Memory, its’ unreliability, and evidence-based reporting of phenomena

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One of the things I point out to people interested in the paranormal is the difficulty in ensuring that the evidence gained is reliable. For instance, if you wake from a particularly memorable dream, write it down straight away, documenting everything, no matter how trivial! 

I have personally woken from an ‘interesting’ dream, fully intending to tell my husband or daughters about it, only to forget the details of it. Somehow our brains decide that it’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things, so you either forget about it completely or you remember having a dream, but have a hazy recollection of it.

This equally applies to being asked to describe an event that you witnessed – whether it be as a witness to a crime or a paranormal event. We really cannot trust our memory for complete accuracy, precisely because our brain has a habit of selectively erasing the bits it doesn’t think we need to retain!

Whatever you may have witnessed, should you be asked 10 minutes after the event; an hour after; then a day after; it’s highly likely that your recall of what you experienced will alter. Given time to ponder upon it, you’re likely to embellish your re-telling of it (particularly if you have discussed it with others who also witnessed it!) with what you think you saw, and add to your retelling with the details of what others told you they saw.

I am a firm believer that, since we are so easily fooled by our senses, we do need to document what we think we saw/heard/experienced straight after the event. For an objective report of an experience, it is important to document what you experienced immediately after, and not allow time, either to think about the occurrence, or conversations with others, which provides additional input that flaws your ‘evidence’.

Scientific American’s article about eyewitness evidence vs expert testimony is worthy of a mention here and, rather than tell you about it, I advise you to read it for yourself. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/

Recognition is a vital skill that we hone from the day we are born. In previous blogs I’ve mentioned about Pareidolia which I termed a ‘baby survival technique’. Having gained the skill of recognising faces, we carry this through the rest of our lives such that you can recognise the picture of Christ on a window or a dragon-shaped cloud in the sky. The fact that our brains can ‘see’ a recognisable shape when our logical brains know that it doesn’t really exist is a strange ability. There is nothing to be achieved from knowing there is a cloud that formed in a particular shape or a house where the windows and door make it look like it has a face. There are many more mundane examples in my blog about Pareidolia.

Apophenia
This is a term I had never come across until I started my researches into memory and how the brain functions.

Klaus Conrad coined the term in 1958 when he published a monograph titled Die beginnende Schizophrenie. Versuch einer Gestaltanalyse des Wahns (“The onset of schizophrenia: an attempt to form an analysis of delusion”), in which he described in ground breaking detail the prodromal mood and earliest stages of schizophrenia. He used the word “Apophänie” to characterise the onset of delusional thinking in psychosis. Conrad’s theories on the genesis of schizophrenia have since been partially, yet inconclusively, confirmed in psychiatric literature when tested against empirical findings.

Along with Pareidolia, which I’ve already mentioned in relation to the perception of images, there are other states of awareness:

Patternicity
In 2008, Michael Shermer coined the word ‘patternicity’, defining it as the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. From this one could deduce that when paranormal investigators carry out an EVP session, they’re hearing noise but their ability to recognise particular sounds leads them to conclude they’ve heard words.

Agenticity
In The Believing Brain (2011), Shermer wrote that humans have ‘the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, and agency’, which he called ‘agenticity’. You could argue that the human trait of superstition grew out of action (or non-action) which we believed were the reason something did, or didn’t, happen. You don’t walk under a ladder because at some point, someone did and that person and/or the person on the ladder came to grief so the reasoning was that it was safer to go around the ladder.

Randomania
In 2011, parapsychologist David Luke proposed that apophenia is one end of a spectrum and that the opposite behaviour (attributing to chance what are apparently patterned or related data) can be called ‘randomania’. He asserted that dream precognition is real and that randomania is the reason why some people dismiss it.

Overfitting
In statistics and machine learning, apophenia is an example of what is known as overfitting. Overfitting occurs when a statistical model fits the noise rather than the signal. The model overfits the particular data or observations rather than fitting a generalised pattern in a general population.

OK that was the jargon explanation which made no sense whatsoever to me. So, having researched what overfitting is, here’s my explanation: Say you’re at a party. You’re standing talking to a friend. Of course you’re listening to that friend but, at the same time, you’re also aware of the people and conversations around you, the clinking of glasses and the music playing. Overfitting is where your attention is drawn to those other things and you’re not really paying attention to what your friend is saying.

Gambler’s fallacy
Apophenia is well documented as a rationalisation for gambling. Gambler’s fallacy is where the gambler may imagine that they see patterns in the numbers which appear in lotteries, card games, or roulette wheels.

Hidden meanings
Fortune-telling and divination are often based upon discerning patterns seen in what most people would consider to be meaningless chance events. The concept of a Freudian slip is based upon what had previously been dismissed as meaningless errors of speech or memory. Freud believed that such “slips” held meaning for the unconscious mind. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia.

We treasure our memories

The thing about the human ‘condition’ is that our brains store a lifetime of memories. On the whole, we’re quite good at remembering things although, as we get older, it’s a known fact that our memories may begin to fail. A whole industry of games and apps has been born around the concept of ‘use it or lose it’ with the fear of dementia ever present. Our brain has huge capacity, filing away the less important stuff to ensure that we can gain access to the information we need, when we need it.

What’s fascinating about our memory is the selective way in which it retains or loses information. Recall of things we did in our younger days may be easy yet, if asked to recall something we did in the last week, we may well have difficulty trying to remember. I believe that this is because the art of selectively forgetting things that are unremarkable, e.g., what you had for dinner or what clothes you wore two days ago, are comparatively trivial, compared to memories gathered in childhood that were, at that time, extremely important to your young minds.

It’s been said that children’s minds are like sponges, they soak up information, storing it away for the future, hence why school studies concentrate on memorising times tables, historic dates and the like. If you equate the brain to the workings of a computer, there are similarities. We store away ‘data’ for easy recall. Yet our brains appear to have limitless storage capacity, the tricky part is being able to retrieve that information when we need it and, with a lifetime of memories, just how does the brain do this?

However, incredible our brainpower is, it is still fallible. As I’ve previously mentioned our memories cannot be relied upon because, when it comes to recalling an event, we are liable to augment our memory with extra input. However, there are other instances where the memory is altered. People who have a bad experience have been known to blot out the memory and may, or may not, regain that memory. Those who receive a head injury may lose short/long-term memory, for some their memories slowly come back, for others those memories are lost.

Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory
I came across an interesting internet article about Suzie McKinnon, a woman suffering from a unique condition called Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory. What’s intriguing about her case is that she knows plenty of facts about her life, but lacks the ability to mentally relive any of it. She works as a retirement specialist for the state of Washington and has hobbies, values, beliefs, opinions, and a nucleus of friends.

She wasn’t even aware that her memory function was not the same as everyone else’s. It only came to light when a high school friend asked if she would participate in a memory test as part of a school assignment. How awful not to be able to remember your wedding day, the birth of your child or the wonderful holidays shared with family! Yet she was totally unaware that her inability to recall memories was different to everyone else.

This lady contacted Brian Levine, a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto who had carried out research on people presenting with episodic and autobiographical memory. Levine subsequently discovered two more healthy individuals who also seemed to lack episodic memories published a study about McKinnon and his two other subjects in Neuropsychologia in April 2015.

Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory
More than a decade ago a woman named Jill Price came to the attention of scientists at UC Irvine. She exhibited a condition that is pretty much the direct opposite of McKinnon’s: the researchers called it hyperthymestic syndrome, or Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Price has an extraordinary ability to recall just about any fact that has encountered in her life. The whole article can be read at https://www.wired.com/2016/04/susie-mckinnon-autobiographical-memory-sdam/

False Memories
It’s possible to implant false memories into a person’s mind. Julia Shaw is a criminal psychologist who specialises in the science of memory who advises “I am a memory hacker. I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.” This strikes me as a very dangerous practice in the wrong hands. For more on this see http://motherboard.vice.com/read/memory-hacker-implant-false-memories-in-peoples-minds-julia-shaw-memory-illusion?utm_content=buffer8a68b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The Forensic Psychology Unit based at Goldsmiths University of London are holding an evening to discuss: The Fascinating Phenomenon of False Memories in November 2016. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-fascinating-phenomenon-of-false-memories-tickets-28685266404

Unfortunately they don’t give much information on their event link. A little research has found that there’s a False Memory Syndrome Foundation http://www.fmsfonline.org/ which I’ve not yet had a chance to read through.

EDIT 16th December 2016

I’ve just read a post on a Facebook group of which I’m a member which mentions the Mandela Effect in relation to false memories.  This link is to a Youtube video which I highly recommend you to watch as it raises some interesting points in regard to recollection of noteworthy events.

Brainwashing
Brainwashing was used to force prisoners of Korean War and Chinese war camps into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means. In more recent times various cults are known to brainwash their followers. Cults use a number of different methods including “thought reform,” “brainwashing” and “coercive persuasion”. There are a number of well-known cults: Moonies first came to my mind otherwise known as the Unification Church. There are also the KKK, the Scientologists and the Branch Davidians who are the most well known cults. Others include: The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God; Aum Shinrikyo; Children of God; Order of the Solar Temple; The People’s Temple and Heaven’s Gate. The cult’s ability to indoctrinate is shockingly logical and almost rational. You can read more at http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-of-the-most-dangerous-religious-cults/

Mentalists
During our student years our brains are used for information storage and retrieval at some point we reach the peak of our abilities which is why being a mature student is often considered to be much harder. However people can, and do, continue to study or learn new skills in later life, with successful results. I number myself among these. In my mid 40s I studied, and successfully gained, a teaching certificate; in the last 4 years my long-abiding interest in the paranormal has finally found a vent by way of my blog. I originally typing up my researches but realised that a word processed document on my laptop served no purpose and that sharing, by way of a blog, was a good way to inform others and generate interesting discussions. Most of us take our memory and our brain’s abilities for granted. It’s only when others display how memory can be put to use that we realise just how incredible our brain functions are.

