The real anomaly here is that firstly you have multi-millions upon millions of reports within the “It Can’t Be Therefore It Isn’t vs. I Know What I Saw” genre from all cultures / societies and throughout all of recorded history, yet secondly, the anomalous categories are just a tiny fraction from all categories that are possible for the human imagination to imagine / hallucinate if only the human imagination were at work. For example, 1) you have sightings of the Loch Ness Monster (and also other aquatic lake monsters from other selected bodies of water) but not reports of sabre-tooth cats / tigers or trilobites or those super-ultra-giant cockroaches that roamed the Earth from the Carboniferous to the Cretaceous; and 2) you have ghostly sightings of humans and even pets like cats and dogs, but not ghostly dinosaurs or even Neanderthals. Further, you have sightings of phantom trains and ships, but not phantom pyramids or other archaeological wonders / monuments or even more modern prominent buildings now torn down, demolish or otherwise destroyed nor even natural features like phantom mountains or lakes.
The questions that need to be asked are can all of these “I know what I saw” people be wrong? Can all of these “It can’t be therefore it isn’t” statements also be wrong? Something is screwy somewhere! Can virtual reality come to the rescue?
The Simulation Hypothesis and the Paranormal
Can the Simulation Hypothesis help account for that category of events I tend to label “It can’t be therefore it isn’t” versus “I know what I saw”?
There’s the category of things seen but always elusive and never substantiated: ghosts; UFOs; Bigfoot / Sasquatch; Loch Ness Monster (and other lake / sea monsters). They tend to all fall under the category of “It can’t be therefore it isn’t” versus “I know what I saw”. The reason for the paradox: This contains inherent inconsistencies and contradictions. And there are numerous examples as suggested above: UFOs, alien abductions and ancient astronauts; mind over matter from ESP to telekinesis to remote viewing to the placebo effect; accepted miracles (by the Catholic Church for example); the Indian rope trick; supernaturally themed visions; ghosts, hauntings and poltergeist; phantom objects (i.e. – trains); anomalous disappearances; OBEs and NDEs; past lives and reincarnation; alternative medicine from copper bracelets to acupuncture to use of crystals to the power of positive thinking; the wee-folk like leprechauns, elves and fairies; the not so wee-folk as in the Amazons or those Biblical giants in the earth as well as Goliath; and one should honestly also include quantum physics here. There almost seems to be way more things to disagree on than agree on.
The Simulation Hypothesis and Panpsychism
Panpsychism is the concept that all things, even the fundamental particles, are to some degree or other, conscious. You’ll often find in at least popular science tomes that this or that particles somehow “decides” to do this or that. For example, how does a photon “decide” to either pass through a pane of glass or reflect off of the pane of glass? How does a particle “know” if an observer is watching it? Of course, virtual photons or any other kind of particle will do what the software programs them to do.
The Simulation Hypothesis and Cryptozoology
Can the Simulation Hypothesis help explain the ins and outs of cryptozoology? Cryptozoology itself is the investigation of anomalous animals that have been witnessed, yet which remain outside of the realm of normal zoology.
Cryptozoology is yet another example of [Con] “It can’t be therefore it isn’t” versus [Pro] “I know what I saw”.
[Pro] The sightings of anomalous animals are geographically unique and pretty consistent.
[Con] These animals shouldn’t / couldn’t exist.
[Pro] But ordinary people with no ulterior motive have reported seeing them.
[Con] There are however no bodies and by now there should have been bodies found.
So why just plesiosaurs at Loch Ness? Why not other extinct ‘marine’ reptiles like the ichthyosaurus, or the tylosaurs or even the mosasaurs? And why just a very select few of Scotland’s lochs are home to plesiosaurs? And why is a marine reptile in fresh water anyway?
In Africa there’s the ‘dinosaur’ Mokele-mbembe. But why not the Dodo or Pink Elephants?
So why just huge hairy man-apes in the Pacific Northwest? Why not woolly mammoths or sabre-tooth cats?
In Australia we have the Yowie. But why not killer koalas or moas?
In the Himalayas you have the Yeti. Why not dragons or the wooly rhinoceros?
In Mexico / Latin America there’s the Chupacabra. Why not unicorns or centaurs?
Then there’s the Jersey Devil; Mothman; the Beast of Exmoor and on and on it goes. “It can’t be therefore it isn’t” versus “I know what I saw” is easily resolved as noted above by special effects technologies, like programmed software.
The Simulation Hypothesis and Dragons
As a personal philosophy I have tended to be of the opinion that within any mountain of mythology, there is a molehill of fact. The difficulty is trying to figure out what molehill fraction of the mountain is the factual bit. The other philosophical bit is that whenever you have a common mythological theme that cuts across all cultures, all societies, through all eras of time, then one needs to sit up and take notice and figure out why – is some facet of reality trying to assert itself? Might dragons be one of those cultural universals; one of those molehills of mythological reality?
