A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- Marcel Cairo interviews afterlife researcher Dr Gary Schwartz on Afterlife FM, about his research, the recent Geraldo controversy, and other related topics.
- Greg Bishop reviews An Alien History of Planet Earth at UFO Mystic. Also from Greg: "UFOs as Metaphors".
- Skeptical Investigations is featuring "Some Notes on Skepticism".
- The latest Psychedelic Salon podcast is Terence McKenna's "Opening the Doors of Creativity”.
- Stuart Miller, editor of the new Alien Worlds magazine, has written an article for American Chronicle titled "UFOs, Magazines, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life".
- Curious Expeditions has a wonderful feature on the historical antecedents to Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- Reality Sandwich features ST Frequency's essay "Shamans and Charlatans: Assessing Castaneda's Legacy".
- Forgetomori debunks the "Attack of the Invisible Gorillas".
- Anthony North asks the simple question of "Why Are We Here?" at Beyond the Blog.
- The latest eSkeptic newsletter gives a platform to Steve Fuller to defend his book Science vs Religion: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution (Amazon US and UK).
- Filer's Files #8 for 2008 has the latest ufological roundup.
Time has a follow-up on last year's news about the alleged discovery of the 'Tomb of Jesus' (with movie director James Cameron backing the expedition). The story takes a look at a recent conference of Biblical scholars, organised by leading New Testament expert Prof. James Charlesworth, who gathered to discuss the finding/theory:
After three days of fierce debate, the experts remained deeply divided. Opinion among a panel of five experts ranged from "no way" to "very possible". Charlesworth told TIME: "I have reservations, but I can't dismiss the possibility that this tomb was related to the Jesus clan." Weighing the evidence, says Charlesworth, "we can tell that this was the tomb of a Jewish family from the time of Jesus. And we know that the names on the ossuaries are expressed the correct way as 'Jesus, son of Joseph.'" But the professor has a few doubts. "The name on Jesus's ossuary was scrawled on, like graffiti. There was no ornamentation. And there should have been. After all, his followers believed he was the Son of God."
There was at least one new revelation to come out of the conference: The widow of Joseph Gat, the chief archeologist of the 1980 excavation, told attendees "My husband believed that this was Jesus's tomb, but because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, he was worried about a backlash of anti-Semitism and he didn't think he could say this."
- Designers sought to conserve Rosslyn Chapel.
- Andean crops were cultivated almost 10,000 years ago.
- X-Files returns to theaters, minus alien mythology.
- When it comes to 9/11 conspiracies, fact and fiction are closer than we think.
- Astronaut Leroy Chiao wants you to follow in his footsteps.
- Is origami the key to Japan's new space program?
- Pilot says he can explain the recent Texas UFO infestation...military flares. I do believe I've heard that explanation before.
- Speaking of: cell phone video of the UFO? Also: MUFON's YouTube channel is cataloguing media coverage.
- More Mercury goodness from Messenger.
- Two women seek werewolf (no, that's not a personals ad).
- CDC to launch investigation into mystery of Morgellon's Disease. More at ABC News.
- Are whales smarter than we are?
- Despite that question, Dubya exempts Navy from environmental law so it can continue using sonar.
- And of course, there's this.
- A maverick against the Mendelians.
- Scientists make human embryo clones.
- Archaeological collection discovered after relic hunter's death.
- Pirahã: the world's most controversial language.
- George Noory signs on for more Coast to Coast.
- Remembrance of things future. Looking back on predictions made in the year 1900.
- Miracle recovery of mean who was dead for an hour.
- Effectiveness of anti-depressants exaggerated as pharmaceutical companies bury the negative data.
- Scientists develop computer that can translate a dog's bark.
Thanks Kat and Baldrick.
Quote of the Day:
Lisa: What's Santa's Little Helper doin' to that dog?
Bart: Looks like he's trying to jump over her, but he can't quite make it. (shouting) Go on, boy! You can do it!
