Need to offer a quick recommendation: I'm currently reading Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, and it's an absolutely brilliant book. It puts you right there at the end of the 19th century, with science and religion coming to terms with Darwin and Wallace's theories of evolution. The book tells the story of the formation of the Society for Psychical Research, and how this extraordinary group of scientists were affected by their investigations. It's not written to please skeptics nor true believers - you'll come away realising how many fakes are out there, but also boggling at the talents (be they fake or real) of mediums such as Leonora Piper and Eusapia Palladino.
I'll be reviewing it shortly here on TDG, but at the moment Amazon US is selling the hardcover version of the book for just $5.19. Really, do yourself a favour and get this one on your bookshelf...it's the closest thing to a giveaway you're likely to see. Not sure how many copies they have left at that price, but I wouldn't wait around.
I've just posted my review of the UFO documentary Best Evidence: Top Ten UFO Cases to the site. A project headed by one of our good friends in Paul Kimball, the documentary is based on actual ufologists placing their votes for the best ever UFO cases, from which a top ten list was created. Many well-known researchers are interviewed in the feature, including Stanton Friedman, Nick Pope and Richard Hall.
Best Evidence recently aired on Canada's "Space" network, and is currently being sold and distributed internationally. Paul tells me that it will also be available later this year as a two-disc DVD package, which will feature extended interview footage and other bonus material. Great to see such quality material coming from 'within' the community.
A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- Graylien discusses "The Invisible Extraterrestrial Hypothesis", and Emperor chats about "Prophet and Loss", over at the excellent Cabinet of Wonders.
- The latest Skeptico podcast is titled "No Evidence for Life After Death", with suicide expert David Lester, Ph.D. Lester is completely incorrect on a number of points, such as his claim that reincarnation accounts never mention the 'interlife' period (see Ian Lawton's writings) and that there is no evidence for when the NDE takes place (see the case of Pam Reynolds etc). His book Is There Life After Death? is available from Amazon US and UK.
- Loren Coleman asks: "Why No Sasquatch Sightings".
- Nick Redfern discusses "The Ghost Woman of Cannock Chase" at his cryptozoology blog "There's Something in the Woods...". While there, check out Nick's review of Neil Arnold's book Monster: The A to Z of Zooform Phenomena. (Amazon US and UK).
- Morgan Maher discusses "42 Hours with Buckminster Fuller" at Reality Sandwich.
- Spooky Paradigm has " The Different Phenomena of the Social History of UFOs and Other Weird Things" (h/t to Orange Orb).
- Michael Prescott suggests that physical mediums have nothing to lose but their chains.
- Erowid.org has a review of Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley, by Lawrence Sutin (Amazon US and UK).
- The latest eSkeptic newsletter exposes the vaccination-autism myth.
- Anthony North offers a new article, "Double, Double Toil and Trouble", at Beyond the Blog.
- Filip Coppens asks: "Where Art Thou, Troy?"
- David Barrett reviews The Druids, by Ronald Hutton (Amazon US and UK), for The Independent.
- Jeff Wells offers part two of his series "Born Yesterday" (Part One is here), at Rigorous Intuition.
A number of books have appeared over the past few weeks on both the subject of 'Big Cats' and the Roswell incident (understandably, with the 60th anniversary approaching). Merrily Harpur's Mystery Big Cats (review by Nick Redfern) takes on the issue of Big Cat sightings, relating them to folklore and paranormal mythology (Amazon UK). Nick has also recently mentioned another book on the topic, Big Cats Loose in Britain, by Marcus Matthews and published by the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), which gives first-hand reports from witnesses to Big Cat sightings in the UK (available from Amazon US and UK).
Meanwhile, on the Roswell front, there have been two new major releases. The Roswell Legacy (Amazon US), due to be released on July 2nd, is authored by Jesse Marcel Jr. - the son of Major Jesse Marcel, who helped recover the debris from the Foster Ranch. And the newly released Witness to Roswell (Amazon US and UK) is selling extremely well, and is offering plenty of new information for Roswell afficionades to debate. For a good rundown of the book, check out David Rudiak's review at UFO Digest.
I love the sound the weeks make as they zoom by...
- Hacker cracks Harry Potter ending. Apparently, Frodo sails off to the land of....oh, wrong book.
- Speaking of: Scottish hobbit house is on the market (with video).
- 60 years on, the Maury Island UFO case continues to remain controversial. Nick Redfern comments on the story.
- Jellyfish-shaped UFO spotted in Shanghai.
- SETI finally finds a home, with the construction of the Allen Telescope Array (financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen).
- Is Youtube Nessie video viral marketing for the upcoming Sony movie The Water Horse?
- Lady ghost haunts Ohio Masonic Temple.
- Summer solstice celebrated at Stonehenge.
- Rush to save Miami Circle after seawall collapses nearby.
- Ancient murder mystery of 'Bog Man' remains to be solved.
- "Everybody beat Columbus," says Gunnar Thompson.
- Indian law enforcement siezes smuggled human skulls headed for Himalayan monasteries, to be used as kapalas.
- Researchers suggest quantum dots as media for teleportation.
- X Prize Cup announces Lunar Lander Challenge competitors.
- Everything you wanted to know about the Global Warming deniers (now there's a loaded term if ever I heard one, referencing those 'other' deniers...).
- Mystery of the disappearing lake in Chile.
- Connecticut governer vetoes medical marijuana measure.
- First-born children are the cleverest. Except in my family, eh Chesty?
- Why are women mad about moggies?
- EU probe to investigate all search engines in relation to privacy.
- Bin Laden may have arranged family's exit post-911. Pwned.
- Firemen work for over two hours to free man with penis stuck in padlock. I'm obviously not current on 21st century lock-picking techniques...
