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 phenomena its accounting of the facts can be outrageously biased or even revisionist. The entries would be laughable if their writers weren’t so dishonest.

Anyone who’s spent time researching psi on Wikipedia can discern in seconds the editors’ predilection for any debunking explanation. If you look up just about any paranormal subject, 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 the 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 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 group’s early years, a number of credentialed scientist members bailed on the organization because of its dogmatic, anti-scientific attitude.[2]

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

In addressing the thousands of psi studies and the meta-analyses of these studies, the writer-editors invoke “methodological faults” quite often—conveniently footnoted to articles by Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, James Alcock, or even the non-scientist Randi. As psi investigator 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 to the debunkers’ criticisms by the original psi investigators are never mentioned in the Wikipedia entries. The latter have often clearly enumerated the mistakes, mischaracterizations, or outright falsehoods made by both skeptics and pseudo-skeptics.

The use of this small core debunking crowd as final authorities is akin to having the Wikipedia entries for Impressionist movement and artists referencing 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 psi 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 natural explanations the primary place in an article—if those explanations were honest and credible in their mechanical-physical specifics—but Wikipedia entries don’t exhibit this equality, because the debunkers’ explanations usually don’t.

And that is because there exists 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” entry covering the Society for Psychical Research is a shambles, as it unfairly downplays the first generation of the 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 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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Or 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]

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 William Roll and J.G. 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 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 apparently 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 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 chutzpah.

According to these “rational” authorities, multiple witnesses to apparitions like Zeitoun can be primed to suffer simultaneous and identical hallucinations of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They can also hallucinate 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. Thus,

Rule 3: Use anything within the realms of standard 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 fraud! 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 ability 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, naturally…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, 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 our 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 Paolino purchased 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 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 Rhine’s 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) wrote a letter that was given to someone else who in turn, at the last moment, handed it to the investigator to test him. How could he possibly have known what was written (or drawn) in such a 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, nor 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 usual. 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. 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 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 seen 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 had 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 became public in the small community, 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. 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 writer-editors make 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, writer Michael Prescott goes into James Randi’s attempted dismissal of Home with regard to Sir William Crookes’s thorough investigations of the medium, 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 simply 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 guessing thousands 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 mass medium of information delivery for psi studies largely changed from individual cases like Piper 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 dharma 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 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 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 who are these outlier members of the scientific community mentioned who don’t consider it pseudoscience? Is even one of them given an airing in the piece on 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? How can “objective analysis” occur without given 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 psychological 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 consist of.

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 extremely 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, apparent 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. Interestingly, 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-themed fiction, the wiki writer-editors’ conception of telepathy is entirely modeled on these fictional 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 are these researchers’ rebuttals to the “explanations.”

The Ganzfeld section actually contains a detailed description of only one side of the debate between Charles Honorton and debunker 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. Suitably unmentioned is the fact that Hyman and Honorton jointly wrote a statement after years of sparring that conceded 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 psi researcher 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 or “spirits” or “aliens” tally with sociologist 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 group taking over the discourse of an entire subject. But of course there is no Wikipedia 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 members 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 expected; 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 Paul Kurtz, statistician Paul Zelin, and astronomer George Abell stonewalled and decided instead to try to dilute the original French statistics. Rawlins’s appeals and alerts to his fellow CSI cohorts 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 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] If one needs instruction in how to debunk something since becoming a cub atheist or newly minted woo-killer, maybe one already has a problem with understanding logic and critical thinking/rhetorical skills and needs to take a step back from the new obsession…Why do both pseudoskeptics 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 SCIENCE. 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 assumptions 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 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 history leads one to become a stage magician in the first place? There are many stage conjurers within the field of debunkers. 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 known frauds or “rationally amenable” fraudulent techniques that have been used in other instances than that which is the subject under discussion, and apply them as the only possible explanation for the anomaly by association; direct the reader’s attention away from their immediate suspicion that something extraordinary may have happened. This skews the mind’s repertoire of activities from the holistically perceptive and intuitive right hemisphere to the “part-focused,” linear, and logic-oriented left hemisphere. 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 (2009); If this Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnosis (2011); and The Indefinite Boundary (1976).  

[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.

The Metachorea, Chapter 1: Don’t Confuse me with the Facts!

PREFACE:

    DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS…

By the second decade of the 21st century it is clear that the “great conversation” of philosophy has exhausted all possible pretenses to explaining an “ultimate reality” and, via its general turn to critiquing institutional powers, has almost entirely penned itself off from policing the empirical sciences.[1]

One reason for this situation is due to a centuries-old belief: Science is not supposed to deal with morality and ethics. Morality was the one province left to philosophy,[2] but by now this defense has been virtually swept away by the secular humanism that informs the Enlightenment’s political program. Technocracy’s utilitarian foundations have for the most part trumped moral concerns; ethics, whether pragmatic or deontological, only impede the march of science in its goal to relieve the plights of humanity.

The ancient forms of holistic philosophy such as the Stoics’s, in which epistemology, ontology, and ethics were inseparable, are forever gone. With the exception of German “meta-narrativists” such as Kant, Hegel, and Spengler, the classical Stoic trio of disciplines lived on until the late 19th century, when epistemology and ontology were farmed out to the hard sciences of physics, biology, chemistry, and neurology. Ethics was in effect left to individual conscience and the rationalizations of religious mores.

While “hard” science appealed to certainty for its cosmic visions, its methods were eventually applied to government policy and public mental health regimes via the soft humanistic sciences of psychology, economics, sociology, and anthropology. The freedom of a sovereign conscience came to apply not only to belief as defined by the Abrahamic religions, but eventually to beliefs in general on the nature of reality; this was the creeping nihilism inherent in supposedly “value-free” sciences which Nietzsche, amongst others, railed against as both dangers and as opportunities for a type of conscious evolution.

Today this free-for-all has resulted in multiplying the cosmologies and beliefs to which a person could potentially subscribe. Despite the sciences’ pretentions to a singular reality of which scientists are the sole arbiter, we have been in an ontological bacchanalia for some time now.

