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Old 24th September 2014, 09:31 PM   #1
Lukas1986
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Is Michael Shermer becoming a believer??

Quote:
Anomalous Events That Can Shake One’s Skepticism to the Core
I just witnessed an event so mysterious that it shook my skepticism
Sep 16, 2014 |By Michael Shermer

Credit: Izhar Cohen

Often I am asked if I have ever encountered something that I could not explain. What my interlocutors have in mind are not bewildering enigmas such as consciousness or U.S. foreign policy but anomalous and mystifying events that suggest the existence of the paranormal or supernatural. My answer is: yes, now I have.

The event took place on June 25, 2014. On that day I married Jennifer Graf, from Köln, Germany. She had been raised by her mom; her grandfather, Walter, was the closest father figure she had growing up, but he died when she was 16. In shipping her belongings to my home before the wedding, most of the boxes were damaged and several precious heirlooms lost, including her grandfather's binoculars. His 1978 Philips 070 transistor radio arrived safely, so I set out to bring it back to life after decades of muteness. I put in new batteries and opened it up to see if there were any loose connections to solder. I even tried “percussive maintenance,” said to work on such devices—smacking it sharply against a hard surface. Silence. We gave up and put it at the back of a desk drawer in our bedroom.
Taken from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...m-to-the-core/

More info: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...m-to-the-core/
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Old 24th September 2014, 09:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
His 1978 Philips 070 transistor radio arrived safely, so I set out to bring it back to life after decades of muteness. I put in new batteries and opened it up to see if there were any loose connections to solder...

Nothing paranormal there. Speaking as a former Philips employee I can confirm that the old 070 had a design flaw, giving it a tendency to, as the QC people put it, "mess with people".

...


OK fine, but the part about me being a former Philips employee is actually true.
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Old 24th September 2014, 10:05 PM   #3
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I had a radio that came on by itself, discussed it in another thread. Shermer of all people should know that was just a coincidence and an electronic anomaly that was explicable based on some part connecting that then came loose again.

I didn't know he'd gotten a divorce from wife #1.
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Old 24th September 2014, 10:50 PM   #4
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I posted this comment at Scientific American:

Quote:
How does anyone know that this radio wasn't periodically playing music the whole time it was in the drawer for those 3 months after Shermer had tinkered with it? That could have easily been the case, and perhaps it only occurred up to that point when nobody had been in the house to hear it.
If that is the case, it reduces the apparent mysticality of the event by a significant amount.
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Old 24th September 2014, 10:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I had a radio that came on by itself, discussed it in another thread. Shermer of all people should know that was just a coincidence and an electronic anomaly that was explicable based on some part connecting that then came loose again.

I didn't know he'd gotten a divorce from wife #1.
I agree, and it's might even be less of a coincidence considering my above comment suggesting the possibility that this may not have even been the only time the radio came on.

It's not even like the radio had been sitting there for decades or something. It had only been in the drawer for 3 months.
I thought the article was pretty lame.
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Old 24th September 2014, 11:07 PM   #6
Lukas1986
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I think its also lame. Shermer judgments are clouded by his emotions here.

1. He was on a wedding which was quite emotional for him according to the text.

2. His bride became emotional because she wanted her grandfather to be there.

3.the radio started to play and woala you have a miracle. It does not matter that the radio was playing music and no voices from the underworld of the dead grandfather. It is like fatalism and that is what Shermer is doing here claiming fatalism its the same like when a person is praying and something happens like the wind starts to blow and the person then thinks that god is communicating with him.

4. I would like to know if the radio will start to work again and what would Shermer then claim that grandfather is communicating again??

5. Many electronic things die and then work again. My PC notebook from my university times died many times for no reason and after a week I turned him on again and it worked etc.. There are many instances something stops to work and then starts to work in electronics and its NOT paranormal. It happens.

The whole story reminds me of Uri Geller and his tricks debunked here:

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/i_was_a_teenage_psychic

Where it is shown that people who are told something to look for they will find paranormal phenomena everywhere even Uri Geller used this trick on the audiences on TVs. He just told that he is concentrating and a psychic phenomena will happen and woala clocks stopped working, books have fallen from the library etc.. However this happens all the time but people are not aware of it because no one told them. Shermer had the same experience, his wife said she is said and would like that her grandfather would be hear and then they heard the radio and woala it must be the grandfather who fixed it.

