For those that enjoyed my essay on near-death experiences throughout history (expanded upon in my book Stop Worrying, There Probably is an Afterlife), the talk above, "Near-Death Experience and the Origin of Afterlife Beliefs", delivered by Gregory Shushan at the 2016 IANDS conference, will likely be of interest.
Whatever their source (biological, psychological, and/or metaphysical), NDEs are unquestionably part of human experience. While they share similar themes wherever they occur, no two descriptions are exactly alike. As with any experience, NDEs are filtered through our layers of culture, language, and individuality. The interpretation of the phenomenon as indicative of survival after bodily death, however, appears to be universal. Accounts from around the world and throughout history show that NDEs regularly impact beliefs about the afterlife, despite cross-cultural differences. This presentation addresses their role in the formation of afterlife beliefs; the relationship between NDEs and cultural expectations; and the varying modes of interpretation and assimilation of these experiences in different societies. The argument that NDEs are a driving force behind religious beliefs aligns well with the conference’s focus on the transformative aspects of NDEs, and how they are integrated into people’s lives.
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week. Feel free to share anything interesting!
- Movie Review: Arrival
- News Briefs 14-11-2016 (Monday)
- Speculations on the Physics of Alien Spaceship Propulsion
- News Briefs 15-11-2016 (Tuesday)
- Gary Lachman Discusses His New Book "Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson"
- News Briefs 16-11-2016 (Wednesday)
- Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast
- News Briefs 17-11-2016 (Thursday)
- News Briefs 18-11-2016 (Friday)
Have a good weekend!
“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.”
- The opening scene of every space disaster film.
- Superlattice single-atom data storage?
- Follwing the secret map of animals.
- Pluto’s slushy, underground ocean.
- Rehearsing for the apocalypse.
- What lies between galaxies?
- Hijacking photosynthesis.
- Subtropical Siberia.
- Mining alien life?
- Water 2.0.
Quote of the Day:
“The universe is an intelligence test.”
- Mexican pyramid is built on a pyramid inside a pyramid.
- Iran's 'Great Wall' is now buried and forgotten.
- Stephen Hawking puts an expiry date on humanity.
- President-Elect Donald Trump calls InfoWars' Alex Jones to thank his followers for their support, and promise he'll be on the show in the next few weeks.
- Fake election news outperformed real news on Facebook in the final months of the US election.
- What secrets can you uncover if you hit the NSA with Freedom of Information Act requests about Area 51?
- The New York skyscraper that spies on the UN, IMF, World Bank and at least 38 countries.
- China's space station now has insects, weeds and rice on board. Not big on housekeeping then I'm guessing?
- The CRISPR gene-editing tool is now being used on humans.
- DNA-editing breakthrough could fix 'broken genes' in the brain, heart and liver.
- 'Resurrection' experiment in India blocked by officials.
- 'Psychic powers' scientific paper pulled from journal after criticism. (See also my write-up on the paper when it first came out.)
- Will another paranormal challenge prove psychic ability?
- Top ten reasons to believe in Bigfoot.
- 3D-printed 'spider dress' defends your personal space.
- Man dissolved in acidic water after trying to soak in Yellowstone National Park hot pool.
- UFOs fly in front of the Moon.
- Sicilian town plagued by mysterious fires turns to science, the Church, and the law, in a search for answers.
Quote of the Day:
We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it’s not easy.
Our good friend Graham Hancock appeared once again on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast yesterday, joined by 'renegade scholar' Randall Carlson for a three and a half hour discussion on ancient cataclysms and lost civilisations. I still haven't got through the whole thing (3.5 hours!), but what I've listened to so far has been a fun and enlightening discussion touching on many of the issues raised in Graham's most recent book, Magicians of the Gods (available from Amazon US and Amazon UK).
- Earthquake lights spotted during recent New Zealand disaster.
- Humanity is not ready for alien contact.
- World-renowned genius speculates on the physics of alien spacecraft propulsion.
- Intelligent aliens are likely machines.
- "Radioactive Boy Scout" who tried to build a nuclear reactor in his back shed when 17, dies at age 39.
- Physics doesn't care who was elected President.
- MIT researchers break plant-human communication barrier.
- First home brain implant lets 'locked-in' woman communicate.
- Why Catholics built secret astronomical features into churches to help save souls.
- Photos reveal Daesh's near-complete destruction of ancient city of Nimrud.
- Earliest known stone version of the Ten Commandments goes up for auction.
- Mysterious medieval giant woman found in Polish cemetery.
- Happy 50th birthday Mothman!
- Researchers want to unravel the mystery of Machu Picchu and the Nazca geoglyphs.
Quote of the Day:
Culture replaces authentic feeling with words. As an example of this, imagine an infant lying in its cradle, and the window is open, and into the room comes something, marvelous, mysterious, glittering, shedding light of many colors, movement, sound, a transformative hierophany of integrated perception and the child is enthralled and then the mother comes into the room and she says to the child, “that’s a bird, baby, that’s a bird,” instantly the complex wave of the angel peacock iridescent trans-formative mystery is collapsed, into the word. All mystery is gone, the child learns this is a bird, this is a bird, and by the time we’re five or six years old all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words. This is a bird, this is a house, this is the sky, and we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of dis-empowered perception.
Gary Lachman is one of my favourite writers on the history and philosophies of esotericism (and we're lucky enough to have him contribute here at the Grail periodically on his personal blog). So I really enjoyed sitting down and watching this recent talk Gary gave at Watkins Books in London about his latest book Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. It's got a lovely 'up-close' personal feel to it, as if I was sitting on a folding chair in the front row listening to Gary chat about things.
