The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
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10-04-2015, 11:07 PM
The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
The date: 18 May 2020, 16:45 New York time. A man named Clayton Jilstrop waits patiently as James Randi writes out a check for $1,000,000 to him for finally winning Randi's prize to the first claimant to prove supernatural ability. Mr. Jilstrop correctly identified 128 playing cards dealt successively face down out of 128, under conditions that satisfied Randi cheating was impossible.

By the terms of Randi's contest, Mr. Jilstrop did something supernatural.

But I don't think so.

I think Mr. Jilstrop exhibited a natural phenomenon whose nature had not yet been observed, or not yet explained, but natural nonetheless. Why. Because it happened. If it happened, it was a natural event.

Let's look at Merriam-Webster's principal definition of "supernatural":

SUPERNATURAL: adjective:
unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature : of, relating to, or seeming to come from magic, a god, etc.

Or said another way, inexplicable by present means.

In order to declare that some event must have taken place beyond nature (the "super" in supernatural) it is necessary to have a complete knowledge of nature. Only by knowing nature in full, from the fragment of a quark to the rims of galaxies, can one state that something must be outside of it. We know enough about nature to make a continent out of its books (all those National Geographics to start with), but no credible scientist would claim we know nature to its last niche and wrinkle.

Much is known that still awaits explanation, and much more is what Rumsfeld famously called the things we don't even know we don't know.

This isn't to say Mr. Jilstrop should be denied his check. He earned it fairly. But I'm quite sure that as Randi might someday write that check out to a triumphant claimant, he will recognize that "supernatural" is an oxymoron, that once some effect has been demonstrated, it can only be natural, because it happened, and the only thing missing is explanation, not nature itself.
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11-04-2015, 01:15 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
I agree. Supernatural is a nonsense concept

Quantum Physics: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
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11-04-2015, 02:04 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
I've got a problem with writing about the future in past-tense.

Also, there's a touch of tautology in your thinking.
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11-04-2015, 05:01 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
Sure, if that happened, it wouldn't be evidence of the supernatural. I don't think James Randi would consider it as such. I think the point of his challenge is to show how inaccurate the claims people make are. If they can really do what they say with any degree of regularity, regardless of their explanation as to how, they should be able to do it under proper conditions. The fact that no one has is good evidence that their claims are horse shit.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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11-04-2015, 06:33 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
Your bar of skepticism has to be set pretty low - for you to consider card tricks as "supernatural".....

.......................................

The difference between prayer and masturbation - is when a guy is through masturbating - he has something to show for his efforts.
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11-04-2015, 07:44 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
"Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. “
No”, I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic”.
Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.”
-Daniel C. Dennett

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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11-04-2015, 08:45 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
(11-04-2015 07:44 AM)Chas Wrote:  "... the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic. It is technology."

Dennett + Clarke

Yup.
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11-04-2015, 08:51 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
(11-04-2015 02:04 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  ... I've got a problem with writing about the future in past-tense.

I don't. Nor won't; it warn't no problem at all.
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12-04-2015, 07:29 AM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
Quote:The James Randi Educational Foundation will pay US$1,000,000 (One Million US Dollars) ("The Prize") to any person who demonstrates any psychic, supernatural, or paranormal ability under satisfactory observation. Such demonstration must take place under the rules and limitations described in this document. An applicant can be from or in any part of the world. Gender, race, and educational background are not factors for acceptance. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and legally able to enter into binding agreements.

The JREF prize deals with psychic and paranormal claims alongside supernatural claims. Full rules are available here: http://web.randi.org/the-million-dollar-challenge.html

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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13-04-2015, 12:51 PM
RE: The Supernatural: Impossible as a Widow Who Died First
(10-04-2015 11:07 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  In order to declare that some event must have taken place beyond nature (the "super" in supernatural) it is necessary to have a complete knowledge of nature.

Nonsense. A declaration is simply a statement made by a human being and as such can be wrong. A few hundred years ago people used to declare that lightning was a sign from god. Now we know how lightning "works" - well, maybe Bill O'Reilly doesn't: "Tide comes in, tide goes out. Can't explain that."
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