Just a co-incidence?

A true story you probably won't believe

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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#61  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 8:09 am

LucidFlight wrote:This is actually pretty amazing what has happened. It's such a shame the members here can't see the forest of possibilities, all because the trees of science and skepticism are blocking the way. What we really should be asking is, who or what is sending this message disguised as a coincidence, and for what purpose? Also, what is the significance of UE's birthday in these incredible events that have transpired? Is this part of some grand plan we are not able to perceive directly? Maybe it's time to open our eyes a bit more to the world of unseen possibility that lurks beyond the great wall of skepticism and disbelief.


It has provoked many different responses. For my girlfriend, it was "the strangest thing that ever happened" to her, and confirmation of the existence of something spiritual/paranormal going on - perhaps pointing the way to other things, or maybe just confirming for her that I'm for real and that maybe some of the other things I believe might be true. My mother, who is a fairly typical mainstream Christian, just said "Ooo, there's been some mind-reading gone on there" and said nothing more about it, as if evidence of mind-reading turns up every day. And various friends I've shown it to, with different beliefs, have responded with everything from "I can't see it" to raised eyebrows to "OMG, that's f******* weird."

Part of a grand plan? Maybe a very little part. ;)
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#62  Postby Animavore » May 25, 2014 8:14 am

UndercoverElephant wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:This is actually pretty amazing what has happened. It's such a shame the members here can't see the forest of possibilities, all because the trees of science and skepticism are blocking the way. What we really should be asking is, who or what is sending this message disguised as a coincidence, and for what purpose? Also, what is the significance of UE's birthday in these incredible events that have transpired? Is this part of some grand plan we are not able to perceive directly? Maybe it's time to open our eyes a bit more to the world of unseen possibility that lurks beyond the great wall of skepticism and disbelief.


It has provoked many different responses. For my girlfriend, it was "the strangest thing that ever happened" to her, and confirmation of the existence of something spiritual/paranormal going on - perhaps pointing the way to other things, or maybe just confirming for her that I'm for real and that maybe some of the other things I believe might be true. My mother, who is a fairly typical mainstream Christian, just said "Ooo, there's been some mind-reading gone on there" and said nothing more about it, as if evidence of mind-reading turns up every day. And various friends I've shown it to, with different beliefs, have responded with everything from "I can't see it" to raised eyebrows to "OMG, that's f******* weird."

Part of a grand plan? Maybe a very little part. ;)


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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#63  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 8:18 am

VazScep wrote:
I also went through a period of very serious depression, but it was a long time ago, at a time when I was a total skeptic.
And did any good novels or science experiments come out of it?


No. I came out of it having concluded that actually it is the world (the human world) that is mad, and not me. I was trying to be sane in a mad world.


Synchronicity is just one of many things you can read into the world, and there is apparent synchronicity between people who read the same things into the world as evidenced by religion, book-clubs, and the humanities in general. Reading in should be contrasted with writing out. There are no methods in your madness, and those of us who want methods up front are going to complain, so we make demands like "do some work" or "bend a spoon."


There can't be any methods to investigate this stuff though. The problem is that it "just happened". Nobody tried to make it happen, and I can't think of any way of replicating the situation to "see if it happens again". If the reason for it happening is confirmation for my girlfriend that things like this can happen, then the situation can't be replicated because she's no longer agnostic - there's no need for it to happen again. The same applies to most other examples of synchronicity. She'd actually also experienced another one - although far less convincing. Just as non-repeatable though. She already knew I was an expert on fungi (it's my job teaching people about them). On the evening of our first date, just as she was getting ready to go out, she noticed some mushrooms growing out of her bedroom ceiling! She thought this was a little strange, but it wasn't enough to convince her of the existence of "spooky causality". However, the point I'm making is that there are no methods available to test this sort of phenomena (if it is real). It either happens or it doesn't, and you can't go back and try it again.

