Index to This Site

Friday 5 December 2014

An Early Near Death Experience

     Of course, we all know that it was the publication of Raymond Moody's book, Life After Life in 1975 which kick-started the investigation of near death experiences. I was particularly interested because, as a boy, I had already read an account of such an experience.

Sunday 9 November 2014

"Australian Poltergeist" : a Review

 Tony Healy and Paul Cropper, Australian Poltergeist,  Strange Nation, 2014

     You can stay overnight in an allegedly haunted house, set up all your equipment and, if you are lucky, the ghost - assuming there are such things - may turn up. Or it may not. Ghosts are fickle and unreliable things. However, there is one paranormal phenomenon which is not at all shy, but is happy to perform, loudly and boisterously, in broad daylight in front of any number of witnesses. I am speaking, of course, of poltergeists.
     The phenomenon definitely exists. Not only that, but it is relatively common - probably the most common of all paranormality. A thing can be relatively common and still remain socially invisible if people don't talk about it. If every poltergeist manifestation were reported in the local press, you would be absolutely amazed at how frequently it occurs.
     More to the point, because of its propensity for high profile performance, it is eminently studiable. So why isn't it being studied by the scientific establishment?
     For a long time it has been noted that poltergeists tend to focus on a particular individual, especially an adolescent, with the result that many people now attribute it, not to discarnate spirits, but to RSPK: recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis. "The truth, of course," stated the arch-debunker, D. H. Rawcliffe in The Psychology of the Occult (1952), is that the adolescent girl or boy is solely responsible for the production of poltergeist phenomena; in almost every case which has been completely investigated, the poltergeist activity has ended in the child being caught red-handedly in trickery." He didn't, himself, provide any examples, but nevertheless, we will agree that this is a testable hypothesis. However, a moment's consideration will reveal that, if true, this would simply replace a paranormal mystery with a psychological mystery. Psychological aberrations rarer than this are regularly researched, so why doesn't anybody investigate? "Let's totally ignore the poltergeist phenomenon," seems to be the motto of official science.

Friday 3 October 2014

They Met the Man Who Wasn't There

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
       Antigonish, by Hughes Mearns (1899)
     You go to the city centre, or to the shopping complex, and you see hundreds of anonymous strangers passing by. You assume they are normal, flesh-and-blood people going about their normal, flesh-and-blood activities, just like you. Indeed, it would be a very strange world if it were not so. But it is a very strange world. So how do you know that every last one of those anonymous strangers is really, physically present?

Monday 1 September 2014

It Happened to Them!

     Did you hear about the cat called Mandrake which, in four consecutive months - but only at the full moon - brought a mouse into the house and drowned it by holding it down in the dog's water bowl? Friends of the owner suggested that it was offering sacrifices to Diana, or else it was destroying evil witches who had transformed themselves into mice. Or what about the ants which, after having burning paraffin poured down their nest one day, and boiling water a few days later, marched in several lines nine metres to deposit their dead in a heap in front of the home of their destroyers?

Friday 8 August 2014

A Poltergeist Can Be Fun - Or Else It Stinks

     I can't see how anyone can seriously doubt the existence of the poltergeist phenomenon. Not only has it been extensively documented, but it is not all that uncommon. If you live in a low crime area, your house probably has a better chance of getting a poltergeist infestation than being burgled. And it's no fun at all - at least, not unless your idea of fun is having your sleep disturbed by "things that go bump in the night", and your meals disturbed by flying cutlery and smashing crockery, clocks running backwards, electrical appliances turning off and on, and mysterious objects appearing out of nowhere, and others disappearing into thin air. But at least they hardly ever hurt anybody. In one case the babies were regularly taken from their crib and gently placed on the floor, rather than being thrown. However, I suppose a low level poltergeist infestation might make life a little more interesting.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

A Voice Out of Nowhere

     If the 1894 survey of hallucinations is anything to go on, one in ten of you has encountered by sight, sound, touch, or smell something which, on reflection, you realised was not physically present. In other words, a ghost. Since life is not yet over, no doubt even more will have the experience before they expire. In most cases, it will be something they saw. But how many of you have heard a voice from out of nowhere? And if you did, how did you react? I have heard more than one such incident. Here is a good example.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Telepathy, Anyone?

