Apples

So I figured out what my most consice summary of the whole ball of wax is, so here goes:

“Paranormal is to us what the falling Apple was to Newton”
You can get bogged down in the details of it all, but I think that’s the summary.
Good luck everyone!

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A Long Road Behind Me, A Longer Road Ahead.

Hey there, thanks for stopping by. I’m writing this post as something of a bookend to this section of my survey of the paranormal. It basically just summarises where I’ve come from and what I suspect now. Because much of this is speculation, I’m not trying to convince anyone else of my thoughts here. I’m just summarising them for myself, and anyone else who finds them interesting. I’m probably at a disadvantage to other people who have tasted high strangeness because that  gives them more information of the various phenomenon directly.

First Stop, Electronic Voice Phenomenon

I got on the road in early 2005 when the movie White Noise was released. I saw a trailer for the movie and then went to the film’s website to learn more about EVP (electronic voice phenomenon). At the time I only had a passing interest in the paranormal. Probably no more than the average person, but the idea that EVP might be able to provide some sort of tangible proof of life after death or ghosts really hooked me.

After seeing that movie, I sought out more so I started listening to podcasts that dealt with it. Haunted New Jersey was one. Anything Ghost was another. Mysterious Universe in its first incarnation was another. I also enjoyed Binnall of America, where the host  seemed to be travelling down the same road as me, although probably a couple stops ahead. I joined the AAEVP and even went to one of their conventions.  Basically I was just gathering information, surveying the scene, and trying to find some handle I could hold on to. In the end, all the information that I gathered didn’t really lead me very far. With evp, anything that was clear enough to be real could have been hoaxed (this comes up a lot), so you couldn’t really use it to prove it to someone else. Anything that someone else record could have been hoaxed, so it becomes difficult to rely on other people’s data.

Army of Skeptics

So as I was listening to the paranormal podcasts, I also listened to a bunch of skeptical podcasts. Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Skepticality, Point of Inquiry, and a few others. Those were sometimes good, but sometimes really hard to listen to. I often really disliked the tone of the conversations. The often-sneering, derisive, dismissive tone towards people who had an interest in the paranormal just put me off. To some degree it reminded me  of the movie Boiler Room, which dealt with a bunch of penny-stock brokers, who use a variety of verbal techniques to get people to let the brokers “invest” their money. Actually I think the salesperson analogy is pretty close. In this case, however, they’re not selling dubious financial products, they’re selling materialism, the idea that there is only physical.

Intelligent Design?

I don’t really remember when or why I started thinking about intelligent design (ID). I think it was probably mentioned on one of the skeptical podcasts, so I probably just decided to check it out. At some point, because of the schlocky feeling I got listening to the debunkers, I started investigating other topics solely because the debunkers hated them. I think that was probably how I started thinking about ID.

At this point, I’m still fascinated by ID as a concept. For me ID, as it is applied to biological systems,  starts (and doesn’t go too much further) with DNA.  Just the idea of a binary code that controls how the human machine is built suggests a coder. Throwing in systems upon systems that try to make sure that things are built and operate correctly only reinforces the concept of software engineering.

I should try to be clear here. I don’t think that evolution is without merit. Yes, there are probably chains of fossils that show the changing properties of animals over time. Random mutation/natural selection sounds reasonable to me as well. But it seems like the parties arguing in this debate are yelling past each other, very loudly. Before we had DNA to look at, it was perfectly reasonable to look at physical structures in showing evidence for evolution. When we began to work out DNA, that code needs to be tied into the physical structures. But even then, I don’t want to see the machine code. I want to see the source code. And that’s where the debate lies. Did the machine code spring from nothing over time, or is there source code?  For me the question isn’t a biological question at all, so the debate over teaching ID in school or evolution in school is somewhat silly. Evolution is the main theory now, so that’s what should be taught. But an honest look at the controversy brings an opportunity to discuss the philosophical issues of science, and in turn, provides an opportunity to get a better understanding of what science is.

