Spiritism
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16-09-2014, 12:55 PM
Brick Spiritism
I just finished writing this and it turned out to be much longer than I expected. I know how discouraging this can be, so I understand if you don't read it. Thanks in advance for those who do read it all.

Hello,

A quick introduction before I explain my "problem" which I'm hoping you guys can help me figure it out: My name is Nícolas and I'm from Brazil (please go easy on my english). I was raised a baptist with my mom moving on to neo-pentecostal churches later on (thanks to the american missionaries). I declared myself an atheist when I was 15. I think most of you can relate to this synopsis, so nothing new here. I have arguments for everything christian-related. Creationism, biblical controversies, superstitions and all the other stuff we are used to see around here. I've got it all covered. My atheism is safe.

The thing is, here in Brazil, there's a big cult called "Espiritismo" or Spiritism. This thing is very famous amongst the population mostly due to our syncretism. It's very common down here for people to profess three religions: Catholicism, African-cults and espiritismo. At the same time.

If you'd like to know a bit more about this, the name of the guy who invented this is Allan Kardec, a french teacher who once was fooled by that tables levitating trick and decided to write a whole doctrine on that being the works of spirits. Facepalm
The most famous Brazilian medium was Chico Xavier. There's an article on wikipedia on him in English. His psycography is also a very famous and believed phenomenom.

The reason why I'm writing such a long introduction is because I haven't seen here many posts about this subject. I'm not even sure if this post belongs in this area exactly (sorry if it doesn't), so I'm just tring to lay a basis on the matter.

Anyway, I'll write down a couple of stories I heard a few days ago, along with the arguments I used to explain them. I guess what I'm looking for are more convincing arguments or points-of-view. If you have any, please be kind enough to share them with me, will you?

The person that told me these is a very dear friend of mine, and in no way these are to sound persuasive or aggressive in a way that he's trying to convince me. He knows I'm an atheist and is very cautious about stating what he believes in. He told me these stories as phenomena that happened to him which he can't explain.

Story 1:

"When I was younger, I was spending the day at a cousin's place. It was afternoon and I was sitting in the living room with him and another friend. I then heard what sounded like silverware clinking coming from the other room. I asked my cousin if he could hear it, but he said no. His negative instigated me to go to where the sound aparently was coming from but then, I saw nothing that could justify that noise. When I came back, he said he could hear it too, but very faint. We decided to turn off the lights to better investigate, since in the dark we could better focus on our hearing. That's when our friend who was there with us, who suffered from insomnia, fell asleep in the armchair, snoring.
The room was pitch black, we had closed the windows and no light was coming in. That's when above the frame of the main door, on the concrete wall, we saw a spot of a green light. I know light doesn't go through concrete, and I also don't believe in double hallucination, so something else was going on there. While this was happening we were feeling very calm, peaceful. Then, the light lit my stomach, and I felt like something was being removed from inside of me. Then it all came back to normal. I saw myself in the mirror and I looked and felt exhausted, weak. I had dark circles under my eyes. I went straight to bed and woke up the next day. When I asked my cousin if all that had hapenned last evening, he said yes. Later on in my life, as I retold this story to a medium, he said I might have been spiritualy operated."

Story 2

"I was driving my car one night, my wife on the passenger's seat and my 16 years old son on the back seat. We were on a bad lit road. Then out of a sudden, I see with my peripheral vision, a man walking by the road on my left side. We had just passed him. For some reason, I felt the need to back up the car. When I did, I saw the man still walking, looking like a homeless man, a feeling of deep sadness came upon me. My son asks me if I see this man on the side of the road and I confirm to him. He's wearing a blue shirt. At this point, my wife was very confused since she wasn't seeing anything and had no idea why I backed up the car. When I look back to the man, he vanishes in the air. I then explain to her what hapenned and we proceed driving. She wasn't surprised, since she's seen "spirits" also. For some reason, she couldn't see this one. My son also's been seeing "spirits" since his early years."

Well, to refute these, I resort to the fact that everything we experience through our senses are nothing more then eletrochemical reactions in our brain. So, everything we see, hear and feel are not always real. It's very easy to trick the human brain. I mention famous ilusionists and how they make seemingly impossible things happen.