The Simpsons ('Two Dozen and One Greyhounds')
Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:
Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week Nostradamus expert John Hogue gives his predictions for 2008.
Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines as well as Linda Moulton Howe discussing extinction of Coral Reefs and the ongoing decline of amphibians. Early show Saturday "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 4/10/97 for a discussion on reincarnation with Elizabeth Claire Prophet, followed by Glenn Kimball on new information on the history and origins of the Koran and ancient libraries. On Sunday Michael Horn will discuss new evidence to support the authenticity of Billy Meier's claims.
More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. You can listen to C2C live, or to recent archived shows, at CJOB.com. Dreamland is freely available at their website, and also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.
In yesterday's news I reported on a story suggesting that SETI had received an alien message. I also pointed out that Phil Plait (from the Bad Astronomy blog) had talked to SETI's Seth Shostak and clarified that it was all a misunderstanding. To finalise all that, the original story has now been pulled and replaced with a clarification. Seems there was more wrong in the story than right.
You are getting sleeeepy....
- The truth and hype of hypnosis.
- Mercury's hidden side finally revealed. I love space exploration.
- But is space exploration worth the cost? A Freakonomics forum question.
- This article has set off a frenzy of speculation about whether an alien message has been received. Sounds like a simple misunderstanding though. Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy confirms (though there was a signal at the very least).
- Ice clouds put Mars in the shade.
- Monkey think, robot do. Monkey's thoughts power robotic legs. The visual images I'm getting of cybernetic monkeys taking over the world are very Simpsons-like.
- Brain-computer interface gets closer to reality.
- Monsterquest goes in search of hobbits (the Indonesian variety, not the ones from New Zealand).
- Ancient lost city discovered in Peru?
- A sphinx...in India?! (with apologies to Monty Python)
- Can Egypt really copyright the pyramids?
- The Top Ten lists of archaeological discoveries in 2007 left out some important items.
- Parasite morphs ant into a red berry, ripe for the picking.
- Discovered: a rodent bigger than a bull. You should have seen the mousetrap they used back then...
- University claims to have found the actual Mona Lisa.
- Presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee wants a Christian-faith based Constitution. That turbine-like sound you hear is the Founding Father's spinning in their graves...
- Vatican newspaper says Harry Potter is the wrong model for a hero.
- Pwnage news: top spy says the NSA must be given access to all Internet traffic.
- More pwnage news: Going right up to, the server in the sky.
Quote of the Day:
NASA scientist: Maybe we should finally tell them the big secret - that all the chimps we sent into space came back super intelligent.
Chimp in suit on rollerskates: No. I don't think we'll be telling them that.
'The Simpsons' ("Deep Space Homer")
A new skeptical book by Telegraph writer Damian Thompson titled Counterknowledge (Amazon US and UK) has been getting plenty of publicity in the UK lately, mainly through Thompson's recent articles in the paper in which he rants about various aspects of the alternative genre, from 'hidden history' to conspiracies and alternative medicine.
In "Lies, Damn Lies and 'Counterknowledge'", and "How Da Vinci Code tapped pseudo-fact hunger", Thompson goes on the warpath against us credulous and idiotic people interested in fringe topics, as well as publishers and authors who market and profit these apparent falsehoods. Graham Hancock gets his own mention, as do 9/11 conspiracies and Afrocentrism.
As part of my time as 'Author of the Month' at Graham Hancock's website, I put forth my thoughts on Thompson's views (in which I agree with some of his comments in principle, but take issue with plenty else). Graham himself stopped by as well, to give a response of sorts to his inclusion in one of the Telegraph articles. Graham writes:
The Space Review has a pretty cool two-page article up on the decoding the symbolism of mission patches found on spacecraft and satellite launches. Titled "Secrets and Signs", the article avoids Hoaglandesque Masonic conspiracies, but all the same does point out that there is plenty of symbolism to be read into the patches:
These examples demonstrate that for probably three decades or more it has been common for those involved in classified satellite launches to fill their logos and mission patches with all kinds of information, including exactly the kind of information that the NRO will never provide to the press or in response to questions.
