News Briefs 10-11-2014

Ca va?

Quote of the Day:

It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.

Carl Sagan

Help Fund Dr. Diane Powell's Telepathy Project

Diane Hennacy Powell, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist and a neuroscientist trained at the Johns Hopkins school of medicine, who also taught neuropsychiatry at Harvard; unlike most of her colleagues had a long-time interest in the mystery of human consciousness and was skeptical of the materialist model of how the brain is the sole generator of mind.

Some years ago Dr. Powell had an insightful Eureka moment: If something as telepathy (i.e. direct mind-to-mind communication) could actually exist, who could be the best candidates in which to find evidence for it? Her work in 1987 with Sir Michael Rutter considered to be the father of child psychology and leading expert in autism, led her to conclude that some of the abilities in non-verbal autistic savants were so mysterious and confounding, they could very well be interpreted as psychic phenomena. What if, Diane posited, these savants are able to solve staggering mathematical problems, not because their brains are highly tuned for pattern recognition and an increased memory, but because they actually manage to extract the answers from the 'ether' itself, as it were? Also, non-verbal savants would be the most motivated to develop such talents, due their condition of not being able to communicate with the outside world through 'ordinary' means.

With that in mind --no pun intended-- Dr. Powell started to conduct some tests with Haley, a 9-year-old autistic girl who seemed to display the capacity to read the minds of her family and therapists; the reason why her parents suspected their daughter was reading their mind was because even though she was able to find the 6-figure results to cube root equations, she was unable to make simple additions and subtractions. As Greg mentioned back in August, Diane had to prepare the tests in order to accommodate the special needs of the child --which prevented the complete isolation between 'sender' and 'receiver'-- but even without these less-than-ideal circumstances, Dr. Powell's initial results --which she presented at the 57th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association-- were nothing short of amazing: Not only was the girl able to be above 95% accurate on 10 equations she solved on a 10-minute period, but as Dr. Powell explained to Alex Tsakiris on her latest interview on Skeptiko, sometimes the therapist made mistakes in giving Haley the mathematical question to solve, and she would nevertheless give the right answer to the problem typed in the therapist's notes --i.e. it was as if Haley was picking the answer's from the therapist's mind, instead of solving them in her own head.

In order to keep elaborating her scientific model on how telepathy could arise as a method to extract information from our surroundings beyond the extent of our main physical senses, Dr. Powell needs to keep studying more autistic savants like Haley; children like Nandana, a Indian autistic girl who also seems to be able to read the minds of her parents. With the kind of evidence already gathered, you'd think Dr. Powell would have no problem in securing grants to continue funding her research, yet unfortunately you'd be wrong; Parapsychology is still considered a pseudoscience in the ivory towers of Academia, which has forced Diane to finance her research out of her own pocket.

Which is why she's seeking to crowdfund the next step in her telepathy project --and this is where YOU come in, dear Grailer:

Would Dr. Powell's Telepathy project be able to secure the 1st Nobel prize to the field of Parapsychology, as suggested by our good friend Grant Cameron? Although after spending enough time immersed in these topics, it's easy to become cynic and conclude the non-local nature of Consciousness will never be accepted, my conviction is that if we keep chipping away at the foundation of the Materialistic model, sooner or latter it will all come crashing down and a new scientific paradigm will arise; and people like Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell will be acknowledged for their substantial contributions in trying to adopt a more encompassing scientific model, in which phenomena like precognition and even telepathy will be understood and explained, the same way our ancestors managed to understand electricity and magnetism.

So please contribute to Dr. Powell's campaign, and help spread her project through your favorite social media. Frank Zappa said the Revolution will not be televised... but he didn't say anything about crowdfunding, now did he?

Further Reading:

News Briefs 07-11-2014

”When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn.”

Quote of the Day:

“To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.”


YOU SHALL NOT PASS The Chance to See the New Hobbit Trailer!

C'mon, watch the 1st official trailer of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and if you don't feel a shudder in your heart, I'll call you a Nazgûl --or something rhyming with that...

Will this be the last cinematic trip to Middle-Earth we'll have? Who knows. The Tolkien universe is vast, and has proven to be a bigger treasure trove than Smaug's lair. For myself, I'm glad Peter Jackson managed to properly close the circle on a journey he began since 1995, when he started planning on how to bring the saga of the Ring to the silver screen.

The battle commences on December 17th. Onward!

'Lost Civilisation' Built Massive Siberian Geoglyph Around 6000 Years Ago

Siberian Moose Geoglyph

A massive 275m-wide geoglyph found in the Ural Mountains predates the famous Nazca Lines by thousands of years, archaeologists have found. The giant moose-shaped structure was 'accidentally' discovered just three years ago by local researcher Alexander Shestakov while looking at satellite images of the area in Google Earth.

Initial fieldwork found simple techniques were used to create the moose, with turf and earth 10-metres-wide dug out to make its shape before being filled with stones. 'The figure would initially have looked white and slightly shiny against the green grass background,' he said.