UFOs

At present,  my main interest falls mainly into the UFO phenomenon. Even when I was in my original ghost/evp phase, UFOs would be mentioned, so its always been a part of the  quilt, but for me, it seems like when you’re dealing with UFOs, you’re dealing with the whole ball of paranormal wax, especially when you throw in the abduction experiences.  Far too often, people associate UFOs with the extra-terrestrial hypothesis, that is the idea that UFOs are structured craft carrying aliens that are travelling here through space, much the same way that I get in a metal subway car to get to work in the morning. Its a reasonable hypothesis I guess, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

The ETH

Because the ETH is probably the go-to explanation in popular culture to explain UFOs, I found Ann Druffel’s book, Firestorm, to be useful. In the book, Druffel is looking at Dr. James McDonald’s, work on UFOs. Dr. McDonald was a atmospheric physicist and professor at the University of Arizona . Druffel sumarizes McDonald’s thoughts on the ETH on page 125 as being the “least unsatisfactory hypothesis”. But least unsatisfactory still sounds unsatisfactory, and it is. I think McDonald realized that the eth was the least worst explanation that we can get to without upsetting the applecart of materialism, as least materialism as we know it.

Consciousness

“What does Consciousness have to do with UFO’s?” you may ask. Well, quite a bit it seems. Very often when reading stories of abductees you see reports of grey aliens taking the abductee out of their home, through the wall, into some craft. The abductee reports feeling sort of tingly as they go through the wall or window.  That feeling was also described by Robert Monroe, as he went through the walls of his home during one of his early out of body experiences. But Monroe’s experience was brought on my an OBE, not an abduction, where he seemed to be projecting his consciousness outside of his body. He’s also reported seeing other beings in his experiences, and being able to travel quickly over vast distances. Clearly, if that world exists, its not material as we know it.

So that’s the handle I was looking for, slippery though it may be. The idea is that the whole ball of wax has to do with consciousness, and that consciousness doesn’t appear to be a by-product of the brain, but something separate, and something real. I guess that makes me a dualist.

Conspiracy and Disinformation

Where would the paranormal be without conspiracy? It drives some people, and to be honest, I don’t think you can be involved in the field for any length of time without believing that there is some level of conspiracy going on. The question is what is the conspiracy and who is conspiring? Those are big questions and I don’t really know the answers to them, but it seems like there are lots of conspiracies out there and a ton of of disinformation flying around, but I still think it has something to do with consciousness.

The thing about disinformation, and I’m by no means an expert in this area,  is that it is designed to get you looking in the wrong direction so that you waste your time on searching for a solution where none can be found. Its a trick used to divert attention. In the case of UFOs, I think that whoever is behind the whole thing, is using the ETH to distract attention away from the study of consciousness. I suspect that the ETH was a perfectly reasonably hypothesis to explain objects in the sky with unusual characteristics.  They fly fast; they outmaneuver conventional aircraft, so if we can’t match their abilities, they must be from somewhere else. Ok, fine.  But that only takes into account some of the visually observable characteristics. It doesn’t explain the traveling through walls, the telepathy, the missing time. Maybe the ETs have some sort of technology that allows faster than light travel, gravity neutralization, and telepathy, or maybe they just aren’t physical as we think of physical. I suspect that at some point, whoever is doing the planning of the conspiracy, figured out that they could use the ETH for disinformation. If you can get people looking elsewhere, the points between their retina on one end and the furthest reaches of the universe, they’re less likely to look in the other direction, from the back of their retina into the mind, wherever that is.  Throw in some highly credentialled military types (seeking anonymity, of course) to leak above-top-secret info to sincere paranormal investigators, and you’ll have people running around, chasing paper trails and seeking more anonymous sources until the cows come home.

Why?

The question of “why?would they seek to do this is important.  I think the clue goes back to the use of disinformation as a way of making people look in the wrong direction. In this case I suspect “they” are getting investigators to look to outer space, when they should be looking in the other direction (inner space). To me that implies that “they” are doing something that they don’t want you to see in the place where they don’t want you to look; i.e. they are fucking with your mind, literally.

