[bct] Feedback on aura feedback

  • From: "Jerry Halatyn" <jhalatyn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 15:52:48 -0500

Dan,

My mail preferences for the Blind Cool Tech list have been set to vacation mode 
for about the last four months. I recently reset my preferences and went back 
through the archives to catch up on subjects of interest. I never saw your 
original post directed to me when it was posted but, since I've had a chance to 
read it, I decided I'd reply. I've interjected my comments between yours. 
Actually, I don't know if you're still on the list but, for what it's worth, 
since everyone had the benefit of seeing your message to me, I thought that 
some might be interested in my response to you. I'll gladly take this off list 
from this point on.
Dan wrote:
You refer people to skepdic.com.  To be honest with you, I have never
beheld a more sad example of disbelief in my life as one can find on that
site.

Jerry writes;
And I find the site absolutely refreshing and quite eye-opening.

Dan wrote:
  The idea there is that if it cannot be put in a test tube and proven
with current scientific knowledge, it simply is bunk.  

Jerry writes:
No, that's not the idea. Among many ideas there, one commonly held belief is 
that, when people make claims, they should be able to prove their claims under 
objective, testable circumstances or provide evidence that can be examined.

Dan wrote:
This reminds me of
that so-called expert named the Amazing Randy.  It is amazing all right,
amazing that he is not booed off stage wherever he appears.

Jerry writes:
If you're talking about James Randi, spelled R A N D I, why would you be 
surprised he wouldn't be bood off stage? He doesn't claim anything that isn't 
true. He put out a challenge many years ago that nobody, I repeat, nobody on 
this entire earth has been able to meet. I don't believe I have to go into the 
details of what that challenge is here. You probably know what that is. But, 
you know, I shouldn't assume that you know. Actually, I would suggest visiting 
his website at
http://www.randi.org to read the challenge.

Dan wrote:
True science investigates, but does not reject because of a lack of
evidence. 

Jerry writes;
And pseudo-science collects data in a haphazard manner with poorly managed 
studies that yield inconclusive results and comes to conclusions based on no 
real evidence. The scientific method involves investigating and verifying 
reproduceable results. When something cannot be tested or proven, it is usually 
deemed as inconclusive. There are many claims that cannot be proven. Some are 
simply called theories. While there are many probable theories that cannot be 
proven, the are widely held consensi based on proven laws.

Dan wrote:
 You will not find many reports of a scientific nature verifying
the Aura for two reasons:  First, our ability to measure this
insturmentally is still in its infancy, and secondly, the attitude of many
scients is akin to that expressed on skepdic.com, meaning they
automatically dismiss anything they believe is not true without a full
investigation.

Jerry writes:
First of all, what on earth are you basing that conclusion on? Can humans even 
see infrared light? Instruments are absolutely way more sensitive than humans. 
You're completely mistaken if you think that humans have better senses than the 
instruments that we've had at our disposal for many years.
Secondly, scientists are all about a full investigation. that's what drives the 
scientific community, investigation. The actual reason why there are no reports 
verifying the existence of the aura is exactly that. There is no evidence of 
any aura. You're confusing a type of photography invented in the mid twetnieth 
century with evidence that doesn't exist for the perception of auras.

Dan wrote:
Skepticism is not a bad idea, it is healthy to be aware of huxters and to
understand that not all comers are honest.  That being said, to deny the
existence of something merely because established science cannot verify it
borders on the absurd.

Jerry writes:
Actually, what is absurd is that just because a handful of people claim 
something, we're expected to believe it without any evidence or proof. That's 
truly absurd.

Dan wrote:
Humans had the senses of sight and hearing long before they could be
measured with anything resembling scientific instrumentation.  The lack of
this ability to measure did not mean the senses did not exist.

