Bring Out Your Bigfoot: How 'Science' is Failing at Educating the Public

Harry

Science needs to get over itself. And by 'science', I mean those people who see science as some all-powerful entity containing all the answers; those self-proclaimed members of the 'reality-based community' keen to expurgate the threatening breeze of woo-woo bearing down upon the candle of rationality.

Because science itself is just a method, not a position...right?

This post has been brewing some time, but I finally decided to get some thoughts out of my head and on to your screen after seeing this tweet yesterday by the most excellent science journalist Alok Jha, regarding the 'Yeti DNA study' that's been making news this week:

It's not much, I know. But it continues a series of remarks I've seen in recent times where any stories with the sulphurous smell of the paranormal, or at the very least the strange scent emitted by the fringes of science, are seen as taking up important column space that could be devoted to more serious science. And even worse, perhaps spreading dangerous ideas.

Another example: Back in April, we posted a story about anomalous 'lights' on Mars. NBC science journalist Alan Boyle - whom we have known and loved here at TDG for many years for his fun coverage of science, both serious and strange - covered the story as well, in a blog post titled "Bright Blips on Mars Pictures Spark a Buzz Among UFO Fans". The response from some was not so enthusiastic:

My intention here is not to demonise Emily Lakdawalla or Alok Jha - I'm a big fan of their work, and others who are working in science and/or science journalism. What I am trying to point out is an increasing trend with otherwise intelligent and eloquent science lovers to decry or demean anything that even seems remotely associated with the fringes of science, such as ufology, parapsychology or cryptozoology. Not only is it supercilious, but in some cases it may not serve science so well either - for instance with the 'Mars light' story, myself and a few others pointed out there were in fact two images with anomalous lights, but we were shouted down quickly by those who cleave to Occam; the 'light' was just a cosmic ray artefact on the camera, and the two lights were just 'a coincidence that was going to happen sometime'. A day later though, and many of those same people began excitedly back-tracking, wondering whether the 'light' was actually a reflected flash from a shiny rock. In this case, by rushing to remove any hint of an anomaly, those that love science could well have ended up failing science.

But in many ways too, such a response is understandable. There is no shortage of truly crazy theories about Mars, and anything like the 'Mars light' would no doubt bring some flaky individuals out of the woodwork, claiming it as proof of an intelligent alien civilisation on the Red Planet. Even milder responses, such as suggestions that the Curiosity rover should immediately take a detour and drive over to find out what the 'light' actually was, could be rather annoying - every movement of the rover is planned carefully and must take into consideration both dangers to the vehicle, and the science it is tasked to carry out - and some of the replies to those suggestions were indeed short and sharp.

But here's the thing: responding with annoyance, anger and resentment to these stories was a major fail.

Science educators, who are you trying to reach? Scientists, who is funding your work? If the answer to either question is the general public, then the simple fact is that the weird and the strange are your friends, not your enemies.

Alan Boyle knows that. His story about the Mars 'light' was perfect. It began by pointing out an anomaly, a curiosity, something that any normal reader would respond to with "whoah, a strange light on Mars...what the hell is that?" He then guided the reader into the science of Mars research by pointing out the likely rational explanation. Instant win for science-lovers: educating people as well as bringing focus to what is an amazing scientific endeavour, the robotic exploration of another planet.

Rather than quickly trotting out the first rational 'explain-away' they could come up with, both NASA and others could have used this story as a springboard for so much more. Thousands, maybe millions of people's eyeballs are upon you, do you know how much some people pay for that? "We think the light might just be a camera artifact, but we sure are open to other ideas! It's difficult for us drive the rover in that direction on short notice, but if we get the chance you can be sure we'll be checking out this folks. Keep a close eye on the next round of images we'll be releasing on our website and let us know if you see anything else". There, it's not that hard is it?