The other strong argument I use is evolution. There's no way in the path we have gone through, from the first RNA molecule to our most modern primate form, that spirits might have originated and somehow penetrated us. For spirits to exist, one must have an ancient anthropocentric view of the world.

That's when he comes with the double hallucination. I have nothing for that. How him and his cousin saw the same thing? How his son and him saw the same man with the same blue shirt? I could say either or both are lying, but that would feel like an easy way out. These aren't even the worst stories. He told me one once where his mother, an old lady, would incorporate the spirit of his dead father and talk to them. These thing ARE hapenning to people, they are having these experiences. What's up with that? What kind of neurological disturbance would make his mother fake her voice and talk about the past as if she was her late husband?

Again, my atheism is solid, the two arguments I gave leave no room for spirits to exist. It just bothers me a lot that some weird phenomena are happening and I have no answer better than "You're lying".

Does anyone know double hallucinations to be proven by science? I read somewhere that ultrasounds could make people hallucinate, there was a case where the pipes of the house were vibrating in such a way that would cause that... But i can't remember if that was a scientific study or something less credible.

Thank you all for your attention. ThumbsupThumbsupThumbsup

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16-09-2014, 01:43 PM
RE: Spiritism
(16-09-2014 12:55 PM)naffonso Wrote:  I just finished writing this and it turned out to be much longer than I expected. I know how discouraging this can be, so I understand if you don't read it. Thanks in advance for those who do read it all.

Hello,

A quick introduction before I explain my "problem" which I'm hoping you guys can help me figure it out: My name is Nícolas and I'm from Brazil (please go easy on my english). I was raised a baptist with my mom moving on to neo-pentecostal churches later on (thanks to the american missionaries). I declared myself an atheist when I was 15. I think most of you can relate to this synopsis, so nothing new here. I have arguments for everything christian-related. Creationism, biblical controversies, superstitions and all the other stuff we are used to see around here. I've got it all covered. My atheism is safe.

The thing is, here in Brazil, there's a big cult called "Espiritismo" or Spiritism. This thing is very famous amongst the population mostly due to our syncretism. It's very common down here for people to profess three religions: Catholicism, African-cults and espiritismo. At the same time.

If you'd like to know a bit more about this, the name of the guy who invented this is Allan Kardec, a french teacher who once was fooled by that tables levitating trick and decided to write a whole doctrine on that being the works of spirits. Facepalm
The most famous Brazilian medium was Chico Xavier. There's an article on wikipedia on him in English. His psycography is also a very famous and believed phenomenom.

The reason why I'm writing such a long introduction is because I haven't seen here many posts about this subject. I'm not even sure if this post belongs in this area exactly (sorry if it doesn't), so I'm just tring to lay a basis on the matter.

Anyway, I'll write down a couple of stories I heard a few days ago, along with the arguments I used to explain them. I guess what I'm looking for are more convincing arguments or points-of-view. If you have any, please be kind enough to share them with me, will you?

The person that told me these is a very dear friend of mine, and in no way these are to sound persuasive or aggressive in a way that he's trying to convince me. He knows I'm an atheist and is very cautious about stating what he believes in. He told me these stories as phenomena that happened to him which he can't explain.

Story 1:

"When I was younger, I was spending the day at a cousin's place. It was afternoon and I was sitting in the living room with him and another friend. I then heard what sounded like silverware clinking coming from the other room. I asked my cousin if he could hear it, but he said no. His negative instigated me to go to where the sound aparently was coming from but then, I saw nothing that could justify that noise. When I came back, he said he could hear it too, but very faint. We decided to turn off the lights to better investigate, since in the dark we could better focus on our hearing. That's when our friend who was there with us, who suffered from insomnia, fell asleep in the armchair, snoring.
The room was pitch black, we had closed the windows and no light was coming in. That's when above the frame of the main door, on the concrete wall, we saw a spot of a green light. I know light doesn't go through concrete, and I also don't believe in double hallucination, so something else was going on there. While this was happening we were feeling very calm, peaceful. Then, the light lit my stomach, and I felt like something was being removed from inside of me. Then it all came back to normal. I saw myself in the mirror and I looked and felt exhausted, weak. I had dark circles under my eyes. I went straight to bed and woke up the next day. When I asked my cousin if all that had hapenned last evening, he said yes. Later on in my life, as I retold this story to a medium, he said I might have been spiritualy operated."

