The Paranormal Debate: part five

Author: David Christopher Lane and Joe Polanik
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: June 1997

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

I want to go back to the home base now. (David Lane) wrote:

    I argued that what was "extra-ordinary" was not necessarily the
    evidence ... but the implications ... That's "extra-ordinary" in
    light of our current understanding of medicine and aging.


Are you backing off your stance that an extraordinary claim require
extraordinary evidence?


Nope. If Elvis lives on Venus, then it would be really
extra-ordinary that he was there.

It's that simple.

Again, the extra-ordinary part is just accomplishing what he or she

So an extra-ordinary claim (Elvis lives on Venus) demands 
extra-ordinary evidence (Elvis IS found on Venus).

Or, in light of our debate:

Extraordinary claim (Babaji is several thousands of year old and
still lives in a physical body)

Extraordinary evidence (Babaji is found and the medical examiners
determine that he is several thousands of years old).

Both extra ordinary, huh.......



Later on in your article you mention the phrase 'compelling evidence'.
You say that there is no compelling evidence of Babaji's existence or of
paranormal events involving Charan Singh.

Is 'compelling evidence' just a synonym for 'extrordinary evidence? If
this is a different standard of evidence, can you specify what is
required to meet it? Is there an external standard for what constitutes
'compelling evidence'? If so what is it?


Nope, again. 

I haven't seen any evidence at this stage which would "prove"
Babaji's physical existence.

Likewise, I haven't seen any evidence (outside of misunderstood
statistics) which shows genuine psychic ability.

I could be wrong.

That is why I am open for some counter evidence.

You and Daniel haven't presented any.

You have, instead, indulged in shop talk.

I don't mind, but it doesn't buttress your side.

Now if you read my five digits off my wall, I may have to eat some
corn (I am a vegetarian, so no crow).

And if Rebazar shows up in the surf line-up, I may have to apologize
and give him a few extra waves.....

I won't mind, however......


Or do you get to decide that the evidence is not compelling until you have a subjective feeling of being compelled to accept it as sufficient?


No, Joe...... If somebody--gosh anybody--reads the five digits off
my wall I would be impressed.

It would be a great start.

Again, if Babaji shows up, I will most certainly tell you about it.

I won't wait for "subjective feeling of being compelled to accept it
as sufficient" (whatever that phrase means).


Does each person get to make 'scientific decisions' based on their own
subjective feelings of being compelled? Or are you the only one whose
subjective state matters?


Again, you seem to be driving down the same cul du sac. Better put
that tired car in reverse, bro.

Let's go, once again, to the two points:

1. Babaji shows up.
2. Somebody read the five digits off the wall.

That was the basis of this debate and yet nobody is stating the
the obvious:

Neither has happened yet.......

I am willing to be proven quite wrong;

Are you, likewise, willing to give up your religious beliefs in
these matters?


    Precisely. Skeptics do not make any demands or tests of normal
    scientific procedures. Skeptics just make assumptions about how psi
    events are supposed to manifest.


    Joe, I think you better go re-check your history. Science is chalked
    filled with episodes of scientists questioning their procedures:
    from medicine to astronomy.


Notice that I spoke of skeptics while you spoke of scientists.


Yes, a scientist is often a skeptic and sometimes a skeptic can be a


Sure. A real scientist will indeed check and re-check his/her
assumptions in the face of negative results. A skeptic doesn't.


First of all, you are making a categorical statement that you do not
possibly know is true. "A skeptic doesn't" as you write.

How do you know?

You don't.

A "real" scientist?

Okay, let us just admit that we sometimes get caught in generalities
(me included) that detract from the point.

In any case, the point is a simple one:

The reason some are skeptical of the paranormal is not because
they happen to be aging surfers or because they are cranky from 
reading too many Skeptical Inquirers (even I don't like that
magazine!--SKEPTIC is much more fun, in my opinion), but because
they have not seen ANY evidence for it.

And when such evidence is presented, it often turns out to be the
case that a much more simple and mundane explanation is

Remember, I would dearly love to believe that my guru or any guru
has paranormal powers (I have a vested interest for POSITIVE
results, not negative ones), but that doesn't mean that I will
somehow bypass my critical faculties just because of what
I wish to be true.......

I just haven't seen the evidence.

I could be wrong.