Another example: I have always wondered about what damage SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) did to their cause by strongly aligning themselves with the pseudo-skeptical group CSICOP around a decade ago. Two of the organisation's most public faces openly derided the UFO phenomenon, and those interested in it, in blog postings and interview appearances. This seems insane to me...there is vast interest in the general public on this topic, a perfect 'way in' for SETI to use to attract interest in their projects and/or raise funding, and instead they took a dump on their own dinner plate. Most of those truly interested in the UFO topic ended up seeing SETI as the opposition. Fail.

Another factor contributing to the issue is that for those intimately involved in science, the minutiae are important. Those things that might seem boring to others are important. But, members of the reality-based community, here's the reality of the situation: Joe Public out there is coming home from a long day of (often mindless) work, looking for a combination of entertainment and education in the one or two hours they might have to spare before going to bed and then wading through the same shit all over again. Would you like to listen to a bricklayer bemoaning the lack of understanding in the general public about the finer points of a good mortar? That's what you sound like folks. People's time is valuable, and they don't want to spend it hearing you whining about how everyone else doesn't invest enough time in what you find valuable.

So get out of your echo chamber, stop being so stodgy and pretentious about what you do, and entertain the punters while you educate them! Bring out your Bigfoot, kick-start your UFO, do what you need to get the story across and have some goddamn fun while you do it! And you know what, in the process, you might even find that some of those weird anomalies you're using to educate people have some interesting science to them as well and could be worth a closer look...

More Paranormal 'Rushing Wind' (Part 2)

For my own personal research reference, documenting another instance of the paranormal rushing wind (earlier references here and here).

From "Common Themes in South American Indian Yagé Experiences", by Michael Harner (in Hallucinogens and Shamanism, ed. Michael J. Harner, 1973):

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Of the group yagé session of the Desana branch of the Tukano Indians in eastern Colombia, Reichel-Dolmatoff (1971:173) reports:

The hallucination has several phases, and during the first the person feels and hears a violent current of air, as if a strong wind were pulling him along; the kumu [ritual leader] explains that it is the ascent to the Milky Way; in order to arrive at their final destination, they must leave this world and first find the current of communication with the winds. Now, following the Milky Way, the men descend to Ahpikondia [Paradise]. (my emphasis)

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Update 13/1/2012:

Came across this account by Sven Johansen at the BBC, on a radio program devoted to Mystical Experiences (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01...).

In 1986, I was sitting alone one evening, listening to very beautiful music. Suddenly it was as if the air changed temperature, and as if a breeze blew through the room which was closed - and I knew, immediately, I was in the presence of something more sacred and more beautiful and more vast than I had ever known. Around me was a very bright light and the next two hours I had implanted in my mind an understanding - almost as if it was plugged in, in an instant - it gave me an understanding of the purpose of life, and an understanding of my purpose in life. The overall message was: "Don't worry, it is all happening according to plan".

Things I Want to Remember

Please excuse this blog entry - it's a purely personal one just giving myself notes so that I don't forget some wonderful and funny memories of my children growing up, and will be added to over time. As such, it will largely make no sense at all to anyone but myself and my family.

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Isis

Barta for Dharma.

Phoenix

Maya

Lillytard.
Dress me out.
Tuesday bakery day.

More Paranormal 'Rushing Wind'

Once again, just documenting a case involving the buzzing/rushing wind sound that I've written about previously (such as in "Her Sweet Murmur" in Darklore Volume 1). This one courtesy of Erich, recounting his personal OBEs (with his permission), via Michael Prescott's blog:

"I was in a meditative state, flat on my back, focused on my solar plexus. Suddenly there was a loud buzzing sound and what I perceived to be a rapid increase in my pulse rate; to a ridiculous degree. There was also a sensation of a rapid rushing wind that sort of rocked my awareness out of my body. I literally thought I was having a heart attack. When my awareness actually separated from my body and somewhat chaotically floated on the rushing wind to a corner of the room I was certain that I had died.

