Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alien Life - The Realities

Plenty of so-called experts will tell you that alien life does not exist. They will assure you that the almost infinite reaches of the universe, while beautiful and often at or beyond our threshold of understanding, do not hold any life other than that of the small blue-green globe that we call Earth.

These people are fools.

The reason that these people are fools is quite simple. They are unscientific yet purport to use scientific methods. They call parapsychologists quacks and charletins while attempting to foister their own opinions on others without real scientific evidence.

Consider the case of a genuine scientist - astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. He actually is happy to admit that aliens are out there based not on some subconscious fear of the unknown, but on statistical probability.

Here then, is the opinion of someone that we can trust. His opinion is not based on some arrogant assertion of the 'uniqueness' or 'special-ness' of planet Earth, but on good, sound reasoning. In the absence of definitive proof, reason is the best we have and the item most obviously lacking in the skeptics argument.

As he points out, the universe is made up of some 100 billion galaxies each containing hundreds of millions of stars. Now at this point, you could go and do some research in an attempt to verify this. I guess I am happy to take this particular astrophysicist's word for it.

Now assuming the U.S. definition of a 'billion' which is only 1000 million, and that when he says a galaxy contains hundreds of millions of stars he means literally only 100 million and not 200 million etc, well, I get the following calculation:

1 billion = 1,000,000 * 1000 = 1,000,000,000
100 billion = 1,000,000,000 * 100 = 100 000 000 000
100 billion * 100 million stars (assuming that's not 200 million in reality etc) = 10 000 000 000 000 000 000

Now assuming that our superior skeptic scientists could put one second's worth of analysis into each star to determine whether or not it holds life, then it would take approximately 316,231,532,078 years - which is over 3,162,315,320 centuries, to check them all.

In other words, at one second per star - which is naturally insufficient in reality to determine if they hold life - it would still take over 3 billion centuries to go through all of them.

So when an 'expert' tells you that there is no life in space, you might like to ask them how long they've been looking - if indeed they have.

Real scientists with real brains just cannot back them up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Light bulb lights up in my brain - and the TV changes channel.

An astonishing revelation - some of the new lightbulbs can actually change the channels on your TV set.

Such events are not unheard of in paranormal cases. I could say that the restless spirits are trying to find something decent to watch. Good luck to them, I say, because I certainly can't!

On a serious note, there's nothing funny about paranoral activity - far from it. So what does a paranormal expert have to say about paranormal channel surfing in light of this new discovery?

Well, the first thing to understand is that the particular (faulty) variety of logic which I like to call Randypandy (after a famous skeptic) does not hold. Just because a TV can change channels under the influence of a lightbulb does not automatically prove that ALL channel changes are due to the lightbulb. Just hitting the button on the remote control can prove that! Therefore, although certain lightbulbs may effect this rather disconcerting phenomena, that does not mean that it is always going to be the cause.

Secondly, the biggest - and pleasing - result of this discovery is that we now have another check to be performed. Are there any lightbulbs near the offending TV? If so, remove them. If not then consider if any other electrical equipment might be able to generate rogue signals. It might actually be something adversely affecting the TV's components and not a lightbulb.

Paranormal research is not about jumping in and declaring ghosts all over the place. It is a painstaking - and sometimes boring - process of eliminating all of the 'normal' possibilities one by one until the only thing left is the 'paranormal' possibilities. It also relies on supporting evidence - not one single piece. Much in the paranormal is non-physical, so it is very difficult to prove. Instead, inferences are made based on different pieces of evidence. So a real paranormal investigator would not assume a mischievous spirit just because a TV cycles its channels.

Even when we do reach the conclusion that something is paranormal, it doesn't mean it CANNOT be due to an as-yet-undiscovered cause. Being a true paranormal investigator means that you must be open minded about things. It might look like a ghost, it might sound like a ghost - it might feel like a ghost - so if every other explanation has been ruled out, then it is safe to assume that perhaps it IS a ghost. Until some better explanation arises.

History is full of examples of discoveries which are first ridiculed and then adopted as fact - only to then be replaced by new theories when it is appropriate. So it is with the paranormal.

So, when the TV next develops self-will - check the lightbulbs first. Then, look for other signs.....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Exorcism - Not all it's cracked up to be!