Linux and the Command Line Interface

So I’ve finally stumbled upon, or better yet, stumbled upon and allowed myself to begin reading, blogs written by abductees, contactees, and experiencers. I’ve been listening to Mike Clelland’s hidden experience podcast and reading his blog. Through it I’ve stumbled upon a number of others that I doubt I would have otherwise seen including Lucretia Hart‘s (pen name) blog.  Then there is also the Luminosity blog from Dan Mitchell and just all the stories out there on contactees, abductees, and experiencers. There seems to be a situation where something has the ability to infiltrate our brains and interact with us on a level that isn’t necessarily physical.

I mentioned Linux in this sections heading because the Linux operating system is an interest of mine, but there is an analogy that I think can be made to the abductee experience. With many programs that operate in the Linux/Unix environment, you can interact with the programs in two ways. The first way is through the visual interface. This is what you see on the screen. You navigate through it using the mouse and mainly use the keyboard to put in information. In Excel, for example, you can enter values into two cells, and then enter in a formula in the third cell to calculate the sum of the two other numbers. To do this you need to first open up excel, then enter in values and a formula, and then you get an anwer.

In Linux programs, there is often a second way to use the program, and that is through the command line interface (CLI). The command line interface doesn’t require you to open up the visual interface that you see in something like excel, with its neat grid of boxes. With the CLI you just type commands and data or references at push enter. The system takes your commands and automatically uses the underlying programming to work on the data and gives you an answer.  If you know the commands to use, many linux users prefer to just type the commands rather than open the visual interface because its faster.

I suspect the abduction phenomenon uses something along these lines to do abductions. Its like whoever is doing the abduction knows how to open our CLI and execute commands.  I don’t pretend to know who or what is doing this. It could be “aliens”, although this type of alien wouldn’t need to be physical. If I take the computer/linux analogy further it makes me think that we’re all living in something akin to a video game. The rules of operation are basically pre-determined by a programmer. Figuring out those rules is basically the job of science. But from time to time, someone with admin access privileges is able to insert code,  or additional files, or modify your access privileges.

At some point, I suspect governments/militaries started figuring this out.  The stories surrounding MKUltra certainly point that direction. Unfortunately, I also don’t know how to answer the why question. Maybe its for money, power, sex, or some religious reason. Perhaps they are being controlled by forces in the next realm. But what it suggests is that people NEED to start taking better control of their mind and the CLI that controls it. As best as I can tell, that means at least starting a program of meditation, and perhaps beginning to look at lucid dreaming and out of body experiences.

So that brings me to where I am now. I’ve quit my cable tv subscription and think its one of the best things I’ve done. Watching cable tv at the airport or a friends house now shocks me to see how blatantly people are being manipulated at the emotional and intellectual level by the content provided by the talking heads. It would have been hard to see that without the distance provided by quitting tv. I’ve also started meditating. It is really quite difficult to sit for 5 minues (let alone 30 minutes) and keeping your mind empty of monkey mind thoughts, but I suspect its the required first step in reclaiming my consciousness.

Its been a weird trip. In the end I feel like all of these paranormal topics point us towards consciousness and say that we need to examine it outside of what we normally consider physical reality. As Alex Jones’ tagline says, “There’s a war on for your mind”. I think that’s true literally. I’m not exactly sure who is doing the fighting, or why, but I don’t like being a part of someone else’s fight without having a say in it.

I think this will probably be the last post in this blog. With the idea that the whole ball of wax is tied into consciousness, it will probably require a lot more work to make little progress, and hence not really be worth writing it down, although who knows. Also, the world seems to be changing fast as we go into 2012. I don’t really think Niburu is coming to hit us, and have no idea if the Mayans have a party planned for the 12/21/12, but I suspect that changes are afoot in the next realm, and the shadow of those changes will cross our paths in the pretty near future. What else to say? Take care of yourselves, your family, and friends and neighbors. As Malibu Sue on WLIR (among other more notable rockers) used to sign off,

“See you in the next world, Don’t be late”

David Cherniak’s: UFOs: A Secret History on netflix

I just saw that David Cherniak’s documentary entitled UFOs: A Secret History is now streamable on Netflix, for those interested.

