Tag Archives: phenomenon

Alien Intelligence

As a child and adolescent, paranormal threats would frighten and obsess me more than any ghost, vampire, or irrational phobia. The most nightmare-inducing movies for me were the Day the Earth Stood Still, Fire in the Sky, and even Mars Attacks! I was addicted to the X-Files continuity, and to books like Communion by Whitley Streiber. I kept my ear glued to Coast to Coast AM, long before the befuddled yet charming (much like my father) George Noory, during the smoky-voiced Art Bell years, managing to handle ridiculous claims and speculation with both eyebrow-raised incredulity and eager thirst for woo.

Listening to it still, but with an older more skeptical mind, it’s amazing how much hardcore paranormal believers reveal about what exactly is happening in the brain by what they say. A number of them describe alien, ghost, shadow people, and old hag encounters that, regardless of the character in place, are apt illustrations of hypnagogic dreams in action. Numerous callers, and the Mothman Prophecies author Jim Keel, claim that when supernatural forces “notice you noticed them” presumably continue to act out further for that enlightened person’s benefit. They are quite closely describing their own confirmation bias, seeing the very thing they are keyed up to look for, for that very reason. Utilising the mechanism of the brain that builds patterns out of nothing, and holding firmer to their position out of fear of their invested belief being wrong, and rewarded by the childlike part of the brain that endorses mythology, animism, imaginary friends, and religion.

Their conspiratorial-minded community reinforces that they are wiser and more enlightened for having gotten in on the secret(s). Believing their information to be factual and superior, they consider themselves the truly critical-thinking ones, because their minds are open to accept such outlandish claims. Many claim a healthy mixture of open-mindedness and skepticism, and then use this justification to heavily land in the former. Mythology is interesting stuff, and perfectly healthy to delve into, but only when recognized as perfectly false.

How can anyone really be sure that their minds, through various combinations of hypnagogic sleep states, pareidolia, or confirmation bias, aren’t fooling us into supernatural superstition no different than those in the past? Jim Kieth, himself a paranormal investigator, inadvertently revealed some of the weaknesses in his Casebook on the Men in Black, explaining how we have always had some cultural awareness of (as Terence McKenna calls it) “the Other”. Men in Black used to be iterations of Old Scratch, the devil himself, or else the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. Greys used to be any number of various little green men, fairies, goblins, or demons. And if one doesn’t accept the more grandiose implications of a Jungian collective unconscious (used to support a metaphysically telepathic astral plane of nightmarish archetypes), but simply the deeply ingrained set of socio-psychological beliefs, then the disconnects only seem to hurt the credibility of the phenomenon being an external physical force, more than mere mental construct. One can make the argument that these phenomena actually have been observed as a constant but simply described (I would argue, widely) differently. That the inter-dimensional or mystically quantum nature of these objects and beings make them ephemeral spirits, manifesting differently. Even if this is the case, it only lends to the unfalsifiability of the whole matter.

At least with accounts of Bigfoot, the reporting and sightings throughout history are fairly consistent.

What is surprising is that even when skeptics, astronomers, astrobiologists, xenobiologists, and philosophers suppose the existence of alien intelligence, it is usually described as autocratic, organizational, and would probably have mathematically subcategorized our sector. At least partially or wholly integrated with machine, they would be cold telepathic drones, more like one giant organism than many, frightening in their passionless drive to accomplish hive goals. The commensurate measures that led to cellular life growing more diverse, apes to be social climbers, and humans to be the planet’s most winningest species, might certainly have allowed a space-faring race to survive in the perpetuity necessary for interstellar travel. Their motives would be so far removed as to seem malevolent (but in actuality no moreso than the automatic slapping of a mosquito), their technology like the ‘magic’ of Gods, their thoughts unknowable, their abilities seemingly without limit. One thing would be certain, they would have their own limits and needs, beyond our comprehension, but as important to them as ours are to us. It is frighteningly coincidental how this model fits the described greys and their behavior. Listen to any specific person on the matter, however, especially those that receive mental messages from our astrological space brethren, and you’re in for a world of intellectual hurt.

