Wikipedia’s Anti-Psi Mafia & the Revenge of the Damned

 

Most of the online population window-shops Wikipedia for their information, but if you happen to be interested in psi (or any anomalous phenomena), its accounting of facts and history can be outrageously selective revisionism. The entries would be laughable if their writers weren’t so blatantly dishonest.

Anyone who’s spent time researching psi on Wikipedia can discern in seconds the editors’ bias in favor of any debunking explanation. Look up pretty much any paranormal subject and you’ll find the same pattern: an insultingly cursory outline of the anomaly, followed by sometimes ludicrous “explanations” that demonstrate the editor(s) did virtually no work in investigating the original reports and probably nutshelled what little information is presented only from books written by pseudoskeptics—who themselves have cherry-picked aspects of the cases to bolster their perspective.

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The trashing of a particular phenomenon or character assassination of a psi-talented individual very often revolves around a core of “celebrity” debunkers associated with the Committee for Skeptical Investigation (CSI)[1] such as Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, Susan Blackmore, Elizabeth Loftus, James Alcock, and Paul Kurtz. When an appeal to authority is needed, there will often be offered a quote from superstars Carl Sagan (despite Sagan’s professed openness to investigating telepathy and reincarnation), Michael Shermer, Alcock, or the “Amazing” Randi to snark upon the poor, “deluded,” and long-dead psi researchers of yestercentury and today.

Of these debunking sources, only a few are genuine scientists—and even a fewer number than that are still active in CSI. Bill Nye isn’t a scientist. The Amusing Randi isn’t a scientist. In fact, in the early years a group of “hard” scientist members bailed on the organization because of its dogmatic, anti-scientific attitude.[2]

Meanwhile, the number of academically credentialed paranormal investigators increases by the day.

In addressing the thousands of psi studies and the meta-analyses of these studies, references to “methodological faults” come up quite often—conveniently footnoted to articles by Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, James Alcock, or even the non-scientist Randi. How wide-ranging in sources! As Craig Weiler points out:

“Since alternative sciences are mostly shut out from mainstream consideration, the evidence isn’t examined closely in many mainstream scientific discussions.  In other words, there are very, very few solid scientific sources for skeptics to work with. There are no sources that sufficiently support statements about parapsychology or many other frontier science such as “this is pseudoscience” “rejected by the scientific community” or “negatively impacts the public understanding of science.”  No one has ever gone to the trouble to try to prove these things scientifically.  And it’s very doubtful that it’s even possible.

So skeptics have to resort a lot of the time to sources that are created “in house” so to speak.  These come in the form of skeptics being interviewed, skeptical articles, newsletters, blogs by notable skeptics, etc.  This is especially true on Wikipedia when it comes to psychics.  It is very tough to make the case that any of them are frauds or deluded without resorting to opinion or (the failure of James Randi Foundation’s) Million Dollar Challenge. (To award a psychic for genuine psi abilities). Mainstream sources generally stay away from landing on one side or the other of this debate because of either liability issues or fear of losing audience by being too skeptical.

This is undoubtedly why the Guerrilla Skeptics work so closely with CSI and JREF.  Without the sourcing from these two reactionary organizations or their fellows and other skeptical organizations, many of their assertions would be just about impossible to make.”

Further, the rebuttals by the original psi investigators to these CSI-Skeptics criticisms—who often clearly enumerate the mistakes, mischaracterizations, or outright falsehoods made by these pseudoskeptics—are never mentioned in the Wikipedia entries.

The use of this small core debunking crowd as final authorities is akin to having the Wikipedia entries for Impressionist movement and artists referencing a core of ten or so Impressionist-hating critics, when there in fact have been thousands of art critics.

Again, the references and “further reading” sections at the articles’ ends rarely contain the primary references/reports on the phenomena or the work of paranormal researchers. It’s inevitably debunking books or articles you’ll find…Almost as if they want to short-circuit your interest; as if they don’t want you to do independent research and make up your own mind.

Thus, Rule 1: Try to avoid reference primary sources, that is, the lengthy investigations by the persons who initially researched and often witnessed the anomalous activity. Always reference only the debunking material, or the opinion of some member of CSI. You’ll know this is so if the book referenced is published by Prometheus Books, the house organ of CSI.[3] 

I don’t have any problem with giving skeptical, non-paranormal explanations the primary place in an article—if the explanations offered were honest and credible in the mechanical-physical specifics of their explanations—but Wikipedia entries don’t exhibit this equality, because the debunkers’ explanations usually don’t.

That’s because there is a “mafia” of pseudoskeptics controlling the editing process of Wikipedia entries on anything paranormal. CSI and Guerrilla Skeptics have pages devoted to how one should debunk anything they deem “non-science,” both in real life and in online contexts.[4]

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First, the “RationalWiki” (the pseudoskeptic’s safe space) entry covering the Society for Psychical Research is a shambles. The Guerilla Skeptics unfairly downplays the first generation of SPR. Richard Hodgson, Edmund Gurney, Henry and Nora Sidgwick, Frank Podmore, and (on the American side) William James all busted dozens upon dozens of fraudulent mediums. Hodgson exposed Theosophy founder Madame Blavatsky of several types of imposture in 1885. Podmore worked on collating the accounts contained in Hodgson and Myers’s massive Phantasms of the Living (1886) yet himself remained unconvinced of mediumship and postmortem survival (he concluded telepathy was probably responsible for mediums’ “hits”). But Podmore didn’t stop trying to find the evidence. William James revealed many spiritualist seances as conjuring feats (which alienated the original Spiritualist contingent within the ASPR into rejecting that organization, ironically, as a bunch of debunkers). The wiki entry doesn’t mention the SPR’s in-depth and failed attempts to disprove the mediumship of Leonora Piper.

Yet the Guerillas reveal little to none of these facts in their trite account—because these Victorian searchers professed and applied what the mafia don’t practice: a skeptical yet open-minded commitment to discovering the truth. Truth cannot be “absolutely settled” in science—that is what makes it unique in human intellectual history. As William James said, “Science means, first of all, a certain dispassionate method. To suppose that it means a certain set of results that one should pin one’s faith upon and hug forever is sadly to mistake its genius and degrade the scientific body to the status of a cult.”

This is the deeper truth about the role of science the Guerilla Skeptics cannot bear to face, but was foundational to the SPR pioneers, because the latter were philosophers and philologists and lawyers unburdened with a worship of a materialism that can be as corrosively dogmatic as Baptist literalism.

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Next, take the subject of poltergeists. The Wiki mafia editors are very selective as to which cases to debunk by granting them a dedicated page. The Amityville, Enfield, and Borley Rectory cases get the longest Wiki pages by far—and they were deemed fraudulent by investigators from the Society for Psychical Research as well as the committed debunkers.[5]On the SPR’s investigation of poltergeists, the wiki prominently mentions Lambert’s discredited hypothesis that the phenomenon was caused wholesale by underground seismic or liquid vibrations and weather factors. This conjecture was soundly disproven by the SPR’s Alan Gauld and Tony Cornell.[6] Is Gauld and Cornell’s scientific experimentation to prove or disprove Lambert’s hypothesis even mentioned? No.

The Wiki entry for the well-documented 1967 Rosenheim poltergeist is a particularly decrepit specimen of attempted ledgermain. There are no mentions of the 1967 Tropication Arts poltergeist in Miami (exhaustively investigated as it occurred by Roll and Pratt), the Stratford, Connecticut poltergeist of 1850 (witnessed by thousands of persons over seven months, detailed in diary form by Rev. Eliakim Phelps, owner of the house, and investigated by skeptical scientists, journalists, and clergy who came away convinced the phenomenon was paranormal), or the Sauchie, Scotland poltergeist of 1960 (investigated by A.R. Owen and witnessed by a clergyman, three medical doctors, and a teacher). These three cases are conspicuous absences in the Wiki data, due either to their impeccable documentation or, relatedly, the fact that no close to credible debunking explanations exist by the “experts.”

Rule 2: Always highly emphasize the crudely-produced frauds, then tar the entire phenomenon with these selected instances—and try not to use the debunking work of genuine skeptics who busted the frauds, such as SPR investigators Frank Podmore, Henry Sidgwick, William James, Nora Sidgwick, Alan Gauld, Richard Hodgson, or E. J. Dingwall. Mentioning their work only gives them respectability, and no dispassionate psi investigator should ever be tolerated in a Wikipedia article on the subject.

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The 1967 Zeitoun, Egypt Marian apparition entry is apparently a fluke in that the descriptive entry about it is surprisingly longer and more detailed than the “mass hysteria” explanation made by the skeptics further down the page (meaning: we have no idea how so many people could see and even photographed repeatedly an identical apparition, therefore here’s an unproved accounting for it)…Which brings us to the core of their mindset: they often suggest “natural” explanations that beggar belief in their convoluted, pseudoscientific chutzpah.

According to these “rational” authorities, multiple witnesses to apparitions like Zeitoun can be primed to suffer simultaneous and identical hallucinations of Mother Mary, levitating bedsheets, candlesticks, and even phantom people, the lack of scientific/psychological evidence for “group hallucinations” be damned…The mafia would prefer us to believe women mediums merely fake trances during which they surreptitiously manipulate unseen but necessarily present “concealed ropes” that can pull 50-pound bureaus a foot and a half across the floor and back again in seconds…And did you know that 10-year-olds can easily fool professional magicians and a dozen trained observers during a poltergeist outbreak? And that these kids obviously place dozens of stones into their houses’ walls to disgorge themselves by means of invisible networks of threads (that are never found)—and then float across rooms and land with no contact sound?

These are remarkable feats for untrained, pre-adolescent conjurers—many of whom had never actually seen a stage magic act in their life.

Rule 3: Use anything within the realms of standard, cause-and-effect Newtonian physics, psychology, cognitive science, or sociology, even if unproven, obsolete, or just plain pseudoscience (like “mass hysteria”), to explain away the phenomenon in an ad hoc manner.

We’ll take a look at mediums. The Wiki editors’ bias is most easily demonstrated by the amount of page space given over to the rationalizations which always outweigh the compressed anecdotes on the mediums’ feats (the latter which, a curious individual’s further scrutiny will find, are told through often highly detailed accounts that what was experienced clearly violates physics as we know it).

Again, the entries for individual mediums such as Leonora Piper all consist of very short summaries (or outright omission) of the prodigious examples of their talents and the laborious screening-out processes for fraud undertaken by investigators. The debunking “explanations” amount to a hand-wave mention of “conjuring tricks” and one of two instances of witnessed fraud meant to negate the psi they exhibited.

A jury would inevitably find the grounds of these debunkings as weak hearsay compared to the oft-mountains of evidence in favor of the abilities’ existence. Thus

Rule 4: Always refer to case studies as sets of anecdotes or anecdotal. This is supposed to insulate them entirely from consideration as evidence, and it applies doubly to case studies of the careers of individual psychics or trance mediums; in this case, one can then proceed to Wikifraud! them further and attack the person as a charlatan. As in Rule 2, if one instance of anything ambiguously fraudulent is found in a medium’s career—in other words, an anecdote of fraud—raise this one anecdote to the status of unimpeachable truth and tar the person’s entire career with fraud, despite any contrary evidence from investigators and reliable witnesses. This is an example of the double-standard fallacy many pseudoskeptics use. Fraud discovered=true fact; Psi demonstration that is far beyond what chance would predict= “non-evidential.”

SHORT CUTS:

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Lourdes: In 1858, 14 year-old Bernadette Soubirous spoke with a “white lady” at an ancient grotto in southern France. The apparition told her to dig in the ground near the cave and Bernadette did, causing a spring to appear whose waters have become a potable shrine to millions. Both the Vatican and independent medical authorities have verified 69 medically inexplicable healings.

The Wiki response: the placebo effect, natch…But have the debunkers any clue how an idea or a suggestion in the mind can induce the near-instantaneous healing of fractured bones, cancer-eaten tissue, or blindness (all medically documented)? Nope. No one does. Move along. It seems the editor stopped short. The less said about this one the better.

Fátima & Medjugorje: Well, there are no Guerilla Skeptic interpolations in the Fatima entry at all—no section on possible alternate explanations, nothing but a sentence offering possible “retinal effects” due to looking at the sky near the sun, natural meteorological optical effects, or the “suggestibility” of the huge (30-50,000) crowd during the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, 1917. Apparently, even a Guerilla Skeptic doesn’t (or rather, isn’t allowed to) mess with canonical Catholic beliefs.

The papal blessing on Fatiman Lucia Santos as a saint and the authentication of the mass visions probably explains the different treatment the mafia offers in the Medjugorje entry (and the fact that it occurred 51 years closer to the present, 1971, when we should know better about these things, right?). The Medjugorje visions were never given Roman official seal of authenticity, nor were the young women involved ever canonized. Open season, then! In the skeptic section, there are two references by Joe Nickell, one to a CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer magazine article, and a skeptical weighing-in by Pope Francis.

The difference in treatment between the Fatima and Medjugorje events is striking. One wonders if the mafia would have been given a hands-off if the Bosnian events had been recognized as genuine and the primary “seers” beatified or even canonized.

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Padre Pio: Like Saint Lucia Santos, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina has been canonized, so there’s minimal interference by the mafia. As far as the accounts of his stigmata go: The skeptic attempt to use an ad hoc that Pio bought carbolic acid to fake the wounds is immediately countered by the admission that Pio and his monastery brother Paolinopurchased the chemical to sterilize needles for Spanish Flu immunizations. No evidence at all is offered that the stigmata could have been caused by the acid.

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Geraldine Cummins: The entry on automatic writing medium Geraldine Cummins actually quotes psychical researcher Harry Price, of all people, as debunking her voluminous writings as “products of her subconscious.” Now go over to Wikipedia’s Harry Price page to see how his character and career fare as a whole in the mafia’s eyes; they do not note the many times he credulously boosted his “star” psychics. The man was very protective of his test subjects. Using Price’s opinion of Cummins in the entry is blatant cherry-picking, in other words. Cummins herself is on record as being skeptical of her own channeling’s sources, which is in fact mentioned in passing in the “reception” entry. Then go to other sources on Harry Price’s career as a psi researcher and you’ll find a firm believer in the anomalous abilities, but only when it suited him. He was, if nothing else, a promoter for the abilities of Harry Price.

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Gladys Osborne Leonard: The Gladys Osborne Leonard entry goes into no detail whatsoever about the many spontaneous “hits” the trance medium Leonard/her control “Feda” made that neither Leonard nor her sitters could possibly have known—because they were proxy sitters two (or sometimes three) times removed from the actual questioner.[7] How could Leonard have known who the real sitters’ identities were asking the questions? It would seem impossible, yet “Feda” was accurate in names, times, descriptions, and life-events of these thrice-removed sitters more than half the time. If fraud is ruled out (and on testimony of the SPR investigators, who had Leonard trailed by detectives, she was of impeccable character vouched for by all her friends) the only alternative for the mafia is telepathy or even super-psi—but they can never use those explanations, of course…So the mafia cites only attempts at explanation from skeptics wielding the usual techniques (fishing, cold reading, fraud). Explaining away “Feda” as a “second personality” of Leonard’s, as some of the referenced skeptics do, explains nothing, for this second personality apparently was either telepathically gifted or in fact a disincarnate intelligence.

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Eileen Garrett: Trance medium Eileen Garrett was more curious about and flummoxed by the source of her abilities than perhaps any other medium, and tried for decades to understand it, enlisting psychologists, psychiatrists, and scientists. Of all people, the wiki entry on her clairvoyance uses the opinion of parapsychology’s worst fraud-perpetrator Samuel Soal to dismiss her ability to replicate J.B. Rhine’s experimental successes with him, Soal. Thus—

Rule 2b: anyone’s opinion is apparently permitted, as long as it debunks with extreme prejudice, and

Rule 2c: researchers who believe(d) in the existence one type of paranormal phenomena are occasionally 100% okay to use as sources of authority as long as they are debunking another paranormal phenomenon.