If you get a chance to view the second disc somewhere, I found that more worthwhile than the first. It is mostly extra footage discussing the abduction phenomenon from different points of view and I thought it was really pretty good.

 

Anyone else have a weird feeling?

I have a weird, ominous feeling today. Too much coffee? Not enough sleep? To much halfpasthuman.com? All of the above or none?

Imbrogno, Imbroglio?

First let me say that I generally like what I’ve heard from Philip J Imbrogno.

I enjoy hearing him interviewed on podcasts. He generally seems to have a fairly clear thought process and has certainly been involved in researching the paranormal for a long time.

But I was listening to a recent interview of Imbrogno by Mike Clelland. In it, Dr. Imbrogno said that he had devised a way (device, plans?) to detect openings and closings of portals?

Huh? Did he just say that? That seems like quite a feat to just let fall into a conversation and not talk about it again. I think I’ve heard him talk about it before on other shows (Paratopia or Red Ice maybe?) Anyway, the comment raised a red flag for me because it seemed like it was just too spectacular not to be the main part of the conversation. I’ve heard about djinn and ultraterrestrials elsewhere, but this guy has plans for a device that can detect windows to other universes or dimensions or timelines …or something. This is something I want to know more about. Do the folks at CERN know about this? Maybe it could save them some time.

Anyway, in the podcast, Mr. Clelland introduced Imbrogno as a Phd.  The whole device thing seemed like a stretch to me, and it was a stretch that I didn’t think that someone with a PhD in a hard science (theoretical chemistry) would just lob out there. Most of the PhDs that I’ve come across are pretty precise in their language, even when it comes to things in the paranormal.

So that’s one thing. The other thing that has me a bit confused is that he just got his PhD.  Fair enough I suppose. You get it when you get it. I don’t have one, so who am I to judge. But Imbrogno has been writing books on the paranormal for years. From what I’ve read over at Uncommondescent.com (Intelligent Design blog) having an interest in ID will really put the Kibosh on your career. Are UFOs, Djinn, and ultraterrestrials really that far away ID?  I have no idea how entrenched in materialism the doctoral committees at MIT are, but I would imagine that this sort of thing would make them think twice. Maybe they’re cool with VERY outside interests, as long as it doesn’t affect your calculations.

So then I was curious. What did Mr. Imbrogno do his thesis on? I was recently able to find Paul H Smith’s (remote viewer) dissertation on physicalism online at the University of Texas at Austin library website.  Maybe I can find Dr. Imbrogno’s also.

So I went to MIT’s library site, and searched for MIT Theses by author keyword Imbrogno. Nothing came up. I guess it’s not really that weird. It took UTA a while to post Smith’s paper, so maybe there’s a stack of theses in someone’s inbox just waiting to get added into the library system.

But then when I search through the listing of other theses published in 2010, and then enter the author’s name into MIT’s general search engine, most of the time there is some sort of reference to that person. I get nothing when I search for “Imbrogno”.

MIT’s registrar referred me to the degreeverify.com site to confirm if a student was enrolled at the school and degrees are received. degreeverify.com seems to require the birth date for the person you’re looking to verify, and I don’t know his birthday, so its tough to check. I also emailed a staff member at the chemistry department to see if they could shed any light, but haven’t heard anything back.

So who knows? I’m not really sure where to go from here. If you have any input, feel free to comment in the comment area. I’m probably making more of an issue than it needs to be, and I’ll be more than happy to apologise in a subsequent post if someone can clarify this for me.

