A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- Nick Redfern opens "The Monster Files" on his cryptozoology blog.
- "Real life experiments that reveal the ancient art and techniques of building Egyptian pyramids", by Mike Molyneaux. (h/t Ian Lawton).
- Public Parapsychology has a guest blog from Bryan Williams, titled "Can Near-Death Experiences Reveal Something About Consciousness?"
- Loren Coleman reassures us that Nessie's death has been prematurely announced. Also from Loren: "Tom Slick, Playboy Cryptozoologist".
- William McGillis profiles "Yeats, the Magical Visionary" over at Reality Sandwich.
- Anthony North looks into the rise of "Violent Cults" at Beyond the Blog.
- Filer's Files #40 has the latest ufological roundup.
- Skeptic Randi's latest newsletter is now online.
- Kevin Randle looks at "Fakers!" in ufology.
- The latest Skeptico podcast interview is with Dr John Demartini, who explores the intersection of consciousness research and self-development.
- Regan Lee discusses "Disingenuous Infiltration" of ufology and the paranormal, for UFO Digest.
- George Dvorsky says that Christopher Hitchins has got Buddhism all wrong, in his latest blog entry at Sentient Developments.
- UFO Area continues to look for "Extraterrestrial Pilots from a Distant Past".
In today's news I've posted a link to an opinion piece by Sam Harris in the Washington Post's 'On Faith' section, titled "The Problem with Atheism". As things sometimes get lost in the mass news avalanche that is the TDG news briefs, I thought it worth singling out as being worth a read (and discussion). While I don't agree with all that Sam Harris says, there are a load of great points made in this essay. Harris is still confrontational (when it comes to things he thinks are just plain stupid), but he advocates a less combative approach to strange beliefs, and more an emphasis on promoting the value of "intellectual honesty".
While parts of the essay are largely focused towards removing the stigma attached to (and arguments against) atheism as a philosophy, Harris does touch on another issue which has seen him fall foul of materialist hard-liners such as James Randi:
The last problem with atheism I’d like to talk about relates to the some of the experiences that lie at the core of many religious traditions, though perhaps not all, and which are testified to, with greater or lesser clarity in the world’s “spiritual” and “mystical” literature.
Those of you who have read 'The End of Faith', know that I don’t entirely line up with Dan, Richard, and Christopher in my treatment of these things. So I think I should take a little time to discuss this. While I always use terms like “spiritual” and “mystical” in scare quotes, and take some pains to denude them of metaphysics, the email I receive from my brothers and sisters in arms suggests that many of you find my interest in these topics problematic...
...Leaving aside all the metaphysics and mythology and mumbo jumbo, what contemplatives and mystics over the millennia claim to have discovered is that there is an alternative to merely living at the mercy of the next neurotic thought that comes careening into consciousness. There is an alternative to being continuously spellbound by the conversation we are having with ourselves.
As such, the essay ends up as somewhat of a dichotomy on rationalist thought. Harris begins the essay by extolling the virtue of promoting rational, logical thought, and ends by saying we (and specifically mentioning scientists) should sometimes try and quiet this aspect of our mind, and just 'be', for our 'spiritual' well-being. It's an important thing to note though, as most debates on this question either advocate one or the other, when perhaps it's balance that is needed more than anything. I would casually note as well that Harris's essay brings up another often neglected facet of this debate, in that there is a difference between religious faith, and religious experience.
All in all though, very nice to see someone like Harris exploring these issues, rather than spouting the usual dogmatic utterances against the evils/delusion of religion.
Tomorrow never comes...
- Forbes reviews Rocketeers, by Michael Belfiore (Amazon US and UK), which looks at the new generation of the space industry (Rutan, Bigelow et al).
- How do we know when an extrasolar planet is habitable?
- It's life Jim, but not as we know it. The largest organism on Earth is a mushroom.
- Peru foils attempt by U.S. meteor hunting group.
- And still, they come. Fireball seen in Minnesota sky.
- Atlantis, crystal skulls, alien artifacts at Area 51 and a monkey god: the 13 year journey to the new Indiana Jones movie.
- The past-life memories of James Leininger.
- The problem with atheism.
- The monster stories of Lake Erie.
- Italian UFO videos show alien craft, or Earth balloon (literally)?