I came across an interesting article from MIT entitled The rise and fall of cognitive skills which advises that it was once thought that our ability to think quickly and recall information, termed fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline. However, more recent findings, including a study from neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suggest that the real picture is much more complex. The study, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, finds that different components of fluid intelligence peak at different ages, some as late as age 40. http://news.mit.edu/2015/brain-peaks-at-different-ages-0306

Over the years there were memory men who used to ‘perform’ on stage, latterly on TV. You could ask them which football team won the World Cup in any given year and they would tell you the team and the players/manager of that team.

William James Maurice Bottle (1875-1956), performed in music halls and theatres from 1901 onwards as ‘Datas: The Memory Man’. He was the inspiration for a character called Mr Memory in the film The 39 Steps. Bottle combined his prodigious ability to recall facts with his quick wit, a necessity for dealing with hecklers in the audience. The performance in the film seems to capture some of this: “How old is Mae West? / I know, sir, but I never tell a lady’s age” and Watson’s appearance bears more than a passing resemblance to Datas. The character also uses Datas’ well-known catchphrase, “Am I right, sir?”

Tony Crisp’s article about Solomon Shereshevskii, whom he terms a ‘mental athlete’ is interesting one describing Solomon’s abilities including the fact that he could “feel” images, “taste” colours, and “smell” sounds. He was introduced to Professor Luria, a doctor who worked with people recovering from brain injuries and who also studied people with ‘special’ abilities like the ones Solomon presented him with. Luria became astounded by this gentleman’s ability which seemed almost boundless, he was tested by hearing lists of numbers and repeating them back and, when he got to 70 numbers, reciting the list effortlessly, was also able to recall the list backwards, as well! It seemed there was no limit to what Solomon could recall but that, in turn, he would never forget any of it. 15 years later, when Luria looked at his records of the lists of numbers he had used in the tests, he asked Solomon if he could repeat them without hearing them again and Solomon remembered without any hesitation. As usual he could repeat them forward or backward.

http://dreamhawk.com/interesting-people/the-man-who-remembered-everything-superminds-2/

Eidetic memory, sometimes called photographic memory is an ability to vividly recall images from memory after only a few instances of exposure, with high precision for a brief time after exposure,[without using a mnemonic device. Although the terms eidetic memory and photographic memory may be used interchangeably, they are also distinguished, with eidetic memory referring to the ability to view memories like photographs for a few minutes, and photographic memory referring to the ability to recall page or text numbers, or similar, in great detail. In the case of distinguishing the concepts, eidetic memory has been documented while photographic memory is a popular culture myth that has never been demonstrated to exist.

Eidetic images occur in a small number of children and are generally not found in adults. The word eidetic comes from the Greek eidos meaning seen, since the majority of people with this ability do so by memorising an image representing the item they want to remember.

If this topic interests you, I highly recommend watching the series “The Mentalist” about Patrick Jane, a fictional character and the protagonist of the CBS crime drama The Mentalist, portrayed by Simon Baker. Jane is an independent consultant for a fictionalised version of the California Bureau of Investigation, and helps by giving advice and insight from his many years as a fake psychic medium. He uses his keen powers of observation, deduction, and knowledge of social engineering coupled with his genius to help lead the investigations.

Now let’s take a step away from fiction and I refer you to present day ‘mentalism’ as admirably demonstrated by Derren Brown and the following quote is from my own blog about Pareidolia which is pertinent here.

Derren Brown is, for want of a better term, a mentalist. Mentalism is a performing art in which its’ practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly-developed mental or intuitive abilities. However, in addition to astounding us with his acts of mentalism, Derren Brown will go on to explain just how easy it is to manipulate a person into providing the desired result. He is able to cold-read as convincingly as any medium who tells you they’re passing messages from your deceased loved ones.

In his web-based series The Science of Scams, which aired on Channel 4, a number of videos were placed on YouTube purporting to show various kinds of paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, telekinesis and a tarot card reading. In a second series of videos Derren Brown and his co-presenter Kat Akingbade, explained what was actually happening, exposing each as a specially-created scam. I very much admire him for his work because, yes, he IS an incredibly accomplished showman and mentalist, but his desire not only to entertain but also to explain, unmask and debunk, has shown how easily our eyes and brains can be manipulated and fooled.

A Wiki about his programmes (and links to them) can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_by_Derren_Brown

At this point I have to mention the psychologist Prof Richard Wiseman, who has been described as “the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologist in the world today”! His website is well worth a look but make sure you have lots of time on your hands! https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com

How much of our brain do we actually use?

It’s long been an assertion that we only use a tiny portion of our brain function. Tied in this was the suspicion that, just maybe, the parts of the brain that isn’t being used is lying dormant and abilities yet undiscovered just need the right trigger for them to begin operating.  

However, I came across an article entitled  Do people only use 10% of their brains?  in the Scientific American, by Robynne Boyd dated February 7, 2008. This advises

that neurologist Barry Gordon, of John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, calls it the ’10 percent myth’! The origin of this myth is, apparently, not attributable to any particular person or educational institute.  The notion has been linked to the American psychologist and author William James, who argued in The Energies of Men that “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.” However, it’s also been associated with Albert Einstein, who supposedly used it to explain his own incredible intellect.

The truth of the matter is that we use all of our brainpower, however exotic and magical the thought of unwoken powers might be!

I welcome your feedback!
What did I miss from this article?
Please let me know – I look forward to hearing from you!

Light phenomena

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Lights in the sky! It’s wonderful to go out and look up into the night sky and see all the stars glittering in the ‘celestial dome’ above us. The stars are not, however, the only light sources that have fascinated humankind.Halley's Comet trajectory David Reneke

Halley’s Comet was “discovered” in 1705 by Edmond Halley. Since it has an orbital period of approx. 75 years, there is no doubt that this comet has been seen numerous times by the ancients, prior to it entering the history books with Halley’s name attached! David Reneke’s article on Halley’s Comet  is really worth a visit

Let’s just go somewhat further back in time, to the Bible. The most memorable record of a fireball in the sky is the one visible to the Three Wise Men, who took it as a sign that they had to travel in the same direction as the ‘star’, and found a manger inside of which a carpenter, his wife and newborn child just happened to be temporarily residing.

In the bible, God is credited as the creator of the comets, which inspired the development of the science that demystified them, and which also tells us when He made them. In Genesis 1:14–19, we are read that He creates the heavens and the Earth on Day 1; the sky on Day 2; dry land on Day 3; the stars and heavenly bodies on Day 4 (the Hebrew word for star, כוכב (kokab) refers to any bright heavenly object which, presumably, includes comets as well); all life that lives in water arrived on Day 5; all creatures that live on dry land on Day 6 and, of course He decided to take a well-earned rest on Day 7!

If the heavens were created on Day 1 but the stars and heavenly bodies had to wait until Day 4, the ‘heavens’ was a vast nothingness with a ball of mud called the Earth in the middle of nothing? Frankly this makes little sense in this modern world.

I have to take time out here to say that, as I have mentioned in a previous blog: Bible Inconsistencies, I consider the Bible and similar religious texts, to be of human origin.

Ancient Greek texts record sighting this comet in 466 BC and Chinese scholars noted its’ crossing the skies in 240 BC. Babylonian tablets mark appearances in both 164 and 87 BCE and it is thought that this last appearance was featured on an Armenian coin, with the head of King Tigranes the great, whose crown bears a star with a curved tail! It has been suggested that the Star of Bethlehem, which I previously referred to, was the comet which we now refer to as Halley’s Comet.

Its’ most celebrated appGenghis Khanearance is possibly a comet that was visible in
the sky in 1066 and, at that time, it was considered to be an omen for the upcoming battle between the English and invading Normans.

I was interested to discover that Genghis Khan considered the comet his own personal star – delusions of grandeur!

There are references to comets on all continents, for instance Incan comet symbols and their references to sun gods. The The Hidden Records website about this is an incredibly interesting read. I would particularly like to point out that, if you scroll down to the section entitled ‘when the Inti came down from the sky’, the site’s author (who has reproduced the golden sun disc) “realised when holding the disc and viewed it from a side elevation, that the design of this disc reproduces the dimensions and details of all historical accounts of flying discs… as in ancient alien flying discs.” Food for thought.

Seers in ancient India spoke of comets, which you can read more about at http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.7312

The Mayans referred to ‘stars that smoke’ which is well documented at http://www.starteachastronomy.com/mayan.html

Of course, early civilisations attempted to make sense of these visitors to our skies, often considering them to be portents of doom or that they were messages from the gods. Comets were unlike any other object in the night sky.  Whereas most celestial bodies travel across the skies at regular, predictable intervals, so regular that constellations could be mapped and predicted, comets’ movements have always seemed very erratic and unpredictable. No wonder they were viewed with awe and much mysticism attached to them. Mayan images show cigar and torch shapes, which we can only guess at being a record of seasonal meteor showers.

Having documented the known light phenomena, I’d like to turn my attention to those which have been viewed, videoed, reported on and which may, or may not, have been debunked.

Modern day light phenomena

There are just so many of these to include! A good proportion of them may well have been mis-identified and the origin of the light is actually entirely explainable, be it plane, car or train lights (or something else!?). In recent years people have picked up on a Chinese tradition of lighting a candle inside a paper lantern, which then they launch into the night sky. Other phenomena are often linked to UFOs, however, these are particularly well documented and I don’t wish to dwell on these as I want to look at other types of light phenomena.

First of all, before we get started on the unexplainable phenomena, there are numerous Youtube videos of what appears to be space junk, or meteors, breaking up in Earth’s atmosphere or falling to Earth. As these travel across the sky, they are quite spectacular to watch. However, in my opinion, it’s the ‘travel across the sky’ bit to keep in mind. Space debris, whether it breaks up in Earth’s atmosphere or falls to Earth, invariably travels in a straight trajectory. It’s when the lights seem to have independent movement that we begin to ask questions about what we’re seeing.

The light phenomena I want to discuss here are those that don’t fit under the fireball/UFO heading.