     What's the difference between mind reading and thought transference? Essentially, the same as between listening and speaking. Mind reading means eavesdropping on somebody else's thoughts: the power all police detectives and suspicious spouses wish they had, while thought transference is the deliberative sending of a message by means of thought. Where the analogy breaks down, of course, is that listening and speaking use two separate organs, whereas mind reading and thought transference both use the brain, so it is possible that the two are connected.
     That's assuming, of course, that they actually exist. Proving their existence in the laboratory would be, to say the least, rather difficult. In the film, What Women Want Mel Gibson convinced his female doctor that he could read women's minds by asking her to think of a number, and then telling her what it was. However, while that experiment might have convinced her, there was no objective evidence which a third party could grasp. After all, we can't read her mind to determine whether he was correct. With this in mind, what I am about to tell you are anecdotes, rather than scientific experiments. But I think they are good anecdotes.

Friday 2 May 2014

The Psychics and the Saucers

     One of the benefits of preparing last month's post was that it forced me to reread Jim Schnabel's excellent book on the U.S. psychic spies, or remote viewers. Schnabel is an excellent investigative reporter in the field of science, and he detailed his sources of information page by page, so I don't think we need doubt the broad details of his story. This is important, because one of the things the remote viewers discovered was that there was Somebody Else interested in the same things as them.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Why Psychics Don't Win Lotteries

     Readers of this blog will be aware that I consider there to be adequate evidence for extra-sensory perception (ESP), or clairvoyance. So this raises the question - the $64,000 question - which skeptics always introduce: how come these "psychics" never seem to win the lottery? Is there some special dispensation to the rest of us that they are unable to use it for their own advantage? Well, apart from the possibility that some of them might just be doing so, the short answer is: the skeptics are mostly right. 90% - perhaps 99% - of professional psychics are either outright charlatans or self-deluded. But what about the small residue of genuine cases? To answer that, just look at the claims. The most plausible psychic anecdotes - the ones most likely to be true - fall into two categories. The first involves sudden flashes of insight, usually involving danger or disaster. The second involves vague impressions induced by the presence of a person or an object - sufficient to predict being decorated by the King some time in the indefinite future, but not good enough to determine whether you will gain the latest promotion, let alone next week's winning lottery numbers. To put it bluntly, nobody's psychic powers are that strong. If you don't believe me, just ask the U.S. intelligence services

Friday 7 March 2014

Smoke Billowing from the Newspaper

     In my last post, I detailed John Heymer's research proving that people do, in fact, burst into flame for no obvious reason - and in front of others, as well. Mr Heymer insists, nevertheless, that he does not believe in the supernatural; everything that happens must be the result of natural laws. Well, yes. We can't argue with that. Unless we are talking about miracles ie the Divine Programmer applying the manual override function to the universe, then everything must be the result of some law. It begs the question, however, whether we know enough of the laws, by-laws, and regulations of the universe to explain everything.
     There was, for example, one incident which really puzzled him. In December 1994, he had appeared on a TV program, "Schofield's Quest" to discuss spontaneous human combustion, and requested feedback. That inspired an elderly couple to come forth with an account of what had happened to them three years before.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Flames Roaring Out of Her Mouth

In this present-day know-it-all scientific age, a woman can erupt into flame in the full view of witnesses and her body be ravaged with flames while sitting on newspapers in a chair and neither the papers nor the chair suffer any fire damage, and the facts will be denied in a coroner's court because such things cannot be.
     That comment came from page 185 of The Entrancing Flame by John E. Heymer (Little, Brown and Company, 1996). I had finally got around to reading it, and it took me by surprise. For those unfamiliar with the concept, spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a phenomenon assumed to have taken place because the victims are burned to ashes without any obvious source of fire, and with the damage limited to the body and the seat to which it was attached, and everything else in the room being untouched - including the victim's legs, which are presumed to have been out of the circle of combustion. But this was the first time I was aware that the phenomenon had been actually witnessed.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

They Saw It Coming

     I've boarded more long distance flights, both international and domestic, than I can count, and suffered nothing worse than a missed connection. I never worry about them. I never have premonitions - about aircraft, or anything else. That is why I occasionally ponder this proposition: suppose the night before a fully prepaid flight, with a fully prepaid package holiday waiting at the other end, I had a vivid dream of a crash, what would I do?
     I happen to know that premonitions of disaster are one of the most commonly reported psychic phenomena. And I have already explained why the glib explanations of coincidence or the manifestation of prior anxiety fail to hold water. It is probably part of our in-built survival mechanism.