We're Not The Fortean Times May 29, 2013 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Have validate my supernatural experiances and share your own questions always been allowed on The Green?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants to Etiquette/Policy at 10:35 PM (189 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

No.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 PM on May 29, 2013


Jesus christ dude give it a rest.
posted by empath at 10:39 PM on May 29, 2013 [40 favorites]


That's pretty much an edge case post that could have gone either way. "Share your stories," full stop is not okay. "Can you point me to research on the topic?" is a perfectly fine post. It stayed. It could have been deleted with a request for a rewrite, but I suspect that whoever was on duty at that point was probably pretty busy trying to keep up with Metatalk posts, and it takes a bit of time to try to connect with the OP, get a rewrite, make the edits, undelete, etc. Otherwise they have to wait a week to re-post. Sometimes we have to let some nice little things we do slide a bit when the site is sort of hyperactive otherwise.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:45 PM on May 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


was probably pretty busy trying to keep up with Metatalk posts

That's some subtle shade you threw his way! Nice one.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 PM on May 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


Sometimes always, but likely as not maybe mostly no... I think.
posted by carsonb at 10:53 PM on May 29, 2013


Sometimes people ask questions that have what I consider woo as part of the premise, yes. If you have a strong aversion to woo, that can really make you itch, but it's not actually a violation of the guidelines in its own right if there's some basic answerableness behind it, and a request for pointers for research related to a phenomenon, woo or otherwise, fits that bill. If anything I'm a little annoyed at the chatty framing, but like taz says sometimes we cut people a little slack on this stuff.

Leaving a terse link to the Skeptic's Dictionary is not so much an okay thing, though, which is why your comment got deleted in there. It's on par with a lmgtfy link: it's more snark than answer, and you need to either try harder to constructively engage with the question or just skip the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:54 PM on May 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


taz: the site is sort of hyperactive otherwise.

Justinian: Nice one.

And another! Zing!
posted by carsonb at 10:54 PM on May 29, 2013


Yes, since 2004.

Close 'er up...
posted by pompomtom at 11:04 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like how the OP asks for examples of psychic connections that "defy physics", and then people post stories about how once they had a tummy ache and later it turned out their Mom had a tummy ache at the same time.
posted by dontjumplarry at 11:05 PM on May 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


you need to either try harder to constructively engage with the question or just skip the thread.

I get why this is the standard mod line, but I think the second half is vastly better advice than the first. It's not hard to concoct a halfhearted paragraph in response to any question that will survive deletion, just so you can slip in your undermining criticism. But AskMe would be a lot better served if, instead of doing that, people would more often just shrug and move on to the next thread.

If you sometimes open AskMe, skim the front page and read a few questions, and then decide not to post anything because you have nothing to add? That's a sign that you "get" AskMe.
posted by cribcage at 11:06 PM on May 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


You don't have to answer every question on the Green. No one is hold a knife to your throat and forcing you to answer.

If you outright reject the premise of the question, then don't offer an answer.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:26 PM on May 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


pompomtom: "Yes, since 2004.

Close 'er up...
"

Well, technically, AskMe started in December, 2003, and that question is from September, 2004.

So, to answer Charlemagne's question really literally, "It is not known whether they were allowed during the period from December, 2003, to September, 2004. It is possible that they were allowed but nobody asked one. It is possible that they were forbidden. It is possible that there was one that predates September, 2004, that we have missed. However, what we can say with certainty is that they have been allowed for at least 104 of the 114 months AskMe has existed, or > 91.23% of AskMe's history."

Now, it seems clear to me, Charlemagne, that you weren't really asking if those kinds of questions have always been allowed. Instead, you were using a rhetorical question to express your displeasure at the fact that those kinds of questions are allowed. What I don't understand, though, is: what do you actually want to accomplish with this MeTa? Are you asking for a policy change? What, specifically, is your proposed new policy?
posted by Bugbread at 11:26 PM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


You don't have to answer every question on the Green. No one is hold a knife to your throat and forcing you to answer.

I want to see this movie. Asking for Life? Danger Level Green? D.T.M.F.A. - Danger Time - Meta Forum Assassins?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:29 PM on May 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


What I don't understand, though, is: what do you actually want to accomplish with this MeTa?

Don't interrupt the artist at work.
posted by empath at 11:31 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


You don't have to answer every question on the Green. No one is hold a knife to your throat and forcing you to answer.

I want to see this movie. Asking for Life? Danger Level Green? D.T.M.F.A. - Danger Time - Meta Forum Assassins?


ASK HARD

ASK HARD 2: ASK HARDER

ASK HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

Yeah, there's something here.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:31 PM on May 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


I want to see this movie. Asking for Life? Danger Level Green? D.T.M.F.A. - Danger Time - Meta Forum Assassins?

We don't have nearly enough "Do I cut the red wire or green wire?" posts.
posted by empath at 11:32 PM on May 29, 2013 [13 favorites]



Now, it seems clear to me, Charlemagne, that you weren't really asking if those kinds of questions have always been allowed. Instead, you were using a rhetorical question to express your displeasure at the fact that those kinds of questions are allowed. What I don't understand, though, is: what do you actually want to accomplish with this MeTa? Are you asking for a policy change? What, specifically, is your proposed new policy?


I don't spend much time in the Green, but since the site culture elsewhere discourages these kind of things (it skews pretty rationalist) I was surprised to see the premise of that question being taken seriously and answered seriously. I also hadn't noticed a rash of similar questions, so it stood out to me.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:38 PM on May 29, 2013


I thought it was an odd question for Metafilter, culturally speaking, but the question as posed seemed OK to me.

I find questions about ESP and such things to be uninteresting, so I read some of the answers, discovered that nobody had said anything terribly earth-shattering, and left without answering the question. Because I don't have a relevant answer besides "you're kidding, right?" which is not much of one.

I was sort of interested in the number of twins chiming in to say that they'd had specific experiences about this that they could actually remember and describe in detail.
posted by Sara C. at 11:44 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


We're allowed to discuss hipsters, so why not other concepts of dubious validity?
posted by jacalata at 11:50 PM on May 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't understand this call-out.

If you've never had experiences that match the experiences in the question, then your answer is:

Not to answer.
posted by jbenben at 11:52 PM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


jbenben: "If you've never had experiences that match the experiences in the question, then your answer is:

Not to answer.
"

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
posted by Bugbread at 11:54 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


(it skews pretty rationalist)

The Green skews "helpful". The goal is to help the person asking the question. It's pretty straightforward. Helpful.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:56 PM on May 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


If you've never had experiences that match the experiences in the question, then your answer is:

Not to answer.


Even if you have had experiences that match them, though, by sharing them people buy into the supernatural premise of the question.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:57 PM on May 29, 2013


Which then tilts the site that way.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:57 PM on May 29, 2013


Even if you have had experiences that match them, though, by sharing them people buy into the supernatural premise of the question.

So, you're only the champion of ALL FREE SPEECH FOREVER when the speech in question is speech you agree with?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:59 PM on May 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


I doubt the site would turn wonky if we started to be cool that weird stuff happens, and sometimes it is OK if we don't know why.
posted by jbenben at 12:00 AM on May 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


You're afraid that people talking supernatural stuff will ruin your faith in rationalism?

Rationalism really isn't so weak that it needs that kind of defense.
posted by chrchr at 12:00 AM on May 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


To the asker's credit, they are also looking for research on the subject. Actual research discrediting the notion of telepathic connections (as well as pointers to the general concept of confirmation bias) have already been provided in thread.

