One I missed during the week, what with all the Darklore fuss: as part of a Halloween posting, our good friend Alan Boyle - MSNBC science editor and writer of the most excellent Cosmic Log - explored "The Science of Spooks". It's a great post because it covers a lot of the ground we cover here on TDG, with links to further reading material. However, I do feel the need to call Alan on a couple of his statements.
Firstly, Alan notes the efforts of William James and the SPR to find evidence of an afterlife. Alan concludes that "[t]heir efforts ultimately fizzled out, draining their credibility in the process." I think this statement, without clarification, gives the wrong message - the "fizzling out" and "credibility" issues were not due to the group not finding evidence - far from it, nearly all of these top scientists became convinced by the evidence they witnessed - but were instead from orthodox (some might say physicalist) science resistance to accepting the results.
Secondly, Alan mentions Professor Richard Wiseman as having "investigated (and ultimately debunked) the case of the Hampton Court haunting." Now while Richard Wiseman's comments to the popular press seem to reflect this as being the case, I have more difficulty finding these conclusions in his actual scientific papers (this misrepresentation to the media has not been an uncommon occurence with Professor Wiseman). For instance, here are excerpts from the conclusion to the paper on the Hampton Court haunting:
Author Robert Bauval sends word of a special event to be held on the Spring Equinox next year, at the Giza Plateau in Egypt, with good friend Graham Hancock also in attendance: "The Grand Gathering of the Souls"...
On the Spring Equinox of 21 March, 2008, the sun will rise directly due East and be perfectly aligned with The Great Sphinx of Giza. This event was foretold by the Ancient Egyptians. Written in Hieroglyphics on the “Dream Stele” resting between the paws of The Great Sphinx since ancient times states : “This is the Place of Zep Tepi” meaning, literally, “This is the Place of The Beginning of Time”. The ancient Hermatic texts state that one day, when the time is right, all the Kindred Souls of the world will gather at Giza to welcome the rising sun, heralding a new age for humankind. The Giza Plateau, home of The Great Pyramid and Great Sphinx has been declared “The Gathering Place of all Souls.” We honor this message coming to us from the ancients. In an overall spirit of unity, friendship and peace extending worldwide, we offer you this opportunity to join us in celebration on this very special day.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, including the sunrise celebration at the foot of The Great Sphinx of Giza on the morning of the Spring Equinox. Following will be a magical evening of entertainment and fine dining at the famous Bary’s Restaurant by the Pyramids. Musical guests include Alexandrian singer Chafik Kotry and internationally renowned Egyptian musician and composer Hossam Ramzy in co-operation with Italian singer and composer Riccardo Ducci (who are together writing for this event the song “Message of the Sphinx”), as well as a variety of surprise celebrity guests.
For Bookings and more detail please contact:
If you've ever dreamed of traveling to Egypt, this sounds like a pretty cool way of doing it.
A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- Michael Prescott investigates an out-of-print memoir about automatic writing, The Open Door.
- Public Parapsychology takes you on "A Tour of the Institute of Noetic Sciences", with Dean Radin, Annalisa Ventola, Marcel Cairo, and Kevin Kovelant.
- The latest eSkeptic newsletter takes a skeptical look (what else?) at the evidence for nonhuman primate language.
- Filer's Files #44 has the latest ufological round-up.
- The latest Skeptico podcast features animal communication researcher Dr. Kim Odgen-Avrutik.
- At UFO Mystic, Greg Bishop asks "Where Might Aliens Come From", while Nick Redfern looks at "Ufology's Changing Face".
- Mike Jay tells us about Bonfire Night, its riotous origins and survival against the odds.
- At Reality Sandwich, Antonio Lopez investigates "Reality 2.0".
- Paul Kimball calls Bullsh*t on the Hoagland and Bara carnival. Kudos to Paul.
- Anthony North looks at "Cult Suicides" at Beyond the Blog.
Here's a great article on the legendary tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang, known mostly as the unifier of China, as well as his hobby projects such as the building of the Great Wall, and the construction of his Terracotta Army. His tomb lies unopened, with much speculation as to what treasures it may contain, and what defences it may have against intrusion:
Recently Guo Zhikun, a specialist in the history of the Qin and Han dynasties, gave a press conference in Xi'an, the capital city of west China's Shaanxi Province, in which he disclosed his academic research results focusing on the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang, making bold guesses about the mysterious tomb complex that fascinates the whole world.
The article runs through Guo Zhikun's five guesses as to what may lie within the tomb - and it's Indiana Jones material (no crystal skulls though). For an older story about Qin Shihuang here on TDG, see this update. Also I've previously posted a fascinating video documentary titled The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China, which is well worth viewing.
I missed this last weekend, but it's worth a mention. Journalist Jon Ronson, well-known for investigating the strange topics we like to cover, did quite a long piece on superstar psychic Sylvia Browne, which was published in the Guardian. Ronson managed to get a one-on-one with the elusive Browne by joining a cruise holiday on which she was featured.
His conclusions were not positive, with only one 'hit' of note by Browne mentioned, but plenty of doubts sown about her authenticity. Based on my own reading, I'd have to agree with Ronson and wonder why Browne has the following she does - and not just because of the now infamous Shawn Hornbeck error. I have heard of many mediums who seem to be more deserving of a high profile than Sylvia Browne. More importantly, skeptics tout Browne as an example of the fraudulent nature of mediumship - and as a figurehead (whether desired or not), she leaves a lot to be desired.