Jerry writes:
Absolutely. However, the point is, everyone had the sense and had a common 
experience. There was no need to neither prove nor disprove the senses of sight 
or hearing. Whether we had the means of measuring it had nothing to do with the 
facts. The fact was, most humans could see and hear. No dispute. What's in 
dispute here is that an incredibly small amount of people claim to have a power 
that cannot be confirmed nor measured. Simply put, it can't be proven. And yet, 
there are simple tests that could conceivably prove it very easily. Still, 
nobody has successfully done it. Why?

Dan wrote:
In my opinion, too many people experience auras to dismiss them as merely
imagination or mass hypnosis.  You are welcome to not believe in them, that
is your right and I would not try to dissuade you, but you could also
believe the sun will not rise tomorrow, and that belief will not alter the
earth's rotation.

Jerry writes:
First of all, as you pointed out, it's your opinion. Second, to equate your 
claim of the perception of auras with the rotation of the earth is just the 
height of absurdity. One is heresay and the other is a testable, provable fact. 
One is not equal to the other. Here is a great example of science versus 
non-science. One is testable and verifiable and the other is not. Pure and 
simple.

Dan wrote:
Jerry, you begin your cast carefully saying that people have a right to say
as they choose in their casts, but the entire tenor is that what I said is
not to be believed nor taken seriously.  I find this approach to be of less
value than a set of honest questions.

Jerry writes:
Honest questions have been asked by many in the past. Nobody has been able to 
prove the existence of auras. Yes, I did carefully state that people have a 
right to say whatever they wish. This comes with the understanding that, when 
you say something, you should be prepared to be challenged, especially when 
making such claims that are at best, questionable.

Dan wrote:
I never said that what I was presenting was the story, the whole story and
nothing but the story.  Obviously, all anyone can present is their own
story.  Even if it is a peer reviewed scientific experiment, it is stil
only the story of the researchers because constructing an objective
experiment is impossible.

Jerry writes:
Your submission was filled with defenses. Several times, you attempted to make 
it sound as if any skepticism over the issue of auras was not valid. Give me a 
break. Further, what do you mean that constructing an objective experiment is 
impossible? Haven't you ever taken a science classs? Objective experiments are 
done all the time. Your argument holds not a drop of water.

Dan wrote:
Quantum physics has shown us for 80 years that the very act of observing
phenomena alters those same phenomena, hence, all we have are stories.

Jerry writes:
I would be careful trying to use quantum physics to try and explain something 
that world-renouned scientists are still studying. I would venture to guess 
that you're not a scientific scholar and would also say that you probably have 
limited knowledge of quantum physics so let's not go there. I think that your 
point was that all we have are stories. Indeed, your claim of sensing auras is 
just that, a story and not fact. I'm not saying that you don't experience 
something. But, you see, that's your experience and other people's experience 
is just that, their experience. when these experiences can be categorized and 
measured, then they can be classified as factual.

Dan wrote:
I would be most interested in what research you checked out to tell you
there was no ability to see auras.

Jerry writes:
And what research done according to the scientific method has proven it? 
There's no shortage of information about the subject. Search Google, for 
example. 

Dan wrote:
If I and countless others are not seeing auras, then, I ask you point
blank, what are we seeing?

Jerry writes:
You're seeing whatever you want to see or have been told you should see. Funny 
thing is, there's disagreement among people who claim to see auras as to what 
they're seeing and what means what. It's truly comical. 

Dan wrote:
What facts did you look at to come to your conclusion about auras.  I am
not challenging you here, I am honestly curious what facts they may be.

Jerry writes:
Actually, you are challenging me. You're challenging me to come up with proof 
that something doesn't exist. Sorry but the burden of proof is on your 
shoulders. Give me proof that you can detect auras. The simple, undeniable 
truth is that you can't. Again, I'm not saying that people don't imagine or 
even truly see colors but it's a completely subjective, meaningless phenomenon. 
when I close my eyes, I see colors. Am a really seeing colors? Yes, of course I 
am. Am I perceiving something that's really there? No, certainly not because I 
have my eyes closed. are the colors I'm seeing real? yes, because I see them. 
Could I claim that they have significance? Sure. I can claim whatever I want. 
Can instruments detect what I'm seeing in my mind? No, not currently. Maybe 
someday. What we're talking about here, though, are people who claim to 
actually physically see something that isn't there. That's just simply 
ridiculous.

