I think it's funny how so many people are willing to disregard the notion of the "supernatural" on the sole premise that it is something that science can't, as yet, explain
First, why is it funny ?
Well, i meant funny as in odd, not as in ha-ha.
Never in the history of paranormal investigations has anything 'spooky' been proved to be other than selective induction (noting the hits, ignoring the misses), illusion, misunderstanding or fraud.
First of all, are you really such an expert in this field to make this claim, Martin? And secondly, if it were "proved", wouldn't it then move out of that field and into that of recognized science, and only then wouldn't it be subjected to "proper scientific" study? I mean, that's where this stuff comes from. It's the very definition of paranormal. Not scientifically explainable, according to Webster's dictionary. If science wasn't a malleable edifice, we'd still be buying condos at the "edge of the earth", for a place closest to the sun. Or cowering in fear of Zeus when lighting flew from the sky. And as for those kooks who preached these ideas in the first place...only then would they be lauded as visionaries.
Question: What's the difference between genius and insanity?
Answer: A few centuries.
Genetic engeneering, probing the brain to elicit predictible responses, cloning, space travel, radio waves, television waves, microwaves, atom bombs, the predictions of certain natural phenomenon. These are all things that would have been thought of as wacky, had you brought them up over some mutton and mead back in the good ol' days while sitting around the funeral pyre.
It reminds me of the story of that priest or whatever he was during that battle way back when, when he told everyone that if they didn't stop the fighting he would unleash his God-like powers at a certain time the next day. Everyone laughed at him, until he turned the sky black in mid-day, and sent everyone running back to their caves in fright. He wasn't magic. He just accurately predicted a solar eclipse.
How can we, in our scientific infancy, proclaim to know what's possible and what's impossible?
I mean, i agree...i believe in the scientific method. It's tried and true. But outside experiment lie things we simply can't test because we don't know how to test them yet. We are not the Gods we think we are.
1. Anything is possible. Given infinite time, a sparrow could fly unimpeded through a 50 foot thick concrete wall
This, to paraphrase Homeskooled, is Pop-Quantum Theory, and you are talking about two different things anyway. While Quantum theory indicates that anything 'may' be possible (at the quantum level
) it doesn't mean that it 'is' possible if, and this is this is important, the universe existed for an infinate length of time (oh, hang on, you said that), but which accoring to current cosmology, it certainly won't, or has not.
In Quantum Theory, as it stands today, everything eventually will happen. There is no "maybe" about it. It is simply a question of probability and time. And it isn't just on the quantum level, although granted the odds are astronomically more likely that say, a photon will tunnel through a concentrated gravitational mass, as opposed to an entire living thing (the sparrow, for instance), having the unfathomably unlikely fortune of flying through a concrete wall.
In fact, there is the many-worlds theory which postulates that absolutely everything that can happen, will happen, as the infinite amount of bifurcations take reality on an endless roller-coaster ride through space. And so, temporally or spatially, all is possible in this universe...or multi-verse, or whatever the hell it's called.
Now, what this has to do with the price of bread in Mexico or, more pressingly, the whole gav/sb encounter with that man, is that in a world such as this, where anything WILL happen, we should not relegate ourselves to the position that only things we know about can happen, and everything else is phooey. Quite frankly, such ideas are pure Newtonian in their terrestrial arrogance.
If this were the case, we'd see mountains spontaneously disappearing (as is 'possible') or you'd slip through the pavement (which is possible
Dammit Martin, quit thinking like a human! If you close your eyes do you know for certain that the world still exists? Where does the world go when you sleep? Prove to me that it still exists when you're off in La La Land, having anal sex with 800 lbs. gorillas or whatever it is you do in your dreams. One has to think outside of the box.
For example, if you did "slip through the pavement", where do you think you'd go? You certainly wouldn't be on here typing about it, and so by de facto logic, we can clearly say that none of us has slipped through pavement. But that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. People go missing all the time. Maybe this is what the problem is. Maybe there's a mass of people slipping through the pavement and we should inform some sort of international body about it. Perhaps that's why there's always a single shoe laying by the side of the road. It's always seemed absurd to me that people would constantly be chucking shoes out the window while driving. And why only one? What good is the other shoe going to do if the other one is laying at the side of the road? Unless you're totally unconcerned with how silly you'll look having two different shoes that don't even match. But i'd imagine the proportion of people who would be unconcerned with such fashion faux pas would be drastically lower than the amount of shoes i've seen by the side of the road. And so, maybe they are slipping through the pavement.
Particles (electrons for example), literally "know" whether people are watching them or not and can make decisions based on this knowledge
You're talking about the Uncertinty Principle here, yes ? If so, what you have said is a human emotive. Sub-atomic particles do not 'know' whether they we looking at them - rather, the direct act of observation (human or not) interferes with their action.
You are mistaken, my dear Martin. Sub-atomic particles DO know whether we are looking at them. Or at least they exhibit the same tendencies that a cognizant entity would exhibit. I'm not speaking about the Uncertainty relation. That restricts our ability to measure both momentum and position, and you're right in the sense that this hinders our ability to accurately monitor these things, as they are fundamentally unreconcilable given their sub-Planck like length. However, tests can and have been conducted on electrons which infers their actions from various experiments, and time and time again, it shows that the wave function collapses once the "world at large" knows about their decisions.
To put this more clearly, this means that sub-atomic particles act as though they are waves until they are measured, and then they become particles. This is really a mind-boggling revelation, in that it shows how tenuous our reality really is. In fact, i find it oddly comforting to know that the cold, bleak world that some people try to paint, is actually bubbling with mystery, and we are simply unable to comprehend it because the harder we look, the murkier the water becomes. I also find the fact that ANYTHING is possible quite comforting as i've always found eternity a rather unsettling idea. The idea of something lasting forever. But if time is no object...if we were to die and become energy trapped in a black swirling mass of gravity...trapped in a neutron star...trapped even by the weight of the universe itself...there is still an absolute certainty that one day, somewhere, somehow, we will free ourselves.
Anyway, i'm getting enormously off-topic. If anyone is interested in all this, i'd highly recommend John Gribben's Search of Schrodinger's Cat for reading or downloading Richard Feynman's UCLA lectures on quantum theory. That particular book by Gribben is written for the layman so it's quite lucid and easy to follow. The Feynman lectures are entertaining but a little more in depth. Also, the University of Colorado has a great physics web site, and actually lets you do experiments online through flash or java or whatever the hell utility they use.
Now, just to clarify things. I'm not saying that this whole incident most certainly did happen through some sort of cosmic quackery. I'm just saying that we never really know. Anything is possible. And i'm also aware of the extreme unlikelihood of all the examples i mentioned above, and that all things being equal, a Newtonian universe is precisely the kind we live in day-to-day, and for all intents and purpose, Relativity, Quantum Physics, and the multi-dimensions of String Theory, are all things i don't have to worry a whole lot about. I realize that 99 times out of a hundred, at the very least[/], a person will be delusional rather than prophetic...lucky, rather than destined...crazy rather than genius. But we shouldn't be too hasty. There's much more to this world than meets the eye.