Even the Catholic Church now believes in our brothers from the stars, also saved by the Judeo-Christian God. This may not help either argument much.

The thing is, we’re all on the inside of a false centre looking out at all the things that are when we aren’t even sure what “are” means.

Ultimately, it all comes down to faith. Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard believed that taking that leap of faith (be it a god or love) was ultimately scary and could prove to be wrong, and therefore should take courage. No such evidence could ever be enough to pragmatically justify the kind of total commitment involved in true religious faith or romantic love. Faith involves making that commitment anyway. Kierkegaard thought that to have faith is at the same time to have doubt. So, for example, for one to truly have faith in God, one would also have to doubt one’s beliefs about God; the doubt is the rational part of a person’s thought involved in weighing evidence, without which the faith would have no real substance. In essence, those who try to use science to prove their faith do not have real faith. Faith and scientific method are mutually exclusive. You cannot use phenomena to explain or justify itself, or rely on mostly unreliable witness testimony. Proponents or willing adherents to the supernatural should try like the dickens to falsify their own hypotheses.

This surely works the other way, and die-hard skeptics should explore the evidence of outlandish claims, if for no other reason than it is fun. Similar to theologian Tim Mawson’s claims that atheists should attempt prayer for some period of time, to strengthen their disbelief. Wouldn’t their logic would supersede any patterns of magical thinking? And how would one know which God to try this with? Of course many skeptics would argue that the burden of proof does not lie with those that posit something’s nonexistence.

What interests me most about all this is this; Why is it much more difficult to accept the existence of God or UFOs, than a pig (which you have seen before but are not looking at right now) or Japan (which you may have never directly observed)?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Ontologue

Philosophy so often talks about the things that exist in our real world as instead things that do not exist so much in our real world, replaced by ideal concepts in easy chewable tablet form.

Concepts of things that do not exist (or do not exist as they exist) drive our imagination, fiction, sexual fantasy, ingenuity to create new concepts in science and technology for tomorrow, attempts to build a better society for future generations, art, religion, and language. Abstract concepts allow us to define the universe, our sense of self and everything else in it. We have mental images for things like time, space, atoms, genes, and light, though how science has described them differs greatly.

More specific to philosophy, however, is the idea that we can and should conceptualize all the things in existence as more than meets the eye. It is possible, after all, that our senses lie to us, that nothing really exists as we think it does, or even at all. In Plato’s ideal world, each and every thing was represented on some other ethereal plane of pure concept. Imagine, a (possibly physical) plane of the exact mental image of perfect grass, a gigantic endless ocean of pure water, a room full of ideal chairs, a dog that describes all dogs, metal, stone, marble… Literally all unattainable, but clearly somewhere there in the back of your mind, their existence is implicated heavily.

Plato himself did not think that anyone, not even the enlightened autocratic kings (who never mistype nothing), was capable of ever viewing this world. Where are the objective non-objects? Never mind all that. They’re there. Stop questioning your betters.

Various iterations of conceptually perfect existence involving an intelligent God, as in Leibnitz’ surmising led to the best-of-all-possible worlds, attempted to bridge the gap between the classical Greek aether and our own crass reality.

The argument is often made that everything exists (or exists as it does, or exists in its ideal state) simply because God said so. We can therefore surmise the existence of God (which is the same as God existing as He does, in his ideal state), they claim. Critical thinkers among us are quick to point out that this is not only circular logic, but narcissistic thinking. We are not fine-tuned, we live as one example in a set with an unknown quantity (at least containing ourselves), with an existocentric view outward, not knowing how many Big Bangs failed, how often matter failed to cohere, how many times life did not arise. Science may now be supporting the multiple dimension model, which opens up wholly new and even more ridiculous speculation on the nature of reality and existence. We are just lucky, in the same way that first-world attractive wealthy white kids are, to have shared the formality of “happening to exist.” As I have often said, reality exists because it has to; if it didn’t, then it wouldn’t, and I think I could tell a difference.

Because then there’s Alex Meinong, who stated that existence is merely a property of things that so exist.