I think this is the best possible outcome for the asker - if we delete the thread, they (and future readers) do not get this information. I honestly do not see the issue here.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:01 AM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


by sharing them people buy into the supernatural premise of the question.

Well, if lots of people have the experience, maybe the premise is right.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:01 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ask Me is for helping people by answering their questions, and there isn't a purity test for whether the question aligns with anyone's personal belief. So, even if you are personally a vegan, a "how do I cook this meat?" question is still okay, for example. Even if you are an atheist, "where can I find a church of X denomination in [city]" is still okay. But since participation is 100% opt-in, no one should feel the need to answer a question if they don't know the answer, disapprove of the question, or don't want to help for any reason at all.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:18 AM on May 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


The other problem with this kind of bullying or call-out, is that it then becomes less socially acceptable to discuss divese ideas, generally. As in, only the right ideas may be discussed.

At that moment, freedom of thought and freedom of expression are lost. For generations, usually.

It's OK to consider ideas you don't ultimately agree with, or can't identify with at the time, or whatever.

I remember there was a story in the news last year, or the year before, how it proved pets like dogs and cats had feelings. Well, duh. Anyone with a pet can tell you this! Old News Not Previously Acknowedged, I guess. There are even studies that trees (for fuck's sake!) react biologically BEFORE being cut down. They know. How weird is that??

In short, the bullying of nuanced experience on metafilter has consistently dissapointed me.
posted by jbenben at 12:59 AM on May 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Maybe i'm some kind of mutant, or my brain is just a bit warped by having been raised by slightly hippie-ish parents(who were in to chinese traditional medicine, reiki, homeopathy, etc), in an area full of a bunch of burnt out hippies, being homeschooled for a while, and having had a bunch of friends with serious hippie(and i mean that more in the burner sense, in addition to the classical sense) parents...

But i fail to see how this is a shitty use of ask other than "we shouldn't let people ask questions about things that are agreed by a bunch of the posters to be woo!".

The fact that this site sometimes bends over and pulls it's pants down to shit on people for stuff like this should be a mark of shame. A lot of people should be pretty embarrassed here. Seriously.

This isn't something that's actually causing any problems or hurting anyone, although i do think how stuff that's perceived to do that is dealt with is handled poorly as well. It's about just not being a fucking dick.

How does this take away from the site at all? how does this personally effect you to allow this to be posted here? I'm not only in agreement with jbenben, but i think that this shines a bad light on all of us to shit on this kind of thing in the same way that /r/atheism on reddit is completely embarrassing.

It's a lot easier to look like a pathetic asshole making fun of someone for believing something like this than it is to look pathetic for believing it. And i don't think a lot of nerds realize how bad of a look that really is.

So keep sitting up on your high horse of intellectual superiority. You're not winning anything but a golden ass trophy.

And note that i'm saying this as a beardy STEM computer nerd type who would normally be saddling up to make fun of this shit. I did too, when i was 14. Partially to fit in, and partially because i didn't believe in that stuff. then i realized that having seen it from both sides the people making fun of it just seem way sadder and more pathetic
posted by emptythought at 1:33 AM on May 30, 2013 [37 favorites]


I don't see any problems with having questions like this on the site (outside of the chatfilter nature of point 1), and I say that as someone who does not believe in the premise of the question. I think supercres has done a fine job of answering in a fitting way, offering an alternate thing to look for that can explain why people perceive these phenomena to be "physics defying."
posted by solotoro at 2:27 AM on May 30, 2013


Seems to me that the "Share your stories" "question" was pure chatfilter. The second one was fine though, which I guess is why the post was allowed to stand.
posted by Decani at 2:44 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd add that I'm a hard-line atheist/rationalist but I see no reason why questions about "woo", superstition or religion shouldn't be asked if they can be answered.
posted by Decani at 2:47 AM on May 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, "share your stories" is a bit hrm, but I think "give me research" is fine and good.

I didn't even connect this MeTa to that question until I clicked through. To be honest, I was really hoping you were talking about a ghost question, or werewolves or something. I am a little disappointed now.
posted by smoke at 2:50 AM on May 30, 2013


I'd add that I'm a hard-line atheist/rationalist but I see no reason why questions about "woo", superstition or religion shouldn't be asked if they can be answered.

This pretty much sums up how I feel too. I'm a biomedical scientist. I hate alternative medicine, woo, superstition and fuzzy thinking bullshit rather a lot and think that a lot of that crap does real, measurable harm. But any question that otherwise fits the site criteria of being answerable is totally fine and allowed here. This one was a bit borderline with the chatfilter part (and saved by the request for research part), but so are lots of other questions that are left up and answered appropriately.

I see a lot of questions here about things that are not rational, although they tend more towards shitty nutrition or alternative medicine questions or ones about religion rather than paranormal or straight up superstition based questions. So I also reject the premise that this site somehow only allows or encourages questions that fit some party line of rational-enough. Sure, those questions often get a number of science-based answers where that is appropriate, but there's certainly a reasonable variety of viewpoints represented here.
posted by shelleycat at 3:03 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to see the premise of that question being taken seriously and answered seriously.

This life is just full of surprises!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:04 AM on May 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


How does this take away from the site at all? how does this personally effect you to allow this to be posted here? I'm not only in agreement with jbenben, but i think that this shines a bad light on all of us to shit on this kind of thing in the same way that /r/atheism on reddit is completely embarrassing.

It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality. I guess I'm just frustrated at the amount of pseudoscience believers I've encountersed lately.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:07 AM on May 30, 2013


I'm amazed that you manage to find new ways to feel superior to other people every day.
posted by empath at 4:09 AM on May 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

I been here since '06, don't call it a comeback
posted by Greg Nog at 4:14 AM on May 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs.

"Slippery slope" is, by definition, a logical fallacy. So thanks for clearing that up.
posted by solotoro at 4:16 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's too late! That question is turning Metafilter... SUPERNATURAL *grows horns, engages in chatfilter, all is lost*
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:19 AM on May 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


If someone has an answerable question about ghosts and UFOs they are absolutely welcome to post it. Answerable questions about every subject are already tolerated. Chances are very high they're going to get a bunch of science-based answers (assuming that's appropriate for the question) based on previous question-answering behaviour here, and that's fine too.

Just having questions about things you don't agree with isn't going to magically make this site turn into something different. There is nothing broken here, no policy changes necessary, it's all fine.
posted by shelleycat at 4:28 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

I have bad news...
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:56 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


We've had questions before about people claiming their house was haunted and yet the site did not descend into a nexus of maddened, antediluvian monstrosities projecting their hideous ur-human fantasies from the Stygian depths of nests in which they lie curled in squamous filth, an offense to the helpless world lying within their grasp as the cold and indifferent stars burn mockingly above the sight of final despair; protean horrors emerging from the depths to rule again the land which vomited them forth countless aeons ago as was described by Abdul Alhazred.

Or maybe it did? Who can say.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
posted by winna at 4:56 AM on May 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs.

Where have I heard this before?

ROSWELL! ROSWELL!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:07 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't have a problem with the site skewing more supernatural; I am totally okay with Sam/Dean slashfic.
posted by desjardins at 5:09 AM on May 30, 2013 [15 favorites]

Even if you have had experiences that match them, though, by sharing them people buy into the supernatural premise of the question.
I was one of the people who shared my experience. I am pretty a hard-core rationalist, and don't believe in anything supernatural that I can think of off the top of my head. Nevertheless I had this experience. Do I think that it had some supernatural explanation? No. Crazy things happen to people. But it was a cool story and it did happen to me, as best as I can remember, and I shared it. I did consider adding some sort of "but of course this doesn't really mean anything" line but then what was the point of sharing the experience at all?
posted by dfan at 5:10 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Even if you have had experiences that match them, though, by sharing them people buy into the supernatural premise of the question.