There’s a fair few where lights are visible in the distance and researchers/paranormal investigators have attempted to find out what causes the light effect. The most common suggestions are (as I’ve previously mentioned) mis-identification of plane, car or train lights but not all of the light ‘displays’ can be attributed to this.

The Paulding Light

I watched an episode of Fact or Faked from 2010 which dealt with this and they decided it was worth going to the location and trying to find out what the cause is and if they could replicate it.
Paulding Light 
The Paulding Light was first recorded in 1966 and was then supposedly observed appearing every night at that location. 

Stories circulated of a ‘legend’ involving the death of a brakeman, that the light is from the lantern held by the brakeman whilst attempting to stop an oncoming train from colliding with railway cars already stationary on the tracks.

The episode showed the team attempting several experiments but they were ultimately unable to recreate the phenomena, using car headlights from a north-south section of US45 and a flyover by an airplane with a spotlight. They carried out an EVP session but their final verdict was “unexplainable”.

In the same year (although I can’t see whether this was before or after the Fact or Faked
investigation) students of Michigan Tech conducted a scientific investigation of the light. Using a telescope to examine the light, they were able to identify vehicles and stationary objects on a highway, clearly enough that they were able to view an ‘adopt a highway’ sign!

IPaulding Light information plaquet is reported that this team recreated the Paulding Light by having a car drive through a specific stretch of US Highway 45. Their theory was that the stability of an inversion layer (a deviation from the normal change of an atmospheric property with altitude) allowed the lights to be visible from that stretch of highway
4.5 miles away. This does sound credible and likely to be the probable cause of the phenomenon. I have to question why the one team’s attempts were unsuccessful and yet the other appeared able to recreate the phenomenon?  Without knowing more about the individual teams’ investigations in order to compare their attempts, we shall never really know why.

Edit 7th September 2015 Having posted this article I then came across   The “mysterious” Paulding Light being a video of two locals who record this light appearing in the sky. They talk of the suggestion that it is caused by car lights but then tell us that the light appears red, thus discounting this theory.

Yet the Hood Studios: The Paulding Light Explained seems to tell us they have debunked this.  What do you think?

Marfa lights

Marfa lightsThere’s an official Marfa Lights viewing area on Highway 90! This light phenomenon began during the 19th Century.

It is reported that the lights dance on the horizon south-east of the town, an area that is nearly uninhabited and extremely difficult to traverse.

We are told that the lights appear randomly throughout the night, no matter the season or the weather, sometimes red, sometimes blue, sometimes white. For local information have a look at the Visit Marfa website.

Marfa lights plaque.jpgThere’s a well-written site, by James Bunnell, entitled ‘Strange Lights in West Texas’ that is more scientific and analytical in its’ approach to the Marfa lights. He advises that he’s spent over 10 years researching this phenomenon and that, besides the ‘mystery lights’ he has also isolated ‘night mirages’ . The outcome of his research was aided by research carried out by NASA scientist, Friedemann T. Freund, who proved his theory in a laboratory that igneous rock, when subjected to sufficient stress, starts to acquire electric charges. This led Bunnell to assert that the implications of his findings are significant for a region with high tectonic stress, like Mitchell Flat, where tectonic plates are in collision and massive amounts of igneous rock are being subjected to enormous stress. Bunnell postulates that these circumstances create the right conditions for powerful electrical discharges (i.e. underground lightning) across fault lines deep under Mitchell Flat. Marfa Lights

Hessdalen Lights

HessdalenThese lights have been recorded in the Hessdalen valley, in rural central Norway, since the 1930s. They’re slightly different from other light phenomena in that, instead of 2 (or more) orbs of light low in the sky or on the horizon, these float through, and above, the valley, visible from a few seconds to over an hour! They are usually bright white, yellow, or red, and can appear above and below the horizon. Project Hessdalen has been researching the phenomenon since 1983 in an attempt to find the cause of the lights.

A research group, consisting of students, engineers and journalists, collaborated as “The Triangle Project” in 1997–1998 and recorded the lights in a pyramid shape that bounced up and down. In 1998, the Hessdalen Automatic Measurement Station (Hessdalen AMS) was built in the valley and registers and records the appearance of lights.

Later, the EMBLA (Ensemble-based Methods for Environmental Monitoring and Prediction)
programme was initiated which brought together established scientists and students into researching the lights. Leading research institutions are Østfold University College (Norway) and the Italian National Research Council. Their primary undertaking is for greater precision in predicting weather, climate and environmental conditions. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t have any direct mention of Hessdalen:

https://www.nordforsk.org/en/programmes-and-projects/projects/ensemble-based-methods-for-environmental-monitoring-and-prediction

However, Wikipedia does have some information about research results at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hessdalen_lights which includes a scientific analysis at the end which reads as total gobbledegook unless you have a Masters degree in science !

Hot on the heels of this, is an article in the Daily Mail which reports that the cause of the lights has been solved.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2632650/Has-mystery-glowing-Norwegian-orbs-solved-Expert-claims-underground-battery-creates-amazing-light-show.html

Phoenix Lights

For almost two decades, the people of Phoenix have experienced this:Phoenix Lights

Arizona News  talks about the 19 years that this phenomenon has been seen in the skies above Phoenix, Arizona. 

It appears that, in 1997, residents of the area were outside their homes, hoping to catch sight of the Hale Bop comet and instead, witnessed “giant balls of light that seemed to be attached to something in a mile wide V formation or actual craft,” said Dr. Lynne Kitei, who has since gone on to research this phenomenon. It subsequently was quoted as being “the #1 UFO event caught on tape!”

However, eSkeptic posts in his blog that, as a reporter in Arizona, he DID debunk this years ago, but that it keeps getting regurgitated (don’t these things have a habit of doing this!).  He makes some valid points eSkeptic’s article

Brown Mountain Lights

Brown Mountain lightsThis phenomenon, reports of which first appear in the early  1930s, is reported as a series of ghost lights seen near Brown Mountain in North Carolina. There are a number of vantage points from which to attempt to view these, even an ‘overlook’ which has been updated city of Morganton who recognise that this attraction draws visitors to the area and advise that the best time to visit in the chances of seeing the lights is between September and November. Given that this occurs during such a specific time of year, my own conclusion is that this is a naturally-occurring phenomenon along the lines of those posited for other similar phenomena.

The Brown Mountain Lights official website  can give you a better insight, together with video footage,

St. Louis Light aka The St. Louis Ghost Train

VirSt Louis Lighttual Saskatchewan’s site about the St Louis Ghost Train has some interesting commentary and speculation about it being caused by car lights is refuted by one female observer who, it appears, encountered this phenomenon in broad daylight. However, it seems that although it’s been referred to as a train, there’s no train visible or train sounds, just the light on the abandoned railway tracks. Making an assumption that it’s in some way caused by a train, just because of it’s proximity to the tracks, is rather poor. Further, Wikipedia’s reporting of it mentions a “strange light moving up and down…. changing colours and varying in brightness”. This would rule out a ghostly train, since trains don’t and never did have lights that could change colour, yet alone vary in brightness. So the chances are that this is yet another example of some naturally-occurring phenomenon.

The Gurdon Lights

Atlas obscura puts it succinctly enough “A mysterious light floating in the trees of Gurdon, Arkansas may be a piezoelectric effect”.
Atlas Obscura’s post on the Gurdon Lights

Gurdon LightThe suggestion of car lights was ruled out as the location is considered to be too far from the highway. Of course, various myths have sprung up very similar to those of other phenomena. “Local legend has it that the light is the lantern of a railroad worker who fell on the tracks and was beheaded, or in another variation the light of a worker who was killed in a brawl on the tracks.” Starting to sound familiar, isn’t it! So the cause has been attributed (but not scientifically proven) to be underground quartz crystals in the area which are under constant stress and cause an electric reaction that results in the glow. Unlike other mysterious lights, the Gurdon Light is reported to always be present, but only visible at night.

The Ozark Spooklight / Hornet Spooklight or the Hollis Light
Ozark Spooklight from the early 1900s

Whilst this phenomenon is somewhat similar to those I’ve cited previously, it would appear that the first mention of the Spooklight was in a pamphlet called Ozark Spook Light. This was published in 1881 – long before the invention of the automobile! Once again the suggested explanation is that it’s a visual by-product of electrical shifts in the atmosphere, created by large underground metal deposits in the area.
Atlas Obscura about the Ozark spooklight

Odee documents 9 Mysterious Lights Seen In The Sky.

Some are naturally occurring and just fascinating to watch, the others are mystifying.
U.S. Navy Missile Test (U.S.)
The Battle of Los Angeles (U.S.)
The Miracle of the Sun (Portugal)
Ice Crystals (Latvia)
Aerial Lights (U.S.)
Iridescent Clouds (Costa Rica)
The Hessdalen Lights (Norway)
The Norway Spiral (Norway)
The Taurid Meteor Shower (Canada)

Odee’s list of 9 mysterious lights in the skies

To include into this equation another variation on light phenomena some strange lights that appear in the sky which are naturally-occuring but still interesting, all the same:-

St. Elmo’s Fire
Will-o’-the-wisp
Earthquake lights
Ball lightning
Green flash
Upward lightning
Sprites
ELVES “Emissions of Light and Very low frequency perturbations due to Electromagnetic pulse Sources”
Blue jets and gigantic jets
The auroras

These are documented at Ten strange lights that appear in the sky

And finally…

One of the things I haven’t mentioned in regard to light phenomena, but which eSkeptic was quick to point out in his article, is the reality that “the eyeball is a poor instrument for judging the altitude of point sources of light in a night sky.” I concur wholeheartedly. I have an earlier blog post on pareidolia (complete with picture examples) which proves that static things can easily be mis-identified, equally the same can be said for moving objects when viewed in the distance!

I would add to this that our memories also cannot be trusted! Whatever you may have witnessed, should you be asked 10 minutes after the event; an hour after; then a day after; it’s highly likely that your recall of what you experienced will alter. Given time to ponder on it, you’re likely to embellish your re-telling of it (particularly if you subsequently discuss it with others who also saw it) with what you think you saw, and add to your recollection with what others told you they saw.

