Sunday, October 11, 2009

My favorite theory about "Paranormal"

The Blogsquatcher: LIVING ANOMALY excerpt continues..
For a good portion of the populace -- well, that is, of those who are even aware of bigfoot at all -- the creature in question must either be a large primate, fully flesh and blood, or it doesn’t exist. But there are as many different explanations for bigfoot as there are people willing to explain it. I have gathered a few theories for our perusal here, each considering the question from a different point of view, and only one of which requires bigfoot to be a simple animal.
These different viewpoints are largely philosophical, and to really examine them would send us down a rabbit hole from which we might never emerge, and even if we did, we’d not be much wiser than we are now -- indeed, we’d be much more puzzled. Such is the nature of philosophy. But, speaking broadly, the four categories of explanation for bigfoot in which I am interested are psychological, flesh and blood, paranormal, and trans-dimensional.
The psychological explanation is most often offered in passing, usually in skeptical articles and publications, but it does not seem to be a well developed theory within bigfoot research. It certainly does not seem to have a champion. Note that the psychological explanation does not posit that bigfoot experiencers are crazy, only that the experience is not what it seems to be.
Briefly outlined, the psychological theory holds that humans have a need to believe in large hairy primates, and that this need will cause them to, in some cases, misinterpret encounters with ordinary animals, and in other cases, imagine the encounters entirely. This explanation has the advantage of explaining just why bigfoot-like creatures are seen the world over. Wherever people are found, there is bigfoot too. But it does not deal very well with physical evidence, nor with certain other features in bigfoot accounts. If it’s all in the head, then why do we find footprints, hair, scat, and other physical signs? The usual rebuttal is that such evidence as is found, and admittedly it is not much, is faked. I do not think this rebuttal is very persuasive. But it’s a serious objection and it must be met. In meeting it, I think of researchers like Peter Byrne (I had him playing the villain earlier so I’ll have him as hero here), who tells the story of going, on a whim, up high in a mountain range and finding footprints there. Since he had not planned to go, and no one could have guessed that he would go there, if they were faked, the footprints cannot have been faked for his benefit. Someone would have had to have gone there, very far in the wilderness and very high up, and planted the prints, without leaving any other evidence of their fakery, and without being sure that anyone would ever find them. This is but one example of many I could use.
It would seem the existence of physical evidence would be pretty much fatal to the psychological theory. This is true for the sense in which the psychological explanation is usually offered. I can imagine a line of reasoning that descends from Jungian archetypes that would dispose of the “evidence” objection, because the namesake of that theory, famed psychologist Carl Jung, proposed that archetypes are real things that can actually interact with our reality.
There is some evidence that something like Jung's system of archetypes really does exist somewhere in our minds, and that we all share similar symbols, even in the forms of animals, or half man, half animal beings. I'm talking about the effect brought on by certain drugs and substances, such as DMT or Ayahuasca, as has been described in books like Rick Strassman's DMT: The Spirit Molecule, or Graham Hancock's Supernatural. Since the experience with these drugs also includes encounters with strange creatures, it is not a stretch to suppose, or at least speculate, that bigfoot experiences, which often have markers of "high strangeness" anyway, might be a result of altered states of consciousness, where our minds call forth an archetypal image, in much the way that fortean researcher John Keel used to theorize. They are here for fleeting moments, and then gone, called forth somehow by our own minds, and having their reality mostly inside it, but somehow also participating in the physical, however briefly.
This is an interesting diversion, but I really see this as little different, in a practical sense, from the trans-dimensional theory, so I will not include any of this Jungian business in my designation of the psychological explanation. And it must be said that the people who usually offer the psychological explanation would not have any traffic with Jungian theories anyway. Without something akin to Jung’s collective unconscious, however, I see little hope for the psychological theory in the face of physical evidence. Proponents will no doubt see the fact that such physical evidence as is found is remarkably weak as enough to keep their theory alive.
The most popular theory among enthusiasts for bigfoot’s existence would be, of course, that bigfoot is a living, flesh and blood creature with quite ordinary characteristics. An animal like any other animal. There are difficulties with this theory too. It does nothing to explain some of the odder characteristics of bigfoot encounters. Recently bigfoot researchers have found that adding a capacity for bigfoot to use infrasound can cover many of these. (We will discuss this in more detail in just a moment.) But infrasound will not help in all cases. For one thing, it probably does not account for the self-luminous eyes that bigfoot is commonly reported to have, and it has no answer for how a bigfoot can leave a line of footprints that stop in the middle of nowhere, with no sign of how the creature progressed from that spot, and many other anomalous features of many bigfoot reports. The theory likewise has no easy explanation for why we should not have convincing evidence of bigfoot’s existence by now. As was noted, we have had more than fifty years of searching and have very little to show for our pains. So that is our second category, and in drawing it up please note that I have been silent on whether bigfoot would be an ape or more closely related to humans. That's an interesting question, but we're not close to being able to answer it yet.
A small but not insignificant number of bigfoot researchers believe that bigfoot is a paranormal creature. They hold that bigfoot has magical properties that allow it to appear and disappear at will, to read our thoughts and speak to us telepathically, and to change physical form. This belief descends from folk beliefs the world over, but is particularly reflected in Native American beliefs about bigfoot. If the paranormal theory is true, this would suggest to me that the universe is not actual, but simulated, like a vast video game. As crazy as that sounds, there are theories in physics that postulate that this could indeed be the case. But those who hold to the paranormal theory do not, in general, go so far as to construct a theory of how the world could allow such things. They simply believe there are creatures with god-like magical abilities, without attempting to explain how that would be possible.
Those who hold that bigfoot is a trans-dimensional creature have slightly firmer theoretical grounds to stand on, at least in terms of accepted science. This is not surprising, as the trans-dimensional theory is essentially the paranormal theory with the added benefit of a scientific explanation. As Clarke’s third law postulates, “Any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic.” I find that Michio Kaku's book Parallel Worlds has a concise illustration of the "extra dimensional" theory and it's implications. (Before we get to Dr. Kaku’s elucidation of the theory, we should recall that the current form of string theory, called "M Theory," posits that reality must have 10 or 11 dimensions, not just the 3 plus time that we experience right now. String theory may not be correct at all, but I think at least it shows that scientists take multidimensionality seriously.)
Kaku begins his discussion by recalling the famous HG Wells novel, The Invisible Man. In it, Wells shows that having access to the 4th dimension would allow one to become invisible. And Kaku goes on to say: MORE

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