News Briefs 22-10-2007

This fun little video might just as well be titled 'Wake up, Kat' -- except that in my case, a mere minute and a half of this alarming treatment would be a welcome change.

Quote of the Day:

Conspiracy theorists are not kooks, they are a front line in the latest eruption of populism. In some ways, they invoke the carnivalesque, a festival which turns the political order upside-down. Unfortunately, the sobering seriousness of their research ('When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.') can lead to irascibility, over-suspicion, and isolation. A remedy for such ailments is a sense of humor. One must not only resist the encroachments of the conspiracy, 'but learn to laugh and play, to find a point of ironic and critical distance from which a more efficacious resistance can proceed.' Laughter will give you perspective, from which you will be able to more effectively resist. Paranoia can be fun.

Brian Redman, here.

Something Wicked...

...this way comes! The proofs for Darklore arrived today, and they look just great - here's an image of the hardcover version to feast your eyes on. And inside, here's the beautiful spread for Michael Grosso's essay on death-bed visions, "The Beatific Vision". Should be available to buy very soon - of course I'll let you know when. The paperback will be $US13.95 or £8.99 - good value I think for 18 essays (304 pages) from some of the best in the business. For the collectors out there, the hardcover print run is limited to just 66 - yes, two digits, 66. Price for this collector's edition will be $US39.95 or £19.99 - now there's an investment for the future. Exciting times...

Bigfoot Film Turns 40

An icon of cryptozoology (and anomalies research in general) turns 40 today - the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film. Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman has posted a bit of a tribute to the famous piece of footage:

The history of cryptozoology and hominology has never been the same since then. Advances in technology give us a better view of the footage today, but the film is set in stone; indeed, it is a milestone.

As opposed to folks nowadays trying to fit the square peg into the round hole to explain every aspect of why the Bigfoot looks the way it does on that film, step back for a moment. Step back in time. Step back forty years.

The Bigfoot in the October 20th footage looks the way it does because that’s the way they appear.

Loren has also posted a follow-up on 'Patty' today. Note that our favourite cryptozoologist also has contributed a fascinating piece to Darklore Volume 1 (coming in the next week or so) on this very topic, and how skeptics have been too quick to announce it as a hoax. Considering we've also got Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett discussing new Templar revelations (hot on the heels of the 700th anniversary, and recent Vatican-Templar news), and John Higgs on Tim Leary and Aleister Crowley (with Crowleymas just passed), our anthology certainly seems to be topical!

New Scientist Death Special

Sorry to keep posting on the big 'D' topic (that nobody generally likes to talk about), but there's been plenty of interesting articles which I felt worthy of linking to. The latest is over at New Scientist which has a detailed Death Special, covering everything from the rather macabre question of how it feels to die, through to the shifting definition of death itself, and whether we can do something about it.

One of the topics covered which would be of interest to most TDG readers is the afterlife question. In answer to this question, New Scientist have author Mary Roach discussing some of the experiments done to test whether there is something beyond death. However, it's a rather disappointing essay, with Roach aiming to entertain more than enlighten. She finds a few cases worth chuckling about, and yet doesn't mention more evidential material such as the 'return' of Fred Myers, the mediumship of Leonora Piper and Gladys Leonard, and the evidence of the 'book tests' (for a good run down of evidential material, see Michael Prescott's blog entry on this very subject). The special also has an article on neurophysiologist Kevin Nelson's theory that near-death experiences (NDEs) are actually the result of dream-like "REM Intrusions". On the other side of the coin, the special also regurgitates an article from 2001 on Pim van Lommel's oft-quoted research into the NDE which gave some credence to the mystery.

Lastly, Grailers might also be interested in another part of the Death Special, which looks at transhumanist efforts aiming at eternal life. The article isn't overly supportive - quoting AI pioneer Marvin Minsky to ill effect - but there are some excellent video interviews with Anders Sandberg, Aubrey de Grey and Nick Bostrom about the topic which are well worth viewing. Certainly, this will be one of the 'big' topics over the next decade I'm sure. And if you think these topics on their own raise enough questions, what about mixing them - and asking if the transhumanist effort for eternal life may actually end up stopping people from experiencing the afterlife...

