Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Righteous Indignation -the episode of a lot of ghosts

Righteous Indignation this week featured the return of Tristan, but the Marsh and Gavin were both missing.  Hayley as ever was on the show, and once again Dr. T. appeared to round out the hosting duties.

The show opened with Tristan and Hayley discussing a UFO conference where Tristan gave a talk, and apparently during the Q&A, the audience caught on to the fact that Tristan is a paid agent of disinformation from the CIA and MI5.  (Actually he's not.)  A medium in the audience did not take too kindly to Tristan and pummeled him with personal attacks not related to UFOs.

The Indignates then covered a few topical stories such as the ebay auction for ghosts trapped in bottles of alleged holy water.  They discussed all the angles of this pressing issue including the rights of those spirits trapped in the bottle, and what the heck you do with a bottle of alleged spirits after you purchase it?

Continuing on the ghost kick, they discussed a device invented by some ghost hunters that can capture a ghost.  It's a plexiglass container that has a testla coil to lure the spooks into the box only to be trapped when shutting the door tight.  (Really)  There is a smoke generator that is provided so you can take pictures of the smoke to try and catch a snap of a spirit.  Now we all know that while spirits and spectres can go through walls and hang in one spot in time, they cannot get past plexiglass.  However, the smoke generator to be able to capture their photograph is just stupid.  It is obviously just pareidolia they are photographing.  So this ghost device other than being large at six feet is half way there.  (Everyone knows ghost can only be seen in a holy water mist.  C'mon.)

Then the Indignates began to discuss the innumerable number of ghost hunting and detective shows on both British and American television.  Here the Indignates broke into their 'merican accents.  Most of the time when Americans break into a British accent it is because they want to sound clever or studious.  A British accent lends weight to whatever the speaker says. (Even the Beatles Liverpudlian accents were the voice of cheeky British musical superiority.)  Whenever Brits or Australians speak in an American accent "whoa dude" it is to highlight just how stupid the speaker or his idea are.  At least in the past we 'mericans take these knocks at ease because we were richer and had a much bigger military than anyone else.  (We were the brawny red Corvette and big black Cadillac crushing nation in the world, while everyone else was stuck with French cinema and smoked filterless cigarettes in the long wrong shaped box.  Who cared, we had guns, and lots of them.  Now we are poor too, and can't afford cool stuff like guns or large cars so it just hurts.)  Anyway, my issue with all of these type of ghost hunting shows is they are all so boring.  There are no ghosts.  It's adults running around in the dark scaring themselves like nine year old schoolgirls.

The interviewee was C.J. Romer, an investigator for ghost hunter shows in Britain as well as fairies.  Yes, fairies - those small little alleged supernatural beings with wings, and not Bryan Ferry, international rock star and frontman of Roxy Music world renowned and loved in the 70's and 80's all over Europe, Canada, and apparently just me in the United States.  Romer, on the one hand, seems to be an okay skeptical chap who wants to properly investigate ghost and other paranormal activity and be led by the evidence.  On the other hand, he seemed to point out that he was not an apriori skeptic... he will not dismiss out of hand that weird thing X, Y or Z (pronounced Zee if you are me, but Zed if you are clever) does not exist.  The Indignates countered that most skeptics do not consider themselves apriori skeptics, and Romer seemed to back off a bit.  Granted, there are lots of apparent knee jerk naysayers, but I'll get to that in a moment.

Romer also brought up an interesting ideas that from fairies to ghosts to UFOs are really all on a continuum of some type of activity that people are experiencing and rigid boundaries do not exist between them.  On the one hand, I agree that they are all part of the popular culture of something else out there that is not quite known, but disagree that if they do exist they would be related.  In other words, if UFOs land on Tiananmen Square, Buckingham Palace, and Disney World and those scary little gray buggers from Close Encounters of the Third Kind pop out and they say they are from a star 100 light years away, this does not mean ghosts are real too.  On the other hand, if they are just evolving fictions of the popular imaginations from flying ships with faires during the middle ages to UFOs today, to me you are almost starting with the point that they are not real.

