Can we believe eyewitnesses… did this 17th century monk levitate? |312|

#41
If Psi is a connection to something Other, something divine, then why is it so weak? Why does it end up in the hands of certain mediums who seem all to happy to commit fraud? And when we have honest mediums, why can't they manifest their abilities (or communion with spirits) at a stronger level?
I agree with Psiclops, psi works both ways, for good and evil if you want to use those terms. I have seen it misused plenty of times and I believe that's the basis for the terms white and black magic.

As for why is the effect so weak? My take is that most humans are utterly fragmented and unintegrated beings, with our attention going in various directions. If you ever find yourself in a life threatening situation, the focus becomes very clear. The survival instinct takes over and everything else drops away. That's what I think is going on when you hear stories of mothers developing super human strength and lift cars etc. when their child is trapped underneath.

I also believe that is why some of the Eastern religious traditions don't deny psi, but see it as a later stage of development (if at all), after dealing with some of the lower personality aspects or ego.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#42
I agree with Psiclops, psi works both ways, for good and evil if you want to use those terms. I have seen it misused plenty of times and I believe that's the basis for the terms white and black magic.

As for why is the effect so weak? My take is that most humans are utterly fragmented and unintegrated beings, with our attention going in various directions. If you ever find yourself in a life threatening situation, the focus becomes very clear. The survival instinct takes over and everything else drops away. That's what I think is going on when you hear stories of mothers developing super human strength and lift cars etc. when their child is trapped underneath.

I also believe that is why some of the Eastern religious traditions don't deny psi, but see it as a later stage of development (if at all), after dealing with some of the lower personality aspects or ego.
Doesn't this then make us ask at least two questions:

- Why aren't humans more integrated beings?

- Why is Psi dependent on integration?

It isn't just psi though, I mean veridical NDEs could be happening so often that life after death was taken as, if not fact, a definitive possibility as worthy of our attention as whatever it was that motivated the billions spent (wasted?) on the LHC.
 
#43
I am intrigued by the psychological parallels between christian prayer and eastern meditation in that both are "responsible" for accounts of purported levitation. However, I can't really "believe" something that happened so long ago. No way to "prove" or "disprove" anything, or even to investigate further.

I am also amused by how shallow the skeptic arguments in this thread are, though. For people that are most certainly well versed in a hundred ways to refute religion, I expected them to have more common sense. The 17th century Catholic Church was incredibly despotic, (well Christianity in general, this was the same century that Salem took place). Why on Earth, would this man continue performing a magic act when he knew that that anything "disruptive" would land him in jail (which eventually happened)? Also, I don't think that fame would justify the risk of being connected to witchcraft (and we know that people were executed as witches for things less obvious that randomly levitating) and getting his ass burned at the stake by the Inquisition.
 
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#44
However, I can't really "believe" something that happened so long ago. No way to "prove" or "disprove" anything, or even to investigate further.
Grosso seems to have done extensive research investigating the case (https://rhinemagazine.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/why-levitation-by-michael-grosso):

"The records show at least 150 sworn depositions of witnesses of high credentials: cardinals, bishops, surgeons, craftsmen, princes and princesses who personally lived by his word, popes, inquisitors, and countless variety of ordinary citizens and pilgrims. There are letters, diaries and biographies written by his superiors while living with him. Arcangelo di Rosmi recorded 70 incidents of levitation; and then decided it was enough. Streams of inexplicable events surrounded the black-bearded friar. Driven by malicious curiosity, even Joseph’s inquisitors observed him in ecstatic levitation during Mass. Their objection to him was not the fact that he levitated; they were concerned with where the power was coming from, God or the Devil?"
Personally I'm at least intrigued enough to read his book, despite my inclination to disbelieve.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#45
Well let me put it this way, if someone could levitate for real, would there be a way to exhibit this levitation without there be a chance that someone else could do it by trickery?
Sure. Do it live, on multiple occasions, and in front of a group of skeptical scientists and magicians who can interact with you while you are levitating. I realize this might be too much to ask the practitioner, but you asked if there would be a way to do it so that trickery could be ruled out, and this would work for me. I would say the same about PK.

Do you think St Joseph's levitations could have been achieved by trickery?
I haven't looked into it at all. I'll try to this weekend.

I have the vague impression that you are fairly sceptical about subjects discussed on Skeptiko - is that because of your experience in these matters?
I'm quite skeptical about levitation, yes. Also very skeptical about PK. That said, I'm fairly convinced by the ganzfeld data. I'm certainly intrigued by Julie Beischel's work, the aware project and current NDE research, but I'm not convinced yet that consciousness survives death. I don't believe that aliens are physically here, I think humans are partly to blame for global warming, I think Trump is a bigot and a know-nothing narcissist who would be a terrible leader, I don't think crop circles are anything more than hoaxes, don't believe in bigfoot or nessie...trying to think of what else is discussed on skeptiko these days...

