Archive for September, 2023

  • Car Dealerships Next to be Targeted for Auto Strike Supporters!

    When it comes to the impact of the UAW strike on customers, auto dealerships are really where the rubber meets the road. (more…)

  • It’s Not Russia the World Hates: It’s Mordor
    For at least the past 130 years the rulers of the United States and England have had it in for Russia.


  • Musician Coop Fights Top-Down Funding or Exploitative Streaming Platforms
    Most of the time we think of coops as involving bakeries, grocery stores or restaurants.


  • The Science of Superstition


    Examples of Superstitious Behavior

    Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and the author of one of the books I’ll be referencing called Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. In that book he used his students as guinea pigs for his research on superstition. Before taking one of his exams Vyse found the following superstitions for good outcomes among his student. These included if they:

    • Used a lucky pen, piece of jewelry or clothing – 62%
    • Wore sloppy clothes – 28%
    • Dressed up – 33%
    • Touched a lucky object – 36%
    • Sat in a particular seat – 54%
    • Listened to special music or particular song – 38%
    • Eaten a particular food – 26%
    • Avoided particular person, place and action – 23%
    • Performed a lucky action or sequence of actions – 31%
    • Wore a particular kind of perfume – 13%

    Given that Stuart teaches courses on statistics, these students need all the help they can muster!

    The scope of superstition

    Gustav Jahoda proposed four categories of superstition that provide a valuable framework in our search to understand superstition:.

    1. as part of a cosmology or coherent world-view such as the magic of tribal societies;
    2. as experiences with the paranormal such as ESP, communicating with the dead, ghosts and haunted houses;
    3. as socially shared superstitions such as black cats that can bring bad luck. Not walking under a ladder or not doing anything significant on Friday the 13th and;
    4. as personal superstitions that include lucky shirts, hats, and numbers.

    We will be mostly concerned with the third and fourth categories in this article.

    What is superstition?

    Superstitious behavior and thoughts are most likely to emerges under three conditions:

    • when there is significant uncertainty which promotes fear;
    • the reward in very important; and
    • the cost of the superstition is minimal.

    Yet not all superstition is based on fear. For example, gambling, driving fast, skydiving and taking drugs are all instances in which people choose uncertainty for the high that is brought.

    Science divides the natural world into three dimensions: the physical world of material objects, the biological world of life and the psychological world of human intentions. These are all distinct from each other. What religion, the paranormal and the superstitious all have in common is the fusion of inanimate, animate and psychological. What this means is the belief that rocks can come alive or that caterpillars can have intentions. In addition, minds can communicate with minds, unmediated by brains and bodies. Superstitions are beliefs and behaviors which defy natural law (fusing ontological categories) while making a supposed invisible connection between natural events. Its purpose is to:

    • either quell uncertainty;
    • bring good luck; and
    • create a temporary high (sensation-seeking).

    Sir James Frazer’s principle of superstition as it relates to magic is more precise in what this hidden order is like. Frazer described two important principles of sympathetic magic:

    • Homeopathy magic is based on the law of similarity, that like produces like. In voodoo, a burning an effigy will weaken the person burned in effigy.
    • Law of contagion – where there is a lasting connection between things that were once in contact.

    Superstitious judgmental biases

    Control, or the illusion of it, is very important in superstition. For example, gambling participants think they have a better chance of winning if they roll the dice and if they choose the number. In superstitious thinking illusionary correlations play an important role in the maintenance of many superstitions. For example, too much attention is paid to times when:

    • the superstition was tried and the outcome worked or;
    • when the superstition was not tried and the outcome failed.

    It is ignored in times when:

    • the superstition was not tried and the outcome succeeded; or
    • when the superstition was tried but the outcome failed.

    Further, the number one reason people given to believe in the superstition is from personal experience. But these same people do not understand the inherent weaknesses in how people interpret events. For example, scientific research shows we underestimate the likelihood of how often weird stuff happens. They are more common than we think.  The second bias is to overestimate the likelihood of events that are rare, like being killed in a plane crash. If you go to a different party each week with at least 23 people each, on average two people will have the same birthday half the time. We are not equipped to think about likelihood very accurately because the science of probability is only about 300 years old. It’s too recent to be part of our evolutionary heritage. Instead, we interpret these coincidences as if something supernatural were involved.

    Questions about the relationship between religion, superstition, the paranormal and psychopathology

    Is it possible to be religious and not superstitious? Is it possible to be an atheist and still be superstitious? Can you believe in paranormal (ESP, telepathy) and not be superstitious? Can you be superstitious and not believe in the paranormal? Are all irrationalities superstitious? The answer is no. Some irrationalities are not always superstitious, such as murder or schizophrenia. Further, some superstitions, given the level of intensity, the dangers involved and the unpredictability of the outcome might make superstitions a rational strategy! Is there any relationship between the kind of work you do and superstition? How much of superstition is governed by age? Are there certain ages in children when they are more superstitious than others? Is there a superstitious personality?  Are superstitions people abnormal? Are superstitions indicative of a psychological disorder? Should we be concerned about our mental health if we are superstitious?

    Where we are headed

    This article is divided into two parts. In Part I, I start with a socio-culture of superstition. I identify the social demographics of groups most likely to be superstitious, including their occupations. Further, I identify how superstitious behaviors are learned, focusing on associative (Pavlov) and operant conditioning (Skinner). We discuss attachment to places and to objects and the reasons for these attachments. I close part I by showing why it is easier for people to believe in creationism rather than evolution.

    After summarizing part one of this article, the heart of Part II is to discuss how the mind develops in children. We examine children’s superstitious thinking in the light of recent criticisms of Piaget.  We talk about how some of Piaget’s findings have been replaced by psychological essentialism.  Next, I show how our social theory of mind invites superstitious thinking. Our ability to form social relationships leads to speculation about meanings and intentions which leads to superstitious mind-reading. Towards the end of Part II of this 2-piece article, it may seem like a no-brainer to announce that superstitious behavior is irrational. However, there are some extreme conditions in which thinking superstitiously is rational. Further, I ask whether superstitious thinking is pathological.  Whether superstitious thinking is irrational or pathological, I’d like to know if it is dangerous. As I pointed out in an earlier article, superstition is the product of an ancient mind. Experiencing the world in a non-superstitious way is a product of the reflective mind and only gathers force in the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

    My claim

    My claim in this article is that superstitious thinking and behaving is built into the mind by our biological inheritance and we cannot get rid of it completely. While more modern societies can minimize its impact through science and its institutions, there are limits in how far it can go. For this article I will be referring to two books. The first in Believing in Magic by Stuart Vyse and the second is by Bruce Hood, The Science of Superstition.


