Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shermer's Gorilla Suit Man

Michael Shermer, uber-skeptoid and professional debunker, did an experiment at the recent 2009 Science, Technology and Research Symposium in Charleston to show that Mothman (which he admits to knowing nothing about), Bigfoot (to which he says he does) and other paranormal/Fortean/esoteric/anomalous phenomena are figments of over-active imaginations, but more than that,illustrations of why we lie:
We already know that people lie; that happens all the time. ... The more interesting question is why do people fall for it," he said.

In other words, people who speak of witnessing UFOs or other strange events, are lying.

Sure, people lie about their experiences. They elaborate, embroider, exaggerate and outright lie. They hoax and they pull pranks. They're delusional and mentally ill, they're alcoholics and drug abusers. Some people. And for some people in that category, they present to the world tales of UFOs, strange creatures, aliens and visits to Venus.

Those aside, thousands upon thousands more people without that baggage -- and even with some of that baggage, does not automatically exclude the experience of such phenomena or cause it -- have encounters with the weird that cannot be explained by tired exercises into so-called rationality. Such as Shermer's. (Warning: ad hom ahead. "Smirking Shermer" as I like to call him. Come on, the man smirks for crying out loud. He's so taken with himself.)

Shermer instructs an audience to watch a video of basket ball players, watching for:
the number of times six young people passing basketballs, three of them in white shirts and three in black shirts. He asked the crowd to count how many times the three in white shirts passed the basketball to each other.

Afterward, Shermer had the crowd call out answers. Then he played the video again, telling everyone just to relax and not worry about counting passes this time. And to the amazement of many, about halfway through a person in a monkey suit walked from out-of-frame into the middle of the scene, paused, gave a friendly wave and then promptly walked off screen.

This proves, says Shermer, that people see what they want to see. Er, that means we don't want to see a man in a gorilla suit at the Lakers game?

What it says to me is this: when something weird and unexpected happens, especially in the midst of a mundane event, like a basketball game, we don't notice it. Which then means , that the weird, the unexpected, like say, a Mothman or a Bigfoot, even a UFO, goes right by us. It literally can be in front of our noses and we won't deal with the strangeness. In fact, when something highly unusual is going on, and the one or two people who do happen to be aware of it point it out to others, most people refuse to even look to see for themselves.

Shermer had his own out of body experience. Under laboratory conditions, don't you know. Which proves that no such thing as astral projection and OOBEs occur, since it can be recreated in the laboratory:
Shermer said he once had an out-of-body experience successfully recreated under laboratory conditions. It had nothing to do with his consciousness actually leaving his body.

This is another standard, and very tired meme of the uber-skeptic: that because something paranormal/anomalous can be recreated in the lab, it doesn't exist. Rather, it doesn't exist paranormally; of course it exists, they just recreated it! (The same is said of hoaxes, as the recent hoaxed UFO lights showed: to the skeptoid, UFO hoaxes "proves" that UFOs don't exist.)

Why do we insist upon "believing weird things" as Shermer so often phrases this conundrum of human existence? It has to do with evolution:
As for the reason people believe strange things, Shermer said it is rooted in humanity's evolutionary history and its psychological drive to connect invisible causes to the events around them. That movement in the grass may be the wind or it could be a predator.

Or fairies! It's fairies!

If we think of the movement in the grass as a predator, we're good ... Shermer concludes that if we think the worst: "better safe than sorry" then we believe that forces control the things we can't explain. Like a lion in the grass? Huh?

Shermer's presentation didn't prove a thing, but of course, the choir he preaches to think otherwise.

Soure: Science vs. ESP: Skeptic Ponders UFOs, Mothman


Bruce Duensing said...

Thank the heaven's that Shermer's philosophy of naive realism wasnt taken literally by our forebears as the known world and it's potential mysteries would have been viewed as swamp gas or an infarction and our curiosity would have been subject to his edict as one of Plato's pet cave dwellers..

Atrueoriginall said...

Hi ya Regan: I went to read the comments and I saw the "Links to this post" below and realized that my site wasn't there but I did link to this post. Google's gone wacky I think. Anyway, just so you know - I post everything of yours always and all of your blogs including BoA. If I don't I just flat missed it - I've done that before but it's rare. here's the link in case you wanted to see the pix I fancied up a bit.

Gorilla Suit DudeEileen