Technology, lost and surpressed

At varying times I’ve come across reports of scientific breakthroughs which never saw the light of day. In nearly every case, the reason for this was down to being discredited or suppressed by competitors or governments for whom there was a potential loss of revenue at stake.  

Now I know this topic doesn’t strictly come under the heading of paranormal phenomena but I wanted to include it because every invention started off as someone’s bright idea – flashes of inspiration that could (sometimes did!) change the world!  There are numerous examples of “inventions” being viewed as unworkable by naysayers, many of those are now part of our daily lives!  

Here’s some examples of inventions that were spoken of in less than favourable terms:-

Space travel  “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere” – New York times, 1936.

Electric lighting “When the paris Exhibition (of 1878) closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it” Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson.

Telephony “The Americans have need of the telephone but we do not. We have plenty of Messenger boys.” Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office 1878.

Submarines “I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea” HG Wells, British Novelist in 1901.

Warships “How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighing a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have  not the time to listen to such nonsense.” Napoleon Bonapart, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat, 1800s.

Flying the world “There will never be a bigger plant built.” A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

Online music “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921.

TV “Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staraing at a plywood box every night.” Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

Computers # 1 “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston!

Computers #2 “ Think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943!

Those quotes were from people, at the forefront of their game, but not necessarily having the breadth of vision to appreciate that “from little acorns do giant oak trees grow”.

With a good number of inventions, unfortunately, the world has (and continues to be!) not always a fair and honest one.

In this current day and age, we are aware that the pharmaceutical industries make their money out of selling us medications to treat our symptoms, rather than use their research money for cures, since they’d lose the profits that their tablets, ointments, syrups and vaccines bring to them.  

The same has been said of the tobacco industry although, in fairness, there was a time that smoking was actually touted as being “good for your health”!  In 1954, W C Heuper from the National Cancer Institute, is quoted as having said “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” 

Tobacco use has now come to an impasse – the cigarette boxes are emblazoned with graphical warning labels that are intended to warn  of the detrimental effects on the health of long-term smokers! However, addicted smokers just  don’t seem to be put off by wording telling them “Smoking kills!  Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes.” 

Fortunately the tide has turned and people are recognising the dangers such that a new pastime to replacing the tobacco cigarette, that of the e-cig now being advertised as ‘vaping’ that’s intended to give the smoker the satisfaction derived from a cigarette whilst assuring them that the vapour they are inhaling is of a harmless kind compared to nicotine. 

Over the course of history, there have been medical and scientific developments that changed the world and our lives but, conversely and as I’ve previously mentioned, those that, by fair means or foul, never came to fruition.  Often they were just a victim of the times. Prior to the 2nd World War, technological progress was in its’ infancy and much of the technology we take for granted today was developed because the Second World War took place and shaped the world we have today.  What makes fascinating reading is the website http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/inventions-and-discoveries-of-the-twentieth-century/inventions-1900-to-1990/ which highlights the progresses and changes that affected our lifestyles.  I certainly didn’t know that the electrocardiogram was invented in 1903! 

Nikola Tesla

Wikipedia’s words about Tesla begin:

(Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. 

Tesla had an eidetic memory (photographic) this is the ability to recall images, sounds or objects in memory after only a few instants of exposure, with high precision. He was known to memorise books and images and stockpile visions for inventions in his head. He also had a powerful imagination and the ability to visualise in three dimensions, which he used to control the terrifying vivid nightmares he suffered from as a child. He was also known for having excessive hygiene habits, the result of a near-fatal bout of cholera as a teenager. 

Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, which gained him a reputation as an archetypal “mad scientist”.  His patents earned him a reasonable amount of money which he used to fund his own projects, with varying degrees of success.  After  his death in 1943 his work fell into obscurity. However, in 1960 the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor. Since the 1990s there has been a resurgence in interest in Tesla  and his works.” 

For some fascinating insights into this much-maligned inventor have a look at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-nikola-tesla/

What I found interesting was that he developed the idea for smartphone technology back in 1901!

