On the difference between supernatural fiction and reality.

I was thinking of naming this post “Why to be skeptical” but maybe that’s too general. And maybe those who should pay attention never will.

220px-English_ouija_board

Around the beginning of last year, I got into a discussion about Ouija with a former colleague. This is the same former colleague who is highly religious, and who once insisted that there are souls floating all around us, choosing their own parents. Of course, she believed in Ouija. It was only when I tried to explain to her how the Ideomotor Effect works when I realized why she believed in them: She really thinks that people sit around a board, and the planchette moves around by itself like it happens in the movies. Kudos to her for immediately changing her view on Ouija once she realized how it really works. If only I could have gotten through to her about the other subjects she believed in…

Anyway, here’s how it is: If Ouija planchettes really moved around by themselves, you wouldn’t be reading a blog with a tagline “The adventures of a godless skeptic and former addict in a credulous world”. You’d be reading the blog of a believer.

It seems that some people, and my former colleague is one of them, do not know the difference between fiction and reality. People like her have a childlike grasp of reality where magic is real. It kind of reminds me of me at seven years old when the teacher used to read us Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. That book was my path to my interest in fantasy. I loved it. I looked forward to those lessons more than anything else that year, and it is what led me to read all of Blyton’s books in the Secret Seven and Famous Five series the following year. (I couldn’t remember the title of the book that got me started. I only found it again as an adult, thanks to the Internet.) Then again, even back then, I knew magic wasn’t real. But I wanted it to be. That’s how she’s similar to grade 3 me.

So, for your information, and I hope most people get this already, if a movie about some guy named Ed is tagged “based on true events” the truth is: There was once a person named Ed and something happened. Everything else is made up.

I recall the Conjuring movies, which are supposedly based on true events around paranormal investigators (i.e. con artists and hoaxers) Ed and Lorraine Warren. I remember watching the second one, where they are gathering evidence of a demonic possession for the church, and they really do take some fantastic paranormal video evidence. I remember thinking to myself how great it would be if such things really happen… But they don’t. In the real world, there is no evidence for ghosts, demons, goblins, fairies… any of that. Trolls exist, but not the type from fiction.

In the real world, you won’t find archives held anywhere, of videos by the Warrens, or anyone else in their business of ripping off the vulnerable believers, that proves the supernatural is real.
Because. It. Isn’t. Real.
It’s that simple. If such things were real, we’d all know about them. There would be no need for me or anyone else to be skeptical. Like most skeptics of the paranormal, I started out being interested in such things because I was credulous too. I wanted them to be real, but they turned out not to be. It turned out that the experiences of others, the so-called “paranormal” experiences… were no different than my own. Nobody in reality knows more about the paranormal than I do because there is nothing to know. There are only people with childish belief systems like mine as a child, and those who encourage them.

I pity those like my former colleague who are so naïve and credulous, they really can’t tell that fiction is made up. I love horror movies, by the way, because I used to believe in such things as a child. It was all sleep paralysis and other rational explanations, but it left me with a love for that subject. And by horror, I don’t mean slasher flicks… I mean well crafted supernatural horror, especially movies that bring back the sense of fear I had as a child. For example, the movie The Apparition did a great job of this, setting up the tone in a house that brought back all my childhood fear, before it went too far and turned into a steaming pile of shit.

But anyway, my point for today is simply to remind you that fiction is made up. In reality, planchettes of Ouija boards don’t move around by themselves, there are no real photos or videos of ghosts, nobody can levitate, and psychics don’t ever help the police. When it comes to psychics, they might be roped in to an investigation by a desperate person, and they predict generic things like “The body will be found near water” in the hope that they might get a “hit” and claim to have helped. (We live on a planet that consists of two thirds water, and there are many bodies of water found inland too. Such a prediction isn’t really any better than “the body will be found buried in the ground”.)

Magic isn’t real.

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