Next time when my refrigerator dies I know that someone is communicating with me beyond the grave.(sarcasm)

Last edited by Lukas1986; 24th September 2014 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 24th September 2014, 11:19 PM   #7
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Reads to me like he's saying that he accepts the credible explanation that it's an electrical anomaly, but he's just had it demonstrated to him why such experiences can be so emotionally powerful if you're the person that they're happening to. The first paragraph reads like hyperbole in order to get people to read the rest of the article.
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Old 25th September 2014, 01:51 AM   #8
Lukas1986
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim
Reads to me like he's saying that he accepts the credible explanation that it's an electrical anomaly, but he's just had it demonstrated to him why such experiences can be so emotionally powerful if you're the person that they're happening to. The first paragraph reads like hyperbole in order to get people to read the rest of the article.
After reading it few more times it can be. In the last paragraph he claims that we should remain agnostic. Maybe he wanted to tell that we should not jump to supernatural conclusions:

Quote:
The emotional interpretations of such anomalous events grant them significance regardless of their causal account. And if we are to take seriously the scientific credo to keep an open mind and remain agnostic when the evidence is indecisive or the riddle unsolved, we should not shut the doors of perception when they may be opened to us to marvel in the mysterious.
Taken from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...core/#comments

Also I am starting to doubt that Michael Shermer would be convinced that there is paranormal thanks to a broken radio that started to play because its quite stupid and it smells like fatalism..
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Old 25th September 2014, 01:57 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Reads to me like he's saying that he accepts the credible explanation that it's an electrical anomaly, but he's just had it demonstrated to him why such experiences can be so emotionally powerful if you're the person that they're happening to. The first paragraph reads like hyperbole in order to get people to read the rest of the article.
What about the final paragraph, particularly the final sentence?
Quote:
The emotional interpretations of such anomalous events grant them significance regardless of their causal account. And if we are to take seriously the scientific credo to keep an open mind and remain agnostic when the evidence is indecisive or the riddle unsolved, we should not shut the doors of perception when they may be opened to us to marvel in the mysterious.
That doesn't just read like having demonstrated to him how powerful such an experience can be, it reads exactly like someone genuinely unwilling to accept a mundane explanation for an emotionally powerful coincidence. Maybe not his intention, but remaining agnostic in such situations is throwing out Occams razor and scientific skepticism.
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Old 25th September 2014, 02:04 AM   #10
Lukas1986
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Here is what Michael Shermer is claiming about it and clarifying it:

Quote:
My SciAm column is not a hoax or endorsement of paranormal-Just an anomalous experience. It's ok to enjoy the mystery http://t.co/wpa5m11Hsx
Taken from: https://www.facebook.com/Michael.Brant.Shermer
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Old 25th September 2014, 02:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Michael Shermer
It's ok to enjoy the mystery
What mystery? I don't even see that there is one here, unless it's the rather mundane mystery of why an electronic device might start and stop working.
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Old 25th September 2014, 02:59 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
What mystery? I don't even see that there is one here, unless it's the rather mundane mystery of why an electronic device might start and stop working.
The mystery is why a skeptic would think that this is a mystery. I suspect that soon he will see his frozen waterfall.
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Old 25th September 2014, 03:17 AM   #13
Lukas1986
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly
What mystery? I don't even see that there is one here, unless it's the rather mundane mystery of why an electronic device might start and stop working.
I think I understand what he wants to say. Many people in my own University even when they were atheists enjoyed the classes of Science of Religion because it gave them stories, paranormal experiences in the form of stories which they shared(who they did not believe in) and such moments when reading such stuff even when they were atheists. They loved the experience to some mystery etc.. Like a good ghost story which you are telling to children during Halloween which has a mystery in it.

Maybe that is what Shermer is trying to say.. That he liked the mystery of what happened but does not believe that it was paranormal.

However I can be wrong here.

Last edited by Lukas1986; 25th September 2014 at 03:26 AM.
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Old 25th September 2014, 03:34 AM   #14
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His future life with his wife may now be more problematic as she seems to be fully convinced that her dead grandfather communicated to her via an old radio. Her husband went along with this at the time (I can understand why) so she'll feel a bit betrayed if he later tries to give it a more mundane explanation.

