Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
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30-06-2014, 12:55 PM
Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
Alright, so, for the last few years since becoming an Atheist, I'd kept a small crowd of primarily skeptic/deist/atheistic individuals as my close circle of friends. As this last year--my sophomore year of highschool--went by, however, I widened my horizons and befriended a people of a variety of faiths. Now, my circle of friends consists of a Mormon majority and a few other Christian sects with only one or two people taking a deistic or atheistic world view.

I have, in the effort to prevent any real issues with my new friends, shied away from the discussion of religion with them or any of my like-minded friends when I'm around them. The topic of faith isn't really something you can easily change someone's mind on, and as I'm dealing with a group of highschool students with varying levels of interest in science or education, I've figured it's not worth driving a wedge between us. They're all fairly liberal in most other regards--they'd have to be for me to enjoy being around us--so it hasn't affected me very much at all.

HOWEVER, one of my friend's religious beliefs has contributed to a belief in hauntings and spirits and as he tends to stay at my place quite a bit, I've occaisionally caught him watching programs such as "The Haunting" and debates have ensued as I have VERY little tolerance for psuedoscience or the supernatural, much less within my own home.(Not that I've tried to stop him from watching it or anything, I'm not scared of hearing an argument opposite to that of my own world view.)

Unlike religion, I feel a strong inclination to try and debunk his supernatural beliefs in spirits because when I was younger, I watched very similar programs and believed in VERY similar things. I was able to shed these beliefs in favor of an objective world view and so, I figured that if I were to use some of the same arguments that I was provided with, he'd at the very least, start to think more critically about these things. I haven't had much success. As my arguments tend to have a basis in Science, History, and some cases English--All classes that he's failed and will be retaking--I'm finding it hard to get my point across.


We've only gone into the subject a tiny amount, but here're some of the things that I've debated and his answers to them:
1.)
We were watching The Haunting, a show that I believe is on the Travel network, but I'm unsure. Unlike some ghost programs that go into old buildings with different "scientific" devices and attempt to discover evidence of the existence of spirits within them, this show simply provides stories from those who claim to have been haunted and makes no effort to prove the story true or false. As they aren't providing any direct evidence for me to attack, I chose to go after the show in a literary sense.

I pointed out to him the clear literary devices being used in the show. I showed him the exposition, the rising actions, the climax, and falling actions, and the conclusion. I pointed out very clear instances of foreshadowing and appeals to emotion, as well as symbolism such as red eyes or the webbed, fetus-like appearance of a poltergeist in a vision and explained to him how a writer would use these tools in a book or a movie or a show to help to convey an atmosphere of fear and foreboding to entertain the viewer. This was all in an effort to show him that the supposed "supernatural events" that they were retelling were too story-like to be anything but a fabrication.

I hit a brick wall.

Instead of trying to defend the show, he yelled "Spirits are real" a few times and "Everyone has their own opinions".
2.)
His first proper argument was very simply that "The Conjuring was real." I'd never seen that film, so I simply told him that and before I could continue, he followed that up with "It was based on a true story."

I've heard this argument from my sister, who's a big nutt for demons and quija boards and the likes, so I went with the most logical reply, as, well, "It was based on a true story." isn't really a hard argument to debunk. I very simply told him that something that the "true story" upon which the film was based was PRESENTED as true, but may not necessarily be true without the evidence to back it up. I know little about the conjuring so I couldn't say anything definitive against it. Instead, I simply told him that before taking anything as true, you need to do some research on the topic to see if what they're stating has any evidence or substance to back it up.

To this, he told me that he had gone online and read all of the accounts from all of the family members who played a role in the tale and a paper from a "Demonologist".

God, I hate when pseudoscientists have their own names.

Anyways, from there I asked him if he'd read anything from the opposing side of the argument and told him that when considering a claim, you needed to see the arguments from both those for and against it.

Once again, a brick wall.

He insisted that he'd done the necessary research to confirm it and went, once again, into the "Everyone has their own opinions" thing.

As a side note, at one point, he'd stated that he'd had a supernatural experience himself and I started looking into the common causes for such things like infrasound and dust on camera lenses, but I haven't actually asked him about his experience yet, so I don't know much about that.

As can be seen, he doesn't even want to CONSIDER that he may be wrong and after a certain point, he just shuts down on that line of thought and refuses to discuss the matter further. I know I can't change his world view--that's damn near impossible--but I was hoping at the very LEAST that I could get him to think critically about the topic.

I started thinking critically when I was presented with arguments that disagree with my world view, so I was thinking I could do the same, but I must be going about this the wrong way.

Some advice would be nice and, maybe if we discuss the topic further, I'll add a few more of his arguments.