Somehow - I have forgotten over the years how - I found my way "back" to my body. I was paralyzed for a short period of time and then was able to get up and move around. I was in a cold sweat and I was afraid to go to sleep lest it happen again.

The next few episodes were similar. Then I did some reading in the library. I think it was a Moody book, but not sure (too many years ago - early '80s). I also realized that the experiences could be generated by the meditation techniques I was practicing heavily in conjuction with martial arts at that time. They - the daoists - spoke of "soul flight" as a possible result of practice. Maybe that was what was happening. I hadn't died so it couldn't be as bad as I feared.

Then I vowed to relax and let it happen and to learn to control the effects and the journey.

...The weird thing about OBEs is that they can start from a dream state or they can deteriorate into a dream state. Dream features can remain throughout even a veridical OBE...

...The majority of my OBEs took place in the early to mid 1980's. After an OBE in which I saw my mother's death in an airplane crash - an event that happened as precognitively seen - a few months later (NW airlines flight 255 in Detroit, 1987) I stopped being able to have the experiences at will, with a few notable exceptions over the preceeding years. I believe that I have psychologically blocked the ability except when something important and preventable is going to happen to loved ones.

When I have OBEs they tend, though not always, to have precognitive content.

My first OBE was pretty much just as described in a comment above. The few were quite similar. All I can say is that there was what appeared to be a rapid increase in pulse rate (appeared because I didn't actually measure it) and a sensation of rushing wind. If you asked me ten years ago I could have more accurately filled in details. What my memory allows me to feel comfortable reporting as accurate is that the wind sound generated from within me but also surrounded my body. It was this wind that rocked my awareness out of my physical body. The rocking was a little violent, like being at the mercy of intense waves in the ocean.

The wind is a sound (emanating from the head?) and it is also tactile, not so much to the physical body, but to that awareness that is separating from it. I my case it whipsawed my right out of my physical body. The whole time the physical body was paralyzed ans sensationless, I think.

It the initial few experiences there were other loud and somewhat disturbing noises too; buzzing, humming, etc. I guess these could be described as vibrations too.

These initial experiences were chaotic - almost desperate - and frightening.

As I mentioned, over time and more experiences these symptoms declined to where they became soft background effects, but the sounds were always there.

...I emphasize that the wind and noise is only in the initial separation of body and awareness. I always felt a mild breeze throughout the experience, but nothing like the initial phase.

...For what it's worth, as I had more of these experiences, the sound and tactile sensation of rushing wind diminished in intensity, to maybe 25% of its original, though it was always there, doing its buffeting.

I have also had lucid dreams with precognitive content where there was no rushing wind sensation, but I do not consider these to have been OBEs. Additionally, I have had clairvoyant and clairaudiant experiences while completely awake and sober and not in a trance state where the wind was absent. I only associate that wind with a full fledged OBE; meaning the perception that an astral body has detached and left the location of the physical body."

Thanks to Erich for sharing.

Mrs Piper's Plain Statement

The following is one of the resources I'm using in writing my current book. I've posted it here for my own ease of access, and also in case anyone else is interested in it. The document is written by the famous 19th century medium Leonora Piper - her 'confession', as some have erroneously called it, to the New York Herald. It reads more as a woman tired of being treated like "an automaton" by the SPR, and wanting to get on with her life. For those who have surveyed the Piper evidence, there are interesting facts to be gleaned from it, such as the revelation that Mrs. Piper had previously studied French for two years - which would easily explain any French-language speaking by the control 'Phinuit' (commentary on Phinuit's ability to speak French varies in the SPR reports).

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The title of the article in the New York Herald was

MRS. PIPER'S PLAIN STATEMENT

BY LEONORA E. PIPER.

The time having presented itself when it seems possible for me to be liberated from the Society for Psychical Research, I desire to state a few facts.

