2023-03-20 06:35:54 (UTC)


Personal entry follows.

[EDIT: added an AI-generated text segment at the end, just because it feeds into my point... Where do you think it begins? :) ]

When I was a kid, I loved fantastical stories. The books I read almost always had some fantasy angle to them, or ghosts, or folk tales... Something of the supernatural about them. The books I would check out of the library were either Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type books, encyclopedias about myths and folklore, or non-fiction about real-life testimonials about the Sasquatch and yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, or other cryptozoology sightings.

Nowadays, I find myself sliding back into those sorts of topics when I feel listless. However, there's a different spin on it now that technology has advanced so dramatically. I find myself watching videos of compiled sightings of aliens, ghosts, and creatures. I am amused by the commentators and their efforts at hyping-up the clips they show. I like watching clips from paranormal investigations, and people wandering around abandoned, supposedly-haunted places, with their night-vision cameras picking up all manner of strange happenings.

I'm not convinced that any of this stuff is a true paranormal or alien phenomena. When it comes to video footage, there's nothing believable anymore. A spaceship floating across the sky or a blurry creature bounding through the woods or a sewer tunnel could just as easily be someone's video editing project released to the Internet to cause a stir and gather "likes." Any video footage - ranging from grainy and blurred to high-definition and crystal clear - can all be digitally manufactured and manipulated. It seems more interesting to me to find ways to poke holes in the idea that it's actually caused by some sort of supernatural or alien force or entity. These videos are just as real to me as some superhero movie - and I'd say that some have even the same level of video production involved, as well.

The most recent high-production, strongly-believable effort I've seen is a testimony by a "space travel expert" regarding the visitation of the US Pentagon by extraterrestrial aliens. The set looks good, the setup was solid, and the speaker seemed credible and intelligent. But it's just as reasonable to expect that this was just a scripted film project.

The entertainment world follows this trend - though I really don't want to dwell on this. There are intersections between these fictional videos passed off as real and music groups that portray a specific image that turns out to be complete artifice.

Along with all this is the notion that humans are quite capable of deluding themselves into thinking something is real once they've accepted it as an authentic experience. As I grow older, however, I instead find more and more reasons to doubt what I see and what people tell me. It seems much more likely that alien visitation isn't real, all Bigfoot sightings are someone wearing a fur suit, and ghosts are digital glitches or dudes dancing around in white sheets.

So what is real? Can one trust a personal testimony at all? Can we trust television or Internet videos and photographs as truth? Can we trust myth to not be a metaphor? "I want to believe." But the world is so completely full of falsehoods that it seems to believe anything isn't worth the realization that you were duped.

We want to believe "The Most Interesting Man in the World" when he says he can kill a man in 6 and 1/2 seconds, but we automatically doubt him when he mentions he's quite good at sharpening a knife, especially if we are concerned about the dangers of having someone sharpen a knife near you.

So yes, I watch YouTube videos of Bigfoot and UFO clips. Yet most of what we encounter on the Internet is a dubious personification of nothing. To me, it is true that extraordinary videos are making appearances on the Internet, yet whether that has any validity to them or not I cannot answer. Perhaps some day I will do a breakdown of this situation and attempt to identify what it all is and what it really is or is not. But I cannot answer that in the moment and right now, I just watch what interests me and writes about it for entertainment.

So, by reading the Truth About Stuff articles and videos and so on, you agree to examine these topics more critically, knowing that much of what we are convinced is true may really not be. You're an intelligent, good person with a healthy sense of cynicism - and you're here. Do what I say - which is to just consider everything carefully and be curious.

So I think it's time for some science of something we can all believe in. [Update: thanks to Sean for saying why he likes my post about debunking the video of a car running away.]

Finally I can believe in science, and I know what scientists do. All I want is the world to be scientifically literate, and it is. Every day science is telling us that the world works the way it does, and as time passes and changes occur, our ways of perceiving it change along with it. We've reached the point where there are a billion billion people alive on our planet, some more, some less, and they have great ages in their journey to understand the mind-numbing complexity of our universe.

Our planet is over 4 billion years old, yet despite that age and all the information we have to work with, we still look at an apple, or an onion, and think - I like the color and texture, and I want to cook it, so I should just dig right in. While being a species of emotion-driven creatures, we can clearly do the math and draw a few conclusions. "Hey - this is an apple." "Yeah, it's got a bunch of carbs, lots of water, and vitamin C." "Oh, yeah - who needs calories?" This attitude towards cooking is the common-sensical one, it's easy and satisfying. The hard way is to slowly work through the complications and the larger questions and the nuts and bolts of cooking.

Did you know that onions can be poisonous, and when they grow in large enough quantities, they kill dogs and cats? It is a documented fact that they contain a lethal amount of hydrogen cyanide and prussic acid, and so must be cooked to avoid ingesting them. Did you know that getting two onions that are linked together will make it easy for you to break that connection? Do you know that to properly prepare an onion, you MUST wash it thoroughly, and then use two rags to remove all the peel and any brown splatter and cut it in half? Do you know why someone finally invented The Crockpot, and how to use it, and what each can do to improve the flavor of a meal, and why the New York Times wrote a fun little Crockpot Masterpiece when the company was little more than a pet startup back in 1974? I do, and so do you - now try to use this info to improve the flavor of any meal you create and let me know how you did.


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