    This article is about the origins of supernatural beliefs, why they are so common and why they are be so hard to get rid of. This piece is not about ghosts and ghouls or anything paranormal. Rather it is about the supernatural thinking and behavior in everyday activity. Lastly, this article is about the science behind our superstitions not whether these beliefs and behaviors are or are not true.

    The Sociology of Superstition

    Culture is a necessary but not sufficient condition for superstition

    Superstition depends partly on the proportion of social life that is secular and how much is sacred. Of course, in tribal societies where there is little secular culture developed, parents will pass on cultural superstitious traditions. However, in his book The Science of Superstition Bruce Hood points out that children, even when raised in a strong secular culture such as Russia (when it was the Soviet Union) or the Scandinavian countries, children are still superstitious. Even atheists are still vulnerable to good luck charms, knocking on wood and crossing fingers no matter how much of a rationalist they may be.

    How are work and leisure related to superstition?

    Which social groups are superstitious considering demographics of occupation, gender, age, and education? Traditionally superstitious occupational groups include sports figures, gamblers, sailors, soldiers, miners, financial investors and college students.

    Professional athletes and actors are the most famous superstitious people and there is more to superstition in team sports than individual sports like track. In baseball, the most capricious parts of the game are batting and pitching and are the most suspectable to superstition. Female athletes think that dressing well is especially important to success.

    Some gamblers certainly have rules like these: the number of rolls is connected with the velocity of the throw; a soft touch brings low numbers and; a hard throw brings a high one. If you want to talk to the dice, slow the pace down. Some superstitions are aimed at maintenance of successful hot streak; other superstitions are designed to break a batting slump with a hit.


    Gender studies show that women are more superstitious and have a greater belief in the paranormal than do men. I think this has to do with women having less control over their lives and needing some method of making their world seem more predictable. Vyse tells us that in childhood and early adolescence boys and girls do not differ in their locus of control. In college however, women begin to show a greater external locus of control then men. People in the soft sciences are more likely to be superstitious than people in the hard sciences. The later probably use the scientific method as part of their work more frequently.

    People with an external locus of control are more superstitious. If a person feels their life is unpredictable, they are going to be drawn to superstitious techniques for making them more predictable. This means working class people are more likely to be susceptible than upper middle-class people. Hypnotic suggestibility studies found that those who were higher in suggestibility were more likely to have psychic experience, such as seeing angels or extraterrestrials. In terms of the big five of personality theory, superstitious behavior is connected to higher levels of neuroticism, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and low ego strength. They have difficulty responding constructively to stressful or challenging events. People with low ambiguity tolerance and living in high stress area are especially superstitious.

    How is Superstition Acquired?

    Association and conditioning

    As Ford says, we are not born knocking on wood. Superstition is acquired. We become followers of astrology. How it is acquired depends on events coming together in time, place and with people, something psychologists call “contiguity”. Pavlov developed seven laws of association. Associations are events that happen right before the stimulus and the behavior and are for the most part unconscious. The first law of association is temporal continuity of association. In a weak association more time will pass between the association and the stimulus. A stronger linkage between association and stimulus occurs if association happens right before the behavior. The second law is the intensity of the association. A weak association goes with drab colors, monotone sounds or neutral smells. Strong intensity is associated more with vivid sights, sounds and smells. The third law is the frequency of the association. The more frequent and consistent the association the more likely the behavior will be repeated. The more infrequent or erratic the association the less chance the behavior will have of continuing. This is one reason why therapists like to insist that their meetings be on the same day of the week, hopefully at the same time and in the same place.

    The fourth law of association is the resemblance between the association and the behavior. The closer the resemblance association is the greater the chance the association will be linked to the stimulus. So if you are trying to build a habit of going running it’s not a good idea to play Brahma Lullaby right before getting out of bed to run. Speedy music is best for speedy activities. The fifth law of association is the sequencing between association and stimulus. It is always best to create an association right before the behavior, not right after it. The sixth association has to do with duration. Associations which last a long time right before the behavior will create a deeper impression than if the duration is too fast. Lastly, we have the quality of the association itself. If the association is very enjoyable that will make it more likely to be repeated. If it is enjoyable in itself, it is more likely to make the connection with the behavior intrinsic.

    What is the connection between these laws and superstition? After all, Pavlov was a scientist. The most significant thing is that these associations are made unconsciously by people who haven’t a clue about Pavlov’s laws. That means the associations are operating behind the person’s back. The success between the association and behavior is interpreted superstitiously, as some kind of occult connection when there is really a scientific explanation.

    Consequential conditioning

    The same process of unconscious assimilation happens right after the behavior with the consequences. BF Skinner argued that a consequence that follows the behavior can either strengthen the behavior or weaken it. A consequence that increases the behavior is a reinforcement. The consequence that weakens the behavior is called a punishment. Skinner further divided reinforcers into positive and negative. Conversely, he divided punishment into positive and negative. Again, people’s behavior is not consciously connected to consequences so successes and failures seem to happen in a haphazard way. The successes and failures seem to come out of nowhere and so there is a search for some hidden set of rules that explains them. Hence, we have superstitious beliefs and behaviors. The development of pathological obsessions, compulsions and phobias can all be explained by both associational and consequential conditions. Magical and religious rituals can be similarly explained.

    When Does a Routine Become a Superstition?

    People like to have routines to ground their lives in things they can control. So, if every morning I turn on the lights, start my computer, wash up, put my clothes on, go into the kitchen and start to have breakfast there is comfort in knowing I do everything in the same order. Then I might read my email, have breakfast and go for my walk. So practically, if I went for my walk before I looked at my email and then had my breakfast and then checked my email it really is not that important. This routine would become superstitious when the order became compulsive. I might feel that the rest of my day would be ruined if I did things out of order. I might feel instead of the routine being mindful, it became mindless, like muttering hymns in church as a little kid with no understanding of what the words meant. However, I did it because God would punish me if I didn’t.

    Attachment to Places

    In his book The Science of Superstition, Bruce Hood points out that houses associated with notorious murders are difficult to resell. Could you buy or even rent a house where a murder was once committed? Are you a person who would cross the street to avoid standing on the same spot where the evil took place?  Why would mature adults will pay good money for personal items that once belonged to famous people? Why do fans go crazy when they get to physically touch their sports heroes or rock stars?

    There are principles of superstition that underly these reservations. We intuitively feel that the integrity of something good can be more easily spoiled by contact with something bad rather than the reverse. Why do we treat evil as contagious more so than good? Why do we refuse to touch evil items? Bruce Hood quotes Rozin saying  that adults endorse each of these reasons to varying degrees because:

    • we do not want to be seen undertaking an action that the majority of people would avoid;
    • an item associated with a killer is negative and wearing it produces associations with the act of killing;
    • it is imagined there is a physical contamination of the clothing; and
    • we believe there is a spiritual contamination of the clothing.

