Category : paranormal

But where did the 12 crystal skulls come from and do we need to gather them by Dec. 12th, 2012 to stop the Earth from flipping over?!! Anybody know where the 13th skull can be found?! Paging Dr. Indiana Jones…

But though no crystal skull yet found at archaeological digs has proved to be authentic, the 12 located around the world continue to arouse interest and speculation.

Apart from the Paris, London and Smithsonian skulls, nine belong to private individuals — the skull of destiny, the Sha-Na-Ra skull, the synergy skull, the Max skull, the Maya skull, a so-called E.T. skull, the amethyst skull, the reliquary cross skull and the pink crystal skull.

Each skull was supposed to correspond to 12 worlds in which human life was present. They were brought by the Itza, the ancient people of Atlantis, to their civilisation in order to pass on their knowledge to man.

The 13th world, the land, also had its own crystal skull, and all 13 skulls were kept in a great pyramid by the Olmecs, the Mayas and ultimately the Aztecs.

The Aztecs are said to have been responsible for the dispersal and loss of the skulls, which when brought together possessed great powers, including being lined up on the last day of the Maya calendar — December 21, 2012 — to prevent the earth from tipping over.

Yes, this all may be a bunch of mumbo jumbo but I think it’s pretty fucking cool. After all, this is the stuff great movie plots are made from.

Wouldn’t it be cool to own one of these skulls? Imagine whipping it out at parties: “Yeah, this is an ancient Olmec skull that was brought to South America by the escapees from Atlantis. It needs to be gathered with the other skulls on December 21, 2012 or we’re all fucked. Pretty sweet, eh? I had to kill a bunch of Nazis to get it.”

Ah, true fiction. Chicks dig guys with ancient crystal skulls possessing mysterious powers… or so I’ve heard.

You might’ve heard that a huge, mile-long UFO was spotted in Texas last week.

Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.

Well, that sounds like a weather balloon. Federal officials are sure it was in fact a weather balloon.

While federal officials insist there’s a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane.

I’m sure there’s a logical explanation too. Clearly weather balloons have learned how to accelerate and maintain high speeds. It’s the only logical explanation.

Officials at the region’s two Air Force bases — Dyess in Abilene and Sheppard in Wichita Falls — also said none of their aircraft were in the area last week. The Air Force no longer investigates UFOs.

Uhh…. The Air Force hasn’t actually “investigated” anything, and yet they’re sure that it was an earth-based phenomenon. How can this be?

Well you see, the Air Force has a very detailed and complex methodology that they use to figure out what some yokel saw in the skies. I managed to sneak this out of an unnamed AFB undetected. This is very top secret. Click for a larger version.

Trust your government, folks. They would never lie to you.

UPDATE 1.24.08: The Air Force Reserve has completely changed their story.

I love giving free advice, so here’s some for their spokesman, Maj. Karl Lewis…

A hint: If you want people to believe you’re being straight with them, you can’t just change your story two weeks after the event. Dumbass.

Officials at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth initially said none of their planes had been in the area, but on Wednesday they said 10 F-16s were there that day. The officials said they were mistaken and wanted to set the record straight “in the interest of public awareness.”

They were fucking “mistaken”! Ha! They must’ve sent those ten F-16s up accidentally and not even noticed until they came back 2 weeks later. What a “brilliant” explanation!

I love to see the incompetence card played so poorly.

So now the Air Force looks completely retarded and deceitful. They first claimed that they didn’t have any planes in the area, but now they’re saying they did, but neglecting to mention what kind of plane could elicit this reaction from the natives:

Anne Frazor, who owns a fabric store in Stephenville, about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth, said many in town have seen military aircraft zoom overhead from time to time as part of training operations. But she said that wasn’t what she saw Jan. 8.”I couldn’t begin to say what it was, but to me it wasn’t planes,” Frazor said.

–snip–

From well-respected business owners to a county constable, several dozen people say they saw a flying object that was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said its lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane.

“I guarantee that what we saw was not a civilian aircraft,” Steve Allen, a pilot and freight company owner, said Wednesday.

This guy would probably recognize an F-16 … or ten of them. And it’s not like the Air Force trains near where the sightings occurred.

The planes’ training area in the Brownwood Military Operating Area includes Stephenville‘s Erath County, but Allen said it does not include the airspace where he saw the object. Also, Jan. 8 was not the only day sightings were reported.

And I daresay the pilot could distinguish 10 F-16s from a half mile-wide object.

So now we can say that the AF is completely full of shit.