Tesla may have had a brilliant mind, but he was not as good at reducing his ideas to practice.  In the race to develop transatlantic radio, Tesla described to his funder and business partner, J.P. Morgan, a new means of instant communication that involved gathering stock quotes and telegram messages, funneling them to his laboratory, where he would encode them and assign them each a new frequency. That frequency would be broadcast to a device that would fit in your hand, he explained. In other words, Tesla had envisioned the smart phone and wireless internet. According to W. Bernard Carlson, who interviewed Tesla:

“He was the first to be thinking about the information revolution in the sense of delivering information for each individual user,”

He also conceived of, but never developed, technology for radar, X-rays, a particle beam “death ray” and radio astronomy.  In spite of these there were some successes:

10 inventions of Nikola Tesla that changed the world:-

  1. Alternating Current
  2. Fluorescent light and the Tesla Coil
  3. X-Rays
  4. Radio
  5. Remote control
  6. Electric motor
  7. Robotics
  8. Laser
  9. Wireless communication
  10. Limitless free energy

Of course, in some instances, others picked up on what he had been working on and incorporated his work into their own research hence why they got the credit and not Tesla. 

It appears that Tesla had filed hundreds of patents on scientific research and possibly had many more ideas and inventions that never got as far as the patent office!

The full explanations relating to the above (and from which this information was gleaned) can be read at http://truththeory.com/2012/01/12/the-10-inventions-of-nikola-tesla-that-changed-the-world-2/

The following article is an interview with Tesla that went unpublished for 100 years wherein he talks about the suppression of his work by established science of the time, and his belief that a whole “pseudoscience” was created by them to cover this up http://yournewswire.com/the-hidden-nicola-tesla-interview-unpublished-for-100-years/

Tesla Motors, Inc. is an American automotive and energy storage company, founded in 2003, that designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars, electric vehicle powertrain components and battery products.

Tesla was obviously way ahead of his time with his research and I feel that the lack of recognition towards his work is largely down to the mindset of the day, which was still very Victorian and blinkered.  

Looking at all the inventions that Tesla is known for, and knowing that he had hundreds of others that were in a concept stage is his brain,  it’s a great shame that his work went ignored and unrecognised.   Added to this, the fact that Tesla’s inventions have only in recent years been acknowledged says a lot about how important, (might I even say how life-changing they could have been?) and far reaching his work was.  One can only speculate how different things would have been had he been born just 50 years later!

Georges Lakhovsky

Lakhovsky was a Russian engineer, scientist, author and inventor. His invention the Multiple Wave Oscillator was a controversial medical treatment for cancer.

While in France in 1929 he wrote a book entitled “The Secret of Life: Electricity, Radiation and Your Body” in which he both claimed and attempted to demonstrate that good or bad health was determined by the relative health of these cellular oscillations and that bacteria, cancers and other pathogens corrupted them, causing interference with these oscillations.

Unfortunately, in 1942 at the age of 72, Lakhovsky was hit by a car and died three days later of his injuries. Little appears to be known of what became of his laboratory, his research papers and instruments. It appears that alternative medical equipment manufacturers attempted to sell revised versions of Lakhovsky’s multiple wave oscillators – obviously without success – and his work has largely been forgotten.

Royal Rife

This American inventor claimed that, by using a specially designed optical microscope he could observe microbes too small to see with the existing technology. He also claimed invention of a “beam ray” that could weaken or destroy pathogens by energetically exciting resonances in their constituent chemicals (seems to go along the lines of Lakhovsky’s multiple wave oscillator!).  

He died penniless and embittered by the failure of his devices to gain scientific acceptance.

In the 1980s author Barry Lynes wrote a book “The Cancer Cure That Worked” which claimed that Rife’s “beam ray” could cure cancer but that all mention of his discoveries had been suppressed in the 1930s by a “wide ranging conspiracy headed by the American Medical Association”.   

This was refuted by the American Cancer Society who stated that Lynes’ claims were implausible and that his book was “written in a style typical of conspiratorial theorists, cites names, dates, events and places, giving the appearance of authenticity to a mixture of historical documents and speculations selectively spun into a web far too complex to permit verification by anything short of an army of investigators with unlimited resources.”

It would appear that there have been several instances of “Rife devices” being used in health fraud in the US and reports of several deaths resulting from the use of Rife machines in the place of standard medical treatment. This, unfortunately, has led to Rife’s work being consigned to history as “quackery” and considered unethical treatment, without his original work having been given any scientific consideration.  It’s to the world’s misfortunte that we will never know whether Royal Rife actually did find a cancer cure.