If we are awake and open, we must attempt to process a confusing mélange of conflicting explanations for where we have come from and even what we are. Those who are absolutely certain of any truth—and hold a universality to their beliefs—are looked upon as suspect, unhinged, even fascist.

So what has this situation to do with “anomalous” experiences and the human imagination?

It turns out, everything. From the standpoint we will explore, anomalous experiences like ghost sightings, psychokinesis (PK), or seeing an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) are akin to the creative acts of the human mind; both human ingenuity and anomalous experiences are equally mysterious in their origin.[3] Both have been plagues on humankind, for very different reasons.

 

I’LL SEE IT WHEN I BELIEVE IT

With a fair amount of certainty one can predict a given person’s explanation for an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) encounter based only upon their opinion of what reality consists—whether they profess a belief in absolute idealism or materialist monism, for instance.

For example, if one believes the real world is ideal (whether it be thoughts in the mind of God, the veil of maya, a realm of Platonic Forms beyond our imperfect copies, or a holographic projection from a higher dimension) then there is a good possibility that they will come to believe the UAP and their “pilot entities” are made of the same insubstantial “mind stuff” as we and everything else in the universe—incorporeal thought-forms—but perhaps more powerful with regard to their controlling these illusions in the UAP percipient’s mind. If the universe is not physical, the UAP entities furthermore can be contacted directly on this mental-ideal plane. Distance and time are no obstacles if space-time is illusory and malleable continuum of Idea. This particular belief underlies many forms of occult practice, and historically is the bridge between modern UAP and the realm of ceremonial magic.[4]

A monist physicalist (materialist) on the other hand erects insurmountable barriers for UAP being either extraterrestrial or interdimensional or ideal, as we’ll explore shortly. A Darwinian physicalist would counter the explanation that UAP are manned by “hidden Terran race/cryptoterrestrial” by explaining that an unknown species of beings cannot have survived on this planet without human knowledge of them, if not depositing some kind of paleobiological proof of their existence. Their physicalist framework would render claims of evolved abilities to possess invisibility camouflage (as some cryptoterrestrialist theorists have suggested) and psychic powers in advanced, unknown homo sapiens occultum as unprovable nonsense.

A fundamentalist steeped in the Abrahamic religions will see the world as the product of a single act of creation whose physical laws are secondary to a moral informing of the cosmos. Angelic and demonic forces may exist in this worldview, but are necessary to their core beliefs only by which sect we are discussing. For instance, a Southern Baptist or Muslim Salafist may shrug off UAP as demons, or the activity of Ifritic djinn, respectively—which, as we’ll see in Book Two, basically amount to the same type of being.

Within the materialist/religionist dichotomy we have binary oppositions of belief amongst social groups. They have completely different methods of knowing of what truth consists, and how it is constructed. Sub-species of both belief-systems could be extended indefinitely. A Hindu may view UAP as the return of ancient vimana craft used by Krishna and Rama; an Azande will cognize them as evil witch lanterns; a Mormon might believe they are the signs of spiritually advanced angelic beings like the Angel Moroni who appeared to founder Joseph Smith…

The upshot is that these all are conditioned responses via a priori beliefs inherent in their religions’ cosmologies. The scientistic stance is no different in this regard: in their case, an a priori dismissal of Others’ existence as impossible.

The rational study of UAP remains an outlying pursuit in our society and is largely immune to policing of its method. Its pretense to scientific tractability is illusory. “Ufology” has nothing with which to grasp its target but anecdotes, patterns within the anecdotes, and deductive reasoning.

Today’s dismal state of UAP/encounter study is due to the psychological and philosophical factors noted above. The specific belief-system of the investigator determines categorization and the phenomenon’s essence. The groundbreaking work in UAP study, if it can even be called such, has already been done, and done long ago.[5] We now accrete myth upon myth; the parameters for the debate have supposedly been set. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but in UAP study, every opinion is practically unfalsifiable.

It would seem at this point to be a hopeless pursuit, but it is not. Just like mainstream science’s explanations for UAP, this tract will not be so much an explanation as a detailed description of a process that occurs to individuals and groups who encounter—or rather enfold within—such anomalies, its parallels with psychophysical paranormal events, and how Imagination irrupts all norms.

THE END(S) OF PHYSICS

The particle/wave complementarity of energy shown by quantum physics has given us an uneasy contentment with many phenomena that seem logically divergent. The untestable ideas of string theory yield the same unease in both its proponents and dissenters. The limits of the directly observable, long ago transgressed in quantum experiments, have driven physicists yet further to conjectures with no falsifiability criterion to test them.

The anomalies we will examine present disparate interpretations that structurally mirror our seemingly dead-ending physics. The divergence of interpretation stems from the highly strange circumstances of the paranormal events themselves. Ambiguity is their very nature, into which Imagination cannot but be projected.

With this essay I hope to steer a course using neurological and psychological findings about the brain, some axioms regarding that elusive activity known as human creativity, and deductions about anomalous perceptions, and tie them together.

 

UPENDING THE DEBUNKERS’ TOOLKIT

In science, there are several types of evidence that may support a hypothesis but, theoretically, “truth” is a label to be avoided. As per philosopher Karl Popper’s criteria, there should be no positive statements asserting a general truth, but tentative ideas that have observable and predictable consequences that can then be falsified by an experiment—therefore, if a theory’s entailed test(s) is falsified, then the theory should be reexamined, if not scrapped.

When we’re considering evidence for concepts such as other dimensions or “otherworldly” beings, most scientists demand evidence that amounts to a type of irrefutable proof of their existence.

But as is historically demonstrated, apparitions almost always appear spontaneously, and therefore the conditions to study them are unrepeatable in the sense that an experiment can be replicated.[6] The Spiritualists’ experiments of the 19th and 20thcenturies, witnessed by some of the greatest scientists of the period, by and large failed scientific tests; only a small fraction of the paranormal phenomena were left unexplainable. The same percentage (10-15%) holds for “unknowns” in UAP reports and their reported pilot entities.

The burden then becomes foisted upon an anomaly experiencer to prove a positive—the physical existence of what they witnessed or are asserting they witnessed.