I am a firm believer that, since we are easily fooled by our senses we need to document what we think we saw/heard/experienced straight after the event. For an objective report of an experience it is important to document what you experienced immediately after, and not allow time to think about the occurrence, or conversations with others, to provide additional input that flaws your ‘evidence’.

To sum up, since I haven’t personally experienced any phenomena of this type, nor am I likely to have the opportunity to do so in the foreseeable future, my conclusions are based on the research that I have carried out.

I’d love the opportunity to see these for myself because I do believe that it’s important to witness these things for a totally objective personal opinion. It’s human nature to jump to conclusions about something, and attribute the cause to something, because that’s what we either expect and/or recognise – much as we do with pareidolia where, for instance, clouds form recognisable shapes but we know that this is purely co-incidence.

Given that very few of these phenomena have had any scientific investigations carried out, the reports that I’ve quoted are from those who witnessed them. However much you try to be objective about things like this, when you’re experiencing something directly, the adrenalin kicks in and you go into “observe” mode. You won’t have thought to make a note about what you’ve experienced straight after, so that you’re not reliant on your memory if you’re subsequently asked about it.

Edit 23/10/2016 So here’s one potential cause of ‘UFO light in the sky’ reports just because of somone flying 1000W LED on Drone     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl1xYyGom1g

Did you enjoy this article?
Have you experienced any light phenomena yourself?
I’m sure there are other phenomena that I haven’t yet found out about so, if I’ve missed anything that you think should be included here, let me know!

Fauxtogrophy – crash scene “angels”

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What is Fauxtography?

Well, it’s a new term to me but I’ve just read it on Snopes and presume this was coined by them and, in my opinion, this is a good term to describe what this blog is about.

I’ve previously dealt with the issues of image manipulation, pareidolia and debunking and this continues in a similar vein so let’s go back to 2014 and the “roadside crash spirit” being posted on the internet as proof of “a soul leaving the body of a crash victim”.

The Youtube caption reads Ghost spirit caught at accident site – Shocking spirits caught leaving body” and was published on 26 May 2014.  Crash scene

The video shows an ambulance crew attending to the body of a victim in a road traffic accident and purportedly shows the “soul” of the victim rising from the body.  

An awful lot of people were taken in by this and were sharing it willy-nilly as proof of the afterlife.  However, of all the hundreds of viewers, very few bothered to read the text that had been posted with the video by the film-maker which was underneath the video and less obvious.  it reads thus:-

GhostHunters is all about ghost(sic). Ghost are everywhere on our channel. Ghost  caught on tape, paranormal activities, Haunted places, or ghost possessions. We feature ghosts in every possible way.

These video are for entertainment. I think peoples are looking for ghost caught stuff on internet so i shot these videos. To see the video go to Roadside Crash spirit

Towards the very bottom of the page you’ll see this:-

DISCLAIMER: I shot and uploaded all videos here and I own all commercial rights, please do not try to reuse and upload elsewhere. These small films shows different ghost caught situations in fictional way. It might be scary for some viewer but these are meant for Entertainment purpose only. It just a movie not real. Video Credit:Creative Commons Licence:

Please, don’t go telling anyone this is real – the originator has even told us that is isn’t!

“Chilling” Spirit – Angel dust?Angel dust

This photo is supposedly showing a soul ascending from the body at another crash scene only this one was posted on Facebook on the 12th July 2016 saying it was taken of a traffic accident in Kentucky.  

Can this be evidence of an afterlife?

Well, actually, no!  Snopes was pretty quick on the draw with this one and posted on the 14th July to scotch any rumours of evidence and tell us it’s false.  Whilst the person who took the photo is adamant that he hasn’t altered the photo, he’s certainly caused a bit of a sensation!   Saul Vazquez, the man who took the photo, posted it on Facebook and said he took it from the cab of his truck. It has since been shared over 16,000 times in just 10 hours.

Snopes gives us this conclusion:

It’s absolutely possible, even probable, that the photo was not altered.  However, this photograph doesn’t show a spirit or an angel, but what’s most likely an irregularly-shaped piece of dirt that has stuck to either the lens or the camera’s internal sensor.  Dirt or dust on the sensor of a camera assumes a greyish and fuzzy appearance in a photograph (and sometimes shows up as luminescent balls in night or high-contrast photography, to which the paranormally-minded sometimes refer as “spirit orbs“).

You can read the whole of the Snopes article here fatal-crash-spirit-photograph

From the above I can only say there are elements of pareidolia and photo-manipulation – even if the person taking the photo didn’t intend any deceit (since they were also deceived into thinking they saw something that wasn’t what they thought it was) and a whole lot of gullible people!    I refer you to my blog about the Hospital Demon Debunked as a further instance where what people saw wasn’t actually what was there! 

Have you seen other pictures (debunked or not) that are similar to the examples I have quoted?

I’d love to hear from you about my blog. I appreciate constructive criticism and welcome debate and discussion.  

 

 

 

 

 

Exorcism and belief

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We’re all used to seeing those Hammer Horror films where there’s a demonic possession of the main character and, ultimately, an exorcism takes place.demonic possession

Now as a practising Jew I’ve never given this much thought, until a post appeared in an FB group which I found hilarious.

Apparently practising yoga or vegetarianism (amongst a long list of many other ‘undesirables’ is a “doorway to demonic possession!”).

Pondering on this, I have to say that I’ve always thought that an exorcism would only work for someone who was of the Christian faith.

My reason for thinking this is that an exorcism is typically associated with the afflicted person – presumably of the Christian faith – being visited by a Catholic (sometimes a Jesuit) priest who, having received permission by the church to do so, carries out the Rite of Exorcism.

It would appear that the modern world has spawned a whole new way of
looking at cleansing a person, or place, of demons and evil spirits. For the church this is in the form of the deliverance ministry. There are, however, other practices some, but not all, are related to religious belief. Apparently this is NOT the same as exorcism and that the person afflicted must work with the person trying to help them, to “remove any influences that allow the demon to take control over the individual”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliverance_ministry.

It’s interesting to see evidence of people using a sage smudging stick, which is set alight and the smoke is wafted around the home or other affected premises to ‘cleanse’ it of negative energy.  This form of purification is often attributed to indigenous American tradition but during my research, found that the burning of natural substances has been used for cleansing, healing and spiritual purposes throughout history.  I was unaware of this but smudging tradition dates back millennia and connects all traditional cultures, from the Native Americans to the Druids; from the Zulus to the Maoris; from Aboriginals to the Mayans; from the Chinese to the Balinese, which have age-old forms of cleansing and blessing rituals. Smudge is widely used in Oriental religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism) and in the ceremonies of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches.

Edit 28th June 2016 I came across the following article about “deprogramming” yourself which asserts that “smudging eliminates dangerous bacteria in the air.”

Surely, as a form of relaxation – if that is what is intimated by the term deprogramming – burning a Yankee candle, joss sticks (that’s the term I know them by) etc., would work just as well?  What came to mind in this regard is the Catholic tradition of burning incense during worship for purification and sanctification.  The majority of religions light candles for ceremonial reasons as I mentioned in the previous paragraph..   

In carrying out this research, I realised that this is a huge topic and I have no doubt that what I’m going to include within this blog will only brush the surface.  However, I have some questions in this regard, which have never really been answered satisfactorily (to my mind).

So here’s my questions:-

  • Does a Catholic exorcism work on someone who isn’t Christian?
  • Does it work on someone who wasn’t baptised but otherwise has a Christian leaning?
  • Do atheists (also people who say they don’t follow any religion) ever become demonically possessed?

The first website I found http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Exorcism gave some very interesting facts:-

Exorcism (from Late Latin exorcismus—to adjure) is the practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed. It would appear that, in spite of the Catholic church being most strongly associated with the rite of exorcism, that the practice is quite ancient and still part of the belief system of many religions.

The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a priest, shaman, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions.

“The concept of possession by evil spirits and the practice of exorcism originated in prehistoric shamanistic beliefs. In Hinduism, the Vedas (holy books of the Hindus) include sacred spells needed to cast out demons and evil spirits.  Several examples are found in the Hebrew Bible(?), and the New Testament includes numerous exorcisms among the miracles performed by Jesus. Today,Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and some Protestant sects recognize the practice.”

I did a search for ‘bible passages about demonic possession’. Whilst there are a good many references to the New Testament, all they could dredge up for the Old Testament were:-

“There has been speculation that the Hebrew Scriptures originally contained descriptions of interactions between people and demons, but that that material has been deleted from the text. For example:

  • The account in Genesis 32 of Jacob wrestling with an unknown assailant by the side of a river might have once referred to Jacob battling a river demon.
  • The account in Exodus 4 where God attempts to kill Moses might have originally described Moses’ battle with a demon.
  • The description of the smearing of lamb’s blood on the door frame in Exodus 12 might have been derived from an ancient ritual which protected the household from demonic attack.

But these, and similar, suggestions must remain pure conjecture. In no case do they imply either indwelling of a human by a demonic spirit, or discuss an exorcism ritual.”

This highlights that the practice of exorcism, as I mentioned previously, whilst not unique to the Christian faith is obviously the one that has become most closely associated to it, primarily because of the wealth of good cinema that can be created from it!  

In America there are churches where congregants achieve a trance-like state.

They have charismatic pastors holding services where the congregation goes into trance; and members of the congregation are “healed”.  

In a well-written site http://new.exchristian.net/2012/05/church-and-hypnotic-manipulation.html you can read how churches use a combination of music, meditation and prayer to manipulate the congregation – a form of mind control.

Somehow, American Indian rituals or voodoo practices just don’t have as much “horror factor”, possibly because we ourselves don’t come into contact with these religious practices, and Christian practices are a lot closer to home – and therefore more recognisable – consequently the demons (as portrayed in films and on TV) seem much more terrifying.

So what did I find to answer my questions?

