Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Issues Of Language In Popular Paranormal Studies

 The last few posts have had the theme regarding the mindset of investigators of the paranormal as to regard the analysis or false assumptions of purpose versus emergent phenomenon as well as the psychological drives of instinct and the desire to fulfill unmet questions with linear narratives. All of this contributes to a personal subconscious mythology that can derail the most ardent arm's length analysis of either a personal encounter or providing an explanation for those that remain enigmatic. Jason in commenting on the last post, asked indirectly why I distrust the mechanics of language in regard to the paranormal and I felt his question deserves a more fleshed out answer.
One aspect is argumentation in relation to rational logic and reasoning and anyone who has been exposed to either refutation or postulating theoretical explanations will be familiar with Nietzsche's observation that "The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we are trying to do in the first place."
Again, rereading the first few sentences of this post will more than likely provide a tentative framework for recalling one's experience with digressions, personal or otherwise aimed that are so far off the aim of the analysis that was allegedly occurring, they become largely moot, circular dialogs rather than exchanges, which in turn relates to the opting in of both in terms of game theory, which I suspect few in the paranormal realm are familiar with.
What is the major flaw is the nature of language being almost always inexact as a referent combined with dysfunctional conflict strategies, that again echo the quotation cited above.Another is a lack of respect or lack of knowledge in subjects that are seldom discussed and never acknowledged as being vital to the exploration of the unknown, which is probability analysis and the nature of it's relationship to randomness and chaos theory. Another is studying the subject  with subject itself as the only analytical means to determine it's nature, as if UFO's could study themselves.Another way to look at this lack of functional exchange is to apply the term of a zero sum game which again removes probability and randomness factors from the analysis.
Another issue with language structure is inference based on pseudo-terminolgy such as my pet peeve which is the use of vortex which I doubt any of it's users could describe  how an actual vortex is formed, what it does and so forth and yet the term is bandied about as a pseudo-referent. All of this is inference based on a non existent set of principles. Anyone who uses this term is using language that has no basis that is measurable in any potential way, yet it has become one of countless examples of mythical terms.
You may rightfully ask in our customary binary framework is this really an issue of language structure or of the user?  I would respond by saying it is both entangled together as language is notoriously inexact and most who have tied themselves into personal mythologies have no self awareness of a specific aim they are seeking from such a study as most see this as a vicarious entertainment or hobby from an existential point of view. One could say this operates on the same set of dynamics in terms of the human condition as the architecture of theology was superimposed on as a architectural frame of formalized inferences.
Another issue is bias in relation to certain words being used that leads one to seek clarity by reductionism as if you could cogently explain how an automobile works in one sentence understandable to all by way of reductionism.What I have seen most often is the irresistible temptation to use reductionism to have an architectural framework that while being understandable to the majority, is actually creating imaginary inferences or false associations due to the explanation being so simplified, it is neither cogent or a explanation. One could call this imaginary terminology , or a imaginary explanation.
Another pet peeve is the use of the word demon and the understandable lack of a cogent explanation for the use of that term other than it being entangled in the architecture of theology based on inference or the phenomenon being demonized by those who are vested in such entanglements of language use. Most times a Zen approach of neither attracting nor dismissing the phenomenon is seldom utilized due to the fact the experiences in effect, program their own outcomes due to instincts, etc as high emotional states tend to exaggerate the effects proportionately. So the words, demon and vortex are issues and of course, Unidentified Flying objects. The only word that is accurate is unidentified. No one has proven they are solid objects nor that they fly based on any known aerodynamic principle or motive force or both.
Yet the word is used with a second thought which determines as a predictor how the range of possibilities has been containerized, even going so far as to become a pseudo-theology of architecture based on anticipation by the use of language , and then there is the inference of intent, which goes back to the earlier post I had written on the superimposition of purpose upon emergent phenomenon.
You can perhaps understand why I have moved away from the main body of discourse in relation to popular discussion regarding paranormal subjects. Most discussions from this point of view are pointless except, as Paul Kimball noted some time ago, they are more apt for the study of sociology.
The last issue with language is related to cybernetics specifically in the structure of language that creates the phantasm of self referential logic which in my own subjective opinion is the worst of the lot in taking mindfulness from the table and becoming a hermetic dictate of how we structure the illusions that are just as pronounced in rational logic used without this qualifier. I could go one on this issue but one only has to read some of Gregory Bateson's work in this field to get a taste of what I am relating if one is unfamiliar with the subject.
The dynamics and entanglements of language are daunting but a little discernment would go a long way toward avoiding the maintenance of circularity in regard to the squaring of the paranormal and raise the bar on the structure of dialog whether it is "popular" or not. Again this refers to the conversion process of proving this or that in the evangelistic strain of paranormal studies as if making everyone think in the same manner actually changes anything other than to create a new language of stereotypes that inhibit critical thinking.
I suppose in terms of belief systems, as R.A Wilson said a more accurate way to describe this motive force is to formally recognize them for what they are, suspicions.Nothing more nothing less, suspecting this or that without making suspicions as pseudo-edicts for potential conformance, which then leads one off the road into the ditch , or "dry canal" of selectively experiencing realities according to rigid tenants that have no utilizing purpose other than to pretend there is no uncertainty principle involved in life itself which then becomes almost a state of psychosis.


Mike Good said...


I have to agree here. Language is a huge stumbling block in understanding - at the same time as it is the only referential framework for developing understanding both within oneself and in the greater world with others. Language is the determining element for any exchange of information. It determines the software structure of our belief systems and is the mitigating force in creating neural pathways during our cognitive development. In other words, language actively shapes our mind.

We can no more escape its weaknesses than we can communicate with others without it. It is the enlightening element at the same time it is the delusional element in thought structure and creation. Language must always devolve from compromises and vague assumptions. We do not enter this universe with a ready language from which we can construct complex and abstract thought processes. All of that stuff is applied from without, after the fact. So we explain our experiences with clumsy and nebulous constructs that are wholly synthetic, arbitrary, and abstracted from the actual dynamics of our human experiences.

It is interesting that you single out the word vortex as being particularly egregious. The word which I find exceedingly egregious in the study of the "paranormal" is the word paranormal itself.

"Paranormal" is a post-modern term heavily steeped in the mythology of rational-materialism. It presumes, a-priori, that only matter has any "reality" and that substance is the final arbiter of authenticity.

"Paranormal" is no more or no less than a cognitive isolation cell for human experiences that fall outside the narrow confines of rational materialist ideology. It is an active force in the creation of schism between certain human experiences and any thought processes that may validate them.

Personally, I do not think a cogent or remotely objective analysis of "paranormal" experiences can be made without first transcending this thought subverting and manipulative term first. Paranormal is an invalid term. To let it shape our thoughts about such things is to eliminate certain understandings about them a-priori and without review.

I think we need to create a better and more inclusive term before we can even begin a rational dialog about the subject.

Bruce Duensing said...

I absolutely agree with you that the word paranormal has become as much of a stereotyped and subjective term as God. On the blog I have often referred to consensus reality as it is practiced by the behavior associated with words, like patriotism or sin, is in actuality, the paranormality of the prosaic, which is another good example of the issues I have with the use and confining strictures of language as it is practiced, mimicked and parroted everywhere.
Your comment is a further good insight into these issues.