I'd also say that there's no need or desire, for us, to try to apply "methods" to this. Obviously I understand why some skeptics want to apply methods - because they want to try to show that such things don't exist (which is impossible, IMO, but I understand why they want to try). Also there is a certain breed of paranormal believer who is keen to try to prove to the skeptics that such things are real. Not everybody falls into these two categories though. There are skeptics who are happy to just let the believers believe, provided nobody is expecting them to believe it too, and there are believers who see no reason to try to convince the skeptical. I fall into this latter category. I posted this because I was a bit bored last night and thought it might be a bit of fun, not because I'm desperate to convince hardened skeptics that spooky stuff really happens. :)
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#64  Postby VazScep » May 25, 2014 8:29 am

UndercoverElephant wrote:No. I came out of it having concluded that actually it is the world (the human world) that is mad, and not me. I was trying to be sane in a mad world.
Some might call that "externalising." A trope is to talk about the "system."

I suspect people connotate "system" and "rational", which is precisely what you shouldn't do, if you know anything about non-linear systems. Sometimes the reason that shit happened was because of a flunctuation smaller than a measurement error. Nothing you can do about it. It's a lesson about not passing blame but at the same time, holding back on congratulation.

However, the point I'm making is that there are no methods available to test this sort of phenomena (if it is real). It either happens or it doesn't, and you can't go back and try it again.
So in what context do we talk about it? If you have to add in, even parenthetically, the hypothesis of "if it is real", to a phenomena, then I'd say we're squarely in the world of fiction. Hence, my reference to Philip K Dick. The great advantage in writing a novel is that you don't need to constantly remind the reader that the events depicted are fictional.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#65  Postby VazScep » May 25, 2014 8:44 am

UndercoverElephant wrote:I'd also say that there's no need or desire, for us, to try to apply "methods" to this. Obviously I understand why some skeptics want to apply methods - because they want to try to show that such things don't exist (which is impossible, IMO, but I understand why they want to try).
I only like methods because they're things I can do, and because there are things I want done. Sceptics are often confused by this, as evidenced by jamest's latest thread on predictions, which leaves completely unanswered the question of what predictions are worth making. The most interesting thing to observe from the Galileo affair (*), a textbook case of metaphysics versus empirical observation, is not that Galileo was able to make predictions, but that the Church really wanted those predictions made.

Also there is a certain breed of paranormal believer who is keen to try to prove to the skeptics that such things are real. Not everybody falls into these two categories though. There are skeptics who are happy to just let the believers believe, provided nobody is expecting them to believe it too, and there are believers who see no reason to try to convince the skeptical. I fall into this latter category. I posted this because I was a bit bored last night and thought it might be a bit of fun, not because I'm desperate to convince hardened skeptics that spooky stuff really happens. :)
Don't worry. I know you weren't expecting us to take your OP too seriously, which is what the failure of scepticism amounts to.

(*) I first ran into you on the Galilean-library, by the way.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#66  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 8:53 am

VazScep wrote:
However, the point I'm making is that there are no methods available to test this sort of phenomena (if it is real). It either happens or it doesn't, and you can't go back and try it again.
So in what context do we talk about it?


If "we" means rationalists/skeptics then the answer is anecdotes is all we have. We might also talk about metaphysical contexts, but there's no proof to be had of such things.


If you have to add in, even parenthetically, the hypothesis of "if it is real", to a phenomena, then I'd say we're squarely in the world of fiction.


No, that doesn't follow. If we were squarely in the world of fiction then no "if" is required. There's so many examples I shouldn't need to provide any.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#67  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 8:59 am

VazScep wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:I'd also say that there's no need or desire, for us, to try to apply "methods" to this. Obviously I understand why some skeptics want to apply methods - because they want to try to show that such things don't exist (which is impossible, IMO, but I understand why they want to try).
I only like methods because they're things I can do, and because there are things I want done. Sceptics are often confused by this, as evidenced by jamest's latest thread on predictions, which leaves completely unanswered the question of what predictions are worth making. The most interesting thing to observe from the Galileo affair (*), a textbook case of metaphysics versus empirical observation, is not that Galileo was able to make predictions, but that the Church really wanted those predictions made.