That's why I am having this debate.....

Are you too willing to be wrong about the paranormal and your


why i wondered earlier in this thread whether the skeptic as you
envisioned the skeptic --- ie. yourself --- gave a privileged status to
your own frame of reference.

It appears that you do.


I think you should reflect long and hard on this statement you have
just made.

You could, if you so desired, rebound it back to yourself.

Are you willing to be wrong about "soul," about "eck", about "the

Contrary to what you may wish to believe about me,

I am quite willing to be wrong about Babaji, Rebazar Tarzs, and the
paranormal events surrounding my guru.

Indeed, I welcome the moment when such evidence is presented to show
that the paranormal really does happen, that people are truly
psychic, that Elvis lives on Venus.

Do you, likewise, "welcome" being wrong about Eck, Soul, and Fubbi?

Don't forget, for me to argue for a materialist position contravenes
the very thing closest to my own bone and heart: my guru. 

This is not an easy argument for me (it occasionally causes pain),
but I am being quite honest and frank with you.

Regardless of what you may assume, I really do want the Truth
(whatever that may) to win here......

Not my version of it.


    IMHO, It is unlikely that they will see any proof of psychic events
    until they suspend their existing paradigms.


    I disagree. Whatever paradigm I may hold, when the car runs a red
    light and I am crossing the street at the wrong time I get HIT.


This seems like a clear cut admission that you give your frame of
reference (or 'perspective' or 'paradigm') a privileged position.


No, I am merely siding with Einstein.

I think the moon exists, even if I don't look at it.


You are also stuck in the position of someone who purports to test Einsteinian physics vs Newtonian physics in situations involving
terrestrial velocities where they make virtually identical predictions.
Instead, if you'll recall, Eddington went to Africa in the hopes of
finding evidence in a situation where the two theories made different


Joe, both were empirical and algorithmic.

Eddington didn't invoke an astral library, or a non-show Babaji.


So, after you get hit running a red light and go to a hospital where you
find yourself stuck in the waiting room, put your time to good use. Look
around. You'll see cancer patients coming in for chemotherapy. Some of
them will also go to classes where they learn visualization techniques
that they can use while recieving the chemo. They might imagine the
chemo molecules as little 'pac-man' style Eating Monsters that go around
gobbling up cancer cells.


And each of the remedies you mention have a neurological or
empirical basis, since such visualization is done via our central
nervous system.

Or is Elvis helping out from Venus? (just teasing)

Simply put, Joe, I am tending towards a "crane-like" (to invoke
Dennett) explanation, along the lines of an empirical algorithm,
whereas you seem to be arguing towards a "sky-hook" (to invoke
Dennett once again) mode of explanation, along the lines of a
non-sensical (literally?) invocation of Soul-like things.


There are any number of visualizations. The point is that those whose 'paradigm' allows them to use these (and who actually do use these) have a higher survival rate. That's why hospitals offer such classes.  Another defect with your position is that it assumes that you can adopt any paradigm for evaluating evidence of OBE reports and, if you are wrong, you can be proven wrong to your own satisfaction. Such thinking is untenable given the work of Kurt Godel who showed mathematically that, for any given truth evaluating system above a certain minimal
level of complexity, not all true statements will be provable and not
all false statements will be refutable.


Lest we forget, visualization is done with the brain (three pounds
of glorious flesh). Don't have a brain (or have it severely fucked
up) and you won't be doing such visualizations.

My point?

Your analogy is still empirically based and does not lend support to
your OBE or psychic defense fund.

My own satisfaction?

I think you forget that my five digit test is designed precisely for
those who claim to be able to read such numbers in astral travel.

Remember Glen?

Remember Tracey? (she tried and failed).

It for those who make such claims.....

Again, the claim is that Babaji is IN a PHYSICAL body.

Okay, so taking physical laws into consideration, I asked for a
simple proof:

Show up.

Invoking Godel?

Why not invoke Heisenberg as well?

Both have nothing to do with the argument, though you may wish they
did (since we still haven't see any evidence, just lots of
intellectual posturing).

Again, why is it necessary to side-slip away from the obvious?

If one claims to have psychic power, then DEMONSTRATE it to those
who DON'T believe.

My used car dealer doesn't invoke Godel or Heisenbery or Pauli's
exclusion principle, when the car he is trying to sell me 

DOESN't start.