Great. Just great. I love being lied to… Oh wait! No I don’t; it fucking sucks, you dicks! Why you gotta be like that, Air Force Reserve?? huh?!! … .. [/frontin']

I suspect the answer is that they were leaned on by more powerful forces.

It’s pretty clear that there are those in power who don’t want this information to get out. I really don’t think people who call UFO coverup conspiracy theorists names like “kooks” are right, simply because it’s so obvious the government has been lying to us. There is plenty of reason to believe the worst if somebody lies to you. Boldly. Repeatedly.

“In the interest of public awareness,” the spokesman said. As if they’ve ever given two shits about “public awareness” before. Where’s the “public awareness” right here?

The U.S. Air Force says it has not investigated UFO sightings since 1969 when it ended Project Blue Book, which examined more than 12,600 reported UFO sightings — including 700 that were never explained.

The studious way they avoid investigating isn’t weird or anything. Riiiight. I totally believe you guys… [rolls eyes]

Don’t you think it’s odd that not investigating something is official government policy?

“It’s official government policy to ignore these weird, unexplained events. Carry about your business, consu- .. uh, .. er… I mean, ‘citizens.’”

Are we supposed to salute?

Fuck this. Give me the truth.

Disclosure is needed.

More and more people are waking up to the fact that we are not alone in the universe. Personally, I think a lot of problems on this planet could be solved if we just recognized that there is other (more) intelligent life out there. For one thing, the knowledge of extra-terrestrial life would lead us to some feelings of embarrassment about the stupid shit we’re doing to our planet and each other. I’m thinking of war, environmental degradation, political arrogance and conspicuous consumption, amongst many other problems.

I mean, it’s humiliating enough that the Bush/Cheney cabal is bleeding liberty away (somebody make a photoshopped pic of Bush waterboarding Lady Liberty please), but if we knew aliens were watching the whole thing unfold maybe we’d say, “You know, maybe we should ask the aliens for help. Maybe they know what to do about the dichotomy between security and liberty.” Maybe that’s why they’re being kept underwraps. Maybe the powers that be don’t like the message they bring.

It’s important to remember that not all high-ranking officials want to be a party to this coverup, though. One such group is putting their reputations on the line to call for disclosure and a real investigation.

An international panel of two dozen former pilots and government officials called on the U.S. government on Monday to reopen its generation-old UFO investigation as a matter of safety and security given continuing reports about flying discs, glowing spheres and other strange sightings.

“Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns … which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters,” they said in a statement released at a news conference.

The panelists from seven countries, including former senior military officers, said they had each seen a UFO or conducted an official investigation into UFO phenomena.

The subject of UFOs grabbed the spotlight in the U.S. presidential race last month when [Dennis] Kucinich, a member of Congress from Ohio, said during a televised debate with other Democratic candidates that he had seen one.

Former presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter are both reported to have claimed UFO sightings.

Everybody in this group probably already knows that we’ve made contact. It’s just less nutjob-y to call for an investigation. As for me, I’ve never seen a UFO, never met an alien, and never had anything shoved up my ass. I can just tell. You know what I mean? Probably not, so let me explain: I can tell not only that ETs exists, but that the government knows about them and has in fact made contact with them, simply by monitoring the government’s behavior.

It’s simple: the U.S. government has approached UFO investigation in a secretive, yet lackadaisical manner. The secretive part makes sense, since, under the respective political milieus of the last 60 years, the UFOs could be (and most likely were, from the U.S. government’s perspective) threats from our Communist or Terrorist adversaries. So it makes perfect sense to be reticent about speaking to the public on the matter. However, the lazy, half-assed attitude the government took towards actually investigating these phenomenon belies their obsession with secrecy. In fact, many UFO sighters have noted that the government was more concerned with shutting them up than actually finding out what happened.

This leaves us with two possibilities. One is the ET theory, the other is the “secret project theory.” This theory states that the government has been behind the UFOs from the beginning. This theory has strong supporting circumstantial evidence since the government has been known to work on secret projects (from the Manhatten Project to the stealth bomber) and the military had to explore any option to get a leg up on the Soviets.

However, this theory has several holes. One, the technology is far beyond what we have even today. And this technology would have to have been available in 1947. Another problem with the secret project theory is that the UFOs seem to want to be discovered. What else can explain The Phoenix Lights? Why would the government make vastly more dull coverup work for themselves when they could test the secret craft over deserted land instead of a major metropolitan area, home to 1.5 million people? It just doesn’t make sense unless you start using conspiratorial contortions far more convoluted than the idea that there’s life out there. I heard a good one today: Somebody suggested the Phoenix Lights were a secret government project involving nuclear-powered stealth blimps!

