Is There a Supernatural World?

Debunking can cut both ways! If you think you know all the answers, please be advised that we have changed the questions....

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog is meant to suggest that the supernatural or paranormal does not exist. Nobody has absolute answers about any of this. People do have opinions, and those are worth what you paid for them. Some opinions will represent reasonable conclusions while others may have rather weak support. We look at the evidence to see if it stands up to the test of very simple scrutiny. If it passes, yay. If it fails, oh well... there's always next time. Investigators are human. We're human. We all make mistakes. If we point out errors that others make, this should not be taken to imply that they are wrong in general, or that the things they believe  are only the product of imagination. I named this blog "U Debunked It" to be cute, but I actually hate the debunking mindset. One should go into every investigation with an open mind. It's the only way to find out what is really there. That is what we do. And as indicated at the beginning, debunking can really cut either way, so be prepared...

Always read the disclaimer. It's important because while many claims end up being less than what they appear, we're absolutely open to the idea that the next one might be the real deal. Who knows? Nobody knows, really. True believers think they know it's all real. Skeptics think they know it's all bullshit. They're both at least partly wrong - and in exactly the same way as each other, only in opposite directions.

Paranormal phenomena are things that are beyond the scope of scientific understanding, in general. The paranormal includes such things and telekinesis and clairvoyance, but also harder to pin down things like apparitions and hauntings.  The term "Supernatural" includes pretty much anything that might be beyond current scientific understanding - like ghosts, for instance. In both cases, we are referring to something that is above or beyond "normal" or "natural." That's the literal meaning.

With these broad definitions in mind, some really mundane things are in the realm of the supernatural. It isn't so much that some things are magical; rather, we really just plain don't understand them and cannot offer an ironclad materialistic explanation for how or why they exist. A universal example is consciousness.  Neuroscientists call consciousness "the hard problem" - some even call it the unsolvable problem We all have it, but it can't be found anywhere. Consciousness is quite normal; you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't have it. Is it natural? Well, in the sense that we can see the results of consciousness in nature, yes. But as far as what it really is or where it comes from, the question remains unanswered. So at this point, it is truly beyond understanding.

In Buddhism (Chriss is a certified meditation teacher and authorized Dharma Master), consciousness is described thus: Awareness, that which looks out from your eyes upon the physical world, is like empty space. It has no size, no shape, no color, it can't be found anywhere, you can't point to a physical location in the brain or anywhere else and say, "look, here it is." It just is. Science agrees with this.

Moving on, when science attempts to describe the true nature of reality - why anything exists at all - they have to use mathematical models. String Theory, M-Theory, all describe things as originating from a realm that cannot be measured or examined in the natural world: 10 or 11 dimensions, strings, membranes... things that are beyond direct examination, only to be found through the symmetry of the maths involved. What is "real" and what is unreal is all a matter of opinion - albeit scientific, learned opinion in this case. These strongly-held scientific opinions are, for all intents and purposes, supernatural.

Far too many people mistake their personal opinions as fact. Opinions are not facts, they are just opinions. Nobody knows if there is truly a supernatural world or not. Nobody knows if the things we currently describe as paranormal phenomena are real. We all have beliefs, though. What even constitutes "real"? Don't ask the experts of quantum mechanics; they're just as baffled as the rest of us. Looking at paranormal phenomena, the volume of evidence suggests to me that there is something there - but what is there, I guarantee that nobody actually knows the answer. They just have very strong opinions on the subject.

For supernatural phenomena, we can only say that people have experiences and those experiences can be documented and attested to. These experiences are beyond the ability of science to prove or disprove because they all involve human consciousness and experience: Anecdotal and experiential phenomena can be examined as psychological and sociological matters, and they are very real in that sense. What is behind them is a matter of pure speculation.

So now we are at the heart of the problem. The skeptic will say that scientific investigation shows that paranormal phenomena are always misunderstandings, illusions or even fraud. This is not really true. Probably most investigations are inconclusive. Some have interesting phenomena attached to them, but characterizing consciousness-related phenomena as real or illusion is frivolous speculation unless you actually know how the universe really works and what consciousness really is (and note that I said "know" not "believe" - everyone has a belief about this, no one knows with certainty what is actually true)..

There is a plausible scientific mechanism for conscious survival of death (as well as remote viewing and other psychic phenomena) and it is provided to us by quantum mechanics. I won't go into all of that here - I wrote a book on the subject and it's rather dry. Do some Google research on quantum consciousness if you are interested.

