What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

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What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-07-28 03:09pm

Arising from the Buffy reboot thread, and the ensuing discussion over whether or not a secret supernatural world could exist in the age of smartphones:

viewtopic.php?f=32&t=167547&p=4060954#p4060954

In particular, this:
Jub wrote:
2018-07-28 02:55pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-07-28 02:10pm
Honestly, I think people overestimate the impact of smartphones.

If you saw a video of, say, Bigfoot on someone's smartphone, would your first response be "Bigfoot is real"? More likely, it would be something like "Yeah, that's a clever hoax". You'd probably assume that it was CGI or something.

I mean yeah, if a magical slug-fest occurs in the middle of Time Square on New Year's or something, there's no covering that up. But unless there are a lot of witnesses or unambiguous physical evidence, even good-quality video can be dismissed easily enough.

Edit: The Buffyverse is also a setting in which mass memory alteration and reality-warping spells are a thing. Off the top of my head: Jonathan's paragon spell in season four, Dawn's existence in season five, and Connor's new identity over on season four/five of Angel.
Even lots of magical slug fests get covered up. Witnesses tend to believe whatever fits their worldview, police and government officials might be bought and paid for to cover up magic or simply not even consider it a possibility. You try to look at records to get a better idea but when none of your video evidence can be relied on to prove things one way or the other you get a mess which means most people think it's a hoax, terrorist attack, or whathave you.
Hence the topic of this thread. In a modern-day supernatural setting in which there is a secret society of monsters, wizards, etc. such as Buffy or Harry Potter or Dresden Files, what would it take to convincingly expose the existence of magic to the general public, to a degree that it would be officially and permanently acknowledged? Alternatively, what paranormal forces would be necessary to successfully keep it hidden?
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Mr Bean » 2018-07-28 03:59pm

Large amounts of magic+very public place or something ongoing like say Dresden zombie Sue instead of falling apart had wandered around downtown for a few hours till .50cal fire put it down leaving a trail of bodies or Death Eaters jumping Potter at the Super Bowl.

You could even math it so to speak

Bigger the magical event + number of witnesses/recording devices x time= Likelihood it will be widely accepted. There probably some average magical even that if it went on in front of enough witnesses for enough time would be widely believed.

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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-07-28 04:09pm

*cracks knuckles*

Okay, I'm going to reverse the question: How Can They Hide.

Problem 1: Cell Phones

One of the best moments in Cloverfield was, after the Statue of Liberty's head is thrown down a street, was people, once things appeared to be calm again, taking out their phones and taking pictures of the thing.

If a creature appears in public, or magic is demonstrated publicly, then videos are going to be made, possibly from multiple angles if there's sufficient population density. Video evidence isn't enough sometimes, but it can get the ball rolling. Facial Recognition from the event can lead to the persons involved being questioned at least.

Problem 2: DNA

DNA is exaggerated int he public's mind, it is still very useful in identification and it has become more potent than many realize. I'd like to introduce you to E-DNA.

So, if an E-DNA survey is done in a place where any entity with unusual DNA is about, it's basically identified. And all it would take is just the rumor of a monster and this tool can be used. Hell, it's being used right now on Loch Ness!

If a body is ever found, though, then that being is revealed to the world. Fast decomposition is a friend to keeping things secret.

Now, there are things that can help keep things hidden.

In Buffy, there was the Conspiracy of Silence. Some people knew, but just didn't say anything for fear of being seen as 'Crazy'. There were those with political power to keep that going for their own ends (the Mayor, Wolfram & Hart) so the threat is indeed real on both ends. Basically, the population is being gas-lighted. No need for fancy memory alteration when simple human cruelty can suffice, though Wolfram and Hart can alter reality on at least a localized scale, and memory alteration magic does exist in that series.

In The Dresden Files, the human mind has trouble dealing with it the first time they see it and will dismiss it, their memories eventually changing to fit what they rationalized from the experience. Multiple exposures ends that most of the time.

They also have "Human-based Magic interferes with Technology" to get around cell phones.

And then there's the Douglas Adams answer which fits better to reality. The "Somebody Else's problem Field".

So, you see a demon walking down 5th and Main: "Must be some cos-player. Is there a convention in town? Or maybe it's a movie shoot. Whatever, it's not my problem."

Of course, in the case of an active attack, that goes out the window.

