Mushrooms at TED

Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder did some liveblogging from TED last week, keeping readers up to date with speakers and what they were saying. I was surprised to see that one presenter was none other than Paul Stamets, who spoke on how mushrooms can help the world. Stamets is a legend in the world of mycology - and also with the 'underground' due to his classic work Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World (an identification guide to 'magic mushrooms'). Mark points out a Salon article by Stamets which gives some idea of what he talked about. I'm just hoping he handed out some 'educational' packs to the stuffier TED attendees...

News Briefs 03-03-2008

I hope you all had a terrific weekend.

Quote of the Day:

“There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness.”

Michio Kaku

Weekend Roundup 02-03-2008

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...


I Have Attained Grubbiness!

James 'The Amazing' Randi has seen fit to respond to my article "The Myth of the Million Dollar Challenge" in his latest newsletter. Apparently, I am a "grubby", who has published a "19,000 word tirade"! I've added a postscript to the essay, noting Randi's response, and correcting some errors (most importantly, he constantly refers and responds to Loyd Auerbach as the author of the article, which even a superficial read would show not to be the case). In happier news, the article seems to have prompted Randi to lower the odds of the Challenge to make it more inviting - so kudos to him for taking some of the criticism on board in the way it was intended.

One final note: I do think it bears pointing out (as I did in the comments section), that I did ask for comment from the JREF when writing the article. I emailed the JREF on the 4th of February about the article, asking for input. I followed up on the 7th. I received a minor contact from them on the 14th, which was actually my original 'deadline' that I had set for publishing the article. I therefore told them that I was extending the deadline to allow time for their input. On the 22nd, after receiving no response, I emailed them to say that I was posting the article, but that I would be more than happy to add a postscript to the article if they had comments to add. Randi's article appeared today, the 29th. Personally, I would prefer a more constructive dialogue, rather than shouting across the room...but I can only imagine the latter suits Randi better.

Robert Schoch: Joining the Psi Revolution

In late January, Robert Schoch - formerly known for his geological investigations into the age of the Great Sphinx, the underwater Yonaguni 'monument', and the alleged Bosnian Pyramids - released a book on a completely different tack to his previous work: parapsychology. As editor of an anthology titled The Parapsychology Revolution (Amazon US, or preorder from Amazon UK), he assembled some of the most fascinating scientific essays on psi phenomena into one handy book. I spoke to Robert last week about the new book, and the reasons for his move into (yet another) controversial topic:

TDG: Thanks for talking with us Robert. Firstly, can I ask: what inspired the change from books about ancient pyramid cultures, to this new book about parapsychology?

RS: I view my interest in parapsychology as a logical extension of my work on ancient cultures, and furthermore I personally have a long history of interest in the paranormal. Let me elaborate.

Great Pyramid Plan?

Discovery News is covering a new theory about the Giza plateau, put forward by Italian mathematics professor Giulio Magli, which suggests that Khufu planned and built two pyramids at Giza - the Great Pyramid, and the second pyramid commonly attributed to Khafre. According to Magli...

...astronomical alignments and the landscape indicate that the two main pyramids, those identified with the tombs of Khufu and Khafre, were not built in different stages. On the contrary, they were planned as a single, grand project.

"Khufu was the mind behind the project. He conceived both pyramids to have strong symbolic meaning. He wanted to state forever that his soul had joined the sun god," Magli told Discovery News.

The study, which has been published on the Cornell University physics Web site arXiv, suggests that Khufu planned the construction of two pyramids, exactly as his father, Snefru, did in Dahshur. Only later did Khafre claim for himself the slightly smaller pyramid.

It's interesting to note that Magli is a friend of 'Orion Correlation' theorist Robert Bauval. However, TDG admin Rick asked Robert about this news on Graham Hancock's message board, and Bauval pointed out some problems that he sees with it.

Vallee Audio Available

For those that wanted to listen to ufological legend Jacques Vallee on Coast to Coast AM two weeks ago, but don't have a Streamlink subscription, you can find that audio right here, streaming via a flash player. The C2C audio is split up into the four hours of the show (sans advertisements and interruptions), though Vallee was only on for the first two hours. It's a good, measured discussion on ufology and its various subtopics, so well worth a listen.

News Briefs 29-02-2008

Happy birthday to Dr Dean Radin, who turns 14 today...

Thanks Rick and Kat.

Quote of the Day:

Very few things happen at the right time,and the rest do not happen at all. A conscientious historian will correct these defects.


Radin Psi Q&A

The website of the San Francisco Chronicle have published a Q&A with parapsychology researcher Dean Radin (coincidentally, it's his birthday today). The conversation covers everything from psi and skeptics, to God and 'intentional chocolate'. In the middle of the interview, there is some interesting discussion about Radin's involvement in the classified Stargate remote viewing program:

Once I went through all of the months and months of background reviews and so on to get the classification, I finally got the briefing that is given to the military officers and intelligence officers with the right clearance, and when you get to the end of that briefing the idea that there is no evidence is so ludicrous that you want to somehow let everybody know this. It is amazing! There are some people who are extremely good, highly reliable remote viewers. And not simply in terms of experimental studies, but in real world applications, typically intelligence-backed applications. There are dozens and dozens of government agencies that were actively using these people, and there are dozens of examples of amazing gifts. The psychics were able to describe things that turned out to be not only true, but pragmatically useful.

Good to see more mainstream coverage of psi research. You can keep up to date with Dean Radin's thoughts on a regular basis via his blog.

Steampunk Magazine #4

Issue 4 of the oh-so-cool magazine Steampunk is now available from the official website as a free PDF download (you can also purchase a hardcopy for $3). Mad science, retro-sci fi coolness, illustrated with some great artwork - it's a very cool zine. All previous issues are also available on the website, in various size formats to make printing easy.