If dragons and dragon-lore was the product of just one culture at say one particular point in time, the concept could be easily dismissed. But when they appear in every culture, from ancient times even up through the 1700’s when they were still part of natural history, then one needs to pay closer attention. That’s all the more so since dragons were taken very seriously indeed, like in China. The best guess scenario is that while dragons may be considered mythical today; they certainly were not, not too awfully that many generations ago. If that’s the case, if dragons were really real once upon a time, then the anomaly is – no fossils. The hidden assumption is of course that they were biologically flesh-and-blood.
Mythology texts hardly ever explain why dragons are universally past and beloved in the present in nearly all societies in the first place. It’s one thing to just say dragons are mythological beings; it’s quite something else to explain how that is in light of such detail that surrounds dragon-lore and their universality.
For something that doesn’t exist, and never has existed, dragons and dragon-lore has quite the remarkable hold throughout nearly all societies, from novels to films to video games; they also appear on coats-of-arms, on calendars, in art works, sculptures, depicted on the prows of Viking longboats, incorporated into ancient jewellery, and as toys. Dragons appear as corporate logos and as part of the names of companies, not to mention sports teams. Then too in the Chinese calendar (zodiac) there is ‘The Year of the Dragon’.
Is there anybody from the age of four onwards on the face of the Earth who isn’t aware of the mythological creature popularly known as the dragon? The exceptions would be so relatively rare that I would have to conclude that of nearly all things make-believe, dragons are probably in the top ten recognition list. So, is that the be-all-and-end-all of things? Behind most myths, folklore or fairy tales often there is a tiny kernel of fact behind the apparent fiction. What about that kernel at the core of dragon-lore?
The virtual reality of dragons has been amply demonstrated via special effects and computer software programs / video games. So, might the universality of dragon-lore be explained by the Simulation Hypothesis?
The Simulation Hypothesis and Ghosts
I think there might be a real scientific case to answer regarding an explanation for ghosts. However, IMHO ghosts have nothing to do with human spirits and evidence of an afterlife. Rather, all can be explained by postulating that we live in, and are the product of a simulated Universe.
The anomaly here is that you’ve had hundreds of thousands, probably even millions, of observations of ghosts or ghostly manifestations since recorded history started being, well, recorded. Sightings of apparitions or specters or spirits, whatever, have been made and reported from every possible type of person from every possible walk of life. They can’t all be mistaken. The fly in the ointment is that all of this is without there being the slightest shred of physical, chemical or biological theory that can back up the sightings. There is just no way a deceased body can split in two and end up being half dead (the part that’s buried or cremated) and half animated (the ghost), yet the ghost, since it is animated, it can been seen and heard and interact with the surrounding environment after all, must be composed of matter and energy which presumable had to have been part and parcel of the original body to start with. As such the ghost needs to feed to replenish that matter and expended energy and no doubt perform related bodily functions. No physics or chemistry or biology known to mankind can manipulate a deceased body’s matter and energy in such a way as to account for that body’s ghost.
So ghosts are all observation with no adequate theory to support them (unlike say the UFO extraterrestrial hypothesis which has solid theory to back up the possibility). There is no viable way of splitting a body up into two whole (matter and energy) parts at least one of which is viable (alive) and that applies equally to out-of-the-body experiences and near-death experiences. Another question: If that were possible, why stop at two (the ghost and the dead body; the out-of-the-body body and the body it came from; the near-death body and its animated counterpart) – why not a trio or thirty or three hundred ‘clones’?
Ghosts or phantoms or spirits or wraiths, call them what you will, are known from just about every culture and society from just about every historical era you care to identify. They tend to be identified with the ‘remains’ of people recently (or even not so recently) deceased. Now the question is, why aren’t sighted ghosts, or phantom hitchhikers, etc. naked? I mean it’s the person who died, not what they were wearing, so if a ghost is the essence of a former living person, and clothing doesn’t contribute to the nature of that essence, then ghosts should be seen naked!
You’re now dead and so part of you turns into a ghost. Alas, only part of you performs this magical transformational split since while others may see your ‘living’ ghost, they can also witness at the same time your very dead and decaying (or decayed) body. Something is screwy somewhere. Now the physical you seemingly kicks the bucket – you die. However, some part of that ‘you’ doesn’t kick the bucket, but instead retains animation. So, like Schrodinger’s Cat, you are both ‘alive’ and dead at the same time. Talk about a split personality!
Now presumably, at the time of death, you lose weight, that weight transferred into the newly animated part of you – your ghost. Your ghost must have weight since it is something physical, and being physical, is subject to the laws, principles and relationships of physics. Why is your ghost physical? It’s physical since if you can see it, if you can hear it, if it interacts with its (haunted house) environment, it must have substance. You can’t see or hear or interact with a nothing! A nothing of no material substance cannot interact with a material something, like matter and energy. Only matter and energy can interact with matter and energy.
Okay, so you are dead and your ghost is alive, or at least is associated with animation. How can this be logically explained? Does every part of your deceased body contribute to your ‘I am alive’ ghost, or only bits and pieces? Does your ghostly self have a ghostly stomach and lungs? Logic demands that since your ghost is physical, it needs to ward off the second law of thermodynamics – entropy – in order to retain its ghostliness. Your ghost gives off energy. That needs to be replenished. Translated, your ghost needs to eat, drink, breath, sleep, etc. otherwise your ghost will also kick the bucket since neither you, when you were fully alive as one unity, or you, as that dead/alive split personality, can give off energy endlessly without replacing it.