The following are from a “top ten list of amazing lost or suppressed inventions

Greek Fire
Orgone – Wilhelm Reich
Perpetual Motion – Viktor Schauberger
Ozone Therapy
Anti-Gravity Device – Thomas Townsend Brown
Cold Fusion Device – Eugene Mallove
Water Fuel Cell – Stanley Meyer
Earthquake Machine – Nikola Tesla
Flexible Glass
Chronovision – Father Marcello Pellegrino Ernetti

You can read the full article here: http://listverse.com/2009/07/31/top-10-amazing-lost-or-suppressed-inventions/

Just by way of contrast from what has gone before, I’ve recently discovered the following interesting information about the brilliant, and beautiful, Hedy Lammar.

The technology that underpins WiFi was invented by Hollywood actress Hedy Lammar. Star of Samson and Delilah, she was previously married to an Austrian arms dealer. A recurring subject of conversation with his fascist customers was how to stop the enemy from jamming the signal of radio-guided torpedoes. Jewish-born Hedy, with a secret love of science, quietly set her mind to coming up with the solution.  She fled to America, where she shared her ideas with the US Navy.  Blocking radar with aluminum foil was also Hedy’s idea. You can also thank Hedy for what led to Bluetooth as well as WiFi.

As is the case with many of the famous women inventors, Lamarr received very little recognition of her innovative talent at the time but, years later, she has been showered with praise.  In 1997, she and George Anthiel were honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award. Later in the same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a prestigious lifetime accomplishment prize for inventors that is dubbed “The Oscar™ of Inventing.”

Proving she was much more than just another pretty face, Lamarr shattered stereotypes and earned a place among the 20th century’s most important women inventors. She truly was a visionary whose technological acumen was far ahead of its time!

Technology and the 20th/21st Centuries

Our children can never comprehend the wealth of technology that is such an integral part of our everyday lives.  They have been brought up accustomed to televisions and DVDs, instant access to music and entertainment, and knowledge accessed from the internet via their PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.  Yet, just 100 years ago, the world was a very different place!

In 1915 the world was dominated by World War 1 which had broken out the previous year.

  • The first coast-to-coast long-distance telephone call was made on 25th January 1915.
  • Pluto was photographed in March and April 1915 by an unknown astronomer.
  • On 10th December 1915, the one millionth Ford automobile rolled off the assembly line at Detroit’s River Rouge plant.
  • Engineer and chemist Georges Claude invented the first neon lamp in 1910. On 19th January 1915, he patented the neon lighting tube.
  • The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor of NASA, was established on 3rd March 1915.

Weaponry technologies:-

  • The tank: 1914 saw the introduction of mechanised tractors on the battlefield. The first proper tank was designed in 1915 by William Foster & Co of Lincoln, and was first used in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
  • Poison gas: The German Army used a non-lethal form of poison gas in 1914, but by 1915 had developed the far more harmful chlorine gas, which was used at Ypres in April 1915. An earlier gas attack against the Russian Army in January 1915, during the battle of Bolimov, failed when the poison froze.
  • Grenades:  Both sides introduced new and improved forms of hand grenade in 1915. The German Army deployed the Model 24, which became the army’s standard hand grenade from 1915 until the end of World War II. Meanwhile, the British Army introduced the new Mills bomb as its standard hand grenade.
  • Flamethrowers:  The first flamethrower was deployed by the German Army in February 1915, near Verdun in north-eastern France.

Technology is now at a point where  it pervades every aspect of our lives from weather forecasts; the news beamed by satellite; the banking systems of the world and computerised stock systems for shopping both in person and online.  We are so fully dependent upon this technology that there are even back-up systems (theoretically fail-safe) in place in the event of a break in power supply. On the horizon are fully automated homes and cars that are computer controlled and steer themselves.

October 21st 2015

We’ve just lived through Back to the Future Day!  Yes, really!

In the film Back to the Future 2 which we saw in the cinemas in 1989,  October 21st 2015 was the day Michael J Fox’s Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown travelled to!

The future is now!

Here we are, 26 years later, and it’s impressive to note how many tech trends this film predicted, even if it also contained its’ fair share of misfires.