This is going to come back and bite him in the rear.
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Old 25th September 2014, 03:54 AM   #15
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I fancy myself a skeptic, but my world view was seriously shaken when I saw a UFO (which I have posted about many times). I do remember my jaw literally hung open as I tried to come to grips with what I had thought I saw. I don't know what I would believe now if that flock of geese hadn't circled around and started honking. So I can understand anyone's moment of doubt and how someone could become a believer in woo.
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Old 25th September 2014, 05:38 AM   #16
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This goes back to what I've often thought. Believers claim that if skeptics only experienced the powerful things they had, skeptics would believe too. But these things are not rare. Most everybody experiences them, but their significance is due to how people interpret them. Skeptics simply don't interpret them like believers, but they're still fun to enjoy in a mild, that's cool sort of way, but not in a life-changing OMG the woo is real sort of way.

Not sure how Shermer is going with this one.
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Old 25th September 2014, 06:34 AM   #17
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I gave up believing in synchronicity a long time ago, but I still think meaningful coincidence can be really cool.
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Old 25th September 2014, 07:53 AM   #18
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Last I heard about Shermer, he was dead!
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Old 25th September 2014, 08:11 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Reno View Post
His future life with his wife may now be more problematic as she seems to be fully convinced that her dead grandfather communicated to her via an old radio.
Stupid ghost trolls.
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Old 25th September 2014, 07:36 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Stupid ghost trolls.
I wonder if dead grand dad was an electronic tech or if being dead means you just know how to do these things, also doesn't he have something better to do than cater to gran daughters problems?

Maybe she needs a t-shirt:

My dead grandad turned me on.
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Old 25th September 2014, 08:00 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by MS
My SciAm column is not a hoax or endorsement of paranormal-Just an anomalous experience. It's ok to enjoy the mystery http://t.co/wpa5m11Hsx
Translation, I'm not about to challenge my hot new wife's fantasy about her dead father. The honeymoon phase sex isn't over yet.

Though I have to admit I thought she'd be a younger model.

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Old 25th September 2014, 10:01 PM   #22
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Even some believers are not swallowing it:

Quote:
Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that Michael Shermer has finally seen (at least some of) the light when it comes to the personal impact of anomalistic experiences, and how pat explanations offered by others sometimes just don't cut it. I'm just a bit...skeptical...that a guy who has for years talked down on and attempted to debunk these type of events suddenly flips in his view.
Taken from: http://www.dailygrail.com/Skepticism...Seen-the-Light

Also Bernardo Kastrup is writing about it:

http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/...kepticism.html

And Michael Prescott:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/m...played-on.html

The only question will remain what will happen with the Skeptic Magazine? Will it become a woo magazine now? Or will Shermer explain what he is talking about?

Last edited by Lukas1986; 25th September 2014 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 26th September 2014, 02:07 PM   #23
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What a stupid thing to think is mysterious. I guess we have a mysterious truck, then, because we have one that you can't keep the radio off in, no matter how much you want to. The volume gradually increases, too. You turn it off via dial, and it turns itself back on in a few seconds. I know nothing about radios, but I suspect there's a spring or similar device in the dial which, when gunked-up or broken, will push the dial back into 'on' position.
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Old 26th September 2014, 02:19 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Lukas1986 View Post
Even some believers are not swallowing it:

Taken from: http://www.dailygrail.com/Skepticism...Seen-the-Light

Also Bernardo Kastrup is writing about it:

http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/...kepticism.html

And Michael Prescott:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/m...played-on.html

The only question will remain what will happen with the Skeptic Magazine? Will it become a woo magazine now? Or will Shermer explain what he is talking about?
I'm not too impressed by those comments. Unless I misread them (always possible) they seem to lean toward: the supernatural exists and those bad ol' skeptics are finally getting it.

No skeptics I know doubt that weird things happen. What we doubt is that the explanation involves things for which there is no reason (evidence) to add said supernatural explanation to the hypothesis list.
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Old 27th September 2014, 12:13 AM   #25
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Wow a Sceptic admits weird stuff happens and sometimes it is more fun to just say "that was odd" than to try and find an explanation?

