News Briefs 14-07-2017

“Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.”

Quote of the Day:

“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.”

Ray Bradbury

Lectures on 'Psychedelic Consciousness' from Breaking Convention 2017

The fine folks of Breaking Convention, a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness held annually in Britain for the last four years, have kindly uploaded a bunch of videos from this year's instalment (held just a couple of weeks ago) that I'm sure many Grailers will be interested in.

I've embedded two of the videos in this post. Above, Rupert Sheldrake on "Psychedelic Experience And Morphic Resonance":

When people take psychedelic drugs, these drugs have a variety of effects on their brain activity. These effects are similar to those in people who have taken the same drugs in the past. According to the hypothesis of morphic resonance, similar patterns of activity in the past resonate with similar patterns in the present. This opens up the possibility that psychedelic experience includes a resonance from people in the past who have taken the same drugs. This may set up a kind of collective memory for each kind of psychedelic experience. Present experiences may tap into this collective memory and in turn contribute to it. This hypothesis is experimentally testable.

And below is Dennis McKenna's talk, "Is DMT A Neurotransmitter For The Gaian Brain?".

The possible functions of endogenous DMT as a neurotransmitter or regulatory neurohormone in mammalian physiology are incompletely understood, and a matter of controversy. Its ubiquity in nature, however, suggests it may function at the biospheric level as a messenger molecule. The planetary ecosystem – sometimes romantically likened to Gaia, the feminine Mother of all life in Greek mythology – is a complex homeostatic system that is regulated and stabilised by complex feedback loops and symbiosis. These processes operate via signal transduction, the exchange of information mediated by molecular messengers. Neurotransmitters are one of many kinds of signal-transducing molecules in the body, but in ecosystems, photosynthetic plants produce a vast array of secondary products that mediate their interactions with virtually all organisms in the environment, including humans. In this talk I will suggest that DMT and the ‘family’ of related tryptamines – may specifically target the big-brained primates to trigger cognitive evolution.

These are just two of the talks available - you can check out everything posted so far (30+ videos!) over at the Breaking Convention YouTube channel - and it might be worth subscribing so that you know when new videos are posted.

Massive thanks to the Breaking Convention peeps for doing this, it gladdens the heart of this Antipodean stuck on the other side of the planet.

Link: Breaking Convention YouTube Channel

News Briefs 13-07-2017

Qué horas son mi corazón?

Quote of the Day:

"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

~Alan Watts

Jesus and the Self-Mummifying Ascetics of Japan

The modern world is fascinated with mummies, from the ancient archaeological remains uncovered in countries around the world, to the modern monster mythos that remains a movie favourite. But while the former category is often equated directly with ancient Egypt - along with perhaps Peru, and the bog bodies of Europe - there are also some mummies found in Japan. And there's something unique about these mummies: they began turning themselves into mummies *before* they died:

Over a hundred tried, but just a few dozen succeeded. Living in the mountains, drinking arsenic-laced water, lacquer, and starving nearly to death - the life and death of the sokushinbutsu, the Japanese who mummified themselves.

The short video on the sokushinbutsu embedded above is part of a new web series titled 'Rare Earth', part of former astronaut Chris Hadfield's YouTube presence. Hosted by his son Evan, 'Rare Earth' is dedicated to uncovering unique stories and locations from across the globe. Host Evan Hadfield brings a humorous, rationalist approach to the series, so some might find the commentary slightly on the 'skeptical snark' side, although there's plenty of good points and funny asides if you don't take it all too seriously.

As is obvious from the topic in the above clip, the series has begun its worldwide tour of interesting places in Japan, and another of the videos from that location concerns the legend that Jesus escaped to Japan, and died there:

Did you know that Jesus wasn't crucified? It was his brother Isukiri, who 'casually' snuck onto the cross in his place. As it turns out, Jesus slipped away through Siberia and spent the rest of his life in Shingo, Japan. He stopped spreading the gospel and set up shop as a rice farmer. At least, that's what a man named Wado would have you believe.

I'm not sure about filing the 'Jesus in Japan' legend under 'conspiracy theory', as they do here - and it's interesting that in the discussion of how seriously we take various cults, Christianity itself wasn't mentioned as an examplar. But it's still a fun little series that should provide a few insights to some hidden history/'conspiracies' as it continues, so subscribe if you enjoy.

Related stories:

News Briefs 12-07-2017


Quote of the Day:

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

News Briefs 11-07-2017


Thanks @Grailseeker.

