Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Psychic Cows and the Squirrels of Dubious 9

Would you like to go on an extraordinary journey, to a fantastic planet; filled with incredible creatures, never before seen or even imagined by humans? You would? Then strap yourself in. Are you ready? Here we go…but first, I have to ask you a question. If ESP and telekinesis really does exist, why don’t we see these forces everywhere in nature? Proponents of the paranormal believe animals have more psychic abilities then humans. Do you think that’s true? I know that question seams off topic from a promised trip to another planet but as you’ll see, the answer to this question is the reason for the journey. So, let’s blast off. We’re traveling a thousand light years, to a fictional world, one in which nature uses all the benefits that ESP and telekinesis would offer, if those skills really did exist. Our space ship speeds across the galaxy in a blink of a eye. We have just arrived at the planet Dubious 9.
We feel a faint vibration as our vessel descends into the atmosphere. One of the unique characteristics we notice about the inhabitants of the planet Dubious is that, although ship sensors detect many species of animals on the planet’s surface, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of movement. On this planet, animals aren’t running around chasing each other. Why should they?  On earth, a cheetah expends a lot of calories running down a gazelle. These animals don’t have to go to all that trouble. On Dubious 9, as we will soon discover, it’s not about speed. It’s all about power. 

As we level out and glide over the planet’s surface we are enthralled by the rich variety of species seen. There are the grazers, big fat cow like animals, barely aware of their own existence, but with a highly evolved mastery of ESP.  These animals do nothing all day but chew cud and scan the surrounding area with their precognitive ability. The moment these “psychic cows” sense a predator heading in their general direction, these animals just nonchalantly turn and walk in the other direction. It is the perfect defense, and because of it, enormous herds of these beasts cover the planet, like the buffalo once blanketed America. Genetically speaking, these animals have hit the lottery. With no predators to threaten them these animals have evolved into slow, listless beasts looking very much like great, overstuffed sofas. But it’s not like these animals have miraculously achieved some evolutionary leap. On Earth animals supposedly have been dabbling in this precognition stuff for as long as people have been telling stories. It is said animals can sense danger or predict impending disasters. If that were really true wouldn’t that give certain animals a huge evolutionary advantage?  Isn’t it generally the case that all a species needs is just a few mutations in the right direction and, BOOM, like a Cambrian explosion, you get overstuffed sofas as far as the eye can see. 

These blubbery beasts grudgingly shuffle out of the way of our ship’s landing gear as we gently touch down on the surface. Their ESP gives them the ability to know just how few steps they need to take to avoid being crushed by the starship’s massive steel struts. The doors to the ship open. We decide to take a few steps down the gangplank. The next thing that happens is completely unexpected. Because they know we mean them no harm, hundreds of these psychic cows, slowly lie down in front of us and casually roll over onto their backs, hoping to have their stomachs rubbed. We oblige.

But all is not serene on this odd planet, for there are also meat eaters lurking in the brush. These predators use their psychic abilities to hunt with their minds. Some of these killers get within range of their prey, and then use telekinesis to pick up nearby rocks or tree branches and whack their future meal over the head. Because of this, most of the animals on this planet have a strong aversion to standing near cliffs or under trees.