In the Garrett wiki writer’s case this is ironic, in that Soal was known to be deeply envious of Rhine’s experimental work and, when could not replicate his famous telepathy studies, Soal produced them fraudulently by altering score cards.

In 1930, Garrett was “spontaneously contacted” by the consciousness of Herbert Irwin, captain of the R101 airship that had crashed two days before, killing Irwin and 47 others.

CSI house organ Prometheus Books’ two authors John Booth and Melvin Harris both get ample quotes from their books explaining the results of her R101 sittings by not explaining them at all as fraudulent, trivial, non-evidential. No rebuttals by direct witnesses or other parapsychologists are permitted; the “final word” by Booth and Harris is she was a fraud.

DEEP DIVES:

I’m going to take four examples of Wikipedia’s blindered approach and look at them in-depth.

Stefan Ossowiecki

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Polish industrialist and remote-viewer/psychometrist Stefan Ossowiecki was nationally famous in Europe for his ability to not only read multiply-sealed letters but often tell the investigator what occurred while the letter was written (the writer’s gender, age, appearance, health condition, describe the room or house where it was composed, etc.) His “hits” at reading the contents of envelopes far outweighed his misses, and there is no way short of “hot reading” (extensive detective work done on the target material beforehand) that he could have known about the writers’ lives—but in many cases neither Ossowiecki nor even the investigator knew they would be performing an experiment on the spur-of-the-moment. Many times, someone Ossowiecki did not know (a Parisian, say) who had written a letter that was given to someone else and then given at the last moment to the investigator to test him. How could he possibly have known what was written (or drawn) in the letter? He would then not only describe what was written or drawn inside, but spontaneously describe the writer. Furthermore, he several times told the investigator personal details about the writer and the people through whom the letter passed to his hand, who he also didn’t personally know, or even had an idea existed.

This led researchers Charles Richet, Gustav Geley, and Eugene Osty to conclude Ossowiecki was a not only a “superpsi”-level clairvoyant (remote viewer) but an astounding psychometrist: by touching the envelopes, he could see into the past and somehow watch the person write the note/drawing, and sense the scene.

For this one, the Wiki editors roll out psychologist C.E.M. Hansel for the inevitable “conjuring trick” claim with no further elaboration, then hit us with this: “Psychologist E. F. O’Doherty wrote that the clairvoyance experiments with Ossowiecki were not scientific.”[8] This is a strictly true criticism; but still, triple-blinded tests of the man’s ability while he is being closely watched by the experimenters for fraud (dozens upon dozens of times) makes for compelling anecdotes that he possessed an extraordinary talent.

The editors’ omission of the preparations the investigators made to test Ossowiecki is a refusal to wrestle with the details, as is usually the case in their entries. It serves to demonstrate their bedrock faiththat there is literally no possible test debunkers would call scientific with regard to psi abilities. Which is exactly their intended program: it doesn’t exist, simply because it can’t, therefore there is no way to test it.

Leonora Piper

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In the first stub, we have Mrs. Piper characterized as a cold reader, a fisher for information, and muscle reader. None of the authors cited for these statements sat with Leonora for a reading, nor did they interview any of the persons who did; it appears they simply came to the subject with these explanations based upon the SPR reports. With complete disingenuousness, it ignores the fact that A/SPR members William James, Richard Hodgson, Frederic Myers, James Hyslop, and Oliver Lodge conducted strenuous measures against cold reading, hot reading, and muscle reading. These trained philosophers and scientists weren’t stupid and gullible as the pseudoskeptics would like you to think. Richard Hodgson was so flummoxed by her abilities that he hired private detectives to secretly trail Mrs. Piper and her family for several months, watching them for meetings with “cut-outs” between their friends and the SPR who might be feeding her any information (the “hot reading”). They turned up absolutely no evidence of fraud, which impressed Hodgson and the other investigators. Over the years Hodgson continued to periodically monitor as closely as he could Piper’s social activities but again came up with no evidence at all for hot reading. They even paid for she and her daughters to travel to England for strenuous examination by the British SPR and use dozens of random strangers as sitters, where there was no possibility of her gaining a hot reading.

These facts go conveniently unmentioned anywhere in the article.

While it is true that Mrs. Piper often had the sitters hold her hands or place their hands against her forehead, which could open her to charges of muscle reading in gauging how close her answers were, the quality of double or triple-blinded information she on occasion gave—ostensibly evidential of either spirit communication or omniclairvoyance (superpsi)—would lead one to think that even if she did use muscle reading, it was irrelevant to her results, because the information would have to have been conveyed via unconscious telepathy by the sitters themselves to Mrs. Piper; even the sitters were often unaware of the information she provided, which was found later by them to be true.

This is a possibility the Wiki editors never consider. And she did fish, but the sitters were for the most part told to remain silent and poker-faced as her controls sought for names, dates, or concepts.

The biography section says she “made a fortune” from her readings. It doesn’t make clear that this money was paid to her by the SPR to keep her exclusively their subject, with an investigator and stenographer/note-taker present at every sitting. She was essentially a salaried test subject for some 15 years.

Two examples of Piper’s sittings amongst many serve to demonstrate what sort of inexplicable talent they found themselves compelled to explain:

For a period of several years, Mrs. Piper’s main “spirit control” was the coarse-speaking French physician “Phinuit.” A man named John Hart had a sitting with Leonora which was suddenly interrupted by the “spirit” of George Pellew, (GP), who was a recently deceased friend of Hodgson and Hart both whom Piper did not know about. GP successfully spelled out his name for the two surprised men (Hodgson sat in on the sessions most of the time). Pellew, speaking through Phinuit, described a specific pair of shoes he was wearing that had been originally given to Hart by Pellew’s parents (a true past event). This of course would count towards nothing but possible telepathy. GP then asked Hart to get in touch with Pellew’s friends Jim and Mary Howard to have a sitting with Mrs. Piper, and described a specific conversation on metaphysics he once had with the Howards’ 15 year-old daughter Katharine—another event that turned out to have occurred (but neither Hodgson nor Hart knew about at the time). GP mentioned a specific book he had failed to finish reading when he died which Hodgson knew to be true.

The Howards then came in for a sitting (pseudonymously, at Hodgson’s ever-skeptical insistence). This time GP communicated directly, bypassing Phinuit. GP corrected Jim Howard’s wayward assertion that a mutual friend (Rogers) was writing a novel by telling him that Rogers was actually working on a memorial to him, GP. This was correct. GP described Rogers’s deceased daughter as being nearby (that is, “on the other side”) as she still fretted over her condition during her final days, in which she had to be fed with a tube. GP then mentioned “Berwick” and “Orenberg,” more friends of the Howards. Mrs. Piper knew of none of these persons, and all the information and connections given were true.

At their next sitting the Howards brought their daughter Katharine. GP joked about her terrible violin playing, to which Mrs. Howard took offense but Katharine later clarified was a running joke between she and GP—his spirit was apparently attempting to establish “bona fides” with the teenager. Mrs. Piper passed out of trance then back in as Phinuit returned and carried on a conversation in French with Katharine, which the girl knew fluently from living in France. Mrs. Piper consciously knew no French.

The GP control apparently exhibited either remote viewing (clairvoyance) or “retroactive” telepathy on one occasion. With the Howards at home, Hodgson asked GP to visit their house and give a report on what he perceived. Mrs. Howard was writing letters to GP’s mother and someone named Tyson. GP also perceived her holding one of his own books as she wondered if his spirit were around her at that moment. When Hodgson checked with Mrs. Howard he discovered that the events as seen were true but had occurred on the previous day. Hodgson conjectured that Mrs. Piper was either retroactively remote viewed the past or telepathically accessed Mrs. Howard’s mind in real time as she thought of the previous day’s activities. Either way, this is a possible astounding feat of superpsi.[9]

Next, Sir Oliver Lodge wanted to eliminate the possibility of telepathy in Piper’s sittings. So he in effect double-blinded himself by means of an object gotten from an elderly uncle he with whom he was not close. It was a gold watch owned originally by the uncle’s twin brother, who had died decades ago. Lodge handed it to Mrs. Piper, whose control immediately declared it was once owned by the physicist’s uncle. The control, Phinuit, said that this uncle was very fond of another uncle whose name was Robert—another hit; it was true, the living uncle’s name was Robert. Her voice then changed from Phinuit’s to the dead twin, who called himself Jerry (third hit).

Lodge then asked for something only Jerry and Robert would know between them. Phinuit spoke of the two nearly drowning in a dangerous creek while young, killing a cat in “Smith’s field” with a rifle, and that Jerry treasured a “skin” that he’d found.
Robert, it turned out, still possessed his brother’s beloved snakeskin, and they did swim in a perilous creek.

This wasn’t enough for Lodge, so he wrote to his younger uncle asking for any memories involving a creek and a cat in the twins’ youth. The third uncle recalled it all: the dangerous creek and the poor cat they shot in the field. They were so mortified of their behavior they’d all kept it secret, but it got out, to their shame.

Despite the true statements around the pocket watch—handed to Piper with no contextual information at all about it—Lodge still insisted on sending detectives to the town where his three uncles grew up to find out if recent enquiries had been made about the family. The detectives reported back: no, and not even any evidence that the shameful activities of the brothers long ago had been documented in public records in any way.[10]

These are two examples of Piper’s mediumship, and there several more of equal power, which we need not go into—and the Guerilla Skeptics would really prefer you didn’t. You might catch curiosity that there’s something to these strange things.

The Wiki entry on Piper emphasizes repeatedly the disagreements between members of the A/SPR over the nature of her talent, as if their clashes in toto negate her authenticity, when in fact James, Hyslop, and even skeptic Frank Podmore simply favored a belief that it was due to telepathy—but even this professional consensus on a paranormal explanation is a no-no that the Wikivigilantes cannot dare mention.

Out of thousands of quotes that could’ve be chosen to characterize the ever-cautious Hodgson’s strenuous work with Piper, we are offered Morton Prince’s observation that her mediumship “wrecked his mind” after Hodgson began to favor the spirit hypothesis over telepathy. In the editors’ selective reading, Frank Podmore is said to have concluded that “Hyslop’s séance sittings with Piper ‘do not obviously call for any supernormal explanation’ and ‘I cannot point to a single instance in which a precise and unambiguous piece of information has been furnished of a kind which could not have proceeded from the medium’s own mind, working upon the materials provided and the hints let drop by the sitter.’”[11]

Podmore’s is an incredibly poor assessment of the evidence, as the Howards and Lodge episodes above reveal; both sittings exhibited precise and unambiguous pieces of information that could not have proceeded only from Mrs. Piper’s mind. According to Ghost Hunters author Deborah Blum, Podmore concluded that “…Leonora Piper was a woman with some telepathic skills and an excellent memory for facts shared casually by her sitters. He had no proof of the latter…but her overall record, although impressive, failed to convince…Perhaps this was too cynical, Podmore allowed: ‘The accurate appreciation of evidence of this kind is almost an impossible task,’ (Podmore) wrote in his book Modern Spiritualism. ‘Mrs. Piper would be a much more convincing apparition if she could have come to us out of the blue, instead of trailing behind her a nebulous ancestry of magnetic somnambules, witchridden children, and ecstatic nuns.’[12] (emphasis added)

To be clear: There was no proof at all for her possessing “an excellent memory for facts shared by her sitters” that in turn fooled investigators. This says it all as far as using Podmore as a credible source on Leonora Piper. Again, the Guerilla squad makes no mention of his ambivalent conclusion on telepathy. And his lumping her together with the hundreds of fraudulent “show” mediums is insulting.

After a cherry-picked tally of her failures and sprinklings of dismissive evaluations in her bio and career, were given a lengthy “skeptical reception” section. As if it were needed.

Few of her many hundreds of “hits” are mentioned. When Piper accurately described the recently deceased daughter of a Reverend Sutton to he and his wife during an 1893 sitting, then gave her cause of death, her nickname and the nicknames of the girl’s brother and sister, “ John G. Taylor suggested that the information Piper gave could naturally be explained if she had read an obituary notice in the local newspaper. Taylor also suggested Piper may have picked up clues from the sitters about the girl’s nickname.” (emphasis added)

Read that closely again. There is no proof here, just “what ifs,” nor any evidence of how Piper could have gleaned clues from the grieving Suttons to declare specific information.

Her “miss” rate was openly acknowledged by James, Hodgson, Hyslop, and others as a problem. The nuanced (yet unfalsifiable) explanation for this is that a person in trance would have difficulty gaining any instantly coherent information from a “widened” or “higher” source while in an unconscious state. As Piper’s own controls explained the problem, the deceased individual to whom the sitter wishes to speak sometimes has to have their own control “on the other side,” and it becomes extremely difficult to convey information across three barriers to the living.

This gross equivocation, even if it were entirely false, still doesn’t explain her consistent hit rate. Podmore and James tended to believe Mrs. Piper had very strong secondary personalities, but as James and Myers would point out, these personalities, emanations of the Subliminal Self as Myers called it, can do impossible things.

DANIEL DUNGLAS HOME

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Home gets much Wiki debunkery upside his head simply because his feats were witnessed by many hundreds of people, including scientists, skeptics, and heads of state and, it’s been claimed, that “every attempt to bust him as a fraud failed.” No soup for you.

Quote from the page:

Gordon Stein has noted that “While the statement that Home was never caught in fraud has been made many times, it simply is not true… It is simply that Home was never publicly exposed in fraud. Privately, he was caught in fraud several times. In addition, there are natural explanations both possible and likely for each of his phenomena.”

Does the page give specific examples of Home being busted by any individuals? Nope. Here, Michael Prescott goes into James Randi’s attempted dismissal of Home with regard to Sir William Crookes’s thorough investigations of him, and Randi’s devious (yes, devious) “revisions”:

https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2015/10/blast-from-the-past-under-the-table.html

The Wikibunkers explain away the most spectacular Home levitation, wherein he allegedly floated out a three-story window and back in another, as their wide brush to tar his other levitations.

And their story goes like this: the feat was done in near-darkness, and Home could have been standing on those four-inch ledges outside the window…Therefore he did stand on those ledges. Nothing more to it! Here’s another gem:

“Science historian Sherrie Lynne Lyons has stated that a possible explanation for Home’s alleged levitation phenomena was revealed in the twentieth century by Clarence E. Willard (1882–1962). Willard revealed his technique in 1958 to members of the Society of American Magicians. He demonstrated how he could add two inches to his height by stretching. According to Lyons “it is quite likely that [Home] used a similar technique to the one that Willard used decades later.”

Two inches? One problem with that: Home was witnessed levitating three to five feet off the ground during his trips, by at least a dozen people.

And again: “Historian Simon During has suggested the levitation of Home was a magic trick, influenced by Robert-Houdin.”

Do they take the time going into During’s specific details (if he even had them) of exactly how this was accomplished by Home or Robert-Houdin?

Nope. Didn’t think he would. It’s a trade secret. And Houdini never replicated any of Home’s feats.

INDRIDI INDRIDASON

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So weak. Perhaps the lamest debunking attempt of all Wikiskeptic antics.