Quote of the Day:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

H. L. Mencken

The Eclipse Mystery: Pendulum Anomaly During Solar Eclipses Could Rewrite the Laws of Science


Next month, on August 21, a total solar eclipse will take place across the United States, viewable from locations sitting on a 100km wide path that will stretch from coast to coast. And while most people will take in the awe-inspiring spectacle by looking at the sky, a small group of scientists will likely spend their time watching a pendulum, seeking an anomaly that could turn physics upside down.

In 1954 French polymath Maurice Allais performed an experiment in which he release a Foucault pendulum every 14 minutes for an entire month. (A Foucault pendulum is one that, at its hinge point, is free to move in any direction. French physicist Léon Foucault used the device in 1851 to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth: because it can move in any direction, as the Earth rotates the pendulum's motion slowly shifts relative to the Earth beneath it. )

Maurice Allais' 30 day experiment happened to coincide with the 1954 solar eclipse, and he was shocked to find that during the eclipse, the pendulum's angular motion suddenly changed. There was no physical law which would suggest this effect, so Allais was baffled. Allais repeated the experiment in during another solar eclipse in 1959 to check his result, but again recorded an anomalous movement. This change in the motion of the pendulum during an eclipse came to be known as the Allais effect, or Allais anomaly. Suggestions for the cause have ranged from dark matter through to gravitational anomalies.

As with most other scientific anomalies, orthodox science has largely dismissed the Allais effect as likely being due to poor experimental set-up. Results by other experimenters have been inconclusive, with some finding positive results, others finding nothing, adding to the mainstream view that the Allais effect is bogus:

Variations of the experiment have been done with a torsion pendulum (basically a horizontal bar suspended on a wire), and some verified the result and others didn’t. In 1991 a precise torsion experiment was done, and found no effect. Because of this the common view is that the effect isn’t real, but there are still experiments that claim to confirm the Allais effect. Since the effect requires a total eclipse, you can’t do the experiment very often, and you need to have a setup portable enough to do on site. So getting good, consistent results is difficult at best.

The debate over the Allais effect still lingers. Some argue that it isn’t a real effect, some argue that it’s a real effect, but is due to external factors such atmospheric changes of temperature, pressure and humidity which can occur during a total eclipse. Others argue that it’s a real effect, and is due to “new physics.” This latter view has become popular among supporters of alternative gravity models. Allais himself claimed that the effect was the result of new physics, though never proposed a clear mechanism. As a result, the experiment has become “tainted” by fringe science to the point that mainstream scientists don’t really do the experiment any more. The 1991 result is pretty clear, and Allais’ results are likely due to experimental error.

Ironically, while many supporters believed Allais would eventually win a Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of this anomaly - with implications that could rewrite the laws of science - he actually went on to win the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics for completely unrelated work.

Sadly, in recent years internet discussion of the Allais effect seems to have been hijacked somewhat by Flat-Earth proponents (yes, they still exist), who see the anomaly as a possibly way of disputing that pesky Foucault pendulum experiment that showed the Earth was a rotating globe. But hopefully there's some good science done during the upcoming eclipse, and we see honest discussion of any anomalous results that might be recorded.

News Briefs 10-07-2017


Quote of the Day:

Do not just slay your demons. Dissect them and find what they've been feeding on.

'The Man Frozen in Time'

The Mothman of Point Pleasant

What happened in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in 1966-67? That remains one of the great questions of Forteana, with reports of the legendary 'Mothman' and sightings of lights in the sky being, followed by the disaster of the Silver Bridge collapse, in which 46 residents died. The mystery was the subject of a best-selling book by John Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, which was later made into a film of the same name.

And now, a new documentary, The Mothman of Point Pleasant, takes another look at the mystery. The feature is part of an independent film series, Small Town Monsters, "that explores lost and bizarre history around the United States".

Learn the terrifying, true story about thirteen months that changed history! In November of 1966 a car full of kids encountered a creature unlike anything they'd ever seen before. In the weeks and months to follow, the monster (now known as The Mothman) was sighted again and again on country roads and around the state of West Virginia. As the sightings continued so did an increase in unusual activity.

At the center of this bizarre series of events was the town of Point Pleasant, WV. A small burb situated on the banks of the Ohio river with a lengthy history of what many might call bad luck. Over the next thirteen months Point Pleasant would undergo one of the strangest outbreaks of paranormal activity the world has ever seen. An outbreak that eventually ended in tragedy.

The Mothman of Point Pleasant is available to buy or rent via Amazon Video.