We haven't even gotten to the level of good stories or evidence, and
you want to talk about shifting paradigms, like shifting gears.

I am offering up a test, a very simple test for those on this group.

I may be wrong..... and that would be cool.

But invoking Godel doesn't buttress your point, but only shows once
again how wimpy the paranormal is, or how wimpy Babaji is.

When there is no physical evidence, then invoke Godel or Heisenberg.

It seems to be an emerging New Age claptrap principle.

Look, can you imagine me invoking Godel to "argue" for Twitchell's

Next time you don't see things my way, I will invoke Heisenbery
uncertainty relations.......

Again, I am not asking for the moon,

I am asking for some fudging proof.

You have given me neither (though clearly the former is far away and
you might have trouble getting it down here.....)


Hence, any researcher who places his own research paradigm beyond
questioning risks using a truth evaluating system that is incapable of
deciding the issue at hand.


Beyond questioning?

Haven't you just done this yourself by invoking Godel?

I am willing to be dead wrong on the paranormal.

I have even given a test out that would PROVE i was wrong.

By even suggesting the test, I am placing into doubt my paradigm.

Are you, Joe, doing the same?

Think about "Soul" bro.


This is a legitimate expectation. But the reverse is also true. If you are proposing that the way to test OBE claims is to set up a 5 or 6
digit number test, then you should expect to have your assumptions
inspected and challenged as well.


I think you are forgetting the genealogy of this debate. I "doubt"
the existence of Babaji and psychic powers. I have asked for
"evidence" of such, since some on this newsgroup claim that in OBE's
they can "read" physical environments.

The five digit test was proposed on that very basis.

As for Babaji, I have a simple request (that Godel's theorem has
nothing to do with):

Show UP.

I most certainly do "doubt" my assumptions.

Lest you forget, I asked Daniel to propose another test if he didn't
like the five digit one.

Moreover, the five digit test could show that I was wrong about the

Again, quite frankly, are you willing to be wrong about Soul, Ek, and

How willing?

How open?

Here's my answer to those same questions I posed of you.

I was so willing and open that I had to openly (and with much
emotional heartache) contradict the very person i love very very
dearly: my guru.

You think that is easy?

It would be a lot more fun for me to have the paranormal proven
right than wrong......

Again, I got this problem:

I prefer the Truth (whatever that may be) to my ASS U ME Tions......


[Ideally, a skeptic would do this automatically. But, if you don't, i'll
try to point them out to you. After all, Dave, i'm just trying to help
you become a better skeptic. <g>]


Sorry to be anal retentive and picky, but you just contradicted
yourself in this statement.

Read what you wrote about skeptics just a few paragraphs ago.

I agree, however: we should be skeptical even of our new positions.

That is why I am looking forward to having Rebazar over for cokes.



In any event, to investigate Out of Body Experiencing is not as
difficult as it may seem. Many people are doing that now.

The first step is simply to gather evidence. In this case we would
gather a large number of reports of Out of Body Experiences. The more
different cultural settings and the more different personal settings
from which we had reports the better.

Then look for a persistent phenomenology. Features of the experience
that are the same or similar in large numbers of cases. Finally,
correlate these common features with both the neurophysiological
conditions that accompany the OBE and the lifestyle changes that occur
after these OBEs, NDEs or whatever.

The issue to be decided is whether a purely materialistic theorist can
explain the profound (and usually positive) lifestyle changes that occur
to experiencers or whether we will infer the existence of a spiritual
reality that is involved with these experiences.


Yes, it has already been done, but I don't think it is either
material or spiritual (since what one means by spiritual is subject
to profound disagreement: astral? causal? tangy? etheric, to invoke
Twitch? ETC.)

I would put it this way:

cranes or sky-hooks?

algorithmic or non-algorithmic?

trans-physical or physical?


Sidebar: I am deeply enjoying this discussion and I thank you for
taking the time in replying.
Keep up the fine work.



I believe that an open-minded inquiry requires suspension of beliefs and
disbeliefs. Each side of the coin is equally important.


Hmm..... do you really believe this statement? If so, where is the 
"other" side of the coin in Eckankar literature?

But, more to the point, I think this is not accurate at all.

Do we really give equal weight to all "testimonies" or inquiries?