What they got right

If you listen to the sound effects used for its cars they pass you’ll  hear the near-silent hum that’s become associated with Toyota’s Prius and other electric-powered four-wheelers.

Biff’s payment of his taxi ride with a thumb-print isn’t totally dissimilar to how we now use our contactless debit cards pay for items.

The tech world’s current fascination with wearable tech was foreshadowed by Marty’s talking jacket.

BTTF’s drones, only  make fleeting appearances, but we have drones, although they’re now coming under strict regulation regarding their use.

The film industry hasn’t given up on the idea of 3D technologies – its latest pitch is a laser-projection system said to deliver “brighter, crisper and clearer” images. Rather neatly, the innovation premiered in London earlier this month with Robert Zemeckis’ latest film The Walk – he is, of course, also the director of the BTTF trilogy.

Meanwhile, voice-controlled televisions are already a reality thanks to smart TVs from Samsung and Sony as well as set-top boxes from Amazon and Apple.

…and the ones that they didn’t

Flying cars

Throwing your rubbish into a car’s Mr Fusion energy converter to provide it with power remains fanciful although there are moves towards powering vehicles with waste. Bristol and Bath recently started running buses powered by treated thrown-away food and sewage, and there are efforts elsewhere to convert agricultural waste into a petrol supplement.

The film’s biggest miss, however, is arguably its lack of a smartphone.  Marty Jr is even seen using an AT&T payphone at one point – all the more ironic since the company was first to offer the iPhone.

BTTF’s filmmakers were a little short-sighted when contemplating a data-connected world. They did feature a Skype-like video chat program at one point, showing off not only the caller but also private details about them. Unfortunately, the writers failed to think outside the box (sorry about THAT pun!) and showed communication occuring via a TV rather than using a handheld display.  To be fair, George Orwell’s 1984 did predict every home with a TV-like screen which provided two-way communication and maybe this iconic story was entrenched in the minds of the film’s writers when “predicting” the technology of the future.

Given the technological advances of the last 100 years, our children and grandchildren have a very exciting future to look forward to!

Trail cam videos and a delve into cryptozoology

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Take a look at the photo on the right.

You may well have already seen this on the internet, either on its’ own or in a video with a title along the lines of “He Set Up A Camera To Catch Poachers But What The Camera Caught Was Way More Terrifying” or “Unexplained Creatures Caught on Trail Cams”.

Throughout history there have been stories of legendary monsters whose existence is kept alive as tales told round a campfire or at a sleepover party.  In the Bible we read of the Nephilim; the Behemoth; the Leviathan; Moloch; various gods and demi-gods; Seraphim and Cherubim (though these areangels rather than monsters).  The Bible is, however, an oral history and although I note these for the sake of completeness, they are without validity.

Trail cam video uploads are common on the internet. They’re good at catching wildlife and pets, and letting us share the secrets of their nocturnal activities.  It’s no surprise, therefore, that the mystique of an eerie outdoor backdrop makes for an excellent horror video. All too often, however, truth and fiction are merged to create these. In most instances, modern technology is used to good effect to subtly edit a video, more often than not it’s a ‘Blair Witch Project’ style video, it looks like amateur video but when you delve more closely you’ll discover that the footage was planned and short by a student or amateur film-maker.

The “unexplained creatures” video I mentioned before would appear to be a compilation of a number of supposed trail cam captures that are anything but paranormal.  Various copies of this video exist and may well have been put together from a variety of sources.  I’m going to have a look at these individual “sightings” in this article to see how much is capable of being debunked.

White lady in the forest.

This first ‘capture’ appewhite visitor of the woodsars to be a person in white.  L
ooking impartially, it would appear to be a lady in a victorian dress, maybe a hint of a bustle, facing away from the camera. Her hair appears to be up in a bun her left arm extends to hold a tree trunk and, dangling from her hand, appears to be a long knife or a stick.  From the waist down and behind the figure is some streaking and there is a glow or aura around the woman.

My first action was to do a google search on the photo and found a website which shows more of this image at  http://www.examiner.com/article/strange-angelic-figure-captured-on-wildlife-camera-georgia

white visitor of the woods 2One of the people commenting on the aforementioned website suggests that the streaking is fairy wings and the stick is a fairy wand! However, in this clip, you can actually see that it’s not a victorian woman at all – that’s just  an interpretation of what we think we’re seeing!