But assuming a high success rate in attacks, that should not be a problem.

Also, it's not so much getting people to believe these things are real, it's getting wider establishments to believe they are real. I mean, look at reality.

Basically, more people believe in haunts than believe in the efficacy of Vaccines.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Zixinus » 2018-07-28 05:07pm

Very simple: a piece of evidence that stands up to scrutiny AND does not vanish/alter/disappear/whatever.

Look at the platypus: biologists in Europe refused to believe in an egg-laying mammal's existence on the reasonable grounds that it defiled everything they knew about mammals. Until a specimen was brought to said biologist.

One vampire, one werewolf with an observed transformation, one dead alien, in the hands of a reliable authority that allows other reliable authorities to check it is enough to be true evidence. A chupacabra DNA sample that does not belong to canines/humans but actually very bizzarre DNA, if it has DNA at all. A otherkin that can transform on command. High-fucking-quality footage.

Note that it does not need to convince everyone and every authority of the existence of the supernatural. It won't. The necessary resistance to the concept in most authorities that has built up will not topple that easily but it doesn't have to. It is also not even necessary to be definite proof, but simply to rise enough interest.

What is necessary is giving a good idea what to look for.

More interest -> secrecy under greater pressure.
Enough interest -> secrecy collapses.

Once you know the sleeping habits of vampires/aliens/werewolves/whatever that other people can check, there will be some people that will. And unless something is altered in the pattern or interest is suppressed/misdirected, people will find more supernaturals. Which then becomes a virtuous cycle of learning and gaining of evidence.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-07-28 05:18pm

In Buffy, it's rather easy. After the next demon killed, take the corpse and take samples, photograph it, and then deliver them to various universities, law enforcement offices, politicians, and news agencies. Keep the demon body in a meat locker. Routinely send a snail mail letter to yourself each day of the exposure with detailed instructions in what you're doing and why. Also film footage of vampire attacks, and then if necessary, catch one. Catch a vampire using a tazer. Then hire someone to push said vampire out into the daylight. Repeat steps as necessary until people can't dismiss them as pranks.

After a while, the samples, footage of vampires, and footage of other people with face deformities bursting into flame in public mailed to various people will start to get around and stop being viewed as a hoax. Even if my memory is wiped, I'll receive a letter a couple days later telling me what's going on, and start again.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-07-28 05:24pm

Zixinus makes a good point - no matter the evidence you won't convince everyone - see the Flat Earthers for proof of that.

It also depends what exactly we mean by "supernatural" - if its something like ghosts and/or proof of life after death, then I'd imagine it would be easier to convince some, and harder others. If it's something like magic or werewolves/dragons/vampires then any sort of verifiable, replicable scientific study should suffice for most.

Oddly enough, I would think that the religious fanatics might be the easiest to convince of sometihng like witches or wizards - though you'd get a new Inquisition if you did.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-07-28 05:33pm

Well, yeah, there will always be some people who deny the most obvious reality. The standard here is "Good enough evidence that the authorities/mainstream media/scientific authorities generally accept that it is real, and publicly acknowledge that to be the case."
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-07-28 05:38pm

That's pretty much it.

Though like I said it depends what we mean by "supernatural." Doubly so if we're talking about "xyz fantasy universe is actually real, what would be needed to convince people" - and whether or not that fantasy universe existed as a known.fictional entity beforehand.

I think it might actually be harder to convince people that, say, Harry Potter was real when the books/films already existed than it would be if the setting was real and the books had never been written.
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Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-07-28 05:47pm

It will also be rather difficult, I think, to convince people of a very strongly different situation. Obviously inhuman demons will be harder to accept than near-human elves, for example. Of course you can turn that on its head, if say the near-human elves have been living within human society and perhaps controlling things for millennia, that might be harder to believe than the notion that a gateway can open to another world, dimension, whatever, and non-human monsters can come through it. There have been enough news articles about CERN weirdness that people are bound to have read the occasional clickbait about "Physicist Says LHC Could Open Doors to Other Dimensions", but people have been trying to disprove (or prove) massive government conspiracy theories for a long time, that it might fly in their faces to find out that there HAS been a massive conspiracy of silence... it just wasn't the one they were looking for.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-07-28 05:59pm

One thing to consider is would mechnical/electronic devices work as they're suppose to, for example what if supernatural creatures don't show up in video or pictures, we shouldn't after all assume "will show up in pictures/video" as iron clad truth.

