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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Whatcha think? Why does anyone else care?

Somebody on one of my on-line hangouts started a controversial thread asking what everybody thinks about Ouija Boards, the toy that purports to help you communicate with the "spirit world" and whether they really work or not.

The respondents broke down into two groups. The first group said, "Uh, uh, no way, I ain't gettin' anywhere near one of those things - they're evil!" The second group, scoffs and calls Ouija Board communications a mass delusion, a toy or "harmless".

So what is the right answer? Do dead people or evil spirits communicate with us through a wooden board and a mysteriously moving planchette (the teardrop shaped indicator that jerks around the board when two users touch it and points out the letters of the message)? Spirits or a big hoax? The answer, I'm afraid is not very satisfying if you try to puzzle out the truth of the matter with anything remotely resembling an open mind.

It is as likely that there are creatures we cannot see existing in dimensions or planes of existence we cannot comprehend as not. Physicists have postulated parallel dimensions many steps beyond our own. There is no reason that intelligent creatures should not inhabit those planes of existence.

Science believes what it can prove and supposedly keeps an open mind about the rest. Unfortunately, scientists rather often violate this principle and openly laugh at people who don't subscribe to whatever the current popular view of the cosmos happens to be this week.

But to laugh at the experience of people whom you know to be reliably honest and truthful is, I believe, to discount evidence merely because you don't like it.

For some reason, I have heard many stories from ordinarily very truthful persons that recount messages through manipulation of a Ouija board that were evil, manipulative, terrifying and extraordinarily similar. My own wife who is painfully truthful by habit (often much to my discomfort), tells a frightening story of a "conversation" she and another teenaged friend had with an entity communicating through the board. She began to smell a rat given the story it was telling and she asked it "Are you Satan?" The planchette began to jerk back and forth from 'H' to 'A' to 'H' to 'A' over and over - laughing maniacally at her. She got rid of the board fast.

Before I discount stories like that, I would have to assume that all of those individuals were either (1) Insane OR (2) telling uncharacteristically silly lies OR (3) victims of an almost identical subconscious prank by their own brains that makes the thing appear to work. The fact that Penn & Teller couldn't make it work in their presence proves nothing to me. If the "spirits" possess free will and are able to conciously decide whether or not they wish to reveal themselves to these guys, then it's every bit as likely that that they may keep their secrets to themselves as it is that they speak on command.
Assuming malevolent purpose, it's very possible that they might not want to talk to a Las Vegas magician. Pretty pompous of Penn Gillette to assume he can make "spirits" perform like trained seals.

I'm just sayin'

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio. I was drummed out of grad school because they discovered that I was a Christian and therefore I was "not a good scientist" by definition. I was told, if asked, "Is there a God?" the proper reply they explained was "No"

Not even "Maybe". There could be no God because Professor Silver couldn't prove there was one. Well, she couldn't prove there wasn't either, truth be told, but the nonexistence of God was a tenant of her particular religion (atheism) and like the most arbitrary priest or pastor she demanded that all her students accept this precept as well - by faith or suffer excommunication from graduate school.

Scientists can be such fundamentalists and these guys were psychologists yet - a branch of study that mathematicians and physicists call a "soft science". See even in science you get the old "Holier than thou" treatment! This bolsters my argument that science is a religion.

I do not believe that there is evidence sufficient to fully prove or disprove whether anyone can communicate with noncorporeal creatures using a Ouija Board. It's one of those interesting little mysteries of life that each of us must solve for ourselves to our own satisfaction and usually without convincing evidence except our own experience.

Ultimately the universe is so vast and so complex that much of what we think we know we must take on an educated faith.

Hey, whatever makes you able to get up in the morning and live a decent and useful life! Nobody has any business belittling you for what you have come to believe based on your own experiences. Ultimately, it's all you have with which to figure out the world.

A little more "Treat others the way you want to be treated" would go a long way to ending all kinds of wars and stupid arguments where neither side can prove its point anyway.

I'm not arguing for or against religion here or even that Ouija boards actually work. Truth is the answer there may be "It depends on who is using it." Nobody can answer that kind of question for anybody else. You have to figure that out all by your lonesome and nobody has any right to belittle you for the answer you get!

Just one man's opinion...

Tom King

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