Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful they still let me post here...
- Bad news, here's what that 'UFO' spotted from the space station really was.
- Good news, there are a bunch more photos taken by astronauts that still have debunkers scratching their heads.
- If you're going to Netflix and chill this holiday weekend, Insider Monkey counts down the 11 best alien documentaries on Netflix.
- Is there anything Pope Francis can't do? His kiss on a baby's noggin cured her brain tumor.
- Wanna find Nessie? Grab all your thirsty friends and invite them to Scotland according to one Tumblr user.
- Disney's lemmings have nothing on the spate of mass drownings of birds in the UK.
- Like all animals, spiders have personalities and understanding them can benefit humanity.
- Queensland's night parrot is no longer in the running for Hide and Seek champion, as a small population has been found. Thylacines still have the lead at 79 years.
- With the increasing relevance of quantum physics, will we have to rewrite Einstein's theory of general relativity?
- From the spooky-scary file, the terrifying case of the necklace and the poltergeist.
- Julia Shaw says regression therapy isn't real, blaming Hollywood for perpetuating the myth. Her take seems pretty narrow to me, fam.
- Cable channel Showtime's going to bring back Twin Peaks, but will these Japanese coffee commercials featuring Dale Cooper be considered canon?
Quote of the Day:
"Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business."
Which is weirder - our past or our future?
- Expansion of human species down to lack of trust.
- In related news: Humanity may be colonising space sooner than we imagine.
- Dark matter grows hair around stars and planets.
- Biologists induce flatworms to grow heads and brains of other species.
- Obama '"disappointed" by data on Rosswell and UFOs.
- First known ancient underground city in Turkey used for permanent living will rewrite history.
- Scientists create quantum entanglement at room temperature.
- How a missing inner monologue affects the sense of self.
- A classic formula for pi has been discovered hidden in hydrogen atoms.
- Li-Fi leaves the lab.
- The brain's miracle superpowers of self-improvement.
- Study reveals 'extraordinary' DNA of people in Scotland.
- Solved: the mystery of Britain's Bronze Age mummies.
- Not digging the future of archaeology.
- Never mind the AI robots, amateur inventors are creating monstrous machines: a knife-wielding robotic tentacle and a fire-breathing dragon toy.
- I prefer my dragons trodden into the snow.
- The 'real' Pooh bear's skull goes on public display.
Quote of the Day:
The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it.
Hunter S. Thompson
Michael Persinger Defends the 'God Helmet', says Richard Dawkins Was Affected by Alcohol When He Tried ItPosted by Greg at 09:16, 25 Nov 2015
Many years ago 'neurotheology' researcher Michael Persinger made news with his 'God Helmet', a head-mounted apparatus that generated weak, fluctuating magnetic fields, which was reportedly able to induce mystical experiences in those wearing it. However, a 2005 study by other researchers failed to replicate Persinger's results, and the effect was written off as being due to suggestibility rather than an actual, physical change in the brain.
The 'God Helmet' has slipped from the radar since that replication failure, but Persinger has now answered many of the criticisms/accusations about his research in a series of ten blog posts. The topics range from the set-up of the experiments, through related subjects such as his Tectonic Strain Theory and Chris French's 'Haunted Room' experiment, to even noting that Richard Dawkins was perhaps a little inebriated during his own (failed) encounter with the God Helmet:
Question: Richard Dawkins is seen drinking wine or wine mixed with soda water (a “Wine Cooler”) before his session with the God Helmet in the BBC video showing his visit to your lab. Had he been drinking before the session? Will alcohol interfere with the God Helmet effects?
Answer: Yes, he had been drinking. The scent was easily noticed. In addition, he was obliged to sit in hot lights within the chamber for almost an hour as the BBC director managed several television studio details before the experiment began. This forced us to deviate from our typical protocol where the person walks into the dimly lit chamber and we begin the experiment within a few minutes. We have found that intoxication, particularly ethanol, interferes with the experimental induction of the sensed presence.