that could make hiding in the modern world easier (though still there would be some issues depending on how ability of "doesn't show up in pictures/video" works).
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by LadyTevar » 2018-07-28 07:03pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-07-28 05:24pm
Oddly enough, I would think that the religious fanatics might be the easiest to convince of sometihng like witches or wizards - though you'd get a new Inquisition if you did.
And here in a nutshell is the usual reason for Keeping Hidden. Humans outnumber the "Others", and humans have two reactions to odd things -- Fear and Worship, or Fear and Destroy. And let's be honest, looking around today, most humans will shift over to "Kill the Other!!" mentality really fuckin' easy.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-07-28 07:12pm

LadyTevar wrote:
2018-07-28 07:03pm
Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-07-28 05:24pm
Oddly enough, I would think that the religious fanatics might be the easiest to convince of sometihng like witches or wizards - though you'd get a new Inquisition if you did.
And here in a nutshell is the usual reason for Keeping Hidden. Humans outnumber the "Others", and humans have two reactions to odd things -- Fear and Worship, or Fear and Destroy. And let's be honest, looking around today, most humans will shift over to "Kill the Other!!" mentality really fuckin' easy.
Yup. That's definitely the case in Dresden Files, I believe- Dresden even compares bringing mortal authorities into a supernatural conflict to using nukes.

Harry Potter... well, the Pure Blood supremacists talk a tough game, but I think its very telling that in Cursed Child, in the alternate timeline where Voldemort won, his regime was bribing the Muggle PM to cover up Death Eater massacres, rather than trying to take over the Muggle world. In short, its heavily implied that even an arrogant, unstable maniac like Voldemort knows not to poke that hornet's nest (then again, an oft-overlooked part of Voldemort's history is that he would have spent his summers growing up in Muggle London during WW2- he probably knows better than most wizards what Muggle weapons can do).

Buffy-verse is kind of all over the map. The street-level threats would be no threat to competent troops who knew what they were dealing with (ie not the Initiative), but then you have reality-altering magic and (in the comics) skyscraper-sized Old Ones who are thoroughly immortal in just about every sense of the word.

Jasmine's probably the scariest thing to appear on television in the Buffy-verse, though (since we never saw full-power Illyria), mainly due to that "Make anyone who sees me worship me" effect.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-07-28 07:14pm

Which also raises a good point. Who is deciding to "reveal" the existence of the supernatural? Is it the supernatural society deciding to step out of the shadows, is it a principled/religious "in-the-know" but otherwise normal politician who is doing so for their own ends? Is it accidental? Is it a thought experiment to say "just how secretive do we need to be?"

Any one of those will drastically alter would would or would not be needed and/or how it might happen.
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Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-07-28 07:34pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-07-28 07:14pm
Which also raises a good point. Who is deciding to "reveal" the existence of the supernatural? Is it the supernatural society deciding to step out of the shadows, is it a principled/religious "in-the-know" but otherwise normal politician who is doing so for their own ends? Is it accidental? Is it a thought experiment to say "just how secretive do we need to be?"

Any one of those will drastically alter would would or would not be needed and/or how it might happen.
More intended as a thought experiment on what it would take for the supernatural to remain effectively hidden, or be exposed.

If the supernatural world reaches a consensus to reveal itself, it should be obvious pretty quickly.

I was thinking in terms of a scenario like... Oh, a Death Eater lets loose with Fiendfyre in Time Square or something. Or Buffyverse's Sunnydale disappearing into a giant crater. How big an "incident" could be hushed up in the modern world?
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Jub » 2018-07-29 05:18am

Yeah, I know you touched on these but my two-cents.
Majin Gojira wrote:
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Problem 1: Cell Phones

One of the best moments in Cloverfield was, after the Statue of Liberty's head is thrown down a street, was people, once things appeared to be calm again, taking out their phones and taking pictures of the thing.

If a creature appears in public, or magic is demonstrated publicly, then videos are going to be made, possibly from multiple angles if there's sufficient population density. Video evidence isn't enough sometimes, but it can get the ball rolling. Facial Recognition from the event can lead to the persons involved being questioned at least.
Magic messed with technology and video/audio capture degrades especially quickly. Larger spells, more power creatures, etc. degrade things faster while smaller effects are less flashy and more natural looking and thus unlikely to be noticed to be captured.
Problem 2: DNA

DNA is exaggerated int he public's mind, it is still very useful in identification and it has become more potent than many realize. I'd like to introduce you to E-DNA.