Which then tilts the site that way.


And then what? I know, like you said -- "the site could become yet another haven for irrationality." Along with this being a ridiculous slippery slope argument, who cares? If there is an active subculture of MeFites who ask (see here), then who really cares? There are MeFites who believe and ask about all sorts of weird stuff I have no interest in. Not every AskMe is going to be relevant to and interesting to and approved by everyone. Skip it.

If there's a danger of this becoming the vaccine-skepticism-and-ghosts website, then matthowie can cross that bridge when he comes to it.
posted by deanc at 5:25 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality. I guess I'm just frustrated at the amount of pseudoscience believers I've encountersed lately.

Feel free to let us worry about that unless you think there's actually a trend towards this and not a single data point that got under your skin. This was an answerable question and it stayed up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:46 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's too late! We've already slid down the slope into the sea of irrationality!
posted by rtha at 5:47 AM on May 30, 2013


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs.

I would totally get out the hose and run water down a hill, just to ride this slope.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:02 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


and yet the site did not descend into a nexus of maddened, antediluvian monstrosities projecting their hideous ur-human fantasies from the Stygian depths of nests in which they lie curled in squamous filth, an offense to the helpless world lying within their grasp as the cold and indifferent stars burn mockingly above the sight of final despair; protean horrors emerging from the depths to rule again the land which vomited them forth countless aeons ago as was described by Abdul Alhazred.

No, I'm totally here.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:08 AM on May 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


This MeTa totally worth it just for that haven of irrationality line.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:16 AM on May 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Dear Metafilter,
I am a Wiccan Republican and CEO of a major investment bank. My workers are trying to organize into a union. What spells can you recommend to me for crushing their wills, getting Rand Paul into the White House and making lots of money from foreclosed homes?
posted by charred husk at 6:18 AM on May 30, 2013 [45 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs

Yeah, and then before you know it people will be posting nonsense about saints' relics and whatnot. Won't someone stop the madness! Its so much better to keep out the open-minded and stick with issues that deal purely with reality, such as the pressing issue of magic in games.

Alternatively - now bear with me - we could accept that different people are interested in different things, and no one forces anyone to read anything. Woo indeed!
posted by billiebee at 6:19 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

Oh god, I can feel it acting upon me even now. I find myself staring at the books on my shelves. Their titles grow blurry. Science? Philosophy? What matters those things? Again, I am compelled to look at the mythology shelf below. I have passed that shelf a hundred times without thinking about it. Until now. I open the books. Of course, it's all so true! How is it that I did not notice until now.

Thank Metafilter.
Thank Metafilter, in whose light I walk.
Praise Metafilter, whose light keeps the ghosts away.
posted by corb at 6:19 AM on May 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Alternatively - now bear with me - we could accept that different people are interested in different things, and no one forces anyone to read anything.

I am literally forcing you to read this post by The Whelk. I have an altar. I have a staff. I have a rainbow mug. I have a wizard hat.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:22 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Metafilter, I am a Wiccan Republican and CEO of a major investment bank. My workers are trying to organize into a union. What spells can you recommend to me for crushing their wills,getting Rand Paul into the White House and making lots of money from foreclosed homes?

Well, you'll need a cat's claw, the foreskin of three newborns, and tears of the innocent. Lots of tears.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:28 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am literally forcing you to read this post by The Whelk

> Lappin Park
The Samantha statue cries tears of syrup and sings in a foreign tongue


This doesn't count, as it is clearly factual reportage and panders to those who want to deal only in realism.
posted by billiebee at 6:31 AM on May 30, 2013


No, I'm totally here.

But you are a FAMOUS MONSTER. Surely your nest is tidy and well-lit?!
posted by winna at 6:31 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: I think it's fairly well-covered ground that it is completely possible to answer a question in a way that challenges the poster's premise if it's done in a way that is tactful.

The poster asked a question which can be answered: there is research on the subject and the gist of it is that no, you're not psychically linked to your partner or relative or anyone else.

Much like any other question ("Dear Metafilter, I am in a terrible relationship with a terrible person, what should I do? DTMFA is not an option"), you give your answer and it's up to the OP to decide whether or not they want to take your advice.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:32 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


But you are a FAMOUS MONSTER. Surely your nest is tidy and well-lit?!

Well, sure, when company's coming over. Otherwise, I let the dishes sit in the sink overnight more than I should - it's just hard to wash dishes that scream all the time. They cost a lot extra, too, but one has to keep up appearances.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:34 AM on May 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


I have a wizard hat.

No need to get smutty.
posted by Elmore at 6:35 AM on May 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


You don't have to answer every question on the Green. No one is hold a knife to your throat and forcing you to answer.

Hell, you don't even have to READ every question on the Green. Life's too short.
posted by aught at 7:00 AM on May 30, 2013


Dear AskMe, I am in a terrible relationship with the Chaldean serpent-god I have been channeling for the past year. What should I do? DTMFA is not an option.
posted by prize bull octorok at 7:17 AM on May 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm not a fan of supernatural questions on the Green. Nor am I fan of questions about relationship/workplace dramarama and jazz music. But it ain't up to me, and if there is a question that can be answered, it doesn't diminish the resource to leave it up. There is even room to challenge the Asker's preconceptions if expressed in a way that conforms with AskMe's guidelines, as was done there.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:32 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dear AskMe, I found this ectoplasm on my wall. Should I eat it?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:33 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh if only Zeus were around to submit AskMe relationship questions.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:47 AM on May 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dear Ask Me, There's something strange in my neighborhood. Who should I call? There's something weird, and it don't look good. Who should I call?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:50 AM on May 30, 2013 [33 favorites]


311 prolly
posted by elizardbits at 8:01 AM on May 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


OSHA
posted by Greg Nog at 8:03 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


HE-MAN
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:04 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jake Kong, Jr.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:06 AM on May 30, 2013


Jesus
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:06 AM on May 30, 2013


Huey Lewis?
posted by gauche at 8:10 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Call me maybe.
posted by klarck at 8:12 AM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Jake Kong, Jr.

Okay, true story: I don't have cable but sometimes I watch the over-the-air channels. Why not.

Of late I've been waking up pretty early on weekends and for the last few weeks I've found that one of the really cheap-ass channels in Boston is showing the Ghostbusters cartoon (yes, the one with Jake Kong and the gorilla) at around the time when kids are waking up and watching cartoons.

This fascinates and baffles me. "Pokemon? Transformers? Nah, fuck that. What I want to watch is this completely inexplicable cartoon, made entirely because someone else had the rights to the name, which is mostly recycled animation and the same handful of people doing all the voices. And an ape. It's 2013, why not."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:13 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: " It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

Good heavens. Lock up your daughters.

You're not the Ask Police. Questions on topics you personally don't approve of, agree with or believe in are allowed. That's part of the subsite's utility.

Also, to echo what other people said earlier, a single thread does not constitute a trend. Nor is it the first careen down a "slippery slope." There have been 241,000+ questions asked. 30 have been tagged with "ghosts," (for example) and barely any of those have been of the "How do I raise my beloved grandmother from the dead and guarantee she won't chomp my brain" variety.