    Attachment to Objects

    In an old store author Bruce Hood visited, the objects were so evocative that if he closed his eyes he could smell decades pass him by. The shop had a wonderful aroma of the past, laced with tobacco. Objects are a tangible, physical link with the past that can instantly transport us back to earlier days. Objects define who we think we are. We treat objects as an extension of ourselves. We think some invisible property in them makes them what they are. Old chairs seem to know something about the past. How far can this be carried? When will it turn into a superstition?

    What is a fetish? A fetish is a belief that an object has supernatural powers. They are attributing to physical objects invisible properties. Certainly, furniture has a history in its faded fabric and scratched legs. They remind us of events or people, but many people go further. They claim that the objects are haunted by dead relatives.

    Evolutionary Mind Structure

    What humans do most naturally and spontaneously at the most basic level is to look for patterns. We imagine hidden faces and causes as part of watching for patterns. Further we see things in wholes, not parts. Gestalt psychologists have shown that the mind fills in the missing edges of shapes that in real life are only partly formed. The completed shapes do not really exist. Our brains have created something out of nothing because the completed shapes are generalizations about shapes that help us to survive. In part we see faces in the clouds or on Mars because we are not used to working with coincidence and the possibility that things happen randomly and by chance. If you are like most people, if Vyse asked you to generate a random series of numbers, you might happily announce you could do it. In coin flips, you are much more likely to alternate fourteen flips with either heads or tails.  But chance is just as likely to generate streaksof heads or streaks of tales. Because our minds are designed to see the world as organized we often detect pattern that are not really present. Because what causes events in the world is something we cannot witness since they happen in scales of time and space that are too large for us, our minds have evolved to infer the existence cause of things we can’t see. This is because any cause, even sinister ones, is better than being ruled by chance.

    Humans’ Lack of Imagination About Slow Creativity

    Darwin’s theory of natural selection is hard to understand because it operates at time scales well beyond the lifetime of an individual. This makes it difficult for people to accept. When we see the diversity of life forms in our day it is hard to believe that such complexity could arrive spontaneously with no designer over long periods of time. As individuals with relatively short life-spans, we don’t have the experience of immense passages of time and so we cannot observe evolution at work. Furthermore, we are not naturally inclined to imagine a theory that is non-purposive and non -directive. This is because so many of our actions are driven by plans and purposes. We can’t imagine nature without it.

    Why is it so hard for people to become scientific in their thinking? Science is full of ideas that seem bizarre simply because:

    1. a) we are not used to them and
    2. b) they are hard to wrap our heads around and require specialized knowledge like a class in scientific methodology and statistics. It is easier to imagine ghosts than a light wave made of up photons

    On the other hand, monotheistic intuitions for creationism include:

    • the world is governed by non-random events or patterns in the world;
    • events are caused by intention;
    • complexity cannot happen spontaneously but must be a product of someone’s plan to design things for a purpose; and
    • All living things are fundamentally different because of some invisible property inside them (essences)

    No wonder monotheistic religion continues to be  adhered to in spite of Darwinian evolution!

    The Roots of Mind-Body Dualism

    Epistemologically, the mind seems to have no real direct connection in the physical world. That is why some consider mind-body dualism irrefutable evidence for why there must be supernatural powers operating in the world. Hood cautions us that once we commit to the independent existence of mind and body, there is no limit to what the mind can do. If the mind is separate from the body it is not constrained by the same laws that govern the physical world.

    Coming Attractions of Part II

    As a result of his research among children and adolescents, Piaget developed a cogent and elaborate system for understanding child development. He certainly explained superstition well. But recently many of his findings have to be adjusted as a result of collaborations between psychologists and stage magicians. Current research in child development tells us that much of superstition results from the fusion of the physical, biological and psychological worlds. Piaget would haves certainly agreed with this, using  his own terminology. However, thanks to the work of Susan Gelman, we learn that children are psychological essentialists. In part II we will find out what that means, not only for children but also for adults.

    The human mind is lost in the world of other people long before the mind becomes self-reflective.  A child learns very soon that other human beings have minds which have intentions and give meaning which is different from the child. The mind of the adult has intentions which are hidden from them. But in order to become mind-readers, children must face up to the fact that minds appear to be separate from bodies. How might this be related to the emergence of superstition? Ghosts are often associated with the superstitions but what evolutionary adaptative function might ghosts serve?

    Which psychopathology is most consistently connected with superstition: paranoia, neurosis or schizophrenia? Is superstitious thinking and behavior the cause or the consequence of psychopathology?

    What are the conditions under which superstitious thoughts or behavior are rational? What does how much uncertainty there is in a situation and what are the stakes have to do with rationality? How much does the amount of time and the cost in time and energy play a factor? How  does knowledge of science, problem-solving skills and decision-making capacities connect to being rational yet still being superstitious?

    It is a common stereotype to say that tribal people are more superstitious than people who live in industrial capitalist or socialist societies. Putting aside the imperialistic and monotheistic use these claims can be put to, this claim is true for bioevolutionary reasons. Comparing the ancestral mind to the deliberative mind pulls together most, if not all the facets of superstitious thinking and behavior in this article.

  • The Counterculture, Tavistock and the CIA
    We think that Matthew Ehret has some very interesting things to say about the role of Tavistock and the CIA in relation to the counterculture.


  • China Strengthens Electronic Trade With Argentina
    The Chinese Belt Road Initiative is not just about building physical infrastructures like trains and roads.


  • Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai Interview Pepe Escobar About Multi-Polar Travels
    Three of the smartest people in the world discuss Pepe’s  travels to multipolar conferences.


  • Global War, Counterterrorism and the Global Economic Crisis
    In this article professor Chossudovsky provides a dazzling picture of how the world capitalism crisis is related to 99 other variables.


  • German Social Democratic Left Declares a Continuing War on Russia

    It is hard to believe that the SPD was founded over 140 years ago as a Marxist party. (more…)

  • City of London as Finance Capital Hell on Earth

    What financial center of the world is so powerful it is not under the jurisdiction of a national government? (more…)

  • Go East Russkies?
    Russia is a difficult country to place in terms of geographic loyality.


  • Michael Roberts on a Marxian Analysis of China’s Economy
    How did China really cope with the pandemic? What will it mean for China if there is an increase in trade with Brazil?


  • The Conspiracy Against Nuclear Energy
    Is nuclear energy safe?


  • More Mordor Pipe Dreams
    Big wheels keep on churnin’. Proud Mordor propaganda keeps on burnin’.