Well, we're completely off-topic but it's an interesting bit of history. Yes, there are plenty of modern-day people, both skeptics and believers, who have no idea about the ideological/political context of the galileo affair. And the same goes for a lot of what went on with the early scientists. Isaac Newton, for example, was a serious student of "the occult" (in the philosophical rather than hollywood sense). And yes, the church was very much behind the work of some early scientists, because they saw science as "trying to understand the mind/works of God", and hoped that science might be able to finally end some long-running disputes within the church about these things. It's all very different today.


(*) I first ran into you on the Galilean-library, by the way.


Ah right. I'd almost forgotten about that place!
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#68  Postby Cito di Pense » May 25, 2014 9:40 am

UndercoverElephant wrote:If "we" means rationalists/skeptics then the answer is anecdotes is all we have. We might also talk about metaphysical contexts, but there's no proof to be had of such things.


Yeah, just don't go the extra mile to say "Why is this stuff happening to me and not to other people?" and answer it with "You have to be on the lookout for it." That means you've muffed the false modesty of "If it is real...".

If, on the other hand, you answer with, "I don't know", the question is why you had to tell anyone about it. I don't have to go the extra mile and say, in order to ask that question, that the stuff you're talking about is impossible. I don't have to ask why anyone would tell such a story if it were not an accurate account of actual events as narrated.

There's a huge gap between insisting yea/nay and offering up lots of anecdotes. The anecdote is off in a class by itself, neither fact nor fiction, with the illicit thrill of 'something more' than fact or fiction. That may only be about needing/getting attention, which is not all the overachievers in easily-classifiable facts and fictions are after.

Everybody has anecdotes, and what kind you become adept at producing just depends on the clientele you serve. I guess my snarky attitude toward anecdotes is only directed at the kind we see on the internet, playing to the lurkers who won't ever test their reactions.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#69  Postby monkeyboy » May 25, 2014 10:59 am

UndercoverElephant wrote:This is for your entertainment only - no scientific validation is possible, it can't be repeated and you've only got my word that what I'm telling you is true, and that there was no "cheating." Suffice to say that for the person most directly involved, who is the only one who absolutely knows there was no cheating (although I 100% believe her), it was conclusive evidence that "something spooky is going on."

Last year I received only two birthday cards (I don't really do birthdays). I received the first one through the post a couple of days before my actual birthday. It was from my mother, and it had a picture on the front of some mice carrying some party supplies past the back of cat. Nothing spooky about that. My girlfriend lived in another town at the time, and came to visit me on my birthday, bringing with her a jar of pickle and a jar of jam she had made. She also hand-drew me a card, and in it she wrote "you're like...the pickle on my cheese, the jam on my scone." Cute. Later that evening I put the two cards on my mantelpiece. "Put it the right way up then!", she said (I had hers 90 degrees out). And at first nothing seemed odd.

borthdaycards.jpg


I'll let you see it for yourself, because it took a couple of minutes after seeing the first bit of it before the whole thing became clear for us.

There was no cheating. My girlfriend had not seen my mother's card, and she says she had decided at least two weeks beforehand what she was going to draw on the one she gave me.

Anyway...my cat, who is a tabby very like the one in the picture, has now been nick-named "pickle." :)

As somebody who was a total non-believer in anything like synchronicity or "accidental mind-reading" until I was 33 (12 years ago), I can say that if I'd seen somebody make this claim before that time I would probably feel forced to conclude that somebody cheated - that my mother and sister conspired to play a well-intentioned "prank" on me, or something along those lines. If I knew there was no cheating I guess I'd have had to assume that it was just something exceptionally improbable that happened for no reason - after all some people get struck by lightning 50 times, don't they? :mrgreen:

It a funny old world.