And even if they were, that would probably still be okay.

I guess I'm just frustrated at the amount of pseudoscience believers I've encountersed lately."

Once of the nicest things about AskMe is that if you don't assume you know everything, you are very likely to come away having learned something.
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like how the OP asks for examples of psychic connections that "defy physics", and then people post stories about how once they had a tummy ache and later it turned out their Mom had a tummy ache at the same time.

I can't wait until we get quantum computing and entanglement nailed down - think of the pranking opportunities! I sneak some up-quarks in your drink, I drink the down-quarks, I tickle my throat, you throw up on your shoes!

I may not fully understand this whole thing quite yet.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Does no one remember the time that the brief overview of our Reptilian Overlords post made the site change colors? Good thing we had a ton of rational universe posts to re-balance the Good Ship MetaFilter, or we would have gone completely topsy-turvy.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I haven't perceived questions like these as part of any ramping trend on AskMe; though there may be many questions like this that I don't see because they are deleted (rightfully, IMO) by the moderators.

The linked question seems very odd to me, and sort of out-of-place. I don't think it's any kind of imperative that it get axed, and I don't think it a matter of even second-order importance, but the question has wandered pretty far afield from where the guidelines have been drawn (and takes liberties in some ways that're difficult to draw guidelines for).

I'm not a fan of "Share with me your stories about..." construction, but I recognize why this can't be a bright-line ban -- for some (perfectly legitimate) questions, this can be the only productive way to ask (e.g. "SWMYS of the process of selecting an oncologist").

This ain't that, though, and at its heart it is asking for square circles while dictating slightly odd terms to which the answerer must submit in order to qualify -- and in this case, simultaneously "underqualify" -- themselves to answer the question.

I'll be perfectly clear and say that I am in no moral panic about the Asker's belief in the paranormal, and this isn't what is sketching me about this question. I'd not in any way look askance if someone were to post an answerable question about UFOs/shadowpeople/Bohemian Grove/whatever, without wording it in a way that requires answers to come only from within the population that can provide the least objective answers.

tl;dr: Nobody can answer the linked AskMe, and it's also pretty useless. But it's nbd.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 8:49 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


As an atheist who was once of the snotty atheist/fight-seeking skeptic stripe, it once would have been hard for me to let that AskMe go. But these days, I'm calibrated more toward helping and live-and-let-live, particularly when I'm visiting the Green. So it never even occurred to me to have a problem with it. I just harrumphed quietly to myself and moved on. After all, despite the chattiness and the share your stories angle, it did have a request for research info, which made it answerable and within the guidelines. That's all been said though.

What I wanted to add was, I don't think there's any reason not to extend this kindness and patience towards people we disagree with that we have for the poster of the "Defying physics!" Ask Me to Charlemagne in Sweatpants as well. He's young and trying to do the right thing. Even if he's doing it wrong, I don't see how a pile-on helps.

Let he who was not sort of an asshole at 25 cast the first snark. Anyone? Anyone?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:54 AM on May 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


"The other problem with this kind of bullying"

I'm kinda sick of the overuse of "bullying," not just here, but pretty much everywhere. It's a loaded, amorphous word that implies all sorts of stuff without having to demonstrate it. (It was pretty much the fundies claiming to be bullied by having to not tell gay kids they were going to hell that flipped the word over the line from "useful" to "obfuscating cliche" for me.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:56 AM on May 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


Hear hear on "bullying." Wildly overused term here.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:59 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two of my most useful and informative questions I've asked have been questions relating to people sharing their lived experiences of past events (academia before computers, and watching Twin Peaks as it aired). I don't see how asking people to share stories is any less valid than asking direct fact based questions.

Regarding the OP: if we're giving people god-king power to determine what content Metafilter focuses on, then I think this site is shifting way too heavily towards "indie" rock that nobody except for boring herbs could possible enjoy. I am, in fact, quite concerned by these recent trends.
posted by codacorolla at 9:00 AM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

Okay, so here's something that annoys me: people who are fanatical about science. When I was a kid, "science" held that there were two strict halves to the brain and four taste areas on the tongue. Later, better science came along and disproved those things. Today, science is still working on explaining the hiccup. Our understanding of the brain is roughly equivalent to our understanding of the deep ocean. Science is, pardon the pun, evolving.

Don't get me wrong. Science rocks. It used to be my favorite section of the bookstore, back when we had bookstores. But it ain't gospel. In fact, that's its point. Science is a method by which we've explained some things and hope to explain others. In the meantime, weird stuff like twin ESP happens and we don't have a scientific explanation for it. Insisting that we can't talk about things that science hasn't explained (well) is fanatical, and that fanaticism annoys me.

So here we have questions like the one you linked. You worry that encouraging them will cause the site to slide into lunacy, and I worry that prohibiting them will cause the site to slide into fanaticism. Both of us paid five bucks. In that light, the question is whether AskMe currently stands on a mostly fair middle ground.
posted by cribcage at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2013 [32 favorites]


It's a long time ago now so I might be misremembering, but I'm pretty sure there was no "sort of" to my assholery when I was 25. I've always been an overachiever like that.
posted by rtha at 9:03 AM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


To quote myself on "bullying" -- Bullying is a problem that children have because of the special powerlessness that comes with youth AND the special social circumstances that arise between youths. As adults we have the power to change our circumstances. When people are abusive or violent or cruel or rude, we have laws that govern those situations. Let's stop using a word that means something very specific and awful to say "Someone was mean to me".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


We don't have nearly enough "Do I cut the red wire or green wire?" posts.

My favorite recent tweet:
@nightvaleradio Are you being attacked by bees? Take this quiz to find out!
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Anyway, CiS isn't even being mean by asking for this, he's just sortof naive. Not everyone agrees with you man, and that's OK. Keep calm and post internets.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regarding the OP: if we're giving people god-king power to determine what content Metafilter focuses on, then I think this site is shifting way too heavily towards "indie" rock that nobody except for boring herbs could possible enjoy. I am, in fact, quite concerned by these recent trends.

I don't really think it's helpful to just try to think of things about CiS we can use to make him angry or whatever.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:08 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


nobody except for boring herbs

I do not know this construction.

Do you mean like Herb Tarlek, or do you mean like parsley?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:11 AM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Herb Tarlek was not boring!
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I, too, once found ectoplasm on my walls. I was moving, and cleaning up, and it was on the wall above the refrigerator. It looked mucus-y and had an odd splatter pattern. It most definitely had not been there when I moved in nor when I replaced the fridge. I mentioned it to a number of people ("What could it possibly have been?") and then forgot it.

Until about six months later. When I saw it again, on the window in the new place. And then in the fur of the new cat.

And then, about a week later, I saw it again, coming out of the nose of the new cat at approximately sixty-two million miles an hour.

Now the only mystery is how come there isn't more of it all over my house and how long until I have to repaint because scrubbing the walls only works so well.

Also, we've had at least one pretty good AskMe about ghosts.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:16 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not a fan of supernatural questions on the Green. Nor am I fan of questions about relationship/workplace dramarama and jazz music.

See? Science fails us in so many areas.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:19 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a slippery slope toward questions about ghosts and UFOs. And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

This makes me angry. Very angry indeed.
posted by Marvin the Martian at 9:21 AM on May 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Jessamyn: #24
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:26 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If a post asks two questions, and one of them is clearly unacceptable by Metafilter's standards, I don't think the post should be allowed to stand.