The theory is based around the purported empirical observation that it is possible to think about something, such as a golden mountain, even though that object does not exist. Since we can refer to such things, they must have some sort of being. Meinong thus distinguishes the “being” of a thing, in virtue of which it may be an object of thought, from a thing’s “existence”, which is the substantive ontological status ascribed, for example, to horses but denied to unicorns. Meinong called such nonexistent objects “homeless”;[1] others have nicknamed their place of residence “Meinong’s jungle” because of their great number and exotic nature.

Types of obects, according to Meinong, included the following, with even further categorization down the line:

  • Existence (Existenz, verb: existieren), or actual reality (Wirklichkeit), which denotes the material and temporal being of an object
  • Subsistence (Bestand, verb: bestehen), which denotes the being of an object in a non-temporal sense, includes concepts like love and irony, numbers and theorems.
  • Absistence or Being-given (Gegebenheit, as in the German use es gibt, i.e. “there are”, “it is given”), which denotes being an object but not having being, such as square circles, or iron that is made of wood.

Further confused thus by the unnecessary philosophical categorization of things, we are only now starting to determine what is a thing-in-itself, and what is a thing-not-in-itself.

Immanuel Kant (as in, Kant understand it), posited the ‘existence’ of the noumenon, the thing that exists in your mind before the senses, and the thing-in-itself (ding an sich), which may or may not be synonymous, depending on your perspective. Like with Plato, these are unknowable, but must exist, otherwise we would be faced with appearances without anything actually bothering to appear. A lot of this requires intuition, effectively reducing that hypothesis to rubbish during morning meditation. This may lead to limits on knowing, with inner unknowable senses explaining parts or whole of the phenomenal world.

Certain semantic definitions or unnecessary categories of things lead to things not-being-in-themselves, while being synonymous with the thing nonetheless. Good examples of this arise with synecdoche, a figure of speechin which a term is used in one of the following ways:

  • Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (pars pro toto), such as farm hands, a set of wheels, those long-hairs, or Great Britain, or the States
  • A thing (a “whole”) is used to refer to part of it (totum pro parte), such as the United Kingdom referring to England.
  • A specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, like the good book, or one who is good people.
  • A general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class, such as bugs, your John Handcock, or genericized trademarks.
  • A material is used to refer to an object composed of that material, like the good silver, brandishing cold steel, wearing threads or glasses or a rubber.
  • A container is used to refer to its contents, like kegs of beer, or barrels of oil.

Or sets that are defined as containing all sets, which would include the said set in an example of a strange loop, sometimes do not contain themselves. The famous example of Russell’s paradox is of a barber who shaves all men who do not shave themselves and only men who do not shave themselves. When one thinks about whether the barber should shave himself or not, the paradox begins to emerge.

One can argue that these abstracts like synecdoche or “lists of all lists that do not contain themselves” are too absurd to exist, or would be an empty or null set. But that might not suffice for someone who believes that existence first lies buried somewhere deep in the essential being of human knowledge, true and irrefutable. As Tom Waits once wrote, “everything you can think of is true.”

These ideas in one form or another persists today, even modern philosopher Sartre defining reality as sets of being and non-being, or no thing, your calculating consciousness both creating and annihilating existence, a concept so frightening that it makes me want to futilely look behind me very quickly just to make sure. Truly, my existence predates my essence, but do we even need the latter at all?

Do these sort of puzzling concepts exist only in the mind? Was Carl Jung’s collective unconsciousness the source and repository of all of our shadowy dreams, hopes and fear? Though, without diverging on an entire tangent, I always flinch in the face of the more formidable paranormal implications of Jung.

More importantly, with modern technology and science growing more and more capable of truly defining matter and mind down to every subatomic particle and electrochemical neural impulse, could it be that this branch of philosophy’s entire field of inquiry isn’t really all that relevant anymore?