Which brings me back to the point of skeptics, who seemly dismiss such things as ghosts, pixies, and UFOs out of hand, are really just saying enough is enough.   You cannot go on investigating the same spectrum of pop culture events again and again, come up blank and keep investigating.  At some point, you must draw a reasonable conclusion that there is no actual there, there.  I consider myself a good solid evidence based skeptic, but at the end of the day I have to make a determination based upon good second hand evidence and logic, and not drive off to Pittsburgh when someone claims they saw Bigfoot stealing tomatoes from their garden to postulate it most likely did not occur.  Bigfoot has been investigated time and again with no good reliable evidence found, no remains brought back to UNC, and logically a sustainable enough population of six to nine foot hominids should have been tracked down by now.  This may be mistaken by some to be dismissal out of hand, but really it is based upon a larger evidence and rational world view.

All the above being noted in Romer's interview made me think, and I enjoyed it and the rest of the episode a great deal.  For some reason, I am all down on my proud outspoken, gun-toting, light beer drinking 'merican heritage.


  1. Romer here: what's wrong with the US accent? My ex-wife has a US accent and it sounds great, and from the slow Texan speak to the New Yoirk tones to the Californian, via the MidWest with it's numerous ways of speaking, I kind of like them all. British accents are equally varied: I think that Americans just associate them with posh New Englander's being pretentious, so think we are all snooty w*nkers? Far from it, some of us are not snotty at all - just w*nkers.

    Anyway glad you enjoyed the interview. My latest madness may amuse you --

    As to a priori sceptics, too few of them to make much impact on me really: I hev met foru or five in my many years in scepticism. You make a really important point about the phenomena though - I'll reply to that in a moment, my phone is ringing. Nice to meet ya

    cj x (aka Chris Romer, fairyhunter!)

  2. My wife has an American accent as do I. I do not really think about for obvious reasons. However, I truly cannot think of any non-American doing an "American" accent to sound intellignet or worldly. It's a global stereotype. While I enjoy the wide number of American accents, a heavy Pennsylvania Dutch accent is terrible. "Yings?" (i.e. You all) for example is indefensible. Thanks for reading.

  3. AH yes I see where you are coming from! Yep totally agreed aliens landing in Philly would not constitute proof of Bigfoot in London or whatever. In fact something I bang on about a lot --

    However my continuum suggestion was actually that many of these experiences are on a continuum of hallucinatory experience - which is not to say they can not actually contain information content, as a hallucination can incorporate objective facts -- (in much the same way a myth can mention say Jerusalem or London, places that exist!) -- but that ghosthunters, UFOlogists, fairy chasers etc don't look a the broader similarities which might give us a clue as to the mechanisms producing the phenomena.

    We know we can dream, we know we can hallucinate - it just sees so odd to me that people disregard these facts and automatically assume an external causality for every 'sighting'. So I take a very broad view of what constitutes interesting phenomena - from religious experience to fairies via little grey men, if someone says the Hopskinville Goblins wearing NFL shirts ordered BigMac fries to go at their drive thru playing Slave to Love on the stereo of the ghostly stage coach they were driving, I'm interested. :)

    I do believe some of the phenomena may have an objective reality: but the processing of them may well use similar parts of the brain, so I'm interested in the continuum of experience.

    Oh and on Bigfoot total agreement. Scepticism is a process: we draw tentative conclusions, which constitute beliefs or lack thereof, from that process. I concluded a long time ago there are no Sasquatch in my neck of the woods (well not non-humans ones anyway!)

    Nice to meet you, not sure that clarified anything but hey I tried. :)

  4. I must beg to differ. Such a strange fastfood ordering would only warrant investigation if the entities were playing "Amazona" on the stereo. Otherwise it is a waste of time. Clearly, the mind can play tricks on people, and investigation ala psychiatry and neurology are appropriate. There should always be some physical investigation of these events, but to a certain extent a lot of time is wasted beating the same bush over and over.

  5. Ha ha, how did I guess I would find you on here, CJ? I hope you think the interview was okay. It was a toughie for Hayley to edit and then for me to do further cutting as there was so much decent material. On the subject of sasquatch, there were sightings of a 'wolfman' in Cranham Woods near Painswick during the 1960s.

    Nigel, glad you enjoyed the episode. We enjoy our banter with the colonials! ;-)

    To be honest I wasn't too sure how it was going to go down before it was uploaded as it was very ghost heavy and a bit off the wall. It is interesting how the dynamics change when someone is absent from the show. However, the feedback has been good. You may be amused to learn that I'm going back to the scene of my talk this weekend. I know that some of the same faces will be present so that could be interesting.

    Finally, I can't find it now but a comment was made about how Gavin has settled in. He's getting a lot more confident and comfortable so thanks to the person who raised the issue(sorry I can't remember your name...mad, mad week).



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