- An instructive NY Times article for any UFO photo true believers out there: "Proving that Seeing Shouldn't Always be Believing".
- Also instructive: Invasion from Mars - the anatomy of a panic.
- Biologically-based technological civilisation is likely a fleeting phenomenon.
- Russia marks Sputnik launch anniversary.
- Using the heat off inefficient engines.
- The ancients engineered sophisticated machines, without knowing the math.
- Ancient documents may reveal imminent Middle East earthquake.
- Crow-cams reveal extensive tool use by wild birds.
- Strippers' earning potential affected by hormone cycle.
- Microsoft launches Health Records website. Kind of gives new meaning to the term 'Blue Screen of Death'...
- Since when do news items on terrorism give you Thai recipes to go with the bulletin? When burning chilli sparks a terrorism alert...
- Record 22c temperatures in Arctic heatwave.
- And one we missed: melting ice cap triggering earthquakes.
- Why climate change can't be stopped.
- But forget all those problems, our salvation is at hand: Gibson's latest guitar is self-tuning. The world feels a happier place already.
Quote of the Day:
It seems to me that intellectual honesty is now, and will always be, deeper and more durable, and more easily spread, than “atheism.”
Stories about Tutankhamun abound today, so I thought it would warrant a mention in a standalone news post. Perhaps the biggest news is that Egypt have announced plans to put Tut's mummy (that is, his semi-preserved body - not his mother) on display in his tomb at the Valley of the Kings:
Zahi Hawass, head of the High Council for Antiquities, said he would place the mummy in a climate-controlled glass showcase in the tomb and cover the body with linen. Tutankhamun's bare face would be visible.
"You will enter the tomb and see for the first time the face of Tutankhamun ... This is the first time in history that anyone will see the mummy (in public). This will continue the magic of Tutankhamun."
Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:
Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week Whitley Strieber interviews William Henry about his new DVD, the Light Body Effect. .
Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines with George Noory. Early show Saturday, "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 2/20/02 for a discussion on OBEs and psychic self-defense with Robert Bruce. Afterward, journalist and filmmaker Jon Jefferson discusses murders, mysteries, and forensic science. Sunday's guest is Dianne Arcangel, who will share what people have witnessed in regards to life after death.
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.
- The CFI has a paper on "Global Climate Change Caused by Global Warming".
- Costas J. Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi compare "Cinema Fiction vs Physical Reality".
- Victor Stenger comments "Onward Science Soldiers".
- Ralph Estling says "Brooklyn is not Expanding".
- Benjamin Radford dons his cape for some "Superhero Science".
- Gary Posner recounts how a Court TV psychic lost in real court to a skeptic.
A quick tip: if you're only occasionally interested in Coast to Coast AM programs (ie. you're not interested in listening to Richard Hoagland, Ed Dames and others ad nauseum), you can listen online to the program via CJOB.com. Not only live, but the site also has programs archived on the site as well - in hourly instalments - which makes it easy to pick out the parts of the program you want to listen to.
Just remember that CJOB broadcasts C2C from 12am, so if you want to listen to a Friday night broadcast, you'll have to select Saturday as the date (eg. to listen to the Graham Hancock interview from last Friday night, select 1am, Saturday the 29th (Graham turns up around 10mins in).
Should be able to give you a sneak peek at the upcoming Daily Grail anthology tomorrow (and a name)...
- Arthur C. Clarke remembers Sputnik (and the Space Age in general) on its 50th anniversary.
- And what of the next 50 years?
- NASA: China may win the new Space Race. Sounds like someone's pushing for some increased funding. Although I think "NASA: Iran set to win Space Race, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama Bin Laden to be the first men on Mars, dancing on an American flag" would work better for them.
- Asteroid renamed in honour of Star Trek's Sulu.
- McCanns to consult top UK psychics?
- Apparently all of us here at TDG need to grow up. Perhaps Mr Linklater should acquaint himself better with topics before he labels them 'mythology'? Looking forward to Loren Coleman's deconstruction of this one...
- British Stone Head mystery solved.
- Peruvian meteor crater to disappear within a couple of months.
- The 'Queen of Ayahuasca' passes away.
- Building a computer that reads minds.
- Squelching the dark past: the mechanics of memory suppression.
- Why do migratory birds fly in a V-formation?
- Researchers discover link between schizophrenia, autism, and maternal flu.
