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A skeptic wants to be a believer


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#16 hippityhoohaa

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:38 PM

rickybobby, how does a black cloud in your home equate to ghosts existing? And you called yourself a skeptic?

#17 PHANTOM MONK

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:16 AM

"Whoa there pilgrim", as the Duke might say. We got a skeptic who wants to be a believer but is seeking validation that something, I assume anything, paranormal exists. As stated earlier, there must be some interest to begin with or they wouldn't be asking for validation to become a believer. If one has to have something concrete to become a believer, wrong area, as ghosts and the paranormal do not abound with absolutes, things measurable unless playing with "devices" will get what you want for done. I ssuggest a healthy dose of faith, that is, try believing just for the sake of it and see what will happen. :)

#18 Gabby

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 11:54 AM

Think about it. If a skeptic didn't want to be a believer, they wouldn't be interested in the paranormal topic/s or any other topic they may be skeptical of. All they want is proof enough for them to become a believer. I believe this is why GV has so many skeptics here because they are looking for that proof to become a believer. JMO.


Nothing in science is based on absolute proof. The notion of hypothesis is to prove something based on other proofs. It is like a tree of ideas all stemming from previously analyzed similarities. If you think about it though, if there is an ounce of falseness in the proofs we go upon to rationalize other proofs, then the result will be fiction.

So is the goal to prove? Perhaps it is more important to understand. You know what I mean?
"Science without the spirit is humanity without a conscience"Me“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”Charles Dickens Gabzyreach me here: AOL

#19 Oiche

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 02:26 AM

Skepticism is not a bad thing and an investigator needs to be at least a little skeptical of findings in order to rule out an atmospheric cause for an anamoly.
Posted ImageThank you for not feeding the trolls

#20 stevenedel

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 03:43 AM

"Whoa there pilgrim", as the Duke might say. We got a skeptic who wants to be a believer but is seeking validation that something, I assume anything, paranormal exists. As stated earlier, there must be some interest to begin with or they wouldn't be asking for validation to become a believer. If one has to have something concrete to become a believer, wrong area, as ghosts and the paranormal do not abound with absolutes, things measurable unless playing with "devices" will get what you want for done. I ssuggest a healthy dose of faith, that is, try believing just for the sake of it and see what will happen. Whirly Dude


If believing is where it starts, then anything goes. If you claim that things are real merely on the basis of a personal belief, then there is as much reason to assume the actual existence of flying dragons, smurfs, hobbits, elfs, gnomes, Santa and any number of gods as there is to assume the existence of ghosts. If your belief is where it all starts how do you know whether or not the ghost you see is a delusion or the result of self-suggestion? But even if ghosts, for some weird reason, choose to only appear to people who believe in them (why???), we can still test the experiences of believers in ways that will tell us something about the likelihood they are actually sharing an experience that originates outside themselves. E.g, you could bring a substantial number of believers, independently of each other, to a supposedly haunted location unknown to them. For a decent test, you would not only need to take them to the haunted place, but also to three or four (the more the better) non-haunted locations, of course without telling them which is which. Will they all identify the right location as haunted? Do they report similar experiences and observations? Do they only report these experiences for the haunted location, or for other locations too? Even better would be to repeat the entire experiment with a matched group of non-believers. Mind you, and this has been pointed out before, even if all the believers identify the right house as haunted and report similar experiences there, that in itself still does not prove that their experiences are indeed ghostly in origin.

Reality has a habit of being observable and pretty consistent; that's why evidence works so well to distinguish fantasy from fact.

Furthermore, if you can provide that evidence (and I'm talking about solid evidence, not just anecdotes) you won't turn a skeptic into a believer, because belief is then no longer required: you've shown your belief to be based in fact. That the earth is flat and has the sun revolving around it were notions merely based on superficial observation and belief; that the earth is a globe and revolves around the sun are facts based on irrefutable evidence (facts that made a lot of believers unhappy because they didn't fit their notion of earth as the center of creation).