Elvis lives on Venus.

Do we send a space probe to find out?

No, Joseph, regardless of what we may wish to believe, the fact
remains that we easily dismiss some claims as non-sensical right
from the start (and so we should).

It is up to the one making the claim (especially the outrageous
ones: Jim Morrison killed Jimi Hendrix because he was sleeping with
Janis--all on the astral plane) to

support his or her position, not for the doubter.  


Because there are so many variances, so many wild theories, etc.,
that we would be lost in a veritable jungle of junk.

That is why, we place the weight on the one who makes the claim.


'have to prove psi in controlled circumstances'? You are beginning to
sound like a rather guillible skeptic when you say that you 'have to' do
something a certain way and decline question that assumption.


Why do I even say "controlled"? Because we have lots of stories of
individuals who apparently do all sorts of wondrous things in
non-controlled environments.

Look at Sai Baba. He produces vibhuti, he upchucks a shiva lingam,
he manifests watches and the like.....

But he does it in HIS ashram, away from the clinical glare of those
who could see or test his "sleight of hand."

Let me give an example from my own experience in India:

I once visited the ancient astrological book, THE BHRIGU SAMHITA.

I even wrote a less than skeptical article about it for FATE back in

This ancient book, allegedly written by the sage Bhrigu, claims to
have the life story of those presently living, even though it was
compiled thousands of years ago.


Quite so, and I even had a reading from one of those ancient leaves
that stated who I was (gave my whole name), where I came from, and
why I was there in India. It even stated what I was in a previous
life (a yogi from Calcutta is what it said; at least that's better
than being a gorilla, as alleged by our new guru on the block
Michael Martin).

Nice story, but I think much more is necessary to determine the
trans-rational nature of this book.

Like testing the leaves, testing the ink, correlating the language,

In that sense, a "controlled" environment is very necessary.

We ask it of medicine.

Why should "God" or god-like things be less?


If you examine the reports of OBEs (or some psychic events as telepathic
or precognitive dreams or what have you) you will see that the
circumstances of these events are far different from those of the
laboratory. The natural setting often includes an emotional bond between
the parties or some personal need that is addressed by the experience.


It could also well be that a much simpler explanation is at work:


Try studying statistics; it is quite liberating.


The laboratory situation is very different. It seems reasonable to ask
whether the change in circumstances may have some effect on whether
paranormal events can be detected.


Or, we could ask if chance is operating and that when we have
apparent "psychic" experiences in these more private environments we
are LESS willing to think of alternative explanations for what
happened and perhaps why.

Moreover, why is the paranormal event so wimpy?

It is like the boogie man in the closet.

Once you open the door it goes away.


Are you going to simply assume that the laboratory setting has no effect
or are you going to apply your skepticism to that assumption?


Well, I have had a number of "psychic" experiences and the like.

What I have continually noticed, on closer inspection, is that there
are some very mundane and ordinary reasons for what I took as
"para-normal" or "trans-rational."

What the controlled circumstance does is bring the lameness of the
paranormal to light.

I am not saying that the laboratory has no effect.

It does.

It apparently makes the "para-normal" DISappear.

I find that very very revealing.

Given Hume's Maxim, it seems like something ordinary is happening,
but is inflated to extra-ordinary levels when people lack the
critical mind to think clearly and skeptically about it.

By the way, there is no boogie man in my closet.......


You're using what used to be called the 'Berkeley Subjunctive'. [Guy to
Gal: "I would like to ask you out next Saturday". Gal to Guy: "Why don't
you actually ask me out rather than tell me you would like to ask me
out?" Guy to Gal: "Okay, I'll come back next Saturday and ask you out."]

Why don't you actually present your argument, if you actually have an
argument rather than a mere assertion that 'we' don't have enough


I already have. It is contained in THE UNKNOWING SAGE (the main
text), THE GURU HAS NO TURBAN, and a number of articles.

I don't think the guru knows in a god-like fashion.

Moreover, I have yet to unearth a clear and clean case of psychic or
paranormal powers.

I have, on the contrary, unearthed a more mundane or ordinary

I am not trying to "prove" a miracle.

I am trying to show a more common-sense explantion.

Take Twitchell's plagiarism and Harji's explanation of it.

I say he got his stuff from Johnson and others (purloining passages
from "earthly" books that almost anybody here can read and compare).