An Interesting Shade of Reality

I had quite an unusual spatio-temporal experience the other day most likely brought on by overheating during my lunch break (as evidenced by more than one co-worker commenting that I looked ‘flushed’). It was rather unpleasant, warmish, not altogether unlike being drunk, or as if on some weird drug. I wasn’t quite dizzy, but certainly disoriented (a distinction made clear by the WebMD app). I was able to perform my tasks and routines and sentences, but like some sort of automata, a simulacra, or philosophical zombie. Nothing felt quite like real life, and I remember asking those around me if they were uniquely thinking individuals, and pulling on my own beard to prove it wasn’t a dream, or a parody of reality, as if those were verifiable either way. Everything was strange, to say the least, and though obviously familiar, also alien and out of place, like in some extended deja vu.

Moving to the bathroom, I gulped cold water, splashing its coolness on my neck and face, making sure to wash my ears in the process. Things slowly returned to normal, and inasmuch as I can be said to have ever been, so did I.

Regardless, it was an interesting flavor of chemical brain consciousness, and I am happy to have experienced and recorded it, though I wouldn’t avidly repeat it any time soon.

Shift Happens

So the other day I experienced yet another Reality Shift, and realized soon after that this happens with enough frequency to be a noteworthy, bloggable phenomenon warranting further study.

The Reality Shift is unknown to science, although pop quantum mystics (re: bullshit artists) like Deepak Chopra or Rhonda Byrne might tell you that you are using the power of intention to reshape the world as your own, or send yourself into a nearly identical alternate universe except for those things you wanted changing. Any time someone starts speaking this way around you, you must a> correct them politely, b> run away screaming, or c> smack them.

The weirdness to which I refer seemingly happens at random, and more than likely within one’s own head. It may have the looming pressure front of nostalgia, not wholly unlike deja-vu, but particular in several regards. It leaves the victim feeling out of place and time, suddenly and inexplicably the world is unfamiliar and strange, or even exciting and new, though logic dictates that you have seen it all a hundred times before, and nothing has physically changed. Everything is somehow just… different.

Reality Shifts most certainly occur. The way you felt about your elementary school WHILST in elementary school is far different than the way you feel about it now. In fact, you have felt differently about it many times over in the course of your life through random quirks of circumstance and remembrance. Your tv-and-movie expectations of high school at a very young age were soon supplanted by the real thing, though they may have inadvertently tinged that part of your life, either at the time or years after. Your relationship with the people in high school, and your abilities of relating to people, drastically change as you enter adulthood, the work force, collegiate social circles and the like expanding the parameters of your worldview. Everything from your geographical orientation as you learn and memorize new environments to your comfort levels contextually as a member of the human race. Obviously we all change and grow and evolve with age and experience, and on the whole this is a gradual process. But can these Shifts be noticed and even recorded in memory?

Most of the time we do not feel the Reality Shifts within ourselves until much later upon reflection. But to actually be aware of of your perceptions and contexts apparently changing as you look around you in wonder, your head sent into a spin, leaves one dazed at the vast reality none of us truly understand a mote.

So having started a new job one month ago, (and having gone through all this many times already) I was in a good position to recognize what might be happening when this Shift occurred. As I finished assisting a customer, I stared off deeply into a nearby wall, one that I have seen hundreds of times before now, and felt a wave of alien resonance envelop me, an odd sensation like being in the Twilight Zone. Was my brain perhaps in the process of rewiring itself to accept my new placement in the universe? Shuffling the short-term into the long-term memories, (something that dreaming most likely accomplishes), thereby shaping my worldview at my present age to the appropriate circumstances pertaining to my life and survival and social graces? Does this happen any time our lives require it, during relationships as they blossom and evolve, friendships, vacations, or whenever a preponderance of sensory information makes it necessary to grow as an individual, incorporating new information and ideas? I have felt little Reality Shifts in response to what seemed at the time to be crazy new ideas in my life, listening to an Alan Watts podcast in Hawaii, reading a very difficult Social Science book for AP History, learning what anti-zoo meant from an insipid liberal, accepting the death of a relative or the end of a relationship, discovering that my father did NOT have the ability to change traffic lights by pointing his finger like a gun and going *pfvvew*.

Take note of these things when they happen, and ponder every possibility; transcendental, religious, philosophical, neurological (though I myself am predisposed to the latter two). Assuredly this is not singular to my life, but each and every human must be capable of being wowed by it.