Prior to Indridason, a “simple farm boy,” there were no spiritualists let alone physical mediums in Iceland.[13] The 22-year-old happened to be asked to sit in on a séance in early 1905 and immediately produced tremors and rattling in the table before which they sat. It is noted that Indridi had never before seen a conjuring act, which were extremely rare in the country.[14]

The first psychical research society in Iceland was set up in 1905 to study Indridason and kept him on retainer, much like the SPR paid Leonora Piper as a subject for 17 years. Most of his manifestations occurred while he was in a trance. They included multiple direct voices, wind gusts, instrument playing, the levitation of objects and the medium himself, light phenomena of various types, materialization, rappings, and, most bizarrely, the dematerialization of his arm. These events were witnessed at times by upwards of 80 persons in the “experimental house” space, specially constructed by the psychical society, in which he lived from 1906 to 1909.[15] In this space, Indridason was usually held by investigators or strapped down in a chair that sat behind a wire mesh-barrier that could be examined for signs of tampering during his sessions. Some of these manifestations took place in plain light.

Indridason’s primary control, at first, was his paternal grand-uncle Konrad Gislason. While in trance he was repeatedly tested with needle pokes to no reaction, as if in a depicted hypnotic state. In November 1905, four persons testified that tables levitated as high as 7 feet several times during Indridi’s trance. All attempts to pull them down failed. It also occurred spontaneously while he was in a full waking state. A seance on November 24, 1905 was interrupted at roughly 9pm by a personality named “Emil Jensen,” a “manufacturer,” who spoke of a fire burning at that moment in a Copenhagen factory. It was brought under control within an hour. Three accounts of this particular séance were written down, one of them immediate, but many more people were present.[16]

The next issues of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken were delivered to the island four weeks later, at Christmas, 1905, and “Jensen’s” declarations had been true: a large fire at a lamp and chandelier factory in Copenhagen had occurred on the late night of November 24. Of the four fires that had occurred in Copenhagen within a month’s period, this was the only to befall a factory. There were no telephones or even telegraph service between Iceland and Denmark. In 2009, researcher Erlendur Haraldsson searched Copenhagen’s city records and found a manufacturer and coffee merchant Thomas Emil Jensen who had lived two doors down from the burnt lamp factory and had died at 50 in 1898; on further research it was discovered that the man had lived his entire life within two blocks of the site of the fire.[17]

In December 1907 to early 1908, an interloping spirit named Jon Einarsson caused very destructive poltergeist activity while Indridi was both in and out of trance, but was pacified somehow by a group of “ministering” spirits who insulated Indridi from Jon’s anger by anointing the medium’s forehead. Afterward Jon became a primary control. Two other “spirits” controlled Indridason: a Spanish-French opera diva (possibly Maria Felicia Malibran) who often sang from within the room, and a Norwegian doctor who later was tentatively identified as leprosy expert Daniel Cornelius Danielssen.

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In late 1908, Dr. Gudmundur Hannesson became involved. Hannesson was a professor of medicine at the University of Iceland, an anthropologist, a Reykjavik city councilman, an honorary member of the Icelandic and Danish Association of Physicians, and served as President of the University of Iceland for two terms. This was no woo-woo guy and he was determined to debunk Indridi’s exhibitions, which were causing uproars in the press (Indridason had become the most famous person in Iceland).

Hannesson witnessed the near full array of Indridason’s talents—apart from levitation, which occurred a few times but in darkness. To confound the possibility of Indridi or an accomplice moving objects outside the mesh barrier, he placed newfangled glow-in-the-dark tape on the musical instruments and objects about the room. He saw a zither fly about high as the ceiling and dart at incredible speeds as it played snatches of tunes whose acoustics followed the location of the instrument at every second. He heard two disembodied voices, an accomplished female singer and a low male voice sing a duet in harmony, separated in space by eight to ten feet from one another in the hall with only five people (and no women) present at the seance. Many separate voices had been already witnessed in the surrounding space of the hall by hundreds of seance-goers over the years. With this personal witness Hannesson completely ruled out ventriloquism, which was a consistent charge leveled against the medium by skeptics (nearly all of whom had never attended one of Indridi’s seances).

While the Wiki summary of his career is unusually detailed and even-handed, all of the further “rational criticism” is just opinions at second and third hand and beyond, mostly from the contemporary Icelandic press (who were incredibly hostile towards him for religious reasons) with not a single eyewitness account in the lot. The remainder are tired pseudoskeptical takes on what possibly could have accounted for the events: the usual ventriloquism, conjuring tricks, confidence schemes amongst his assistants. This is utterly disingenuous, for the firsthand witnesses and Indridi’s assistants were of high standing. A quote by an Antonio da Silva Mello claims the sittings weren’t “scientific.” For this, as mentioned above, Indridason was the first trance medium in Iceland’s history; the country had no formal “parapsychology labs,” nor were they aware of the SPR’s protocols for testing mediums. In any case, Dr. Hannesson’s strict settings for testing Indridason were very close to those used by the SPR: Indridi was physically restrained and isolated by thick mesh netting from the areas where the majority of the PK activity took place. The experimental house was thoroughly examined three times before each seance and one successful seance took place at Dr. Hannesson’s own house in a room he chose at the last moment.

EPISTEMOLOGY

The psi of the laboratory and psi of the medium are obviously of different character. Lab telepathy has been shown to exist but is weak-to-moderate in effect…But quantifying the likelihood of someone like Mrs Piper correctly guessingthousands of items about the sitters present before her, or about the proxy sitters substituting for them, and evidential facts about the deceased surely beats the lab numbers by several orders of magnitude beyond chance.

In short, telepathy, superpsi, and survival communication are three entirely different things, although the mechanism by which they utilize the brain may be similar or even the same, as elusive as it presently is.

By the 1930s, the medium of information delivery for the existence of psi largely changed from individual case studies to laboratory reports—and that wasn’t enough for the mainstream scientists to pick up the ball. Even design protocols for psi experiments that would garner little to no criticism if new pharma drugs were their subject are claimed by pseudoskeptics to be compromised by “file drawer problems,” “selective reporting,” and “confirmation biases.”

These are bullshit wavings-away of evidence. Facts are adduced indirectly in science all the time, and their existence is assumed to hold until more firm evidence backs up the experimental assays. And this is certainly the case with forms of psi. It has been indirectly proven; that is, what is displayed in thousands of lab experiments, after all confounding factors are eliminated, calls for the most parsimonious explanation: that a form of anomalous cognition that entirely bypasses the physical senses exists. This may be called evidence type 2.

Debunkers ask for direct evidence (evidence type 1, as is displayed by a physics or chemistry experiment) and think poorly of non-supportive of indirect evidence (evidence 2). I suppose the only acceptable direct evidence is…well, as I’ve pointed out above, the pseudoskeptics have consistently moved the goalpost for at least a century and a half, so I suppose we can’t expect there can’t be any in the near future.

The Wikipedia entry on telepathy leads off with this:

“There is no convincing evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.” (emphasis added).

The first clause is patently false, and the second is true—yet are any of those outlier members of the “scientific community” who don’t consider it pseudoscience mentioned in the ensuing article, much less given an airing of why or how they consider it possible? No.

Then there’s this curious statement: “Psychical researcher Eric Dingwall criticized SPR founding members Frederic W. H. Myers and William F. Barrett for trying to ‘prove’ telepathy rather than objectively analyze whether or not it existed.”

Now, doesn’t the phrase “trying to ‘prove’ telepathy” semantically equate with demonstrating it exists? That’s some bad equivocation there. How can “objective analysis” occur without instances showing strong correlation or uncorrelation between the states and contents of two minds?

And the insistence on “objective” analysis is disingenuous. The onus is on the stub writer to outline what would constitute such analysis; no doubt some form of instrumentation would be involved, and not the exacting experimental conditions used by J.B. Rhine, Helmut Schmidt, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne, and Daryl Bem.

The “Scientific Reception” subheading kicks off with there is “no scientific evidence that it exists,” without elaboration. Does this mean there have never been results in any methodologically solid telepathy experiment that are statistically beyond chance? This raises the nagging question: roughly (or exactly) how many demonstrations of beyond-chance anomalous cognition would it take for the scientific community to recognize telepathy as real?Just as the soundness of a theory depends on the non-falsification of projected effects of that theory, to my knowledge no scientist has come forward to explain what exactly the conditions for accepting telepathy as real would be.

Anyway, here’s part of the first footnote supporting this blanket statement:

“One reason for this difference between the scientist and the non-scientist is that the former relies on his own experiences and anecdotal reports of psi phenomena, whereas the scientist at least officially requires replicable results from well controlled experiments to believe in such phenomena—results which according to the prevailing view among scientists, do not exist.”

Apart from there being some error in the quote’s construction (former should read latter), it nicely smooths over all the complexities and problems that real telepathy investigators have encountered in the lab.

For one, it’s rare that telepathy can be induced on demand in lab settings. But apparently on demand is a part of the debunkers’ definition, and this shows ignorance of what has been observed of the phenomenon. Their conception, apparently, is a garbled fantasy version of telepathy that has been internalized and projected from fictional depictions.

Two, it’s been found that a researcher’s lack of attention while setting up a comfortable lab situation, and even the experiment design, can actually inhibit demonstrations of telepathy.

Three, in many instances, telepathy has strongly occurred during life-threatening situations in which the purported “sender” is in physical or extreme emotional trouble and the “receiver” in a relaxed or abstracted state of mind. Experiments that have simulated threats to the “sending” party have shown results.[18]

Four, results beyond chance have been demonstrated in the lab in experiments whose design and assays are beyond reproach.

The “thought reading” section in the telepathy wiki is completely irrelevant. It’s composed of two examples, and both are claimed to be the result of readings of ideomotor bodily cues by stage magicians. “Cold” and “hot” readings have nothing to do with real, spontaneous telepathy, as anyone who has steeped themselves in the 150-years of psychic literature can tell you…Again, like depictions in paranormal fiction, the wiki writer-editors’ conception of telepathy is entirely modeled on images that merely ape the real thing, in this case what stage magicians can do, and it is apparent the wiki writers either have no familiarity with the real-world conditions under which it occurs. Either that, or they are being disingenuous or dishonest.

Debunkers and skeptics alike are ever ready to point out the “file drawer effect” when evaluating the results of psi experiments—but a better example of it contra telepathy can’t be found than the contents of the “case studies” section; this stub is itself victim of file drawer effect. It’s risible: Four instances of admitted frauds, two instances of discovered fraud, three examples of tests with “negative results,” and explanations such as hyperaesthesia (acute hearing on the part of the “receiver”) and coincidence to explain the rest. Louisa and J.B. Rhine’s many thousands of trial runs with Zener cards showing above-chance levels are waved away as the result of “sensory leakage,” meaning conscious or unconscious fraud.[19] The academically published experiments of the SRI remote viewers 1974-1996, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne at Princeton, Helmut Schmidt, Dean Radin, and Daryl Bem—all which showed positive results—are not mentioned in the wiki. Nor is psi researchers’ rebuttals to the above “explanations.”

The Ganzfeld section actually contains a detailed description of only one side of the debate between Charles Honorton and Ray Hyman to determine whether telepathy was shown during a series of tests; of course, it is Hyman’s attempts to debunk the meta-analyses conducted by the both of them that is highlighted. Honorton’s rebuttals are nowhere to be found. Conveniently unmentioned is the fact that Hyman and Honorton jointly wrote a statementafter years of sparring that concedes that, even were their file drawer effects and some of the studies were ruled out, the results in favor of telepathic demonstration were still above chance and there was no credible alterative explanation. Here’s an excerpt from that statement on the Psi Encyclopedia website:

 ‘There is an overall significant effect that cannot be reasonably explained by selective reporting or multiple analysis. We continue to differ over the degree to which the effect constitutes evidence for psi, but we agree the final version awaits the outcome of future experiments conducted by a broader range of investigators and according to more stringent standards.’

We may conduct further psi trials and gather more experimental material supporting the previous conclusions that telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, and retrocognition exist. The pseudoskeptic asserts these phenomena are impossible; the other side maintains not only that they are possible but do happen. Both views depend upon axioms what is possible and probable about the world—but one advocate’s position is open-descriptive (the “believers,” neutrals, and true skeptics), and the others’ is closed-prescriptive (the debunkers’). This means the former’s views are open to be refuted by evidence, the latter’s impossible to be refuted due to a priori assumptions about the world.

The axioms of cause and effect are at the heart of the dispute. Here is Mary Barrington’s precis of how a believer might characterize a reality in which the anomalous occurs:

The one overriding law that unifies is normal and paranormal under one system is the law of probability.

Probability is the default mode of the observable cosmos.

What is the relationship between information (something anomalous, say) and its

probability?

Mechanistic sequentiality, the default mode, is the usual way in which successive events unfold, indeed, so usual as to seem universal and inevitable. But it is not either. It is just very, very probable, almost certain—almost.

So while sequential causality is nearly universal, it is not inevitable because while a law of nature (probability) is absolute, a directive (sequential causality) can be overridden. If the basic law is probability, then while most events will be highly probable—normal—a few will be highly improbable, and the more improbable the event, the less rigorous will be its relationship with causality. A manifestly paranormal event is one that occurs at this extreme end of the probability curve, a curve that drops from a very high point close to certainty and plunges down to trail off in a very long tail.[20] (emphasis added)

When one considers that the quantum world as we currently understand it operates entirely by probability, why is so difficult to conceive that the macroscopic world may operate using the same default mode and its occasional outlier, as she suggests? For debunkers, this may is a never.

The information collected through public surveys or questionnaires/solicitations, such as that of the SPR, Alister Hardy’s studies on spiritual experiences, Kenneth Ring’s studies of Near-Death Experiences, is usually quite voluminous. The original SPR’s investigations resulted in two massive books of anecdotes and analysis. Its members were able to contact the persons they solicited in public queries and verify the details of their paranormal accounts as well as gather character references on the witnesses. The sheer number of these accounts cannot be dismissed. There is always the temptation to ascribe to them the neuropathological turn or some other variants of explaining-away by means of physicalism: hallucinations, seizures, temporal lobe transients, etc. But contemporary narratives of NDEs or encounters with deceased relatives and “spirits” and “aliens” tally with James McClenon’s studies of the concrete and universal yet extraordinary experiences of people that he ties to the origins of religions.[21] Thus does physicalism belittle and seek to erase some of the most meaningful human experiences.

Tens of millions of firsthand accounts of extraordinary spiritual phenomena cannot simply be brushed aside. It’s no secret that editor-fact wars have been going on for years in hundreds of Wikipedia entries since its inception. Some involve famous persons (George W. Bush) and some less so famous (Rupert Sheldrake).[22] There are only a handful of Internet articles criticizing the Guerrilla Skeptics’ takeover of the “paranormal” subject entries, and one book by Craig Weiler, so I’ve joined a small chorus.

But the fact that, like clockwork, founder Jimmy Wales begs for dollars on every Wikipedia page to keep it going despite solvency can only be a good thing. Personally, I would contribute to keep Wikipedia going—but only if there were a way of sending a direct email to a complaints department about its one-sided treatment of psi topics and addressing their toleration of a small groups’ takeover of an entire subject. But of course there is no complaints department, because it’s a deliberate anarchive. Consider this blog posting my rebuttal, and some words towards addressing Wikipedia’s absence of integrity.

—————————

[1] Until 2006, it was called CSICOP, Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

[2] CSI doesn’t do scientific experiments debunking paranormal phenomena—because in their early years they tried and failed. Back in 1975, a group of CSI debunkers attempted to provide an “objective way for unambiguous corroboration or disconfirmation” of a study showing an unusually high number of exceptional European athletes had been born during the planet Mars’s rising or transiting (the “Mars effect”). The effect itself had been noted by a pair of French skeptics trying to disprove astrological influence. The French study had shown that 22% of these athletes had been born during these periods when a 17% chance rate should be expected. The sample size was 2,088, so the odds against this being chance were millions to one. CSI challenged the French duo to do a control experiment: find an additional data pool of random people and determine if they had been born during the same short periods, expecting the random non-athlete group to be distributed at the same 22%. Two years later (!) CSI released their analysis of the report. The results weren’t as predicted; the non-athletes were born 17% of the time during those intervals, as chance predicts. Instead of accepting a possible Mars effect, the debunkers instead chose to criticize the original French study by breaking down the raw data into categories and eliminating sets of athletes (female athletes, by geographical locales, etc.) to dilute the numbers and lower the 22% figure.