Story 2

"I was driving my car one night, my wife on the passenger's seat and my 16 years old son on the back seat. We were on a bad lit road. Then out of a sudden, I see with my peripheral vision, a man walking by the road on my left side. We had just passed him. For some reason, I felt the need to back up the car. When I did, I saw the man still walking, looking like a homeless man, a feeling of deep sadness came upon me. My son asks me if I see this man on the side of the road and I confirm to him. He's wearing a blue shirt. At this point, my wife was very confused since she wasn't seeing anything and had no idea why I backed up the car. When I look back to the man, he vanishes in the air. I then explain to her what hapenned and we proceed driving. She wasn't surprised, since she's seen "spirits" also. For some reason, she couldn't see this one. My son also's been seeing "spirits" since his early years."

Well, to refute these, I resort to the fact that everything we experience through our senses are nothing more then eletrochemical reactions in our brain. So, everything we see, hear and feel are not always real. It's very easy to trick the human brain. I mention famous ilusionists and how they make seemingly impossible things happen.

The other strong argument I use is evolution. There's no way in the path we have gone through, from the first RNA molecule to our most modern primate form, that spirits might have originated and somehow penetrated us. For spirits to exist, one must have an ancient anthropocentric view of the world.

That's when he comes with the double hallucination. I have nothing for that. How him and his cousin saw the same thing? How his son and him saw the same man with the same blue shirt? I could say either or both are lying, but that would feel like an easy way out. These aren't even the worst stories. He told me one once where his mother, an old lady, would incorporate the spirit of his dead father and talk to them. These thing ARE hapenning to people, they are having these experiences. What's up with that? What kind of neurological disturbance would make his mother fake her voice and talk about the past as if she was her late husband?

Again, my atheism is solid, the two arguments I gave leave no room for spirits to exist. It just bothers me a lot that some weird phenomena are happening and I have no answer better than "You're lying".

Does anyone know double hallucinations to be proven by science? I read somewhere that ultrasounds could make people hallucinate, there was a case where the pipes of the house were vibrating in such a way that would cause that... But i can't remember if that was a scientific study or something less credible.

Thank you all for your attention. ThumbsupThumbsupThumbsup

Welcome to the forum. I grew up in California and there were strange stories being told about a hitchhikers walking on the side of the rode and then disappearing and then reappearing further down the road again. These are called urban myth stories and are retold time and time again. There was another one about a headless motorcycle who would appeared out of nowhere. The one thing I've learned over the years it that humans the world over love to tell stories, and as much fun as it is to tell a story, it's even more fun to listen to them being told especially if it's scary.

As for the double hallucinations. The power of suggestion story tellers and hypnotists and preachers use is quite amazing and has the ability to create hallucinations among people, especially among the willing believer.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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16-09-2014, 03:16 PM
RE: Spiritism
Personal experience simply does not qualify as evidence, the human brain can be and is fooled all of the time. A rational person can easily dismiss such stories, however, it would be difficult to get a person to rationally dissect a personal experience they have had. I would be willing to bet if someone with a skeptical mind were put into such a situation, they would not defer to woo as an explanation for what they experienced.

I used to love Ghost Hunters, but over time I realized all they do is hear sounds, which could have a 1000 mundane natural explanations, and EVP's which is just auditory pareidolia. There's really no "there" there when you realize that.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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16-09-2014, 04:40 PM (This post was last modified: 16-09-2014 04:43 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Spiritism
Using abductive reasoning,

(16-09-2014 12:55 PM)naffonso Wrote:  Story 2

"...When I look back to the man, he vanishes in the air. ..."

He didn't vanish while they were looking at him, he vanished when they were looking at the wife in the passenger seat. If I'm a dude walking on the side of the road at night and some car passes me and then backs up, I'm fucking out of there running for the hills.

(16-09-2014 12:55 PM)naffonso Wrote:  Story 1

His cousin slipped him some ayahuasca.

#sigh
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18-09-2014, 08:36 AM
RE: Spiritism
Thank you guys for your feedback.

I realize this isn't as clear to americans as it is to brazilians. These aren't ghost stories that are being told for generations nor the result of drinking jungle halucinogens. These stories are "real", they are hapenning on a daily basis. People are convinced that they can get messages from the dead. That they see their deceased relatives.