As to why I'm not convinced about everything discussed here, I think it's simply because the evidence so far hasn't tipped my scales yet. I follow the data and read the scientific papers and popular science books on these subjects, but thus far, other than the ganzfeld, it hasn't led me to any sort of definitive conclusion about the reality of these phenomena. It hasn't helped my journey that the default perspective on this site has become "If you don't agree that this stuff is all 100% proven, you're stuck on stupid or you must think that we're all biological robots." That perspective is so blatantly insecure that it raises red flags for me.

So I don't think any of this stuff is 100% proven, but I do think there is interesting stuff going on that we don't understand, and that warrants further research and discussion. I also think educating skeptical scientists should be priority number one in terms of pushing the discussion forward, but I know that's not going to happen anymore on skeptiko.

In terms of being an amateur magician, what it has really done for me is educate me about how a number of tricks and illusions are performed, and how to use confidence to mislead people into believing that they experienced something they did not. I don't know if it helps much in terms of understanding psi, other than to give me some insight about whether or not magicians like Criss Angel can really levitate :)
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#48
Grosso seems to have done extensive research investigating the case (https://rhinemagazine.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/why-levitation-by-michael-grosso):

Personally I'm at least intrigued enough to read his book, despite my inclination to disbelieve.

Cheers,
Bill
I'm hoping we can get Grosso on again to discuss his other work - he has a great chapter on the history of the transmission/filter theory in Beyond Physicalism, and I'm curious about Experiencing the Next World Now.

I'll probably get the book as well as I'm curious about the historical angle. Might be worth a discussion thread.
 
#49
It's amazing what he says about Bach. I'm a musician and musicologist, and, since I was 10, I had the same reaction to his music. I would become completely mesmerized, not able to speak or move, feeling that I was in the presence of beauty and love so intense, I was about to be fulminated by its sheer perfection. Some pieces, particularly St. Matthew's Passion or Mass in B minor would (and still do) make my cry uncontrollably, such is the sense of intense, unbearable nostalgia It provokes in me. It's like being in a horrible prison, seeing from afar the images of the world of indescribable beauty and love. God's world. When I was 15, I almost jumped out of the window, listening to Kyrie Eleison from the Mass in B minor. Mi friend caught my by the shirt. I truly believe that Bach's music comes from the world we all will return to, the world infinitely better than this one.
Joseph Brodsky, a genius poet, wrote this about Bach, and I think one can't express it better:

Доброе утро, говорит Бах,
Доброе утро, говорит Бог

("Good morning", said Bach,
Good morning, replied God")

I always said that Bach's music is the only irrefutable, incontrovertible proof of the existence of God.
 
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#50
Sure. Do it live, on multiple occasions, and in front of a group of skeptical scientists and magicians who can interact with you while you are levitating. I realize this might be too much to ask the practitioner, but you asked if there would be a way to do it so that trickery could be ruled out, and this would work for me. I would say the same about PK.
That makes it tough when viewed on YouTube, because as you pointed out, there is the possibility of hiring stooges. Also, I think you have to use open minded sceptics - otherwise they will refuse to admit defeat on principle.
I haven't looked into it at all. I'll try to this weekend.
Since you are an amateur magician, that would be interesting.
I'm quite skeptical about levitation, yes. Also very skeptical about PK. That said, I'm fairly convinced by the ganzfeld data. I'm certainly intrigued by Julie Beischel's work, the aware project and current NDE research, but I'm not convinced yet that consciousness survives death. I don't believe that aliens are physically here, I think humans are partly to blame for global warming, I think Trump is a bigot and a know-nothing narcissist who would be a terrible leader, I don't think crop circles are anything more than hoaxes, don't believe in bigfoot or nessie...trying to think of what else is discussed on skeptiko these days...
Ha! Ha! you seem to have added just about every side issue that has been introduced into Skeptiko in that one paragraph. As you probably know, I am deeply sceptical about global warming (re-branded as climate change, because it was less predictive), but in the context of Skeptiko, it is really just an analogy - a comparison between the science of GW and the science of psychic phenomena!

I know I keep on saying this, but I think the key is never to let yourself be 100% convinced one way or the other. I think that is where the religions go wrong - once you start to believe 100%, you start to distort the evidence as needed to keep that (phoney) certainty.
As to why I'm not convinced about everything discussed here, I think it's simply because the evidence so far hasn't tipped my scales yet. I follow the data and read the scientific papers and popular science books on these subjects, but thus far, other than the ganzfeld, it hasn't led me to any sort of definitive conclusion about the reality of these phenomena. It hasn't helped my journey that the default perspective on this site has become "If you don't agree that this stuff is all 100% proven, you're stuck on stupid or you must think that we're all biological robots." That perspective is so blatantly insecure that it raises red flags for me.
I don't think that is really what Alex is saying, and I know it is not what I am saying. The idea behind biological robots, is that from a wholly materialist viewpoint, we are just very complicated but essentially deterministic (or maybe partially random) structures. The puzzle with that, is that if you take a much simpler structure - say a toy robot - no sane person even suggests that it has an inner life - so why do we assume that a more complex robotic structure would have an inner life?