CSI astronomer Dennis Rawlins resigned the organization in protest of the disingenuous methodology. He revealed in 1981 that when the analysis of the new data went south, CSI founder Kurtz, statistician Paul Zelin, and astronomer George Abell stonewalled (hence the publication delay from receiving the data from the new challenge) and decided to try to dilute the original French statistics instead. Rawlins’s appeals and alerts to his fellow debunkers such as Randi, Gardner, and Philip Klass fell on deaf ears; they had no interest in supporting the truth. An independent investigation found that Rawlins’s belief in the French team’s sound method and analysis of the original data, the new data, and their conclusion, were all justified. A group of genuinely skeptical scientists within CSI resigned as a result of the attempted fudging—and coverup. In short, CSI demonstrated it was no good at disinterested science, and consequently swore off formally investigating any paranormal claims to this day. See Carter, Chris. Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 28-37.

[3] Here’s an article demonstrating a variation of this practice of circular source attribution (the Wikipedia problem of ‘citogenesis’) but in the context of pharma claims that utilize corporate-sponsored studies that in turn cite Wikipedia for supporting evidence.

[4] Hint: If one needs instruction in how to debunk something (since you’ve become a cub atheist or newly minted woo-killer) maybe you’ve already got a problem with understanding logic and critical thinking/rhetorical skills and need to take a step back from your new obsession…Why do both debunkers and open-minded persons like myself get so angry at each other? I admit that my blood pressure jumps whenever I encounter an evidence-free yet arrogant dismissal of any “paranormal” event by some message board junior master of the universe who’s just discovered atheism and SCIENCEã. Some of us “psi defenders” are just as emotionally volatile as religious fundamentalists when it comes these matters. An impassive, intelligent observer might think that both camps are defending unfalsifiable theses—and this may be true, not just because we weren’t present to witness these things firsthand, but because metaphysical positions are involved in how we characterize these events, whether we want to admit it or not. Most debunkers, however, think metaphysics is bunk to begin with, and will deny that they operate from any fundamental “axioms” other than those the hard sciences such as “normal physics” provide.

[5] The tiresome CSICOP stage magician Joe Nickell, who inevitably gets more citations in the Enfield Wiki entry than anyone else, “examined the reports” and concluded the girls in the case must have been using ventriloquism. He offers no evidence for this assertion.

[6] See their book Poltergeists, White Crow Books, 2018, pgs. 330-37.

[7] See Heywood, Rosalind. The Sixth Sense, Chatto and Windus Ltd., 1959, pgs. 112-127; Beloff, John. Parapsychology: A Concise History, pgs. 120-24; Haynes, Renee. The Society for Psychical Research 1882-1982: A History, McDonald & Co. Ltd., 1982, pgs. 83-88; Carter, Chris. Science and the Afterlife Experience, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 145-50, 151-53, 166-69, 177-78, 183-85.

[8] What personal psychology leads one to become a stage magician in the first place? There are many within the field of pseudoskeptics, and this has held from the 19th century beginnings of psychical research. But prevarication can work both ways: misdirection can be used upon the skeptic and “believer” alike. The psychological tactic behind debunking is similar to a stage trick, and simple: generally, one should direct the reader’s attention to the frauds or “rationally amenable” fraudulent techniques that have been used in different instances than that which is the subject of the article, and apply them as the only possible explanation. Direct the reader’s attention away from their immediate experience that something anomalous may have happened. This skews the mind’s repertoire of activities from the holistically perceptive right hemisphere to the “part-focused,” linear, and logic-oriented left. See Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2012, pgs.

[9] Tymn, Michael. Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, White Crow Books, 2013. 65-71.

[10] Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, The Penguin Press, 2006. Pgs. 165-67; Tymn (2013), pgs. 41-44.

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper

[12] Blum, 2006. pg 311.

[13] Haraldsson, Erlendur and Gissurarson, Loftur R., Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, White Crow Books, 2015, pgs. 2, 7-9.

[14] Ibid, pg. 8.

[15] Ibid, pgs. 3, 12, 22.

[16] Ibid, pgs. 29-34.

[17] Ibid, pgs. 32-46.

[18] See the works of Guy Lyon Playfair: Twin Telepathy; If this Be Magic; and The Indefinite Boundary.  

[19] The linked wiki entry on “sensory leakage” helpfully informs us, “Due to the methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies.” It doesn’t follow up with any kind of description of what replaced the Zener cards, such as the autoganzfeld test with randomized images generated by computer, and the fact that the senders and receivers may be in soundproofed rooms or even a thousand miles away from each other and still often show statistically significant results.

[20] Barrington, Mary Rose. JOTT: when things disappear…and come back or relocate–and why it really happens, Anomalist Books, 2018.

[21] McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994; Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion, Northern Illinois University Press, 2001; The Entity Letters: A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery, Anomalist Books, 2018.

[22] See this also on the Guerilla Skeptics’ attack on Sheldrake.

Old Wine in New Skins Part 2: The New Dispensation of the Non-Human Intelligence (NHI) vs. Natural Human Creativity

Spear Machine

If things like this are going to happen, the ladies will be afraid to sleep alone in the house if so much as a sewing-machine or apple-corer be about.

—P.T. Barnum, 1855, on John Murray Spear’s Machine

In one popular current, some now refer to these “extraterrestrials” as “non-human intelligences” (NHI), and “contact modalities” (CM) can be used for humans’ interaction with them. The nebulousness of both concepts, NHI and CM, is wide enough to encompass what we call synchronicities, NDEs, OBEs, vivid “unwilled” daydreams, hypnagogic visions, encounters with elementals, earth-spirits, fairies, and extraterrestrials.

PasulkaVallee

Diana Pasulka & Jacques Vallée

In her recent book American Cosmic,[1] religion scholar Diana Pasulka speaks of this Otherworldly communication phenomenon in the cases of NASA aerospace engineer Timothy Taylor and geneticist Dr. Gary Nolan (“Tyler D” and “James” respectively in the text).

Taylor received “transmissions” from meditative procedures. Designs or concepts for biomedical technologies occurred unbidden in his mind during these processes. He apparently linked these ideas’ irruption to NHIs. It started for him when he had a strange experience in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster: a “memory” that a military-proposed experiment on the next shuttle Columbia would work—which it eventually did, but he hadn’t even proposed it yet. He traces this “anomalous reception” to being exposed to a type of energy at a “very special facility” at NASA after briefly leaving then returning to the Administration:

“There was something in (that special room) that either emitted frequencies or signals and they didn’t want those to escape or they didn’t want signals to get in. I never knew which. It was a mysterious place, and we weren’t allowed to talk about it.”

 That room, Tyler felt, zapped him with energy that changed the “frequencies” of his body and his thoughts. It was after this experience that he began to have more “memories” of bio-medical technologies.

 In the program, I started to find myself on jobs where I interfaced directly with the phenomenon. I know its language. It does speak to us, in space. I don’t know who is responsible for putting me on those on these jobs. I think that somehow they are responsible for it. My own direct boss doesn’t know what I do. This is how the program works.”[2]

Eventually Taylor came to believe that NHIs communicate with persons via a field connected to the energies surrounding DNA.

Nolan had classic abduction experiences while young and in his 30s but kept them secret, apparently, until the past few years. He, too, holds many patents and believes some of his idea-germs to be of non-human origin. Currently, Taylor and Nolan are pursuing an informational “DNA-antenna” model to potentially explain paranormal phenomena. Along with physician Christopher “Kit” Green, Nolan is investigating MRI scans and the genomes of contactees and experiencers for DNA markers that may predispose them to undergoing the contact modalities.[3]

Pasulka links Taylor’s and Nolan’s experiences with testimony given to her by astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who founded the Institute for Noetic Sciences and Foundation (1973-present) and the Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters (FREE). FREE uses and seeks to establish contact with NHIs using the various “contact modalities.”

FREE was founded in 2012 by Mitchell, astrophysicist Dr. Rudy Schild, therapist Mary Rodwell, and attorney Rey Hernandez.

In March 2012, Hernandez had an experience (including missing time) involving a “plasma-like being” in his house that healed the family’s dying pet terrier; his wife Dulce described it as an angel, because she had been intensely praying for the dog. Dulce Hernandez then witnessed UFOs (her “angels”) regularly for several months…One night in August 2012 Rey, on a lark, “called down” an enormous craft witnessed by neighbors, friends, and family. Then driving to work one morning soon after this he received a vision of the “contact modalities”: NDEs, UFOs, synchronicities, OBEs, telepathic communications, and mediumistic contacts, all arrayed out as spokes in a wheel and seen during what he describes as an out-of-body experience.

This vision so energized Hernandez that he emailed ET abduction/contactee therapist Mary Rodwell, who put him in contact with Rudy Schild, then through Schild, Edgar Mitchell, with whom he ended up having a meeting that very day (Mitchell lived close by).

Within 72 hours of Hernandez’s OBE experience the groundwork had been laid for FREE (in both their views, this was further evidence of a kind of collaboration with these higher intelligences).

Schild became the science advisor and Mitchell would set up the new organization, which would primarily study consciousness with reference to “anomalous cognition” using Mitchell’s quantum hologram theory of physics and consciousness as a model. It has since brought in dozens of researchers including channeling expert Jon Klimo, Dr Joseph Burkes, and perhaps members of the “invisible college” such as Jacques Vallee.[4] Five years of field work canvassing experiencers produced a book on contact with non-human intelligences.[5]

Is this just a new-coined interpretation of natural inspiration during or after the fact?

We have no idea in the least how human imagination and creativity work, let alone how a non-human intelligence would mix with or add to it. But we do know this: no new idea exists or springs from a vacuum. Except for anecdotes about geniuses such as Leonardo, Ramanujan, Nikola Tesla, and Buckminster Fuller, ideas usually do not spring fully-formed and translatable to paper in the human psyche. When they have done so in the UFO/NHI community since the 1950s, they’ve often been laughable mish-mashes of misunderstood or fantasy science.

The idea of a technology being gifted by higher powers is one of the oldest human myths, and Pasulka elaborates on the myth in the context of Silicon Valley. Much of it involves information theory and DNA, fields, and transmission, in which the arrow of signification is dangerously reversed by literalizing the metaphors between biology and machines.

In Pasulka’s and our contexts NHI intervention would seem to undermine the idea of the ownership of new creations by a personal ego; the inventor instead becomes the “receiver” or “discoverer” of intellectual property. Such a humble concept becoming accepted in today’s Silicon Valley has the likelihood of Squeaky Fromme making parole. Pasulka mentions the “extended cognition” that our computers are making possible and believes this mirrors the talk of “Oneness” in traditional mysticism.[6]

Again, none of this is really new. It is just that inventions “indistinguishable from magic” are now so widespread that they are almost met with yawns.

John Spear

Consider the fate of Unitarian minister John Murray Spear. After recuperating from a severe beating by paleo-MAGAists in Portland, Maine that put him in a coma, he encountered Andrew Jackson Davis’s work in 1846. While experimenting with seances in 1851—in true utopist fashion—Spear proclaimed that Spiritualist commune with discarnate intelligences was humanity’s future. Following his spirit guides’ commands to the letter, he formed an organization consisting of six groups: the Healthfulizers, Educationalizers, Agriculturalizers, Elementizers, Governmentizers, and the Electricizers. As the chosen head of the Electricizers, Spear voraciously channeled the American Founders and, after nine months of trance communications in 1853, claimed to obtain from the spirit of Benjamin Franklin plans for a perpetual energy machine whose fuel was something called the “New Motive Power.” The machine would grant “life” to other devices via the Mesmeric “electric fluid” and further, could replicate itself or any object one needed—basically, it was a biomechanical 3D nano-printer envisioned in 1854. This device was meant to free humankind from labor.

IMG_5868

Through Spear the spirits had chosen to build the machine in a stone cottage upon the hill High Rock in Lynn, Massachusetts—a fitting locale, for in 1852, Andrew Davis had a spiritual blowout in which he’d seen angels congregating in the clouds above it. The motor required nine months of “gestation.” A bizarre quasi-alchemical, transhumanistic ritual birthed the working machine: the physical part, having been finished in June 1854, was subject to a laying on of hands by several groups of semi-magnetized persons; then Spear was encased inside the machine in layers of metallic strips of “positive and negative polarity” within a grid of jewels and precious metals, where he went into a trance and emitted a glowing umbilicus from his body that engulfed the machine, to the amazement of his confederates. Next, a Mrs. Newton, wife of a journalist chosen by the spirits, was to “mother” the half-living contraption—and duly showed signs of physical pregnancy in response. The spirits dictated that she appear at the High Rock house on a certain day to literally give birth to the accumulated energies gathered within her and transfer them to the machine—which she did, showing for several hours the agony of parturition.

The emanations from her body mixed with the chemical auras of the device. Then “its purpose and results were wholly incomprehensible to all but herself; but her own perceptions were clear and distinct that in these agonizing throes the most interior and refined elements of her spiritual being were imparted to, and absorbed by, the appropriate portions of the mechanism—its minerals having been made peculiarly receptive by previous chemical processes,” Reverend S. Crosby Hewitt wrote.

She then spent weeks “nursing” the machine with the New Motive Power. After this, its rotors and bearing supposedly began to work—but not enough to impress any visiting Spiritualists, who opined the motion they witnessed was “not enough to turn a coffee mill.” Davis himself, while praising Spear and his community’s faith, believed Spear to have been misled in principles of “science” and explained the machine’s weak motions to random fluctuations in the “ether” via the electrical generator to which it was attached.

When asked by Spear and his mediums, Benjamin Franklin & co. answered from the other side in a rather typical tricksterish way: while the motor didn’t operate properly in the physical sphere, it had succeeded in moving opinion and the spiritual outlook of humanity.

At the spirit cadre’s bidding, the machine was dismantled and taken to Randolph, New York. After having moved it, the machine survived only a few months in its new atmosphere; a mob broke into the room and destroyed it. As Spiritualist journalist S.B. Brittan concluded, “if the New Motor is to be the physical savior of the race, it will probably rise again.”[7]

Spear’s was a Silicon Valley utopian dream 150 years too early. It could be asked, was Spear having precognitive visions of our present inventions? Were NHIs feeding him these ideas in the guise of the Founders—that is, the “best moral and intellectual” persons of which he could conceive? We will never know, but the contemporary parallel with “others” seeding minds with technological ideas is striking. Perhaps these Others do possess a kind of physical existence, and perhaps they are much closer than we realize.