Different methods were deloyed to make the various parts of the geoglyph; for instance, a mix of clay and crushed stone was used to make the hooves. When part of the hind leg was excavated, archaeologists found the largest stones were on the edges, with the smaller ones inside. While there are similarities to the world famous Nazca Lines, in Peru, and to geoglyphs in England - such as the White Horse in Oxfordshire or the Dorset Giant - the experts believe there are no links.

...Yet archeologists still cannot fathom the identity of their sophisticated social group who worked in the massive operation of constructing structure visible from space.

'Facts say that on this territory in the Neolithic and Eneolithic Ages lived hunters and fishermen. We conducted archaeological works on the site of a settlement nearby, on the lake shore, on the assumption that the builders of the geoglyph might live there. People have lived here since the Neolithic era but there was no sign of large social structures, nor that they did anything other than hunting and fishing', Stanislav Grigoryev said.

'It puzzles me a lot, I keep thinking about the people that built the geoglyph, and their purpose'.

Link: Children from lost civilisation 'helped build' geoglyph some 6,000 years ago

News Briefs 06-11-2014

The ending of V for Vendetta always makes me cry.

  • The big winner of these past elections: Marijuana.
  • What on Earth are those mysterious stone circles (see what I did there?) recently discovered in the Middle East?
  • What if dark matter were actually a vast electric field? --Hmm, kinda sounds like Thunderbolts of the Gods to me!
  • Cracking the neutrino mass mystery.
  • Green fireballs, Interstellar, a Space Odyssey & monoliths: It all comes together under Loren Coleman's microscope.
  • British MoD discovers 18 new UFO files.
  • Lon Strickler believes Boyd Bushman and his Area 51 death-bed confession. Do you?
  • In the spirit of bringing the Sci into SyFy --or whatever-- Arthur C Clarke's 3001 will be turned into a miniseries.
  • The grandson of Jacques Cousteau wants to build an underwater city --or maybe he justs wants a cameo in the Aquaman movie.
  • Why the Man of Steel keeps having cold showers at his Fortress of Solitude. Or you can skip the link and let Mallrats' Brodie Bruce 'splain it to ya.
  • False psychic caught on camera.
  • Pope Francis roots for the Vatican Exorcists --the best football team in my favorite parallel world.
  • Samaritan radar: Noble service or ill-conceived intrusion?
  • Philosophy of Health is a promising new podcast run by Mandy, a brilliant woman who explores the chronic illnesses affecting both her body and our own civilization. Go check it out!
  • There's Adventure Time, and then there's Moving-On Time: Why the creator of the trippiest show on TV quit it in order to retain his sanity.
  • Red Pill of the Day: This (GRAPHIC!) video of a South American lungfish removed from a man's abdomen, is the closest thing to a real-life alien chest-burster scene.

Thanks to V & Nonno.

Quote of the Day:

"How calmly does the olive branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair

Some time while light obscures the tree
The zenith of its life will be
Gone past forever
And from thence
A second history will commence

A chronicle no longer gold
A bargaining with mist and mold
And finally the broken stem
The plummeting to earth, and then

And intercourse not well designed
For beings of a golden kind
Whose native green must arch above
The earth's obscene corrupting love

And still the ripe fruit and the branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair

Oh courage! Could you not as well
Select a second place to dwell
Not only in that golden tree
But in the frightened heart of me?"

~Tennessee Williams, from The Night of the Iguana.

Ex Machina Trailer

In keeping with Hollywood's plan to remind us that the Singularity is near, here's the trailer for Ex Machina (2015): A film directed by Alex Garland, which seems to be a rare mix of Sci-Fi and erotic thriller. Sorayama anyone?

Caleb, a 24 year old coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

It's easy to see why movie studios are all jumping into the robot bandwagon (e.g. Automata, Chappie, etc) since the emergence of A.I. would suppose a tremendous change for mankind which is as promising as it is scary; scary because it's surrounded by a mist of uncertainty --will the androids free us from our daily chores? will they enslave us instead? even worse, will they find us totally irrelevant?

Even though I'm still personally skeptical of the promulgated promises of Ray Kurzweil and his acolytes, what I do know is that a good rule of thumb to find out whether the Singularity is here or not, is when Hollywood starts to portray robots as nonchalantly as how computers and cell phones are shown in today's films --ubiquitous and self-explanatory.

News Briefs 05-11-2014

The haunting sound of the Yaybahar.

Quote of the Day:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Graham Hancock at Horizons 2014: “Psychedelics and Civilisation, Light and Darkness”

In this 48 minute appearance at the Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics forum in New York last month, Graham Hancock contemplates the history of how humans have dealt with psychedelics:

Graham Hancock investigates the possibility that by demonising and criminalising the use of psychedelics, rather than seeking out ways to harness their power for altering consciousness in safe and nurturing spaces, our society may have set itself on a profoundly negative path — a path that might even deny us the next step in our own evolution as a species.