Fortean Times #229

The latest issue (#229) of Fortean Times has been released, so you should see it turning up on news-stands in the very near future (or in your mailbox if you're a subscriber). The latest issue heads back to psychic research of yesteryear, with a look back at the controversial career of investigator Harry Price, and a survey of the mysterious substance known as 'ectoplasm' (or not-so-mysterious 'cheesecloth' if you're of the skeptical bent). Also of note in the latest issue is Guy Lyon Playfair's look back on the famous Enfield Poltergeist case, 30 years since he first investigated. Check the page for full details.

Weekend Roundup 19-10-2007

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


New News Feeds

I have added two more news feeds to the far right hand column. One is the news from Radio Rennessence, which is a pretty handy round-up of any Rennes-le-Chateau/Priory of Sion/European occultism news in general (and their interviews are worth checking out as well). Also newly added is the feed from best-selling fiction author Michael Prescott's blog - Michael writes some wonderfully balanced blogs about 'survival' (afterlife) research, and other parapsychology-type topics. I often link to articles from both of these sites, but thought news feeds from them would be handy as well. Note, if you are a logged in member at TDG, you can turn these off in your preferences (as with all news feeds) if you wish.

The Skunk at an Atheist Convention

I've posted a new video here on the Grail, a rather technical (though fascinating) lecture by 'quantum consciousness' research Stuart Hameroff - given at Google HQ - titled "A New Marriage of Brain and Computer - Why 'The Singularity' Is Bogus". Hameroff (along with the highly respected scientist Sir Roger Penrose) submits that the current theory of consciousness may be severely lacking - and that consciousness may actually be a quantum process with ground-breaking implications for our model of reality:

Consciousness defines our existence and reality, but the mechanism by which the brain generates thoughts and feelings remains unknown. Most explanations portray the brain as a computer, with nerve cells ("neurons") and their synaptic connections acting as simple switches. However computation alone cannot explain why we have feelings and awareness, an "inner life."

We also don't know if our conscious perceptions accurately portray the external world. At its base, the universe follows the seemingly bizarre and paradoxical laws of quantum mechanics, with particles being in multiple places simultaneously, connected over distance, and with time not existing. But the “classical” world we perceive is definite, with a flow of time. The boundary or edge (quantum state reduction, or ‘collapse of the wave function”) between the quantum and classical worlds somehow involves consciousness.

In recent years I have considered that such a connection to the basic proto-conscious level of reality where Platonic values are embedded is strikingly similar to Buddhist and other spiritual concepts.

You can find out more about the topic at Stuart's website. He also has just started a blog, and over there you'll find an amusing look at his talk last year at the "Beyond Belief" Conference, which also featured Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris and Patricia Churchland. The title of the blog entry says it all: "Being the Skunk at an Atheist Convention". Remember also that we interviewed Stuart here at TDG a few years back and he certainly had some interesting things to say.

News Briefs 19-10-2007

From Nazi space pioneers to the secrets of the magicians, today's news covers some serious ground...

Thanks Rick.

Quote of the Day:

I have learned to use the word 'impossible' with the greatest caution.

Wernher von Braun

Radio 19-10-2007

Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: No schedule at time of posting, check the link for an update.

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines with George Noory. Early show Saturday, "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 4/13/00 for a UFO update with Peter Davenport and a discussion on strange objects from space with James Oberg. Afterward, paranormal investigator and editor of Haunted Times Magazine, Christopher Moon will discuss hauntings as well as his work with Frank's Box, a device which summons the dead. On Sunday George Knapp welcomes Timothy Good for a discussion on the evidence for UFOs and ET contact, and how the information is kept from the public.

More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. You can listen to C2C live, or to recent archived shows, at Dreamland is freely available at their website, and also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.