Sad to say, there are still many on this God-forsaken planet who think that there are demons just waiting to possess people. The case of Sangeeta Persaud comes to mind.

This poor child died as a result of an exorcism. Simple treatment of convulsions would have left her much better off. Stupidity reigns I am afraid.

Now that's not to say that demons do not exist. Nor that they cannot have influence over people. But such cases are extremely rare and the treatment in such cases does not involve the excessive consumption of lime juice, nor pounding on the stomach.

Mental and emotional sickness account for many alleged cases of demonic possession. And possibly possession may account for a few cases of madness.

Before you rush off to have some untrained amateur attempt an exorcism of you or someone in your family who is relying on you for their well-being you should do a little common sense research. This involves getting medical opinions as well as spiritual ones. It also involves consulting professionals in the field (paranormal or otherwise) which very often does not include those who are locked into religious dogma.

Get professional help. If you want to seek the assistance of someone in the paranormal field, then that's fine. But find out about their experience, their qualifications - and what they intend to do. If it involves bondage, violence or any other such stupid (and in terms of demonic possession, useless) practices, then move on to someone else.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

Many people live in fear of the number 13.  The technical term for this is Triskaidekaphobia.  Yes, it is a real word - check out the Wikipedia entry if you don't believe me.
The word for those who are afraid of Friday the Thirteenth is paraskevidekatriaphobia.  It's a not-uncommon fear.

But is it all just superstition or is there some valid basis behind this fear?

There are many articles and experts who can help you draw conclusions regarding the origin of such concerns, but the history is at best sketchy.  Is it, then, part of some retained ancient wisdom that is able to highlight the days on which evil could triumph?  Or is it rather the foolish man's misunderstanding of various unrelated stories fashioned into popular myth?

The biggest problems with Friday the 13th lie with two fundamental issues.

Firstly, the number of fingers that we have.
And secondly, the absence of better telescopes.

Let me explain.

Firstly, the fingers.

Human kind has ten fingers.  Because of this we work with what is called a base-10 numbering system.  In other words, once we get to nine, we then start afresh from zero with a one (1) before it all.  Thirteen, therefore is represented as 10 plus 3 -> 13.  This counting system is quite significant. Computers use binary (0, 1, 10, 11, 100 etc) for example.

But if we had only 8 fingers, then once we got to seven we would then introduce that one (1) and restart from zero again.  Consider the following table which shows the numbers from one to thirteen in both base-10 as well as base-8:

Number Base-10 Base-8 Base-2 (Binary)
one 1 1 1
two 2 2 10
three 3 3 11
four 4 4 100
five 5 5 101
six 6 6 110
seven 7 7 111
eight 8 10 1000
nine 9 11 1001
ten 10 12 1010
eleven 11 13 1011
twelve 12 14 1100
thirteen 13 15 1101

As you see, with base-8 we would get to '13' quickly as the written equivalent of eleven. Similarly, thirteen would be written as '15'.

Of course, in base-2 i.e. binary, thirteen must be written as 1101 and there is in fact no meaning in the word "13" since only ones (1) and zeroes (0) are used.

Now that throws numerology and other systems off somewhat.

So if we had been born with 8 fingers (or in fact 9 or 11 etc) then our understanding of 13 would be massively different.

Then, there is the problem of the absence of better telescopes.

The main reason that the seven day week was chosen was in part (at least) due to the significance of the number seven, and specifically because there were seven known planets.

Sun, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn

Poor old Pluto and Neptune had not been discovered!

If they had then we might well have had 9 day weeks which, apart from giving us either a very long working week (or a very long weekend!) would also have affected the days on which our current Friday the Thirteenth occurs. In other words, because the weeks would be 9 days long, the day which we currently associate with Friday the Thirteenth would probably be a Monday instead. Or a Saturday. Or a Gooday or a Gnomeday..... or whatever they chose to call the extra two days.

The practical upshot of all this is that the whole association that we have with a day being a Friday and the 13th of a month is completely arbitrary and totally unrelated to fate or evil or whatever.

So therefore, there can be no sensible way in which we can assume that any Friday the Thirteenth is unlucky!