I will begin by saying that publicity has always been distasteful to me. My home duties have been and are the chief source of my greatest pleasure. But as my name has been before the public for fourteen years, while my case has been studied, and as the subject of psychic phenomena has, especially of late, aroused public attention, I believe it is right for me, in resigning from the service of the Psychical Research Society, to speak frankly to the public in my own individuality, in response to the request of the New York Herald.

In the service of the Society I have acted simply as an automaton, going into what is called a trance condition to be studied for purposes of scientific investigation, and also for the comfort and help of many suffering souls who have accepted the spiritistic explanation of the words which I unconsciously spoke while in this dreamy state.

It is undeniably true that many bereaved people have been at least temporarily comforted in sorrow. This is in itself a compensation for long devotion to this work. Apart from this, I do not feel that the world at large has derived a sufficient benefit from the many years' investigation of my case to warrant my continuing in it. Besides, personal circumstances are such that it would be impossible for me to do so.

After having given so many years of my life to this work. I now desire to become a free agent, and devote myself and my time to other and more congenial pursuits.

The world to-day knows that among scientific men the opinions on psychic phenomena are many and varied. I have always maintained that these phenomena could be explained in other ways than by the intervention of disembodied spirit forces.

The theory of telepathy strongly appeals to me as the most plausible and genuinely scientific solution of the problem. To strengthen this opinion are many authentic experiences which have all been satisfactorily explained by means of the telepathic hypothesis.

I am inclined to accept the telepathic explanation of all of the so-called psychic phenomena, but beyond this I remain a student with the rest of the world.

The lamented Phillips Brooks once said, after a sitting with me, when asked him for his candid opinion on the subject:

"It may be the back door to heaven, but I want to go in by the front door."

I also prefer to go in by the front door if I am fortunate enough to enter.

I must truthfully say that I do not believe that spirits of the dead have spoken through me when I have been in the trance state, as investigated by scientific men of Boston and Cambridge and those of the English Psychical Research Society, when I was taken to England to be studied. It may be that they have, but I do not affirm it.

In leaving the service of the Psychical Research Society I wish to state as clearly and definitely as possible my true position in regard to my relations with the society and my own views on the subject, which has aroused so much public attention during the last few years.

Only by the merest chance did I discover that I possessed a power wholly unexplainable to myself and mystifying to my family and friends. It was on account of my desire to understand the phenomenon and prove its nature that I gave myself up to scientific investigation and willingly placed myself in the hands of honored scientific men, who expressed the wish for me to do so, with the full understanding on both sides that I should submit to any form of test they might see fit to apply. In doing this, however, the thought of making it a remunerative occupation never once occurred to me, although since then I have as a matter of fact done so.

I must say that after having been associated with the society for about fourteen years I have no more definite knowledge concerning the subject than when I began.

During the experience of these fourteen years innumerable questions have been asked regarding my belief, some of which I will answer here and now:

"Are you a spiritualist?"

No. I have never considered myself one.

"Have you never had any convincing proof of the possibility of spirit return?"

I cannot truthfully say that I have.

"Were you ever thrown in company with mediums or spiritualists before you took up this work?"

I never knew anything about mediums or spiritualism. In fact, the subject never had any attractions for me.

"Then why have you remained with the society so long?"

Because of my desire to ascertain if possible whether I were possessed or obsessed.

"What position do you consider that you have filled with the society?"

Simply that of an automaton.

"You say you are not a believer in spiritualism. What then, is your opinion in regard to the utterances made by yourself while in a state of trance?"

I have often thought that if I could see myself as others see me, and hear my own utterances, I should be better able to form an opinion.

Many wise and good people have had sittings with me under the auspices of the Psychical Research Society, and some of them I have asked for an explanation when I came out of the condition. But I have never heard any explanation given, which seems to me conclusive.

For my own part, I cannot see how it can be scientifically proved that we can hold communication with the so-called spirit world.

As St. Paul says, spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned, much less handled.