Oh, I should note that former Arizona governor Fife Symington is a member of the group agitating for disclosure I mentioned earlier. He had this to say about the event:

I’m a pilot and I know just about every machine that flies. It was bigger than anything that I’ve ever seen. It remains a great mystery. Other people saw it, responsible people. I don’t know why people would ridicule it.

It was enormous and inexplicable. Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too. It was dramatic. And it couldn’t have been flares because it was too symmetrical. It had a geometric outline, a constant shape.

“I don’t know why people would ridicule it.”

I do. Ridicule is a very effective weapon if your aim is to affect a coverup. Heck, ridicule is probably your best bet, besides threats. If you organize an effective campaign of ridicule then the victim spends more time trying to defend his reputation than talking about what he saw, and then it has the dual purpose of preemptively ridiculing all other similar claims by association.

It must be stated clearly: Ridicule is not a logical argument. It is an ad hominem attack and is thus a fallacious argument. Attack arguments, not people. Now, anybody who disagrees with my assessment is free to say so, but simply ridiculing me is not an effective argument. It might be effective in that it makes people agree with you (for fear of being ridiculed if they don’t), but it does nothing to bolster your argument. In fact, it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I wish I didn’t need to make the above statement, but I’ve been on the internet far too long to believe otherwise.

Anyway, I want to address the idea that the alien life is highly improbable. For one thing, so is our very existence, but here we are. For another, there are billions upon billions of stars
out there. We’re finding extrasolar planets at an amazing rate. It’s not unfair to say the universe is probably swarming with planets, many of them habitable by carbon-based lifeforms. But we must already remember that there’s no guarantee that extra-terrestrial life would be anything like us.

I think the whole question is summed up nicely by this excellent comment on digg (yes, I’m surprised too):

Believing alien life exists does not necessarily require seeing, and it certainly doesn’t require faith. It’s just a matter of deduction, probability, and simple reasoning.

Think for a moment of the things you accept as true without the benefit of having seen them with your own eyes. You very likely accept the fact that not all life on Earth has been discovered. Although you have no tangible proof of that, you have an intuitive understanding of mathematical probability and an idea of what the limitations on exploration are. You probably accept as true that there are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on Earth, but in reality, no one’s ever really counted them. We see far off galaxies, most too far for our satellites to define, and we just assume they’re composed of hundreds of billions of stars, just like our Milky Way is (never counted those either). It’s a sound assumption, for sure. But an assumption nonetheless. What I’m trying to convince you of is that mathematical probability can be just as strong a proof as observation, which is itself limited by perception.

Now, what do we know about life that might help us get a better grasp on the alien question? Well, for starters, we know there’s life on Earth. We’re not exactly sure how it came about, but most of us are convinced it wasn’t by way of magic. We believe it had much, if not everything to do with the composition and solar proximity of our planet. We know that each Earthly life-form adapts to its respective environment, and we suspect they evolve in order to better compete with their rivals. We know our world has at times been uninhabited, inhabited, uninhabited, and inhabited again. We know there are great extinctions and new births. And we know, eventually, our planet will die.

There is not one single aspect of our planet, that makes life as we know it possible — i.e. vulcanism, atmosphere, water, carbon, etc. — that we have not yet detected on another planet. I’m talking about the basic ingredients, not the recipe. So we have to ask ourselves two questions: Are these the only ingredients to life?, and, is our particular recipe for life the only one capable of rising in a solar oven? If we presume both to be the case, we must then ask a third question: In a Universe of at least 100 billion galaxies (each with some 200 billion stars), and tens of trillions of planets; what are the likely odds of a recipe similar to ours repeating itself? For that matter, what are the odds of Venus’ recipe repeating itself? What are the odds for that of Jupiter, or that of Mars? How about Mercury? Is Neptune a one per galaxy anomaly? Are all planets in the Universe unique?

If you’re like me, you’re likely to conclude that the odds of our “recipe” type repeating itself are just as good as those of any other planet. But, whether or not alien life has come upon Earth can be debated. I’m personally convinced that it has. But I don’t believe that that topic can be seriously broached without more people first coming to terms with the all-too-probable existence of life outside our own world.

Indeed, the possibility of life outside our world is more than just a possibility. I would go so far as to say it’s probable. But some people seem oddly reluctant to acknowledge the logic above.

Remember when I said that the U.S. government has taken a lazy approach to investigating the UFO phenomenon?