So the fairy wings is light from the camera being reflected off the of the subject and the rest is down to pareidolia!

Coast To Coast AM guest Dingo posted the image under the headline “Strange Figure on Wildlife Camera”. According to Dingo (a police officer), he and another officer responded to a call about hunters trespassing on private property but the officers were unable to locate the suspects. The next day, the property owners set up an infrared wildlife camera in an attempt to catch the trespassers.

The two officers also stated that they think it was a hunter. According to them, they have access to other similar photos collected nearby from a Ranger of the Department of Natural Resources.  “We (law enforcement officers) believed the light source were(sic) in fact coon hunters during the night (very common for the area).” Dingo stated in his report that he and another officer believed the figure to be a hunter.

Having considered this, I have to say I’m inclined to agree that the trail cam has captured a hunter who was wearing a white shirt and trousers, hence the colour streaking as the light from the camera is reflected off his clothes.

The winged monster

winged monster chasing deer

I’ve yet to find any credible information about this “monster”. Various suggestions are that it’s a Mothman, the Jersey Devil or a demon-like creature.  It’s reported that the locals in this area (somewhere in Canada!)  refuse to go into the woods at night as there have been numerous sightings of this type of creature.  I’m unable to find anything about this picture although one web site reckons this picture was captured in a Jersey Devil ‘hot spot’! Frankly, I’d have to say this is a hoax but I currently have no way to prove or disprove.

Torso in the treestorso in the trees

Internet information advises that this was taken in 2012 in northern Pennsylvania. The strange humanoid figure seems to be squatted down or sitting and laughing or smiling, yet the deer seems mostly unaffected.

Like the previous picture,  there is little currently available that debunks this but it could so easily have been photoshopped.

The hunched walker

hunched walkerThis one appears to have caught a person walking, deep in thought, which is probably all it is!

Internet information suggests that this was captured by a trail cam owner near Thunder Bay, Michigan.  

Various comments  I’ve come across suggest that this is bigfoot. However, previous images of bigfoot show an apelike creature which this most certainly isn’t hence my assertion that the trailcam simply found an  insomniac taking a night time stroll.

Victorian child

victorian child

This one really is suspect and I’ll tell you why.  ghost app victorian girl

Have a look at the picture on the right – spot anything you recognise?

Yes, that little victorian girl is to be found in a ghost app mobile phone application!

I’m afraid this is most definitely fake!

The Rake monster

demon on all fours

Whatever this monster is, it’s certainly not real!

It’s been touted on the internet for ages. One reference I found said “A man near Berwick, Louisiana claimed a friend of his captured this after finding his trail cam demolished.  The sim card was still intact and he found he had captured this very creepy image.”

In actual fact you can read more about this at: http://www.crushable.com/2011/05/28/entertainment/creepy-things-that-seem-real-but-arent-the-rake/

To precis the site’s words “…the Rake isn’t real. Like Slender Man, he’s a creation of the bloody-minded users of the Something Awful forums. All the above-mentioned stories are quoted by user Clockspider in the same thread that Slender Man first appeared in; rumblings have suggested that the Rake had been created prior to Slender Man.”

That’s everything found on that video.  However, there are other ‘monsters’ that I’d like to add to this blog.

The skinwalker

xtro

This one resurfaces on numerous occasions .

I’ve always personally attributed it to that group of fakes cleverly put together to frighten and entertain, along the lines of the monkey mermaid where a monkey’s top half was placed with a fish’s lower half to create a mermaid-like creature.

Having done a google search, I quickly found that this is from a 1980s science fiction movie called “Xtro” about a creepy being that’s born, presumably escapes its’ secure facility and goes on the prowl.  

The information is from http://doubtfulnews.com/2014/02/viral-skinwalker-picture-is-a-hoax/ and goes camel girlon to suggest that the film makermay have been inspired by Ella Harper.

Ella was known as  the Camel Girl and she suffered from congenital genu recurvatum, a genetic disorder that leaves the ligaments severely weakened and causes the knees to bend backwards.

