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While this is categorised "paranormal", it's redlinked. I know we often use paranormal and pseudoscience almost synonimously, but was wondering if paranormal is better because as I'm aware, no one has really tried to be "science-y" about it - apart from the blind testing by Randi etc. It's not like they often try to use sham quantum physics with it. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 14:32, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Not lying[edit]

I am not lying when I say I see auras in and around people. Hell, I saw the aura of a canary bird one time: it was really cool looking. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:28, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

You probably have synathesia or something. You have to remember that what you see with your eyes is not what is actually constructed in your head. Your brain builds up a world around you - vision is a large, but not totally controlling, aspect of this - built on various sensory inputs; your sight, sound, touch, smell, sense of balance and your previous memories and preconceptions (this is important to "fill in the blanks" when the input data is ambiguous, hence why you can look at someone in the distance and be convinced that it's someone you know until they're almost right next to you). Hence why people really do seriously see odd shit like auras or have "x-ray eyes", but they invariably fail the blinded tests used to confirm any real external basis of what they're seeing (James Randi's test with people standing behind screens, for example). Scarlet A.pnggnostic 15:37, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
AV is right. No one is going to call you a liar, but before you can say that what you're perceiving is anything more than a trick of the eyes you have to take steps to establish that. Have you ever tried to independently verify that you are perceiving something and that it's not a trick of your mind? The Randi-style sheet test springs to mind.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 16:04, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Of course it is a visual/perceptual artifact, and I will not say any different. The images I get are transient, fleeting even, and if I want to render one on paper, I need to memorize as much as I can in the available instant. Any figurative or realistic painter knows how that works. I'm not about to do anything Randiful about it; in my estimation that would be on a par with nerds in lab coats trying to understand Angelfood McSpade's essence by measuring her boob with calipers. (Robert Crumb's id is famously shown by his drawing.) At best, that's a distraction from what this is about.
At the core of what I'd like to say here is that the images seem to be relevant to the individual, often startlingly so. I try to come at drawing a stranger's aura without preconceptions, merely noticing the image that arrives. Most of the time I didn't even talk with them before looking, nothing beyond a quick pleasant "Hi, won't you have a seat and relax?" The conversation came after the drawing. Much like a flame, the auras I see do not hold still.
I first started looking for, and seeing, auras after meeting a kid who saw them, and was vocally open about it. His mom apologized, saying he had never been forbidden to go looking, nor told it was a strange thing to do. That is the on-mission part here: some rationalists (not you guys, of course ;-)) seem to have this authoritarian tendency to dismiss anything that cannot be repeatably demonstrated in a double-blind test. There is more to life than that, a lot more. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:44, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't know who Angelfood McSpade is, but if she's a beautiful woman, then it's likely that her features are extremely symmetrical and accord in certain ways with prominent reproductive features. That's because the nature of beauty and sexuality can also be studied, although the variations in individual taste make such a widely nebulous subject difficult to reach certain conclusions on. That makes it unlike, say, a perceptual aberration like seeing auras, which seems easily subject to scrutiny.
You don't need to go straight to the "more in heaven and earth, Horatio" nonsense just yet. If you'll note, you're dismissing the entire possibility of testing without consideration, just because you don't like the idea. Think about your reasons for that.
If your depictions of auras are so significant to individuals, do you think an individual could recognize their own aura?--Tom Moorefiat justitia 16:49, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
(EC)Well, the thing about the "repeatably demonstrated in a double-blind test" is that it demonstrates and shows a real qualitiy to something. I reckon it's slightly naive to reject everything outright, submitting it to rigorous testing (As Dara Ó Briain said "More to life than evidence? Get in the fuckin' sack!") is one of the bedrocks of rationalism, science and how we can tell what is real and what is just inside our heads - reproducing something consistently is one of the key features that makes it real, otherwise there's something else at work. It's fair enough to say that "there's more to life than that" and ignore testing, but that doesn't mean everyone should obey that and not subject stuff to scrunity - I could say that it takes all sorts to make the world work, and we need people will hold everything to double-blind, randomised, reproducible testing. But anyway, I find psychology, illusion, how the mind processes information and visual tricks far more interesting than "magic fields" to explain this sort of thing, I get the impression you do to but secretly want it to be something "more" (I kind of want that too, gods and magic would be awesome, but the sad fact is that the world is just not that interesting!). Scarlet A.pnggnostic 17:14, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