The former governor says the incident remains unsolved, and deserves an official investigation. The U.S. government has never acknowledged that something was in the sky that night.

Former Phoenix city councilwoman Frances Barwood, now living in the Prescott area, was the only elected official to launch a public investigation in 1997, but she said people stonewalled her at every turn. Barwood spoke with more than 700 witnesses. “The government never interviewed even one,” she says.

That pretty much says it all.

This is older and backdated, but I wanted to make sure I get this on here for future reference. Fascinating take on a deep philosophical problem.

Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims.

But now it seems quite possible. In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

I think it’s quite likely that this universe is just an illusion. Even matter is mostly empty space. It seems like a projection, or a Matrix.

Wow, okay, my last post went over like a lead balloon on Reddit. I thought it was fair and coherent, but apparently people disagreed with my conclusions and downmodded it as a result.

However, one guy (it could be a girl. Perhaps I assume too much) was rational, calm and intelligent enough to discuss it with me without a flamewar erupting. He’s known as Strontium90 in the comments of that last post. He continued the discussion over on reddit but I want to make sure y’all read this because I think his points are good, even though I’ve refuted most of them. Here’s what he had to say:

I commented on your blog as Strontium90. Unfortunately, you seem to be confused about what a null hypothesis is, the concept of the burden of proof, and the nature of positive/negative claims. You also dismiss the subtle differences between agnosticism and atheism as mere semantics, while insisting that something as innocuous as a water-like substance could be discovered, which we would call god. This is a double standard.

You also seem to be under the impression that atheists do not believe in gods because they do not like them, which is why you brought up several examples of gods that atheists would likely find favorable (such as the love-goddess) as a counter-example. Unfortunately, the repulsiveness of deities is not what causes atheism; their implausibility does.

You also seem to be unable to grasp bobbincygna’s analogy. I will attempt to elucidate.

[[[For readers: When I implied atheism is a religion someone responded: "If Atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby." And then bobbincygna attempted to defend the analogy. -Vemrion]]]

On bobbincygna’s analogy:

Take the set of all hobbies out there. H = [hobbies]. This includes everything you would call a hobby, from collecting stamps to messing with telemarketers. Now, let us suppose that we take the (rather passive) activity of not collecting stamps. Is it reasonable to place it in that set? No, of course not. Someone who has no hobbies can call called an a [without] hobbyist [person who has a hobby or hobbies].

Now, take the set of all religions, from Buddhism to Scientology, call it R. All items in set R are characterized by various elements: the lionization of faith, the existence of holy books or scripture, the presence of some sort of supernatural elements, etc. Does a belief which simply consists of “I do not believe in the supernatural, I do not believe that books are holy, and I do not take extraordinary claims on faith” belong there? I don’t think so. It, like the lack of stamp collecting, is a lack of theistic belief. This is what atheism means – a [without] theism [belief in god].

Atheism, the most oft-displayed example of metaphysical naturalism, can be termed as a philosophy, or perhaps a meta-religious view (view about religion), but it certainly is not a religion. There are no holy texts, only books which effectively sum up the philosophical arguments against theism. There is no dogma among atheists, unless you count a lack of belief in gods. This does not really count though, because it is necessarily true that an atheist lacks belief in gods. And he certainly will not be excommunicated or disowned by his parents if he later professes theism. Faith is not celebrated, instead it is essentially abandoned in favor of reason. Leaders and followers do not exist: Richard Dawkins might be influencial, but I don’t consider his words to be gospel, and neither do most atheists. They happen to share a lot of his beliefs, though. There is no formalized ritual such as prayer, sacrifice, etc, which is another thing that sets atheists apart from theists.

Pretty well-reasoned, I thought. But I definitely want to challenge some of his assertions. Here is my response:

My apologies for the confusion over the water-diety. I didn’t make it clear, but I was referring to something similar to a water elemental — basically a spirit that is infused with one of the four elements (water is a compound, of course, but it’s also one of the classical elements), Fire, Earth, Air and Water (the Chinese add a 5th: Metal). It’s probably not a very good analogy since it’s completely hypothetical and imaginary, at least as far as science is concerned.

I grasp the stamp hobby analogy just fine. It’s a poor analogy, though, which you seem unable to grasp. Here’s why:

Collecting is an activity. Philately is a hobby. However, you could still be a philatelist and not actually collect anything. How? By knowing a heck of a lot about stamps, that’s how. Philately is the study of stamps, not the act of collecting them. You could be an expert in stamp lore without actually having a collection or wanting one.