Good for him. Shame woomeisters are already trying to make that mean all sceptics are wrong.
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Old 17th October 2014, 03:09 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
Good for him. Shame woomeisters are already trying to make that mean all sceptics are wrong.
We must not give them the satisfaction of appearing to reject Shermer's statement a priori. Let's humour him and come across as open-minded. We can say: "Hey well! Fancy that. Mike, that is amazing and we're right behind you in trying to explain it." I don't think Shermer would say something like this lightly; he must understand the implications of what he's said. We can't just act like he's Uri Geller all of a sudden.
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Old 4th December 2014, 12:28 PM   #27
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Shermer is not a believer here is his response:

Quote:
UPDATE 2: Michael has written a clarification of his piece for me to put up, and here it is:
I read your commentary, Jerry, and as usual with your critiques in your blog I agree with all your points about my Scientific American column. To clarify matters please see this further explanation of my interpretation, which is that my experience in no way implies something paranormal or supernatural. As I’ve always said (and repeat here), there’s no such thing as the paranormal or supernatural; there is just the normal, the natural, and mysteries as yet unexplained by natural law and chance/contingency.
Much has been made of the subtitle of the original column (stating that my skepticism was shaken to the core), a variation of which was used for the Online title of the essay. As is common in all magazine and newspaper articles, essays, and opinion editorials, the editors write the title and subtitle in a way that will make the article seem more compelling to read, and that is the case here. My Scientific American editors give me much freedom in choosing my own titles and subtitles, but when they have done rewrites for previous columns I have always felt they were better than my original, and this one seemed good to me at the time. But now I see that many readers took it in a way I had not intended. My skepticism is in fine shape.
Hopefully this clarification in Slate will clear up matters. I guess if I had to sum it up even briefer it would be this: Weird things happen. We can’t explain everything. Enjoy the experience. But don’t abandon science or the natural worldview.
Michael
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Old 10th December 2014, 01:29 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
I posted this comment at Scientific American:
That's speculation, which would be thrown out of court (or should be). It 'might' be the case but you'd have to prove it, for it to be fact.
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Old 10th December 2014, 01:36 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I had a radio that came on by itself, discussed it in another thread. Shermer of all people should know that was just a coincidence and an electronic anomaly that was explicable based on some part connecting that then came loose again.
This reminds me of when I was a kid. Every once in a while, I would "hear voices." I couldn't figure out what they were saying, but they seemed definitely to be voices. I considered the possibility that I was going mad, but I eventually realized that however mad I was, I wouldn't be that kind of mad.

Decades later, I found out where they came from. There was a stadium with loudspeakers some distance away. On particular nights with cold, dry air (of which there were few in Florida), it could barely be heard.
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Old 10th December 2014, 04:12 PM   #30
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I am also amazed that, of all the issues that could have seemed paranormal, that something so benign and explainable, this is what jumped out at him.

I had a friend that insisted that her dead mother-in-laws stereo turned itself on when it wasn't even plugged in. When I tried to explain options that were not paranormal, I got the eye roll and the look like 'oh, she's one of those'.
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Old 10th December 2014, 09:20 PM   #31
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Why would anyone listen to Shermer on anything, ever?
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Old 11th December 2014, 12:14 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Reads to me like he's saying that he accepts the credible explanation that it's an electrical anomaly, but he's just had it demonstrated to him why such experiences can be so emotionally powerful if you're the person that they're happening to. The first paragraph reads like hyperbole in order to get people to read the rest of the article.
Any good skeptic has an answer to the question, "Isn't there anything you've seen that seemed paranormal?"

I have one -- I was riding my minibike up and down the strip of land behind our house with friends, max speed about 35 miles per hour. On one trip returning to the starting point, I decided for no apparent reason to try to drive as slow as possible without falling over (and well away and around the corner, so I wasn't approaching.)

So I slowed way way down and was putt putting along and whoomp! The minibike fell in half, the bolt holding the front fork coming out.


Would I have been killed had that happened at 35 mph on a strip of grass? Maybe. Badly injured with broken neck? Maybe. Scraped up a bit? Maybe. Slid with little more than a scratch? Maybe.

Did I detect something wrong subconsciously so slowed down? Maybe.

Incredible coincidence? Probably.

I could say the honest skeptic thing, "I don't know." Which is true. But I do know it's not something mystical.
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The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?
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Old 11th December 2014, 12:15 AM   #33
crestfallensidekick
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I eagerly await Shermer's next book, You Guys, I Saw a GHOST!!!
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Old 11th December 2014, 12:37 AM   #34
Sideroxylon
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He's lost it.
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Old 11th December 2014, 01:36 AM   #35
Doghouse Reilly
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Originally Posted by epepke View Post
This reminds me of when I was a kid. Every once in a while, I would "hear voices." I couldn't figure out what they were saying, but they seemed definitely to be voices. I considered the possibility that I was going mad, but I eventually realized that however mad I was, I wouldn't be that kind of mad.