  • Autoworkers Strike in Top Three Mordor Auto Companies at Once
    For the first time in history unions from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) are all striking at the same time.


  • Chinese Economy Collapsing?

    Mordor’s propaganda machine against China is revealed to be black propaganda. (more…)

  • Another Mordor Nightmare
    One of Russia’s most important plans in the future is to integrate both Koreas with Russia, specifically the Eurasian Economic Union.


  • Noam Chomsky’s Anti-communism for the 21st Century
    Using many of the writings of Michael Parenti’s book Blackshirts and Reds, the author outlines the commonalities between the anarchist-liberal Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges.


  • In a Workers’ Coop is One Member, One Vote Practical?

    “Should every member’s vote be equal? One Member, One Vote is such a bedrock principle of cooperativism that the question itself seems heretical. (more…)

  • Collapse of Capitalism

    As of today we have been in an economic crisis for over eight years. We think that if you ask most Americans who or what is responsible for this economic crisis, they will say the bankers and Wall Street. This is certainly true up to a point. However the crisis is bigger than just the banks. (more…)

  • Alternatives to Capitalism
  • History of Workers’ Councils
  • Complicity in Working Class Life

    By saying workers are complicit in their oppression, we deny that workers are victims of circumstance. But neither do we say workers create their own reality. Capitalists limit and control the life of workers with the Deep State’s first line of terrorism: police departments. They control workers through wages and laws that are stacked against them. But workers are still responsible as collective creative beings to fight against this oppression. There are many, many working class people – 40% of the population. There are very few ruling class and upper class – 5-6%. So we have to explain how so many can be controlled by so few.

    The field of psychology has not been friendly to the working class between the later part of the 19th century until the 1930s. Psychologists like Wundt were only interested in the neurological aspects of psychology such as sensation, perception or elementary thinking. Psychologists like Freud who were much more interested in the deeper realms of consciousness were only interested in individuals and their struggles. In the field of crowd psychology, Gustav Le Bon, a conservative French doctor wrote at the turn of the 20th century speculative books arguing that the highest aspects of psychology were within individuals. Crowd behavior represented the worst in humanity. Since most people in crowds were working class, Le Bon described them as irrational, spontaneous, suggestible, ignorant and animal-like.

    Meanwhile socialists and communists were either not interested in psychology or looked at it with suspicion. Some even called it a bourgeois science. Nevertheless, in the 1920s Lev Vygotsky set out to create what he called a communist psychology. He studied the social nature of intelligence and many other subjects including cooperative learning and the impact of industrialization on perception, cognition and personality. He and his colleagues Luria and Leontiev certainly assisted working-class people with their problems but they did not explicitly develop a working-class psychology. For all socialists the working-class psychology was pretty straight-forward. They were beaten down victims who were potentially heroic when and if they overthrew capitalism.

    The problem for all socialist psychology is that no one carried forward Marx and Engels conflicted nature of the working-class psychology.  On one hand workers were a class-in-itself. This is when workers have no class consciousness and only dream of becoming capitalists themselves. They are interested in immediate gratification and are vulnerable to capitalist diversions such as religion, patriotism and sports, all which create non-socialist communities. On the other hand, Marx said workers have a class-for-itself consciousness. Here workers identify as a members of the working class with their own separate interests, distinct from all other social classes. They become less involved in sports, religion and patriotism. At best they became socialists and identify their future by overthrowing capitalism and creating a socialist society.

    The first attempt we are aware of to show the conflicted nature of the working class psychologically was in the work of Wilhelm Reich. Most famously in the Mass Psychology of Fascism and the Function of the Orgasm, Reich argued that the repressive nature of religion along with the authoritarian family and sexual repression combined to make the working class submissive. His later books like Listen Little Man and the Murder of Christ continued to point out the complicity and the inability of working-class people to rebel. In the Murder of Christ Reich wrote, Hitler would never have been possible if there wasn’t a little bit of Hitler in a whole lot of people.

    The reason why people are complicit in their own subordination does not rise or fall with the reasons Reich brought up about why they accept subordination. It is because he raised the question as a socialist. Many of our articles under “Perspectives and Analysis” deal with the question of working-class complicity. These articles include the topics of propaganda, the manipulative nature of language, the nature of dogmatism, cults, nationalism, patriotism, sports and the use of psychotherapy to force, cohere or mystify working-class people to accept their submission.

  • Neopagan Prospects for Marxism

    Marxists have followed to the letter Marx’s understanding of religion as the opium of the people. Marx also said the figure of God was an expression of the alienated creativity of humanity. He also saw the religious promise of heaven in the afterlife as a way to keep workers from rebelling in this life and creating heaven on earth. We agree with all of this. However, Marx was too sweeping when he condemned all religion is alienating. The religion he was referring to was monotheism. We think his criticism applies far less to polytheism and not at all to animism. Marx was dead right about monotheistic religion because monotheism first arose in class societies. However, he was wrong about animism and to a lesser extent polytheism. Why? Marx labelled the first societies (hunter-gatherers) as being primitive communism. They had no private property and shared the products and processes of their work. There was no institutionalized leadership and no exploitation. All anthropologists agree that all societies have religion. Therefore, primitive communists had a religion. Yet this religion, what Francis Cornford called “primitive magic”, had none of the characteristics Marx named as religious. We think that the characteristics of primitive and secondary magic can be incorporated into Marxism as part of a materialist sacred practice. In Marx and Engels general sweep of history, under advanced communism, some of characteristics of primitive communism would return in a higher form, in a qualitative leap to a communism based on abundance. So too, the primitive magic of hunter gatherers can return on a higher level with the emergence of Neopaganism as part of a communist society.

    Marxists are typically atheists but they sensibly understand that workers are not going to give up their Judeo-Christian religion when their life is relatively miserable. However, Marxists have treated religion as a private matter of the workers and have not been active in understanding how religion has captured the minds and hearts of workers. As atheists and secularists, Marxism has stayed away from the techniques religion has used to appeal to workers such as sacraments, holy days, patron saints, mythological stories and ritual.  With the exception of liberation theology, they have treated religion as superstitious nonsense crafted by priests and want no more to do with it. In addition, Marxism has also failed to understand how nationalism and sports, two more of its ideological rivals, have been built using the same techniques as monotheism. Marxism has failed to understand the positive moments of sacred life and find a way to incorporate them into socialism. Enter Neopaganism.

