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Phenomecon 2022. A Review (Part One)

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  F lying into Utah from where I live in Los Angeles for Phenomecon 2022   was like going from the Earth to Mars. In this case, not only was the landscape alien (but wickedly beautiful—arresting even), so was the crowd. Or at least, to me—someone who has only ever really attended strict academic conferences. Phenomecon was a funky paranormality fest packed with speakers from a broad range of intellectual, academic and professional backgrounds. Everything from bone fide scientists and academics, to your run-of-the-mill “paranormal investigator” whose profile is fairly predictable: either former military or police, with some training of some unknown quality in some kind of investigative methodology (CSI and forensics seems to be common), often with just an undergrad degree in something (not necessarily relevant to paranormal studies or investigation). Many are just self-created, sui generis “investigators” and “researchers” (and therefore “experts”) who’ve devoted their lives to the str

The Eye and the Sky: Machian Themes (Part Two)

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S till in the shadow of his teacher Plato, Aristotle defined “metaphysics,” famously, as the study of Being qua Being. Ever since, the meaning of this discipline has confused, and fascinated. If physics was the study of nature ( qua nature, we might say—for Aristotle this boiled down to the study of movement or change), then what is meta-physika—the study after or about (or maybe above) that ? Well if nature is all (Aristotle in a way brought everything back down to Earth after the transcendent orientation of Plato with his enigmatic ‘forms’ that were supposed to be the existential archetypes of anything, set somehow apart from the world with which we interact while living), then metaphysics is about that ‘all’ as an object of investigation. But how to study this ‘is’ we are part of, that ‘all’ we seek to know in total? One thing has to stand somewhat withdrawn from the totality to be able to encompass it, and the only thing that could accomplish that was thought itself. Thus we have

Nope - Hypotheses Non Fingo

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[Prefatory Remark: the following is not meant to be an exhaustive review. It constitutes my raw, initial reflections and impression of the film as I experienced it last week. I may compose a more detailed analytical review, but the film is, I believe, of such rare artistic quality that my intuitive reactions are as important to capture as it is important to produce a more considered and reflective second pass. For those readers who have not yet seen the film, I would recommend postponing your reading of this post until you see it, for I am bound to spoil some of the magic of the film itself. You are warned.] F amously, Newton refused to offer an hypothesis about what ‘gravity’—the new theoretical entity introduced within his theory—really was. “I feign no hypothesis,” he declared, claiming only to be proposing in his new theory the mathematical form of the observed behavior of gravitating objects. Whatever else gravity “is”, here is how things act gravitationally … here is the law o

a funny thing happened on the way to the library

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T he favorite theme of the skeptic is, unsurprisingly, “evidence”. Many who like to consider themselves critical thinkers digging around the anomalous like to sniff for “the evidence” for this or that ostensibly extraordinary claim—be it a UFO sighting or your run-of-the-mill paranormality. When they think “the evidence” doesn’t turn up, skepticism is confirmed in its convictions that it’s all normal, Bob. Nothing to worry about. See? Now go back to bed and rest easy… Well, it’s not so easy, and we have to rouse ourselves from our dogmatic slumber, as Kant was by his reading of the empiricist David Hume, having unwittingly fallen asleep to certain assumptions or requirements that keep the epistemological game up and running—and keep it  real . And what’s the real issue here, with “evidence”? What evidence and for what do we need it? Let’s get right down to the point. So I was on my way to the library one day, to get some books on an assortment of topics that must occupy my mind as I