Decades later, I found out where they came from. There was a stadium with loudspeakers some distance away. On particular nights with cold, dry air (of which there were few in Florida), it could barely be heard.
I could see how that might have been a bit spooky. How'd you finally figure out what it was?
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Old 11th December 2014, 04:28 AM   #36
Octavo
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Originally Posted by epepke View Post
This reminds me of when I was a kid. Every once in a while, I would "hear voices." I couldn't figure out what they were saying, but they seemed definitely to be voices. I considered the possibility that I was going mad, but I eventually realized that however mad I was, I wouldn't be that kind of mad.

Decades later, I found out where they came from. There was a stadium with loudspeakers some distance away. On particular nights with cold, dry air (of which there were few in Florida), it could barely be heard.
Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
I could see how that might have been a bit spooky. How'd you finally figure out what it was?
The shower in my en-suite does the same thing. With the shower running, while standing under or near it, I can hear what sounds like distant/faint music. It doesn't sound like rushing water at all - it sounds just like a neighbour down the road is having a party and the strains of music make it into the bathroom. The effect is so real, that even though I've identified the shower as the culprit several times (since turning the shower off stops the "music") I still occasionally turn the shower off half way through, just to check.
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Old 11th December 2014, 07:03 AM   #37
Pup
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
The shower in my en-suite does the same thing. With the shower running, while standing under or near it, I can hear what sounds like distant/faint music. It doesn't sound like rushing water at all - it sounds just like a neighbour down the road is having a party and the strains of music make it into the bathroom. The effect is so real, that even though I've identified the shower as the culprit several times (since turning the shower off stops the "music") I still occasionally turn the shower off half way through, just to check.
That sounds a lot like musical ear syndrome. I have it too and have had it all my life, with no hearing loss, so as a data point of one, I'd say that one doesn't necessarily need hearing loss to have it.

More similar to the situation epepke described, we were looking to buy vacant land in the country next door to where an old one-room schoolhouse had been at the turn of the century, long since torn down and left to be more vacant land. When we visited the land, at certain times of day one could hear faint voices of children reciting things, the pledge of allegiance, and other less recognizable things but obviously group recitation like in an old schoolroom.

Spooky, until we realized the loudspeaker from an elementary school three miles away was audible from hilltop to hilltop. I don't know if they broadcast special programs on outside speakers too, or just from inside with the windows open, but it was definitely faint but clear enough to hear.
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Old 11th December 2014, 07:40 AM   #38
carlitos
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
That sounds a lot like musical ear syndrome. I have it too and have had it all my life, with no hearing loss, so as a data point of one, I'd say that one doesn't necessarily need hearing loss to have it.
Holy crap. I have that! I never knew that it was a thing. I definitely have some tinnitus, but I had never heard of this syndrome before. Thank you so much. Putting the "E" in ISF.

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Old 11th December 2014, 02:37 PM   #39
Doghouse Reilly
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
That sounds a lot like musical ear syndrome. I have it too and have had it all my life, with no hearing loss, so as a data point of one, I'd say that one doesn't necessarily need hearing loss to have it.

More similar to the situation epepke described, we were looking to buy vacant land in the country next door to where an old one-room schoolhouse had been at the turn of the century, long since torn down and left to be more vacant land. When we visited the land, at certain times of day one could hear faint voices of children reciting things, the pledge of allegiance, and other less recognizable things but obviously group recitation like in an old schoolroom.

Spooky, until we realized the loudspeaker from an elementary school three miles away was audible from hilltop to hilltop. I don't know if they broadcast special programs on outside speakers too, or just from inside with the windows open, but it was definitely faint but clear enough to hear.
Did you think you were hearing ghosts at first, or were you certain there was a reasonable explanation from the beginning?
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Old 12th December 2014, 04:36 AM   #40
Pup
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
Did you think you were hearing ghosts at first, or were you certain there was a reasonable explanation from the beginning?
No in both cases. On the musical ear thing, thought it was real sounds from a distance until I learned about it.

As far as the kids reciting, I thought it sounded like what stereotypical ghosts ought to sound like, but figured there had to be some real explanation. When we could hear a football announcer and a band (there was also a middle school about the same distance and direction that had games and a band) we realized the elementary school explanation.
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