To assert grounds for their non-existence is easy enough for the debunker; they only have to state that the laws of physics as we understand them do not allow the existence of beings from distant worlds to appear here because space-time travel-lengths from distant stars are too great, or that the physical energies for “transdimensional beings” to fold/warp into our space involved are too intense—and their intrusions would easily be noticed by scientific/military instrumentation deployed throughout society at large.[7]

But these scientists are replying to specific (perhaps grossly misguided) hypotheses as to what was witnessed in the first place by the percipient and/or made it into the investigator’s report. That the Others are physical extraterrestrial or transdimensional entities are 1) human conclusions made after the fact of experience, or 2) admissions by the (usually) more anthropomorphic-looking beings. Skeptics suspend judgment about such ideas. Debunkers are another story.

The entities may very well be from another star system, but the chances of that are very slim, as we shall see. For the debunker, whose mind is already made up, a snap judgment is inevitable: the percipient has given us lies, hallucinations, mistaken memory.[8]

The “normal” and the “paranormal” are useless terms when one considers that the norm is a matter of a frame of reference relative to a body of knowledge in historical time. In other words, the paranormal is a part of the natural world from a larger standpoint we simply may not yet understand. To take just one example of a debunker’s irony, here’s a real corker from Michael Shermer, editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine: “It is at the horizon where the known meets the unknown that we are tempted to inject paranormal and supernatural forces to explain hitherto unsolved mysteries, but we must resist the temptation because such efforts can never succeed, not even in principle.”[9]

To what principle is he referring? It must be the axiom that the paranormal doesn’t exist because it simply can’t. This statement itself does not pass scientific muster. It’s a sterling example of rhetorically assuming total knowledge of what it intends to prove non-existent—that the paranormal does not exist, therefore cannot be investigated, simply because…it does not exist. It is circular. It rests on metaphysical assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality, that reality has no non-measurable aspects that may be responsible for the paranormal. Yet debunkers like Shermer are supposedly committed to eliminating metaphysics from any scientific discussion. The irony of his statement is completely lost on him.

It can’t be denied that debunkers neither prove or disprove any claim they make against the strange experiences anomaly witnesses report. Although many ufologists are masters at deploying logical fallacies in trying to prove extraterrestrials’ presence here on earth, there is no shortage of sloppy thinking in the debunker community either, in particular the use of the straw man, complex question, bandwagon, begging the question, ad hominem, “no true Scotsman,” subjectivist, and appeal-to-authority fallacies.

 

ET NULL HYPOTHESIS + 1

Astronomers Woodruff Sullivan and Adam Frank have tabulated figures using the first three parts of Drake’s equation and new information from the Kepler telescope, which has discovered 300 exoplanets. It turns out that nearly every star probably has at least one planet. In all likelihood billions of stars have planets in the “Goldilocks” zone where water and an atmosphere can form. According to their calculations there is a 1 in 10 billion chance that a civilization did not evolve in this habitable zone of some star. With the age of the universe, the chance that one that is at least as technologically advanced as ours developed at one time is 100%. Now multiply that by the estivated number of stars with planets in the habitable zone: 25%.

               The likelihood that advanced extraterrestrials exist, or existed in the past, is near 100%. If they exist at the level now, or have a say 100,000 year head start, it is very possible they could develop means of traversing vast interstellar distances. To say they have to pass through our exact technological phases to reach such a level is anthropocentric. Accident has played a huge part in scientific progress. Cognitive differences in their early evolutionary development could have led some of these extraterrestrials to possessing imaginative capacities far beyond ours; perhaps they could view designs for machines in 3-D solely in their minds, like Leonardo da Vinci was reputed to do. Perhaps they could see the finite and detrimental courses certain technologies would take (such as the use of fossils fuels). Perhaps after discovering mathematics, or a cognitive analogue to it, they could create in their minds many thousands of models for the composition and deign of spacecraft before even raising a finger to actually build them.

But these conjectures tell us nothing about them appearing here. Here is a syllogistic breakdown of the way things stand with regard to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) being extraterrestrial:

1. Standard ET hypothesis (ETH):
-Statistically, extraterrestrial life, perhaps technologically evolved many ten of thousands of years before us, must exist somewhere in our galaxy.
-Human-possible means of interstellar flight that approach/exceed light speed or that warp space have already been discovered by these extraterrestrials. Therefore,
-The ET civilizations that discovered it long ago could come here with ease, given the time-frame.
————
2. Conservative adjunct to ETH:
-Currently-known means of interstellar space flight make travel from elsewhere to earth nearly impossible for even one, let alone hundreds, of different alien races.
-There are hundreds of differing UAP forms and entities (“races”) reported; therefore
-Conventional means of interstellar flight are not used, or they are not here.
***Rejoinder: Unknown but human-possible means may be used for their interstellar transport, as in the first set of syllogisms; or multiple generations pass on the vehicle as it traverses space; or the beings are in suspended animation during flight; or grown artificially during flight; or they are very long-lived; or they are a form of artificial intelligences (drones).
Or…
These UAP and their pilot beings are not extraterrestrial but manifestations of something endogenous to earth.
———
3. Consensus ETH Qualification:
-5-10% of reported UAP and their entities are extraterrestrials.
-Different people have very rarely reported the exact same UAP and/or entity (prior to the “greys” seeming to dominate UAP lore 1980-present); there have been hundreds of types of “ships” and creatures reported, almost unique to each percipient, up to the present day.
-Statistically, to the best of our knowledge, it is probable that only one race would be able to perfect the technology capable as we currently envision it of making the journey, as in 2.1; therefore
Only one, or even none, of the UAP craft/entities are extraterrestrial.

***Rejoinder: We could conjecture that the single race that has made the journey here possess means to camouflage itself in a myriad of different forms, thus accounting for the hundreds of types and confusing humanity as to their purposes.

So the existence of UAP as extraterrestrial craft is suspect due to the numbers of different ships/beings that have been reported, and the vanishingly low odds of so many different “races” achieving the physical means to get here. And this even ignores the question of why they would be interested in our planet.