1.  Does an exorcism work on someone who isn’t Christian?

Since the casting out of evil spirits is carried out by ceremonies of differing religions, the exorcism would depend on the belief system of the person possessed.  The link I quoted earlier gives some important information regarding a number of religions and how they deal with exorcism which I don’t feel warrants duplicating here.

2.  Does it work on someone who wasn’t baptised but otherwise has a Christian leaning?

What about someone who believed in the Christian God but was not of the Catholic faith, would they be denied the opportunity of the rite of exorcism since it would appear that the official ceremony is specifically a Catholic doctrine?

From my research I have been informed that the rite of baptism includes a minor exorcism for the child being baptised This doesn’t answer my question in relation to someone displaying symptoms of “demonic possession” who was unbaptised but doesn’t profess to have no religion.  

3.  Do atheists (or people who say they don’t follow any religion) ever become demonically possessed?

I love the quote I found from Ariel Williams (Dreamer, Writer, Artist and Atheist) on Quora, who says

“Atheists have a magic ward against evil spirits to protect us, it is called by three mystic names; logic, reason and rationale. If used wisely, with those three things in your possession you need never fear spirits, evil or elsewise.”  You can read more at https://www.quora.com/Why-dont-atheists-get-possessed-by-evil-spirits

In my view, given the above statement, atheism = scepticism.  Yet both sceptics and atheists may well have been brought up with some form of religious background upon which they formed the basis for their denial. I have written a blog about religions and the part they play in perpetuating the tales of oral traditions so am not going to touch on that here.

Having digressed, let’s go back to quote by Ariel Williams.  Using Ariel’s “magic ward of logic, reason and rationale”, here’s another thought about possession.

Let’s take into account something I’ve not mentioned before – that the person actually is suffering from a mental health problem!  

History is full of people who received “treatment” for a supposed condition.  Often these poor people were treated by quacks whose treatment consisted of blood-letting, cold baths and a ghastly range of “cures” more akin to torture than treatment!  

Women’s “troubles” were down to hysteria and doctors (male, of course!) found this a suitable “catch all” term for any unidentifiable ailment.

Wikipedia tells us:

“Women considered to have it exhibited a wide array of symptoms, including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and a “tendency to cause trouble.”  In extreme cases, the woman might be forced to enter an insane asylum or to undergo surgical hysterectomy.”

One particular “professional”  Isaac Baker-Brown, a one-time president of the Medical Society of London, who had been obsessed with surgical solutions to gynecological problems since his early training (he once performed an ovariotomy on his own sister). In 1858 Baker-Brown began performing clitoridectomies in his London Surgical Home for Women.

It’s horrifying to know that, although this practice was discredited the Victorian era, in its’ modern form of Female Genital Mutilation, this practice only became illegal in the UK in 2003! It is still widely practised in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, and found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East, and among diaspora communities around the world.

However, the only positive thing to come out of treatment for hysteria was, believe it or not, the vibrator!

Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville was the physician who patented the first vibrator as a means of more speedily inducing orgasms in female patients being treated for hysteria. The vibrator was designed to save doctors like Granville from the hand-cramps that came with manually stimulating their patients’ clitorises. Further, the original vibrators were designed only to be used in a doctor’s office, and to provide not only a more rapid but more intense “paroxysm” than a woman could achieve on her own.

Ok, somewhat digressed here but I do consider that doctors felt women could have their “personal demons exorcised” by virtue of their innovative but unnecessary (indeed sometimes extremely distasteful) treatment of womens’ symptoms.

So, going back to the general “lunacy” theory behind erratic behaviours.  The first picture that I included in this blog was a modern-day list of activities deemed undesirable, which quotes passages from Deuteronomy and Ephesians.  This would, to my mind, indicate that the list was generated by someone for whom both the old and ne
w testaments are considered important reference material AKA aTrans Allegheny asylum bible basher!  

Whether intentionally or not, that list is just an updated version of a catalogue of symptoms which were given as a reason for people to be admitted (incarcerated – often against their will!) to an asylum for the insane.  

I came across the ‘reasons for admission’ to West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane (Weston) aka Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum back in the late-1800s.  

In all honesty I know a good proportion of people who would technically be eligible to be admitted!  

It’s horrifying to think that the Victorian people considered so many innocent ‘states of being’ to be a reason for medical attention and possible incarceration.   

The following site provides a history of the asylum.

http://thetimechamber.co.uk/beta/sites/asylums/asylum-history/the-history-of-the-asylum

People in Victorian times were shut away in lunatic asylums for the most spurious of reasons and women particularly were locked up by citing that they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety.

In this current day and age, when a person is assessed as having a mental health condition, a system is in place for the provision of treatment and support, to enable them, wherever possible, to stay within the community.

Where a person recognises that they are experiencing problems and willingly asks to be admitted into a psychiatric unit, they are referred to as voluntary or informal patients.

It’s only when a person is deemed to be suffering from severe symptoms of psychosis but is unwilling to recognise their illness, and for whom their illness is more a cause of concern for their family and friends, they can only be admitted to hospital against their wishes if it’s in the interests of their health and safety, or to protect other people. Then it becomes necessary for them to be compulsorily admitted to a hospital or psychiatric ward (sometimes against their will!) under the Mental  Health Act.   

The term “sectioned” which is no longer used in this regard, came about where people were admitted and treated under different sections of the Act, depending upon the circumstances, which is why the term ‘sectioned’ was used to describe a compulsory admission to hospital.

In former times all it took was to persuade two doctors to sign certificates of insanity to put away inconvenient or embarrassing relatives in a madhouse. Women – with lower social status, and usually less power and money – were more vulnerable as highlighted in this newspaper article .http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2141741/Sent-asylum-The-Victorian-women-locked-suffering-stress-post-natal-depression-anxiety.html.

Returning to the present, there’s still a social stigma with regard to mental illness – the person suffering from it may find it difficult or embarrassing to talk about the problem to anyone, and people who don’t understand mental health issues would often prefer to steer clear of discussing it, rather than try to understand, help or deal with the issue.

Ignoring the symptoms is bad enough.  Recognising the symptoms but failing to seek the correct medical care it quite another thing.  Even worse is the ‘professional’ consulted by an individual with concerns relating to their experiences, – a lack of referral by said professional to seek medical attention and, further, to attempt to aid the enquirer without medical intervention instead by means of a religious ceremony.  I could understand this were it to happen in a tribal setting where a shaman or witchdoctor was the common source of assistance but to find this happening in a first world country is rather disturbing.

An interesting wiki on the subject mentions:

A 2008 study by Baylor University researchers found that clergy in the US often deny or dismiss the existence of a mental illness. Of 293 Christian church members, more than 32 percent were told by their church pastor that they or their loved one did not really have a mental illness, and that the cause of their problem was solely spiritual in nature, such as a personal sin, lack of faith or demonic involvement. The researchers also found that women were more likely than men to get this response. All participants in both studies were previously diagnosed by a licensed mental health provider as having a serious mental illness.

However, there is also research suggesting that people are often helped by extended families and supportive religious leaders who listen with kindness and respect, which can often contrast with usual practice in psychiatric diagnosis and medication, as mentioned in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder.

Historically, mental health issues have been sadly misunderstood and sufferers poorly treated. The strong taboo attached to this means that people still don’t want to talk about it, whether it’s the person who is suffering with a condition or their family and friends.

“Am I going mad?”  When you’re stressed and things start to fall apart for you, you may begin to doubt yourself and, let’s face it, who doesn’t experience stress at points throughout their lives?  The definition of insanity is a tricky one, what defines a person of normality and how do you test that a person is suffering from abnormal mentality?  

How can we be sure that the assessor is capable of assessing accurately?  An old episode of Star Trek (Whom Gods Destroy) featured the Enterprise visiting a “facility” for mental health patients and Captain Kirk beams down to meet the Director of the facility.  However, a mentally unstable alien female warns Kirk that their host, Dr. Cory, is not who they think he is. Unbeknown to Kirk, the patients have escaped the confines of their cells and turned the tables on their doctors and nurses by locking them up in their place. With ‘patients’ in cells and seemingly rational people caring for them, the word of an inmate about the doctor seems all too unbelievable. Who do you believe?

You’ll find numerous youtube videos, ostensibly showing people ‘demonically-possessed’ but, without a bit of background about the person captured on film, how can you be sure that the episode they are suffering wasn’t the result of a medical problem/failure to take medication or (and I fear this is the more common type of video to be found) a student video of someone acting in an irrational manner.  

Given the proximity of the camera in some of the videos, the person being filmed would have been very aware that their actions were being caught on camera and, given their sensibilities, would possibly respond to this fact.  On the other hand, if someone was acting for camera then they’d be more likely to pretend they didn’t know the camera was there hence my assertion that the majority are student films or amateur attempts at horror film making.

A priest speaks about demonic possession and exorcism in this link:

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/10/a-priest-speaks-about-demonic-possession-and-exorcism/

 

I leave you with this fun question:  Should  YOU be institutionalised? See if you answer the following correctly:

During a visit to a mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criteria is that defines if a patient should be institutionalised.

“Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub. Then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup, and a bucket to the patient and ask the patient to empty the bathtub.”

So, the question is:-
1. Would you use the spoon?
2. Would you use the teacup?
3. Would you use the bucket?

“Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would choose the bucket, as it is larger than the spoon.”

“No,” answered the Director. “A normal person would pull the plug.  Are you ready to be admitted now?”

Maybe, just maybe, the solution is a lot easier?

demons

If you enhoyed this blog post, please also have a look at my blog Bible Inconsistencies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electro-sensitivity and EMF (Electromagnetic Field)

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Have recently started reading a series of books by  Phil Rickman (author of supernatural and mystery novels) about a fictional Deliverance minister (diocesan exorcist) called Merrily Watkins.  Now the story lines are interesting because Merrily’s job as Minister of Ledwardine Church and Deliverance Consultant brings her into situations that are possibly supernatural in origin, or maybe they’re just induced by human corruption and suffering?

His books are a particularly good read for anyone like me because the story-lines highlight that, what some might consider an experience to have been paranormal can sometimes be easily explained -if we just know all the details.