    Marxism does not have to reinvent any sacred ontology, epistemology and methodology from scratch because Neopagans already have one in place. According to Margot Adler in Drawing Down the Moon, as part of the German romantic movement Neopaganism emerged and carried on as a small movement up until the 1940s. Then thanks to Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valente, witchcraft came into its own first in England and then in the early 1970s in the United States. Since then, Neopaganism has blossomed, with Adler suggesting  that in the United States alone there are 200,000 people that identify as Neopagans. What does Neopaganism have to do with Marxism? In my book the Magickal Enchantment of Materialism: Why Marxists Need Neopaganism I identify eight characteristics that might make Neopaganism appeal to Marxists:

    • A western source of influence which might make it a natural candidate to replacing Christianity
    • The similarities between pantheism and dialectical materialism
    • The positive attitude toward matter as being active, self-regulating and self-generating as similar to Marx’s materialism
    • The importance of the past—pagan repression by Christianity like Marxist appreciation of primitive communism
    • Importance and appreciation of science and futurism
    • Recognition of the dark side of nature and humanity—
    • Pro-feminism with Neopagans having equal representation as men
    • Passing knowledge on across generations without economic exchange

    Lastly what Neopagan have to offer Marxism that we think is most important is the appreciation of ritual, wheel of the year celebrations, special days of the year and mythologies In other words Neopaganism can deliver the very things that religion, nationalism and sports delivers to the Yankee population in a way that is not superstitious, does not reify its gods and goddesses, and is not escapist. There are at least 10 articles in the Perspective and Analysis section of our page which you can read which later was incorporated into my book.

  • G20 Meeting 2023

    The G20 meetings are supposed to be about finance and trade. (more…)

  • Here is One For Comic Relief

    The reporter with Global Times is to be commended for his restraint in keeping from laughing while describing Mordor’s claims to build its own Belt Road Initiative. (more…)

  • Mordor Attacks Strategic Culture Foundation: Too Little, Too Late
    This is one of the best journals we have found of international politics with viewpoints ranging from conservatives to socialists. Here is their own introduction to their work.


  • Cornel West-Jimmy Dore Interview: The Limits of Eclecticism
    We were not disappointed by this interview because we could have predicted it.


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  • Heroic Skeptical Odysseys Into Parapsychology Part II

    (Image is of young skeptics in action)

    Summary of Part I

    The purpose of this two-part article is to present an eight-step method that a self-organized community of scientific skeptics developed specifically to investigate the claims of the existence of paranormal phenomenon. I began Part I with a survey of what the Yankee population believes about the paranormal, including psychic healing, ESP, the existence of ghosts and extraterrestrials’ visitations to earth. Using the work of Jonathan Smith I categorized eight types of paranormal experience on a spectrum, based on how modest or extraordinary their claims are. The bulk of the article was to name the first three of the eight steps skeptics use in evaluate paranormal claims. This include the quality of sources, how sound the logic is as well as the quality of observation.

    In part two of my article, I complete the rest of the eight steps. These include quantitative reasoning (assessing probability); perceptual trickery; memory errors; the placebo effect and the possibility of hallucinations that can lead to false conclusions about the paranormal.  Furthermore, I identify four reasons why believing in the paranormal is not harmless, either at an individual or societal level. I close my article with the optimal conditions for a good scientific process of investigation as well as how best to evaluate the most superior among competing theories. The image in the front of this article are young skeptics in action.

    Estimating Probability and Gauging of Chance

    Are you more likely to die on a motorcycle or on a bicycle? Are you more likely to die on a bus or a train? Which is more likely, drowning in a swimming pool or in a bathtub?  A psychic will claim it is big news that among 75 people in a room, she predicted there are two people there who have the same birthday. Did you know that the chances of this happening are 99%?

    People around the world are very bad at gauging chance occurrences. This is because quantitative rationality only goes back to the 17th century. Learning this skill takes special training in at least two courses: research methods and statistics. We also misjudge probabilities because of a lack of experience with the unusual which only becomes possible through familiarity working with large numbers.

    Heuristic mistakes

    People are also terrible at estimating probabilities because we are prejudiced for  numbers which stand out and are easy to recall. This is called the availability bias. Conversely, people underestimate the probability of rare negative events such as the likelihood they will get injured in a car accident. Furthermore, we have slight biases towards optimism rather than seeing things as they really are. This is why smokers think they are less likely to die of cancer than other smokers. A knowledgeable but unscrupulous psychic or astrologer who knows these human tendencies can comfortably predict that you will have good fortune to persuade you that astrology works.


    Coincidences are events that unexpectantly occur together in a meaningful way without any apparent causal link. Therefore, they could be interpreted as a prophesy or an omen. The average person is very bad at generating random numbers. This is because random numbers are just as likely to appear in clumps or streaks as well as simple alternations. Alternations like HTHTHT to the end of a page are too regular to be random. They need to include streaks like HHHHH or TTTTT. People underestimate the frequency of the size and the frequency of the clumps. Winning at gambling 3 times in a row is just as usual at alternating between winning and losing. For our purposes it is important to know that Blackmore and Troscianko have found that people who believe in the paranormal ability are especially prone to make mistakes in probability judgments. This is called psychic bias.

    Perceptual Trickery

    Barnum Effect

    Perception (how our senses are organized) is selective and distorted. We select (mostly unconsciously) what serves our interest and needs. Our perception is something like a spotlight that targets and intensifies some stimuli and ignores others. Our emotions and motivations guide this spotlight. Tricksters can, and do, take advantage of this. The Barnum effect is displayed in the following experiment by Bertram Forer’s personality tests. He gave participants generic descriptions based on their horoscopes and found that subjects who were more likely to believe the results were true if: a) the subject thinks it only applies to them; b) the subject has confidence in the authority; and c) the horoscope reveals mainly positive traits.

    Cold Readings

    Stage magic is an old practice in which skilled sleight-of-hand is involved in deceiving an audience into making errors in perception. The range goes from simple card tricks to escaping locked jails to the feats of Houdini. Stage magicians are so good they have convinced PhD physicists under laboratory conditions that paranormal effects are real. For instance, that they can bend spoons and read pictures sealed in envelopes. Cold readings are a judgment about a stranger based on a combination of reading body language, knowledge of rhetorical techniques, behind the scenes investigation into a person combined with knowledge of how to create atmospheric effects.

    Jonathan Smith names five techniques in cold reading.

    • Maximize the Barnum effect and confirmation bias

    You pursue elaborations of a prediction that seem to evoke a positive response in the audience. For example, “you have more creative talent than you give yourself credit for” or “your friends respect and love you more than you might expect”. After that, engage in “shot gunning” – you ask your subject so many questions and claims that some are bound to be right. Participants are more likely to seize on what fits and ignore that what doesn’t fit (confirmation bias).

