Saturday, January 01, 2005

Though reasonably moderate with the wine intake last night, the 'Pede still got a bit stroppy with an acquaintance soon after midnight. A bit of background: I don't seem to have a mystical bone, or exoskeletal plate, or whatever, in my body, but I don't doubt that anyone who has had a mystical experience has perceived something real, in the sense that all thoughts and emotions are real. I've had similar moments myself; I just attribute them to the natural processes of the human brain, and frankly don't find them all that interesting.

Although I'm skeptical of paranormal claims, I usually sit back and contribute only a polite "Uh-huh" when I run into an enthusiast. But this one not only believes uncritically in psychic surgery, but went off on a twenty-minute rant about it. I finally couldn't take it any more -- I think I used the words "chicken guts" twice in one minute -- and she became somewhat annoyed with me. "I saw the video with my own eyes! A doctor saw it in person, with his own eyes"

Well, of course you did. I have no doubt that, if present at the scene, I'd have seen it too. That's what stage and close-up magic tricks are all about. When you investigate something like this, you need a professional conjurer to assess the scene. (A good scientist who knows how to do controlled experiments is helpful too.) It also drives me crazy when someone assumes that a person who lacks formal education (like the psychic "surgeon" in question) is incapable of intentional deceit or the skill to pull it off. Unschooled people can be plenty smart, ma'am. And people from all walks of life are pretty damned gullible sometimes. In fact, we often gull ourselves. We don't always even do it for profit or out of malice -- sometimes we do it with the best of intentions.

Anyway, that's when the 'Pede bit, although I tried to withhold the venom as much as possible. I really don't object to a bit of experimentation with alternative medicine -- I've been known to pop the occasional dose of Echinacea myself -- but the idea that God gives supernatural healing gifts only to humble unschooled mystics in remote locations makes for both incompetent medicine and piss-poor theology. (Several other people present thanked me afterwards for speaking up, although I think I embarrassed poor Rick with my vehemence.) Anyway, I referred this person to some of the later scenes of this film, and by the end of the evening, she still seemed to like me, but I'm shaking my head over this one.

The Bug House will be on semi-hiatus for the next week or so, although, like sluggish worker ants during a midwinter thaw, the occasional entry may pop up.


At 1:45 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Also refer to this film.

So...Blue Nile date over ABD weekend? You, me, Joe, others?

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Julie said...

Ah. Haven't seen that one, Greg, but I do know that Penn and Teller are enthusiastic crap-debunkers!

As for the Blue Nile: I'm sure we can get Gail to go, and maybe Stephanie if she likes Ethiopian food. I"ve also known Kevin O. to go there on occasion!

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Joe said...

As into the idea as I am in the abstract, I may have an unfortunate and unavoidable conflict in the form of NFL playoffs. I'd like to think that good food with good friends would take priority, but here a little bit of self-knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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