Written by aerospace journalist Roger Guillemette and space historian Dwayne Day, it's easy to read but gives a fascinating insight into things that are hidden right before our eyes. Space conspiracy theory skeptics *and* believers can probably take as much out of the article as each other...
I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I might be sitting on something spiky.
- The door to the spirit world won't close. No wonder I can feel a cold draft.
- A deep sea treasure hunter has turned ghost hunter, and leads tours on Saturday nights. If there's ectoplasm, he'll still get wet.
- Zombies and demons crowded the Macedonian village of Vevcani recently to take part in a 1400-year-old tradition.
- Researchers warn the Black Death, the plague that devastated medieval Europe, is re-emerging worldwide. I don't want to go on the cart, I'm feeling better.
- Are predictions of the end of the world as we know it in 2012 "manifestly prepostorous"?
- The Heavy Stuff examines the high strangeness of missing time, rods, and shadow beings.
- Witnesses claim they saw F-16s pursue a mile-long UFO over Texas. With video and a lot of USAF denial.
- Researcher Steve Hammons discusses the Texas UFO, asking if it can be compared to the 1997 Phoenix Lights. What are you feeding your cattle, Bill?
- Balls of fire seen in the UK skies since last year have been caught on film.
- UFO researcher Frank Warren interviewed a Phoenix Lights UFO witness in 2006. Part II here.
- The Arlington Institute hosts a public presentation by Dr Harold Puthoff on Feb 1st about the Government's investigations of Remote Viewing.
- Jay Michaelson ponders the compatibility of Ayahuasca and the Kabbalah. Think with the heart, feel with the mind.
- A spiky UFO filmed in Brazil turns out to just be a spiky balloon.
- Stunning photo gallery of ice sculptures in Harbin, China.
- Megachurches are a multibillion dollar industry, but the poor and underprivileged don't see a penny.
- Guatemala's new President, Alvaro Colom, is also a Mayan priest who calls for "equality, cultural diversity and tolerance" in his country. Proof there are still decent human beings in politics.
- The Mayan people have been campaigning for change for decades, and Colom is a positive step in the right direction.
- The Guatemalan government will open the ancient Maya city of Mirador to tourists.
- Mirador is home to one of the world's largest pyramids and is only accessible by helicopter or a two-day jungle hike.
- Try not to drool over this enormous, high-res pic from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Thanks Greg and Kat.
Quote of the Day:
Frank Warren: With the benefit of hindsight, if we could go back . . . what would you have liked to see happen?
Mike Fortson: Well, first of all I would have liked to have seen my ass moving quickly and retrieving a video camera and taping the massive V shaped craft as it passed in front of us. I truly believe this would have ended any speculation that what we and thousands of other Arizonians witnessed that night was something other than flares, planes, blimps or balloons. I really apologize to the world that I did not think clearly and failed to react, as I should have. Instead I just stared and was somewhat paralyzed to the impossible craft I was witnessing.
Other than that, I would like to have seen the media react with a more keen awareness that something spectacular did happen. I would have liked to see them treat our fellow citizens with more respect and accept the fact that “they” (the media) are not the only ones with eyes and a brain.
Interview with Mike Fortson, Phoenix Lights UFO witness
Many people like to speculate on what will happen in the next decade, or century. How many will put money on it though? Over at the Long Bets Project, you can see exactly who is willing to bet the farm (or at least, a few thousand dollars for charity) that they know what's going to happen:
Long Bets is a public arena for enjoyably competitive predictions, of interest to society, with philanthropic money at stake. The foundation furnishes the continuity to see even the longest bets through to public resolution. This website provides a forum for discussion about what may be learned from the bets and their eventual outcomes.
Personages including Ray Kurzweil, Freeman Dyson, Michio Kaku and Brian Eno have thrown down, and the subjects cover everything from artificial intelligence to extraterrestrial life and the Yeti.