Fifteen years after Spear’s fiasco, Utica, New York “electro-alchemist” Cyrus Reed Teed would experiment with exposing himself to dangerously high electrical currents. During one session, “I bent myself to the task of projecting into tangibility the creative principle. Suddenly, I experienced a relaxation at the occiput or back part of the brain, and a peculiar buzzing tension at the forehead or sinciput; succeeding this was a sensation as of a Faradic battery of the softest tension, about the organs of the brain called the lyra, crura pinealis, and conarium. There gradually spread from the center of my brain to the extremities of my body, and, apparently to me, into the auric sphere of my being, miles outside of my body, a vibration so gentle, soft, and dulciferous that I was impressed to lay myself up on the bosom of this gently oscillating ocean of magnetic and spiritual ecstasy. I realized myself gently yielding to the impulse of reclining upon this vibratory sea of this, my newly found delight. My every thought but one had departed from the contemplation of earthly and material things. I had but a lingering, vague remembrance of natural consciousness and desire.”[i]

Hollowkoresh

The zapping produced an OBE-like state. Immediately after this, by force of galvanized will, he called forth the ultimate power in the universe to guide him: a beautiful goddess who was the “Father, Mother” who materialized from a mist to give Teed his mission on earth. And also revealed the truth that the earth’s surface actually curves into a perfect concavity containing the sun, moon, stars and rest of the visible universe. Yes, the earth is hollow—but the rest of the cosmos is nestled within it:

“The universe is a cell, a hollow globe, eternally and perpetually renewing itself by virtue of involution and evolution and all life exists on its inner concave surface.

God being perfect is both male and female—a biune being, and personal to every individual.

Matter and energy are inter-convertible. Matter is destructible, resulting in transmutation of its form to energy and conversely, from energy to form.

Reincarnation is the central law of life—one generation passing into another with all humanity flowing down the stream of life together.

Heaven and hell constitute the spiritual world. That is, they are mental conditions and within mankind.

The Bible is the best written expression of the divine mind but is written symbolically. The symbolism must be interpreted by a prophet, who would appear in every age and in the context of that age.

Man lives best by communal principles to correspond with the primitive Christian church. The Koreshan form of socialism would be the expression of the natural laws of order, to include the elimination of money power and wage slavery.

Equity, not equality, is a natural law for women as for men. There is no equality, and to see any two people are equal is merely trying to enforce uniformity.

Dr. Teed indicated there was a great deal more knowledge that had been imparted to his mental consciousness, but he felt the ordinary minds of mortals could not immediately comprehend or evaluate it. It would be presented to the world in time.”[ii]

Apparently, Cyrus Teed received what is typically now called a “download” of which a major part could not be translated into human language.

[i] Teed, Cyrus. The Illumination of Koresh: Marvelous Experiences of the Great Alchemist 30 years ago, at Utica, New York, Chicago, Guiding Star Publishers.

[ii] Sarah Weber Rea, The Koreshan Story, Guiding Star Publication House, 1994.

On the other hand…

An Excursion into Natural Human Creativity, Involuntary/Automatic Imagination, and St. Nick  

Kenneth Ring’s abduction experiencer profile fits that of many trance mediums, persons who can receive both self-willed and spontaneous imaginary material with more ease than a non-dissociative person.[8]

Because of the dissociative states to which they are prone, the experiencer/medium possesses minimal to no conscious control over the images that may appear in their mind, and the images that do appear, are far more vivid and longer-lasting for them than in the general population.

Spontaneous creative activity can often involve controlled dissociation rituals that partially or completely efface the conscious personality and, paradoxically, through this constricting of the normal ego, make its “reception bands” wider for the intrusion of unexpected material, whether it takes aural, verbal, visual, or physical (automatic writing) forms.

An artist, for instance, may welcome these intrusions, and a musician may revel in them. For creative persons, an element of intention is obviously present in the execution of the final product. What we call creativity in general, and the types of work evaluated as genius-level, involves a special state of consciousness that allows material to flow into the artist’s or scientist’s mind: “(Frederic Myers) linked genius with the classical notion of inspiration, saying that an “inspiration of genius” is a “subliminal uprush,” an emergence into supraliminal consciousness of ideas that the person has “not consciously originated, but which have shaped themselves beyond his will, in profounder regions of his being” (Human Personality Vol. 1, page 71). Another central element of creativity for Myers was the integration of ideas arising from subliminal regions with those of the supraliminal self, the “utilization of a greater proportion of man’s psychical being in subservience to ends desired by his supraliminal control” (HP, Vol. 1, pg. 155). The outcome of the creative process is something intended and desired by the supraliminal, and the supraliminal does plays a key role in the completion of what begins with a subliminal uprush. The heart of the creative process is an automatism, but its combination and completion occur in the realm of the supraliminal. Thus, creativity is a highly desirable integration of the two aspects of the psyche and an instance of superior functioning. It is also an indication of what the human soul is capable of, because there is a hint of something “beyond,” “something incommensurable” with “the results of conscious logical thought” (Vol. 1, pg. 98).” [9] (emphasis added)

Mystics historically also have cultivated methods of altering their physiological and mental states to enter trance that brings their consciousness closer to the “source,” or God, such as extreme fasting, repetitive prayer, or self-mortification. Michael Talbot discusses the Sufis’ repetitive meditational practices of creative visualization meant to bring about both contact with Allah and materialize His emanations of an alternate reality: “(The Sufis) held that it is a world created solely out of the subtle matter of alam almithal, or thought. Even space itself, including ‘nearness,’ ‘distances,’ and ‘far-off’ places, was created by thought. But this does not mean that the country of the hidden Imam was unreal, a world constituted out of sheer nothingness. Nor was it a landscape created by only one mind. Rather it was a plane of existence created by the imagination of many people, and yet one that still had its own corporeality and dimension, its own forests, mountains, and even cities. The Sufis devoted a good deal of their writings to the clarification of this point. So alien is this idea to many Western thinkers that the late Henry Corbin, a professor of Islamic religion at the Sorbonne in Paris and a leading authority on Iranian-Islamic thought, coin the term imaginal to describe it, meaning a world that is created by imagination but is ontologically no less real than physical reality…Because of the imaginal nature of the afterlife realm, the Sufis concluded that imagination itself is a faculty of perception, an idea that offers new light on why (psychotherapist Joel) Whitton’s subject materialized a hand only after he started thinking, and why visualizing images has such a potent effect on the health and physical structure of our bodies. It also contributed to the Sufis belief that one could use visualization, a process they called ‘creative prayer,’ to alter and reshape the very fabric of one’s destiny.” [10]

This reiterates the theory of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the 18th-19th Century poets’ conception of the Imagination. Consider this famous quote from Coleridge:

The Primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and is a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.[11]

The current ideas of a non-human extraterrestrial intelligence both figuratively and literally alienate the natural human ability to produce novel ideas (signals) that have been filtered down from the noise of the total consciousness, supraliminal and subliminal, of humanity. Is there a genuine justification to externalize these intrusions to a non-human type of consciousness?

When in trance or mild dissociation, the resting state of a brain’s filtering mechanism is altered to a degree.[12] This allows material that is, to use a metaphor, a mental/aural snapshot of something outside the normal boundaries of personal egoic “habitation.” Much of the brain’s activity, on both synaptic-neuronal and hemispheric/sectional levels, functions in inhibitory ways to make possible what is considered smooth conscious functioning. The study of damage to a tiny area of the brain can reveal the ostensibly global function that area controls with regard to normal consciousness; collectively accumulated over a century, this “catalog of functions” helps us understand the productive or inhibitory scheme of the human cognitive world with regard to the brain.

In this way the physical aspects of certain base-level filtering mechanisms have been mapped. Blood flow, electrical activity, and coherent communication between hemispheres all contribute to the norm, of course, but tissue death, damage, or anesthesia can produce states similar to hypnosis, hypnagogia, dreams, or OBEs—and also extraordinary feats of psi activity. The original mesmerists and hypnotists of the 19th century proposed models of the hypnoid mesmeric state that implicated general loss of integrated brain and nervous system functioning during the “self-healing,” “remote healing,” telepathy, clairvoyance, and even psychokinesis observed in various patients and volunteer subjects.[13]

There seems to be a general principle, in line with Myers’s thinking, that for every physical loss of a brain function that produces a physical compensation there are ancillary effects to behavior that are sometimes extraordinary.

Neurophysiologist Karl Pribram once puzzled over neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s “engram” conjecture that everything ever experienced by a person is recorded in the brain’s trillionfold complex of connections. Penfield had electrically stimulated parts of epileptics’ brains while they were in surgery and received detailed accounts of memory replays (engrams) from earlier moments in the patients’ lives, sometimes going back to early childhood.[14]

Pribram’s work with psychologist Karl Lashley added to the mystery: Lashley had discovered that maze-running rats could still remember the paths they’d figured out despite having both the memory and learning portions of their brains removed—and even having the entire organ rearranged in their skulls. This indicated that the physical substrate was not where the engrams of experience reside. At the very least (on a material level), memories are distributed throughout the entire brain and can be retrieved despite damage to the areas where they should reside.

Consider the fact that animals, including humans, can still competently function with severe physical brain damage and even without fully formed brains. In cerebellar agenesis, a person is born with an incomplete or even entirely missing cerebellum, which controls motor movement of the limbs and the ability to speak. Yet there are people born with cerebellar agenesis who function relatively normally, such as the Chinese woman found in 2014, where these capacities are only impaired and not entirely absent, as should be the case if the substrate was entirely responsible for the motor competency.[15] There are also startling examples such as the man who suffered from hydrocephaly when a child; at 44, in 2007, he was discovered to have only 30-50% of his brain intact, the rest being simply cerebrospinal fluid. He had an IQ of 75 and led a normal life until the discovery.[16] A boy born in Scotland in 2013 with only a brainstem and a fluid-filled skull is now six and can speak, despite the medical opinion that he should still have only the capacities of a newborn. Another child born in 2014 lacks both a skull and brain and could speak rudimentarily.[17]

These cases obviously at least imply that something more than the physical brain is the key to understanding consciousness and memory; physicalist science has no answer yet as to how these people can function.

An obvious hypothesis is that consciousness does not reside in or is produced by the brain but is filtered via brain structures from a “field” of possible conscious experience, as Myers hinted. This is idea with a long pedigree and has been much denigrated by mainstream scientists since the 19thcentury.

Metachoria

Creativity may involve a narrowing of the physical markers (brain activities) of normal consciousness that produce a corresponding expansion of access to another part of the mind—or even another kind of consciousness altogether.

I believe Coleridge and Corbin are speaking of an energy we may call (adapting Celia Green’s coinage) the metachoria and the specific images that emerge from it into consciousness (and back again into “unconsciousness”) metachores. Metachores such as the “heavenly cities” created by the Sufi) are invested with meditational energies both mental and emotional. They may be equivalent to the Buddhist concept of the energies that create an emanation body by prodigious psychic focus over a long period.

Moreover, these images may appear as unwilled and spontaneous in anyone’s consciousness, but the artist as a trained receiver may be able to capture and develop them.

This capacity, of course, comes with repeated practice and discipline. A metachoric impression may linger only temporarily in the short-term, working memory. This is what causes the distraction so common to a creative person; in the middle of a conversation they may struggle, multitasking, to remember and clarify the sudden intruding idea as the brain produces the proteins to store it in long-term form. The napkin sketch, the pocket notebook, or the digital voice recorder comes out as they get down the idea before it disappears.

The future work—all available choices to the path of a finished, tangible product (a painting or recording, etc.)—are in a superposition of sorts as they hover about the metachore, like a cloud of electrons prior to observation and wave-function collapse.

But recognized works of genius, both great and lesser, are fashioned through a process that is generalizable to all acts of creation:

A traditional descriptive model of the creative process, based on the self-observation and testimony of large numbers of variously eminent persons, provides a useful organizing framework for this discussion. Credit for explicitly formulating this model is usually given to Graham Wallas (1926), a political scientist and administrator primarily concerned with the pedagogical matters, but it was also formulated in nearly identical terms and in greater detail by psychologist Eliot Dole Hutchinson (1931, 1939). The model posits four stages or phases that can often be discerned in a high-level creative effort: (1) preparation; (2) incubation; (3) illumination; and (4) verification. Briefly, preparation refers primarily to the initial stages of intense voluntary effort on a particular work or problem (although it is sometimes generalized to include the typically lengthy period of time in which high level technical skills relevant to the task are laboriously acquired). If this initial effort fails, the work or problem may temporarily be put aside in frustration, this being the stage of incubation or renunciation, in which conscious effort seems to be largely or wholly absent. Something more than simple rest or dissipation of inhibitions seems to be involved during the incubation period, for then comes illumination, inspiration, or insight, in which radically new ideas intrude into consciousness, often suddenly, copiously, and with strong accompanying affect. This leads to a further stage of voluntary effort, verification, in which the new material may be evaluated, elaborated, and worked into the structure of the evolving product.[18]

While cognitive neuroscientific accounts explain Hutchinson’s renunciation-inspiration phase of creativity as a sort of “unconscious cerebration” or a “cognitive unconscious” that functions during both consciousness and sleep, it is still a behaviorist’s black-box model that explains nothing.[19]There are cases of problem solving (if we roughly want to define creativity that way) which so confound science as to be magical. As we noted, a calculating prodigy like Ramanujan could instantly tabulate complex operations on prime numbers within seconds.[20] Since no one had called into public existence the particular prime numbers Ramanujan was asked to do, we still need to ask how he in particular and prodigies in general can do it…It is the same, albeit in “slow motion,” with the creative constellation of ideas that eventually become artworks that deeply resonate with people down the ages.

Of course, there are only finite numbers of prime numbers (an objective fact) while art almost wholly involves subjective value judgments, but in what sense do they share at least a family resemblance, or a direct parallel at most?

Getting consistently good sleep has been positively correlated with higher levels of creativity; this probably has to do with the integration of emotional and intellectual experiences into one’s general psychological mindset.[21] Every night, people enter temporary worlds fashioned entirely by their minds, briefly inhabit them, and become agents in them. Our emotional preoccupations drive the dreaming process via the brain stem and limbic system.[22] These centers are very active in emotional states during waking consciousness, and are the most active during dreams, especially the vivid REM dream stage that occurs in its third cycle in late morning.[23] Any dream can show the creative potential for recombination and synthesis that is shaped into a narrative, whether that story is implicit in the dream or imposed during the hypnopompic process of awakening. Something other than the conscious ego imposes these images and the story-like order to them.[24]

Creative breakthroughs come in a flash, or gradually in pieces. This is Frederic Myers’s “subliminal uprush,” in which the solution is often fully-formed and often surprises even the artist or scientist. The artist/scientist’s amazement indicates for Myers the existence of a secondary agency parallel to the stream of willed, accessible memories of consciousness.

AI systems cannot as yet produce the qualitatively different process of creating novelty of the quality that Myers’s uprush solves. Solutions may involve context, “nested contexts,” cross-pattern-recognition, and even decontextualization of individual elements needed to find satisfactory results. The brain’s immense “processing power” of its present conscious experiences and emotions plus its lifetime’s worth of potentially memorable experiences dwarfs current quantitative computational capabilities. The faculty for understanding context is missing in the cognitive-computational models. It is not enough to say that a human’s personal memory store of experiences can be “algorithmically reshuffled” to produce a novel thought or a creative act, for doesn’t that imply that the answer pre-exists (in some form) in the mind to be discovered as the solution? How is it recognized by the artist or scientist as the eureka! moment?

An additional problem is that an answer to a problem has one meaning in computing and another altogether for an artist. If an AI scientist programs a computer to write an original song based on a style of source material (which has been done in the case of the Beatles) or write poetry (which also has been done), the computer possesses no intentionality in its steps towards the completion of the work; it all depends on the selection process of the person(s) feeding the raw material into the system. Many millions (perhaps billions) of combinations have to be algorithmically tried by the brain when, as a “computing system,” it does not with any exactitude know what it is looking for. In other words, the eureka! moment cannot be programmed for—the emotional rush of re-cognition that the near-perfect to perfect solution has arrived. Again, the artist may be surprised at the result and delighted that the answer appeared, many times accompanied by a numinous eureka! sensation. This emotional component and contextualization of a non-linear process cannot be ignored or minimized by anyone explaining creativity using an AI/computational approach.