In addition, Dawkins had a low score for temporal lobe sensitivity, as mentioned on several web pages (example). Ordinarily, there are ways we can compensate, but these conditions made it difficult. Getting a subject to relax can take time before the session begins, and on that occasion, we were already pressed for time.
For those not familiar with Persinger's God Helment experiments, the episode of Through the Wormhole embedded below gives a good, quick introduction:
You might also like:
- Archaeological study finds that Glastonbury myths were 'made up by 12th-century monks'.
- Are these medieval books really made of foetal tissue?
- Hitler's Supergun: The Nazi plot to destroy London (and why it failed).
- Was Titanic inquiry scuppered by Freemasons?
- This is how to store human knowledge for eternity.
- Hamas seizes chest of ancient gold coins accidentally discovered in Gaza.
- What on Earth is going on in this bizarre video of a Middle Eastern 'Sand River'?
- Trip advisors: The unusual couple behind an online encyclopedia of psychoactive substances.
- Psychic offering to help with murder case charged by police.
- How private are our thoughts?
- Hacking the brain to restore lost abilities.
- Thermoelectric furniture could charge your phone with energy from your coffee.
- Inside the bizarre genome of the world's toughest animal.
- Will our descendants survive the destruction of the Universe?
- Surgery could give men wombs of their own within five years.
- Sometimes noting patterns and theorising about shadowy groups planning in backrooms is correct: for example, the female meteorologist conspiracy.
- Video of the Day: Slow-motion fire tornado.
Quote of the Day:
Simplistic answers can be hugely emotionally satisfying, especially when you feel you need someone to blame.
The world, however, is a very complicated place, and simplistic answers are usually wrong.
It always seems so obvious in retrospect: artist Benjamin Mackey recently was inspired by a genius idead: to create a variant on the Rider Waite Tarot Deck, based on the cult television series created by David Lynch (which itself featured all manner of occult references: the Twin Peaks Tarot.
In the embedded podcast below, Mackey is asked whether he thinks the way in which many Twin Peaks characters seem to fit so well with the cards of the Tarot was by conscious design of David Lynch, or if it's simply down to the archetypal nature of story characters:
I think there are certain characters that David Lynch was purposefully basing off Tarot archetypes. There's one scene where Major Garland Briggs, he's talking about his experiences in the White Lodge, and there's a scene where he's sitting on this stone throne and he's surrounded by this lush greenery, and the pose he's striking is almost exactly the pose that the hierophant strikes. Then there's also a scene with Blackie at One-Eyed Jack's, she's at her table and she's playing the Tarot Cards. And it's a really small thing, you don't see her doing it a lot and they don't make a lot of direct references to it...but something like that, makes me think that maybe David Lynch has more of a conscious connection to the Tarot.
- Five things I learned infiltrating a paranormal convention.
- Mapping the cult of Mary: Apparitions and healings of the Virgin Mary across the world.
- In search of the Notorious B.I.G.Foot.
- Are you ready for a future of bug-eating?
- No, space station astronaut Scott Kelly did not take a picture of a UFO.
- Reclaiming the Goddess: Please stop using the name ISIS to describe a bunch of ignorant, murderous f**ktards.
- So many birds were startled by Oklahoma earthquake that they showed up on radar.
- Why do we disappear into the unconscious of sleep and dreams.
- The long, strange trip of the chemists behind the legendary LSD 'Orange Sunshine'.
- Five people charged over leaks alleging corruption in the Vatican.
- Secret pagan basilica in Rome emerges from the shadows after 2000 years.
- Evidence shows earliest Americans arrived 6000 years earlier than previously thought.
- Were elongated skulls an aid to human survival.
- Scientists discover how ocean fish magically disappear - now the Navy wants to know.
- The Doomsday Scam: Why terrorists have never been able to get their hands on the lethal substance known as red mercury.
- Scientists warn that the world is on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era.
- Image(s) of the Day: Medieval crusader art, if it was against Lovecraftian monsters.
Quote of the Day:
The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it's only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege andn social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.
