Re: Chapter 8: On the distinction between true and false visions
I think this chapter is really about our suggestability. Hypno-therapy and its affect on its subjects as well as the inclination to see visions by simple people who live in a religious community.
The people who are famous for encountering religious visions are almost always very simple and uneducated people. It seems also that they are predominantly from the Roman Catholic faith. I always thought the Roman Catholic faith was very much more romantic than my own prosaic protestant anglican version of Christianity. I was always quite envious. How lovely to have all those saints, angels, candles, insence AND a mother figure to appeal to. Our establishment church, Anglican, was terribly patriarchal. Women were absolutely and completely in the background and seldom referred to at all. Now they have just ordained a woman bishop, but it's nothing to do with me now because I don't go.
I have noted though, that the best and most famed psychic mediums over the years; the ones who name names and dates and give exact information, are all simple and uneducated. Not really clever enough to mislead anyone else. Wasn't Saint Bernadette's vision accepted eventually by the church because she said the lady told her that she was, 'the immaculate conception' and the priests knew she would not know that terminology. I do agree that the visions do seem to demand some peculiar procedures though. Still, it might explain the reason why visions don't appear to the people in power, as CS points out, but to the the humble. Our egos get in the way.
The man who came to me last year,whilst I was working at the bookshop, actually said to me that he didn't know why he had the gift. He said, ' I don't know why me, because I'm thick'. I wonder myself if it is our egos that get in the way. Little children and simple people often seem to have no egos at all.
I am writing all this at the risk of boring you - sighing and yawning is it? But I really want to put another point rather than Carl's list of reasons not to accept what is offered as evidence. It is not fact....it is opinion to a large extent. Don't misunderstand me, I am grateful for any hints towards bullshit detecting because I know there are a lot of charlatans around.......but I do feel that Carl Sagan is getting us nodding in agreement to some fine points, but then slipping in many instances of pure opinion.
He leaves us feeling quite inadequate in that he tells us that we can't trust our eyes, ears, nor in many cases our reasoning skills. So what are we to do. Is it, 'do as I, the Scientist, the Physicst, say because I'm cleverer than you?' Well, I just don't think it is all about clever and reason. We have intuition, all of us. I rather think it is stifled in this era of technological genius, but it is still our sixth sense because, since we are human, we are not all rationality and reason......We do some very illogical stuff out of love and compassion.....