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On Scams and the Paranormal

Updated: Feb 20

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Many people believe in at least one paranormal entity, and divinity could also be included in that category. One of the reasons I refuse to believe in any supernatural entity or practice is the ease with which some people can abuse it and become scammers. Scamming has always been around, and it's actually quite simple to con at least one person. All you have to do is convince them of something that isn't true and then use that convincing for manipulation.

I've been scammed before in life, especially as a child. One of the most common forms of scams I remember were email messages that told you that if you didn't forward them to a certain number of people, bad luck would befall you. In retrospect, I'd consider certain stones that would bring you luck to be a scam too. I suppose that when you're a kid, you're easier to manipulate. However, there are exceptions.

I don't recall if I've already written this, but once in elementary school, I was told by a bunch of bullies that entering a certain structure would be fun. Once I got out, a teacher stood by and scolded me. That was the scam I remember most. I guess that's because once I became solitary, there were fewer people to take advantage of my naivety.

There's something good about being alone; it increases safety, not only physically but also from those who won't hesitate to trick you like they would anyone else. Because of that, I had a largely scam-free life.

However, if one is to believe in the paranormal, however one would choose to define it, one should also raise self-awareness of the possibility of being scammed by those who make a living out of it or just want to sell you something. The belief in the paranormal is like the belief in science in the following trait: trust. If you don't trust something or someone too much, you're less likely to believe in it. Thus, the more you believe in something, the likelier you are to be deceived by it, should it not be completely true, if at all.

Luck, curses, fortune, and even vigor are all concepts that can be used to persuade others to go the former's way in exchange for something – primarily money but also laughs and even power. I recall reading once that in a certain third-world country, the military generals used to listen to fortune tellers when making their decisions.

It was a common practice in many places to trust something or someone simply because you didn't know any better. Putting one's trust in something other than oneself has always been and continues to be a good way to feel more confident in one's decisions, whether it's fortune telling or coffee reading. It helps validate, and it helps with confirmation, even if your own beliefs are not true.

There is a certain mistake about science that spiritualists have noted. Science isn't necessarily something that is always 100% certain, because even scientific observation could be wrong at the time. As a result, things that were once thought to be true using this method were proven to be false. "Ether" energy, for example, is something that remains in controversy, and thus, within the territory of belief.

Therefore, it is technically not correct to believe that science cannot be doubted. After all, science is something that develops through research and finding things from the past to be incorrect. Once the science of our age determines that something is correct, perhaps the science of the future will gather enough evidence to deduce that it is not. This uncertainty is inherent in the scientific method, as it is in other fields of human endeavor.

Because of the uncertainty of existence, it is difficult for the rational mind to believe in anything without skepticism. Anything that is sold or offered could be proven false in some way, if there is enough evidence, even if only theoretical, to support that claim.

Even websites such as Fiverr, where you can buy services from people in whatever form, could still contain service providers who pretend to give you an effective service for your needs but do not. As a result, even today, it is difficult to rely on people and whatever they have to offer, preach, or sell, because there is always that little voice in the back of your head that tells you that you might be wrong.

It is a somewhat rational belief that humans are not as reliable as one might think. This is not because all humans are untrustworthy, but because of the "party poopers" who tarnish humanity's image as trustworthy: the scammers who can sometimes escape retribution, and the people who trick others without even realizing it because they have been tricked themselves by an incorrect belief.

To believe in anything paranormal is, therefore, to significantly increase your susceptibility to deception. This is because, when you have to rely on a middleman who arguably knows better than you, you are technically putting yourself in a position to be deceived.

When only a shaman, fortune teller, or prophet can "communicate" with a higher plane of existence, the only way to question them is through logic, not by reaching that "higher plane" yourself. Unless it is possible to do it without these gatekeepers?

It is the same dependence on technicians, plumbers, and construction workers, only in these cases you have a better idea of the efficiency of their work. You do not have to wait for something arbitrary to happen; their work is seen in the material world, making it easier to determine whether their services were reliable or not.

Even so, unfortunately, not all service providers are dependable.

Therefore, the better option is to believe in the "normal" and not the "paranormal", because the "normal", AKA the earthly plane, is the best plane you can rely on when it comes to awareness and evidence. Some may even go further and declare that there is nothing beyond the physical plane, nothing metaphysical, but as with the example of science given before, that too could be a form of deception.

Hence the problematic nature of keeping an open mind -- the notion of uncertainty in just about everything and everyone: your friends, your parents, and even yourself. After all, the deceivers themselves could be deceived as well. It is necessary for the rational thinker to keep an open mind, but at times, it could indeed be regarded as a necessary "evil", if you will.

If you wish to be freer of deception, the best way is to extend your lifespan to a point where humanity's wisdom advances significantly. With enough time, humanity could, in theory, get closer and closer to truths that were otherwise hidden from its ancestors' minds. However, this is only the "best" way because of the practicality of development through time, not because of your current age, whatever it may be.

You can also learn more things on your own, but keep in mind that future knowledge may be clearer than current knowledge. If you get to live 40 more years instead of 30, then your own knowledge might develop better as time goes by. This is one of the reasons I aspire to live longer, if possible; not only to write more but to understand more about existence. Longevity is like democracy: not ideal, but lacking a better competitor.

Perhaps if my deceased grandmother got to live longer, she would know how to use a computer. I'm guessing that at least some of my readers were born in the 1940s, around the time she was born.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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