What is invoked as explanation when a musician or gymnast or scientist respectively a) plays an astounding violin solo while on “autopilot” (and may herself be as astonished as the audience when she listens to the subsequent recording); b) the gymnast moves her body without conscious volition in a way thought impossible and is equally amazed on viewing a video of the performance; or c) happens to suddenly perceive an insoluble problem with a Gestalt-switch-like perception and its resolution is now easy and almost obvious?

In case C, what has usually been invoked by materialist neuroscience is, again, some kind of “unconscious cerebration” involving the recombination of all past imprinted (or memorable) instances in which the problem figured in her cognition. In the first two examples, an altered state of the consciousness can be used to explain how an artist can leap far beyond what they believe themselves capable of (the so-called “flow experience”). This can apply to the scientist as well; we all know the feeling of intense concentration/absorption on a task that suddenly breaks into ease.

Yet if we deconstruct these scenarios second by second, let’s imagine we can perceive the biochemical-electrical “loops” occurring between brain, fingers, and muscles of all three people during this flow state. Just before the astounding performance, in the near future, something quite out of the ordinary is about to occur, relative to the performer, the audience, and field of aesthetic judges. The performance is at this time unimaginable to everyone. It will emerge from the feedback between mind and matter, tension and release—the creatrix’s conscious will plus something extra or outsidetheir consciousness. Might we not say that the answer does not originate inside the brain structures and neuronal firings at all, but somewhere in a field of possible realities being simultaneously scanned in superposition, like a person searching bandwidths for a certain frequency?

Spontaneous actions may end with the person being called a genius. Yet in the current physicalist’s approximation, all that has occurred is a concentrated act of will that, from the outside, is described as conscious because the person exhibits certain signs of consciousness while performing, whether that performance is on a musical instrument or parallel bars or a blackboard. To be a good neo-behaviorist/epiphenomenalist, all our physicalist has to say is that the genius’ years of reward for competent learning has achieved its pinnacle; for the physicalist, there would be no significance to the artist-scientist’s statement that they were not even aware of their mind/body during the performance or when the answer came, when this may be precisely the crucial point of the matter.

Along with the considerations of the sources of genuine creativity comes the problem of evaluating a work as a product of genius. In a 1996 book, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi divided creativity as a total activity as having three components: the creative person, their domain, and the field. The domain is any area of endeavor, such as topological mathematics or oil painting or DJing. The field is the peers and experts and audience adjudicating the worth or novelty of the creation. Thus:

…the definition that follows from this perspective is: Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one. And the definition of a creative person is: someone whose thoughts or actions change a domain, or establish a new domain. It is important to remember, however, that a domain cannot be changed without the explicit or implicit consent of a field responsible for it.[25]

Myers (and I) would embrace this view inasmuch as it recognizes a social collective that responds to a work as something that may communicate truths transcending a particular period and place of origination. We would modify this stance, however, on the grounds that it effaces the element of a shared unconscious or subliminal element whose existence is being displayed through the stupendous quality of the work.

Works of genius in poetry, music, and the plastic arts often engage multiple levels of interpretation and position themselves at the edge of an indeterminacy of meaning; they possess a richness of content that evokes a multiplicity of possible responses. The numinous spiritual experience that theologian Rudolf Otto speaks of may very well be encountered in a monumental work of art or a new complex mathematical formula describing, for instance, “imaginary” dimensions that the field of mathematicians have never before noticed. Many times, a new community is called into existence bythe genius; as Luigi Pareyson once said, a genius is a type of person who creates the audience for their work. I think Pareyson means that their works are of such quality that they 1) remind the persons in their audience of profound things they already know, but have never been able to consciously formulate (put into words, sounds, or images themselves); 2) broaden the audience’s perspective on the meaning and/or limits of the domain (as Csikszentmihalyi has it); 3) create converts to the transformative power of art—and thus create new artists; 4) broaden the spectator’s experience of community with other human beings, that is, induce a sympathetic/empathic response that does not diminish in time.

Perhaps Pareyson’s claim sounds glib when one considers the changing tastes and standards of genius throughout history—but it in no way impacts the accomplishments of persons like Leonardo or St. Hildegard, whose lives and works very well could have been forgotten or suppressed in history. This impels a question like Bishop Berkeley’s about the falling tree: if the genius creates a unique masterpiece and no-one is around to experience it, is it still a masterpiece? Against Csikszentmihalyi’s definition, I would argue yes. If an artist had a vision originating via an altered/dissociative state then labored over what they were blessed with experiencing into physical being, whether or not the work is discovered at some later point is irrelevant. It had meaning for the artist, and it signified both the truth of their metachorial encounter and their direct relationship to a field of possible experience far greater than themself.

It is important here to stress that the metachoria is populated with and produces in minds images that may have intrinsic intentionality but do not yet possess an existent referent at the time they occur; they have sense to their experiencer but no reference yet in the world.

Suppose you think of Santa Claus pausing from his toy-making work to have a lager. Santa Claus in a strict sense doesn’t exist, but he can do just about anything one can imagine a human doing—even things humans can’t. The thought of Santa drinking has intentionality: we have a thought that “Santa is/was/will quaff a pint.” It has sense to us, but no referent—that is, it refers to no existing reality, other than the imagined action in the imaginer’s mind. Santa is a “prop.”[26]

Similarly, a painter might have, say, a spontaneous vision of a nightclub filled with nightmarish chimeras performing actions upon one another that no other human has ever imagined.[27] She is chilled by the image’s intensity but also very alert to its details. The imaginal scene also has sense (being set in a phantasmal nightclub, etc.), but no reference in the “outer” world—the vision does not yet exist in a public way, like Santa Claus already does. Her job is then to bring this metachoric image’s subjective sense to external form in a tangible work—a painting.

Now suppose the painter were to spend ten years making this one work, and it became spectacularly popular and survives down the centuries, like Bosch’s landscapes. Suppose people named her visionary creatures, wrote iconographies and fiction based around them, made movies and narratives using the rich symbolism of the painting’s world. These creatures too could eventually become imaginative “props” like Santa Claus—they could quaff beers, have adventures, take over the White House, etc.

All because a singular, vivid, unwilled image entered one artist’s head. Did the depicted creatures call themselves into existence via a non-human intelligence? Were they given their long ideal lives via her metachorial imagination? Or to get really out there, did her huge audience’s familiarity, admiration, and even love for her creations retroactively cause the vision to occur in her mind in the first place?

The Old Wine

So are the terms non-human intelligence and contact modality simply a renaming of the spectrum of psi and channeling phenomena, or something more? The powers ascribed to these NHIs, and their manner of contact, tracks with the ancient Egyptian, Greek, Chaldean, Neoplatonic, and Gnostic ideas of the daemon or god who provides a human with either “hidden” knowledge or future prophecy. These traditional beings were either of the heavens beyond the heavens (the Empyrean), the heavens themselves (the stars), the mid-heavens (the air), or the chthonic realms. Channeling or mediumship is old as humanity. Therefore, clearly distinguishing our hi-tech extraterrestrials from the previous 7,000 years of Otherworldly contact is probably impossible.

The vocabulary of Theosophical discourse is highly developed and has been used by many channelers since 1875. Researchers have suggested that these NHIs have masqueraded as humans (famous humans, the sitters’ deceased loved ones, etc.) while acting as “controls” on the “other side” simply to give form to their communications and, now that we have evolved in our beliefs to encompass a “cosmic perspective,” the masks have finally come off and we speak to the true names of these NHIs.[28]

What’s different now, according to the CM/NHI proponents, is that a human agent is dealing with something that not only is taken to exist beyond our known earth or even physical universe but can alter or even blend with the human psyche, just like the traditional daemon. Judging by the self-descriptions of their mental states while the communication is occurring, the contactee’s ego very often knows that it is originating in an extra-human source; there is thus a “signature” to the transmissions the contactee recognizes that the communication is of extraterrestrial origin. Sometimes the signature is displaced in time or space. The traditional synchronicity would be an example of such a sign; its content could be anything, but coincidences such as Jacques Vallee’s involving the name “Melchizedek”[29] or the continuing occurrence of simultaneous triangular marks on Dr. X’s and his son’s bodies in the 1968 Aix-en-Provence case (and subsequent triangular marks on abductee/experiencers) would fit as synchronicities, if causality can be absolutely ruled out.

Many experiencers label these NHIs with places of origination and personal names gotten either directly from the beings during the channelings or by just shorthanding the “raw information” using our innate linguistic abilities. They often speak of “downloads” of information while in contact mode or even while ostensibly fully conscious.

So what’s the difference between an experiencer receiving a download from a NHI and clairvoyants/mediums such as Swedenborg, Andrew J. Davis, Rudolph Steiner, or Edgar Caycereceiving a cascade of information evoked from the Akashic library?[30] I’d say none, except that the experiencer’s is usually characterized as involuntary while the medium’s is purposely induced. The source of both “modes,” and how the contact occurs, is still beyond explanation (as of yet). Explanation requires sometimes torturous revisions of physics.

This gap between old-school full-trance (dissociated) communications and the new modality can only be due to ingrained anthropocentric ideas of what “intelligence” is, and deeply conditioned beliefs about the physical brain and its products. Intelligence has been defined in many ways, but they all involve active skills such as quick pattern-recognition, problem-solving, the retrieval of factual knowledge—in short, activities conducive to one’s ability to navigate/negotiate one’s environment successfully in a purely pragmatic way—a survival mechanism.

As our culture defines it, therefore, intelligence would seem to be the opposite of the mental state in which Otherworldly encounters occur, which often is an altered state in which high cognitive functioning, reality-testing, and quick thinking are impaired or, in some mysterious way, enhanced.

If this is given as a definition of intelligence, then nature itself must be considered the ultimate problem solver, not simply by the attrition of the individuals who lack survival adaptations, but by the aspects of the organism that already exist to meet a need (and even a need that has yet to arise—the so-called accidental advantageous attribute).

“Creativity” as such can be measured by testing a pool of random persons with an identical problem and “rating” their responses, generating a hierarchy of novel solutions—but the process of how the “winners’” minds perceived a unique solution has confounded every psychologist, cognitive scientist, and philosopher who has tackled the problem. This is the gap in knowledge which the proponent of the NHI exploits. There is a vast literature on the role of dissociation in creativity.

Jacques Vallee continues to say that the only fact we can comfortably assert is that these Otherworldly interventions change people’s perceptions of what is possible within our reality, the nature of the universe, and the nature of their own selfhood. This may seem trivial, but its reverberating effects are not—it is the source of religions, as Vallee and scholars J. Gordon Melton, Chris Partridge, James McClenon, and Diana Pasulka point out. But the “UFO consciousness contact”— especially when the messages are meant to address our cosmology—functions in both form and contact to undermine the tenets of physicalist science, just as Spiritualism did 170 years ago.[31]

Looking at my surroundings, I became aware that I was in a large building of multicolored stones, each vibrating a tune like a great orchestra, and as they vibrated they gave off the most enchanting music…Later on I found out that specially trained souls are trained in the use of thoughtforms to allow the soul to settle down in suitable and familiar surroundings. Whatever you wish is supplied to you, whether it is a farm, factory, halls of music, science laboratory, college of arts.

I walked out into the golden sunlight and saw how much quicker my perception and vision worked… I queried whether there is a different sun for each plane of spirit, and I was told that there is. Each sun is the replica of the master sun and working on a different color vibration.

-Transcript from a medium’s travel to the otherworld[32]

To emphasize again, the idea that a non-human intelligence is assisting humankind is a contemporary take on the divine voice. On the face of it, the new NHI, contact modalities, and DNA-antenna reception sound like updated, digital versions of Mesmerism, the “electric fluid,” Spear’s vision of the “New Motive Power,” and other past theories of how the Otherworld communicates with us.

As science “naturalized” the workings of the psyche during the 19th and early 20th century it also provided the grounds for interpretations of psi phenomena via physical field-like concepts such as Reichenbach’s Odic force, Frederic Myers’s metetherial field, Hans Driesch’s entelechy, Sri Aurobindo’s Supermind, Jung’s collective unconscious, Harold Saxton Burr’s Life-Fields, Aldous Huxley’s Mind-at-Large, etc. These hypotheses have at times been used to explain feats such as Ramanujan’s extraordinary mathematical talents, Tesla’s inventions, the prodigious trance writings of Andrew Jackson Davis and John Newbrough, and of course the spectrum of Spiritualist manifestations.

These concepts of a panpsychic universe certainly allowed for the possibility that far-advanced NHIs can intervene in human cognition. The current concept of the NHI brings back those personalaspects—or at least that’s what Pasulka’s book seems to imply, that the NHI has an interest in helping humanity through certain chosen individuals.

In ancient times, a person was expected to follow the “whispered advice” of their person daemon in order to live a successful life. Those unlike Socrates or the sibyls, who were naturally capable of hearing their astral double, sought out mediums to communicate certain courses of action in their lives.

During the late 1980s-2000s, one part of the NHI/ET community went a “Neo-Spiritualist” route via mediums like Darryl Anka, Dolores Cannon’s subjects, etc. as another took the path of believing the NHI abductions were either evil or neutral, while a third took Dr. John Mack’s position that these experiences were another type of intelligence attempting communicate with us via “archetypes” or archetypal “patterns of interaction with an Otherworld.” The concerns for the ecosphere and spiritual evolution were prevalent in the first group and in Dr. Mack’s circle, but to a lesser degree in the Hopkins/Jacobs camp (in these, however, scenes of planetary destruction were used almost as a form of punishment or shock to the experiencer). The Neo-Spiritualist groups, in which we could tentatively include Dr. Mack’s experiencers, we could perhaps call the “Eco-integrated” persons, that is, those who have received and live the messages ultimately meant for them—that the earth is in grave peril from destructive acquisitive human activities.

Reading the accounts of those hardcore in the Eco-integrated NHI community it’s difficult to see much difference between their encounters, except for the hi-tech and “digital” Matrix-like terminology often used, and the ancient accounts of the daemon or the spirit-guide of the 19th century.[33] Despite appearances, in function the “alien” technology ultimately tracks with traditional fairy and djinn lore: light-conveyances in the sky, kidnappings in light, beings made of “smokeless fire,” mind-control, subterranean “bases,” interspecies sex, hybridization. There seem to be only a few core messages given to abductees and contactees and they involve our evolution, our technology, an eschatology, and our transcendence—the same concerns propounded by transhumanists, but steeped in spiritual language.

The interpretation of NHI experiences is now a group effort,[34] and the meaning of the encounters has often been made using “pre-fabricated” tropes, symbols, and narratives. The degree to which these could not simply be products of the postulated “extended human mind” is unknown; it is all dependent upon the experiencer herself labeling an NHI as the source. And these tropes are mostly products of 19th century Spiritualism, Spiritism, and Theosophy.[35]

Many of the channel sources say that they cannot “help us” technologically because it would interfere with human spiritual progress. Sometimes this is plainly stated by the NHI.[36] Had these disembodied intelligences our “ascension” in good faith, wouldn’t it make sense to convert en massemany millions of people to belief in the larger, hidden worlds (and put people upon the spiritual path) by using at least one channel to produce a beneficial gift, via either the oracular or technological route?

Or did our human world already receive these unambiguous gifts from daemonic currents but were tragically misunderstood or misused? This is all not to say that the spiritual messages imparted aren’t profound; it’s just that they’ve always been profound. They’re like Jesus’s or Parmenides’s teachings: easy to pronounce, relatively easy to understand, and nearly impossible to live. Instruction on how to live them (when provided) is helpful, but difficult. Which seems to be the ultimate message: to Work on Oneself. Evolve. Put oneself in danger. Evoke peak experiences and different states of consciousness and actualize one’s being.