If the only question asked were the permissible one--- the one about research on paranormal activity---that thread would look very different.
posted by painquale at 9:26 AM on May 30, 2013


If a post asks two questions, and one of them is clearly unacceptable by Metafilter's standards, I don't think the post should be allowed to stand.

The way we look at things now is that unless one of the questions asked is not-okay-for-MeFi-at-all (suicide, revenge, warez sort of stuff) if there's a valid question, we'll let the whole thing stay. If we feel that people are really being edge casey or stunty about this (if certain people had asked this question this way I would have thought it was stunty) we might change our tune but that's the way we've handled things so far: err on the side of non-deletion most of the time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:30 AM on May 30, 2013


For the record, I am okay with Herb Tarlek showing up in any thread, any time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:34 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can see where the OP of that question was going asking for both experiences and research.

I think it's perfectly legit to ask for specific experiences that people have had that answer a question. I would even say that most AskMe questions do this. There are a lot more "my boyfriend called me fat in a weird equivocating way what do I do" type questions than there are "I would like to see peer-reviewed research about how relationships impact body image". And I think that's OK, because Ask isn't EBSCO.

The difference, to me, is whether the question is "what do you think about ESP?" or "have you ever experienced ESP and what was that specifically like?" Because there's no real difference between the latter and my question about what it's like to work at a start-up, which is like my top most favorited Ask ever.

Just like there were some kind of annoying "one time I had a headache and my friend also had a headache" answers to the ESP question, there were also some "you do a lot of programming I guess" answers to my start-up question, and, well, it's a basically free service, and again, AskMe isn't a research library. So I think we'll have to live with not every answer being the best interpretation of the question.
posted by Sara C. at 9:35 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Origins point to that mid ’80s Burger King ad campaign that nobody gave a shit about, where spotting this actor playing a nerd named Herb at a BK meant you won something, like a spray-on- charcoal-tasting-ass Whopper or a bunch of money or whatever.
Was this the origin of the phrase? Ha. I think it was late '80s, though because I had a job at that time where customers were always coming up and asking me if I was the manager. I wasn't and it was annoying, so for a while I just started saying "No, I'm Herb."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:38 AM on May 30, 2013


Leaving a terse link to the Skeptic's Dictionary is not so much an okay thing, though, which is why your comment got deleted in there.

The deletion of your comment is a detail you just happened to leave out, CiS, and that omission is making it harder for me to take anything else you say here in this thread at face value.

I've had around a dozen experiences which might meet the Asker's criteria, about half with witnesses or where I was the witness, but I chose not to answer the question because I thought the examples she gave demonstrated more credulity than I'm comfortable with when it comes to discussing these things, and I didn't want to risk feeding a will to believe which in my opinion already shows a propensity to go beyond the evidence.
posted by jamjam at 9:55 AM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dude, fighting the woo is actually my hobby / one-day-career, and even I know that the Green isn't the battlefield. Move on.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:55 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


i just joined this site recently and have been reading posts on this "Talk" section, and after reading hundreds of comments I'm still trying to figure this out. I guess I don't understand what the discussion is about, is there a vote tallied at the end about what the community thinks are problem discussion threads or users? Do the mods change things from seeing Talk posts or is it better to send a private message?
posted by averageamateur at 10:00 AM on May 30, 2013


The funny thing about this MeTa is that the general thrust of the answers in the thread is basically "yes, this is an experience that many people have at some point, but a lot of it is attributable to mundane factors." I'm not sure what more CiS really wants? There are ways to encourage skepticism without shouting down everyone with a woo-flavored question as a stupid stupidhead.
posted by kagredon at 10:02 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's perfectly legit to ask for specific experiences that people have had that answer a question.

I agree. In this case the OP's phrasing was chatty, but it could just as easily have been, "Weird things happen to me. I'm not looking to be talked out of believing these things, but it would be helpful to me to hear from people who've had similar experiences." That phrasing wouldn't have been borderline. It may not even have ended up in MeTa.

If a post asks two questions, and one of them is clearly unacceptable by Metafilter's standards, I don't think the post should be allowed to stand.

In a different situation where it was clear the OP had concocted the okay question just to slip the unacceptable one under the radar, I assume the post would be deleted.
posted by cribcage at 10:05 AM on May 30, 2013


Do the mods change things from seeing Talk posts or is it better to send a private message?

Hi Noob! Our votes are not counted in a formal way. In the end, the mods (particularly Mod #1, Mathowie) decide. They listen to criticism and new ideas because they are cool folks, and sometimes (rarely) change policy based on these discussions. But in the end, a lot of the conversation here is blowing off steam. You can be a perfectly good user of the site without ever setting foot in MetaTalk.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:07 AM on May 30, 2013


is there a vote tallied at the end about what the community thinks are problem discussion threads or users?

Yes. When the vote is tallied, the mods write the answer down on a piece of paper and think about it really hard. Then the users try to guess what they are thinking.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:08 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't get me wrong. Science rocks. It used to be my favorite section of the bookstore, back when we had bookstores. But it ain't gospel. In fact, that's its point. Science is a method by which we've explained some things and hope to explain others. In the meantime, weird stuff like twin ESP happens and we don't have a scientific explanation for it. Insisting that we can't talk about things that science hasn't explained (well) is fanatical, and that fanaticism annoys me.

Well, this line of thinking is problematic because it's deeply hostile to the way that responsible hypotheses are formed. You're suggesting that it's fanatical to assign a low likelihood to the hypothesis that ESP explains these incidences of coincident sensation, even though prior knowledge concerning physical law and the unreliability and pliability of memory makes that a secure bet. Refusing to privilege certain hypotheses over others isn't open-minded in any but the Fox News sense, and while it's irrational to rule out ESP a priori, it's a lot more reasonable than assuming it exists. I think a lot of those "I believe in science, but we don't know everything"-type statements are a cover for exactly that assumption on the part of people who (understandably) feel that what they or their intimates experienced has to be real.
posted by invitapriore at 10:11 AM on May 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


That said, the slippery slope argument you were responding to is ironically probably the most evidence-free assertion anyone has made between this post and the AskMe question, so there's that.
posted by invitapriore at 10:16 AM on May 30, 2013


I think you're misreading what I wrote, but the point I was trying to make wasn't about science. That was merely explanation of why I feel the way I do. My point was that lots of us feel differently about what AskMe should or shouldn't be; and in advocating our respective opinions, we should keep in mind that the broader goal isn't for any of us to win, but instead to strike a fair middle ground.
posted by cribcage at 10:18 AM on May 30, 2013


? I can see that. I was just responding to assertions you made in that one paragraph, which is why it's the only one I quoted.
posted by invitapriore at 10:21 AM on May 30, 2013


Which is to say I agree with your larger point and I was responding to something mostly unrelated to it.
posted by invitapriore at 10:23 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are ways to encourage skepticism without shouting down everyone with a woo-flavored question as a stupid stupidhead.

Yeah, but where's the fun in that?!
posted by rtha at 10:25 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


" In the meantime, weird stuff like twin ESP happens and we don't have a scientific explanation for it. Insisting that we can't talk about things that science hasn't explained (well) is fanatical, and that fanaticism annoys me."

… but we do have a scientific explanation for it. Confirmation bias, mostly, with some coincidence and pattern overmatching. It's not necessarily a satisfying answer for people who have had those experiences, but it is the rational, evidence-based one.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on May 30, 2013 [14 favorites]

Let he who was not sort of an asshole at 25 cast the first snark. Anyone? Anyone?
There are all sorts of reasonable, non-assholish folks here who are in their 20s. We can set the bar higher than just "Eh, he's young, of course he's sort of an asshole."
posted by ChuraChura at 10:50 AM on May 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


… but we do have a scientific explanation for it.