Don't forget that if - say - the ganzfeld work has impressed you, that should make you more susceptible to the other evidence relating to consciousness, because pure materialism predicts no such effects - not even if you are floating in a bath of warm water with ping pong balls over your eyes!
So I don't think any of this stuff is 100% proven, but I do think there is interesting stuff going on that we don't understand, and that warrants further research and discussion. I also think educating skeptical scientists should be priority number one in terms of pushing the discussion forward, but I know that's not going to happen anymore on skeptiko.
Yes, I think science at the moment is too stuck in grooves to be terrible useful in this area - and honestly I still like science!
In terms of being an amateur magician, what it has really done for me is educate me about how a number of tricks and illusions are performed, and how to use confidence to mislead people into believing that they experienced something they did not. I don't know if it helps much in terms of understanding psi, other than to give me some insight about whether or not magicians like Criss Angel can really levitate :)
I'd like to ask you - do you you feel confident that everything you see in magic circles is done by orthodox means, or do you think some genuine psychics infiltrate magic because they can make a reputation for themselves by doing things by that seem impossible?

David
 
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S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#51
It's amazing what he says about Bach. I'm a musician and musicologist, and, since I was 10, I had the same reaction to his music. I would become completely mesmerized, not able to speak or move, feeling that I was in the presence of beauty and love so intense, I was about to be fulminated by its sheer perfection. Some pieces, particularly St. Matthew's Passion or Mass in B minor would (and still do) make my cry uncontrollably, such is the sense of intense, unbearable nostalgia It provokes in me. It's like being in a horrible prison, seeing from afar the images of the world of indescribable beauty and love. God's world. When I was 15, I almost jumped out of the window, listening to Kyrie Eleison from the Mass in B minor. Mi friend caught my by the shirt. I truly believe that Bach's music comes from the world we all will return to, the world infinitely better than this one.
Joseph Brodsky, a genius poet, wrote this about Bach, and I think one can't express it better:

Доброе утро, говорит Бах,
Доброе утро, говорит Бог

("Good morning", said Bach,
Good morning, replied God")

I always said that Bach's music is the only irrefutable, incontrovertible proof of the existence of God.
You might appreciate this paper by the Nobel Physicist Josephson (thread on him here):

What Can Music Tell Us about the Nature of the Mind? A Platonic Model

We present an account of the phenomenon of music based upon the hypothesis that there is a close parallel between the mechanics of life and the mechanics of mind, a key factor in the correspondence proposed being the existence of close parallels between the concepts of gene and musical idea. The hypothesis accounts for the specificity, complexity, functionality and apparent arbitrariness of musical structures.

An implication of the model is that music should be seen as a phenomenon of transcendental character, involving aspects of mind as yet unstudied by conventional science.
 
#52
I know I keep on saying this, but I think the key is never to let yourself be 100% convinced one way or the other.
It is the smartest (in the true sense of the word) policy, of course.

once you start to believe 100%, you start to distort the evidence as needed to keep that (phoney) certainty.
That sounds as though it should be true, but it's not really. I am 100% convinced of survival (there's no point pretending) but I would never try to distort or put a slant on evidence for survival and I know my two researcher friends wouldn't either. I accept it because I've studied the evidence for decades.

Off topic I've recently been privileged to get first hand accounts of NDE's from two cardiac arrest survivors. One of the guys who is writing up his experience for NDERF (and who is quite well known in his unusual field) was visited in the cab of his vehicle (at night) by his deceased mother who told him to go straight to the nearest hospital

He didn't know where that was because he was in an unfamiliar state. His mother guided him down the back roads (the interstate was closed) and he made it
before collapsing. He was defibrillated more than ten times and spent three weeks in a coma.

His NDE was remarkable. Now before the sceptical disbelief (quite understandably) kicks in, the guy has all the pictures of the staff who saved his life etc, he was not remotely religious or interested in anything paranormal and was not in the habit of seeing dead people in his cab.

How did he get to that hospital (he didn't have sat nav) and why would he say he saw his dead mother if he didn't. And just like levitation, how can that happen ?. The other parts of his NDE are exceptional and he has witnesses to back it up

The second guy's NDE I've mentioned before is just as unusual in it's own way (he hasn't given me permission to repeat it here)

The point is, there are hundreds of these reports now.
 
