Joseph Campbell's Journey

At Cabinet of Wonders, Emps has posted a great video series on the life and work of Joseph Campbell:

Joseph Campbell's work on myth was some of the most influential ever done, not only for our understanding of the power and nature of such tales, but also because he broke the structure down to core elements, which could then be used as a template by writers and film makers - cropping up everywhere from Star Wars to The matrix (see The Writer's Journey for both a how-to and an analysis of a number of films, including The Fully Monty - who knew?).

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth is an epic 6 hour documentary, which explores this topic through long interviews with Campbell and others (conducted over 2 years at George Lucas' ranch). It is not just one of best documentaries on this topic, but is truly a tour de force of the medium which you'd struggle to find these days.

I don't think I have 6 free hours in the next year, but I'll be trying to fit as much of this in as I can!

News Briefs 27-03-2008

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Molto obrigado, Greg

Quote of the Day:

"I am what Harry Potter grew up into, and it's not a pretty sight."

Alan Moore

MUFON Journals Online

John Greenewald's "The Black Vault" and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) have done us all a great service by putting online the MUFON Archive:

The MUFON Archive is a joint effort between the MUTUAL UFO Network (MUFON) and The Black Vault. In March of 2008, the two parties agreed to enter a powerful relationship on the internet, and offer unprecedented access to MUFON's archives. This includes four decades worth of MUFON Journals, from the year 1967 to the end of 2007, along with other research papers, documents and investigation case files.

This archive offers an important look into the past, present and future of UFO research. Many of these documents and publications are found nowhere else online, anywhere in the world.

That's right, *four decades* of journals, from one of the oldest and most important organisations dedicated to the scientific research of the UFO phenomenon. Each available as a PDF download. Wonderful stuff! (h/t UFO Mystic)

Randi's Sleight-of-Hand

In his newsletter posting addressing my article "The Myth of the Million Dollar Challenge", James Randi incorrectly attributes a number of my own comments to paranormal investigator Loyd Auerbach (see "The Grubbies Attack"). I informed the JREF of this error (and others), and there was a partial correction added to the beginning of Randi's post - however, it remained incorrect. I later engaged Randi in a personal email conversation about this, and while I respect the privacy of personal emails, I do feel compelled to point out that Randi acknowledged that *he knows* it wasn't Auerbach making those comments. The reason for 'replying' to Auerbach was entirely a personal one by Randi (which will remain private, as requested by Randi - however, I feel it would not be fair on Loyd Auerbach to keep Randi's acknowledgement of his non-involvement private).

This point is an important one, because many of Randi's supporters acknowledge that he can be ascerbic, but at least he tells the truth. The point is, simply, that he doesn't. He actually uses many techniques which might be considered a 'con' - not actually that surprising, as he is a magician by trade. Some are subtle rhetorical devices (such as calling my article "a tirade" numerous times), other times it is quite simply lying so openly that people don't suspect it. See if you can pick out the sleight of hand in the following...

News Briefs 26-03-2008

I wonder if Dawkins threw popcorn at the movie screen?

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

"There is no doubt in my mind that the Orbs may well be one of the most significant ‘outside of this reality’ phenomena mankind at large has ever witnessed."

Dr. Klaus Heinemann, a former research professor at Stanford University, and researcher in materials science for NASA.

Dawkins Avoids Being Expelled

While sick last week I missed quite a show, with a a head-on confrontation between atheist headliners Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers, and the producers of the pro-Intelligent Design film Expelled. What made the whole story newsworthy, really, was that P.Z. Myers - of the popular Pharyngula blog - was 'expelled' from seeing an early preview screening of the film by the producers while literally lining up for a ticket (public release is scheduled for April 18). Well, that wasn't really the newsworthy bit - it got more interesting when they kicked out Myers but completely missed the fact that also lining up for a ticket with Myers was Richard Dawkins...who simply walked in and viewed the film (sans P.Z. Myers):

...have you ever heard of a sabot? It's a kind of sleeve or lightweight carrier used to surround a piece of munition fired from a gun. It isn't the actually load intended to strike the target, but may even be discarded as it leaves the barrel.

I'm a kind of sabot right now.

They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn't notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn't recognize him. My guest was...