"Our destiny is frequently met in the very paths we take to avoid it."
- Stellar womb reveals planet in formation.
- Cosmonauts vs. Astronauts.
- Is life on earth the exception?
- Babelfish translator, circa 2015.
- E-plants take digital root.
- Tracing the path to Gobekli Tepe just got easier.
- Quantum entanglement achieved in lab.
- Further proof of relativity.
- Stunt-flying bats’ secrets revealed.
- When butterflies get drunk.
- Unraveling the mystery of Candida albicans.
- A day in the life of Pluto and Charon.
- Potential Amazonian extinction.
- Is selenium the key to extinction?
- Define interstellar distance with the nebulae chart.
- Ice cloud revealed on Titan.
- Sci-Fi is no longer fringe.
- Lab grows vocal cords… that talk.
- The nature of creativity.
- Let the midnight special shine the light on me.
- SW blueprints unveiled - beware of spoilers.
- This week’s evidence of the looming robot uprising… Valkyrie.
Quote of the Day:
“Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire.”
Jean de la Fontaine
The Cult of Mary: How Supernatural Apparitions and Miracle Healings Led to Veneration of the Mother of JesusPosted by Greg at 00:01, 22 Nov 2015
The cover story for the latest edition of National Geographic. "How the Virgin Mary Became the World's Most Powerful Woman", looks at the rise of the 'cult' of the Virgin Mary, specifically through the lens of the miraculous/supernatural/Fortean apparitions of - and 'healings' by - the mother of Jesus throughout history. Award-winning journalist Maureen Orth looks at how the iconic religious figure has permeated Western culture (as well as Islamic culture to some extent as well), and how alleged miracles in her name provide sustenance to her on-going mythos:
Mary is everywhere: Marigolds are named for her. Hail Mary passes save football games. The image in Mexico of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most reproduced female likenesses ever. Mary draws millions each year to shrines such as Fátima, in Portugal, and Knock, in Ireland, sustaining religious tourism estimated to be worth billions of dollars a year and providing thousands of jobs. She inspired the creation of many great works of art and architecture (Michelangelo’s “Pietà,” Notre Dame Cathedral), as well as poetry, liturgy, and music (Monteverdi’s Vespers for the Blessed Virgin). And she is the spiritual confidante of billions of people, no matter how isolated or forgotten.
Praying for the Virgin Mary's and being devoted to her are a global phenomenon. The notion of Mary as intercessor with Jesus begins with the miracle of the wine at the wedding at Cana, when, according to the Gospel of John, she tells him, “They have no wine,” thus prompting his first miracle. It was in A.D. 431, at the Third Ecumenical Council, in Ephesus, that she was officially named Theotokos, Bearer of God. Since then no other woman has been as exalted as Mary. As a universal symbol of maternal love, as well as of suffering and sacrifice, Mary is often the touchstone of our longing for meaning, a more accessible link to the supernatural than formal church teachings. Her mantle offers both security and protection. Pope Francis, when once asked what Mary meant to him, answered, “She is my mamá.”
Her reported appearances, visions experienced often by very poor children living in remote or conflict-wracked areas, have intensified her mystery and aura. And when the children can’t be shaken from their stories—especially if the accounts are accompanied by inexplicable “signs” such as spinning suns or gushing springs—her wonder grows
Apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported throughout post-New Testament history, but in the last 450 years alone there have been more than 2000 reported sightings (see the map below for a graphic representation - the National Geographic story has a larger version for ease of viewing).
The Catholic Church however is very careful in officially recognising such events, with only sixteen of those being sanctioned as true miracles. Their pain-staking process of investigation covers many aspects of each sighting, though "the 'authenticity' and mental stability of the seer are prime, and anyone suspected of trying to gain fame or riches from contact with the Virgin Mary is ignored or condemned". Furthermore, "the Vatican would never approve an alleged apparition whose message contradicted church teachings, and the faithful aren’t required to believe in apparitions."
The locations of apparitions and healings, such as Lourdes and Medjugorje, have become famous the world over.