Particularly, it was The Lamp of the Wicked which highlighted electro-sensitivity, rather than anything paranormal, being the likely reason behind the killings carried out by a psychotic serial killer.  We find out that the killer had a strange upbringing, became a bit weird once his parents died and he and his brother parted company. His home sits very close to an electricity pylon. It’s an examination of ecology, politics, and psycho-geography, sprinkled with some cynicism and doubt, and makes us contemplate the boundaries between modern Christianity and New age beliefs.

Every now and then articles appear in the papers and online of people who are deemed to suffer from an allergy to the technology of our modern age.  They say they can’t live near electrical appliances and blame the prevalence of wi-fi, mobile phones, phone masts, TV screens, smart meters and fluorescent lights.  They blame the radiation from these for causing a wide range of symptoms including headaches, nausea, sickness, severe abdominal pain, heavy bleeding and even blackouts.

Yet EHS is a controversial condition. Whilst some countries, such as Sweden and recently France, recognise it as a ‘functional impairment’, here in the UK, the Health Protection Agency says there is no scientific evidence linking ill health with electrical equipment.

Yet there appear to be a fair number of people in the UK claiming the debilitating symptoms they are experiencing are caused by electrosensitivity, so much so that there is a ElectroSensitivity UK website (http://www.es-uk.info/) who states that their aim is to provide unbiased and balanced information to help those who have become sensitive to mobile and cordless phones, their masts, wifi, and a multitude of common everyday electrical appliances.

I found a blog by a lady called Michelle who, at one time suffered from electrosensitivity and made for herself a mini-Faraday cage! She explains “The picture dates from the days when I was very electrosensitive myself and could only go out at all if I was wrapped in silvery netting. The silver threads created a sort of mini Faraday cage around my body and head protecting me from some, although certainly not all, of the ambient radiation. Incidentally, one of the most difficult aspects of ES is that protecting yourself against radiation is not cheap – this silver net fabric cost around £50 a metre and if you have been made so ill by radiation that you are no longer able to work, then protecting yourself becomes financially impossible.”

Mesh EMF protector

If you’d like to read her blog Michelle’s blog – electro-sensitivity recognised as a handicap in France

In the course of my research I found a website from a Dr Mercola who posits that EMF exposure is worse than cigarettes and that it is a silent enemy harming our health.  I’m providing you with his link so that you can read what he has to say in relation to the Five Primary Sources of Electromagnetic Field Exposure however, I would point out that his website has at least one pop-up (which I abhor) together with numerous clickable “health” adverts so be wary of what you click on!

Frankly, I can’t make up my mind about this “condition”.  We know our eyes and brains can be easily fooled by pareidolia and that infrasound can make us feel faint or dizzy. However, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that maybe some people are susceptible to electro-sensitivity where others experience nothing (much like some paranormal phenomena!). There really isn’t enough scientific research on this to make a judgement although the people who experience it do say if they go to an environment where there is no EMF radiation or electrical equipment, their symptoms improve – but could this be mind over matter?  Just by moving away from your home to a location to get away from items you consider are detrimental to you, doesn’t that have a sub-conscious effect on you?

Taking this one stage further, our modern landscapes are littered with pylons, transmitters, masts and the paraphernalia of our modern age. Yes, you can remove yourself to somewhere remote in the hopes that you won’t be anywhere near these things but what about the satellites orbiting the earth? They’re the reason we can talk with anyone in the world and the internet can link to all four corners of the globe.

From the NASA website I find that  “thousands of artificial, or man-made, satellites orbit Earth. Some take pictures of the planet that help meteorologists predict weather and track hurricanes. Some take pictures of other planets, the sun, black holes, dark matter or faraway galaxies. These pictures help scientists better understand the solar system and universe.”

“Still other satellites are used mainly for communications, such as beaming TV signals and phone calls around the world. A group of more than 20 satellites make up the Global Positioning System, or GPS. If you have a GPS receiver, these satellites can help figure out your exact location.”

I understand that there are places where GPS doesn’t work but, by and large, the planet is well covered by a GPS signal so surely, even if you put yourself into the middle of a desert or a forest, you might still be affected by the EMF waves even if you’re miles from the nearest civilisation!

The women who say they are allergic to modern life and blame modern technology – Daily Mail Article

Edit 08/07/2016  BBC Article about Marion Bartoli and her electro-sensitivity which is claimed to have been caused by an unknown virus.

To add to this I want to bring into the equation the often quoted complaints about mobile phones (most usually quoted by people who are technophobes)  that the radiation from them will fry your brains.

I’m not discounting ES as a condition because there’s still so much that we don’t really understand about the capabilities of our brains and bodies. Maybe there are some people more susceptible to EMF than everyone else. The people who claim they are suffering from it obviously have to cope with trying to adapt their lives so they can live comfortably in spite of the negative opinions of doctors and other professionals.  

We are not directly aware of it but EMF is so much a part of our everyday lives now. There were reports of the radiation from mobile phones affecting your brain and advice to always use headphones rather than put the phone to your ear. There’s the video on YouTube where kernals of popcorn are placed on a table and mobile phones are placed around this and turned on and made to ring – and the kernals pop!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-XW4wOJqjQ

So I have to remain sceptical on this because sometimes (but NOT always) it’s mind over matter and, as I’ve found in other researches and stressed before, our minds are easily fooled!

Edit 4th August 2016  Wi-Fi won’t fry your brains or internal organs!  How-To-Geek’s article dispels the Wi-Fi is ruining the world mythos How-To-Geek’s article: Don’t worry, Wi-Fi Isn’t Dangerous!

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from the affects of this?  Are you able to prove that it positively IS the EMF radiation that is causing your symptoms?  I’d love to hear from you!

The Dybbuk Box

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I saw a programme on TV about the Dybbuk Box many years ago and I followed it up by searching what was on the internet and found the archived Ebay sale page for the box.

I’m Jewish, I’ve read a few articles pertaining to the Dybbuk and also the Golem (fictitious but a great idea that even the X-Files writers used to great effect!). So I have a healthy scepticism regarding artifacts of a religious nature like this. Still, I didn’t find anything that either validated or debunked the box and I just thought it would be another story consigned to paranormal post boxhistory.

Therefore, I was highly amused when this photo appeared in a paranormal Facebook group purporting to be a (sic)
Dibbuk Box:

By carrying out some Google pictures research, I discovered that this was an old American post box (but I was beaten to the post by another member of the group who’d recognised it for what it was).

Shortly after, another member of the group posted this picture as evidence of the Dybbuk Box.

However, IBox used in The Possession recognised this because of the Hebrew along the side. This is an artefact (prop!) used in the film The Possession:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431021/

which actually told a story about the Dybbuk Box quite differently from how it was originally posted on the internet.

Now the picture above is one that was made specially for that film. It bears a passing resemblance to the one mentioned in the website http://www.dibbukbox.com/story.htm.

There’s a website about the making of the film which indicates that the cast and crew of the film were terrified of the “real” Dybbuk box and one cast member who was interviewed said

“There was some weird goings on, on set. Lots of light bulbs exploding. Just overall kind of creepiness… “Don’t mock the box,” was sort of the mantra that we lived by while we were filming this.” Now if you’re easily spooked and, let’s face it, most people who act tend to be quite superstitious, it’s easy for fertile imaginations to run amok. You can read the whole thing pertaining to the film at http://io9.com/5939420/why-the-possession-cast-was-terrified-of-the-real-dybbuk-box-behind-the-film

The dybbuk boxThere’s an awful lot of belief in the validity of the box and, honestly, it looks genuine (genuine in what way I can’t actually say but for what is, as far as I’m concerned is a load of crap, someone took an awful lot of time to make it, carve an inscription into it and find suitable items to put inside!).

Back of the Dybbuk BoxThe word carving that you can see is actually a prayer known as The Shema. It’s as important in Judaism as The Lord’s Prayer is in the Christian religion and translates as:-

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.

“Based on a true story….”

According to the link below the whole thing is “a bogus marketing gimmick”

http://gawker.com/5939683/based-on-a-true-story-is-a-rotten-lie-i-hope-you-never-believe

Frankly, if it is a bogus marketing gimmick, it’s a heck of a good one!

Narnia, anyone?

A HAUNTED wardrobe with a Satanic head carving has been blamed for strange occurrences at two antique shops in Paignton’s Winner Street.

Ever since the Olden Ewe antique shop bought the haunted piece of furniture earlier this year a string of strange things have been reported in the old town centre.

Customers who view it report that they cannot shut the doors, as if someone is pushing from the inside. The cupboard also unlocks itself, and the doors open by themselves.

Read more: http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/Nightmare-Winner-Street/story-27958324-detail/story.html#ixzz49LOPxoJa

Films attributed to have been affected by hauntings

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Quite a few of these have been doing the rounds which is why I thought it warranted some research.  In going into some detail I’ve found that they actually appear quite lame so, where did the link to these “terrible deaths” come from? Was it pure co-incidence or did those very superstitious people in the acting/film world let their imaginations run away with them? Does this

ATUK (I’d never even heard of THIS one!)

the-incomparable-atuk-mordecai-richlerSTEPHEN JOHNSON tells us: “The most haunted movie in history isn’t a horror flick. It’s not The Omen, The Mummy, or Maid In Manhattan. The most haunted movie in film history is ATUK, an unproduced middlebrow comedy that has been kicking around Hollywood development hell since 1971.

Based on the novel The Incomparable Atuk, Tod Carroll’s screenplay tells the story of an Inuit from Alaska who stows away on an airplane, lands in New York City, falls in love, and presumably learns a little something about himself. Little in this benign high-concept screenplay suggests a legacy of carnage, but ATUK is said to be responsible for the premature deaths of John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, and Michael O’Donoghue.”

http://www.blumhouse.com/2015/11/23/atuk-the-cursed-screenplay-that-killed-john-belushi-chris-farley-and-more/

I’m not convinced there’s anything to this “haunted film caused deaths” scenario. There’s a reasonable chance that any 3 or 4 happenings close together, in spite of being co-incidental, will be viewed as “spooky”!