Now on the other side: So let's say you've seen a ghost. How do you know it's a ghost? Could it be in your mind only? No? Could it be an electromagnetic disturbance rather than a dead person? How can you know? You can't know; you can only form an opinion. Having opinions is fine - it's part of human nature. We need to have beliefs about how the world works in order to function in it. Being closed minded and sure that your opinions are actually facts - that is not okay.

We keep an open mind. To us, paranormal phenomena are just that: above/beyond normal, and phenomena. Paranormal phenomena can be investigated, documented, and sometimes measured - and perhaps even "fixed." We can do all of that without making absolute statements about what it is, what causes it, or what is the best course of action regarding it.

If only everyone could have an open mind. Alas, we've all seen that this is exceedingly  rare. Almost nonexistent. Such a characteristic of mind - of consciousness - is illusory, hard to pin down, impossible to quantify. You could almost say that it is .... supernatural.

Paranormal investigation is a bridge mechanism. Also, a few intrepid scientists have worked out ways to test spirit communications, and they have some promising results. Again, this is a lengthy subject and search engines are your friends, but I want to mention (briefly) some popular unscientific attempts and communication, and why there may be something to them....

Briefly, let's talk about pareidolia and all the special messages you see on YouTube: Ghost boxes, Echovox, and all that - all that must be captioned in order for other people to "hear" the special message that the original person heard.

I wrote a whole post about this. Obviously, the words are not really present in the sounds - that's why the videos have captions. When you hear a message, it's only in your head. But did you ever ask yourself (apparently nobody does); where did the message in your head come from? ...Well, your own brain, right? Right. But where did your own brain get the idea to make a particular choice and give you a plain message from random phonemes?

Let's consider the use of psychic mediums for spirit communications. Now of course the skeptics here will all say it's bullshit because they think everything is bullshit. They used to spend time debunking quantum mechanics, too, until they had to shut up about it. Ever notice how skeptics never do a mea culpa? Skepticism is a no-lose, intellectually lazy proposition; you just say no and it didn't happen until you start looking foolish -  then you shut up about it and find something else to ridicule and belittle. Being a skeptic is a great because you get to feel intellectually superior to the rest of the world and you never have to say you were wrong about anything, ever, nor do you have to do any actual work beyond negating everything anyone else says or does.. But I digress....

Skeptics will say any kind of spirit communication can't happen because spirits don't exist and nothing exists but the material world, and so forth. On the other hand, Dr. Gary Schwartz, professor of psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona says mediumship is real, and he can prove it. What if he's right?

So if Professor Schwartz and others are right, then it is possible to make psychic contact with the spirits of the deceased. At least, a few people can do that.

If there is that kind of communication going on, only a small minority of a minority (I think most of the people who *think* they are psychic mediums are probably fooling themselves) are able to do it - and even then it is inconsistent and unreliable. BUT... if it's real, even for a tiny percentage of people - even only one person, and only once - then there is a mechanism behind it; a way the conscious mind can interface with the spirit world. And if there is a mechanism, then we all have it but most of us are unable to latch onto that stream of information and pull it up into our consciousness (like every human has a voice but few can sing opera). At best, it would be a tiny subconscious influence for most people.

So if quantum physics is right and Dr. Schwartz is right, spirit communication is possible via some brain (third eye/pineal gland?) interface for everyone (must be true if even one person in this history of mankind did it) but most people can't bring the information stream up to the level of conscious awareness. Pareidolia happens at the subconscious level: The brain creates whole words and phrases out of sounds, and that happens before your conscious mind hears anything. Spirit communication also must be potentiated at the subconscious and quantum level. It's the perfect intersection of non-conscious processes; where any hypothetical spirits could influence the words your brain manufactures from random sounds, and thus deliver a message.

The only way to prove or disprove that would be delivering message content that can be subsequently verified but could not have been known to the receiver. That wouldn't "prove" anything to skeptics, of course - they will just say you're lying (see how easy it is to be a skeptic?) but all the potential data is there and someone will put it together, someday.

By the way, I do NOT authorize anyone to use this argument to sell their pareidolia wares. This is my theory and I own it. I will come after you if you try to leverage sales of your crap with my theory:  intellectual property rights at work. ...Others are free to quote me, but you must give correct credit to this author. I'm sorry to have to say that, but I want to make sure my own intellectual work isn't used for evil purposes.