Still, the chance that an unknown intelligent force has interacted with the human race is very great, due simply to the astronomical numbers of reported events of “high strangeness,” revelations, contacts, epiphanies with otherworldly beings noted throughout history—all the way to the present age of UAP and aliens.

ANOMALIES AS NORMS

Another of science’s defining features is the strict classification of phenomena, a practice that stretches as far back (at least) to Aristotle. This Greek thinker also gave us the concept of the excluded middle, the axiom that any proposition must either be true or false. All existent beings either fall into one conceptual set or another. Their traits may overlap, but this results in the creation of a third set of predications. Thus could classification be extended indefinitely.

Together, classification and the excluded middle in practice allow no room for the existence for penumbral entities or experiences—that is, possibilities—where one must admit, almost everything in reality actually belongs. Plato’s “unveiling what is beyond nature,” wedded with Socrates’s technique of elenchus(suspension of any fixed beliefs in order to interrogate a phenomena) and Aristotle’s logic of classification bequeathed us the system that lives at the heart of science. This primal technology, this thinking method (or even a thinking ritual) has now changed the world, and especially how humanity regards its relation to religious experiences.

Regardless of the trappings, the structure of the anomalous phenomena still stands: an ethereal encounter begets the begats. The experiencers of Otherworldly beings and states have changed the world in ways that are socially primordial and more long-lasting than that of the modern science, its technology, and the epistemological stances associated with it.

When one examines human history, we should note that encounters with intelligent-seeming beings that seem evolved higher (or lower) than humanity, or are “from elsewhere” is a rule and not an exception. We may even venture to say that such encounters with Others are statistically ordinary occurrences over epochs, but extraordinary events in a sub-epochal sense—the span of a single week, for instance.

Another way of saying this is that spectacular anomalous events may occur unpredictably within the relatively short timespan of a decade or two, with clusters of events (or even none at all), but occur with a statistical consistency over long periods, such as two centuries—and by spectacular, I mean those events that have been recorded due to the presence of many credible witnesses, or devastating effects upon a small group of witnesses.[10] The Jansenist convulsionnaires movement (which we shall examine), the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima, Portugal in 1917 and the appearance of triangular UAP over the Hudson Valley in 1981-83 would be examples of mass anomalous experiences. In the 20th century, for instance, there were major worldwide waves of UAP encounters: 1947 (majority in USA), 1952, 1954 (majority in France/Italy), 1958, 1965-69, 1973-74, 1976-78 (majority in South America, UK, USA, and USSR), 1981, 1986-91.[11]

Every person who has lived has probably either 1) experienced an anomalous being directly; 2) known someone who has encountered one directly; or 3) has heard of someone by a maximum of two degrees of separation that has had an extraordinary encounter.[12]

The most important aspect of extraordinary encounters is that they almost always change that percipient’s outlook on life. The intense quality of their conviction affects people close to them; their family or friends may be converted by the sheer charisma of the transformed’s personality into not only belief in the experience, but belief in that force which ostensibly caused it as well. Obviously, such primary encounters are how religions begin: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV’s revelation of the Aten; Moses’s burning bush; the apostles encounter with the resurrected Jesus; Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus; Gabriel’s appearance to Muhammad; Joseph Smith and the Angel Moroni, etc. Numinous encounters are also how the revelation of prophecy is forged: think of Ezekiel and Enoch and Elijah and John of Patmos. The communion of Saints Hildegard and Bernadette and Lucia with the “white lady” (AKA the Blessed Virgin Mary) has given way to alien contactees Betty Andreasson and Truman Betherum and Howard Menger encountering angelic-appearing beings. Each of these people had a meeting with some force that changed them—and through a subculture-to-cultural stealth, affected a not insignificant portion of our civilization.

Inside any socially stable group, individuals may be subject to an array of anomalous events but there are always limited vocabularies to describe and tame them. These anomalies transform the society, for good or ill—causing a spiritual solace in the experiencer(s), or causing a reactive force that comes to some powerful individuals or groups in vanquishing the irruption when it threatens the communal order (if we chose the late 17th century, for instance, by means of official exorcism or trials and murder of the “witch”).

It’s a simple fact that any arbitrarily chosen time-period/geographical area will possess its corresponding set of Otherworldly beings and associated phenomena. Their influences upon those populations’ thinking and, consequently, their histories are immense and unavoidable.

The bunk that arch-skeptics consistently retail is that a steady-state norm always exists from which there can be no deviation. If such a state of nature existed, all questions as to the universe’s structure and origin would be in principle knowable and probably satisfactorily answered by now. Scientific history is full of surprises that overturned everything known; it is how knowledge changes.

Arch-debunkers seem not to possess the reflective capacity to see the mechanisms by which the norms of accepted and acceptable scientific knowledge, for instance, have changed radically over the past century.[13] They are many times altered by noting and collecting anomalies in normal scientific practice, as Thomas Kuhn pointed out.[14] The norm is changing today at an almost alarming accelerating rate, and the scientific groundwork for postulating a falsifiable theory for anomalous experiences is being laid further each day. With this work, I hope to establish the skeleton and arrow pointing to such a theory.

 

THE EXPLANATORY IMPULSE

So how are such unusual experiences classified today? We know the judgments of the psychological turn (that psychoses or “hysteria” are responsible), and the “mistaken cognitive impression/hallucination” that neuroscience would offer us. These explanations are default frames of reference, and require no thought at all—and are especially poverty-stricken with regard to the content of the percipient’s “hallucination.”

The phenomenology of hallucinations is a crucial aspect pertinent to all mental experience and is amenable to analytic interpretation (Jung was one such pioneer) but on the whole neuroscientists minimize or ignore the significance of the imagery and messages that are present in “deviant” brain activity. Thus every day, inadequate explanations are wheeled out to explain strange experiences, as well as their extrapolation backwards in history to account for the otherworldly encounters of the past.

This is not to say that there aren’t valid psychological, sociological, and historical reasons explaining why people without a directexperience of an Other would come to believe these supernatural occurrences happened. A series of fortuitous strokes led an obscure Palestinian Jewish cult to ascend into the world’s most populous religion. A staunch Christian would likely disagree with that statement, or say that it was foreordained because it is the one true religion, with Paul of Tarsus being the historical lynchpin.