Three Men and a baby I’ve previously discussed in my blog

https://skeptissimma.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/three-men-and-a-baby-or-is-it-a-ghost-film-hoax/

As I explain there: “It’s unfortunate that this is yet another instance where hoaxes just get perpetuated by people who blindly believe what they read on the internet, without caring to do a simple internet search which would explain the truth of it.

As ever, Snopes (a wonderful resource for researching and debunking!) has the full information as http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/3menbaby.asp

American Horror Story (2011)

American Horror Story photo trotted out as being a pic from a 1950s mental asylumYet another photo which gets trotted out every once in a while:- girls suspended from walls with the shocking title “Picture said to be from a Russian mental institution, 1952.” People are SO gullible! It’s a film goddamit!

The scene in question was actually inspired by a performance of Bela Bartok’s “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” featuring Pina Baush. During  the performance, a series of women seemingly were able to hang in the air while facing a wall (there were holes in the wall helping keep them in place.) You can read all about it on my blog:

https://skeptissimma.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/picture-said-to-be-from-a-russian-mental-institution-1952-no-actually-a-still-from-american-horror-story/

Return to Babylon (2013)

Return to BabylonMost of the websites that refer to this are quite sensationalist in their reporting so I’m not going to use them for reference.

It would appear that nothing untoward was noticed during the filming process. It was later, at the post production stage, when the shots were being reviewed that actors faces were reported to be be seen “morphing” into grotesque shapes.

If you carry out a google search for morphing softwareyou’ll find numerous references to apps and computer programs that are designed to provide this function.

CGI techniques and Photoshopping (the application of computer graphics to create or contribute to images in art, printed media, video games, film etc.,) are now an accepted and important component of the film industry) making this easily achievable in post-production.

A quick look at the film’s release date, 11th August 2013, and I’m already thinking “that’s a good hoax to advertise the film!”  Because it was photographed with a hand-cranked camera, and scored with music of the roaring twenties, I suspect that viewers misconstruted this film as one made decades earlier.  It’s shot as a silent film stringing together th elives of the most famous, and infamous, stars of the 1920s including Rudolph Valentino Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Lupe Velez, Fatty Arbuckle and William Desmond Taylor.   Personally, I consider the hype to be just a good bit of advertising to get people to watch the film.  If you can find anything to prove something paranormal was involved, then please, DO let me know!  In the meantime, you can read more about that film here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_to_Babylon

The Exorcist (1973)The Exorcist

Many tragedies, injuries and deaths reportedly occurred during the filming and post production of this film. These caused a number of setbacks during filming, almost tripling the amount of production days and the final cost.

Actress Ellen Burstyn, who played Regan’s Mother in the film, has been quoted as saying “there was an enormous amount of deaths connected with the film” and went on to tell that there were nine deaths connected to the movie in all (connected or just co-incidences?)

One of these deaths was actor Jack MacGowren, who played Burke Dennings and died at the age 55, a short time before the film was released. His character also died in The Exorcist, and it was the last role MacGowren played.

Two other actors also died shortly after filming, as did several of the crew.

The actor Jason Miller, who played Father Karras, had a strange experience during the film’s production. Early into production, Jason Miller was eating his lunch and reading some lines for the day’s scenes, when he was approached by a Jesuit Priest. The priest handed him a medallion of the Blessed Virgin and told Miller “reveal the devil for the trickster that he is, he will seek retribution against you or he will even try to stop what you are trying to do to unmask him.”

Several of the crew, Blatty included, recall seeing objects move about on their own accord on occasion, notably the telephone that was used to communicate between the set and the production house. The receiver would rise off the hook on its own, before falling to the floor. On one of these occasions Blatty was sitting right next to it. 

Eerie feelings were felt by all during the filming of the movie. With so many odd events taking place, the film’s religious technical advisor, Thomas Bermingham (also religious supervisor on The Amityville Horror and Amityville 2) was approached to perform an exorcism on the set.  Question – he may have been an adviser but what “qualification” did he have that entitled him to carry out such a task, whether it be deliverance or exorcism? A quick look at IMDB advises that this gentleman as Reverend or Father Thomas Bermingham and credited as an actor! The Exorcist: However History Today tells us:-

“The project was sufficiently plausible for three Jesuits to give their services as technical advisors to the film; two of them, William O’Malley SJ and Thomas Bermingham SJ, even acted in it (playing Father Dyer, a friend of Karras, and the president of Georgetown University respectively).  However,  the web site  of Penn State’s Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies mentions him thus:-

The Reverend Thomas Bermingham, S.J. Scholarship in the Classics was created by Penn State’s football coach, Joe Paterno, honoring his high school Latin teacher.  The Bermingham Scholarship provides recognition and financial assistance to full-time Penn State undergraduate students enrolled or planning to enroll in Greek and or Latin studies in the College of the Liberal Arts at University Park. Bermingham Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis.   I’m presuming his ceremony of exorcism allayed any fears that those working on the set had had.

As previously mentioned in this article, stage, tv and film people are notoriously superstitious so it’s no wonder that their sensitivities, knowing that they’re working on a horror film, and that the book of that film was based on a true story.  

The novel was inspired by a 1949 case of demonic possession, an exorcism that Blatty heard about whilst a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University. A little more research (good old Wikipedia to the rescue, yet again) revealed that the  Exorcism of Roland Doe was the story which set the ensuing events in place.  Some time in the late 1940s, Roman Catholic priests performed a series of exorcisms on an anonymous boy but this was documented under the pseudonym ‘Roland Doe’ or ‘Robbie Mannheim’.  The boy, said to have been born around 1935, so presumably as young as 7 or 8 years, was the alleged victim of demonic possession. The events were recorded by Raymond Bishop, one of the priests in attendance, and the supernatural claims were those reported in the class which Blatty attended in 1950!  

Conclusion

Of course, I’ve just skimmed the surface here, and there are numerous other films rumoured to have been jinxed – it seems to be part of the course with horror films.

I wonder whether this is good for bums on seats marketing ploy, or just down to over-active imaginations.  I’m not able to state categorically one way or another so am still open to rational debate but, to conclude, here’s a list for a little light reading:-

http://flavorwire.com/520130/10-horror-movies-that-were-really-cursed

 

Sounds extraordinary!

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Strange “trumpet” sounds have been heard in various parts of the world. There are reports of the phenomenon in Russia and Canada, from the USA and Germany as well as in the UK.

It’s a topic that I’ve been fascinated with since discovering articles on the topic, along with the various videos being perpetuated on the internet.  

There have been a few explanations put forward, some are thought-provoking, but none make me feel that this is totally debunked.

One popular theory for the outbreak of disembodied trumpeting sounds across the globe is that it is the Last Trump, the fanfare mentioned several times in the Bible as heralding the “end of days” this, invariably, by those who believe in the four horseman of the apocalypse and all that.  Here’s an article by The Daily Mail (UK 5th March 2012) which has links to video recordings taken in 2012 from Germany and America and which suggests some possible causes for the sounds:

“They sound like background music from a flamboyant science fiction film, but this is not science fiction. Earth’s natural radio emissions are real and, although we’re mostly unaware of them, they are around us all the time. For instance lightning can produce eerie-sounding radio emissions,. Earthquakes can also produce sub-audible sounds, according to seismologist Brian W Stump from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas.”  You can view the full article at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2110523/Whats-causing-mysterious-sounds-coming-sky-loud-set-car-alarms.html#ixzz3u91TIb3Z

More information and potential theories can be read at http://www.astrofreaks.net/2013/07/13/the-phenomenon-of-strange-sounds-heard-by-entire-communities/

So what IS causing this audible phenomenon?  Very good question!

There are various theories about what causes the non verifiable “sound phenomena”.

HAARP / Superdarn

Lots of guesswork on the internet about what these actually are.  The general consensus of opinion is that it’s to do with research and/or tests of equipment to affect weather modification.

The Freedom Agenda Blog asks if a UK HAARP facility might have caused an earthquake in Wales, and quotes a daily mail article of 29th May 2013. This blogger tells us quite categorically “Make no mistake – the HAARP facilities can induce earthquakes, both directly and indirectly.”

https://thefreedomagenda.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/did-uk-haarp-facility-and-weather-modification-experiments-cause-3-8-earthquake-in-wales/

Frankly, it is not beyond belief that scientists are working on technology with a goal to control weather conditions on Earth.  If mankind could control the weather, this could potentially mean an end to floods, drought, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and volcanic activity.

We already have computers that predict the weather. Although the meteorological offices often have success in telling us what weather conditions to expect, the unpredictability of our weather , systems mean even they get it wrong.  However, the fact that tectonic plate movement, which is often cited as the reason for these natural hazards, is itself difficult to predict.  Tectonic plate movement has also been mentioned as the potential reason for the inexplicable sounds.  

The fact is, scientists do not believe that this is the case:-  https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/1p4847/why_dont_we_hear_the_tectonic_plates_move/ suggests that the failure on the faults generates very low frequency waves that our ears can’t detect and intimating that 5ectonic plates sliding past each other produces a really low frequency. Human ears can’t hear really high pitch sounds, nor can we hear really low pitch sounds either.

The most well-known tectonic plate movement, The San Andreas fault is a “continental transform fault” that extends roughly 1300 km (810 miles) through California. This was first identified in 1895 by professor Andrew Lawson from UC Berkeley.  It was the earthquake which occurred in San Francisco in 1906 which galvanised research to try and understand the fault, in order to attempt to predict future activity.