Not much is known about Ella’s life, but we do know that she worked with W.H. Harris Nickel Plate Circus and received top billing during the 1886 season, where she was often accompanied on stage by an actual camel.  Her pitch card stated that Ella had been in show business since 1882.  Despite earning an estimated $200 a week working with the circus, Ella left after that season to pursue an education.  There is no mention of her after in the annals of sideshow history.

So what happened to Ella, the Camel Girl?  It is believed that Ella got married in 1905 in her home state of Tennessee and passed away in 1921.  She only performed a short four years, but in those years she traveled extensively, was featured in every local newspaper of every town she visited, and was touted as one of the best human oddities to ever be put on display.

The Goatman

goatman

Here’s the Goatman.  My first impressions are that this is an easy stunt to pull off.

A man in special feet and hand prosthetics and a mask with antlers attached.

The clarity of the picture makes me think that this is a still from a horror film.  The film Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro came to mind when I first saw it and I still can’t shake that impression even though I haven’t been able to debunk this!

Researching this I found that there is an urban legend about  an axe-wielding, half-animal half man creature, that was once a scientist who worked in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Centre, Maryland. The story goes that he was experimenting on goats but something went wrong with the experiment (did he get bitten by a rabid goat?) and began roaming the  back roads of Beltsville, attacking cars with an axe.  A spokesperson for the Beltsville Agricultural Research Centre is reported to have said that they think it’s stupid.  They consider it silly and not even something that’s joked about.  They also point out that the centre’s work is mostly devoted to records and genetics and couldn’t even recall when there were last goats kept or used at the centre.

Barry Lee Pearson, a Folkorist at the University of Maryland (how many universities have a resident folklorist, I wonder?) tells of a modern take on this tale which is normally regurgitated by teenage campfire tales.

Apparently, the first official report is in 1957 with a hairy, horned monster being spotted in the areas of Forestville and upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County.  The next report is in the Summer of 1962, when twelve children and two adults were found killed, they had been hiking and the Goatman is accused of their killing for hiking too close to its’ lair.  Unidentified survivors claimed that the Goatman hacked the victims to pieces with an axe “all the while emitting ghastly sounds only the Devil himself would make.”  The police have no written record of this “tragic affair” yet it’s reported that when they arrived on the scene all that was left were half-eaten limbs and a bloody trail leading to an ominous cave.  I find this hard to believe.  When police arrive at a crime scene, of course they’d seal the area off, take photos, make meticulous notes and attempt an investigation.  Once again the wording smacks of teenage horror story.

Goats abound from a historical point of view.  In Roman times there was a cult that worshipped Dionysus which was led by a man dressed as a goat, then there’s the Satyrs of Greek mythology.  Satan is often depicted in horror stories and films as a half man half goat. In modern times there is the ongoing tale of the Chupacabra.

Postscript 1 December 2015 Skeptic’s Boot has just posted “Dismissing the Goat Man”!  http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/pardon-me-for-being-gruff-dismissing.html

Monsters not caught on trailcam but recorded elsewhere

Loch Ness Monster

Nessie, as this monster is also affectionately known, was a monster that piqued my interest many years ago.  Since the original sighting in 1933, there have been numerous attempts to find this creature using state of the art equipment to “sound out” the monster from its’ lair.  Loch Ness is approximately 23miles long, its’ surface 52ft above sea level and, at its’ deepest level, is 755ft.  Loch Ness is the second laraest Scottish loch after Loch Lomond and is the second deepest lock after Loch Morar.

Because of the depth of the Loch, the hypothesis is that a large cryptid has survived from the age of the dinosaurs and continues to thrive in those waters.

Everything that I’ve seen make me think that although the reasoning makes sense, surely the sonar and underwater photography would have found something if there was a creature inhabiting those waters.

Research projects for Loch Ness include:

http://www.loch-ness.org/  This is a scholarly and well written site on the topic.  Tony Harmsworth’s work on this site is comprehensive. He is a lochside resident and maintains that he has himself seen the monster but also acknowledges that “people will believe in Nessie on the flimsiest evidence without having used a critical eye to examine the actual material which is promoted.”  He has written a book entitled “Nessie and Me” in which he says he can “reveal the underlying truth” and also advises that the book exposes the hoaxes and fakes and “removes the pseudoscience”.

http://www.lochnessinvestigation.com/

http://www.lochnessproject.org/

Given all the evidence, I leave it to  you to make up your own mind.