Thanks X_O. And Kat.
Quote of the Day:
I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:
Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week "911 Truth expert" David Ray Griffin joins Whitley Strieber to discuss the validity of 911 conspiracy theories, and his new book, Debunking the 911 Debunkers. Afterwards, Linda Howe has a new "drone" witness - from 1995.
Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines. Early show Saturday Ian weclomes Salon.com founder David Talbot, who'll discuss Robert F. Kennedy's secret search for the truth about his brother's assassination. Later, Art Bell chats with former U.S. Air Force captain and author Dale Brown about his latest novel Strike Force, as well as space & military technology on the horizon. Sunday's guest is astronomy scholar at Cal Tech, Richard Massey, who will discuss dark matter, dark energy, hidden planets, and the Hubble Telescope.
More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. Remember also that while Coast to Coast is subscription, Dreamland is free. Dreamland also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.
I'm having a great time putting together this Daily Grail anthology, with some wonderful contributions already received and the rest expected in the next couple of weeks - topics include the ancient 'cult centre' of Caral in Peru, the 'dark side of the paranormal', the Templars, Francis Dashwood and the Hellfire Society, Roswell, Ouija boards and UFO contactees (to name a few). Contributors are all people whose research and writing I respect greatly, so the anthology will have both quality and quantity of TDG-related material - from alternative history, to Forteana, consciousness, the paranormal and cryptozoology.
Anyhow, one thing that I'm still undecided on is the name. I do have a list already of about 15 possible titles (ranging from the oh-so-simple 'Daily Grail Anthology', to obscure latin words which sum up the content), but before I set about choosing one, I thought I'd throw the question out to readers - do you have a suggestion for the name? Remember that it needs to echo the content, and also that the anthology will hopefully become a regular release (more a journal, than anthology). Perhaps once people have had their say, we can put up a poll for people to choose their favourite, with the best contributed title earning a free copy of the anthology. Would love to hear your thoughts!
The recently released (and well-received book) Shroom: A cultural history of the magic mushroom, by Andy Letcher (Amazon US and UK), takes the long stick to many of the myths surrounding the history of psychedelic mushrooms, as well as a number of its legendary figures such as Gordon Wasson and Terence McKenna. One particular aspect of the book though - that of the entheogen theory of religious origins - has given rise to some intriguing discussions, mostly on the part of entheogen researcher Michael Hoffman. Hoffman's review of the book (while positive overall) disagrees with some of the book's conclusions:
At most, Letcher's treatment of the entheogen theory of religious origins shows that we have no compelling archaeological evidence for a prehistorical mushroom cult that was secret and unbroken. When his rhetorical verbiage and his general discussions of history are put aside, the substance of his argumentation that remains does not amount to a compelling argument against the frequent use of mushrooms (or other visionary plants) throughout religious history.
More recently, Hoffman has warned that "the shortcomings of Letcher's book could cause some harm", and serve as a significant setback to the field of entheogen scholarship. For a comprehensive read on entheogens in the history of religions, see Hoffman's detailed discussion on his own website (Shroom is discussed under 'Minimal Theory').
It's all relative. I'm freezing my butt off today, in temperatures which had London marathon runners collapsing due to heat exhaustion...
- Archaeologist sparks hunt for the Holy Grail.
- Da Vinci obscenity case dropped in Italy.
- Is there a 450-year-old Spanish galleon waiting to be found near Brisbane, Australia? 'Scuse me while I go get some diving gear...
- Virtual Qumran sheds light on mysteries of Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Buddhist lama sets up a Myspace page.
- It's that magical time of the Summer Solstice once again (or, Winter Solstice as the case may be...and boy is it wintery here today).
- 3D pyramid crop circle points way to Milk Hill White Horse.
- Lake monster hunter disappears.
- Why does 'Bigfoot Science' make such inroads into big business? Actually about tenuous ecological theories and 'carbon footprints'...not sure why Bigfoot got a mention apart from the foot reference.
- Happy Birthday Cognitive Dissonance.
- Sneak peek at Blade Runner Final Cut DVD packaging. Five disc package, great artistic presentation....sweeeeeeet (h/t Mac Tonnies).
- Dubya vetoes stem cell bill. A year ago, Jon Stewart had the smackdown of 2006 on this topic...
- Human genome far more complex than previously imagined.
- Alan Boyle takes you inside the Big Bang machine.
- Is there more than one dimension of time?
- Mysterious sprites caught on film. Perhaps it's just swamp gas or the planet Venus?
- Do Black Holes really exist?
- Liquid mirror could be used for Moon-based telescope.
- Hubble photographs two huge asteroids.
- Yes - finally - you can have your own jet-pack flying machine.
- Ouch, I saw that! New form of synaesthesia has people feeling what they see. I'm guessing they're not fans of boxing...
- Identity thieves steal Herman Munster's credit card details.
Quote of the Day:
Sooner or later, psychical research will demonstrate to the educated world, not only the existence of a soul in man, but also the existence of a soul in Nature
Scientific American has presented a dialogue between Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins, on the question 'Should Science Speak to Faith'. As always with intellects of the calibre of these two gentlemen, the conversation is stimulating and enriching, so I highly recommend it. I have to admit finding it ironic that much of the discussion is about the probabilities required to believe in something, when the question suggests some inherent gap between science and faith.
It is a shame that these discussions continue to focus on 'easy marks' such as young-Earth creationism, instead of the body of evidence for survival of death or a mind independent of brain - wouldn't it be wonderful to see Krauss and Dawkins joined by Michael Grosso, or some other person well-versed in these subjects (see Irreducible Mind). This evidence speaks far more to a 'rational' belief in something beyond the physical - by numerous intellectuals - than the straw man that Richard Dawkins continues to knock down.