Burn the witch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:52 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not for nothing, but we've had this discussion before, way back in 2007. The woo at issue was astrology. The MeTa went on for what was then a long time (292 comments!) and the thread contains two of my favorite comments ever in MeTa.

The first link is just a particularly magnificent piece of snark. The second, though, the one about how much diazinon to feed your pet crickets, is a really important in this context. The question is, can we answer questions that are based on a fundamentally flawed premise -- that diazinon is cricket food or that the position of the planets at the time of your birth can predict how your week will go -- or does correcting that premise count as an "answer"? I think Jessamyn was generally of the view that it would be better to move on rather than try to correct the premise, and that's how I have conducted myself in the six years since. The thread was one of a few at about that time that really changed the way I interacted with Ask, as I recall.
posted by The Bellman at 10:58 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Science rocks. It used to be my favorite section of the bookstore,

Wow.
posted by aught at 11:07 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just chiming in to say I actually really enjoy some of these "woo"-type topics. They're often a lot of fun. There's something about certain ghost stories and ESP/paranormal stuff that makes for an entertaining diversion, and I really enjoy horror, sci fi and fantasy genres that tread in similar topics. I assure you, enjoying this stuff does not mean you are not a skeptic, and to me someone specifically asking for studies on it is a pretty clear indication they are not just buying in without asking the right questions.
posted by Hoopo at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Science rocks.

The term is "geology".
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:38 AM on May 30, 2013 [25 favorites]


To quote myself on "bullying" -- Bullying is a problem that children have because of the special powerlessness that comes with youth AND the special social circumstances that arise between youths. As adults we have the power to change our circumstances. When people are abusive or violent or cruel or rude, we have laws that govern those situations. Let's stop using a word that means something very specific and awful to say "Someone was mean to me".

Bit of a derail and I agree that the first use of "bullying" in this thread was hyperbolic and inaccurate, but it is absolutely not true that only children can be bullied, or that only children can be powerless and not be able to or feel they are able to change their situations.
posted by sweetkid at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also just chiming in: I don't enjoy woo-type topics, and I don't generally read those questions, but I'm glad they're on the site. Between the mods, the userbase and the culture of AskMe, I think that discussions about woo-type topics are something that AskMe does pretty well.
posted by box at 12:10 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


ChuraChura:
There are all sorts of reasonable, non-assholish folks here who are in their 20s. We can set the bar higher than just "Eh, he's young, of course he's sort of an asshole."

If it helps, the spelled-out version of what I was trying to say in joke form was not that all young people are assholes. It's that any of us who are constantly trying to be and do better can look back at who we were a few years ago and cringe. Perhaps you were a fully formed person in your twenties and you harbor no regrets and have needed no growth. Good on you. Most of us were not and could stand the reminder, so that we might cut a little slack where appropriate.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:15 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow.

You do realize people can scroll up and see that you snipped the second half of the sentence to turn it from a joke into a dumb statement, right?
posted by cribcage at 12:17 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nope, I am still working on forming myself.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:21 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid: I totally agree that adults can be both made to feel powerless (through abuse), and actually made powerless (by a law or representative of the law), but I disagree that the word for these things is "bullying". I know people use it to mean things like that, but I wish they would stop. It's diluting the problems of children with the problems of adults. They are separate problems imo and deserve different names. Not to mention that it can also be over-used by adults who think that any sort of animosity directed towards them isjust akin to physical dominance, which, I mean, it is not. Anyway, sorry to continue this derail also, I always feel inclined to speak up about it because I think it's unfair to children/teens who get bullied for adults to use it for their own situations. It may be quixotic, and eventually everything will be called bullying, including NOT retweeting jokes, serving eggs, and wearing pointy shoes. And that will be fine.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2013


There are all sorts of reasonable, non-assholish folks here who are in their 20s.

Poppycock!
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:40 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Which then tilts the site that way.
Maybe you should counterbalance with an AskMe of your own. For example:
My questions for the hive mind are:

1. Please share your stories of having experiences consistent with physics.
2. Can you point me to research on physics? I vaguely know this research exists, but don't have any good references.

Thanks for sharing, and look forward to reading some interesting and explicable stories!
posted by Flunkie at 12:41 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I seriously thought that "woo" was some type of sexual slang, and got really excited when it was mentioned.

I am disappoint.
posted by Shouraku at 1:02 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Potomac, you are trying to limit the definition of the word "bullying" in a way that is not generally true for any application I'm familiar with. Bullying frequently involves children, but I've never seen anyone say it would be wrong to use it to describe similar behavior in adults. And it is plenty serious when it happens to adults, too.
posted by Hoopo at 1:11 PM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you outright reject the premise of the question, then don't offer an answer.

I'm trying to decide if I should feel bad about providing the obvious/obligatory anti-woo answer (and if some of the criticism is aimed at answers like mine). Wasn't trying to be a jerk (at least, no more so than usual) and certainly not an anti-woo bully (at least not about harmless stuff). Tried to phrase it so it was at least a valid response to asker's question, and a pointer towards an actual scientific theory (one that doesn't defy physics) that explains this phenomenon.

I certainly don't have a problem with the question being asked; I would have a problem with over-moderation that erased any hint of argument with the underlying premise of the question. But since that didn't happen, I'm happy with the way the community & mods handled it.

Apologies to anyone offended.
posted by supercres at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2013


Shouraku: "I seriously thought that "woo" was some type of sexual slang, and got really excited when it was mentioned.

I am disappoint.
"

Just as I am to learn that you apparently aren't the ghost of Bob Eubanks.

(who is apparently still alive)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow.

You do realize people can scroll up and see that you snipped the second half of the sentence to turn it from a joke into a dumb statement, right?


Hm. It didn't read like a joke to me. Thing is, when I do scroll back, I see you do quite a bit of qualifiying of your faith in science (to continue your "gospel" imagery, which maybe undercut your joke more than you realized.

But the biggest problem in the part I didn't quote is the confusion you show between method and conclusions. Science is in fact a proven method; it's the provisional conclusions reached by recent investigations that "ain't" necessarily "gospel," depending on what the next set of investigations show.

This idea that science is a body of facts that nerds in white coats are claiming are "true" is one of the biggest and most damaging confusions about science I see people voice. People who think this seems to feel that if one of these facts from scientists is disproven, the scientific house of cards must be very shaky and the whole of science is undependable. (Playing on this is the cynical strategy climate change truthers are always attempting to use in their efforts to get corporation just one more decade of polluting profits.) And unfortunately that science shelf in the bookstore, full of glib pop-sci wannabe bestsellers usually written by journalists, often propagates this confusion, because of the authors' fear of talking over the heads of the general public and not selling any books.

Anyhow, that's some of the background of my reaction to your "joke". No offense meant, but really I still read your comment and think, "Wow."
posted by aught at 1:16 PM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm trying to decide if I should feel bad about providing the obvious/obligatory anti-woo answer

no, don't feel bad. While you didn't actually point to the research, it does sound like what you said is a conclusion that is frequently reached.
posted by Hoopo at 1:32 PM on May 30, 2013


This idea that science is a body of facts that nerds in white coats are claiming are "true" is one of the biggest and most damaging confusions about science I see people voice.

