Monday, January 16, 2012

“Touched by a ghost!” the Hump metes out a sound “Hitchslapping.”

“I have been touched by a ghost, in the small of my back at an install [in a house where a boy died in the late 1890's and has never left]. I never believed any of the ghost crap before that moment. Since then I have had to rethink a lot of things. That’s what "What if's" are in us for. If you are not open to believing every thing you know is wrong than you are not a free thinker.”

The above comment was posted by someone to a facebook friend’s article dedicated to Christopher Hitchens. Off topic, and completely out of context with the discussion, besides his obvious foolishness this person exposed himself to be another one of those self appointed editors of Webster’s Dictionary - compelled, it seems, to redefine words to better suit his perspective and agenda.

I decided there can be no greater tribute to Christopher Hitchens than to administer to this buffoon the educational “Hitchslapping” he so clearly deserved. Here it is, slightly revised and extended:

Freethinker does not imply entertaining the paranormal because a natural explanation for an event, real or perceived, cannot immediately be ascertained. A freethinker doesn't hear hoof beats in the night and think "Ah ha! Unicorn!" We begin by examining the most reasonable and likely explanation for cause, not with the premise that something for which there has never been any objective evidence is the likely cause. That's quite the opposite from how credulous, unscientific superstitionalists like you think.

To paraphrase Hitchens - as atheists / freethinkers we respect free inquiry, open mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. No where does being a freethinker imply throwing reason out the window and “being open to believing everything” predicated on anecdote and stories. That’s not being open minded, that’s surrendering your intellect to myth, which is a reasonably good definition for “faith.”

Occam's Razor states that the simplest explanation is better than a more complex one, thus more likely to be the correct one. The complexity associated with ghosts, spirits, god/gods, et al, is vast. It is so absurdly intricate / complex that on the list of one-thousand possible explanations it would fall at the bottom, just below invisible aliens. Selecting ghostly encounter as your preferred explanation for this so called event is patently irrational.

You want to believe you were prodded by a ghost? Fine. But this thread is dedicated to someone who was the antithesis of mindless superstionalism. You add nothing to the conversation here except to exemplify the kind of stunted, backward, and archaic non-think that Hitchens fought against his whole life.

Finally (and I mean that literally since I have zero interest in prolonging discourse with those of limited intellect), if you are insulted by your dismissal and the ridicule heaped upon you by the thinking folks here, no one will shed a tear. You're entitled to the same respect as any other insipid religionist who places myth, faith and unsubstantiated belief before reason, reality, and the scientific method - which is to say no respect at all.


NewEnglandBob said...

People like that quoted at the top of this article are just susceptible to ignorance and magical thinking because they never learned how to use critical thinking.

LaurieB said...

Yes, I guess it does start with the family and I have an example of this situation living down the street from me. A girl/young woman who was in and out of my house regularly for the past years. She knows my 2 girls well from school. Her own family is a bunch of ignorant drunks who claim supernatural forces are all around them. Then she would come breezing into our "bunch of atheists" house where she would regale us with stories of their resident ghosts and various other poltergeists -whatever that is. They were convinced that the large stain on the living room ceiling was the actual spirit of their dead dog. That's how it came back to them. Shrieking cruel laughter was our answer to that one. Time after time and even to this day she still pops in and tells us the latest "evidence" of the supernatural forces that inhabit her house. She has a very condescending attitude when she points out that "you guys don't believe anything" with a scowl. She's 22 now and none of our explanations or the blunt comments she gets from her peers have any effect whatsoever! It's hopeless I tell ya

Anonymous said...

There may be things in certain places that influence our brain activity such as high electromagnetic fields, and there may indeed be some kind of occasional "play-back" of past energies recorded on the fabric of space-time or occasionally converging multi-verses or some physics-related shit we cannot yet begin to explain.

However, when it comes to a "spirit" of a dead person physically touching someone...that implies a sentient afterlife. And we all know there 'aint no such thing.

Rastifan said...

My family used to hear my grandfather chop wood up in the shed at nights years after he was dead. His soul was watching over us they said. I knew it was the door that made that sound, because he only chopped wood when there was wind out side. I was 10 in a gang of silly grownups.

LaurieB said...

Hey Hump
Did you know that Jerry Coyne will be speaking at Harvard on 5/2 ? It's going to be an atheist-fest. Can I convince you to leave the great frozen north and venture into civilization for long enough to attend? I'm thinking that a social situation after the lecture would be very entertaining. I will attempt to recruit NEBob as well.

Dromedary Hump said...

Laurie...May 2 is a long way off. And leaving the compound to trek to Mass...oh, I dunno. That's asking alot. ;)

I'll think about it. Thanks for the info.

LaurieB said...

Ok, we'll keep you updated. :-)

Gerard26 said...

It seems as if the ghost seer has been watching to much of that mindless codsawallop on cable tv reality shows,thanks for keeping them honest.

Chatpilot said...

Hump, I too have to deal with posters on other atheist blogs I go to trying to share with the rest of us all of their experiences with the divine etc. I have been there and done that and have come up with many competent explanations for the so called phenomenon of the presence of the "Holy Spirit" and its various manifestations in religious services. Like ghost stories and so called encounters with the dead they are all manufactured in the mind and are influenced by many other underlying factors.

On another topic, I would love to invite you and your readers to my blog where I discuss many issues from the perspective of a former fundamentalist who lived and experienced the so called supernatural. Here is my link feel free to publish it, if not I would understand. But I would love for you to pop in from time to time and comment on some of my views.

Dromedary Hump said...

thks, chatpilot...i'll drop in from time to time. I put your blog on my fav places.