Bigfoot / Sasquatch

Video exists of a large apelike creature walking upright. Attempts to debunk this have been carried out by Fact or Faked, their investigator donned an ape suit for them to video and the results, obviously, emulate what little pictures we have of this creature.

12/11/2015 Came across this on Snopes and thought I should add it here just to prove no one has YET to find anything credible for Bigfoot.  A purported History Channel programme surfaced which appears to have been a spoof documentary made to look like the real thing.

Snopes finishes by telling us

In other words, Breaking History: Bigfoot Captured was not a documentary, but rather a fictional work created in fake documentary style for entertainment purposes, just like the fake Animal Planet “documentary” on mermaids and the fake Discovery Channel “documentary” about megalodon.

http://www.snopes.com/bigfoot-captured-history-channel/

Yeti AKA the Abominable Snowman

This creature is said to dwell high up on Himalayan mountains but its’ mystique is similar to Bigfoot.  I found that the Yeti was part of the pre-Buddhist believes of several Himalayan people, that the Lepcha people worshipped a “Glacier Being” as a god of the hunt.

The name “Abominable Snowman was coined in 1921, the same year that the British Mount Everest reconnaisance expedition took place, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury and about which he subsequently wrote a book.  In this book he writes of finding footprints that he believed “were probably caused by a large loping grey wolf which, in the soft snow, formed double tracks rather like those of a bare-footed man”. He advises that his Sherpa guides “at once volunteered that the tracks *must” be that of “The Wild Man of the Shows”.  Their name was metoh-kangmi, metoh translates as man-bear whilst Kang-i translates as snowman.  However the use of the term Abominable Snowman was borne from  an interview by Henry Newman, a contributor of The Statesman in Calcutta, who interviewed the porters of the Everest Reconnaisance expedition.

Like the Bigfoot, the Yeti reports are founded on little more than hearsay but with no pictures attempting to support the stories.

Interestingly, though, the US National Archives have a document setting out the official policy telling travelers what to do in the event that they encounter a Yeti whilst exploring Nepal.   This is very interesting because it means that the creature termed the Yeti was actually credible enough to warrant such a document!

The three regulations are (and this is my precis in modern English):-

  1. A royalty of 5,000 Indian Rupees are to be paid to His Majesty’s Government of Nepal for a permit to carry out an expedition in search of “Yeti”.
  2. In case “Yeti” is traced it c an be photographed or caught alive but it must not be killed or shot at except in an emergency arising out of self defence.  All photographs taken of the animal, the creature itself if captured alive or dead, must be surrendered to the government of Nepal at the earliest time.
  3. News and reports throwing light on the actual existence of the creature must be submitted to the Government of Nepal as soon as they are available and must not in any way be given out to the Press or Reporters for publicity without the permission of the Government of Nepal.

It’s interesting that in item No. 2 they refer to “photos of the animal, the creature itself if captured alive or dead…”  It’s an animal and it’s a creature – or couldn’t they make up their minds?

Here’s the document http://usnatarchives.tumblr.com/post/131947491214/in-case-yeti-is-traced-it-can-be-photographed-or

Chupacabra

This animal, said to exist in parts of Latin America, supposedly attacks animals, especially goats.  Since chickens, goats and cows are prey to wolves and the like, there’s no evidence to prove that this creature exists.  It would appear (I was  unaware of this) that there are two versions of chupacabra, the reptilian kind and the canid (dogs, wolves, jackals and some South American “foxes” and Vulpini (true foxes).)

Supposedly there have been more than 2,000 sightings.  the first recorded attacks took place in Puerto  Rico in March 1995 when eight sheep were discovered dead, drained of their blood.  Investigators found three strange puncture wounds on the chests of the animals giving rise to some speculation about the attacking creature.

I’ve seen various pictures posted on the internet that purport to show a captured chupacabra however, I’ve not been wholly convinced by these.