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30-06-2014, 02:18 PM
RE: Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
Invariably during these shows, one of the witnesses will proclaim something like, "I had this overwhelming sense of dread, so I KNEW that there must be something paranormal happening." Just point out the massive confirmation bias here. They might as well say, "There was an odd odor, so I KNEW that Godzilla must be in my bathroom." It's equally as reasonable.

Additionally, ghost sightings and haunting a have been around for centuries, yet we still don't have any real evidence to prove that there is anything supernatural or paranormal occurring. If there was any legitimacy to claims, wouldn't there be a field of actual science dedicated to its study?

As for the "based on a true story" movies, remind him that Hollywood is an industry in the business of creating a product to sell for a profit. Imagine how crappy a movie would be if it stayed true to reality: a family moves into a house; they hear creepy, unexplained noises; after a week of living in this terror they discover a raccoon family living in the crawl space; they call animal control; and they live happily ever after. —Bad reviews, no sequels, a total loss of money which is bad business.

Good luck pointing some of these out. It's tough to shatter an illusion that someone chooses to have.

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01-07-2014, 05:29 PM
RE: Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
It is not against the atheist idea to believe in evil natural forces, and good natural forces. I accept and encourage debate, personally, but think of these ghosts and spirits as forces of nature taken to in a metaphoric way. After all, Buddhas, HH Dorje Chang Buddha III included, faced what they described as demons and they were the world's greatest and wisest atheists.
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02-07-2014, 10:17 AM
RE: Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
(01-07-2014 05:29 PM)Rinpoche Wrote:  It is not against the atheist idea to believe in evil natural forces, and good natural forces.

Strictly speaking, no. Butthe idea of "evil/good natural forces" is nonetheless woo.


Quote: I accept and encourage debate, personally, but think of these ghosts and spirits as forces of nature taken to in a metaphoric way.

Why would we want to do that, when your "forces" are simply woo.


Quote: After all, Buddhas, HH Dorje Chang Buddha III included, faced what they described as demons and they were the world's greatest and wisest atheists.

Really, all this fawning over the Bad Hair Guy is embarrassing to watch.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


Magic Talking Snakes STFU -- revenantx77


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02-07-2014, 02:50 PM
RE: Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
(02-07-2014 10:17 AM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  
(01-07-2014 05:29 PM)Rinpoche Wrote:  It is not against the atheist idea to believe in evil natural forces, and good natural forces.

Strictly speaking, no. Butthe idea of "evil/good natural forces" is nonetheless woo.


Quote: I accept and encourage debate, personally, but think of these ghosts and spirits as forces of nature taken to in a metaphoric way.

Why would we want to do that, when your "forces" are simply woo.


Quote: After all, Buddhas, HH Dorje Chang Buddha III included, faced what they described as demons and they were the world's greatest and wisest atheists.

Really, all this fawning over the Bad Hair Guy is embarrassing to watch.

Ok, he's not Bad Hair Guy, he's no-hair-guy on account of Buddhist Head Shaving and he wore a wig for the press release.
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02-07-2014, 07:37 PM (This post was last modified: 02-07-2014 11:54 PM by Taqiyya Mockingbird.)
RE: Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
(02-07-2014 02:50 PM)Rinpoche Wrote:  
(02-07-2014 10:17 AM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  Strictly speaking, no. Butthe idea of "evil/good natural forces" is nonetheless woo.



Why would we want to do that, when your "forces" are simply woo.



Really, all this fawning over the Bad Hair Guy is embarrassing to watch.

Ok, he's not Bad Hair Guy, he's no-hair-guy on account of Buddhist Head Shaving and he wore a wig for the press release.

Yeah. So here we have this "Perfect, Enlightened™, Primordial-Buddha Burg-I mean Dharma-King" person who is so vain that he vainly wears The. Most. Preposterous. Wig. Ever. to hide his baldness. Hobo

Facepalm

Yeah Buddy....





OH WAIT -- what the fuck is THIS? --

"I am a Theredeva Buddhist disciple of HH Dorje Chang Buddha III, Wan Ko Yeshe Norbus, Holiest Tathagata. I believe in no Gods and I have recieved Three Vajras wisdom from Sakyamuni Buddha. I eagerly await future dharma transmissions."


The FUCK you are a Theravadin, by ANY stretch of the imagination. You can't even SPELL it.

PS: Your tibetan-vajrya-woo shit isn't ANYTHING to do with Theravada. NOTHING.

And the Buddha doesn't (and never did) give your "dharma transmissions" bullshit. He's dead. And your "dharma transmission" bullshit was made up more than a thousand years after he died.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


Magic Talking Snakes STFU -- revenantx77


You can't have your special pleading and eat it too. -- WillHop
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03-07-2014, 06:21 AM
RE: Debating a Close Friend on the Topic of Ghosts and Hauntings
Sorry, you guys keep saying "Dharma transmissions" and all I can think is....

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Which to honest I'd probably be more likely to believe in than the "real" ones you're talking about. Tongue

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