But there is a structure here that bears emphasizing: The important dynamic regarding a born-again Christian’s personal conversion-revelation is that Jesus’s resurrection aligns the “reborn’s” experience with that of Saint Paul’s. It places the percipient directly in the center of an/the originating divine experience. What to the born-again person is a divine tautology—“the grace by which Paul was saved is the same grace by which I was saved”—is echoed in the debunker’s tautology “temporal lobe malfunctions cause ‘religious-experience hallucinations’ that can only be caused by a temporal lobe malfunction.” The phenomenology of this supernatural grace or affect-soaked hallucination fail to account for the structural change to the percipient’s mental state and physical disposition afterward. For the rest of us, who try to dispassionately view the transformation of an individual’s life after an Otherworldly encounter—especially seeing that these persons have come into possession of personal qualities or talents hitherto minimal or non-existent—we are full of questions meant to break the circular logic.


THE DOUBLY-DAMNED

Mature “epistemological autocracies” such as our materialist worldview are ideologies that marginalize or attempt to erase human experiences that do not fit their framework. Charles Fort called anomalous experiences “the damned”—the events that are ignored, suppressed, or explained away by both secular and religious orthodoxies.

But it’s only fitting that they be damned to irrelevance, we say from our peculiar Darwinist way of thinking—for were there any reality to their existence, they would have gained scientific purchase and be recognized realities by now.[15]

There appear to be at least two reasons why this is so:

One: We simply do not adequately understand consciousness or the relation of consciousness to its substrate, the brain, to offer an explanation for them. But, science assures us, in the future we will. This is called promissory materialism—the idea that all the physicalist answers will one day be found for all mental phenomena. The greatest problem with this form of scientism is that its conclusions about an objective world presuppose a presence—an experiencing thing—that it cannot bring itself to acknowledge. At best, the dominant form of neuroscience can try to persuade us that this subjective realm of experience is only another kind of object, a chemical machine called the brain whose secrets and tricks we are slowly uncovering. All we lack is more powerful technologies to make the discovery complete. Some of the best thinkers have concluded that consciousness is only an illusion constructed by the brain in order to assist the propagation of genetic material.

This conflict between the non-objectivity of behavioral observations and the inability of science to bridge the mind-brain gap seems bereft of a solution. Neuroscientists can propose yet further physiological investigations. Philosophers can offer up an endless stream of thought experiments, but there is no final resolution to the problem of subjectivity trying to objectify itself. This notion of neural correlates of conscious mental states is at the heart of a number of neuroscientific misconceptions ranging from assessments of consciousness, to the claims that morality can be ascertained scientifically. The feeling of security given by the reductionist approach is in fact illusory—a feeling of security analogous to the fundamentalist religionist’s.

Two: Even if the mind/brain system were completely explained, a scientific model for anomalies would still be problematic under our epistemic autocracy because such phenomena are, by definition (mostly) single witness-dependent, subjective, and often singularly-occurring phenomena. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, these reports are incommensurable with our scientific method of hard data, replicable experimentation, and peer-reviewed study, so they would still be eliminated from consideration.

From the point of view of the religious fundamentalist, the anomalies’ ambiguous nature contradicts the idea that God has a specific order to existence. People today still claim to encounter angels and demons, for instance, and while these episodes may pose problems for the ecclesiastical authorities, they do not for the common believer. The belief is solid because it has historical provenance thousands of years old. Still, most mainstream Christian and Muslim sects chose to minimize people’s accounts of encountering them.

Anomalous experiences cannot be transmitted to others—except by a sympathetic recognition by persons to whom a similar event has occurred, or the faith and belief-induction of those close to them.[16] As a culture we in the “West” have tended to throw Charles Fort’s “damned” experiences all together in an inchoate mass. Fringe incidents begets fringe community: a near-death experiencer gravitates into a support group with other survivors, learns of the afterlife’s “ascended masters,” then the UAP-entity connection to these ascended masters, then crystal power, and is embraced by the New Age set and may end up converted to belief in a nefarious, Reptilian-led New World Order—all because their original NDE experience has found no home in our materialist-dominant culture.

Inevitably an experiencer is compelled to retreat from defending the pragmatic value of their anomalous experience—the positive changes that occurred to them as a result—to arguing whether it even happened in objective reality. The positive changes in the experiencer’s personality are irrelevant to the debunker, as we noted; they fall back on the “God-sensing center” of the brain’s neurological edifices, or the “spiritual-neuron bundles” responsible for conversion experiences (usually a temporal lobe malfunction) and consequent beliefs that arise from the malfunction.

The tenuous research on the brain’s “God center” point to merely correlative relations between neural stimulation and a reported experience; there cannot be a causative God-sensing center in the human brain in the way that, say, the pituitary gland causes the secretion of hormones.

This use of language is known as a category error and is, ironically, often deployed by the debunkers against religious believers. How can God be sensed by a part of the brain, when God/a larger spiritual world does not exist for the scientist? To be clearer: the debunker looks upon the anomaly percipient’s experience as an avowal of belief, not a statement of fact. “The pituitary gland secretes hormones” can be empirically demonstrated through measuring instruments, but that proposition depends upon the consensus meaning of “pituitary,” “gland,” “secretes,” and “hormones.”

There are observable referents to each of the words. The statement “I sense the presence of a loving God” also depends upon the meaning/reference of each part of the proposition—but that which is signified by the object “God” has sense, but no referent that can be measured. Most people experience the “oceanic feeling” of Oneness or interconnectedness at least once, and in innumerable ways. It is often used as a substitute for God. That it should have a neural correlate does not negate the meaning of the experience to the subject, to say nothing of the time factor: that the subjective experience may be the cause of the neural change. We will explore the arrow of causation in this essay.

The crux of the matter is this: what happens when percipients are compelled to use the epistemological methods used by the dominant scientistic regime to explain their unique experiences? They must turn to physical evidence, of course, to sate the physicalist demands.