A project called the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) near Parkfield, Monterey County, is drilling into the fault to improve prediction and recording of future earthquakes.  You might like to listen to the sound of shifting tectonic plates http://www.psfk.com/2012/04/tectonic-plates-microphones.html

Presumably when a natural hazard occurs, the noise is deafening to those in the vicinity. We must also take into account that the sound of these “disasters” would travel around the globe, in the air but not forgetting that sounds travel in solids and liquids, too!  https://www.le.ac.uk/se/centres/sci/selfstudy/snd3.htm

Linking in to the previous thought – the Earth, it has been suggested, works like a giant loudspeaker so the sound of a natural hazard could be a possible cause of sounds being experienced around the globe.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112716367/earth-surface-earthquake-acoustic-loudspeaker-101912/

One of my friends from the Scientific World of the Paranormal Facebook group told us

“I live near White Sands missile range and I know people who work there. They have been experimenting with all types of frequencies in an attempt to weaponize their use. What people  are hearing may be the further development of the technology used to knock things out of the air, or out of orbit. I’m not part of the project, so it’s just a guess.”  When another member wrote to say that what he’d posted wouldn’t explain why it’s been heard in the UK and the rest of the world, he responded that International agencies rent the facility and pay for the services of the workers. Who knows what country could be using the technology?

Kimmy, also from the group suggested “Skyquakes is an explanation being discussed on the Internet to explain these st,range sounds. Skyquakes is actually a misnomer for Spacequakes that were discovered in 2007 and first reported in 2010.They are plasma waves that are being stretched by solar flare emissions. These waves eventually must either pop back towards the earth or break.The waves then bombard the Earth’s atmosphere. These spacequakes have been documented at a 6.0 on the seismograph.”

The website Ancient Code goes into some detail about sounds called “The Bloop” of 1997; “The Upsweep” of 1991; “The Slowdown” of 1997; “The Train Sound” also 1997; “The Julia Sound” of 1999; and “The Whistle Sound” of 1997.   As you can see, 1997 was a good year for inexplicable sound phenomena and this site also includes recordings of each “sound”. 

http://www.ancient-code.com/six-unexplained-sounds-by-noaa/

A “whistleblower” purportedly is able to explain the mysterious sounds being heard across the world at:

http://theghostdiaries.com/whistleblower-explains-mysterious-sounds-heard-across-the-world-and-its-more-disturbing-than-anything-you-can-imagine/

This article tells us “According to a geologist who worked for the government, “Something is going on in the inner core of the Earth.” It has to do with the magnetic poles changing and involves minerals recycling in the mantle of the Earth. The sounds are being generated in the mantle as large static discharges of energy, pushed up through the Earth’s crust, broadcasting as infrasound through the ionosphere and then bouncing back at a lower frequency that we can hear and feel as vibrations.”

I wonder why this person felt it was acceptable to post this to a blog called “The Ghost Diaries” when, whilst a topic under the heading of the paranormal, it clearly is nothing to do with ghosts!

Strange Trumpet Sounds Debunked (or are they?)

The following video, by Chris White, gives some food for thought, as well as does some debunking of the “mysterious sounds videos prevalent on Youtube and elsewhere on paranormal sites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVScTxRBHFY

To precis the 14 minute long video, the explanation is split into three:

Outright hoaxes

The narrator talks about a film called “Red State”  in which a unique “sound” was used in the storyline by pranksters, meant to scare Christians into believing they were witnessing the “end of the world” scenario popularly believed by some.  That “sound” has been copied, and copies of those copies have been used by unscrupulous people although it’s possible to identify it because of a bird sound which you can find in all of them.

Genuine sounds (although explainable!)

A video from Terrace, British Columbia surfaced on the internet in 2013 where you can hear the oddest sound in the air, filmed by a lady on her apartment balcony.  It isn’t trumpet blasts in the sky, although you could be forgiven for thinking it is!  Terrace was inundated with a lot of international  attention and, of course, popped up on the internet too.

Proof that this sound  was explainable is by way of another Terrace resident went out with his video camera and videod the actual source of the sound –  a bulldozer scraping finished concrete whilst constructing a skate park.  He walks towards the sound and as the screeching becomes loudest,   you can see the large area of concrete with the bulldozer unceremoniously working away on the top left corner! Shown in the video is a map so you can see how close the new skatepark is  to the lady’s apartment.

Non hoax, strange sound videos that are verifiable

Tampa Rays Devil Baseball game,  August 23rd 2011                                        

For this the simple explanation is that the Tropicana Field Baseball dome is a domed stadium. Huh, yes!  At the exact time of the video, and nobody thought it appropriate to point this out, a heavy rainstorm was passing over the stadium. the dome is prone to lightning strikes and it would appear  According to a Tampa Bay Rays reporter, a lightning strike on the PA system caused feedback on the stadium’s PA system.  

Missoula Montana, Hellgate Elementary School 2012 (appropriate name, huh?)

The school, we are told, is directly across from a major train yard.  The sounds in the video aren’t typical train sounds, a “railroad employee” likens the mystery sounds to a train being dragged while its’ brakes are set “I work on the railroad and this is a common noise to us. It’s a normal train yard noise.”  This reasoning is also given for a German video, shot through an upstairs window into the street showing a little girl listening to a mystery sound and the location is apparently close to a rail yard, too.

Non hoax cases “where we can be sure of the origin of the noise”

Points out that the sounds seem more industrial (which, to my mind, is where the majority of these  must originate from).

Summing up, the narrator of the above video expresses his concern that the topic has become a “hoaxer’s paradise” and that we should err on the side of caution. He admonishes those who publish or post that these sounds are the “start of the apocalypse” and playing on people’s religious gullibility – those who are God-fearing Christian folk,- telling us that he, himself is Christian. He also advises that fellow Christians would do well to be more than just passively acquainted with the Bible when it comes to prophecy.  

There are two types of trumpets in the Bible, one is the trumpet of God that will signify the rapture, then there are the seven trumpets of revelation which will begin various judgements on the people left on the earth (someone will have an awful lot of work to do!).  Basically, after the trumpet of God sounds to announce the  rapture, Christians will immediately (in the twinkling of an eye) be caught up to Heaven so, straight after the trumpet sounds telling us “you won’t have time to post a video to Youtube!  Nor does he feel that the seven trumpets are what have been videoed since he advises that according Revelations those trumpets will portend things that “you won’t have to look around for, they will be quite obvious!”

I liked this video by Chris White and his explanation.  Some commenters on his Youtube page  have dismissed what he’s said – particularly in regard to the rail yard noises.Until we can positively debunk these sounds (and maybe we never will) I leave it to you to make up your own mind!

The Hum

Here’s another phenomenon which you may have even experienced (as I have) and/or read about.  Known as the hum, it’s a drone sound which can be heard in the dead of night, when there are few vehicles, offices, factories or machinery that could be the cause of such a noise

Live science reports on it: http://www.livescience.com/38427-the-hum-mystery-taos-hum.html

Truth Alerts website puts forward a possible solution by reporting:       After nearly four decades, Hum investigators may finally have some idea. The general consensus among sufferers is that the Hum is comprised of very low frequency (or ‘VLF’, in the range of 3 kHz to 30 kHz and wavelengths from 10 to 100 kilometers) or extremely low frequency (or ‘ELF’, in the range of 3 to 30 Hz, and corresponding wavelengths from 100,000 to 10,000 kilometers) radio waves, which can penetrate buildings and travel over tremendous distances. – See more at: http://truthalerts.com/a-mysterious-sound-is-driving-people-insane-and-nobody-knows-whats-causing-it/#sthash.MX9kpCU1.dpuf

Further reading:-

Strange sounds http://strangesounds.org/

As I mentioned at the start of this article, in spite of all the potential explanations and whilst they appear plausible, the proof is somewhat harder to come by.  

Edit 8th January 2016

Snopes posted the following which tells us the UFO over CERN was a hoax!  Read the whole article here: CERN UFO portal hoax

Edit 28th June 2016

The “Hum” – today posted on the Fortean Times Appreciation Facebook group was a link to an excellent article by Glen MacPherson in Business Insider. I read this article with interest and felt that it was very well researched, mentioned serious research into the phenomenon. If you have read this far, I strongly recommend you read it: Geologists have been trying to solve the mystery of the ‘worldwide hum’ for decades

 

 

 

 

Links to websites/blogs

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I’m not the only person questioning “the paranormal”. As I’ve said, I do believe there is something going on that is inexplicable but it’s unfortunate that so many reports of the paranormal are anything but!

The following links are to sites that you may also find interesting:

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/03/baloney-detection-kit-carl-sagan/

http://io9.com/10-scientific-ideas-that-scientists-wish-you-would-stop-1591309822

http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/before-it-was-news-it-was-still-bullshit.html

https://noriohayakawa.wordpress.com/author/noriohayakawa/

http://chadsteelers.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Three Men and a baby (or is it a ghost?) film – hoax

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This is quite an old film now but, unfortunately, the same thing gets trotted out about this film about a “ghostly” image of a boy who supposedly died in the home where the movie was filmed.  Posts about this will show you stills of the film purporting to show the ghost in the background.

However, I remember reading about this in a daily newspaper shortly after the film’s release on video, and how people were mistakenly saying they’d seen “the ghost.

What people are actually seeing, even though it’s only visible for a matter of seconds, appears in a window when two of the characters – Jack Holden (played by Ted Danson) and his mother – are walking through the house. The mother is holding the baby who has been left in the care of the “three men” (hence the title of the film).  In this shot a human figure can be seen standing behind the curtains of a background window at the left-hand side of the screen. A rumor has persisted for several years that this figure is the eerie image of a boy who was killed in the house where this scene was filmed.

Sorry, but no. The truth of it is that what people actually saw was a “standee” (a stand-up cardboard cutout used for advertising displays) of Ted Danson, dressed in a top hat, white shirt, and tails, that was left in front of a window on the set and thereby “sneaked” into the background of one scene. The standee prop was created as part of a story line involving a dog food commercial in which Danson’s character (an actor) appears, but references to the figure were cut from the finished version of the film. (The standee shows up once more in the film, as Ted Danson can be seen standing next to it when the baby’s mother comes to reclaim her child.).

It’s unfortunate that this is yet another instance where hoaxes just get perpetuated by people who blindly believe what they read on the internet, without caring to do a simple internet search which would explain the truth of it.

As ever, Snopes (a wonderful resource for researching and debunking!) has the full information http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/3menbaby.asp