Sela wrote:I think you just contradicted yourself. Yes, we use real-physics to explain what happens in the science fiction films - that's part of the point of this site, no question. But at the same time, we accept everything we see occurring as actually happening, rather than handwaving away that which is bizzare. You know what else "stretches credulity"? Travelling faster than light. But we make what explanations we can and quantify power-output and levels based on observations anyway.
You have a point, sort of. I stated that in-universe, there is a reasonable explanation that I can accept. As an observer living in the "real" universe, though, I still might try (and have tried) to take the observed phenomena to their logical conclusions with the rules as I understand them to exist. I suspend disbelief and accept that the person continuously exists throughout the transporter process for the purposes of the show; indeed, it isn't as though there would be any external difference. In other words, if someone presented me with a working transporter mechanism, there's no way in Hell I'd use it.
(An interesting question, though, for the case of Thomas/Will Riker, if we assume some sort of consciousness transfer: which one got the "original" consciousness, and which one is just the perfect copy? Again, externally it makes no difference.)
The remainder of your post concerned the various aspects of pure-energy beings, which is very nice, but is not something I'm prepared to debate. I concur that they exist as observable phenomena in the Trek universe, and operate as an explanation for why a person would willingly step onto a transporter pad.