On the flipside, Jon Ronson's previous work - such as The Men Who Stare At Goats (Amazon US and UK), have exhibited a humorous cynicism, rather than objective reporting (though he's not a harsh skeptic in any sense). It's certainly a topic that lends itself to that approach for public reading, with its core theme of the oxymoron of military intelligence - and Ronson's writing talent makes it a fun and fascinating read - but at the same time, we should perhaps be wary of making these topics too easily dismissed in polite conversation. But then, with people like Sylvia Browne dominating the public definition of 'psychic', a little cynicism is not only desired, but required...
Apathy makes the baby Jesus cry...
- British mediums help find remains of missing soldier.
- NASA to look for papers on Kecksburg UFO incident.
- Ten years on, an X-Files sequel is coming. Also, Joss Whedon returns to TV.
- And, J.K Rowling writes another book - you can pick it up for $60,000 or upwards. But will our dear J.K. tarnish her friendly image by pulling some legal muscle against a fan?
- Careful which figures of speech you employ - for instance, snake oil salesmen may actually have been on to something.
- Not to mention that whole "growing on trees" figure of speech. Because computers surely don't...right?
- Dealing with death, the Mexican way.
- The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008. I knew time was flying, but it appears I've been left behind...
- In our continuing series of "Lots of Mars water, there's no Mars water", we bring you the latest twist: Vast amount of water ice may lie on Martian equator.
- Mars Express probes the Red Planet's unusual deposits.
- Black holes may harbour their own Universes.
- U.K. Ministry of Defence tests invisible tank. I have a squadron of invisible fighter planes in my back yard, if anyone is interested in buying them.
- More on the Pentagon's gay bomb. I'm starting to wonder whether Republicans and Fundamentalist leaders were invited to some test firings...
- Is there a pattern in lottery numbers?
- First we lost Alex, now Washoe, a female chimpanzee said to be the first non-human to acquire human language.
- Missing nukes: treason of the highest order?
- Civilisation ends with a shutdown of human concern. Are we there already?
- Power from the final frontier.
- What's so funny about technological collapse?
- Forget the X-men and Heroes - check out the real superhumans and the quest for the future fantastic.
- Our good friend Mark Pilkington (of Strange Attractor) has a book out with his collected 'weird science' writings from the Guardian over the years: Far Out (Amazon US and UK). Funky looking book!
Thanks Kat and Rick.
Quote of the Day:
I could be mistaken. Maybe it was another bald-headed, jigsaw-puzzle-tattooed, naked guy I saw.
Mulder ('The X-Files')
Is ufology making a comeback? I've noted lately that the most regularly updated blogs seem to be coming from that camp, and now the fever has spread to the U.S. Presidential race. In a recent Democratic candidate debate, Dennis Kucinich was asked directly (by moderator Tim Russert) whether he had seen a UFO - following on from his 'outing' by friend Shirley Maclaine in a new book. You can watch video of the segment here on TDG.
But Kucinich wasn't the only one talking UFOs:
Kucinich then sought out a Washington Post reporter an upbraided her for failing to ask more substantive questions on health care policy and Iraq.
What he did not know was that a short distance away, his UFO issue was, well, taking off in an interview with Gov. Bill Richardson, who during an appearing on MSNBC with Chris Matthews demanded faster declassifying of documents pertaining to Roswell and UFO sightings.
But Richardon stopped short of saying there is a government alien coverup.
Richardson wasn't just jumping on the bandwagon on debate night though - a few days previously he had discussed Roswell in a town hall meeting. And Republican contender Rudy Giuliani was confronted with a similar topic during one of his meet and greets.
All of which must be making the folks at the Disclosure Project very excited...
Well, I thought I missed a great event when I couldn't make it to CPAK 2007 last month, with alternative history 'legends' Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, Robert Schoch and John Anthony West all presenting. However, now that I've seen the after-party, I *know* I missed the boat big time. Nice pegs Graham! (h/t Colette).
Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:
Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: Whitley Strieber interviews Robert Bruce this week on Dreamland.
Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines. Early show Saturday "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 4/5/00 for a conversation on time travel with Dr. David Anderson. Afterward, author and astrologer Barrie Dolnick will join her co-author, attorney, Anthony H. Davidson in a discussion on the nature of luck, and the habits of lucky people. On Sunday Ian Lawton will discuss his recent research into reincarnation and existence between lives.
More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. You can listen to C2C live, or to recent archived shows, at CJOB.com. Dreamland is freely available at their website, and also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.
The website of Dr Zahi Hawass, supreme ruler - err, Undersecretary of the State for the Giza Monuments, has had a massive makeover, with a Flash intro telling you all about how amazing Dr Hawass is (careful you don't cut yourself on all those exclamation marks). The site now has a much more logical interface, making it easy to find information - unless that is you're seeking answers about the real history ancient Egypt. All jokes aside, good to see Zahi keeping an online presence - and also kudos to him for his charity drive for a children's museum, raising funds from merchandising of copies of his Indiana Jones-style hat (seriously, that last comment is not a joke).