UE


I suspect withcraft. Check your girlfriend out for warts, strange potions, cats that on'es done, pointy hats and a broom/vacuum cleaner.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#70  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 11:10 am

Cito di Pense wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:If "we" means rationalists/skeptics then the answer is anecdotes is all we have. We might also talk about metaphysical contexts, but there's no proof to be had of such things.


Yeah, just don't go the extra mile to say "Why is this stuff happening to me and not to other people?" and answer it with "You have to be on the lookout for it." That means you've muffed the false modesty of "If it is real...".

If, on the other hand, you answer with, "I don't know", the question is why you had to tell anyone about it.


...and the answer to that is that I didn't have to. It happened last September. I just happened to be bored last night and decided to post it here on a whim. Where's the "had to" in that? :smoke:


That may only be about needing/getting attention


And it may not. Why can't it just be about amusing oneself and being sociable?


Everybody has anecdotes, and what kind you become adept at producing just depends on the clientele you serve. I guess my snarky attitude toward anecdotes is only directed at the kind we see on the internet, playing to the lurkers who won't ever test their reactions.


Your snarky attitude covers a great deal of topics. I came to the conclusion quite a long time ago that this was probably because you're a snarky sort of person. No reason to read anything more into it than that. :)
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#71  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 11:28 am

monkeyboy wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:This is for your entertainment only - no scientific validation is possible, it can't be repeated and you've only got my word that what I'm telling you is true, and that there was no "cheating." Suffice to say that for the person most directly involved, who is the only one who absolutely knows there was no cheating (although I 100% believe her), it was conclusive evidence that "something spooky is going on."

Last year I received only two birthday cards (I don't really do birthdays). I received the first one through the post a couple of days before my actual birthday. It was from my mother, and it had a picture on the front of some mice carrying some party supplies past the back of cat. Nothing spooky about that. My girlfriend lived in another town at the time, and came to visit me on my birthday, bringing with her a jar of pickle and a jar of jam she had made. She also hand-drew me a card, and in it she wrote "you're like...the pickle on my cheese, the jam on my scone." Cute. Later that evening I put the two cards on my mantelpiece. "Put it the right way up then!", she said (I had hers 90 degrees out). And at first nothing seemed odd.

The attachment borthdaycards.jpg is no longer available


I'll let you see it for yourself, because it took a couple of minutes after seeing the first bit of it before the whole thing became clear for us.

There was no cheating. My girlfriend had not seen my mother's card, and she says she had decided at least two weeks beforehand what she was going to draw on the one she gave me.

Anyway...my cat, who is a tabby very like the one in the picture, has now been nick-named "pickle." :)

As somebody who was a total non-believer in anything like synchronicity or "accidental mind-reading" until I was 33 (12 years ago), I can say that if I'd seen somebody make this claim before that time I would probably feel forced to conclude that somebody cheated - that my mother and sister conspired to play a well-intentioned "prank" on me, or something along those lines. If I knew there was no cheating I guess I'd have had to assume that it was just something exceptionally improbable that happened for no reason - after all some people get struck by lightning 50 times, don't they? :mrgreen:

It a funny old world.

UE


I suspect withcraft. Check your girlfriend out for warts, strange potions, cats that on'es done, pointy hats and a broom/vacuum cleaner.


Hmmm. You may have a point.

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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#72  Postby Shrunk » May 25, 2014 12:03 pm

UndercoverElephant wrote:But there's some things you simply can't use science to examine, and this is a perfect example. It's a one-off. You can't re-create the situation. You can try to do something similar under scientific conditions, but the very fact that it's being done under those conditions make the situation significantly different. That would be that; this is this. As presented, this is just what it is - an anecdotal account of something that happened under non-scientific conditions, can't happen again and is open to interpretation and subjective judgement. Science can't resolve this one way or another.