Actually, maybe the analogy is not so poor, since once you learn how faulty it is you might be able to understand how atheism could be considered a religion. Of course, this does depend on semantics to an extent.

An extremely simple definition of religion is this: “A religion is a set of common beliefs and practices generally held by a group of people.” Boom. You hold beliefs in common with other atheists (you refuse to worship “known” gods) and your practices are also similar in that you refuse to attend worship services (I assume. Personally, I make exceptions for weddings and funerals, but I don’t “worship”). It may be negative, but that doesn’t mean you can’t group it under religion.

For example, you’ve already admitted that atheism is a philosophy. Would you also consider it a theological perception? Just because the content of your theological perception attacks the underlying structure of most other theologies and even theism itself, that does not stop it from being classified as some form of theological outlook. Do they study atheism in theology classes? In many cases, yes (there might be some bias in many of them, of course).

As for dogma, yes I consider the lack of belief in gods to be a dogma among atheists. If someone claimed to be atheist, but continually made shrines to Buddha would you consider him a “real” atheist?

To take it even further, have you ever heard “The first rule is that there are no rules.” Is that a rule? Sure seems like it to me, even though its singular act is to bar all other rules. It may be recursive, negative and contradictory… But it’s still a rule.

Also, if you knew more about theology you’d know that there are several religions that are nontheist. They generally don’t deny the existence of gods, they just aren’t concerned with them, and don’t take a stance on them either way. Confucianism and other eastern religions are a perfect example. For this reason, many people like to call them philosophies rather than faiths or religions, but this is another semantic argument, one that is caused by the overwhelming prevalence of Christianity in the weltanschauung of westerners.

If you consider ritual a necessary part of the definition of religion, consider the scientific method. It’s also a dogma of sorts, and it prescribes a methodology for discovering and verifying knowledge in such a way as it will be acceptable to others in the sci
entific community. In much the same way that a priest prepares to consecrate bread and wine, a dutiful scientist will prepare for an experiment by controlling for variables and making predictions (hypotheses) before the experiment-ritual itself is performed.

As for proceeding from the assumption of the null hypothesis, that’s your business. It’s certainly a good idea in science, but in matters of faith things are not so cut and dried.

Also, please note that I am not calling you a religious person by stating atheism could be considered a religion. I’m just pointing out that atheism is quite similar to other religions, and as it grows there is a risk that it could be seized and exploited by charlatans. I believe there was a South Park episode about this. I am also sure you would see through the bullshit and hopefully refrain from any atheistic fundamentalism, but just remember that there are a lot of stupid people out there. In fact, some people are dumb as fuck!

Even as I’m drawing religion and science together, surely you’ll concede there is much that separates them. The problem is that the scientific method is not known to work for the business of discovering gods. I believe Scott Adams once compared this folly to using a metal detector to check for unicorns in one’s sock drawer. The fact of the matter is, we haven’t discovered a “god” (definitively, based on the scientific method) so how can we say we’re using the best tools for the job?

Perhaps a new method is called for. Of course, if I knew that method I’d present you with solid proof of the existence of god(s). But you could easily reject it by saying my method does not adhere to the principles of the scientific method. But what if my method was better, at least for discovering and identifying divine beings?

A question to ponder: Have your placed your faith in the scientific method?

A retired Canadian official has called for the use of alien technology to solve the looming global warming crisis. The AFP, via Yahoo, is carrying a short story on his recommendations.

A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change, a local paper said Wednesday.”I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation … that could be a way to save our planet,” Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.

Alien spacecrafts would have traveled vast distances to reach Earth, and so must be equipped with advanced propulsion systems or used exceptional fuels, he told the newspaper.

You know, at first glance, this guy probably appears to be completely batshit crazy. But I think people who think we’re alone in this universe are the fucking crazy ones. I mean, buy a telescope and you can see thousands of stars in our neighborhood alone. If you start considering that there are billions of stars in a given galaxy and billions of galaxies…. the chances of us being alone are effectively nil.

It’s an open question as to whether they have travelled here, but this guy seems to think they have. They mention he saw a UFO once. Of course, the “U” in UFO stands for “unidentified”, but I think it’s pretty clear that our government is aware of the truth behind the UFO phenomenon. In fact, I think it’s pretty clear that our government has a treaty or some sort of understanding with these aliens.