Perhaps 5-10% of the time the UAP (and even fairy, djinn, or cryptid animal encounters) produce inexplicable physical traces such as landing marks, burns, sickness in the percipient, stigmata, scars, spontaneous healings, etc. From the most generous frame of reference, these traces are exactly the result of what is described—physical evidence that some kind of high-intensity energy interacted with the percipient. But they always turn out ambiguous from a scientific analysis.[17]

Just as the effects of quantifiable objects (such as electromagnetic fields in a coil) may produce theories as to how they work, we can trace the effects of paranormal events back to their probable causes. This is what I intend to do in this essay.

We will eventually see that the suspension of a single explanatory reference frames regarding “Otherly” beings lets us entertain the idea that there is a family resemblance between what experiencers of UAP entities, fairies, djinn, and Other beings claim, and take all such accounts on multiple levels. This is a fruitful approach used by journalist John Keel and ufologist Dr. Jacques Vallee—in particular, Vallee’s idea that, regardless of their physically real/unreal status, these Others’s methods and effects mirror that of spy operations (psy-ops). Working from psychologically observable effects to possible causes seems both the most conservative and the richest stance to pursue.

Although varied in form, the spectrum of entities embody similar content/meaning/ends in their human interactions. No amount of conditioning will produce such phantasmal spectacles with predictable success. UAP and related phenomena appear to appear randomly (which, as I said, is what makes them impossible to study), and as long as most scientific organizations refuse to admit their existence there will be a poverty of potentially relevant information surrounding any unusual experience: an analysis of local geomagnetic disturbances, a change in the percipient’s brain chemistry, and, perhaps most implausibly, persons elsewhere in the world who are undergoing another kind of anomalous manifestation at the same time, or even groups of people actively trying to access another realm through occult ritual or meditation.

Such correlations are impossible to achieve; if we could somehow cross-section the world or take a snapshot of everything occurring everywhere in the globe, would we find some correlative supernatural events are transpiring elsewhere during a UAP or apparitional entity encounter?[18] And can we find functional relations between them?

The question is this: Statistically, on any given day or hour, how often do high strange anomalous events occur? And how are we to classify them?

These are impossible statistics to accumulate, but they would seem to be imperative to an understanding of UAPs and their attendant phenomena. Should such a database be established, it could find correlations that yield analyzable material. If scientists don’t even try to establish regularity to the phenomena, we can never get anywhere. Regularity establishes the basis of classification and testing. Researchers like Aime Michel, Vallee, and Keel have attempted analysis of UAP sightings by frequency and location, yielding at least some patterns related to electromagnetic earth disturbances; Keel and Vallee both strongly suggest a relationship between the percipients’ life history, psychological state, and the conditions under which the sightings occurred are the most important aspect of the phenomena. Albert Budden has further discovered deep parallels between electro-hypersensitive persons and UAP activity and personalities prone to “abductions.” I agree with this psychological/health angle, and will follow this lead as basic.

 

A CONCESSION TO THE EPISTEMIC AUTOCRACY: ANECDOTES, DAMNED ANECDOTES!

Cognitive scientists and psychologists claim to have rid themselves from Cartesian dualism and Skinnerian behaviorism, but these ideas have lived a skulking shadow-life in the psychology lab regardless. The structure of neuroscientific practice involves the experimenter’s believing the verbal accounts of a test subject’s experiences that the experimenter correlates with their objective/physical measuring devices. This yields publicly available data for inspection by expert and amateur alike.

What is needed is the third way, the mediation.

To be clear: To prove anomalous beings and phenomena don’t exist is impossible. To prove an anomalous experience changed a person’s outlook on life—including their habits, diet, and even their lifelong maladies, etc.—is proven beyond doubt, in hundreds of cases going back centuries.

Many people take this statement to mean some kind of positive assertion that “ETs” therefore must exist, but we shouldn’t assert this; we should deal with the facts, the possible, and the probable. We first need to bracket the experiences phenomenologically without regard to their physical cause, accept them in the form they are presented, and work backwards.

So all we have left is anecdotes. And from anecdotes we shall have to proceed, using logic and categorization to make sense of them. Anecdotes constituted the greater portion of human knowledge for the past 10,000 years—stories of battles, peoples’ folkways, spirit encounters, fairytales, and gossip. It was only by means of the data-organization techniques generated over the past 5 centuries that patterns could be gleaned from the raw data these stories presented. In our age of corporatized, physicalist science, these folktales of encounters are considered curiosities at best, an irritating form of non-scientific knowledge at worst. Almost always the word “anecdotal” is derogatorily cast upon UAP, NDE and psi studies. They are viewed as collections of mistaken impressions loosely gathered together. Mostly this criticism comes from our popular science boosters and professional debunkers, and not necessarily credentialed scientists themselves. Many of the actual scientists know better; they know that anecdotes are where science can begin, for all collections of anomalies that end in paradigm shifts start off as anecdotes encountered during experimentation or observation. Moreover, radical critics of scientific methodologies hold that the line between experimental conditions and anecdote is artificial; all the preparation (choosing the experiment’s participants, designing the experiment’s conditions, weeding out confounding factors) are just made in order to produce a series of anecdotes (the experimental runs) arranged and stereotyped in a strict way to reveal a certain result. The only difference between a collection of anecdotes and a scientific experiment is that a hypothesis motivates the experiment, a guess at the empirical effects of the hypothesis is made ahead of time, and a result is obtained. Studies function as little more than anecdotes that are used to back the claims of newer studies. The special status of these anecdotes—and why we are prohibited from calling them such—is that their transparency of methods and design supposedly render them replicable by other scientists.

So ahead we’ll go. In Part Two we will examine the rise of the “grey alien” and its “purpose” through witnesses’ experiences and the popular culture. Part Three will approach current theories of neuroscience with regard to quantum phenomena and especially their non-local aspects, leading to the conjectured existence of a field I call the metachoria, in which humanity has co-created from an “imaginal realm” very real experiences and energies that we are just on the edge of understanding. It’s necessary for to delve a bit deeply into some interpretations of quantum experiments and theory and their relation to the brain’s structure in producing—or rather filtering—conscious experience. After that, we will examine the many phenomena associated with dissociative identity disorder, hypnotism, seemingly impossible feats of psychophysical magic, and the holographic universe/implicate order hypotheses. The four of these combined will provide a foundation for the examination of Albert Budden’s theory of electro-hypersensitivity in certain individuals, and the anomalous experiences that can result.