On the other hand, I confidently feel that there is a grand, although mysterious, reality in the phenomenon which has arrested the attention of so many profound and brilliant intellects, and to which they have given so much time and thought. However this may be, I am glad that it has been of any comfort to people in sorrow.

But I believe that truth is a higher and deeper comfort than any such anodyne.

There have been many curious incidents connected with my sittings for the Psychical Research Society. They first heard of me in the simplest fashion. My home is in Arlington Heights, in what was once West Cambridge, not far from Harvard University. I was then living in Boston. My maid of all work told a friend who was a servant in the
household of Professor William James, of Harvard, that I went into "queer sleeps" in which I said "many strange things." Professor James recognized that I was what is called a psychic, and took steps to make my acquaintance.

He at once expressed a wish for me to connect myself with the Psychical Research Society, and that is the way my work began.

At first when I sat in my chair and leaned my head back and went into the trance state the action was attended with something of a struggle. I always felt as if I were undergoing an anaesthetic, but of late years I have slipped easily into the condition, leaning the head forward. On coming out of it I felt stupid and rather dazed. At first I said disconnected things. It was all a gibberish, nothing but gibberish.

Then I began to speak some broken French phrases. I had studied French two years, but I did not speak it well. After a while my automatic utterances announced the personality of one Dr. Phinuit, said to be a physician of France who died a long time ago. This so-called "control" returned, for several years, and was the one consulted by many people and first studied by the Pyschical Research Society.

All at once this went. It was gone like the snapping of the fingers. Then for a time a literary man who had died – the one called "Pelham" in the reports of the Society for Psychical Research – was impersonated. Friends of his felt assured that he talked to them by using my voice, or by automatic writing, while I was in the trance state, and to many of them these experiences seemed a sacred revelation.

A Boston lady who had many sittings with me used to get answers not from Phinuit, but from a supposed spirit friend, who is called T. in the reports of the Society for Psychical Research. In her report for the society she said:–

"T. was a Western man, and the localism of using 'like' as a conjunction clung to him, despite my frequent correction, all his life. At my sitting on December i6, 1886, he remarked:– 'If you could see it like I do.' Forgetful for the instant of changed conditions, I promptly repeated 'As I do.' 'Ah,' came the response, 'that sounds natural. That sounds like old times.' "

Professor Peirce had a sitting with me some years ago, and he said that he received no testimony or impression to strengthen the theory of a communication with the departed. He never for one instant felt himself to be speaking with any one but me. He said that if he had seen or heard anything else he would gladly have borne testimony to it; because "a real communication with the glorious dead would surely be the greatest conceivable satisfaction to one who could not be many years separated from the state in which they abide."

After Professor Shaler saw me he wrote to the Society for Psychical Research that he was "curiously and yet absolutely uninterested." He also said "close observation of the medium made the impression on me that she is honest."

It was at a residence in Boston that I wrote automatically about a certain famous man called in the report Mr. Marte. I wrote under the so-called control of Pelham, saying, after a reference to this Mr. Marte:–

"That he, with his keen brain and marvellous perception, will be interested, I know. He was a very dear friend of X. I was exceedingly fond of him. Comical weather interests both he and I–me–him– I know it all. Don't you see I correct these? Well, I am not less intelligent now. But there are many difficulties. I am far clearer on all points than I was shut up in the prisoned body (prisoned, prisoning, imprisoned you ought to say). No, I don't mean to get it
that way. 'See here, H., don't view me with a critic's eye, but pass my imperfections by.' Of course I know all that as well as anybody on your sphere (of course). Well, I think so. I tell you, old fellow, it don't do to pick all these little errors too much when they amount to nothing in one way. You have light enough, I know, to understand my explanations of being shut up in this body, dreaming, as it were
and trying to help on science."

I do not see how anybody can look on all that as testimony from a person in another world. I cannot see but that it must have been an unconscious expression of my subliminal self writing "such stuff as dreams are made of."