#53
To a large extent I support David's comment regarding 100% belief - as opposed to direct knowledge. I think once we have decided on what is 'so', often we become 'invested' in it. Obviously if what we believe is true, then new information must fit with our true model. If it doesn't then it must be discounted. If it can't be discounted then we end up with cognitive dissonance unless we are prepared to concede we are wrong. I suspect a lot of people exist in that state and find ways to suppress the dissonance.

I'm not saying everyone can't resist the pull of belief but I think it can be very difficult for some people.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#54
On belief and not being 100% sold - I do agree with this as it fits my nature...but I do wonder if, to an extent, this kind of hedge betting ends up leading nowhere.

I think after a point you have to record your dreams to look for precognitive elements, visit a medium, try to have an OBE or obtain veridical info in a lucid dream, attempt your own communication with the dead, etc.

I don't think one should just overdose on shrooms or even cast a spell summoning a malignant spirit - both just seem needlessly foolhardy - but one can take some more reasonable & tentative steps to explore these topics.

Did some guy in the 17th century levitate? Assume a strong maybe if you want it to be true and work from there. Just recall Bill Hicks' line about how if you think you can fly don't jump off a roof - take off from the ground. ;)
 
#55
To a large extent I support David's comment regarding 100% belief - as opposed to direct knowledge. I think once we have decided on what is 'so', often we become 'invested' in it. Obviously if what we believe is true, then new information must fit with our true model. If it doesn't then it must be discounted. If it can't be discounted then we end up with cognitive dissonance unless we are prepared to concede we are wrong. I suspect a lot of people exist in that state and find ways to suppress the dissonance.

I'm not saying everyone can't resist the pull of belief but I think it can be very difficult for some people.
Its odd, I may be pathologically cynical and fail to identify with that assertion at all. For me to move away from materialism, it took a couple of extraordinary experiences (I have discussed them here before) with witnesses that are close to me (and which I can still prod about the "reality" of those experiences to this day, if I ever feel the need). Had any of this happened to me while I was alone, it would have gone down the "random crap" bin and never resurfaced. Even with witnesses, I still questioned my sanity when these things happened.

To this day, I am still not convinced of much more than the fact that statistics and random chance can't really account for multiple and consecutive extraordinary experiences, which (to me at least) falsifies some of the tenets of materialism and its offshoot, physicalism. I find the idea that anyone that is skeptical of "mainstream" postures is Dale Gribble (impossibly gullible and paranoid) unbelievably funny, because I may in fact be the polar opposite of that cliché.
 
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#56
That sounds as though it should be true, but it's not really. I am 100% convinced of survival (there's no point pretending) but I would never try to distort or put a slant on evidence for survival and I know my two researcher friends wouldn't either. I accept it because I've studied the evidence for decades.
Well I suppose if you just find yourself in a position where you 100% accept something, that is OK, what I am against, is the whole emphasis on belief that exists in certain religious circles, and also the sense that some people want to believe there is an afterlife so much that they insist on knowing.

David
 
#58
I think once we have decided on what is 'so', often we become 'invested' in it.
I don't disagree with that, Obiwan and being 100 % certain of many things can have much more serious consequences than just looking like a smug, credulous ass@ole. Look at the damage that Marxist revolutionaries caused with their "certainties" and determination to enlighten the world.

Obviously if what we believe is true, then new information must fit with our true model.
Obviously I see what you mean there but for me it doesn't fit with NDE research . Starting with Moody (although we could go back much further) his observed patterns have been checked multiple times over several decades and the same results have emerged. Baring in mind NDE's go back to Plato's time and therefore must be as old as conscious man, why is there no evidence emerging that contradicts veridical OBE's as being a separation of mind and brain ?

There should be some little rallying area for the sceptics but they don't have anything other than. "Well, we haven't found an explanation yet but we will, you can bet on that. Well I've been waiting since 1975. How long did it take for the concept of germs to be accepted ....electro magnetic waves... I guess I'm just not patient enough :)
 
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#59
It seems to me that references to this secondary phenomenon in levitation case histories could serve to lend more credibility to those cases, since the effect is so counterintuitive to our imagination. The orientation phenomenon might also provide a clue to better understand levitation.
Doug's comprehensive evidence here of Joseph not being susceptible to candle flames, his and others' clothing not affected by gravity, movement or air flow and the séance evidence of objects on levitating tables not sliding off as if immune from gravity - all sound rather like the UFO accounts we have of objects making 90 degree turns as if unaffected by normal inertia.

I'm non technical but it is as if levitators or levitated objects are somehow locked into an anti-gravitational bubble or maybe a timeless and spaceless bubble reminding one also of the many accounts of time freezing in such anomalous accounts as if the normal laws we abide by are somehow temporarily suspended.

Perhaps a side issue but I remember reading of an experiencer out of his body trying unsuccessfully to knock over upended pencils he'd balanced earlier. This might back up an earlier suggestion that Joseph was on OOBE trips making himself visible but unable to influence physical matter around him.
 
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