    • Develop sneaky strategies for tricking the subjects into telling you things about themselves when they are not focused

    One method can be informally chatting with the audience before a performance is about to begin. These can easily be worked into part of the reading. Another is to encourage cooperation. Insist that doing a reading is a collaborative venture. This is a way to narrow down the scope of what the stage magician is after. For example, games such as Twenty Questions where the question asked is “is it an animal, vegetable or mineral?” allows the narrowing of the focus through the process of elimination.

    • Ways of drawing inferences from information other than what the subject tells you

    For example, reading subtle cues and body language, noting the clothes, demeanor, posture and gestures of the subject. Also, what really captures attention is basing predictions on a probable but unexpected statistic. For example, people don’t realize that in most homes they would likely find old, unsorted photographs; some toy or book that dates from childhood; some jewelry from a deceased relative; a deck of cards with one or more cards missing and an instruction book on a hobby one no longer pursues. When the psychic mentions one of these the naïve target begins to wonder whether there really is something to parapsychology.

    • Ways of making less than perfect readings seem accurate

    An easy way to turn a miss into a hit is to say your claim refers to something that will happen in the future. Another technique is to blame the subject for being too skeptical. “You are thinking so much it is blocking the energy” or “there is too much negative energy in the room”.

    • Creating atmospheric effects

    The hypnotist, Mesmer, was very good at creating atmosphere such as candlelight, incense, eerie or dreamy music and photos of mystics and strange animals, especially cats.

    Memory Errors

    This is especially relevant when it comes to paranormal tales of reincarnation and alien abductions. Many people believe that everything we experience is recorded in memory, like a personal security system camera that is always with us. In fact, our memory capacity is limited and new memories can replace corrupt old ones. Memory is reconstructed more as historical fiction or docudrama. Also, memories such as alien abductions could hardly be repressed as advocates suggest. Traumatic experiences are much more likely to be remembered.

    A false memory is an inaccurate recollection based on selective forgetting – the mixing of memories or memory fragments, along with the mushing together of dreams and fantasies. In addition, we don’t have mechanisms which can isolate our real past from information gotten from TV and movies. Neither can these memories be isolated from the influence of authority figures like therapists who are committed to theories of repressed memories.

    Placebo Effect: When Wishing Makes it So

    What it is and when it works

    What is a placebo? A placebo is when a pharmacologically or physiologically inactive substance can have therapeutic, physiological or psychological effect if it is administered to a patient who has the expectation that it is effective. The placebo is stronger for problems with a strong psychological component, such as pain or depression with up to 60% efficiency. As you might expect, placebos have less effect on problems that are mostly physical, such as cancer. The following are some tips for how accentuate the placebo.

    How to pump up your placebo

    • Motivate your subject to want to get better. Give then exciting testimonials of others.
    • Find a nurse to administer the treatment.
    • Give a complicated explanation that sounds plausible and uses scientific sounding terms.
    • Introduce a complicated and sophisticated procedure. Put water in a chemistry flask surrounded by tubes that run through an electronic device with lots of knobs, dials and lights.
    • Belief that colored pills work better than white pills; large rather than small pills; capsules are better than pills. They work better when they are administered frequently rather than infrequently and when they are expensive rather than cheaper.
    • Alter the placebo so that it has a slight negative side effect. Spike the water so that it stings. Or give it a slight unpleasant medical odor. The sting will be interpreted as a sign it is working.


    What they are and how sleep effects them

    Hallucinations are generally defined as false involuntary perceptions that occur while awake when a sensory experience occurs in the absence of corresponding external stimulation. Before falling asleep some people experience hypnogogic hallucinations which are typically static images. On the other hand, hypnopompic hallucinations can emerge in the twilight state of sleep but before waking. Experiences of ghosts, alien inductions and angels reported throughout history and around the world are examples of what can happen when hypnopompic or hypnogogic hallucinations or sleep paralysis in physiologically is in operation.

    Hallucinogenic proneness

    Smith cautions us that while some people are more likely to experience hallucinations than others, it is a mistake to think of some sort of hallucination trait, once manifest, can affect someone for the rest of their lives. Instead, Aleman and Larøi prefer to use the term “hallucination proneness” which may be expressed in childhood is controllable and emerges only when triggered.

    Five types of hallucination;

    • Deprivation which can include food and fasting; oxygen deprivation (too much or too little carbon dioxide); sleep deprivation and fatigue
    • Reduced sensory input

    Sensory loss (blindness or loss of hearing) or social isolation

    • Sensory overload

    This includes increased external stimulation such as a gambling casino, an amusement park or walking in Manhattan’s Times Square.

    • Sensory orchestration – to create a depthful meaning. A sacred example of this is in magical rituals with singing and dancing. A Catholic religious ritual which combines stained glass windows (sight); organ music (sound); incense (smell) oak pews (touch) and holy communion (taste). A secular version of this would be creating a patriotic spirit with songs, pledging of allegiance, taste (apple pie) and flags.
    • Stressful and strenuous situations

    Such as trauma and bereavement.

    • Consumption of chemical substances

    These include LSD, cannabis, mescaline, PCP, amphetamines and cocaine.

    Please see the table at the end of this article for a summary of the typical mistakes parapsychologists make in each of the eight steps of critical thinking.

    The Bottom Line About Parapsychology

    Why the public likes parapsychologists

    In spite of all these criticisms, why does the public continue to believe in the paranormal? Some of this has to do with the way scientists are perceived. The public’s picture of a scientist is they are overly serious and somewhat angry that people  remain interested in parapsychology. They seem narrow and rigid, as Smith says, “sexless geeks wearing white lab coats, isolated from the real world in windowless laboratories”. Scientists speak in a specialized language of mathematics which takes time to learn. On the contrary, books about parapsychology are filled with mystery and can be understood by an educated layperson.

    When it comes to physical health, most medical doctors are locked into managed care hospitals with little time for their patients. But if the public wishes to see a homeopath, they will be attended to by a professional who is not beaten down by seeing patient after patient. Homeopaths are more emotionally available and will see the patient for a full hour. Attention, as we know, is very important to people. Parapsychologists seem to be more open and flexible, although as we shall see they are actually less open.

    Parapsychologists as researchers

    Jonathan Smith concludes that Psi researchers are frustratingly persistent in ignoring and discounting reasonable requests to fix problems. Replications have been inconsistent and are generally cancelled out by other studies that find no effect. Psychologist James Alcock says that parapsychologists have never been able to produce a successful experiment that neutral scientists with appropriate skill, knowledge and equipment have that can replicate the original experience.

    Meanwhile, parapsychologists complain that mainstream science is inflexible, prejudiced and unconsciously afraid. They imagine that scientists are not open to the mysterious. But this is not true. Smith points out that in the case of dark energy it was once rejected and it took five years of astronomical observations to change their minds.  But they did change. Science is open to new findings if it plays by the rules of scientific method, as we shall see. In fact, some of the findings of science such as Einstein relativity theory, black holes and dark matter are far weirder and more exotic than anything parapsychologists have come up with.

