Daily Archives: Monday, 16:24, April 2, 2012

The Feynman Series – YouTube [Update]


My favorite late 20th century physicist, on some of the topics that meant the most to him. Good show :-)

Courtesy of damewse’s YouTube channel

This entry will be reposted when new videos in the series are available.

M13 and Alien Life – Deep Sky Videos


A great discussion of the globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, and the possibility of life elsewhere than Earth. Is the Cluster itself a suitable home for life?

Here, the pros and cons are weighed, and the implications of extraterrestrial life in general are considered.

My own view is that we simply don’t know if there is life elsewhere, but that it is extremely likely to exist somewhere in the universe besides just here, perhaps a natural, even inevitable consequence on suitable worlds of the laws governing complex chemistry.

On the other hand, the limits of the laws of the universe and the economic constraints on cost-effective interstellar travel by hypothetical visitors to our world make it unlikely in the extreme that such visitation is happening or has actually happened in the past.

That, and I’ve no idea what could possibly be so interesting about us that anyone would bother coming all this way to buzz aircraft, leave designs in crop fields, eviscerate livestock or perform weird medical experiments on sleeping humans.

Oh, hell. Just watch the vid.

In a world of supernaturals, what would real psychics be like?


Ah, here’s something different, for my 1,600th post! Earlier last evening, some friends of mine were over at my place doing some gaming with me, and of course tormenting Eccles with a laser light pen. Here are some pics from that evening of fun…

The gang’s at the gaming table, and yes, that’s my thumb in the pic (on purpose)!

Spoils of War! We sorted out pieces from my old gaming dice collection for my friends’ use — I’ve no further need for it!

Our almighty GM ponders our characters’ fates during the game!

Mister Eccles is on the prowl, looking to catch the point of red light from our GM’s laser pen!

Last evening, we were playing a 4th edition GURPS RPG campaign set in a world were supernatural beings and forces really exist, but seek to hide themselves from the much more numerous, clever, and fearful, ordinary folk…

…after all, Ceteri, as the supernatural beings are called, are powerful, but humans are many and inventive, and enough mundanes can take down even the mightiest wizard, so the Ceteri work together…or ELSE!

Anyhoo…

In the real world, a psychic is a normal person who plays the role of a psychic using conjuror or mentalist tricks — as far as anyone’s been able to prove, pending the unlikely scientific documentation of genuine psychics — but we speculated on the reverse, what real psychics would do in an otherwise supernatural world of dangerous normals.

An aside: Self-styled psychic Craig Weiler, (whose blog is here) has proposed an interesting mythology of what he calls “psychic people,” an embattled special subset of humanity of which he imagines himself a member, who suspiciously resemble the X-Men, a notion he understandably takes exception to, since I’m sure the comparison strikes a little close to home.

But what if there really were such special people with psychic abilities, and what if they really were wary of persecution by normals? Well, they’d hide in plain sight, and not by announcing themselves as psychics on shows by people like Montel Williams, or Oprah Winfrey, but by posing as skilled normals, and make a healthy, honest living in the process, quite unlike those doing the reverse in reality.

Here’s how that would work:

Psychics whose powers involved telepathic or psychokinetic effects would pose as mentalists or conjurors, in the manner of Banachek, James Randi, or Penn & Teller, but to make their act foolproof, would also have actual magician skills to conceal themselves in the presence of otherwise mundane magicians and supplement their powers with extra things to do on stage.

Such a performer could use genuine powers in the first part of an act, then like in a Penn & Teller “reveal” at the end of the act, avert suspicion by showing how the trick was “really” done to the audience.

Professional camouflage.

Those psychics given to abilities involving prediction could pose as astronomers, meteorologists, statisticians, and other researchers who ordinarily use mathematical models to make predictions in their fields, and these psychics would only have to know just enough math to make their imposture as normals plausible, while keeping their day-to-day predictions believable (to a mundane scientist) while doling out their more spectacular and unusual predictions to other supernatural beings covertly.

In the setting we play in, there is a Council of allied supernatural creatures that works to keep the normals “in the dark” to preserve it’s existence, keep the peace with the normals, and prevent the very sort of embattlement that Mr. Weiler imagines “his people” to be experiencing.

On pain of sounding incredibly arrogant, I’m sure we all like to feel that we’re somehow special and a cut above the rest, but Weiler has it the wrong way around — I think that the genuine psychics, if there were any, and with the situation he believes to be the case, would NOT show themselves to the world on television, in seminars, or giving readings in dark rooms to gullible marks — a blatant display of actual ability would be suicide — but would keep themselves perpetually hidden from a world of normals who would never fully know of their existence, those normals being, to paraphrase Tommy Lee Jones’ character in Men In Black, fearful, panicky animals…and who would definitely not suffer a (real) witch, or a psychic, to live free and unexploited if caught.

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