Dan wrote:
Sadly, much of what passes for debunking pseudo science or so-called false
science is, in and of itself, pseudo-debunking.

Jerry writes:
I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say. Bad science is bad scinece> 

Dan wrote:
There are so many things science, in its current state, cannot prove they
could fill an encyclopedia.  The problem is that a firm belief in any
system, science, religion, anything can turn into fundamentalism and tends
to cause narrowmindedness to ensue.

Jerry writes:
Actually, what is more narrow-minded is to dismiss scientific method. Scince, 
by nature has a self-correcting mechanism built into it. Let's prove something, 
just as we have for hundreds of years. Let's step boldly into the future rather 
than living in a haunted world. Yeah, it's a scary place, filled with all kinds 
of unexplained things but let's not make up mysterious explanations for things 
that need not be so misunderstood. There's nothing wrong with a firm belief, as 
long as it is in something that is not unreasonable.

Dan wrote:
Nothing in the scientific literature can disprove the existence of an aura
or the validity of Kirilian photography.  The insistance to the contrary is
a fundy adhereance  to a belief that may well prove, in the future, to be
unfounded.

Jerry writes:
Again, the burden is not on the scientific community to prove something doesn't 
exist. The burden is squarely on the shoulders of the people who claim it's 
existence and perception and especially on those who collect money from 
unsuspecting, gullible persons who believe that these persons with magical 
powers of perception can somehow help by looking at their auras. Those are the 
people who are making claims. All the scientific community points out is that 
the claims are unsubstantiated.

Dan wrote:
Never forget the aphorism of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently
advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  Today's magic is
tomorrow's science.

Jerry writes:
Yes, and time will tell.

Dan wrote:
At the end of your cast, Jerry, you change the music, saying that the one
you change to is more appropriate for the topic.  While you do it in a
lighthearted manner, the inescapable conclusion is that you are poking fun
at a serious topical discussion.  There is a lot of fun poking here and I
do a good deal of it, so am not opposed to it by any means.  However, I
believe that your comments at the end of your cast suggest that the
subject, which is pointedly my aura podcast, is not to be taken seriously.

Jerry writes:
If there's anyone taking your podcast seriously, it's you. Nobody else said 
this was a serious discussion. What it was, actually, was you talking about 
something and presenting it as though it were fact. Yes, I was poking fun. Glad 
you took it in the spirit in which it was intended. Ultimately, the message I 
communicated was "believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see" and 
"think for yourselves." Did I say you were lying? No. did I say you were out of 
your gord? No. I merely pointed out that, rather than taking someone's word for 
something, especially fantastic claims, one should question things. Critical 
thinking is something that people don't do very often.

Dan wrote:
You are free to say as you choose and I would not want to see that altered
in the least, but it saddens me that you used your cast more to poke fun at
the idea of auras than to engage in a serious discussion of the topic.

Jerry writes:
Sorry I saddened you. When there's a serious discussion to be had, with 
compelling evidence and facts, we'll have it. Until then, I don't buy the claim 
and there's no proof of it.

Please don't take this as a personal attack. I have nothing against you as a 
person. I don't even know you, obviously. Please undestand, though, that when 
you make claims in a public forum, people will question your statements and the 
validity. Again, it's not an attack. We all want to be open-minded and, in my 
opinion, that means being able to ask all kinds of questions and to think 
critically about all kinds of subjects. When we reject questions and simply 
have to accept statements without tangible reasons or evidence, that's wehn 
we're in trouble.

Regards,
Jerry
aka Slau

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