As Vallee has emphasized for decades, this disembodied NHI “physicalizes” itself to us in culturally-conditioned ways, but the manifestations also are products of our minds.

There is far more ostensible evidence to believe these NHIs are passed-on human beings than “ascended masters” or extraterrestrials. The best proof that channeling the passed-on is possible is the “cross-correspondences” that were received from 1901-1931 by over a dozen mediums and automatists (those who practiced dissociative or “automatic” writing).[37] These were an elaborate series of references from classical literature known to several members of the Society of Psychical Research (SPR) who had died but vowed, while alive, that they would attempt communication with colleagues through mediums after they had passed on.

Even after 90 years this material has only been partially interpreted, it is so complex. The receiving mediums: 1. Didn’t personally know these SPR members while alive; 2. Didn’t know that the SPR members had made the pact while alive; 3. Only one medium knew classical literature in scholarly terms enough to be familiar with some of the channeled material; 4. Each didn’t personally know the other psychics, or that these psychics were receiving related scripts from the same group of “discarnates.” It was only after a few years of gathering these scripts that Dr. Alice Johnson, secretary of the SPR, noticed that many were signed in ways familiar to the colleagues she and other SPR members had once known.[38] So began the laborious process of sorting and interpreting the coded and jigsaw-puzzle like references the “scholar ghosts” were laying out for them.

There is no comparable compelling evidence for the non-human origin of contemporary controls or “guides,” but then as far as I know no one has comprehensively studied the purported ETs’ utterances and scripts.[39] For instance, have any two NHI channels unknown to one another used exact phrasing or expounded identical ideas couched in specific terminology, other than the typical Christian, universalist, or Theosophical cant? Have any produced designs for the same technological devices, or ideas for such devices independently? Apart from the idea of ringed/linked, counter-rotating magnets producing an “anti-gravity engine”—a concept that can intuitively be conjectured to work by anyone who witnesses an object levitating between two magnetics fields—the answer is no. An updated Spear machine run on some zero-point energy “New Motive Power” for our times has yet to appear (although Pasulka and others hint that there is evidence that this has occurred in the hidden world of the military-industrial-space complex).

In the case of the best-known NHI entities such as Ashtar, Hilarion, Bashar, Lazaris, or Ra(ma), we have no such template.

So where do these phenomena fit in our general cultural context, especially with regard to technology, science, and their effect on religion and spirituality?

The concept NHI implies a neutrality that collapses distinctions in any given explicit “messages” while attempting to preserve differences via the modalities through which they are transmitted. Despite the differing emotional-mental-spiritual “media”, the message is the same: there is something “alien” outside hitherto anthropocentric human awareness, and it enters our consensual reality via liminal states (between awareness/unconsciousness, being alive/dead, being embodied/disembodied, existing/non-existence). Thus the message is the medium/mediumistic, in both figurative and literal senses. The matured conceptual vocabularies of psychology, physics and information theory are used to outline the interaction process without really explaining anything beyond the bare fact of the experience that “unknown factor x caused y to occur in my consciousness.” The impersonality of the contact is used as evidence that x is a conscious entity far beyond normal comprehension. “Jesus Christ” possesses personality to a degree via scripture and human imagination; angels or aliens, generally, do not.

Minimally, at best, what we can say is that at some point spirits as both subjects and objects of immediate external or interior experience entered human awareness and memory. As James McClenon’s studies have shown, such primordial encounters expanded human perception of the natural world to include “invisible spirits” and helped create the religious impulse.[40] At some point far in the past it became accepted that intangible realities exist as surely as the sensible, and they or their denizens regularly interact with humanity. At another point in the modern era—perhaps with Swedenborg but certainly by the late 19th century—extraterrestrials as objects of thought entered our common mental imaginary as entities, just like Santa Claus.[41] At a later point in time what are called ETs became subjects, possessing agency and a seemingly independent existence that mirrors that of spirits (and of course the fairy world, with all its parallels to “alien” activities). Along with their ever-changing appearances, the ETs’ “skills and capabilities” in the collective imaginary increased by means of the growing number of complex narratives witnesses and experiencers told. Each new authenticated encounter report, no matter how strange or absurd, increased and expanded the metachorial power of the extraterrestrial/ultraterrestrial being.

To a degree, certain characterizations of the NHI strip away the status of this “new” Other even as subject and place it in a further state of liminality as a process of interaction between the human and non-human. The signature that this interaction has occurred, apparently, is the resulting ideas that are unfamiliar or “non-indigenous” to the perceiving subject’s mind, such as Rey Hernandez’s inaugural OBE in which he saw the contact modalities. The conditions under which they are received can take any form (but according to FREE’s characterization they are covered but not limited to NDEs, alien encounters and abductions, OBEs, etc.). They produce empirical verifiable changes in personality, skills, and even IQ. Despite experiences such as Rey Hernandez’s and what Taylor claims of the “room’s” effects on him in Pasulka’s book, the NHIs are utterly unpredictable in who they choose, when, and why. What, short of induced “standard” mediumistic practices, could possibly verify a measurable change in brain activity to signify contact is taking place? The absence of such testable traces unfortunately reduces their scientific status to nothing.

Again, minimally, both spirits and ETs retain an imaginary component to them at all times in the collective consciousness of the population. They are doubly liminal in that they express liminal states between being and non-being and are culturally liminal in that those who believe in their reality are marginalized.

Perhaps with this new nomenclature of non-human intelligence we should take note that its arrow of signification points not just to disembodied or “higher dimensional” beings but also to the animal world all around us. The oceans contain habitats and creatures that, we are finding, challenge the very norms of biology.[42] Exobiologists (those who study what extraterrestrial life might be like) look to the most extreme environments on earth in the deepest seas, volcanos, beneath the polar ice, high in the atmosphere, and deep within the earth—and have been finding fledgling life in the most hostile conditions. Living beings are product of a natural intelligence and are sometimes as “alien” as anything conceivable amongst the stars above us; Neo-Darwinists say these creatures simply won in the struggle to reproduce, but they are at the same time each emanations from an interdependent web of vital power that itself is the organism from which we came—and with which we have lost a spontaneous, communicative connection.

In most channeled NHI communications, the fact that our planet is a unitary being, and is currently either suffering or readying itself for a massive change, is one of the dominant messages received. This truth has been preached from the Beyond for at least 3,000 years.

——————

[1] Pasulka, D.W., American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, Oxford University Press, 2019.

[2] Ibid, pgs. 34-35.

[3] See Banias, M.J. UFO People: A Curious Culture, August Night Book, 2019, pgs. 92-97.

[4] Pasulka, pgs 188-95; 198-201.

[5] See Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non-Human Intelligence Vol. 1, CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2018.

[6] Pasulka, pgs. 140, 203-04, 207-08.

[7] Brown, pgs. 178-189.

[8] See Ring, Kenneth. The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind-at-Large, William Morrow & Co., 1992.

[9] Kelly, Edward and Kelly, Emily Williams. Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2009, pg. 354.

[10] Talbot, Michael. The Holographic Universe, Harper Perennial, 1991, pg. 260.

[11] Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biography Literaria, 1817.

[12] Kelly 353-362; see Mavromatis, Andreas. Hypnagogia: The Unique State of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep, Thyrsos Press, 2010, pgs. 71-80, 194-203, 221-23 for the relationship between relaxation, natural dissociation, and spontaneously unwilled imagery in the hypnagogic trance, the first stage of sleep.

[13] See Gauld, Alan. A History of Hypnotism, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pgs. 105-107, 143-44, 278-79, 284-85, 301, 326-27.

[14] Maybe the specific amplitude or wavelength of Penfield’s charge resonated with amplitude/wavelength of random encoded memories in the patients’ brains. These relived memories by the patients seemed entirely “meaningless” recollections, because most of our lives consist of just these sorts of experiences.

[15] http://yalescientific.org/thescope/2015/03/the-woman-born-without-a-cerebellum/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329861-900-woman-of-24-found-to-have-no-cerebellum-in-her-brain/

[16] https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12301-man-with-tiny-brain-shocks-doctors

[17] http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/01/health/baby-born-without-complete-skull-turns-1/index.html

[18] Kelly (2009), 427-428, 432-433, 600.

[19] See Kelly, 240-252 for criticism of the unconscious cerebration/cognitive unconscious thesis in neuroscience and psychology, and Kelly, pg. 455 on the shortcomings of the “black” box approach.

[20] Many times, these persons are diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder or have a type of detriment to the left side of the brain, which has been shown to process experience linguistically in a linear fashion. The right brain, which has been demonstrated to perceive images and wholes with a minimal linguistic, linear component, may in fact, for persons such as Ramanujan, imaginally perceive the entirety of a mathematical world as 3-dimensional table-matrices through which they will the answer not through calculation but location via the matrices’ axes. See Kelly (2009) pgs. 87, 433, and The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist, Yale University Press, 2012, pgs. 12-13, 57-58, 61, 87, 132.

[21] Rock, 142-147.

[22] Rock, Andrea. The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream, Basic Books, 2004, pgs. 22, 122.

[23] ibid, 47-49.

[24] This other could be said to be the realm of the right brain. The difference between a verbal description of an anomaly and a visual representation of it (of a Nordic being such as Adamski’s, or Strieber’s “woman visitor” on the cover of Communion) is profound in its emotional effect. Images activate the right hemisphere of the brain that deals in the symbolic. Symbols can be said to reside and recombine in those areas of the brain. It may be for this reason that traditions from Sumerian religion to mystical Judaism to Roman and Gnostic mythology tell of a “divine twin,” hypnopomp, daemon, szyzgus, or guardian angel that is an everpresent part of us that exists to communicate truths that elude propositional form. The symbolic/emotional nexus has no grasp of linear time, because it exists partially outside it, in the metachoria. These are the dreams we most remember.

[25] Csikszenmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Harper Perennial, 1996, pg. 28.

[26] See Kendall L. Walton’s Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts, Harvard University Press, 1993, pgs. 37-38, 42-43. Props function within sets of rules that generate fiction. They possess the same intentionality as objects in the “real world.”

[27] The works of surrealists such as Roberto Matta would be very much like the vision suggested by this thought experiment: landscapes that appear as complete abstractions at first, then on close inspection gain signifying details that suggest familiar forms but never get there. Pareidolia alternately fails and succeeds in effectively interpreting the imagery in his works; they are entirely liminal in their engagement with the eye and brain.

[28] Yet ironically, the “true” name is never the real name if they are telling the truth. Although many such as Carla Rueckert’s Ra admit that the names higher entities use are just convenient, human shorthand for what they really are—the “social memory complex” of an evolved race on another dimensional plane—they usually preach that identity itself, of any form, is a metaphysical fiction, as Advaita and madhyamika Buddhism holds.

[29] See the opening pages of Vallee’s Messengers of Deception.

[30] The Akasha idea originated in Alfred Percy Sinnett’s gloss (1883) on H.S. Olcott’s A Buddhist Catechism (but was probably inspired by Indra’s net in the Atharva Veda of 1,500 BCE). The Akashic field can be made to explain and bolster belief in the reality and truthful preachings of new channels in a mutually reinforcing way.

[31] As writer M.J. Banias has pointed out, the UFO is a “cultural apparition.” This characterization can be extended to cover most anomalous manifestations throughout history, including NHIs, but their liminality can be especially corrosive and pronounced to society in our lightning-fast information networks. Building on the seminal 2008 essay “Sovereignty and the UFO” by Alexander Wendt and Raymond Duvall, Banias claims the UFO is disruptive to nearly the entire spectrum of capitalist cultural discourse, while simultaneously having no unambiguous physical signified to what it represents. There is nothing but the report, the aftereffects of the encounter, and the beliefs by others in the encounter. Belief in UFOs requires a rejection of many factors that make up the worldview consensus that drives our society: physics, religion, trust in the mass media, and products of the “creative class” (novels, TV shows, films) that are products of the same consensus. But judging by the contents of Pasulka’s and Vallee’s books, there are many scientists paying attention and engaging with this taboo subject at the highest levels of the military-space-industrial complex. Or so we are led to believe.

[32] P. Phillips and W.L MacLeod, Here and There: Psychic Communication between Our World and the Next, Corgi Books/Transworld Publications 1975.

[33] The problem may be what psi investigators call “analytic overlay,” which is when a psychic misinterprets an imagistic “signal” by using their own mind’s associations and the left-brain’s labeling power. See MacGilchrist, Iain, The Master and His Emmisary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2010, 106-110, 113-115, 118-126, 195-203.

[34] See Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non-Human Intelligence, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.

[35] I recently read some documents on a person’s lifelong communicating with the “Zeta grey race” that could’ve come straight out of Allan Kardec, Blavatsky, or Alice Bailey’s writings. Clearly the influence of Theosophy on the framing of any kind of channeled or non-human contact experiences is incalculable. I read the first two Ra Materials books (published 1981/82) and found them interesting as channeled teachings. But again, until some channeler of NHIs makes unambiguous predictions that come true, or writes the formula and plans for an antigravity field generator or something far beyond the normal capabilities of the channel, society will continue to marginalize these things.

[36] This also usually implies an atomistic conception of individual human beings compelled to struggle over many lifetimes to learn their spiritual lessons—and it must be noted that the evolution of humanity only became a channeling trope since Darwin put natural selection into intellectual currency in 1860 and was duly picked up by the Spiritualist mediums.

[37] See Heywood, Rosalind, The Sixth Sense: An Enquiry into Extra-Sensory Perception, Chatto & Windus, 1959, pgs. 69-102;Oppenheim, Janet. The Other Side, 132-135; Tymn, Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters, 174-178; 276-281.

[38] In the SPR-studied medium-communications from the deceased there at least is a template for proof: the dead person’s survivors may encounter pet phrases, mannerisms, and memories that only they know and can verify as close to or identical with their loved ones. This occurred hundreds of times in the cross-correspondences.

[39] Parapsychologist Jon Klimo—a major contributor to the Contact Modalities book Beyond UFOs—promised in 1998 to produce such a book, but it has yet to see publication.

[40] See McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Beliefs, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

[41] But we know that Santa Claus as we think of him was created from an amalgam of sources in the 19th century.

[42] See https://space.nss.org/life-in-extreme-environments/  https://www.space.com/25133-extreme-earth-life-alien-lifeforms.html

Bill Viola’s “Tiny Deaths” and the Inversion of the Gallery Space

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Video artist Bill Viola’s oeuvre spans four decades and hundreds of works. Known best for his tableau video installations and huge scrim projection works, there is one “minor” work from 1993 that I think is his most intriguing and startling. Confronting it was a life-changing aesthetic event.

Tiny Deaths is an installation piece for a very darkened square room. As one enters, muted distorted voices become apparent, softly moaning and speaking unintelligible mantras from some undefinable space, as if unconnected to the room. The immediate effect is spooky as hell. The walls are soon found to be shimmering in very dark grey-scale projection, like the snow of an old television screen with the brightness and contrast at zero. But the projectors are hidden. As one walks about the dark you will come to notice a shadow—perhaps your own—is on the barely lit wall before you. But it stands still as you move; it is a phantom presence. You inspect it. The mutated voices are growing louder and illumination is bleeding rapidly into the space. Suddenly the sounds crescendo in a whoosh and there is a flash behind you. You turn but everything is the same: three barely shimmering walls. Your eyes once again must adjust. The voices murmur low. You look back at the shadow before you, which seems washed out by the intense flash. But it’s still there and growing dimmer. If you choose to concentrate upon it, over a period of a moment and a half or so you notice it has begun to take on details. There is a face. Eyes, a mouth. Clothes. It is glowing slightly brighter with a light that is somehow generated by the image itself and not from a projector. The details appear quicker. The voices are growing louder again. Suddenly a person in black and white in full detail appears before you but is gone in a flash before you discern fully any details.