All up, the transition from a 100% alive you to an X% dead you coupled with a Y% alive or animated you (i.e. – your ghost) cannot be explained by any concept of physics, chemistry or biology that is currently on the books. The logical conclusion is that when you are dead, you’re dead: full stop.
When you kick-the-bucket, your body will release some energy – infrared (heat) energy as your body cools down to whatever temperature the surrounding environment is. Also, because you are slightly radioactive, your body’s radioactivity will of course decay away and that too is a form of energy. However, in both cases the energy just dissipates into the environment and doesn’t hold together in any sort of coherent form – ghostly or otherwise.
But two other points come to mind here. 1) Ghosts seem to slowly fade away over time. That is, ancient Greeks (and Romans and Egyptians and Chinese) saw their ghosts being of those (Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese) who came slightly before them. Today, we don’t see ghosts of the ancient Greeks (or Romans or Egyptians or Chinese, etc.) but only ghosts originating from within the past several hundreds of years. Going back even further, I haven’t heard of any sightings of ghostly Neanderthals (though presumably Neanderthals no doubt saw ghosts of some their ancestors) or for that matter of ghostly Woolly Mammoths or Sabre Tooth Tigers or of dinosaurs or of trilobites. Whether dinosaurs saw ghosts of other dinosaurs that preceded them is an unanswerable question. So it would seem that ghosts aren’t immortal or long-lasting.
2) Something which has puzzled many a ghostly sceptic is that ghosts apparently can walk / glide through walls, yet are never seen to fall through the floor!
So, for the hear-and-now, I’ll go along with the reality of ghostly phenomena on the grounds of this being something common to all cultures and societies throughout all time periods of human recorded history. Anytime one has such a universal, serious explanations are required. However, until a more plausible scientific explanation comes along, I’ll continue to postulate the Simulation Hypothesis.
Another problem is that not all ghosts are biological. There are reports of ghost trains, and phantom ships, and other things that have no connection with the biological world. Ghosts (and related like phantom trains) are just one of those six impossible things some people believe in before breakfast. However, I do provide an escape clause.
Escape Clause: Apart from special effects on make-believe TV and in the movies, and works of literary fiction where all things are possible, there is another realm where anything goes – virtual reality; video games; simulations of all kinds. It’s in fact a simulated Universe that resides in the guise of computer software. Software can be programmed to give rise to images or experiences of ghosts. Once you go down the simulation landscape route, you could, for example, have existence in other dimensional realms like the famous 2-D “Flatland”. That in fact might well be the case if the Holographic Universe Hypothesis is correct.
The Simulation Hypothesis and UFOs
It doesn’t ultimately matter what’s at the bottom or core of the UFO phenomena, UFO sightings have demonstrated that UFO behavior totally violates all of our understanding of known physical law, especially inertia. When it comes to UFOs in motion, inertia doesn’t seem to exist, Newton be damned.
There are numerous sightings, both visual and radar, of rapidly moving UFOs stopping on a dime or undergoing super acceleration from a stop. There are reports of high speed right-angle turns, even instantaneous 180 degree reversals of flight direction.
Then you add into the mix sightings of UFOs that merge together or split apart; enormous sized ‘craft’ hovering in place without a sound; rapid gains in altitude without any obvious means of propulsion; radar returns without visual confirmation and visual sightings without radar returns.
So, computer-generated special effects to the rescue?
The Simulation Hypothesis and Crop Circles
“It can’t be therefore it isn’t” vs. “I know what I saw” doesn’t really apply to the crop ‘circle’ phenomena. Crop ‘circles’ exist and are obviously the products of intelligent design. The only terrestrial intelligence capable of doing this are humans. However, that means that each and every crop ‘circle’ had to have been designed and executed by a human(s). That would appear to be an actual impossibility based on the evidence since crop ‘circles’ have appeared in areas where either there were no humans or humans would have been easily observed. So what is the ultimate physical reality behind or of this anomaly? Is there a physical reality if crop circles are part of the virtual reality landscape that is programmed as part and parcel of the overall computer simulation?
Simulation Hypothesis and the Bible
The entire Bible (or any other holy book for that matter) could be simulated via computer software (and lots of parts have been ‘simulated’ via film on TV and in cinemas). You could imagine a computer / video game where you get to play God (or any other Biblical character) and create life, the Universe and everything, issue commandments, pass judgements, kill the wicked, battle Satan, denounce other gods, precipitate and engage in Armageddon or the apocalypse. Lots of fun! Or, one could redo the entire New Testament and make Jesus dance to your tune. Anyway, the point is if it can be done (and it can be done) then maybe that’s the way it was done. Take Genesis: Once there was ‘nothing’ and then there was a something – the software kicked in; the Big Bang event happened; let there be light and there was light, etc. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Science librarian; retired.
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