To get such evidence an investigator doesn't need to be "a little skeptical", he or she needs to be thoroughly skeptical - a good investigator is himself the fiercest critic of his findings. It is not enough to ask yourself whether there could have been an atmospheric cause for an anomaly - you need to methodically rule out the possibility of such a cause, and be able to show to others looking at your findings how you did that. And even if you effectively ruled out all alternative causes of the anomaly, again, that still doesn't prove in any way that the anomaly is a ghost.
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#21 fatman

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:35 PM

I think every skeptic will be different in their approach, whether being open-minded or just a complete non-believer. I was an open-minded skeptic until my experiences. My family believes in ghost big time, so that could have clouded my belief system, but as an atheist I questioned the whole afterlife thing anyway. After my experiences, I still question, but from a different angle, such as why do some ghost appear to be wearing clothes and some don't (I think it may be the difference between intelligent and residual).
Some skeptics may never have enough evidence to change their mind, and that's fine. It can't be forced. It's just like anything else; either you believe, question, or dismiss totally. I'm still totally a skeptic when watching investigations on tv, only to consider the evidence when presented at the moment of dicovery, if strong enough, or during later analysis.
I don't think one should believe for the sake of believing. That's a totally false approach in my oppinion. I know from experience.
If you want to believe, just keep at it. Hopefully that moment will come someday. Just keep an open mind if possible.

#22 stevenedel

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 03:47 AM

The question very often asked on this forum is what it takes to change a skeptic's mind. The question I hardly ever encounter is what it takes to change a believer's mind. How 'open-minded' are believers towards the possibility that their 'experiences' are no more than subjective tricks of the mind that have nothing to do with an objective outside reality?

In the end, open- or close-mindedness are irrelevant as long as we can agree on standards for good evidence. The reason that many skeptics appear 'close-minded' to believers is, it seems to me, that generally true skeptics maintain far stricter criteria when it comes to evidence than believers do. Personal stoories are not good enough. But it's worse than that. Again I repeat: even if an anomaly is objectively detected in a photograph or something, under rigouroulsy controlled circumstances, the question remains how you can possibly know that that anomaly is a ghost. This basic question, the question of validity (how do you know you are measuring what you say you are measuring), is completely ignored by believers presenting evidence. Worse, even though the most basic, credible evidence for the existence of ghosts is lacking, believers are at the ready with extensive theories about poltergeists and hauntings, or, like in fatman's post, 'intelligent' and 'residual' ghosts. On what evidence are these theories based? How do we know these things? How can we classify a phenomenon that itself remains totally unproven?
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#23 fatman

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 08:15 AM

The question very often asked on this forum is what it takes to change a skeptic's mind. The question I hardly ever encounter is what it takes to change a believer's mind. How 'open-minded' are believers towards the possibility that their 'experiences' are no more than subjective tricks of the mind that have nothing to do with an objective outside reality?

In the end, open- or close-mindedness are irrelevant as long as we can agree on standards for good evidence. The reason that many skeptics appear 'close-minded' to believers is, it seems to me, that generally true skeptics maintain far stricter criteria when it comes to evidence than believers do. Personal stoories are not good enough. But it's worse than that. Again I repeat: even if an anomaly is objectively detected in a photograph or something, under rigouroulsy controlled circumstances, the question remains how you can possibly know that that anomaly is a ghost. This basic question, the question of validity (how do you know you are measuring what you say you are measuring), is completely ignored by believers presenting evidence. Worse, even though the most basic, credible evidence for the existence of ghosts is lacking, believers are at the ready with extensive theories about poltergeists and hauntings, or, like in fatman's post, 'intelligent' and 'residual' ghosts. On what evidence are these theories based? How do we know these things? How can we classify a phenomenon that itself remains totally unproven?

Basically you're generalizing believers. I think being open-minded or closed minded is completely relevant. If one refuses to consider evidence towards a situation, then there is no possibility to find another angle. Likewise if someone thinks every shadow is a ghost, that can hinder objective study. I agree with you mostly, but one's oppinion, state of mind, etc. regarding the subject has all to do with how one perceives evidence. It happened just this morning when passing a cemetery on the way to work. My wife asked "Did you see that red glare in the cemetery?" I responded "It's just either the tail lights from the cars passing or from the message broad of the hardware store across the street reflecting off the headstones."
In changing a believer's mind, depending on their experiences and the logic the person, that would be the same in reverse of changing a skeptic's mind.
Like I said, I do agree with you almost completely. I hate it when when all orbs are seriously considered, when "out of the corner of my eye" apparitions are deemed ghost, and such. And I'm highly critical of those who present afterlife rules or whatever as fact. They...don't...know. But you can't discount all experiences. My experiences happened, there's no logical explanation for them, and until I find that logical explanation (and I have constantly flipped reasoning over and over in my mind) no one can change my mind with just "Well, maybe what happened was...". In the context of my experiences, and you weren't there, I know what I saw.
Go check out my story under the "Encounters" section for 2009 and look for "Chasing a ghost in Houston". You'll then know at least one of my experiences.
And since I have a sense of humor without borders, I also look at things from a comedic side as well. So if a female ghost came on to me and we had "ghost sex", would tha tbe considered cheating or necrophilia?