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On reflection you discover that the light is acting two ways, as projection and reflected illumination, causing a “third realm” in the gallery—or the viewer’s mind—where the viewer(s) is a part of the work. You are gradually washed out by the light and equally disappear to the other patrons.

This is one of the greatest works of art I’ve ever experienced. You have to be there a while to get it. The flashes create a “liminal space” between the depicted persons and the spectators. You can view a two dimensional representation of a person on a wall or a living person standing beside you in the gallery space and the same fleeting effect occurs, but the latter is the “real” world—the world of mortal beings who grow old and die. The images could theoretically cycle through eternity.

Thus the work has a subtext about the visual preservation of the human form that photography grants but can never encompass. We in the gallery are the real subjects of the piece. Viola has reversed the arrow of signification on us, brilliantly.

Illumination in a spiritual sense. Viola has been a Buddhist for 40 years. Suddenly the frail human being appears from the nigredo of a roiling, dimly sparking wall, only to vanish in less than a second and return to darkness. We witness a sudden, finite drama on a two-dimensional surface that reflects its light onto our three dimension world. But like these trapped representations, we exist coursing along the dimension of time as well…The voices drifting through the room offer no condolence or condemnation. They are beyond legibility and meaning. And so is this mystery of existing as a representation of something beyond this four-dimensional and ceasing to inhabit it. It asks us: to what realm are we akin to these persons displayed upon the wall?

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A Perverse Horology…

Sundialgnomon

Rocks are computationally equivalent to humans.–Stephen Wolfram

The basis of the universe-as-machine metaphor stretches back into antiquity. Natural regularities observed from the beginning of human history form the background for this belief:

-The round of day into night.

-Moon phases.

-The seasons

-The solstices and equinoxes relative to the sun’s rising/setting over local “markers:” trees, mountains, building edges, etc.

-The wandering planets’ regular courses.

-Birth-growth-flourishing-senescence-death.

The “clockwork universe” idea became a dominant analogy for scientists after Laplace’s determinism gained widespread currency early in the 18th century, but you might say it originally began with the ancient astronomers who timed the days, months, seasons, years, ages, and precessions. They modeled these relationships with orreries and planetaria. The gnomon/sundial gave rise to the daily hours and their division. From the Babylonians to the Romans, each hour had its own deity, overseen by greater deities that managed them: a celestial bureaucracy.

orrery

       To the ancient mind, the stars and planets were connected to events on earth; Sirius’s heliacal rising caused the Nile’s inundation of its plains for the Egyptians, either by direct spiritual force or by a resonance. The universe was not “dead matter” blindly obeying laws—it was a living being full of lesser daimons communicating etheric signals about and through the eternal laws that regulated this superorganism’s body. Some persons were gifted enough to see these beings and the relationships.

We were parts of this continuum, and reflected its regularities. As above, so below; as below, so above.

clepsydra

       Water clocks like the Greek clepsydra existed in ancient India, China, Babylon, and Egypt; these were probably tied to measuring the precise durations for human activities like cooking, smelting, and religious services. The Antikythera mechanism of 100-105 BCE is probably an orrery. The clepsammia (hourglass) was invented in Hellenistic Alexandria; it most likely took only a few months or even weeks for its inventor to match with a sundial the size of the two glass bells and the amount and quality of sand to get an accurate measure of the 60-minute hour, and notate the completed object’s sand quantities/dimensions.

hourglass

       In 1090 CE, Chinese inventor Su Song built an elaborate water clock for the purpose of determining the heavenly bodies’ positions during the royal concubines’ births if cloudy weather occurred during those times.[i] In the 14th century, John Dondi built a very complex clockwork orrery; a spring mechanism was wound and clicked at regular intervals to show the movements of the planets and sun about the earth. The need to time monastic worship activities led to water clocks and eventually bell-tolls connected to complex gear mechanisms, such as the clock in the Prague town square, built in 1410.

prague

       All of these involve representing natural phenomena into a single mechanism that link the two levels/worlds, local and celestial, mesocosmic and macrocosmic, as a time “keeper.”

Two centuries ago, a metaphor linking living organisms and machines—especially clocks—began to be used loosely in the scientists’ discourse. To what degree this mistaken equivalence has impacted the “Western noosphere” of lived experience is still unknown. But the signs point.

——————

In ancient myths, there were near-countless “frames” or metaphors with which to characterize living beings (and the cosmos as a whole).

Magicians in antiquity had to observe and tune themselves with the rhythms of nature in order to manipulate it. Some of the pre-Socratic philosophers cast aside elemental “animism” (as well as the Greek city-states’ deities and cosmogonies) in favor of abstract principles or forces as the “first causes” that could then be viewed disinterestedly.[ii]

Personification and projection into natural phenomena had to be eliminated from the subject/object relationships for the supposed clarity of the “primary principle” to come into view.

And this is what these philosophers did; it was the beginning of the long march towards materialistic scientism.[iii]

WorldtreeVesicatree

       Before the pre-Socratics, countless analogies in world cultures were imagined for the universe’s origin and its regularities: the cosmic egg, the triune cosmic egg (underworld/middleworld/upperworld), the cosmic tree, the wheel of the Zodiac, the Heavenly Millstone which described both the constellations spinning about the Pole star and the equinoctial precession. Yet they were more than analogies; they were the actual primordial forms of the familiar earthbound objects that reflected them. The canopy of the Milky Way was the milk-vortex of Vishnu, the Milk of Hera, the Silver River, Tiamat’s Tail, Heavenly Ganges

Tiamattail

       Each of these “tropes” fit their source: The Millstone and Wheel of Heaven mirrored the iris/pupil of the human eye, the sun disc, the moon disc. The mythemes originated through isomorphism.

But isomorphism is only one aspect of these images. They functioned to explain the cosmos. The Millstone’s grains—that is, the Polar stars and planets—created human fates instead of flour. In solar myths, the sun was the heart of the deity, the symbol of eternity. In Polar myths, the North Star was the destination of the soul in the afterlife, set in the cave-like darkness that mirrored the underworld, around which the Great Bear and all the other constellations revolved.

Community priest-leaders insisted on preserving their explanatory mythemes, especially when the tribe migrated. Contacting other peoples inevitably altered their beliefs. Upon the discovery of parallel functions and visual motifs in another culture—their speaking each others’ symbolic language, as it were—the mythemes could be syncretized. And for a tribe for whom some aspects of their mythology was “impoverished” in explanatory power or soteriological depth, the new belief systems could fill in the gaps or deepen the understanding of their own deities. They absorbed aspects the “alien” culture’s symbols and rituals that their own lacked.[iv]

The equivalency between motifs and stories was due to the natural phenomenon that underlay the mytheme and gave rise to specific names and tales.

At the Council of Nicaea, the son and father were legislated to be of the same substance, for once and all. The ideas of cyclical return, daimonic intermediaries, and reincarnation were forbidden. Thus was a kinetic element to universe denied, and the idea of a world-soul was stripped from the Catholic Christianity. Universe and consciousness set once and for all as an unchangeable entity; any evolutionary principle to the universe was forbidden.[v]

Chainbeing

       During Middle Ages Europe, the Great Chain of Being and the ancient idea of celestial spheres were the dominant Western metaphors for the heavens and earth, humanity and animal and landscape–the direct result of the Council’s decisions. This was by all measures a universe that operated like a machine, but was suffused with the will of God.

The triad heaven-earth-underworld, which is as old as shamanism, was preserved in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante’s Hades mirrored, in a descending, spiraling action, the three-dimensional nested-domes that surrounded the earth in Aristotle’s philosophy. But by the 15th century, the Neoplatonist interpretations of Plato and Aristotle’s cosmos solidified into dogmatic teachings in the monastic schools. For Aristotle, psyche/psuche—soul—simply meant an entity’s innate ability for self-movement. This was just a bare-bones definition that the Scholastics expanded to include the innate, ghost-like personality via Neoplatonic ideas of astral influence. Contradictions in theology set in, leading to the famous Scholastic quibbling over minute deviations in doctrine. They perceived the contradiction of a universe of eternal laws, the existence of sin and evil, and our possession of free will. Humans were still the fallen images of Adam Kadmon, the prototypical human, but far above the “animal” world in the chain. We were bound in sin by the second Adam, in Eden, but redeemed by the “third Adam,” Jesus. In a sense, Jesus’s sacrifice to show humanity the way destroyed the absolute determinism (mechanism) of original sin: the merciless wheel of causal sin was “broken upon the cross.”

As astronomy progressed with Galileo, Brahe, and Kepler, the signatures of a “universal clock” came more clearly into view. John Harrison’s 1761 timepiece allowed the near-exact determination of longitude as well as precise timing of celestial events. By the late 18th century local time-keeping was nearly perfected, just as an ensoulled cosmos was being officially “invalidated” by our increasing comprehension of physical laws. Gravitational “fields” and electricity came to replace the anima mundi, the universal soul.

—————-

So is the universe a form of machine, tied to clockwork regularities, as many scientists like David Deutsch and Stephen Wolfram insist? Does any hard evidence exist equating the mechanism with biological activity?

Mechanism can be abstracted into the concept of the algorithm: a predictable stepwise transformation/change in a system from one time interval to the next. Although quantum theory can challenge our ideas of time and chaos theory demonstrates the non-linearity of certain systems, (that is, challenging singular, isolated cause-and-effect relations), many science boosters nevertheless retail narratives from the premise that biology=machine. Merely because a resemblance exists.

This equality rests upon the deeply ingrained world of Newtonian causality which holds only at one level of consciousness: our observations of the objects that exist above a certain scale of size and complexity.

We’ve measured the age of this universe: 13.8 billion years. Our best telescopes can peer backwards in time to the purported beginning. Yet space is seemingly endless.

As I said, a vestige of the “world soul” mytheme lingers in the ideas of electromagnetic and gravitational fields—but these latter are responsive to measurement and manipulation. At one time, this manipulation required human ritual that put the shaman or magician in touch with independently existing forces/forms that responded to command. Now we’ve mediated them via physical electronic devices. Today, atoms function with no purpose but to exchange electrons. Humans exist only to propagate offspring and thus their genetic heritage; any higher purpose is an illusion created by our finely tuned brains, the “most complex object in the universe.”[vi] Through a bait-and-switch promoted by scientists like Lawrence Krauss, these gurus have replaced the “whys” of nature with “hows” in order to sidestep questions of teleology. The best they can do for the cosmic birth is that an accident occurred due to a statistical hiccup in the “quantum flux” of nothingness.

In other words, a free miracle.

The same with humanity’s origin: despite today’s mytheme of incremental natural selection, it is only honest to say that the origin of the process is ultimately unknowable. Natural selection is just one part of the evolutionary story; the origins of metabolism and reproduction (both of which are suitable to algorithmic modeling) are still mysterious. No one knows how the hell it happened. But a Krauss will tell you the two processes were simply another set of accidents in the causal chain that birthed the universe/nature. We’re supposed to take this on faith, because Krauss for certain cannot explain it; all he can say is “it must have happened that way!” We are purposeless, but exist (as a radical transhumanist might add with a flourish) to “take control of our evolutionary course from blind chance and achieve a form of immortality.” That’s quite a telos for beings that inherently possess no telos, and prompts the question: is a purpose wrestled over billions of years from the existential void of a meaningless universe actually a purpose, or just more deluded error? Why is the wrestling away of our mortal fate from “blind nature” purposeful, when our own thrown existence is not?

Which leads us back to the origin of the question: the machine as measuring device.

A clock or robot’s origin: human. They are purposive in relation to us, created for a function, whether that function is to crunch numbers or create another machine.

The contradiction that nihilistic science creates is that machines have a purpose for us, yet the “wonderful machines” of nature have no purpose for some Other, whether God or angels or an alien race. Atheist scientists like Krauss think it is illogical or invalid to extrapolate from the human-machine relation to the Creator-nature-humanity relation. He gives no compelling reasons why this should be so. Philosophers like Nick Bostrom argue that we probably live in a simulation by posthumans or extraterrestrials and that if that’s so, all bets are off against God or the supernatural not being “real” in some sense, because even our observable rules of physics could be programmings that only simulated beings such as ourselves would be able to perceive. The creator(s)’ universe may operate on entire different sets of rules.

———————–

What this all comes down to, for me, is the concept of ownership. We appear phenomenologically to ourselves and others as embodied beings subject to misadventure and random occurrences and the entropy of aging. The important words here are “appear” and “embodied.” Thinking about one’s sense of disembodiment such as in a dream state, reverie, or hypnagogia takes place in a time interval; in other words, in order for the loop of self-consciousness (introspection, recognition that one is not in a state of direct embodiment) to occur requires time. Thus a split or doubling occurs. We then can attempt to make of consciousness an object that can be studied—and the body as well. We find ourselves possessors of these experiences, whether we consciously loop into doubling-back and introspection or not.

This process is mirrored in the relationship between the macroscopic world of planets and stars and the clock that sits on the mantle. The clock is our reified doubled-consciousness—the symbol of self-consciousness. But it is only that, and has no relation to the markerless unfolding, outward and upward, expanding and contracting, of an organic being.

 


[i] Richards, E.G. Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History, Oxford University Press, 1998, pgs. 56-57.

[ii] Plato desperately tried to hew to an ultimate goal for philosophy—transcendence of the imperfect, material world—in his dialectics but was many times sidetracked by Athenian cultural affairs (politics and morality, mostly). With Aristotle, forget it: all talk of ascension by means of rationality found in Plato, which had been modeled on Egyptian funerary/resurrection systems, was banished.

[iii] Strictly, Democritus, Leucippus, Epicurus, and Lucretius were materialist-atheists during the beginning of the Hellenistic Period with their dictum “all is just atoms and the void.” Democritus of Abdera was first to postulate that tiny, indivisible (a-tom in Greek) particles made up everything known in the universe. Democritus used the example/analogy/metaphor of an object being composed of tiny particles that each contained the “proper” nature of the whole object that creates its form (a bit like a fractal hologram, when you think about it!) A wooden table is made at an atomic level of indivisible bits of the element “wood,” which is in turn comprised of water and earth and fire in a defined mixture. One could prove this idea by smashing the table to bits, then pulverizing the bits, then crushing further the pulverized dust, never reaching anything that is not a tiny bit of wood. It can become fire, or earth (think of decayed wood, if it were left alone to rot) and is water-soluble in this form. Democritus extrapolated that if you could continue this splitting you would reach the atom “wood.”

For its time this was quite an astounding conceptual leap—invisible constituents that construct physical objects. Today we can say that sets of organic molecules arranged in certain ways give wood the properties it has, but ultimately we would arrive at a “characterless, property-less” atom whose number of electrons and aggregated determines the properties/qualities the macroscopic object will have.

[iv] In just one example, see Raphael Patai’s The Hebrew Goddess on the assimilation of Akkadian-Ugaritic goddess Athirat/Ashtart as the “wife of Yahweh,” Asherah, in the earliest Jewish faiths. Asherah was a “foreign” deity whose banishment and reinstitution occurred dozens of times over centuries in the many Hebrew tribal communities. Just as a cult of Mary was practiced alongside the Nicaean Christianity of Catholicism for 1,500 years until she was ratified as near-equal to Jesus in the 19th and 20th centuries, the rabbis exploring the Kabbalah retained the feminine divine presence in the Shekinah via the Sephirot from Hellenistic times to the present.

[v] Scott, Ernest. The People of the Secret, Octagon Press, 1985, pgs. 42-43.