Richard Dawkins.

He's in the theater right now, watching their movie. Tell me, are you laughing as hard as I am?

Subsequently, Richard Dawkins has posted his review of the film (and the Myers expelling) on his website, titled "Lying for Jesus?" (as has P.Z. Myers' daughter, Skatje). In turn, the producers of the movie had put their own twist on the controversy. And lastly, Dawkins and Myers sat down for a video chat about the entire fiasco. Mention of the story has even made the big newspapers, although it's hard to tell whether the producers of the movie would see that as a bad or good development (as the old adage goes, "there's no such thing as bad publicity").

Unfortunately, the affair continues bring the dialogue about Darwinian evolution down to the level of monkeys throwing crap at each other across the room (a graphic analogy, but probably apt for the subject matter!). It's hard to blame anyone for it, it's just simply the way it is with competing ideologies. No doubt the Expelled producers have used dubious tactics when it comes to interviewing Dawkins et al, but then it's hard to be sympathetic when Rupert Sheldrake gives this account of Dawkins' own tactics when filming. The reviews of Expelled certainly cast it as a Creationist propaganda film (admittedly, the reviews are by the 'enemies' of the film), and that disturbs me because I have no wish to support that particular belief. On the other hand, the over-arching theme of the film (of the 'expelling' of heretics in science) is one that interests me greatly. And even though Dawkins praises P.Z. Myers' "caustic wit", most times I just find his blog postings to be obnoxious, obvious rants about religious nutters. Really, it's just a continuation of polarisation...and as mentioned above, the controversy probably plays more into the hands of the film-makers, despite the best intents of atheist bloggers.

Which leads me to saying, it would be nice to see more subtlety to this debate rather than Darwinians versus Creationists. I find some apostate views on evolution rather fascinating (though I hardly have the background to speak authoritatively about the topic) - things like Francis Crick's version of Intelligent Design/panspermia (happily, mentioned by Richard Dawkins in "Lying for Jesus?"), odd pieces of supporting evidence for a hint of neo-Lamarckism, and Rupert Sheldrake's own ideas of 'morphic resonance', and the 'conscious evolution' speculated on by people like Charles Muses (I'm particularly interested at the moment in the thought that consciousness may be an intrinsic, perhaps essential, part of the cosmos). I'm certainly not claiming that any of these non-Darwinian theories are correct, but I do enjoy contemplating possibilities (making me, of course, a whacko non-critically thinking grubby!)...

For further updates on this story (from the evolutionist standpoint), keep an eye on the "Expelled Exposed" website.

News Briefs 25-03-08

Shedding some light on dark matters...

  • Regrowing limbs. Or inventing new ones?
  • Where angels no longer fear to tread.
  • Into the light.
  • Artificial life is on the way.
  • Dark understanding of matter.
  • Planets' birthplace harbours chemical seeds of life.
  • The power of the mind.
  • Aliens downed Tunguska meteorite to save Earth.
  • Tunguska, the horns of the moon and evolution.
  • Mounting evidence shows red wine antioxidant kills cancer.
  • Antarctic shelf hangs by a thread.
  • Ghostly orbs perplex researchers.
  • Solar storms are about to get ugly.
  • An astounding time for planetary discoveries.

Quote of the Day:

The crux... is that the vast majority of the mass of the universe seems to be missing.

W.J. Broad

And the Zorgy Goes To...

Us! When the Daily Grail audience is mobilised, we bring teh power. Thanks to all those kind folks who got their voting shoes on, TDG has won the 2007 Zorgy Award for "Best Website (News Summary)" (and also we were the only nominee in any category to top 1000 votes). Appreciate the love you've shown us here, which I think is mainly a testament to the hard work of all our TDG admins, not to mention all the Daily Grail members who post thought-provoking comments and blog entries to make the site a fun place to hang out and discuss weirdness of various colours and flavours.

Make sure you scan the entire list of nominees and winners - there are some cool sites and resources in there, worth a long night of browsing through.

News Briefs 24-03-2008

Whew, finally! If you only knew...

Quote of the Day:

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I wish that it was something else...

Jenny Owen Youngs, Drinking Song

Weekend Blogscan 23-03-2008

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...