    Who is more rigid in changing their minds, believers or skeptics?

    Psychics often claim that skeptics are rigid in their thinking and not open to new possibilities. But research by Susan Blackmore has not born this out. She says research shows that when believers are compared to skeptics in terms of changing their minds, skeptics are more likely to change. Believers are rigid and fail to reconcile the negative evidence.

    Paranoia among parapsychologists

    The distance between parapsychologists and mainstream science can be seen when parapsychologists often argue that some individual, agency or force is actively suppressing evidence. For example, the state doesn’t want you to know all the proven powers of the human brain because such knowledge could lead to challenging the state. Therefore, people believe in ESP. Another example is about flying saucers. Information that flying saucers have visited earth would case mass panic and social chaos. Therefore, the information is being suppressed. The movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind is an example. Others will say there are some everyday herbs that can cure many illnesses and eliminate the need for physicians and specialist treatments. The medical profession hides information that could threaten the livelihood of doctors.

    It is frequently noted that one of the strongest findings in scientific research on the paranormal is a negative correlation between study quality and obtained support for the paranormal. In parapsychologypoorly designed and inexpensive studies are more likely to yield positive results. Good studies are much more likely to yield negative results. This is the opposite of what is found in all other areas of research. There, the better the studies the more likely we are to find a positive result.

    Dangers of Believing in Parapsychology


    Some may say to scientists “what is the harm of believing in ESP or telepathy? It isn’t harming anyone?”. Well the answer is it can be quite harmful. For one thing the flying saucer cultists of Marshall Applewhite paid with their lives by collectively committing suicide. Nine hundred followers of Jim Jones lost their lives when they followed his instructions to kill themselves. Followers of fundamentalist David Koresh died in a shoot-out in Waco Texas

    Religion and politics

    Those Catholics and Protestants who believed in the realities of witches in the Middle Ages murdered at least 100,000 witches. In the case of faith healing, people throw crutches away and the pain returns after the adrenaline rush subsides. Seriously ill patients have died after paying for healing instead of medicine. Parents have lost children they have deprived of life-saving medicine by those who followed Christian Science claiming all disease is in the mind. During the Nazi murders of Jews in the 1930s, the Nazi top advisers consulted astrology.

    Costs of alternative medicine

    Smith points out that up to 75% of the population believes alternative medicine is as effective as mainstream medicine. The risks involve the cost of ineffective intervention. In the case of acupuncture research has shown that its successes mostly have to do with the placebo effect. If acupuncture is used alongside of Western medicine its limits are difficult to expose. But if a person uses acupuncture instead of western medicine the costs are very high since most health insurance doesn’t cover it and the results are questionable.

    Costs of subjective relativism: believing every individual creates their own reality

    Subjective relativism is the claim that each of us creates our own reality. Reality depends on what you believe. For upper middle class people who become interested in the paranormal, specifically channeling, the cost of imagining you create your own reality is not high. Since upper middle class people have a high degree of control over their lives it is not so far-fetched to believe this. But suppose the person is from the working class background and cannot find work because of the economy. They would be completely justified in getting depressed because they are unsuccessful in creating their own reality. It would lead to political passivity and hopelessness because for the working class, socio-economic reality is much harder to change.

    Problems with subjective relativism are as follows:

    • If an individual can will something to be true, someone else can will it to be false.
    • There is a logical contradiction: if in the real world there are no absolutes; if subjective relativism is part of the real world then it is also not absolutely true.
    • They attribute to themselves god-like powers – individuals make anything exist by thinking or wishing it. For most people in the world this may seem grandiose, to say the least.
    • They are eclectic – they don’t take a stand on the validity of conflicting claims. This leaves the contradictions to lay in suspended animation.
    • They appeal to ignorance. They say just because it can’t be measured by science doesn’t mean it’s not true. They do not provide any way other than science that can be tested beyond personal experience.

    What is a Good Theory?

    Public, replicable, reliable and valid

    All observation involves collecting data in a way that is both public and replicable.

    Typically parapsychologists have great difficulty producing these conditions because they were not public. Secondly, they were not replicable because there was no way the researcher could do the same thing in their head. In addition the measures should be both reliable and valid. Reliability means consistency of results over time. That means yielding the same result again and again. Validity measures what it claims to measure and not something else.

    Free of fraud, error, deception and sloppiness

    The optimal research situation needs to have an expert, independent and impartial supervision and replication to eliminate fraud, detect error, deception and sloppiness.

    Fraud means the investigator changes data, reports only positive results, fails to report compromising design features, or claims to have done something they haven’t done.

    Error is when the investigator misuses experimental tools, methods or statistics unintentionally. Deception is where research participants, assistants or colleagues trick the investigator. Lastly, there is sloppiness. This is where the investigator does not account for stimulus leakage, untrained or careless assistance or failing to account for eight steps in critical thinking that skeptics use. After publication, the mechanisms of science are unsuited for identifying potential sources of sloppiness, error and fraud. For example, laboratories may have closed making direct inspection impossible. Out of the thousands  of experiments done on paranormal  claims few provide enough evidence to check for sloppiness, error and fraud.

    Control groups, double-blind procedures and stimulus leakage

    The best way to rule out alternative explanations is to establishing a control group, have in place double blind procedures and controls for stimulus linkage. What do all these mean? Control groups answer the question – compared to what? A good way to rule out random fluctuations as an explanation is to include a control group. Perhaps students generally pass their first driving test after hot herbal tea for a week. The claim might be that the herbal tea has calming ingredients.  We need a control group of students who take their first driving test without drinking herbal tea and seeing the difference.

    Stimulus leakage can come about when the enthusiasm and beliefs of an experimenter rubs off on participants. Perhaps they have unconsciously picked up on this excitement and become more motivated. In addition, a psychic might detect the facial expressions of their students. This is hard to test and may require a magician or any expert trained in deception, distraction and subliminal control. To protect against this leakage double-blind control might be introduced where neither the experimenter nor the participants know which treatment anyone has received.

    Criteria for an Adequate Theory

    In their book How to Think About Weird Things, the authors identify five criteria for an optimally adequate theory.


    This means a theory is formulated in a way that it states the conditions under which it can be proven wrong. In the field of the paranormal Jungians are often guilty of failing the falsifiability test. Their theory of the existence of the collective unconscious is not stated in such a way that you could find out if it were real one way or another. When alternative medicine people discuss “energy blockages” they don’t present their claims so that the existence of this energy can be measured and challenged. Quantum theory of ESP cannot be tested. How can we test the existence of connections between thoughts connected to a subatomic level? If everyone is connected shouldn’t everyone have access to everyone’s thoughts all the time? Or are the connection between thoughts random, like the flickering of electrons? In the case of astrology, predictions can be falsified but the problem is that the astrologers simply don’t take nature’s “no” for an answer. The complexity of the system allows for a slew of never-ending secondary rationalizations.