WE id — no anonymous sources

So this is something that I’ve been kicking around upstairs for a while.  One of the problems that I’ve noticed in the whole ufo circus is people using anonymous sources way beyond being useful, and then getting burned by it.

James Carrion has talked about this more than anyone else I’ve read, although I would imagine that there are others. Carrion has talked about it, and wont even take anonymous information, which he talks about in this post,

Basically I think there is only one way to deal with anonymous information:

You can accept anonymous information, but if you do, you cannot use it unless you can verify it with a separate source willing to go on the record. Basically you can use the info for research purposes, i.e. as a lead, but you can’t talk about the info in public. You can tell your “source” that if he or she won’t go on the record, you can’t publicly talk about it until you can use that person’s name and verify their credentials.

There’s certainly a long history of researchers being told fantastic stories by highly regarded people, only to have that information later shown to be false, after the story has muddied the water for everyone else. It should stop.

I should note that I am anonymous, for all practical purposes. But I’m not claiming any special experience or knowledge. I use this blog mainly to comment on what I see in ufology, and what I’d like to see.

Comments are welcome. And feel free to use the above graphic on your own site if you support the idea.

Another winner…:(

This week’s winner for worst search term to arrive at my blog:

“make money from ufology”

I don’t really expect to get a lot of views from this blog. I don’t do much of anything to promote it, and I don’t have as much to say as many of the bigger names in ufology. But I guess it just disappoints me when one of the few people to view the blog is looking for a way to make a buck off of the subject. Sigh..

I’d really much prefer to have them come here searching for something like, “interesting ufo projects.” Maybe I’ll add that as a tag in my wishlists.

Cheater!?

Recently had a hit on this blog from someone using the following search term:

“mufon field investigator test answers”

Jiminy Christmas, its an open book test. If you want to want to be a field investigator, at least go through the meager training program that they’ve set up. What benefit is it to cheat?

Ufology: Clusterf*ck

Wow! That’s really all I can say at this point. Wow! Aside from the general freakshow that is normally ufology there’s now this.

I’m referring to the latest series of posts over at James Carrion’s blog Follow the Magic Thread. It began with the post entitled Strange Bedfellows, continued with How to Take Down a UFO Organization 101, and finished (so far) with MUFON Overboard — Save Our Ship.

I really didn’t quite get it when Carrion left MUFON. I wrote about my thoughts here. But no big deal, people can do what they want. But after reading Carrion’s recent posts, and a possible draft of the contract signed between MUFON and Bigelow as shown on the UFO Updates List, I think I would have been running out of their as fast as I could as well. Jiminy Christmas.

If half of the things that Carrion says are true and I were still a member of MUFON, I’d leave immediately. It seems like some of the terms in the contract could easily put MUFON in breach of their stated goal of the “Scientific Study of UFOs for the Benefit of Humanity.” I would imagine that would put their status as a non-profit in jeopardy. Contracting with (selling your soul to) a private enterprise doesn’t seem to benefit humanity in general, especially when that enterprise gets all your data. At this point (and any other point, really) I’m just an observer, looking down at the circus from a nearby hillside, but this seems like it could be the end of MUFON, at least in its current form.

Bigelow

OK, now on to Bigelow. If the contract (from UFO Updates) put forward by Bigelow, and signed by MUFON is in fact what was actually signed, I don’t know who is a bigger fool, Bigelow or MUFON. Why in the hell would you pay $56,000 a month to have access to MUFON’s files and special access to in-process investigations. What the hell has MUFON ever actually done??? They go into a ufo investigation, like a bunch of crime-scene-investigators trying to do forensic analysis. The thing is, we can measure the distance a certain caliber bullet travels through wall in a lab, and then apply that to shooting investigations in the field. Unfortunately, MUFON doesn’t have a lab to perform bench tests on UFOs. So what results did he really think he was going to get? Will they be any better than what MUFON and the other organizations have gotten over the last 60 years? As I’ve talked about before and Nick Redfern bemoaned on Binnall’s year-end wrapup, at this point we’re just filling up filing cabinets. Listen to Stan Friedman for Pete’s sake, “Progress is made by doing things differently” (actually more of a paraphrase, but you get it.)