Very ordinary, very empirical.

Harji claims otherwise, pointing to an astral plane library.

He is trying to argue for a "miracle" (or, the "trans-rational").

I am arguing for something much more common place.

Compare the evidence for both.

I have also done the same with the "Kirpal Statistic" and other
guru features.


I also suggest that we focus on OBE reports made by living people. It's
going to be hard to test Charan Singh by the 6 digit number test. He's
dead! Are you are planning to use a medium as your research assistant?


Do you have a short memory?

I first proposed the test to Glen, who backed out of it.

Tracey took the test (apparently) and got it wrong.

I suggested the test to Daniel.

He didn't bite.

I didn't propose it for Babaji.

I asked him, instead, to show up.

He hasn't as of yet.

Why don't you take the test?

Or anybody else on this group that is interested.

I am game.

I will even try it and will visit Glen's office!

But I will make a prediction:

I probably won't get it right.


You might do what researchers typically do and preface your argument by
counting the evidence, if any, that you have examined, the conclusions
drawn and so on.


You are again forgetting the obvious:

I am not claiming any miracles.

Yogananda DID.

I pointed out that the evidence is neither convincing nor

Again, the burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim.

I could be dead wrong, but before I concede that it might be nice
for somebody to give some convincing proof.

All we get, instead, is silly posturings that add nothing to the

I can at least show you WHEN and HOW and WHY "I" don't know.

Can the psychic demonstrate how, why, and when they do the

If so, go to Vegas.......


Countless people widely separated by time, space and culture have
reported Out of Body Experiences. A researcher who listens to these
experiencers may take their reports and later evaluate them for whatever
evidentiary value they may or may not have.

A skeptic simply calls them 'stories' and does nothing.


And does "nothing"?

This is ridiculous.

Have you read Susan Blackmore's book on the subject?

What you seem to overlook is that many in this field have also had
OBE's and NDE's (including me).

I am not questioning the phenomena of NDE's or OBE's (even Sagan
admits they occur).

What we are debating, lest you forget, is the
INTERPRETATION of what those experiences may mean or imply.

Are they indicative a trans-neurological event?

Or, are they indicative of an empirically based neurolgical event?

If they are indicative of a trans-neurological event, then we would
like to see some proof of it.

That is why the five or six digit test was proposed.

Remember, there are those who claim to able to do such.

Let's find out if they can.

Some on this group have claimed to be able to do such.

Tracey was wrong. Glen backed out........

Yes, lots of stories.... No evidence.



They're reports, David. Reports of experiences. Calling them 'stories'
before you have even examined them does nothing but demonstrate the
prejudices that prevent you from making an open-minded investigation.


Yes, reports of experiences are also called "stories."

I have lots of stories too, but I don't think they qualify as

I am open-minded to be wrong.

I have asked for those who claim to be able to read "astrally" the
five digit number on my wall. 

Nobody has done it yet.

Okay, I am still open.

Hey, Joe, are you willing to concede that you may be dead wrong
about "Soul"?

I am willing to be wrong about materialism..... Geez, I would
actually like to be wrong about it.......

But I have this awful habit:

I prefer Reality to be what is versus what I "wish" it to be,
especially when such wishing is shown to be less than right.

Or, as Wolfgang Pauli might say, "Not even wrong."


If you call them stories often enough do you 
think that people will cease to have experiences?


No, I have never denied the "experiences" (i have them too).

I have, rather, questioned or doubted some of the ontological
interpretations given to them.


If you assume this before you conduct your investigation, of what value
is it? Remember, your theoretical perspective influences what you may


This is again a weak argument.

No matter what "theoretical" perspective I have when I go surfing,
a 20 foot wave at Pipeline will break and pound the reef.

Why is it that when it comes to the paranormal (like the proverbial
monster under the bed) that the closer we look at it (just as we do
medicine, physics and technology; just as we do the boogie man),

it DISappears?

What a wimpy phenomena.

I will be the first to say it:

Babaji is a wimp.


Because for whatever reasons, he fails to appear to those who would
be the most reliable in verifying his existence: his doubters.

Again, we ask MORE of a used car than we do of our gurus.

That, I would suggest, is why religion gets its butt kicked time and
time again.


Nobody is kicking the guru's tires first......

E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.