 


[1] Possible exceptions are stringent evaluation of the models used in the cognitive sciences, neurology, and psychology by thinkers such as John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Hubert Dreyfus, David Chalmers, Colin McGinn, Roger Penrose, and Emily and Edward Kelly. On the more radical side, we have the philosophers of science Paul Feyerabend and Thomas Kuhn—which still are institutional critiques.

[2] Evidenced by such thinkers as G.E. Moore, Karl Popper, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, and Alasdair MacIntyre.

[3] This study will dispense with the terms UFO, flying saucer, and extraterrestrials. In their place I will substitute the “Others” because I don’t think it is useful to draw a hard distinction between the “craft,” the “entities,” their “origin realms,” “technology,” and their effects on percipients. The aberrant experiences should be considered as wholes, both on individual and collective bases. The supposition that these anomalous “presentations” may likely involve a form of “holography” or especially altered states of consciousness in the observer, noted by many investigators, has led me from this group of terms in favor of a singular one. The Others is a term meant to encompass the fact that something unknown and intelligent is interacting with human (and animal) minds. The specific form taken by the “entities” or their “craft” is less important than the fact that an interaction is taking place. As many researchers have noted, a study of folklore and history shows that the Others seem to alter their appearance based upon cultural constraints. This would mean they have an intimate knowledge of our minds, either by “study” or a form of “mind-hacking”—or that they are generated in part by us. But they have interacted with purpose nonetheless. I believe the previous generations of terms used to describe them are something we must condition ourselves to go beyond if any further progress is to be made. One may think this is an even worse nomenclature to use, but it elides the bewildering varieties of beings in favor of, hopefully, a philosophical engagement with something that could turn out to be the most significant in human history.

[4] One variation of this confluence began with Dr. Meade Layne’s “Etherian” hypothesis that was developed through trance medium Mark Probert’s communications with “space intelligences” between 1946-53. See The Coming of the Guardians: An Interpretation of the Flying Saucers as Given from the Other Side of Life, Inner Circle Press, 2009 (originally published 1958). In 1904 & 1918, poet and occultist Aleister Crowley supposedly accomplished “interdimensional” communications and evocations of extraterrestrial beings, one which became his “Holy Guardian Angel.” Crowley’s devotees John W. Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard performed Crowley’s “Babalon Working” ritual in 1946 to “rend the veil” between our realm of Malkuth (in Kabbalistic terms) and that of the Abyss, or Qlippoth (the shattered remains of material unused in Yahweh’s creation); some claim that, through their incompetency, the duo was unable to close this portal, resulting in the entire UAP “demonic invasion.” If nothing else, the coincidence of the dates 1946-1947, when UAP first appeared in vast numbers, and Crowley’s visual descriptions of the beings he contacted are interesting anecdotes.

[5] I am thinking here of the work of Aime Michel, who in the mid-1950s first (and unsuccessfully) submitted UAP sightings in France to statistical and “orthotenic” analysis; of Dr. Jacques Vallee, who did the same but came to embrace past folklore as continuous with UAP mythology and involved psychic factors; Trevor James’s and Brinsley le Poer Trench’s biological “sky people” hypothesis; John Keel, who introduced the world of occult manifestations into the mix by 1970; Dr. Michael Persinger, who attempted to explain experiences by means of electromagnetic interference with the brain’s temporal lobes; and, closer to today, the thorough work of Albert Budden in the 1990s, whose hypothesis we will explore in depth. Apart from Vallee, Keel, Persinger, and Budden there have been no theoreticians of UAP activity whose musings have come close to answering the full spectrum of the mystery.

[6] Many overly-curious investigators have tried to short-cut this problem by utilizing psychic mediums to contact the entities behind the UAP, as we shall see.

[7] In connection with UAP and “cryptids,” no physical evidence, such as an artificially created artifact, has ever passed analytical muster as something possibly from “elsewhere.” We are told about landing marks, drained car batteries, car paint damage, electrical surges that overload a grid, etc. Witnesses suffer burns, nausea, and even death from their encounters. These are obviously signs that something occurred. But no physical object has ever survived scrutiny as proof of an exotic “craft”. Further, I will purposely ignore the claims of dozens of witnesses to “crashed saucers” seen on-site or in secret government hangars, because these claims always lead into the wilderness of mirrors; they are always suspect to hoaxing, a witness’ misidentification of advanced black-budget military tech, or disinformation, simply because the government may want to project a certain narrative. Thus I am foregoing the use of any confirming/disconfirming statements by any government officials, studies, “inside sources,” etc., for the existence of UAP phenomena. These twisted tales have been covered ad nauseam elsewhere. The methods of science are all that is needed to make progress in understanding it. It’s unfortunate but the dis/misinformation techniques used by the government intelligence agencies have so thoroughly muddied the evidence trail regarding the existence of these things as to merit a complete disregard for a serious researcher. Studying the phenomenon and drawing conclusions from available public evidence is not only possible but can yield scientific breakthroughs, though warned against by certain experts.

[8] The latest coming-to-a-debunkers’-message-forum-near-you tool is to classify anomaly-experiencing person as a “schizotypal personality,” which holds, according to the JAMA Psychiatry July 2015 issue, that 1 in 20 people experience random veridical hallucinations at least once in their life; veridical in that they are not recognized as hallucinations as such. The APA has now devised this new classification as a spectrum disorder—a resting-state for humanity, in other words, with each individual falling somewhere within the spectrum. Some persons can even have many hallucinatory experiences while otherwise being completely sane and importantly, productive citizens. And thus, the pathologizing of everyday life, context-free of the hallucinations’ content and precipitating conditions, and in manageable quantificational form, marches on. On the other hand, their tired fallback reasoning for the impossibility of ETs and transdimensionals is deteriorating in the light of contemporary discoveries in quantum physics, nanotechnology, and “reservoir computing.” Recent findings such as the capacity to slow down photons’ velocity in superfrozen mediums, the ongoing research into space-warp or electromagnetic/radiation pulse drives, and the behavior of particles in zero-point energy conditions (absolute zero temperatures, 0 Kelvin, which obtain in open interstellar space) are challenging basic assumptions about the nature of matter and light.