Maybe I'm just giving them too much credit? I guess this is somewhat like the UFO phenomenom you guys have in the States. A lot of people saying they saw the same thing right?

Anyway, thanks again.

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18-09-2014, 09:04 AM
RE: Spiritism
(18-09-2014 08:36 AM)naffonso Wrote:  Thank you guys for your feedback.

I realize this isn't as clear to americans as it is to brazilians. These aren't ghost stories that are being told for generations nor the result of drinking jungle halucinogens. These stories are "real", they are hapenning on a daily basis. People are convinced that they can get messages from the dead. That they see their deceased relatives.

Maybe I'm just giving them too much credit? I guess this is somewhat like the UFO phenomenom you guys have in the States. A lot of people saying they saw the same thing right?

Anyway, thanks again.

Sounds like a considerable cultural bias at work here, though that's even more of a reason to suspect these anecdotes.

Ghost Believer: I heard a noise in the next room, my aunt Myrtle has come back from the grave to communicate!

Skeptic: The wind blew and your house creaked. Facepalm

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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18-09-2014, 09:45 AM (This post was last modified: 18-09-2014 10:00 AM by naffonso.)
RE: Spiritism
(18-09-2014 09:04 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  Sounds like a considerable cultural bias at work here, though that's even more of a reason to suspect these anecdotes.

Ghost Believer: I heard a noise in the next room, my aunt Myrtle has come back from the grave to communicate!

Skeptic: The wind blew and your house creaked. Facepalm

Hearing noises in the next room is easy to deal with. What about people changing their voices and talking in a language they never learned? Or two people seeing the same "supernatural" thing?

Again, I can think of n explanations for those things, I personally don't buy any of those stories, my doubt is why would someone change their voice and talk like a deceased relative? Honest faith? Looking for attention? Some neurological illness?

There's another very common phenomenom related to this Spiritism cult down here. Someone that you never met will come to you and say: "I have a messagem from *deceased relative*. This person tells you not to worry about that recent struggle that you're having. It will work out just fine." And they will give you details that aparently they wouldn't know.

I realize that with facebook today you can get details on almost everyone's life these days. I also would like to suggest this person to do a blind-test with me and ask that deceased relative something that can be verified. The third argument I use, and it's a killer one, is that these ghosts only appear to people who are influenced by spiritism. Mary only appears to catholics. Krishna only appear to whoever believes in it. Power of suggestion, boom!

And once again.... Why, just WHY would someone come up to me and tell me they heard things from a dead person? What kind of pathology is that?

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18-09-2014, 09:57 AM
RE: Spiritism
(18-09-2014 09:45 AM)naffonso Wrote:  I personally don't buy any of those stories, my doubt is why would someone change their voice and talk like a deceased relative? Honest faith? Looking for attention? Some neurological illness?
It sounds like you have it pretty much figured out, I was raised in a Pentecostal sect of Christianity and there was speaking in tongues. I spoke in tongues as a believer, and it's a combination of honest faith and willingness to go along with the belief system. When I pulled back from Christianity, I realized there was nothing to it, it was pretty much a role I was willing to play because of my beliefs, but there was nothing supernatural about it.
It makes it difficult to talk people down from this lunacy, they are convinced that these supernatural phenomena are real and verifies their world view. Unless they are able to step back and view all of this woo from a skeptical perspective, or at least admit that something else other than the supernatural can explain the phenomena, it will be quite difficult to get their head out of the clouds.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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18-09-2014, 01:03 PM (This post was last modified: 18-09-2014 02:24 PM by naffonso.)
RE: Spiritism
(18-09-2014 09:57 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  It sounds like you have it pretty much figured out, I was raised in a Pentecostal sect of Christianity and there was speaking in tongues. I spoke in tongues as a believer, and (...)

I see. Well, I was a christian myself but I never spoke in tongues. I remember this one night a friend the same age I was, 12, who could speak in tongues, tried to baptize me in the holy ghost, (that's how we say it in Portuguese, not sure about it in English) so I would speak in tongues. And at that time I was a true believer but nothing hapenned. Maybe I wasn't comitted 100% that all that was true. I guess I always had my disbeliefs...

Now that you got me thinking about it, I'm wondering if because I never had such an experience that this might be difficult for me to understand.

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