It is also worth noting that most animals on this planet are large. Volkswagen size and up, is the norm here. This is another evolved defensive trait. You see, if an animal is small, like a mouse or rabbit, a predator doesn’t have to drop a rock on it to kill it. The predator simply uses its mental will to pick the little animal up and float that helpless creature though the air straight into the predators waiting jaws. To see one of these killers eat, is like watching Caesar, surrounded by slave girls, tossing grapes into his mouth.
There are animals that project false images into the minds of their victims, to confuse them, before attacking. And there is a beast that directs large pulses of energy (psychic blasts) that can disable its prey from a hundred yards. There is even an animal that uses its mind to reach into the chest of its victim and stop its heart. The members of the wolf like hunting pack on this planet are particularly efficient. With the ability to communicate through telepathy alone, the circle these animals create while surrounding their victim is nearly mathematical in its precision.
Now, less you think there are no defenses for all these mental attacks, you would be wrong.
Many animals here have developed countermeasures. Sure why not? I’m making this all up anyway. There are animals looking like plated rhinos that have evolved craniums composed mostly of lead to protect them from detection. I think lead stops ESP, or is that tin foil?  Who knows? And, there is an species of animal that protects itself from attackers by projecting a psychic dampening shield around itself, much the way Skeptics on Earth do when Uri Geller approaches. There is even a cunning gazelle like animal that continually projects a 3d image of itself one foot to it left of wherever it is standing at the moment. This constant decoy is deployed by the gazelle to give him a little extra time to get away in case of attack.     
With all this psychic energy flying about, vegetables have even gotten into the act. Many trees use naturally formed dowsing sticks to find the most elusive water under the ground. Just as trees on earth convert light into food, there are many species of flora on this planet that absorb loose thought waves and convert them into nutrients. One species of lichen actually grows on the heads of the rhino beasts. Why let all that tasty extra sensory energy go to waste? 
But by far the creature that strikes the most fear into the hearts of the inhabitants of Dubious 9, are the animals known as the Premonition Squirrels. Woe be the traveler who, spots these squirrels while exploring this strange planet. Although feared more than any other creature, these small animals do not get their food by causing harm to others. They are not predators. The Squirrels of Dubious are technically nothing more than scavengers. They just happen to know beforehand when a fellow animal is going to drop dead. One day you might be taking a pleasant stroll, thinking to yourself “what a beautiful day.” And “Hey look at those squirrels over there. My, they look rather somber, don’t they?” The next minute, POW, heart attack! And honestly, the squirrels had nothing to do with it. They just know the right place to be at the right time. And there is nothing you can do about that. If you see them, as sure as shooting, it means there is something bad heading your way. Be it a nasty fall, giant meteorite or sudden case of old age, you are a goner.  Once you’re dead then they scurry in. They can strip a carcass to the bone in under two minutes.
Now, why describe all these fanciful creatures?  Because nothing like them exists, on earth. Not even remotely, and that’s the point. If ESP was real, nature would be taking full advantage of this skill. Like the nine thousand different species of birds that have all evolved to exploit the gift of flight, or the forty thousand different species of fish that breathe under the sea, there should be a significant variety of ESP animals. Hell, there are thirty seven thousand different types of spiders alone. Of course, there would be no Premonition Squirrels, but there would be something like them. There would be some percentage of animals that would use ESP to its fullest potential.  And that number would be substantial.

There is a dizzying number of species on this planet - at last count, 8.9 million. And that’s not including all the giant sloths or dinosaurs or trilobites that have gone extinct in the past. Some estimate that 8.9 million represents only .01% of all species that have ever existed on our earth.   
Let that sink in - 8.9 million separate classifications of slug, or camel or sea cucumber, or cocker poodle, each occupying its own specialized little niche in our planet’s ecosystem. So why are there so many varieties of living things roaming the earth?  Because resources on this planet are limited and competition for those limited resources is fierce. Animals and plants have been forced to come up with a staggering array of different ways to make a living. Making a living involves three tasks: eating, not getting eaten, and having kids. If there is an ecological niche, some unique way to gather food, procreate or protect oneself, you can be sure some animal, someplace, has evolved to exploit it. If not, then they wouldn’t be running around today. In fact, you would be hard pressed to think up some innovative way to accomplish any of those three goals that nature hasn’t already invented. 

