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← Scientific evidence proves why healers see the 'aura' of people

Steven Mading's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Steven Mading

Comment 5 by Ygern :

This is an example of terrible science news reporting, and a major weakness of the current internet-based news infrastructure. It seems that the many news outlets reporting this story are mostly just reprinting one original source – a news report from the University of Granada. Somehow they got the story exactly wrong (erring on the side of sensationalism), and this error has been propagated throughout countless science news outlets and paranormal websites throughout the web. No one, apparently, clicked through to the original article. The article is behind a paywall, but the freely available abstract plainly states the phenomena are not the same.

Yeah, it's bad that they are reporting the finding backward: (The actual findings were that aura readers probably do NOT have synesthesia, while "journalists'" repeating the story claim the study said they probably do.)

But what I find far worse than that is the utter misconception of what synesthesia is when the journalists report this as claiming science has found that auras are a real phenomenon. No you idiot reporters, even if your backward take on the findings wasn't backward, and you were correct that the study found that auras are in fact synesthesia, that still wouldn't mean mean auras are real, you idiot reporters. It would mean that we'd discovered that aura readers aren't a bunch of disgusting liars and really are getting hallucinatory sensory input to their brain that makes them think they're really seeing something that is genuinely there. It would still be a hallucination though - just one that we'd pinned down exactly what brain condition was causing it. Synesthesia is still a form of hallucination - just a very interesting one in that its a case of hallucination caused by the very low level sensory processing beneath the level of conscious and even subconscious thought rather than being the sort of self-caused hallucination that comes from the higher-level brain like happens with schizophrenia or paranoia. It's interesting because it's possible for a synesthesia sufferer to be perfectly sane and normal in every other way other than seeing the crossed sensory inputs.

Patients who know they have synesthesia, know exactly how it presents them with false senses, and know the sensations are not real, still can't stop it from happening even though they know at a purely cognitive level that what they're seeing cannot be true. For example, someone who sees all digit '3's as green might say, "Yes I know that digit '3' isn't really green. I know because I just drew it myself with this black marker. I saw the line being black as I started laying it down, I KNOW it's actually black because I drew it myself... but the moment enough of the figure was completed to make it look like a '3' in my vision, it instantly turned green in front of my very eyes, even though I know that cannot possibly be what it really looks like."

So I could totally believe that a person with synesthesia who didn't know they had it might think they're seeing auras if their condition has connected emotional sensations with visual ones. That's totally believable. THIS particular study didn't show that that was happening, though, and even if it had, there's an enormous difference between "we've pinned down exactly what sort of hallucination this is" and "we've proven auras are real".

Thu, 17 May 2012 21:43:21 UTC | #942098