So, if an E-DNA survey is done in a place where any entity with unusual DNA is about, it's basically identified. And all it would take is just the rumor of a monster and this tool can be used. Hell, it's being used right now on Loch Ness!

If a body is ever found, though, then that being is revealed to the world. Fast decomposition is a friend to keeping things secret.
Monster DNA might simply degrade at a very fast rate and/or somehow not show up as DNA at all in tests. This wouldn't last forever, but unless you DNA test every corpse and most beasties are smart enough to obscure there methods so outside of random testing people don't look for it.

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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Zixinus » 2018-07-29 05:26am

The real question is whether you can stop a rolling ball of massive interest. Again, initial evidence does not have to be absolutely convincing but merely convincing enough to inquire further. Which leads to more investigation which generates into more evidence and interest and so on, snowballing.

The question then becomes whether you can stop that snowball effect. The question then becomes how you can stop that and how long will interest die down. If the event is well-recorded in high-definition then you are going to create people looking into it for centuries.

The other thing is how easy is it to find supernatural (or not) things for an average person if they know what they are looking for. Buffy's vampires are a goddamn plaque and are too easy to find. Not so much with aliens who sent one spaceship only to Earth.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-07-29 12:25pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-07-28 07:34pm
Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-07-28 07:14pm
Which also raises a good point. Who is deciding to "reveal" the existence of the supernatural? Is it the supernatural society deciding to step out of the shadows, is it a principled/religious "in-the-know" but otherwise normal politician who is doing so for their own ends? Is it accidental? Is it a thought experiment to say "just how secretive do we need to be?"

Any one of those will drastically alter would would or would not be needed and/or how it might happen.
More intended as a thought experiment on what it would take for the supernatural to remain effectively hidden, or be exposed.

If the supernatural world reaches a consensus to reveal itself, it should be obvious pretty quickly.

I was thinking in terms of a scenario like... Oh, a Death Eater lets loose with Fiendfyre in Time Square or something. Or Buffyverse's Sunnydale disappearing into a giant crater. How big an "incident" could be hushed up in the modern world?
It depends on the time period it occurs in.

I mean, and I feel icky just mentioning this example: look at how African Americans are treated by police/authorities in the United States and how its 'known' but highly downplayed and acknowledged.

For instance, I live and work in and around Philadelphia, but I remained ignorant of a very important historical event there until my parents mentioned it to me only because I was attending college near the place it happened.

The MOVE Bombing.

Now, you may think, sounds like a terrorist act, but it wasn't.

MOVE was a Black Liberation group that set up a communal living arrangement as Anarcho-primitives in Philadelphia. Needless to say, local officials did not take kindly to this. Tensions rose to a shootout in 1978, and came to a climax of sorts in 1985.

MOVE was labeled a terrorist organization and their compound on Cobbs Creek was placed under siege. We're talking Evacuation, cutting off water and power, and 500 officers storming the place in order to arrest 4 occupants.

An armed standoff began. Police lobbed tear gas at the building and a gunfight with semi-automatic and automatic firearms ensued. Over 10 Thousand rounds were expended by the police before the Commissioner ordered the place bombed.

A helicopter came in and dropped 2 one-pound bombs on the compound. It hit their gas generator, ignited the fuel and started a fire which killed 11 people and destroyed 65 houses.

Today, over 30 years later, it's not really talked about. I was alive at the time (okay, I was 4) and never knew about it until almost 2 decades later.

And outside Philly, it's even more unknown. Even with a documentary from 2013 about them, the whole thing is ignored by and large.

So, I think this is a good benchmark for an "Open Secret".

That a US Police Force basically did a proto-WACO and though it is about 1/7th as lethal, it was much more devastating and it's largely unknown.

With Race being the most likely reason why.
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Re: What would it take to convincingly reveal the existence of the supernatural to the public?

Post by Zixinus » 2018-07-29 04:55pm

But that wasn't covered up. It was simply an event that happened as it was "expected" (more likely, made to fit racist preconception) to happen. So it was "non-news". It was in the realm of what is known to have happened. That, and hopefully shame, is what hidden it away from attention. It is also not hidden: those that want to know can find a Wikipedia entry.
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