Go ahead give it a try. You have any number of animals that are armor coated, from clam to rhinos. You have fire coral and electric eels and even ants that will explode to defend their colonies.  You’ve all seen that fish, on those old Jacques Cousteau documentaries, that has evolved an appendage on its tongue. When wiggled, the appendage looks like a worm, which the fish uses to lore pray near its mouth.  That’s strange enough, but did you know about the parasite that eats a fish’s tongue, then settles in and takes up residence as the fish’s new tongue. And did you know dolphins use sonic blasts to stun their prey before slurping them down. Do you want to get hi tech?   Dung beetles use the polarization of moonlight to chart a straight line to their nests. Because low frequency sound waves travel farther, elephants broadcast mating calls lower than any human could ever hear to advertise for mates.  Homing pigeons sense and use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate. We all know plants convert sunlight to food but extremophiles digest rock and radioactive decay for food. There are so many bioluminescent creatures, from plankton to those scary fish with the big teeth, all living in the deepest parts of the ocean, that I imagine the sea bottom to be one giant glowing disco rave. 
And yet despite all of this specialization, all these variations, we are asked to believe that somehow not one species on earth has had the evolutionary good fortune to develop high levels of extra sensory perception.  Evolution has somehow filled every conceivable ecological nook and cranny on the planet. But aside from the occasional dog barking before an earthquake, this chasm of opportunity offered by ESP has gone completely unfilled. Cheetahs run 95 miles an hour, sharks have a biting strength of 1.8 tons, and an eagle can see a rabbit from 3 miles away, but a cat only sometimes kinda senses when his owner is coming home from work, but sometimes not. What a lost opportunity.  This is such an obvious point that it bears repeating. If ESP and telekinesis is such a powerful tool, animals would be exploiting it right and left, but we see none of this. Why?  Because ESP does not exist! It’s imaginary. End of story.
After all this, if you still believe ESP exists, than let me leave you with this cautionary postscript.  Dubious 9 is in orbit around an old star, one that will soon go supernova.  The creatures of Dubious have foreseen the destruction of their world. Long ago these animals, whenever they could, began secretly stowing away inside cargo bays of the visiting spacecraft from other planets. Not with any knowledge of what a supernova was or what space travel was all about. Just because they felt it would be better for them and their descendants, to be on those ships the days they took off. These animals had no idea what they were doing, only that they felt it was a matter of survival. It was easy for them, with their ESP. They would know exactly where and when a spaceship would be landing and these psychic animals would be there. As a result, the animals of Dubious have spread throughout the universe. On every planet, these animals have prospered. So, if you really believe that ESP exists then remember this. If you ever find yourself walking alone on a sunny day in a secluded field, and you hear some rustling in the trees, think back to what I have said. Of course you should stop, look up, scan the skies, but more importantly, I implore you, with all earnestness, please, keep an eye on the squirrels.


Anonymous said...

"If ESP was real, nature would be taking full advantage of this ability."

If you don't know anything about genetics, please keep your mouth shut. Why isn't your goddess nature taking advantage of all the surface on the moon where the sunlight allows a wonderful amount of free energy? Perhaps, ESP is real, but there isn't yet a being on the planet earth that has the intelligence to differentiate it from a slug.

In actuality, the mathematics of genetics has a lot of randomness built in. BTW, to personify nature is called the pathetic fallacy, which is often served up by so-called skeptics when they argue for evolution.

And THAT argues why ESP is of no use on this planet.

(No, sir, please don't assume I believe in ESP. I was also called a creationist in college because I slammed my professor for bringing up hand-waving arguments. Rather insulting to a non-supernaturalist, eh? but that is par for the course.)

Nick Farrantello said...

Thanks for writing. Like you, I also do not believe in goddesses or gods. I am sorry I was unclear. When I refereed to nature, I meant it metaphorically, as when someone uses the word “she” to refer to their car. What I was trying to say is that animals with small amounts of ESP would have an advantage over ones that had no ESP at all. It is likely that those individuals would live longer and have more offspring. As a result, the animals with ESP would become more plentiful in a given group. It is only reasonable to assume that over time the trait of ESP would come to dominate in that gene pool. This is not a force being driven by some goddess. It is natural selection.

Your moon analogy is interesting but, you’re forgetting, that most biologists think the number one thing that life needs to flourish, is liquid water. This is something that is not on the moon.

My "Psychic Cow" argument was really targeted toward people who accept evolution but also believe in ESP. If you have a problem with evolution (which despite the phony controversy in the media, is well accepted in academic circles), then we are starting from very different sets of basic assumptions. To help with questions that you might have concerning evolution let me refer you to some great websites. Not being a biologist (which according to you would disqualify both of us from having this discussion) these sites have far more experience answering common misconceptions about evolution then I do. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Well instead of sitting here and criticisng go out there and explore, unlock and utilise your 7 chakras through Kundalini Yoga and meditation

Maybe then you will understand ESP

The Rational Crank said...

What makes you think I haven't?