No, you're right: Science is a method. No sarcasm intended, I felt I made that point reasonably clear when I wrote, "Science is a method..."

I don't believe my comment confused method with conclusions. The paragraph that you and several others have lasered-in on was, I feel, pretty clearly a lighthearted and shorthand way of rounding-out a point. Could I have used more precise terminology? Sure. For instance, I could have referred to cerebral lateralization instead of going for the cheap parallelism between "two halves" and "four areas." But I wasn't making a point about science. I was making a point about the social dynamics of this website, in the context of an Etiquette/Policy discussion in MetaTalk.

If y'all want to talk about the merits of the scientific method and compare bookshelves, that's totally fine but it's a different conversation. It's not really one for MetaTalk. Maybe I shouldn't have included that paragraph, or maybe I should have written it more carefully, or maybe it just says something about people who focused on it. My kingdom for a five-hour edit window.
posted by cribcage at 1:45 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]




"How do I raise my beloved grandmother from the dead and guarantee she won't chomp my brain"

As an addendum to my previous post, I actually think these sort of questions are entertaining. And maybe even entertaining in such a way that they would add value to the site. Not as something to laugh at or poke fun, but more in a "wow, my brain wouldn't be thinking about this on its own" type of feeling a good book/tv show/new experience would give you. Arguing against this kind of stuff almost strikes me as a little kid not wanting to try a new kind of food. Why not think outside the box for a minute without dismissing it instantly at face value?

There's so many interesting people here that I'd love to see them talk about basically anything I can imagine, and especially love when it ends up being something I probably wouldn't have imagined on my own.

As adults we have the power to change our circumstances. When people are abusive or violent or cruel or rude, we have laws that govern those situations. Let's stop using a word that means something very specific and awful to say "Someone was mean to me".

This all sounds cute, but if you think actual bullying in the same types(and sometimes worse) ways it happens to children doesn't happen to adults, you must have led a fairly sheltered existence. I'm trying my hardest to be civil here, but this is seriously just wrong.

Adults get bullied all the time every day. By their employers/managers/bosses, by peers at work in protected positions, by family members, I could go on. Work essentially becomes the new school in this context when you're an adult, and there's additional layers of shittiness in the whole "take it on the chin or ill fire you" type of shit, and sexual aspects that can come up.

I will agree its an overused term on the Internet. But to even imply that actual Internet bullying between adults isn't a thing that happens is a bit naive as well.

Basically, I get what you guys are saying. But you lost me when you started soapboxing not just about how this was an overused and improperly used term, but that additionally it wasn't even A Thing That Happened™ or something.
posted by emptythought at 2:03 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry, that was my fault, I don't mean to impugn the other people here who spoke up just to say that it's overused and used incorrectly.

I have not led a sheltered life (at least in terms of, you know, Western culture or whatever, I mean I've never battled a wolf for food for my baby or anything but you know what I'm saying). I've run into plenty of abusers and assholes and jerks. I was bullied as a child, and looking back on it I participated in bullying as well, which I obviously regret. I know that it's commonly understood to be the same as workplace cruelty and spousal abuse. But I don't agree with that common understanding. I'm not saying that fucked up shit doesn't happen to adults. It does, and sometimes its way way worse than bullying. But I maintain that they are different things and that bullying is a wrong, confusing word to use for the adult bad stuff.

Since this is just my random stand on an issue if people want to school me further I'm happy to discuss in Memail but I won't derail no more.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:16 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The word is confusing to you because you apparently define it in a way that no one else does.
posted by Hoopo at 2:23 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The thing I like best about MetaFilter, and about Ask MeFi, is that there are lots of posts about lots of things I don't necessarily believe in or subscribe to or know anything about. That's what makes it interesting! If all I wanted to do was ruminate on things I already know and believe, I would just talk to myself!
posted by sarcasticah at 2:58 PM on May 30, 2013


As adults we have the power to change our circumstances. When people are abusive or violent or cruel or rude, we have laws that govern those situations. Let's stop using a word that means something very specific and awful to say "Someone was mean to me".

This all sounds cute, but if you think actual bullying in the same types(and sometimes worse) ways it happens to children doesn't happen to adults, you must have led a fairly sheltered existence. I'm trying my hardest to be civil here, but this is seriously just wrong.


Yeah, it's just really wrong to say that all adults can just change their situations at will and so therefore we need to use different words than bullying to explain these situations with adults, and especially to say we are doing a disservice to childhood bullying by doing so.

Just...ick. Sorry.
posted by sweetkid at 3:04 PM on May 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


For me, a bully is anyone who throws their weight around, because they can, not because there's any justification for it. Some of the worst bullies I've ever dealt with are bosses -- people who can fire you if you don't suck it up, do things their way. Also, certain parents.

But back to the topic at hand. I love a Metafilter that isn't certain of anything, but doesn't use this allowance for uncertainty to justify bullshit. So yeah, go Science go, I'm almost always with you. Yet I've experienced enough cosmic weirdness to know (almost for certain) that you've still got some serious explaining to do.

For instance, here's a simple one. How is it that the two people I've most "connected" with in my life (ie: had long term relationships with but never really had serious conflicts with) both have birthdays six months away from my own (one exactly six months, the other's one day off). In other words, their astrological positioning is directly opposite mine, and as such, we just don't get in each others way on an emotional level. Or so it seems.

Worth noting. Neither of these relationships have ever progressed past FRIEND.
posted by philip-random at 3:23 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are only 365 days in a year, but there are billions of people on the planet. Therefore there must statistically be very many people who have two close friends with similar birthdays some seemingly significant number of days away. Yet, if this was truly significant, why aren't you close friends with everybody who was born 6 months away from you? Or 5? Because it is a coincidence. And not even a highly improbable one, I'd guess, although there's no way I'm volunteering to do the math.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:40 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Eh, a close friend of mine was born exactly six months after me, in the same hospital. Despite the fact that neither of us grew up in the city that hospital is in, and we met across the country from said city.

Shit's weird. I was once walking down the street in Varanasi, India, and ran into an old friend. Neither of us had any idea that the other was in India at all.

I don't think science really needs to explain the fact that odd coincidences sometimes happen.
posted by Sara C. at 3:49 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


In other words, their astrological positioning is directly opposite mine, and as such, we just don't get in each others way on an emotional level. Or so it seems. Worth noting. Neither of these relationships have ever progressed past FRIEND.

They never progressed beyond friend because you didn't get each other on an emotional level. But it doesn't necessarily follow that the reason for this was your astrological positioning. Lots of people don't get each other.

I'm not saying you're wrong - wth do I know? - but it's not really an example of cosmic weirdness. It's more likely to do with the laws of probability.
posted by billiebee at 3:52 PM on May 30, 2013


I've had a couple of experiences in my life that someone could, if they were so inclined, call 'supernatural'. Hell, I've even seen a UFO, in the sense that it was unidentified, flying and apparently some kind of object.

I certainly don't have any good explanations for some of the more outlandish things that have happened to me, although I think each of them is probably explicable with varies species of science and brainfartery.

Which is to say, I guess, that I think questions about this sort of thing are just fine, but in cases where the questioner is just seeking confirmation of supernatural causes for their strange experiences, that's not helping anyone very much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:56 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


How is it that the two people I've most "connected" with in my life (ie: had long term relationships with but never really had serious conflicts with) both have birthdays six months away from my own (one exactly six months, the other's one day off).

