Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Synchronicity, Carl Jung, and The I Ching: Nothing but Ordinary Coincidence

[[Some background information on Synchronicity and The I Ching.]]

C. G. Jung was impressed by the ability of the I Ching (The Chinese Book of Changes) to offer clear answers to important questions. Jung had previously coined the term synchronicity, a principle which he used to explain how the I Ching works, stating that “...whatever is born or done in this moment of time has the quality of this moment of time.”[1] Synchronicity deals with meaningful coincidences that are not connected in a cause and effect relationship, but are somehow more than mere chance. In relation to the I Ching, Jung says, “…synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events…as well as the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers.”[2]

Unfortunately, the only real proof that synchronicity is behind the appearance of two coincidental events is simply that one finds the occurrence of those events significant. The problem is that in life we’re exposed to so many events that the probability is quite high that some coincidences will seem dramatic.[3]

Even Jung himself is not clear about how synchronicity works. At one point he maintains that the outer event and the mental state are simultaneous.[4] Later he maintains that a mental state coincides with a “(more or less simultaneous) external event,” or with a “future event that is distant in time.”[5] The writer Arthur Koestler, a popularizer of much of Jung’s work, found Jung confusing on the matter of synchronicity, writing “One wonders why Jung created these unnecessary complications by coining a term which implies simultaneity, and then explaining that it does not mean what it means.”[6] As is often the hallmark of many pseudoscientific claims, Jung’s synchronicity principle is a “nonrefutable or irrefutable hypothesis.”[7]

1. Wilhelm, Richard. (1931, 1969). The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life, p. 142.
2. Jung. C. G. (1950, 1979). “Forward to the I Ching.” The I Ching or Book of Changes. Trans. from the Chinese by Richard Wilhelm. Trans. from the German by Cary F. Baynes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, p. xxiv.
3. Dean, Geoffrey; Loptson, Peter; Kelly, Ivan; et al. (2005). “Theories of Astrology: A Comprehensive Survey.” Correlation 1996, 15(1): 17-52, p.7.
4. Jung, C. G. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, p. 441 (paragraph 850).
5. Jung, C. G. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, p. 526 (paragraph 984).
6. Koestler, Arthur (1972, 1974). The Roots of Coincidence. London: Pan Books Ltd., p. 95.
7. McGowan, Don (1994). What Is Wrong with Jung. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, p. 137.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Aliens over Texas

Aliens over Texas

Apparently over two dozen people saw some strange lights in the night sky above the small town of Stephenville, Texas a few days ago, but no one took a photo or a video. In this day and age when almost every cell phone has a camera, why were there no photos, especially when the lights were visible for nearly five minutes?

It's enough to make you suspicious. Without photos or video there's nothing that can be examined by impartial scientists.

Perhaps Stephenville needs an economic boost. This will certainly bring in the tourists. A new Roswell perhaps?

As Carl Sagan once said about UFO sightings, they could be: "unconventional aircraft, conventional aircraft with unusual lighting patterns, high-altitude balloons, luminescent insects, planets seen under unusual atmospheric conditions, optical mirages and loomings, lenticular clouds, ball lightning, sundogs, meteors including green fireballs, and satellites, nosecones, and rocket boosters spectacularly reentering the atmosphere."

Quotation from: Sagan, Carl. (1995). The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Random House, pp.70-71.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Flying Saucers: Discovered or Invented?

Flying Saucers: Discovered or Invented?

On June 24, 1947, businessman Kenneth Arnold was flying his private plane over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State when he saw nine shiny objects quickly moving across the sky like "geese in formation." After a few minutes they were gone. Arnold described the objects themselves as "crescent shaped," and that they "moved like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water." The Associated Press misquoted Arnold, describing what he saw as "flying saucers." Later, Arnold complained about being misquoted, saying, "They said that I'd said they were saucer-like. I said they flew in saucer-like fashion" (Clancy 2005, pp. 91-92).

Arnold's misquoted statement about flying saucers was published in 150 newspapers, and soon afterwards hundreds of reports of flying saucers began to surface. What's strange is that hardly anyone seems to have reported seeing crescent-shaped or boomerang-shaped objects as Arnold had reported. It's not hard to see the suggestive power of the media in all these reports of flying saucers. And just a few years later Hollywood made its first contribution to the flying saucer craze with the science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still, firmly embedding the iconic image of the flying saucer in the American psyche. Some UFO sightings have included variations on the saucer theme, with some objects described as cylindrical or spherical, but by and large the most common shape is the saucer. This should certainly give us pause, serious pause.
Quote from: Clancy, Susan A. (2005). Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Abducted by Aliens. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 91-92.