When I read over the reports of the Society for Psychical Research it all seems to me that there is no evidence of sufficient scientific value to warrant acceptance of the spiritistic explanation.

Andrew Lang contributed to the proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research for February, 1900, a criticism of the spiritist theory. He said that if students reject the idea that I am an impostor or in collusion with "Mrs. Howard," "we must try to produce some other hypothesis." Mr. Lang says he is inclined to explain the remarkable things that I say in trance, as well as the confused and muddled ones, by music reading or "telepathy a trois." He says he
believes "there is something here into which it may not be a waste of time to inquire."

A physician reported for the Society for Psychical Research:– "At my first sitting with Mrs. Piper, Phinuit said, 'Get the medium to cut off a lock of your hair for me to examine and then prescribe some medicine for you.' This was done and the medicine sent to me and I used it for a time. I took a small vial of it in my pocket before visiting Mrs. Piper again, as I wished Phinuit to tell me what it was. I took it from my pocket during the trance and handed it to her, when she removed the cork and wet her finger, either from the cork or vial, and placed it to her forehead. Phinuit remarked that it was all right, correctly prepared.

"lt contained among other things uva ursi and wild carrot. I now remember asking the question:- 'Why was it necessary for you to have a lock of my hair to examine before prescribing for me when you had me right before you?' His answer was to the effect that the medicine might be examined by him after its preparation to see that it was all right. He then instanced a case he had prescribed for, where a wrong salt was used by the apothecary to the injury of the lady having the seance. I made no further experiment as to the seat of the sense of taste."

Of course it is understood that in speaking of "Phinuit" in this way it was merely for convenience, to indicate the seemingly distinct personality who talked while I was in trance.

At another time some onion was put into my mouth. It was reported by the Society for Psychical Research that "Dr. Phinuit seemed to taste the onion. The tongue moved about in the mouth and smacked on the lips for several seconds."

I had among other sittings when in New York one at the house of a doctor. The "control" was the one known as "George Pelham." An Italian lady was the sitter. It was in the report that Pelham gave the first names of both sitter and communicator, very uncommon names. The name of her dead sister was given. The Italian words for "It is
well, patience, patience," were whispered by me at the end of
the sitting.

I never called the people who came to me "my sitters" but "my clients." The upstairs room, my working room, where I used to see them in my own home, I always called the red room, because of the color of the wall paper and decoration. I also have there my little writing desk and my sewing machine.

My last impersonations were called "Imperator," "Rector" and "Pruden."

In deciding to release myself from "Imperator" I do not wish to antagonize any student of psychical phenomena,either here or in Europe, but I do not believe that the genuine spirit of science can be antagonized, nor any of those who humbly love science as Professor Agassiz loved it, ever ready to "appeal to nature" and like him, look through nature up to nature's God.

Because the spiritistic theory does not appeal to me after my experience I do not deny to any mortal a perfect right to accept it, if it seems consistent.

I have never heard of anything being said by myself while in a trance state which might not have been latent in (i) my own mind, (2) in the mind of the person in charge of the sitting, (3) in the mind of the person who was trying to get communication with some one in another state of existence, or some companion present with such person, or (4) in the mind of some absent person alive somewhere else in the
world.

Not one of us present may have been conscious of any knowledge of facts stated, yet somewhere in my mysterious subliminal consciousness, which was in abnormal activity when I was in condition, the knowledge might have rested unknown to myself in my waking life. It might in the same manner have been latent in the mind of one of those present and have been transferred by unconscious telepathy from one of their minds to my own.

The wonders of wireless telegraphy and the use of the X-ray developed of late years in the realm of physical science make me feel that it would not be becoming, for me to say what may or may not be possible transferrence of thought in the subjective mind by laws not yet formulated. My reading has not shown me that all the laws of the objective mind are understood.