Heh. I hadn't even thought of this one a minute ago, but in my first two sexual relationships of any note, both women shared the same birthday, one day after mine, one year earlier and one year later, and all three of us have small moles on our chests in exactly the same location.

And both those women damn near broke my young heart.

So, shrug.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:00 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another way to look at this birthday coincidence, too, is that this sticks out as possibly significant for precisely the same reason that we should understand that it isn't: because it is a pattern, and is seemingly unusual. Yet, again, if it were truly significant (if it were somehow causitive), wouldn't most people be close friends with people who have birthdays 6 months apart? Wouldn't that be a common configuration if it were meaningful, instead of unlikely?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:01 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, Stav - you all had the same moles AND the same birthdays? If the 6 of you were all born on October 23, THAT would be too big a coincidence to ignore!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:05 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


As Stephen Fry says, it's not strange that coincidences happen. What would be strange is if they never happened.

I rule out nothing and believe a lot of out there stuff and also love science. I don't really see why they're mutually exclusive. And I love AskMe, it's such a nice atmosphere, and I think it's good that there are no real limits to what questions are acceptable. Why restrict it out of some snobbish sense of intellectual superiority?
posted by billiebee at 4:06 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Ok I rule out some stuff obviously...)
posted by billiebee at 4:07 PM on May 30, 2013


I'm trying to decide if I should feel bad about providing the obvious/obligatory anti-woo answer (and if some of the criticism is aimed at answers like mine).

I read your answer, and I personally didn't see a problem with it. There were people in that thread, including yourself, that provided rationalist answers (i.e., this is confirmation bias) without being total dicks about it.

Which, given that the question asked for research on the topic, is a totally valid way to do that.

It's totally possible to disagree with or contradict someone without being a dick. At the end of the day, the threshold is 'is it a helpful answer'?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:24 PM on May 30, 2013


In the context of the question, I disagree that comments explaining the concept of confirmation bias are totally valid. I think they're non-responsive. The OP asked to be pointed to research or references. If you have a particular book or study on the topic of confirmation bias, that would be a valid answer.
posted by cribcage at 4:30 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, Stav - you all had the same moles AND the same birthdays?

Aye, same moles and almost same birthdays (they were both one day later), but only 3 of us in total.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:31 PM on May 30, 2013



I don't have a problem with the site skewing more supernatural; I am totally okay with Sam/Dean slashfic.


Having got halfway through the F Plus episode about Supernatural fandom, I'm not. It starts with 'oh, thats kinda cute' and ends with ass-milk and bees in their asses and horrible, horrible, horrible things.

And I say this as a Supernatural fan.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:33 PM on May 30, 2013


I don't think science really needs to explain the fact that odd coincidences sometimes happen.

"Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."
(Albert Einstein)
posted by philip-random at 4:35 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and then before you know it people will be posting nonsense about saints' relics and whatnot. Won't someone stop the madness! Its so much better to keep out the open-minded and stick with issues that deal purely with reality, such as the pressing issue of magic in games.

look don't pretend that i'm somebody who hates fiction and weirdness. but i treat it as fiction, i don't act as if the premises of those fictions are real.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:35 PM on May 30, 2013


you were all born on October 23

October 23?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:37 PM on May 30, 2013




"Einstein, stop telling God what to do."
(Niels Bohr)
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:43 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would you still object if the OP had couched the question as, "What are some rational explanations for 'twin telepathy' and other seemingly psychic connections between people?" Because I'm pretty sure the answers would be pretty similar, and while framing matters, the mods don't delete every AskMe that's framed slightly suboptimally.
posted by kagredon at 4:47 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


CiS, if it were deleted, what would you like to see as the given deletion reason?
posted by KathrynT at 5:37 PM on May 30, 2013


Don't the moderators, and everyone else, have better things to do? If you don't like the question, ignore it!

(And actually Fortean Times for the most part has pretty impeccable scholarship, though you might dispute their sources.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:39 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


(These are the words of a dead man reaching out from beyond the grave, here. Pretty freaky huh? I'm frequently recieving communications from the dead.)

Anyways yeah, people feel ways about stuff, they don't have to like or believe or be interested by the same things as you, and metafilter can still be a valuable place! Yay diversity! Hugs for everyone!
posted by windykites at 6:16 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


> And if it gets tolerated the site could become yet another haven for irrationality.

You're too new to remember but early metafilter was like a branch office of the Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Logical empiricism everywhere you looked, under every bed and bush. We heard from Rudy Carnap on a daily basis. Then in 2004 (inexplicably! without physical cause!) a wormhole opened up from the Woo Dimension, a tidal wave of homeopathic healing, new ageism and general shirley maclainery engulfed us, and since then it's been timecube all the way down.
posted by jfuller at 7:14 PM on May 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


And yes: when the Woo Dimension opened, there was a sudden flight of white doves.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:18 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


who cried in the purple rain
posted by winna at 7:38 PM on May 30, 2013


...which I kept out of my eyes by adjusting my raspberry beret. You know - the kind that you get at a secondhand store.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:43 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I asked a question that was kind-of-woo-y and I got great responses that were 1) other locations that fit and 2) explanations for the feeling.

AskMe works, don't fuck with it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:43 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


HOW CAN YOU JUST LEAVE A COMMENT

ALONE IN AN ASKME OF WOO
posted by kagredon at 7:52 PM on May 30, 2013



And yes: when the Woo Dimension opened, there was a sudden flight of white doves.
...
who cried in the purple rain


So it sounded like my parents arguing?
posted by philip-random at 7:59 PM on May 30, 2013


It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a woo.

>_
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:09 PM on May 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I would die 4 woo
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:16 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


That Horatio line reminds me that this is probably appropriate for this thread, somehow.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:17 PM on May 30, 2013


the woo-tang clan ain't nothing to fuck with
posted by kagredon at 8:31 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


nooneyouknow, you are my hero for that comment.
posted by Shouraku at 8:58 PM on May 30, 2013


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


Mefi's own Lore Sjoberg has ruined this quote for me.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:14 PM on May 30, 2013


look don't pretend that i'm somebody who hates fiction and weirdness. but i treat it as fiction, i don't act as if the premises of those fictions are real.

That's fine, you get to draw your own boundary lines for what you're interested in and what you believe in. I'm in favour of your right to do that. I'm not sure why you think you should get to draw those lines for everyone else who uses the site.
posted by billiebee at 4:51 AM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


I actually DID try to answer the OP's question.

I am an atheist, rational primate, and I do not believe in woo. I also do not deny that I have had experiences I am unable to satisfactorily explain or categorize within the parameters of my rational worldview.

So I don't see a problem discussing how to reconcile a rational worldview with what, at first glance, appear to be irrational occurrences. The OP was looking for ways to do that, at least in the second part of the question.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:29 AM on May 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Perhaps we are not The Fortean Times, but maybe we can at least endeavor to live up to the standards of the The Seattle Times.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:39 AM on May 31, 2013


Seattle Times Metafilter: winner of 9 Pulitzer Prizes
posted by kagredon at 11:08 AM on May 31, 2013


for a short time I thought that "a four-year-old with a history of escaping and other behaviour problems" was referring to the psychic...
posted by windykites at 11:46 AM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


C.G. Jung. Synchronicity. No one? Bueller? . . .Bueller? . . . Bueller?
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 1:49 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


When did "rational" become synonymous with "THE FUN STOPS HERE"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thank you for posting this so I know about the existence of a great new supernatural-related thread. Those are some of my favorites.
posted by limeonaire at 6:04 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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