    Suppose two theories are testable. How do you decide which theory is better? Fruitfulness not only explains existing phenomenon but it explains phenomenon in another field. A very good example of this is Darwin’s theory of biological evolution. Not only has Darwinian theory explained the life of animals on earth but it also explains certain aspects of social evolution as well. Specifically, the sexual behavior of men and women in mating strategies.

    Comprehensiveness (scope)

    How much of the world within a discipline does the theory explain? Good theories have wide scope. Einstein’s theory of gravity is more productive than Newton’s. It predicted the unexpected. It includes more than what Newton provided without violating Newton’s theory which was still true on a smaller scale. In addition,

    another question to ask is if it has evolved over time. Parapsychology is very weak in this area. After a century of research, it is still asking the same questions. There is no development of deeper questions after the basic questions have been settled.

    Simplicity (Occam’s razor)

    The best explanations are ones the requires the fewest assumptions. A weak theory implies additional untested questions that must be answered. Also, the link between the parts of the theory are not explained simply. Assume no more than is required to explain the theory. The simpler the better and the easiest to test. If possible, it is better not to use a blow furnace to light a cigarette!

    Conservativism (preservation and respect for the past)

    Some parapsychologists announce that their findings will revolutionize the sciences, mostly physics and psychology. They talk about this as if it were a good thing. The fact that all the hard work of centuries that have been built up would be overturned is a signal that the parapsychologists’ theory is not likely to be true. Because parapsychologists often see themselves as outsiders undermines their sense that they are part of a community. So do they celebrate some kind of victory? Sometimes parapsychologists are not very well informed about the disciplines of physics or psychology and don’t realize what has already been achieved as well as what has proven wrong. A theory is  better if it does not create more problems than it resolves.

    On the whole, maximum adequacy explains a wide ranging set of phenomenon in depth within a discipline (scope) and across disciplines (fruitfulness) which doesn’t conflict with what we already know (conservativism). It does so with the simplest explanation that can be tested to yield results beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The Challenge of Pandora’s Box

    One problem that scientists face is how to deal with the relationships between the spectrum of the paranormal I have laid out. In many of my critical thinking classes over the years I asked students to fill out a paranormal profile. What I found is that some of them believed in ghosts, but they thought that extra-terrestrial abduction was too far-fetched. Others felt the opposite. Some believed that ESP was reasonable but poltergeists weren’t. What they didn’t realize is that their ontologically and epistemology were inconsistent. If we return to the levels of nature we discussed at the beginning of this article we found:

    In science there are three levels in nature:

    • the world of physics material objects that have volume, occupy space and can transmit physical energy;
    • the world of biology in which living creatures require food, reproduce, transmit disease, get sick and die; and
    • the world of psychology in which living beings have choice, make decisions and have a conscious mind.

    What parapsychologists do is cross these boundaries like:

    • mixing physics and psychology, claiming that rocks can have thoughts and that thoughts can move rocks;
    • mixing physics with biology, claiming you might get sick by standing next to a broken rock; and
    • mixing biology with psychology. This claims you can make someone sick by thinking about them.

    Since we didn’t discuss alternative energy treatments or supernatural religion we have six areas on the paranormal spectrum. They all cross ontological boundaries. What Jonathan Smith says is that if we open the paranormal box just enough to let one out we must accept the right of others to come out. If you critique one thoroughly it must apply to others and all the rest. If you believe in ghosts you must believe in astrology and reincarnation. This puts the paranormal proponent in a bind. If they accept all the paranormal beliefs they will be caught in contradictions which my students would have to face, especially the contradictions between parapsychology and supernatural religion. If they accept opening Pandora’s box they must live with beliefs that might not make intuitive sense. If you accept weak support in bad sources, bad logic and sloppy scientific observation – and you wish to be intellectually honest you must accept other claims based on equivalent support. Accepting a claim that would have catastrophic implications for physics such implications should not prevent you from accepting other equally catastrophic claims.

    Summary of Paranormal Common Mistakes

    Paranormal Common Mistakes Example
    Ontological Fusion

    Mixing physics and psychology

    Claiming that rocks can have thoughts and that thoughts can move rocks
    Mixing physics with biology Claiming you might get sick by standing next to a broken rock
    Mixing biology with psychology Claiming you can make someone sick by thinking about them
    Questionable sources Claiming “ancient wisdom”
      Relying on testimonials, anecdotal evidence
      Fallacy of popular wisdom
      Low standards of mass media and internet
    How sound is the logic?
    Confusing necessary with sufficient conditions If the stars and the planets are aligned properly you will recover from your cold quickly

    You recovered from your cold quickly therefore the stars have been aligned properly

    Fallacies in chain arguments All atoms possess some gravity

    Our brains are made of atoms

    Thoughts are generated in the brain

    Thoughts travel by means of gravity (not true)

    Thoughts that travel to other dimensions return to our dimension instantaneously (not true)

    Use of weasel words Fusing psychological healing with physical healing
    Equivocation Fusing faith in religion with confidence in scientific laws in science
    Appeals to ignorance No one has disproved UFO sightings; therefore they must have happened. This ignores naturalistic explanations.
    Confusing correlation with cause Growth of interest in the paranormal in large cities and a rise in the number of cults

    Believing the paranormal causes cults to rise instead of understanding that growth of cities produce both the paranormal and cults.

    How trustworthy are the senses? Channelers in a darkened room

    UFOs in a quiet sky

    Haunted house investigators sitting in a basement at night

    Ignoring the autokinetic effect

    Ignoring the effect of pupil dilation

    Innumeracy in gauging chance

    Inability to generate random numbers

    Overestimation of positive possibilities
      Underestimating negative rare events
    Perceptual Trickery


    Barnum effect Vague statement where the individual thinks the prediction is just for them

    If they think the person is an authority

    If it is stated positively

    Susceptibility to cold reading techniques About ESP, clairvoyance or astrology
    Memory errors


    Relating to memory as if it were a tape recorder and not a reconstructive combination of stories, movies, dreams
    False memory syndrome Applies to alien abductions and reincarnation claims
    Underestimating the placebo effect

    When wishing makes it so


    Talking to the dead

    Near death experience



    Hypnogogic –before falling asleep Ghosts, alien abductions, angels
    Hypnopompic —before waking Ghosts, alien abductions, angels
    Sleep paralysis Ghosts, alien abductions, angels



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