(Non-EC bit)More specifically, if auras were specific to an individual, but were real (i.e., not just in the observer's head) then the interesting issue would be do peoples auras look the same to other observers? Or do you pull the usual trick of "oh, they're different to everyone", in which case Occam's Razor calls bullshit on the entire thing as it's far more plausible to put it down to illusion specific to the observer rather than a real phenomenon that magically and mysteriously changes. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 17:14, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
(EC: Armondikov I'll get back to your stuff later; RL is calling)@Tom, Have you heard of Robert Crumb? He was in the news lately, publishing an illustrated book of Genesis, begats and all. Not nonsense, Horatio. This is something I do for my own exploration, and it's fun. Testing seems like a lot of effort, for what return? It would be interesting to see how a well-designed test would go. There is hope for that kind of thing, since workers in cognitive linguistics seem to have found ways to deduce some of the mental depths of language by observing actual linguistic behavior, instead of the classical intellectually oriented methods that call for a lot of whole cloth. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:19, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
I've heard of Crumb, although I'm not very familiar.
The return on testing would be that you would expand your knowledge about your ability. I have to admit, I find it kind of hard to believe you're not even curious about its nature. I like to think that if I had something similar, I would explore it as much as I could. After all, an exceedingly rare ability that defies much of what we know of modern science seems like it could expand the horizons of human knowledge as well as lead to personal gain in many ways. And failing that, there's simply the natural human hunger to know and reach new limits. Maybe if you knew more about it, you could determine things like when someone was lying, or a pedophile, or whatnot. You claim to have immediate visual insight into some aspect of human nature, but you don't care to find out more because it seems like a lot of effort?--Tom Moorefiat justitia 17:28, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
(EC, probably because I'm stuck on the edit screen thinking a lot.)I suppose if testing is effort, then your return can only be the kick you get from learning something, even if it's relatively mundane or common knowledge to people elsewhere (like somesome saying "that cupboard is empty" and you still opening it just to check, my other half doesn't get this and thinks I'm untrusting, but it's really just instinct) - but importantly, it's something you've done yourself and that's where the kick is. Some people get it, some don't so much. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 17:32, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
(EC)There would seem to be a bit of a problem with persuading others about the existence of auras. If they can't be reproduced by third parties, and there is no proposed mechanism by which they could be produced then it's a bit hard for other people to get a handle on them. They may well be real to you, but from a practical point of view it would seem to be difficult to raise them above the level of anecdote. For instance, if you were hearing voices in your head (I'm sure you are not) how would you demonstrate these to others?--BobBring back the hat! 17:34, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
EC) Over the past couple of years I have been subject to migranes. Occasionally there is just the "precursor" effect which is similar to what you're describing. Sparkling or constant haloes around objects, especially if they're moving. I am eating Toast& honeychat 17:35, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Bob, he says that his visions of auras impart information to him. Thus it seems like that information can be tested for accuracy. But if not, then he could view ten people, draw or paint their auras, and then let them pick out their own pictures. If their auras have inner meaning to them like he says, then the rate at which they pick correctly should be much higher than statistically probably.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 17:38, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
I have no trouble believing that people see things that others don't. Really, that's just the game we play called life, it happens. It's actually perfectly believable. The issue is, as Tom says, whether there's objective information to be had from it that proves that there's something that, in theory, everyone can agree on - this is how we define reality. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 17:41, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
I also have no problem believing that we all perceive reality differently. The question is whether some things which are only perceived by a single individual only exist within their heads - or whether they have some objective reality. Presumably one could set up an experiment to establish if anything real was being perceived and this would tell us if the perception was real or self-generated. I don't think we are saying different things.--BobBring back the hat! 18:48, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

<-- "there's something that, in theory, everyone can agree on - this is how we define reality."