All you have to do is look at the government’s behavior when confronted with UFO evidence and people demanding disclosure. The government routinely tells people to shut up and stop being silly. But isn’t that an incredibly irresponsible tactic in an age of terrorism and (previously) a nefarious communist threat? I mean, those UFOs could’ve been Russians, but our government seemed unconcerned. Why is this? Because they have a bit more information on the matter. Otherwise they’d be playing up the threat, like they usually do for terrorism (real or imagined). Yet, when Chicago’s O’Hare airport was visited recently the reaction from Washington was…. nothing. Strange, unidentified, crafts hovering above a major airport full of thousands of people apparently doesn’t worry them. And these are the people protecting us from external threats??!!

As a general rule I don’t believe anything the government says, or people who used to be in the government. So why should we believe this guy, Paul Hellyer? Well, we shouldn’t. As Jeff Wells makes clear, trusting “former” government officials is folly. Many of them are still connected to the military-industrial complex they formerly served, and their motives should always be suspect. When a major figure offers to lend his prestige to a long-derided group like UFO investigators, it’s best to approach with caution, or even outright cynicism.

However, just because we’ve been burned before doesn’t mean I’m not gonna keep my eyes on the skies.

He liked to draw pictures of his home too — a long single-storey, white house standing in a bay. But it sent shivers down his mum’s spine — because Cameron said it was somewhere they had never been, 160 miles away from where they lived.

This is pretty cool. And eerie.

Be sure to check out the whole BBC documentary on the story as well. It’s about 45 minutes long, but it’s pretty damn good. I found it a bit hard to pick up on the accents at times, though.

read more | digg story

For the record, I’ve experienced “Telephone Telepathy” on many occasions. While I think it could be explained as people using logic and inductive reasoning, there were many times that I didn’t use the problem-solving side of my brain at all — the person just popped into my head as the phone rang.

That said, I find it odd that this story is called “Scientists angered by telephone telepathy study.” How do you get angry at a study? Well, I guess it happens when the study reveals something that you’d rather not contend with/believe in.

Many people report experiences in which they were thinking of a friend or relative who happened to phone them at that moment. Most scientists regard this as coincidence, reinforced by forgetting the many times we think of friends who never ring, but Dr Sheldrake has tried to test whether it is actually down to genine telepathy.

He asked 63 volunteers to select four friends, one of whom would then be selected at random to ring them at a pre-arranged time. On picking up the phone, the subject would say who he thought was calling.

By chance alone, people should get the right friend 25 per cent of the time, but Dr Sheldrake found that they actually did much better than this, with a success rate of 40 per cent in 571 tries. Callers were often several miles away, sometimes thousands of miles away, and distance did not affect the outcome.

In a follow-up trial, the participants were videotaped to ensure they were not getting messages from their callers. The four subjects tested in this way did even better, picking the right caller 45 per cent of the time.

Dr Sheldrake claims the results as good evidence for genuine telepathy, at least between some people who know each other well. “The odds of this being a chance effect are 1,000 billion to one,” he said.

You’ll note that he used people who are friends with each other. This is a good way to tease out a measurable respone. People wishing to sabotage the idea of psychic abilities could easily choose strangers and then point out that nobody was able to indentify who was calling them. I think the ability has something to do with being “on the same wavelength” with certain people. It might not have anything to do with “psychic abilities” — it could be a subtle vibrational similarity that people are picking up on unconsciously. But words like “paranormal” are grab-bags for all sorts of con-artists as well as legitimate phenomena that haven’t been adequately explained/measured.

The so-called “skeptics” out there who casually dismiss anything that gets labelled as “paranormal” are fools. We need rigorous testing before we can logically assess the truth behind the claims. Rejecting something out of hand just because it was labelled a certain way by certain people is not science — it’s bigotry. Look at their pathetic and delusional rationalizations for the results of this study:

It was also possible that people got clues from the time of the call. “If the subject knows four people well, they will know who tends to be on time, who tends to be late and who early,” said Richard Wiseman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. “If they call me at 11.02 not 11, I’d likely guess it was going to be my late friend.”

Um, yeah. Your “late friend” only calls when it’s not a round number? What the fuck is he talking about? He’s grasping at straws here folks, and it’s kind of sad to see. What a loser. Just wake the fuck up and do some tests you idiot! Oh I forgot, he’ll be able to sabotage his results using little tricks like I described above.

The second study reported yesterday was led by Peter Fenwick, a consultant neuropsychiatrist who is interested in near-death experiences and “end of life experiences” that occur when people die. He thinks these may provide evidence for an afterlife.

