The Men Who Stare At Goats

As a skeptic this movie had me practically rolling on the floor. When Clooney’s character talks about stabbing an enemy in the neck with a pen to create “Psychic disincentive”, I practically fell out of my chair. Of COURSE if you cause someone severe pain they will be less lakely to attack you. They will, instead, be grabbing the pen in their neck and screaming.

The movie “The Men Who Stare At Goats” is based on the book, The Crazy Rulers of the World” by Jon Ronson. The main character, Lyn Cassady, (whose real name is Glenn Wheaton) played by George Clooney, claims to have witnessed a Green Beret kill a goat simply by staring at it.

From the perspective of a skeptic, I have to wonder what else was going on in the room at the time. I have seen news stories about a breed of goat that suffers from a condition mytonia congenita. When startled these goats faint. They become rigid and drop over for a period of 10 seconds or more. ( While it is not an actual ‘faint’, it could be interpreted as the goat having died. So if someone startled the goat while the Green Beret was trying to kill it with his mind, the sudden tipping over of the goat could have been interpreted as success.

If anyone else has more information on the book, the movie or the people involved, I would love to hear it.


I’m Sorry Mr. Pan…Ms. Bell Is Dead. Maybe.

Yesterday I talked about using skepticism to analyze personal beliefs. Today I’m going to talk about the validity of mythology within those beliefs. Right now I am rather shaky on the subject. But as with all my skeptical analysis, I’m just going to talk it out and see what makes sense.

Douglas Adams once said “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

People believe what has been culturally ingrained. The Celts believed in the Fae and they were, as far as Bronze Age people go, a little bit advanced. Druidism came from the Celts and to this day many people practice a mdernized version. With that practice comes the mythos.

When I was Wiccan I knew people who would leave a little shot glass of beer or a saucer of milk to appease the fairy folk. They were always surprised when, the next day it was gone. Or, if it wasn’t, they chalked it up to the local Fae not being hungry that day. I was actually one of those people for a while. When my abusive first husband lost his keys or the computer messed up for no real reason that I could see, I chalked it up to the local fairies liking me and trying to protect me.

As a skeptic who wants to believe in fairies, this is something that I keep looking for a scientific explanation for. For a time I even thought I found the explanation in quantum physics. There is a theory stemming from experiments that there are multiple dimensions beyond the one we exist in.

I keep hoping that one of these dimensions is the one that the Fae live in. Others have said that fairies Do exist and their dimension is so close that it tends to overlap in certain places. That’s how people can see fairies from time to time.

I have to wonder though if by dimensions, scientists aren’t talking about dimensions such as Time. People talk about string theory and eleven dimensions. But other physicists have said that string theory holds no water. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus. Right now it’s all just mathematical theory with no way to test it as far as I know. I’ve got to do more reading on the subject. That much is certain.

Even if they do exist, what ARE these other dimensions? Are they like ours? Are they some odd, mathematical construct? Would the same laws of physics apply to them? The more I read, the more questions I have.

Fortunately a friend on Twitter gave me a starting point and I am passing it along to you.

I have NO idea how valid this information is. I’m hoping someone knowledgeable in the field will stumble across this and help. In the mean time, Tinkerbell and her kind are much like Schroedinger’s Cat. Alive and dead.  Existing and non-existent. And right now, I’m alright with that.