Gary Lachman, Wilson's friend and biographer, discusses his new book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, and take the audience on a tour of Wilson's central ideas.
2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of the existential classic The Outsider, the book that in 1956 threw its twenty-four year old author, Colin Wilson, into fame and achieved worldwide success. Between then and his death in 2013, Wilson wrote an enormous number of books exploring the edgier areas of human psychology - such as his groundbreaking history The Occult (1971) - with gripping analyses of sexuality, criminality, consciousness, the paranormal, and mystical experience, as well as novels like Ritual in the Dark, The Mind Parasites, and The Space Vampires.
- Mesmerising: the fantastical history, mysterious healing power and emergent neuroscience of hypnosis.
- How the rise of mirrors in the 15th century shaped our idea of the individual.
- The blood of the young might really be an anti-aging elixir, researchers say. Relieved we don't live in a Dystopian future where the super-rich might become vampires taking blood from our youth...
- How global warming is awakening ancient deadly diseases.
- The broken technology of ghost hunting.
- The latest Mysterious Universe podcast features Joshua Cutchin discussing reports of supernatural scents and otherworldy odors
- The real risks of artificial intelligence.
- Dark energy could force the universe to gradually unzip itself. *cue wah guitar*
- The benefits and downsides of mind-controlled machines.
- How your brain decides without you.
- What the Aztecs can teach us about happiness and the good life. "Rip people's still-beating hearts from their body"?
- Massive, 1500-year-old stone complex discovered near the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.
- Israel to launch a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls.
- "We couldn't believe our eyes": A lost world of shipwrecks is found.
- Millennials on spirit quests are ruining everything about ayahuasca.
- Strange brew: 'DMT cinema' goes mainstream.
- A monolith on Mercury?
- Image of the Day: Spaceship in front of the Supermoon.
Quote of the Day:
The problem is not to find the answer, it is to face the answer.
When I saw the new 'alien first contact' movie Arrival last week, one particular element that made me smile was seeing the alien spaceship leaving Earth basically by dissolving into a cloud or mist. Readers with Fortean tastes will likely be familiar with tales of UFOs disappearing into clouds. For example:
On many occasions UFOs are reported to become gradually engulfed in a vapor cloud. One such case can be found in James McCampbell's "Effects of UFOs upon people": A highway patrolman saw a strange object sitting on the ground in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It was early morning on a wintry day. Suddenly, the object became surrounded by a mist. Then a brilliant glow appeared as the object rose off the ground.
A doctor saw two large disk-shaped objects merge into one, and the single object sent a beam of light in his direction. It vanished with a sort of explosion, leaving a cloud that dissapated slowly.
This 'dissolving into mist' factor - along with other elements from UFO sightings - have been discussed at length by some UFO researchers as possible clues to they way in which they travel (although doing so does tend to make the perhaps erroneous leap from 'UFO' to 'spaceship'). However, there seems little consensus, with explanations for the link ranging from the effects of plasma propulsion, to reduced atmospheric pressure surrounding the UFO.
So I was interested today to read polymath Stephen Wolfram's length discussion of his contribution to the science in Arrival. Wolfram covers a lot of ground, but at one point he does appear to discuss his idea for how the aliens might achieve interstellar travel (an idea which he came up with overnight, surprising even himself):
Maybe the spacecraft has its strange rattleback-like shape because it spins as it travels, generating gravitational waves in spacetime in the process... The gravitational waves would lead to a perturbation in the structure of spacetime, [and] the spacecraft somehow “swims” through spacetime, propelled by the effects of these gravitational waves. Around the skin of the spacecraft, there’s “gravitational turbulence” in the structure of spacetime, with power-law correlations like the turbulence one sees around objects moving in fluids. (Or maybe the spacecraft just “boils spacetime” around it…)
So there you go UFO researchers, there's another possibility to add to your list of propulsion theories!
There's much more of interest in Wolfram's blog post, I recommend it for anyone interested in high-concept scientific thinking about the alien contact scenario. And one particular passage stood out to me, not so much because of the 'alien' concepts discussed, but a very human one. These days, it often seems to be the case that 'speculation' is a no-no in scientific thinking - "stick to the facts". But Wolfram points out how liberating it felt for him to explore how 'the impossible' might be achieved:
It’s fun for an “actual scientist” like me to come up with stuff like this. It’s kind of liberating. Especially since every one of these science fiction-y pieces of dialogue can lead one into a long, serious, physics discussion.
I think there has to be room for plenty of speculation in science - it's just a case of communicating clearly to others that you are doing so, rather than suggesting something as a certainty.
Further reading: Your Choice of Starships (at Centauri Dreams)
A new paradigm....
- Daesh have reportedly bulldozed two of the world's most important ancient cities, including the ziggurat of Nimrud.
- Crusades-era hand grenade discovered in Israel.
- To avenge the Nazi's murder of her husband, this woman bought her own tank and went to the front line.
- New theory of gravity might explain dark matter.
- The fact and fiction of the NASA EmDrive paper leak.
- Did the seeds of life come from space?
- Mysterious x-rays coming from Pluto leave scientists baffled.
- Ten ludicrously advanced technologies we can expect by the year 2100.
- Solar panels surpass coal-fired electricity in the United Kingdom.
- Up in the sky! Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Supermoon!
- Mysterious metal object crashes near Myanmar village.
- Facebook is telling everyone they're dead. Just prototyping some upcoming code is all...
- Investigation finds the Beagle 2 Mars lander likely did not actually crash-land in 2003.
- Dogs may wag their tails in different directions to communicate.
- Smallest sliver of time yet measured sees electrons fleeing atom.
- These two brothers become paralysed when the Sun sets each day.
- Image of the Day: Galactic map.
Quote of the Day:
Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.