Here's a video made by National Geographic to accompany their story, "Five things to know about Marian apparitions":
One aspect unfortunately not covered in the story is the Fortean interpretation - are these apparitions actually Christian/Islamic, or are they something else, simply being interpreted through that lens? Jacques Vallee covered some of these thoughts in his book Passport to Magonia, in which he discusses VM apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, and another at Knock in Ireland, and how some elements also match those found in sightings of other strange phenomena, such as UFOs and 'fairy folk', throughout history. (I also specifically covered the similarity in 'sounds' heard during these sightings in my article "Her Sweet Murmur: Exploring the aural phenomenology of border experiences".) From spinning disks to falls of 'angel hair', there are some distinctly strange aspects to a number of 'Virgin Mary' apparitions.
An interesting article nonetheless, although one can only wonder how much criticism it might receive from scientific quarters given recent concerns that Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of National Geographic, and the subsequent cuts to staff within the organisation, might lead to a less scientific approach from the iconic science magazine.
Yea I read from the Book of Fort, Chapter 11, Verse 19. In the name of Keel, Redfern, and the Red Pill...
- Psychic candidate Donald Trump can 'feel' when terrorism is coming. Too bad he can't feel the Bern.
- Stop the presses, Obama says UFOs aren’t 'as top secret as you'd think'.
- Where'd they go? Scott Corrales has a dandy Chronicle of Strange Disappearances throughout the ages.
- Quoth the crow, "I love you!"
- I, for one, welcome our insect overlords. Turns out bugs are embracing climate change.
- The words of the prophets are written in wheat fields with a crop circle warning humanity of an imminent asteroid impact.
- The doctor is in! Eric Wargo's interpreting precognitive dreams via quantum psychoanalysis.
- Some eggheads blended together those gestalt-y simulacra faces we see, and it kinda looks like Abe Vigoda.
- You are not your job. You are not your khakis. You are not just your brain.
- Some people want to see the new Star Wars before they die. This sweet lady wants to see Nessie before going blind.
- Shots fired! Skepticism on the couch? Hear him out, rather than ragequitting.
- All the news that's print to fit! The New York Times's superficial lip service passed off as real journalism on flying saucers is grinding our gears.
- The G20 meeting in Turkey was infiltrated by ascended masters.
- You got your cat in my rabbit! You got your rabbit in my cat! two great tastes that go great together!
- Someone plays Amazing Grace on the bagpipes in space, and it's not Captain Montgomery Scott.
Quote of the Day:
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
Right here with the news
- Giant 7–8-foot skeletons uncovered in Ecuador sent for scientific testing.
- A classic formula for pi has been discovered hidden in hydrogen atoms.
- Could entanglement be the essence of space-time geometry?
- Skepticism on the couch.
- Scientists have a new way to study mystical experiences induced by psilocybin mushrooms.
- The Lambton Worm, and the 'Wicker Man' sequel that almost was.
- Sergeant Howie is alive and well. Scottish evangelists identify Paganism as one of the "biggest threats to Western civilisation".
- The only doctor in the world legally allowed to use LSD to treat patients.
- The unusual couple behind encyclopaedia of psychoactive substances, Erowid.
- New Hieronymus Bosch drawing found in private art collection.
- Does self-love or self-hate predict conspiracy beliefs? Narcissism, self-esteem, and the endorsement of conspiracy theories.
- 'Pastafarian' wins right to wear colander on head in driving licence photo.
- Ancient board game found in looted China tomb.
- NASA sees a black hole spew a corona.
- Cave Lion cubs emerge from the Siberian permafrost.
- Saudi Arabia's river of hail.
- Mysterious parasite may actually be a tiny jellyfish gone awry.
- Thou shalt not start wildfires on the day of the Lord.
Quote of the Day:
This is Life Eternal, right here. Be fulfilled, be happy, be kind, be in love, and never do anything that you can't live with forever.
Alan Moore (his first 'tweet' via @MomentOfMoore)