, but I cannot dismiss paranormal activity as a whole, because this would be breaking my own principles about finding the Truth. I can, however, dismiss a great deal of particular instances of self-proclaimed mediums, psychics, or whatever they call themselves, based on their fear or lack of falsifiable experiments.

I am not saying that this method for getting at the Truth is the best method, or that the things we find using this method are (part of) the Truth! I am saying however, that we may at least invalidate non-Truths by performing experiments.

References James Randi Educational Foundation

Finally, here's some comments on other articles on your site:

'Reality coefficient'

I would like to make a remark concerning the 'reality coefficient' (if you will) of some of the articles. Especially the supposed subliminal messages in the Windows Bootup Bitmap are a bit far-fetched if you ask me.

Cloud-watching's a nice children's game to cultivate creativity, but let's not lose contact with reality here. Mind you, I don't dismiss the idea of subliminal influences, and I CERTAINLY don't dismiss the idea of Micro$oft taking a long shot and actually trying to influence me this way, but if my subconscious would be influenced by these EXTREMELY subtle patterns in clouds, I'd be lying on my back in the fields all day, fealing sexy and free.

I think I can be quite sure in saying that I DON'T start Windows when I feel a sudden urge for sex, freedom, or individuality.
Quite the contrary, I'd say 8-). So, M$ either HASN'T introduced these pictures on purpose, or they did a really bad job.

------ Pantheon's article, "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Softice".

Without wanting to go into attacks ad hominem, I think that Pantheon's knowledge about physics may be a bit lacking. I'm not quite sure, but I think he tried to prove some point about not being able to depend too much on your previous knowledge by saying that the Doppler effect is inconsistent with relativity? Well, it isn't of course. The Doppler effect for light is caused by the frequency of the emitter changing due to the time dilation that occurs as a result of the speed difference between the emitter and the observer. In other words, time goes slower for the emitter than for the observer, causing the 'vibrational speed' of the emitter as observed by the observer to be lower, lowering the frequency (again, in the observer's frame of reference). (Hence the term Red Shift because red is at the lower end of the visual spectrum).

This is quite different from the Doppler effect for sound waves, in which it really is the relative speed itself that contracts or elongates the wavelength; the emitter 'squashes' the sound waves that travel in the same direction as the emitter is travelling.

So far for physics 8-).

------ Deep Dt's article, "Altruism and charity".

I would like to know why Deep Dt is so scared of the human as a trader?
I think that many of us are, but so what? I rather like the idea of not owing nobody anything, and nobody owing me anything. This may seem like a really egotistical point of view, but I think that it's the only way in which people can deal openly and honestly with one another: there are no master-slave dependency relationships, just people trading with each other on an equal level. So when I give something to someone else, I do it because I WANT to and not out of some culturally inbedded idea, that poor people have a right to my possessions. Note that this implies that the receiver does not have to feel obliged to return something (because if I wanted it, I would have asked for it). Now there is true altruism! The person I give something may keep his dignity, because I have my own reasons.

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