#24 stevenedel

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 11:05 AM

Basically you're generalizing believers. I think being open-minded or closed minded is completely relevant. If one refuses to consider evidence towards a situation, then there is no possibility to find another angle. Likewise if someone thinks every shadow is a ghost, that can hinder objective study. I agree with you mostly, but one's oppinion, state of mind, etc. regarding the subject has all to do with how one perceives evidence.

But my point is that the better the evidence is, the fewer the possibilities are of perceiving it differently. When evidence is compelling, only the dogmatic and the delusional will deny it. A true skeptic, in any case, is always open to evidence (but will scrutinize it very critically).

But you can't discount all experiences. My experiences happened, there's no logical explanation for them, and until I find that logical explanation (and I have constantly flipped reasoning over and over in my mind) no one can change my mind with just "Well, maybe what happened was...". In the context of my experiences, and you weren't there, I know what I saw.

I do not discount experiences as such, i.e., if you say you experienced something it is not for me to deny that. But that doesn't mean that your personal experience is proof of a fact (other than you having that experience). As long as it is just you experiencing whatever it was, there is no way you can ever be sure where the experience originated: outside of you, or inside your mind. Knowing what we know about the human mind and memories, we can't even be sure that what you remember is indeed what actually happened. Let alone that it can be proof of the existence of a supernatural world.

You say there was no logical explanation for it, which is a statement made very often by people who tell about their experiences, and which doesn't cease to amaze me. Saying that is tantamount to saying you are expert in every conceivable branch of science. It means you are actually aware of every possible logical explanation there could be. I hope you will excuse me for not believing that. The fact that you cannot find a natural explanation for something doesn't mean no such explanation exists. And even if no such explanation exists, I again repeat myself, that still doesn't imply that it was 'therefore' a ghost.

Go check out my story under the "Encounters" section for 2009 and look for "Chasing a ghost in Houston". You'll then know at least one of my experiences

I have looked for this, but have not been able to find it. Maybe you can post a link?
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#25 Axman

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 05:42 PM

The question very often asked on this forum is what it takes to change a skeptic's mind. The question I hardly ever encounter is what it takes to change a believer's mind. How 'open-minded' are believers towards the possibility that their 'experiences' are no more than subjective tricks of the mind that have nothing to do with an objective outside reality?



I really feel that even if somebody believes in earthbound spirits they still have something that will keep them a bit skeptical. Same thing goes the other way. If someone is skeptical there is always something that leaves them wondering if earthbound spirits exist. That's why most of those with any interest in the paranormal fall somewhere in that "gray area" between.
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#26 fatman

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 11:26 PM

I pretty much agree with that, Stevenedel. My personal experience is proof to me void of any mitigating evidence, but in no way would I present it to others as solid proof that ghost exist.
I saw what I consider my personal evidence right in fron of me, but how do I disect it? There were no what I consider preconditional reasons I can remember, such as ghost discussion, thought or anything like that. When I say, and I'm sure when others say it, that there is no logical reason, I mean what I can think of. There's no implying knowledge of all possible factors. You have to take it as the person accounting for what they know of the situation of their experience. If it wasn't a ghost, what caused my mind to see what I saw at the time I saw it?
I don't lose sleep over it, though. I'm a very rational person, so whenever the memory comes to mind, I go to work on it in that moment. I rethink it and re-live it without trying to add anything new to my memory, then I move on after new consideration. That experience and the three others afterwards will be with me for the rest of my life and I'm always going to wonder what they were and why they happened.
I know hardcore evidence is the key to changing minds, but most experiences are of the moment. If you aren't a ghost hunter, you most likely won't have equipment at the ready to record the experience. I wish I did. The other possibility would be additional witnesses to a situation. I do have one experience like that. Then again it's only testimonials that this didn't happen or that didn't happen leading up to the experience.
The mind is a powerful thing. I have always been skeptical of possessions. I still think it's some sort of mind freak-out, but others have their oppinions.
Axman, I live in that gray area. Even as a believer I'm skeptical about lots of stories and evidence. I even discounted my wife's story about her deceased grandmother sitting on her bead since it was possibly a dream, but she experienced what she did, so that's her story to cherish.
Stevenedel, my story is posted under "Chasing a Ghost - Houston, Texas" in the Encounters section on the tool bar for the year 2009 on the home page. It's about 25 postings down on the left hand side of the page.
Excuse any typing mistakes. Lately, I haven't been able to see very well, so the spelling may be off.