I have said that if the knowledge of facts stated by me while in the condition was not latent with me or with any of those present in the room with me at the time of a sitting, it might still have, been in the mind of some other person alive somewhere m the world. It might have been latent, or it might have been active knowledge, and have been transferred to the mind of one of those in the room, then to my subjective mind, then automatically uttered or written by me. I do not find it is as hard to grasp this theory as that of a disembodied spirit telling the things.

If thought could be unconsciously transferred to me from a person in the room I do not see any reason why that person could not have received a thought message from somebody at a long distance and then telephoned it, so to speak, in thought, direct to me. If telepathy is possible between two people, why not among three, just the same as with telegraphy?

Everybody is familiar with the common coincidence of letters crossing between two people who had not written for a long time and who then wrote to each other at the same time. Distance does not seem to make any difference about such meetings, in, perhaps, the spirit; there are many instances of that sort of human wireless telegraphy; there are also instances of a third person learning by the same means of facts known to two other persons.

An interesting case of what seems like direct thought transference in the subjective mind was when I gave intelligible answers, in English, of course, while in the condition to questions asked of me by a sitter in Italian, a language I do not understand. All the communication seemed to be entirely between the subliminal thought of the sitter and myself. I sometimes think that may be the way we shall all talk to each other when in the future state.

It has sometimes happened that things I have said at a sitting were not at all consoling or important to those who were trying to satisfy their minds or hearts by these psychical experiments.

Once when an old Boston physician had a sitting with me it seems that I talked most about a pencil which was put into my hands, it having been the property of a deceased friend. When I came out of the condition he drew himself up in his chair and said, with excusable gruffness:-

"What made you talk about nothing but the top of an old pencil? Why didn't you talk about God and the angels?"

"What do you know about God and the angels?" I could not help retorting. He was good enough to smile, for of course the pencil was part of the scientific test and the other talk would not have been.

Once when another and still more famous Boston doctor came to see me, he said afterward that he "found Mrs. Piper huffy, but got on the good side of her by caressing her children."

A literary man said:– "I know Mrs. Piper is conscious, because she listened when the door bell rang." One sitter asked me if I had the face of my clock illuminated so that I could know when the hour was up, as I did not make it a practice to remain in the condition for more than an hour at a time. It has, however, at times been much longer.

Cultivated people have often been surprised at first meetings that I did not seem peculiar or unlike other women, and some of them expressed their wonder.

When I was taken to England the wife of one of the celebrated English men of science met me with the explanation to her husband:–

"Is this Mrs. Piper? You don't mean to tell me that this is Mrs. Piper!" Then to me:– "I thought you would be sure to be very fat, and like magenta color and wear friselettes!"

These words in her rich English voice made us both smile, but we afterward became good friends.

I have been so fortunate as to make good friends and pleasant acquaintances through my work. Some of them do and some do not believe that spirits have spoken through me. I do not think that even those who do have liked to see me mentioned in print, as I have been, as "the human telephone to the next world."

Such expressions were of course never used concerning me in the reports of the Psychical Research Society or in such articles as those of Mr. Lang, or of Professor Hyslop in the Literary Digest, the Arena, in Mrs. Katherine Tillman Bull's article in Harper's Magazine last year, or in any similar articles published at home or abroad. I am grateful for all thoughtful, profound or kindly intentioned articles. I am aware that I run the risk of the disapprobation of some people by voluntarily ceasing to be a "case" for study. But most students and lovers of science and humanity will, I hope, understand.

Phillips Brooks said in a public address:– "There is a belief in God which does not bring Him, nay, rather say, does not let Him come into close contact with our daily life. The very reverence with which we honor God may make us shut Him out from the hard tasks and puzzling problems with which we have to do. Many of us who call ourselves theists are like the savages who in the desire to honor the wonderful
sun dial which has been given them built a roof over it. Break down the roof; let God in on your life!"

He also said:– "How every truth attains to its enlargement and reality in this great truth, that the soul of man carries the highest possibilities within itself."