[9] Scientific American article entitled, “Is It Possible to Measure Supernatural or Paranormal Phenomena?”

[10] Computer scientist and ufologist Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck have compiled a historical catalog of aerial anomalies, Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times. The criteria in the ancient world was quite strict to officially record a “prodigy” or “portent” in the sky; most times they were related to earthly events such as the outcome of battles, plagues, coups, etc. before being written down. This criterion held from Rome to China, and was used all the way up to the late Renaissance, but their many reports come from monasteries and lone chroniclers of towns. Vallee and Aubeck were equally strict in their choices; the recorded event had to have properties that defy descriptions of meteorological or astronomical phenomena such as meteors, bolides, temperature inversions, fata morgana, etc.

[11] Reported sightings increase and decrease in number from year to year. There is always a resting state of stigma attached to “close encounters.” In all probability this is a disconnect from what is actually going on; the sightings and close encounters may still be occurring between waves, but the stigma for the witness over going public remains, threatening one’s standing in the community. That reports suddenly begin to appear in great numbers may be a function of social snowball effects: when waves occur, they become undeniable events, whatever their real cause. And many times witnesses come forward during waves with reports of events that happened several years to even decades earlier because a modicum of “social safety” has been established by the welter of percipients revealing their experiences. The stigma is (if only temporarily) loosened.

[12] Like the children’s game “telephone,” noise can overtake and distort an informational signal (the percipient’s tale) when passed through a network, but noise has been found to be quantifiable by the number of participating nodes involved in the signal’s transference. A story told through two degrees’ separation from an eyewitness would not distort the data to a limit that would render useless its information. It depends on the veracity of the nodes. Those who are biologically-related or close friends are within the scope of the first node, with less well-known acquaintances or friends of the close friends in the second, and people within the second degree friends’ connected social groups in the third node. Beyond that, the quality of the signal—the story’s strict adherence to facts—breaks down. As per Claude Shannon’s investigations into what constitutes a signal versus a non-signal (or noise), it was found that a signal degrades into noise over time due to the second law of thermodynamics; entropy can increase over time or over distance (as measured by the number of connection points through which it travels). There is a parallel to this in neuroscience: Valid psychological studies have shown how memory slightly overwrites a recalled experience almost each time it is called up. The anomalous events with which this essay is concerned would obviously have a special place in the memories of the percipients; although they are many times in some kind of altered state of consciousness, their core recollections have been found by investigators to remain stable—which either makes them suspect as real experiences (for how can a real experience not be altered in the repeated recollection) or demonstrates that they actually occurred, having been burned into the person’s mind in a special way.

[13] This is known as the Basic Limiting Principle, as outlined by philosopher C.D. Broad.

[14] Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 3rd Edition, 1996.

 

[15] Many scientists perceive that if there were something to it, teams of experts would already be on the case. They then cite Project Blue Book and the Air Force/CIA investigations as reasons to dismiss the phenomena as solved. But these projects have amply been shown to be whitewashes. An average of 20% of the thousands of sightings were still classified as unexplained in the final reports. Furthermore, the original Air Force investigation, Project Sign (1948) supposedly concluded extraterrestrial craft were the most likely explanation. This “estimate of the situation” was deep-sixed by Air Force General Hoyt Vandenburg and the report destroyed. It is facts like these that scientists need to become aware of. There are literally hundreds of examples like this—a history of prevarication and disinformation in the scientific examination of the UAP phenomenon (which is why I’ve tried to avoid mention of the government in this essay). The reasons why would fill a book. See Richard Dolan’s UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973, Hampton Roads Publishers, 2002.

[16] The mass media cannot encompass the subtleties of experiencers’ tales either, being fueled on immediate spectacle and the utilitarian, extraverted mindset of our society. In short, anomalous experiences (and especially their aftermath) do not fit the compressive laws of mass media representation. For instance, America heard about the Heaven’s Gate tragedy in 1997 but had no inkling of the cult’s existence or beliefs. One cannot make money off anomaly witness experiences, unless you’re talking about the train of quickly-cancelled Bigfoot/UAP-chasing reality shows featuring “crack” researchers on the trail of physical evidence that never shows up—or fictions such as Twin Peaks or The X-Files, crafted from them because they always already touch a deep mythic impulse.

[17] See the works of Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, and John Keel. Perhaps in the most famous UAP evidence case, farmer Joe Simonton witnessed a silver disc landing on his property in 1961. The three black-garbed men inside the “craft”, one of them holding a bucket, gestured to him to get some water. Simonton did so and was given three wafers the men were cooking on what appeared to be a grill! They proved to be made of ordinary terrestrial grains. Simonton said they tasted of cardboard. Such a strange story would no doubt garner dismissal from 99% of the population. Yet the sight of a silver disc a few miles away by an independent witness at the same time, and Simonton’s prior and post-experience standing in the local community (“He’d never make up a tall tale, let alone a story like that”) has to this day kept the story in the realm of a “real” UAP entity encounter.

[18] If you perhaps consider conservatively that one in ten experiences makes it to an investigator and one in ten of those reaches print, the Others must be encountered at least once every day somewhere on the planet. And from reading the lot of the collected stories it would seem one might as well watch your own backyard closely instead of the skies, for many of the accounts occur on the ground close to one’s house, while camping, or on a walk and involve “vehicles” tangentially or not at all.

…in which physicalists’ protests against accepting the reality of anomalous experiences demonstrates not a world succumbing to anti-science (as they’d have you believe), but rather their own desperation at the Newtonian worldview’s obsolescence–which is steadily proceeding from within physics itself. In other words, the grounds for explaining people’s anomalous experiences expands by the day, contains elements that are “magical” yet scientifically tractable–and the arch-skeptics don’t like it. Perhaps the most common example of this reality-rupture is the UFO, which we’ll examine in depth.