- Go East Old Man! Neanderthals reached China's doorstep.
- Gold rings create first true invisibility cloak.
- Five things Hollywood thinks computers can do.
- Grass-munching bugs could power rural phones.
- 2007 ozone hole 'smaller than usual'.
- Believers turn into skeptics after alien implant lecture at New Zealand conference.
- Get set for a deluge of ghost pictures in the near future.
- Tin foil hat for a fetus? Check out 'MummyWraps'.
- Court says prisoner not entitled to Odinism rituals.
- Researcher claims: "Australian actresses are plagiarizing my quantum mechanics lecture to sell printers". Now that doesn't happen to you every day.
Quote of the Day:
I hope that nations can at last see better reasons for exploring space, and that future decisions would be informed by intelligence and reason, not the macho-nationalism that fuelled the early Space Race.
Arthur C. Clarke
Just a heads-up that CPAK 2007 is on this weekend in San Diego - if you're in the vicinity, make sure you get down there to check out the stellar line-up (Hancock, Bauval, West, Schoch etc):
The mission of CPAK 2007 is to investigate the myth, folklore, archaeology and astronomy of ancient cultures with the goal of better understanding our true history. Research shows many ancient societies lived much closer to nature than we do and they had a deep understanding of geometry, astronomy and reverence for the heavens. New evidence indicates that celestially aligned megalithic structures may have a profound agricultural purpose. We should try to understand all we can about these nature based cultures as it appears there might be lost knowledge important to civilization today.
Tickets and additional information are available at the website. Unfortunately, the costs of travel were just too high for me to justify making it over there - I was real keen to do the CPAK/IRVA conference double (which feature a host of my favourite writer/researchers between them). There's always next year I guess...
Warp speed, Number One... engage.
- It's the 50th anniversary of Sputnik, the little satellite that thought it could.
- The Hubble Space Telescope has taken spectacular images of a stellar jewelbox.
- A green-hued meteor lit up the sky above Melbourne last night. So that's why I woke up to find men wearing biohazard suits in my bedroom.
- Are light orbs in photographs proof of a spirit realm?
- What can Near Death Experiences reveal about human consciousness?
- With a 1 in 1000 chance of a civilisation-ending impact this century, it's time we took asteroids and comets more seriously. Wearing a helmet won't help you.
- Tests on mummifed Inca children reveal they were fattened up for sacrifice. Did the Brothers Grimm travel to Peru?
- The fearsome Ice Age sabre-toothed Cat bit like a domestic moggie. That's why they put the smile in Smilodon.
- Fellow Gippslander Tim Cope's Genghis Khan adventure. This link has photos.
- The Amazon rainforest could be lost in our lifetime due to industry.
- Parts of a temple dating to the reign of pharaoh Ramses II have been discovered in a historic Luxor mosque.
- A 25-foot-tall statue of Anubis floated down the River Thames.
- King Darius had a dashingly azure moustache and beard.
- Excavations at the ancient Anatolian city of Ephesus will continue for centuries.
- A brilliant collection of photo galleries of ancient cities and monuments.
- Peter Hopkirk's Foreign Devils on the Silk Road chronicles explorers seeking lost cities in Central Asia, from Sir Aurel Stein to Sven Hedin (Amazon, US or UK).
- Lost cities of the Silk Road: a space-age search for relics of ancient Central Asia. Among Warriors (Amazon US or UK) by Pamela Logan.
- A leading archaeologist claims the first kings of Ireland came from Donegal.
- A temporary preservarion order has been signed for Rath Lugh in the Tara/Skryne valley. Here's another article with photos showing it might be too late. Tara Hill remains threatened by the M3 and needs your support.
- Here's a terrific photograph of a fairy ring. Mmmm, mushrooms.
- Labyrinths are ancient paths to increasingly popular modern meditation.
- We are compassionate, why are you killing us? is Paul Levy's passionate testimony to the Buddhist monks of Burma.
- As we approach the 700th anniversary of Grand Master Jacques de Molay being arrested, The Knights Templar Encyclopedia by Karen Ralls is essential reading (Amazon US or UK). An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar by James Wasserman is also excellent (Amazon US or UK).
- Forensic work suggests bones found near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg belong to the son and daughter of the last czar.
Quote of the Day:
And Kingdoms rise
And Kingdoms fall
But you go on...