But what are you expecting science to "resolve" here? That the two cards resemble each other in some way? That is not the question in dispute. The question is whether his resemblance is one that is entirely explicable due to chance, or whether it so exceeds something that could be predicted to occur thru thru simple application of probabilities that it indicates the existence of "something else" previously unknown to science. That is a question that is absolutely resolvable thru the scientific method.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#73  Postby Shrunk » May 25, 2014 12:06 pm

UndercoverElephant wrote:Loads of things are beyond science. Ethics, art, philosophy, and an endless list of other things. Science is an activity, and a form of communication, but reality is much bigger than that. All sorts of things (not even woo things) exist even though science can't examine them. Was Beethoven a musical genius? Science can't answer the question, but it doesn't follow that the question is unanswerable, or meaningless.


But there is no question over whether Beethoven or his music exists.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#74  Postby Shrunk » May 25, 2014 12:12 pm

UndercoverElephant wrote:Well, yes, lots of birthday cards have a lump of cheese in the bottom left quadrant, don't they! :evilgrin:


See, now that's example how failure to understand the scientific method can lead to false conclusions. The question to test here is not "How many birthday cards have lumps of cheese in the bottom left quadrant?" It's "How many greeting cards (for any occasion) have similar objects depicted in roughly the same location of the image?" The number might be quite surprisingly high.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#75  Postby Shrunk » May 25, 2014 12:20 pm

VazScep wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:I should probably also repeat that I'm not expecting anybody to accept this as proof of anything. I think you needed to be there yourself for something like this to significantly alter your beliefs about causality/whatever.
I had three months of psychosis, the equivalent of an intense trip that lasts an extraordinarily long time, and something which altered my perceptions a lot. Talented story tellers such as Philip K Dick turn such experiences into excellent science fiction novels. I'm not a Philip K Dick, so I mostly shut the fuck up.

Because, as yet, nobody has turned such experiences into science experiments, which is what people take seriously.

Synchronicity perplexed the shit out of me when I was insane, and I tried to rationalise it by saying that humans spend a lot of time synchronising their agendas and that language and six degrees of Kevin Bacon might get the whole world aligned. That said, I was also reading shit into car number plates. Now that the doctors say that I'm sane, I just dismiss all that crap.


There are some quite strong hypotheses regarding the neurobiological basis for this form of perception/cognition:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820785_2
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#76  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 12:47 pm

Shrunk wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:But there's some things you simply can't use science to examine, and this is a perfect example. It's a one-off. You can't re-create the situation. You can try to do something similar under scientific conditions, but the very fact that it's being done under those conditions make the situation significantly different. That would be that; this is this. As presented, this is just what it is - an anecdotal account of something that happened under non-scientific conditions, can't happen again and is open to interpretation and subjective judgement. Science can't resolve this one way or another.


But what are you expecting science to "resolve" here?


I'm not expecting science to resolve anything here. As far as I'm concerned, it has nothing to do with science.


That the two cards resemble each other in some way? That is not the question in dispute. The question is whether his resemblance is one that is entirely explicable due to chance, or whether it so exceeds something that could be predicted to occur thru thru simple application of probabilities that it indicates the existence of "something else" previously unknown to science.


Yes. Although I'd rephrase it slightly different and simply say "the existence of something unknown to science."


That is a question that is absolutely resolvable thru the scientific method.


How? Science requires you to be able to replicate a situation and get the same results over and over again, or at the very least to have set certain conditions beforehand so there are controls in place for a one-off event that is expected. Neither of those things are possible in cases like this. You have no idea when it is going to happen, you can't replicate it and it isn't even clear how you could apply science to answer that question anyway. It all depends on the nature of the "something else" - why and when these things happen, and what is causing them. It also involves meaning, and science doesn't really do meaning. "Meaning" is something very human and subjective.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#77  Postby Shrunk » May 25, 2014 12:52 pm

UndercoverElephant wrote:How? Science requires you to be able to replicate a situation and get the same results over and over again, or at the very least to have set certain conditions beforehand so there are controls in place for a one-off event that is expected.