Though his work is not yet published, he has collected data in hospices on apparently paranormal phenomena that occur at death. He says that many dying people experience visions of dead friends and relatives welcoming them to an afterlife, and that the living relatives of dying people are “visited” by them at the moment of death, reporting that they are dying but that all will be well.

Dr Fenwick has also documented uncanny events such as clocks stopping and bright lights at the moment of death. “One of commonest forms is a luminous object, composed of light and love, which hangs above the body. This is often interpreted as the soul leaving the body.”

Again, sceptics reject this all as nothing but anecdote, hallucination and pure coincidence.

Again, skeptics reveal themselves as unwilling to accept the idea of an afterlife or of observable phenomena that are not easily explainable in conventional terms. They have stuck their fingers in their ears and they’ve closed their eyes and they’re screaming, “Lalalalalaaaahh!! I can’t hear you!”

Of course you can’t…. and you seem to have no idea why.

I was reading about the study on telepathy over at the usually extremely skeptical slashdot and there were actually some good links and ideas from people open to the idea of “paranormal” abilities, which are really just abilities that modern science has not yet been able to fully explain.

One poster pointed to this article as evidence that serious scientists are studying psychic abilities and having some success in proving that certain people have these abilities:

But what few may realize is Dubois’ prime power – making contact with people after death – has been subjected to three years of UA research scientifically designed to determine if she is an authentic “medium” or a fraud.

Although the studies have stirred controversy nationwide and have been slammed by several skeptics, the Harvard-trained UA professor who ran them strongly defends their legitimacy, as does Dubois.

“There is no question this is not a fraud – some people really can do this, and Allison is one of them,” said psychology professor Gary E. Schwartz, who directs the UA’s Human Energy Systems Laboratory where the experiments with Dubois and other well-known mediums – including John Edward of TV’s “Crossing Over” fame – have been conducted.

“Many people claim to do this, and there are clearly frauds out there. Allison was repeatedly tested and passed every test.

“As a scientist, I approach all this as an agnostic – I don’t believe it; I don’t disbelieve it. After testing her under conditions that ruled out the possibility of fraud, I came to the conclusion she’s the real deal.”

That’s exactly the attitude you need to have to investigate something like the paranormal. You can’t assume it exists and you can’t be a raving nut like James Randi who refuses to even entertain the possibility of paranormal activity. You need to keep an open mind, unclouded by bias.

As I said, paranormal is just something observed that hasn’t been proved or thoroughly debunked yet. Randi thinks of himself as a debunker, but he’s not objective. Later on in the article Schwartz deals with Randi:

Perhaps more entertaining is the ongoing public feud Schwartz has with the flamboyant magician and professional skeptic James Randi, who has offered $1 million to “anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.”

Randi even wrote a letter to the University of Arizona Foundation in 2001, asking the university to submit Schwartz’s research data to an independent panel for evaluation, to see if the UA might win the $1 million.

In one critique, Randi called Schwartz “an academic who has abandoned reason to accept everything and anything offered him by scammers from John Edward to the gypsy down the street.”

Schwartz rejected Randi’s million-dollar bait.

“I refused for the same reason all serious scientists in America and Europe have refused. The process of this prize lacks scientific credibility and integrity,” he said. “This guy is not a scientist – he is a mediocre magician who loves the public eye.”

Booyah! It’s true: Randi is fucking clownshoes. He’s a sideshow, and he has too much vested interest in keeping his money. How can he claim to be a scientist if he’s offering huge cash prizes? That’s not science. The reward is the discovery itself, not a million bucks.

Besides, James Randi asks you to take a great many things on “faith.” He assumes that psychics and mediums are frauds and hucksters before he even hears their claims. This is not science. This is not even rational. It’s faith. Randi has “faith” that there are no paranormal abilities. It’s an article of faith for him that every claimant is a fraud.

Personally, I prefer to keep an open mind.

Apparently, so does the CIA. The Central Intelligence Agency has been experimenting with “remote viewing” for decades. Here’s the abstract:

In July 1995 the CIA declassified, and approved for release, documents revealing its sponsorship in the 1970s of a program at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, to determine whether such phenomena as remote viewing “might have any utility for intelligence collection” [1]. Thus began disclosure to the public of a two-decade-plus involvement of the intelligence community in the investigation of so-called parapsychological or psi phenomena. Presented here by the program’s Founder and first Director (1972 – 1985) is the early history of the program, including discussion of some of the first, now declassified, results that drove early interest.

It’s probably been reclassified by now, but at least some data got out and onto the net.