LEONORA E. PIPER.

A Mighty Rushing Wind...

In Darklore Volume 1 I wrote an article titled "Her Sweet Murmur" (available as a free sample article on the Darklore website), which examined reports of sounds heard during paranormal and mystical encounters. I also posted a quick follow-up here on my blog a little while back. So thought I'd post another.

I'm currently reading Archie E. Roy's The Eager Dead: A Study in Haunting - have wanted to do so for a long while, but it's original price and the British pound-Australian dollar exchange rate meant it was very expensive for me. Happily, I've finally got my hands on a copy. Anyhow, came across this passage while reading the book - it was written by Jean Balfour as she sat at the bed of the former Prime Minister of England, Arthur James Balfour (AJB), in his final days. The account of her death-bed vision was written in March, 1930 - I'll quote more than I need because it's fascinating material:

A.J.B. had been a little better the last two days and was, I felt, when I glanced at his attentive face, deeply contented and absorbed in listening to the music he loved with his whole heart. The nurse, having fixed in the records, had gone downstairs.

I had, at first, simply an odd sort of feeling of expectancy, as though anything might happen, and presently I became aware with a sensation of a mighty rushing wind (which was entirely subjective, as nothing around me was even stirred), that the room was full of a radiant, dazzling light. This I felt rather than saw, as a blind person might do, and I started trembling. Now it seemed to me that there were people there too; they had no concern with me, they were invisible; but I knew that they were clustered about A.J.B.'s bed, and that their whole attention was concentrated on him.

Lost Symbol Competition: Signed Darklore 4!

Decided to have a bit of fun over at The Cryptex - I've started a competition to see who can go closest to predicting the plot of Dan Brown's upcoming book (released this Tuesday).

Lost Symbol Plot Prediction Competition

You don't need to be logged-in over there, as I've opened up posting to anonymous and unregistered readers for the competition - you just need to leave a name or avatar to identify yourself, and make your guess before midnight on Saturday (UT).

Prize: A signed copy of the limited edition hardcover of Darklore Volume 4, and a signed copy of my updated Guide to The Lost Symbol.

Perhaps if you just post the plot of The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons, and substitute American icons, you could get pretty close... ;P

Action Auto

Our very own TDG admin Turner Young (responsible for the Friday news briefs...and yes, I do hold him responsible) has more talents than he broadcasts here - in the bright light of day he has also been known to write and direct film projects. 'Action Auto' is a new web-series that he wrote, shot, directed and edited with 3 friends, "about the worst used car salesmen on the worst used car lot in the worst part of Los Angeles and their desperate attempts to sell a car".

Here's the trailer for the series (consider yourself warned - NSFW language and sex jokes!!), or you can view a larger version direct at YouTube:

Great production values, it's all very professional...where's Turner Young and his camera when Bigfoot and UFOs come knocking?!

Another TV Synchronicity / Coincidence

I've noted before about some television synchronicities (or just plain coincidences) that have occurred. Last night another one: I switched on the TV and 'The Big Bang Theory' was on. I pointed out that one of the characters looked like Johnny Galecki/'David' from the Roseanne sitcom, and that I hadn't seen him in anything else for at least 10 years. After the show finished, we decided to watch Will Smith's superhero movie 'Hancock' - in which Johnny Galecki makes an appearance. Nothing for 10 or more years, and then twice in the space of an hour. Coincidence, or glitch in the matrix?

Isn't it nice...

Isn't it nice that people like John Bolton just lost their influence. Yes, it's a tough old world out there, and governments all over the world can be plain devious and nasty. But it's time to figure out how to move past brinkmanship...because we're at a stage now that when someone moves past the edge, it's not a small thing. Countries can now be wiped out.

If any Americans think that John Bolton is on the money, pretend he's a Chinese or Iranian diplomat, and reverse the names of the countries. It's a good way of seeing what the rest of the world has seen for the past 8 years.