You don't understand how the scientific method works at all. By your standard, we couldn't demonstrate the existence of gravity because that would mean showing that if you drop a 7 lb chunk of granite in a location in the exact middle of my living room at precisely 11:32:46.5645 AM on May 16, 2014 it will always fall to the ground. But since you can only do that once, the action of gravity can never be replicated.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#78  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 12:54 pm

Shrunk wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:Loads of things are beyond science. Ethics, art, philosophy, and an endless list of other things. Science is an activity, and a form of communication, but reality is much bigger than that. All sorts of things (not even woo things) exist even though science can't examine them. Was Beethoven a musical genius? Science can't answer the question, but it doesn't follow that the question is unanswerable, or meaningless.


But there is no question over whether Beethoven or his music exists.


True. There is a question about whether or not he was any good though, and science can't answer it. All I was saying is that just because science can't answer a particular question, it does not follow that the question is unanswerable or meaningless. Although I accept that what we are talking about here is a bit different, because it is something related to causality (if it exists), and science is good at investigating causality. However, just because science has a serious track record of investigating certain sorts of causality, it does not follow that science could discover and investigate all sorts of causality that exist. It is very easy to propose types of causality which, if they existed, science could never find. The most obvious example is "the will of God". If you define God in terms of something which is forced to respond to situations just as reliably and predictably as the laws of physics, then science could, perhaps, identify this sort of causality. But who would accept that as a definition of what God is? No theist, that's for sure. And probably not many skeptics either.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#79  Postby UndercoverElephant » May 25, 2014 1:00 pm

Shrunk wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:How? Science requires you to be able to replicate a situation and get the same results over and over again, or at the very least to have set certain conditions beforehand so there are controls in place for a one-off event that is expected.


You don't understand how the scientific method works at all.


Nope, the problem is that you don't understand why what I'm talking about can't be scientifically tested. I understand the scientific method perfectly.


By your standard, we couldn't demonstrate the existence of gravity because that would mean showing that if you drop a 7 lb chunk of granite in a location in the exact middle of my living room at precisely 11:32:46.5645 AM on May 16, 2014 it will always fall to the ground. But since you can only do that once, the action of gravity can never be replicated.


No. It is ridiculously easy to "replicate the conditions" required to scientifically test for gravity, for the simple reason that gravity applies to all matter in all situations at all times. There are no situations where it doesn't apply. It is entirely irrelevant what sort of matter you are talking about, or when you do the test. The case we are talking about in this thread could not be more different. Do synchronicities or evidence of mind-reading occur around us all the time, everywhere? No, of course not. If these things happen at all then they happen in very specific sorts of situations, and it is those specific situations that can't be replicated. ETA: of course some "parapsychologists" try to replicate them, but in my opinion those sorts of tests are doomed to produce either negative or very marginally positive results, which would never be enough to convince any skeptic of anything. I think there are fundamental reasons why these parapsychologists are wasting their, and everybody-else's, time.
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Re: Just a co-incidence?

#80  Postby Cito di Pense » May 25, 2014 1:04 pm

UndercoverElephant wrote:The case we are talking about in this thread could not be more different. Do synchronicities or evidence of mind-reading occur around us all the time, everywhere? No, of course not. If these things happen at all then they happen in very specific sorts of situations, and it is those specific situations that can't be replicated. ETA: of course some "parapsychologists" try to replicate them, but in my opinion those sorts of tests are doomed to produce either negative or very marginally positive results, which would never be enough to convince any skeptic of anything. I think there are fundamental reasons why these parapsychologists are wasting their, and everybody-else's, time.


Well, your problem is that you can't say that synchronicity applies to anything but synchronicity. Department of tautology department. Synchronicity, if it only applied to mind-reading, would just be called 'mind-reading'.

UndercoverElephant wrote:"Meaning" is something very human and subjective.


You can dress a pig in a tuxedo, and it's just a pig in a tuxedo. It's all the special tailoring that goes into the suit that makes it so 'meaningful'.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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