My main problem with “skeptics” is their irrational behavior and scientifically unsupported claims — all of which are ostensibly meant to prove the superiority of sound science. Talk about ruining your own case. Take a look at this example of “logic” by some leading skeptics:

Hyman’s research has included examination of alleged psychic readings and critiques of parapsychological experiments. He acknowledges that Schwartz has excellent academic credentials but blasts his medium research.

“Probably no other extended program in psychical research deviates so much from the accepted norms of scientific methodology as this one.”

After reviewing Schwartz’s book, “The Afterlife Experiments,” he said readings by Schwartz’s “star mediums,” like Dubois, “strike me as no different in kind from those of any run-of-the-mill psychic readers and as completely consistent with cold (fake) readings.”

He criticized Schwartz for other research errors, such as using only subjects “predisposed” to believe in this phenomenon and for “inappropriate statistical tests.”

In response, Schwartz said Hyman ignored and omitted facts that do not support his biases. “This is like a skeptical sports reviewer focusing on Michael Jordan’s few air balls and fouls, and drawing the conclusion that Jordan can’t play basketball,” he said.

Excellent response by Schwartz. Hyman is blantantly ignoring everything that doesn’t fit into his worldview, then Hyman turns around and blasts Schwartz for the failures in his model.

Basically, Hyman’s logic seems to be that if the psychics (and the researchers) fall short of infallibility in any way, then that means they are total frauds in every way. That’s not logic. From perusing A List of Fallacious Arguments, it would seem to point to “Moving The Goalposts (Raising The Bar, Argument By Demanding Impossible Perfection)” or maybe “Argument By Selective Reading”. Either way it’s a crutch for someone who can’t make a decent argument without resorting to fallacy. I thought Hyman was supposed to be defending rational thought. Instead he is abusing it to defend his preconceived notions. I should also note that the list above comes from a skeptic — one who appears more reasonable than Hyman or James Randi.

Anyway, I don’t expect that we’ll “prove” psychic powers are real anytime soon, but I think it’s worth exploring whether certain people have the gift. Actually, I had an interesting idea
about how to prove the old cliche “mind over matter” isn’t just a cute saying: Study a bunch of psychics like Dubois in a controlled environment. Then, for some psychics, bring in some flaming skeptics like Randi and see if Randi’s uncontrollable hatred and bias actually affects the accuracy of the psychic, just by being in the same room.

Could it be that skepticism is a psychic power?! :-)

In order to accurately test for the existance of telepathy (and not be made fun of by other scientists) the researchers at The University of Manchester have created a virtual computer world to control for variables normally outside of their control:

The system, which immerses an individual in what looks like a life-size computer game, has been created as part of a joint project between The University’s School of Computer Science and School of Psychological Sciences.

Approximately 100 participants will take part in the experiment which aims to test whether telepathy exists between individuals using the system. The project will also look at how telepathic abilities may vary depending on the relationships which exist between participants.

The test is carried out using two volunteers who could be friends, work colleagues or family. They are placed in separate rooms on different floors of the same building to eliminate any possibility of communication.

Participants enter the virtual environment by donning a head-mounted 3D display and an electronic glove which they use to navigate their way through the computer generated world.

Once inside participants view a random selection of computer-generated objects. These include a telephone, a football and an umbrella. The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with.

The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit to them.

Sounds like a good plan. There’s always a lot of hucksterism in paranormal circles so using normal people and placing them in a virtual world is a good control system. There really isn’t another way to make scientists pay attention to the possibility of ESP and other abilities.

Personally, I think it’s pretty obvious that humans have psychic abilities. Whenever I’m staring at a beautiful girl from across the room she almost always feels my gaze and looks at me. As long as people aren’t really distracted (i.e. talking to someone else, reading, working) you can usually get them to look at you after staring at them for only a dozen seconds or so, even if they didn’t know you were there and there was no line-of-sight. Try it next time you’re at the mall.

Whether this experiment will be able to “prove” telepathic abilities exist is an open question. From the sound of it, they were more concerned with not being made fun of by other scientists. It’s good that they’re trying, but you have to wonder if they’re taking the right approach. Scientists really hate the idea that there’s something out there that they can’t explain, can’t be accurately measured or predicted and behaves in a way that can only be described as irrational. My question is: Why do you expect the universe to be easily explainable, rational and predictable? What evidence do you have that states that reality (all of it) should play by your rules?

until the 20th century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see and hear. since the inital publication of the charged electromagnetic spectrum, humans learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear… is less than one millionth of reality. — Incubus, “New Skin”

What if “reality” doesn’t play by your rules?