#27 Axman

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 07:35 PM

Axman, I live in that gray area. Even as a believer I'm skeptical about lots of stories and evidence. I even discounted my wife's story about her deceased grandmother sitting on her bead since it was possibly a dream, but she experienced what she did, so that's her story to cherish.



I'm the same way, I believe that spirits exist and some are earthbound. It's evidence and personal experiences that undergo my scrutiny. Mainly because I don't want others to be duped into thinking that they have the answer. I find it harder to believe that when we die, we just cease to exist.
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#28 fatman

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:18 PM

Axman, I live in that gray area. Even as a believer I'm skeptical about lots of stories and evidence. I even discounted my wife's story about her deceased grandmother sitting on her bead since it was possibly a dream, but she experienced what she did, so that's her story to cherish.



I'm the same way, I believe that spirits exist and some are earthbound. It's evidence and personal experiences that undergo my scrutiny. Mainly because I don't want others to be duped into thinking that they have the answer. I find it harder to believe that when we die, we just cease to exist.


Axman, as an atheist, I used to believe that when we died, we died. After my experiences, reconsidering my family's experiences, and addition research and exposure to the experiences of others, I believe there's something more afterwards. What it is I don't know. Too many people offer up senarios about the afterlife as fact. In my head, I know they don't know, so it's "Yeah, yeah; whatever." I take what they have to say and use my own analysis to break that down into what I think is plausible. I take the word of no one about what comes after we die. It's all speculation, but at least we have what we consider evidence of what there might be.
Just to lest you know about an experience in my family, my mother saw the spirit of my oldest brother who dided in 1996. It was during the day while wasing dishes. She sensed someone looking at her and looked to her right and saw what she believed to be my brother looking at her from the hallway. She said "Oh, it'ws you; what are you doing here?" (She's rather used to these kind of occurances.) She said he told her in the form of letting his words become thought to her that he was going farther away now. She asked him if he would ever come back and he said he didn't think so. With that she leaned into where he was and hugged him. She said he turned around in the hall (that leads to the bedroom where he died from a seisure) and as he did she patted him where she though his butt would be. And that's that. She hasn't seen him since.
It's not undeniable proof, but it's my mother's experience and that's proof to her. Maybe me as well.

#29 Axman

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:54 PM

Interesting story of your mom. I've done a bit of reading on different cultures and religions. Almost all of them have some theory of the afterlife. Whether it be for the pharaohs of Egypt or the serfs in the Anglo-Saxon era. Nearly all of them believe that something is there after the physical realm. I'm in no hurry to find what lies beyond but I'm not as afraid of death as I was when I was younger.

Edited by Axman, 24 October 2009 - 10:55 PM.

Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#30 Billydew

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:50 PM

Fatman, your mothers experience intrigues me as it is similar to one I had myself, and another that happened to a cousin of mine. In both cases we were standing at kitchen sinks. I've heard a theory that being close to water can help heighten the sensitivity towards psychic experiences, but of course I don't know what the truth of that is. My cousin had gone to his mothers house to do some gardening for her, a couple of weeks after his dad died. His mother and mine had gone out together and my cousin was left alone. When he finished in the garden he went into the kitchen to wash his hands, and he suddenly realised he could clearly smell the insence that had been burned at his dads funeral. He didn't see anything but said he could feel his dad standing beside him. My cousin is the sort of person who would have been very sceptical hearing this from anyone else, but was very shaken by this, and I don't believe he imagined it. In my own case it happened after my mothers death. She and my cousins dad were sister and brother, and though they lived at opposite ends of the country they always remained close. I don't know if that had anything to do with it. I was washing dishes in my own kitchen when I could suddenly smell cigarette smoke as clearly as if someone was standing right beside me holding a lit cigarette. It wasn't vague but very strong and real, but I was alone in my home and have never smoked. I had the windows open so checked outside but there was noone else around. When I went back indoors I realised that the smell was only in my tiny kitchen even though the door to the next room was wide open. As soon as I stepped through that door there was no smell, and yet it hung around in the kitchen very strongly for quite sometime. I should say that this happened the day before my mothers funeral, and also that my mother was a heavy smoker. I fully believe she was giving me a sign she still existed and was okay, and though many would say it was my imagination, all I can answer to that is that I've never known my imagination be that good before or since. I Was wide awake and fully alert, and it was completely real to me. Make of it what you will.
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." Thomas Paine.




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