Dead End Dialog

You may have noticed that our main goal at the Bent Spoon is to promote conversation between the believers and skeptics of the paranormal community, we like to mention that from time to time. If you belong to one of the aforementioned groups, you may have also noticed how frustrating these conversations can be. Being of the skeptical persuasion, I have had a number of mind- numbing debates that left me genuinely annoyed. As, I’m sure, you, the reader, have as well. This is a huge obstacle. As a writer for the Bent Spoon, my objective is to create new paths around this obstacle, so instead of viewing this article as callous, see it as an opportunity to progress and reciprocate. With that, on to the subject.

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This is a  list of my least favorite responses I receive when discussing the paranormal, a cop- out compilation.

 

Number one: “Science can’t explain everything”. This one really gets under my skin. Science is not a noun, it’s a verb despite what the dictionary might say. Science is not a person that makes claims or is wrong, it’s an action, a process, a method of investigating, fine tuned for eliminating errors and biases.Everything we know about the world around us was learned by using science.

 

Number two: “We’re not trying to prove anything to anyone.” Really? Is that why we’re having this discussion? Is that why your group posts pictures, videos and EVPs on your website from the frequent investigations you participate in? Next!

 

Number three: “skeptics are just closed minded”. I think everyone is close minded to an extent, but I think that close mindedness has become a misattributed trait of skeptics when it can easily be said about believers as well. As my friend Bobby Nelson enjoys pointing out, most believers are so steadfast in their beliefs, they openly admit that there is nothing that would make them reconsider them. That is the very definition of being close minded.

 

Number four: “we’re just collecting data”. Data is factual information used as a basis for reasoning or calculation. There is no purpose for “Just collecting” it How do these EMF spikes relate to paranormal phenomena and how can you prove that correlation?

 

Number five: “These are all just theories”. a theory is the closest thing to fact as possible. It is a hypothesis that has been thoroughly tested and has gone through the peer review process. The “stone tape theory” is just something someone made up. Theories are not wild, baseless guesses.


I have more examples, but I think my point has been made. Hopefully you’ve made it through this brief article without thinking any worse of me. As I said before, this isn’t intended to be mean- spirited, it’s supposed to inspire you to make your own list and let us know what you’re tired of hearing. Let’s all stop having the same old, tired conversations and move forward. Let’s actually learn from each other.

Dead End Dialog

Grey Matters: Erroneous at Exeter

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“I, Norman J. Muscarello, was hitchhiking on Rt. 150, three miles south of Exeter, New Hampshire, at 0200 hours on the 3rd of September. A group of five bright red lights appeared over a house about a hundred feet from where I was standing. The lights were in a line at about a sixty-degree angle.

They were so bright, they lighted up the area. The lights then moved out over a large field and acted at times like a floating leaf. They would go down behind the trees, behind a house and then reappear. They always moved in the same sixty-degree angle.

Only one light would be on at a time. They were pulsating: one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one. They were so bright I could not distinguish a form to the object. I watched these lights for about fifteen minutes and they finally disappeared behind some trees and seemed to go into a field.

At one time while I was watching them, they seemed to come so close I jumped into a ditch to keep from being hit. After the lights went into a field, I caught a ride to the Exeter Police Station and reported what I had seen.

signed,

Norman J. Muscarello

This statement comes from one of the most infamous cases in UFOlogy, the subject of John G Fuller’s classic “Incident at Exeter”. Hailed as one of the great unsolved cases, until recently. In the The November/December 2011 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, Senior Research Fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) Joe Nickell claims to have solved the cold case with the help of former military pilot James McGaha.

Their shared epiphany came from the witness’ description of the five red lights,”…  pulsating: one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one.” In Nickell’s article, ‘Exeter Incident’ Solved! A Classic UFO Case, Forty-Five Years ‘Cold’, they relate the description with that of the light array on the KC-97 Stratotanker refueling plane, postulating that the light panel on the underside of the fuselage reflected off of the refueling boom, which happens to hang at approximately 60 degrees, the same orientation as Muscarello’s  UFO.

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Left: As the photo appeared in the print publication. Right: The photo as it appeared in the online article.

Fortunately, I read the article online, and was tipped off by the picture. Something looked fishy about that light panel.

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So I looked around online and found a more suitable photo of the panel. Not only do we see that the middle light is blue, but the two foremost lights have “DWN” and “FWD” labeling, leading me to believe that each light signifies a command to the refueling aircraft, aiming it into position to dock with the fuel boom of the KC97, contradicting the idea that they would flash in the “ one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one” sequence described in the report.
There are several other flaws in Nickell’s solution, though I believe it can be thrown out in regard to only the aforementioned. Before I get ahead of myself, I want to discourage the readers from drawing any wild conclusions. With the dismissal of this explanation, I am not suggesting that the object witnessed was, in fact, an alien craft, but only that it has once again avoided identification. The point I wish to make is that we should all be wary to brazenly declare something identified without adequate evidence, whether that be alien craft or, in this case, a solved case. As a skeptic, I require sufficient evidence to believe a claim and therefore try to refrain from making bold assertions. Declaring this case solved places the burden of proof upon Mr. Nickell and unfortunately, the proof fell short. I say unfortunately because I can see a number of repercussions resulting from this error. Namely, this being used as “evidence” of the object’s unearthly origins. Sadly, to some, unidentified or mysterious often translates to supernatural.

Grey Matters: Erroneous at Exeter

The Bent Spoon – Issue 2 – “We’re Still Here”

The Bent Spoon issue 02 is now available! To receive this issue, just send an email to thebentspoon@live.com with the word subscribe in the subject line.  Inside you’ll find:

*News and commentary about the Rapture that wasn’t

*Perpetual Motion Machines and Spontaneous Human Combustion

*A Skeptical Investigation column on Darryl Bem’s psi experiments

*And much more!

You can also download this issue, for free, right now by clicking here: BS002
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The Bent Spoon – Issue 2 – “We’re Still Here”