On the other hand, if Bigelow was trying to damage the organization then, “Well played Mr. Bigelow, well played.”

Try, Try, Triangulation (Wishlist Item #4)

Ok, so if I had an extra $56k burning a hole in my pocket, here’s what I’d do. And this is going on my wishlist. Heck, for $56k, I’ll learn how to do it, and then do it. You could probably just subcontract it out to someone in India for 10 grand, but there’s a ton of unemployed programmers here that would probably be happy to work on it.

Everyone knows that one of the difficulties in UFO sightings, is judging size and distance. The best way to be able to get that information is to have multiple witnesses, observing the same object and accurately reporting what they see.

So what do we need? What can step in and help with this? Technology of course. Which technology? Smartphones and Apps!!

So you have everyone in MUFON with a smartphone get this new app. The App does a few things.

  1. Tracks your location.
  2. Takes photos.
  3. Records the direction of the camera.
  4. Sends an instant message to all the other app users within a 5-mile radius to get them to go outside and look up in the sky and take pictures if they see anything interesting. They’ll probably bring a few non-MUFON friends.
  5. Sends the photos back to a central server automatically with a timestamp and the other pertinent information including gps location and direction.

The benefit of this approach is that it takes advantage of MUFON’s primary strengths, and that is its size and name recogniztion. MUFON has actually had a lot of members, especially if you include  non field investigators. Most of the time they really only get to look at reports on MUFON’s database or read the MUFON Journal. This would allow them to actually make a contribution without having to do virtually anything except take a few timely photos. Its basically an ad-hoc seismology network, except that instead of taking readings of vibrations its taking photos.

Well, I guess that’s my rant for the day. It comes more from a feeling of disappointment than anger. I’m disappointed that this will probably do real damage to the main organization where normal people could try to act on their interest in the UFO phenomenon and maybe make a contribution. Although in the end, maybe this needs to happen to make room for someone else from outside to do something new. Greg Bishop also talks about this in the above-linked episode of Binnall of America Audio; he basically says real progress will only come from outside the field itself. I wish he were wrong, but I suspect he’s right.

To Gino S

So I saw a comment over at Blog De Void that I wanted to respond to. I ended up typing it in and then that Damn Herald Tribune refresh kicked in and erased it.

So I thought I would try to rewrite it here

Anyway, here’s the link to the original post.

http://devoid.blogs.heraldtribune.com/11515/ufos-digging-our-nukes-is-not-news/

I am responding to GinoS’s comment at 10:26 pm.

Gino, I’m glad you got Leslie Kean’s book. In the end I think one of the main contributions of that book will be to make an impact on journalists and former journalists like you. I’m glad you’re willing to admit that you’re fascinated by the subject.

I’m also happy that you’re skeptical. This field needs honest skepticism. It also needs civility, and you seem to have that too.

I’m also glad that you’ve developed a mental model for this phenomenon. That will come in useful.

Here’s what I hope.

I hope you’ve got endurance and patience.

I hope you’ve got endurance to stick with your investigation of this phenomenon. Its takes a long time just to figure out the history.

I hope you’ve got the patience to be able to sift through all the crap (no really, there’s a lot) that you will have to sift through until you find a nugget that you can plug into your mental model. Make sure you watch how everyone reacts to reports of a sighting, the academics, the governments, military, contactees, skeptics, the mainstream media, the blogosphere, and ufology.

Then I hope you’re able to adjust your model, or scrap it and start over.

Good Luck!

Stepping down from my box.

—-

So reading his post and thinking about my response has made me think more about my ride through this whole thing. I may work on a few posts about where I started from and where I am now in terms of my thinking on the whole issue. That will probably be the end of this blog, more or less, because I don’t really know how much more I’ve got to say that matters. I guess none of it really matters, but its helped me express what I’m thinking about it so I guess its been useful to me.