I certainly don't define reality that way. I don't expect agreement from everyone on it, for starters. So many other objections... There may be a very limited set of notions that most people in the neighbourhood agree on, but I believe that the really interesting parts of reality go beyond that.
Mind, I'm all in favor of testing and proving and being able to demonstrate, but any worker in applied physics will tell you that, to get the most coherent data from any given run, one of the things you need to hold constant is the observer.
Armondikov, you nailed it right on its dainty little intransigent head when you said "I find psychology, illusion, how the mind processes information and visual tricks far more interesting than "magic fields" to explain this sort of thing," and you are correct in assuming I do as well. Me 'secretly want[ing] it to be something "more"' though, is, I believe, inaccurate. Sure, that would be awesome, but I think we both acknowledge that mundane life is sometimes tedious. I take my delight in little things, real ones, where I find them.
Of course I am curious; that's why I do this. I'm not interested in trying to prove anything about it. As I've said, it is a personal exploration for me, and what I learn from it is what I learn. It is really not that rare of an ability, but many people are unaware that they have permission to do this. As if they needed permission...
More to be said later, perhaps. I'm sure I've failed to respond to everything adequately, sorry. That livelihood thing going on. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:30, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Whoops, one more thing @Toast: in my 20's and 30's I had ocular migraines, usually when physically stressed, like after climbing a long hill on a bicycle. Most visible at night, it was shaped like an oval pizza with one slice missing, right in the center of the visual field. Reminded me of Pac-Man. No headaches, thank goodness. I don't think that has much of a connexion to the auras I see in/on people, but I've been wrong before, and plenty of times. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:55, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
It seems to me that there are three possibilities. 1.You are seeing something real which is information not available to other people. 2. You are experiencing something which is wholly generated within your own mind. 3. You are seeing something real which is the result of your brain superimposing some existing data over your visual perceptions in a process akin to synathesia. In this third case you would not be perceiving anything additional but displaying commonly available information in a novel way. As others have noted it would be interesting to find out which it is.--BobBring back the hat! 20:02, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Bob, I've been doing this for perhaps ten years, and giving it some thought all along. What I think may be happening is that some intuitive unconscious part of my bean is superimposing something on the visual perceptions. Quite frankly, I'm more interested in the content, the data that come in that way, than a mechanism which will be difficult to test.
Tangentially, I remember reading that human speech may re-use a portion of the brain also useful for setting up the act of throwing something accurately. Nerves aren't speedy enough to cope with closed-loop feedback while the toss is happening, so the action must be prepared mentally, and then launched, to be performed open-loop. The process is parallel, setting up various tosses (or utterances) and pruning down to the chosen one, like a railroad marshalling yard which only allows one string of cars onto the main line. All this happens below the level of consciousness so it has been difficult to characterize which parts of the brain are involved. After all, you can't exactly go creating lesions in a human brain just so you can observe the effect on speech ability, and most other animals' brains don't generate speech. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:15, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
It would seem pretty easy to determine whether or not you are using your eyes or just superimposing information obtained elsewhere on the visual field. This could be done by plugging your ears as completely as possible, and closing your eyes (probably taping them to be safe) and looking for auras. Then at some point someone enters the room and walks in front of you at a distance. If you saw the aura without knowing they were there otherwise, then that would point to supernormal sensation - assuming they didn't walk in front of the light source or something else that would tip you off they were there.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 20:21, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Not about to do anything of the sort. First, it wouldn't work; I'm not claiming any kind of supernormal sense. To me this is nothing special, quite normal. Second, I think phenomena like this are best observed in their natural state. If some Boswell wanted to follow me around and keep notes, that might be a good start on a data set, but there's that effort thing I mentioned earlier. I'll go answer another one of your questions in my user talk space, since I think it fits there.

Should this discussion be consolidated here, or at User talk:Sprocket J Cogswell/Aura reading?[edit]

Following two threads on the same topic is starting to feel like work. Comment? Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:11, 28 December 2009 (UTC)


I think that afterimages have an important role in some less elaborated everyone can see auras BS, even if I noticed Sprocket J Cogswell and some people with more radical claims pay attention to this effects. It's also quite easy to convince someone more gullible that he can see various type of energy, once he pays more attention to this and other known effects and applies lots of confirmation bias. It's quite a complex topic and I'm not an expert in human vision, but maybe a quick mention and some external link won't hurt.Amaying redlighter (talk) 14:28, 8 April 2017 (UTC)