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Chupacabra

Mothman
This creature was first reported as having been mothman drawingseen in November 1966 in West Virginia. Further sightings in both Point Pleasant and Salem tell of a flying creature approximately six or seven feet tall with eyes that glowed red in the dark. It turns out that the first time this name was used was a character in an episode of Batman on TV. Within a year of that episode airing, more than 100 sightings were reported, with even ore reports of just the red lights. Witnesses are reported to have said the creature glided like a bat but could elevate effortlessly (since when were these witnesses experts in flying creatures’ aerial abilities?).  Further they reported that it could not talk but screamed like an eagle (I venture to suggest that they did not stick around long enough to attempt to enter into dialogue with this creature so that report is skewed) but the majority of flying creatures don’t talk but chatter, hoot, warble or shriek.

There are lots of pictures of the creature named the Mothman but, some are drawings of eyewitness reports – and it’s a well-known fact that witnesses’ recall is not always accurate – there’s no indication this is any more than the figment of a fevered imagination!

mothman stillframeThis picture came to my attention on the internet some while ago, a youtube video of the Mothman, the story goes:

“In 1966, in the sleepy town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, unexplained sightings of a creature called Mothman began. His appearances coincided with strange phenomena experienced by witnesses.”

flyingfoxHowever, my initial reaction was to question whether this was actually a flying fox (large bat) as I had seen programmes about these incredible creatures some years ago.

Have a look at this picture of an Australian flying fox, there’s some similarity between this and the previous picture but the flying fox is most definitely an animal.  Looking back at the former picture, it’s highly likely this came from a film.  Observe the legs – they are human shaped – and if you look at the shoulders/arms, the form is more of a human than a winged animal.  In my considered opinion the former picture is nothing more than a man in a cleverly-constructed costume.

Upon reading an informative article entitled “Bats or flying foxes?” this advises that flying foxes do not occur naturally in Europe or USA.  Yet, is there a reason why this is the case? No, they may not be native to the USA but could a flying fox have been transported to the USA as a zoo specimen, or pet, and escaped captivity? http://www.bellingen.com/flyingfoxes/bats_or_flying_foxes.htm

Jersey Devil

This is a creature or cryptid said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey, United States.

Quoted as being a flying biped with hooves there are, unfortunately many variations on a theme when attempting to describe this creature.

I first became aware of this creature from a Season 1 episode of X-Files which is entitled “The Jersey Devil” but there is little to give any credible information on this creature aside from Wikipedia and some stray reports posted on the internet.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Devil

Mermaids

One of the P T Barnum style mermaids a monkey-head torso attached to a fish tail I’ve seen a number of photos of “real mermaids” washed up on a seashore.

The majority are either the PT Barnum style
monkey head and torso attached to a fish’s tail or they’re student film makers’ attempts at trying to pull off an assignment!

Gensan mermaidMy understanding is that sailors saw a manatee and mistook it for a female form (don’t forget they were at sea for a long time so must have been awash with hormones!). This picture is of acreature photographed London Beach Resort in the Phillipines. It’s a still from a video uploaded by Jovelin Balinas in April 2015 which apparently ‘went viral’ (did it?  I didn’t see it!).

mermaidThis mermaid was supposedly washed up on a Dubai seashore.

It has a remarkably female form, aside from appearing to be missing nipples! To me, it looks very much like a latex dummy. http://www.sreelokam.com/2014/08/mermaid-in-dubai-seashore-real-mermaid.html

Peak District Mermaids

I have just been informed of this story (15 November 2015), one I’d never come across before. Now, for those who don’t know the UK that well, the Peak District National Park is 555 square miles (1,438 square kilometres) in size, covers parts of the counties of Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire. I might also add that it is land-locked and the majority of mermaid “sightings” are in open water.

Mermaid No. 1 is rumoured to live in the Mermaid’s Pool (logical!), which is just below Kinder Scout in the High Peaks. This area was thought to be a place where ancient Celtic water worship rituals took place, for two reasons: firstly, the water is salinated, a peculiarity for an inland lake. but this is said to be due to its being connected to the Atlantic Ocean by a subterranean passage; secondly, the nearby waterfall of Kinder Downfall often appears to have the mythical quality of water flowing upwards on a blustery day. There’s no mention of a Kinder egg!

Mermaids poolThe picture is one I found on the internet so, you can see it’s not the habitat associated with mermaid sightings. The waters of the Mermaid’s Pool are believed to offer healing qualities to those brave enough to bathe there. The best time to visit, we are advised, is at midnight at Easter: the only time of the year when the Mermaid is said to appear! If she looks upon you favourably then she will grant you the gift of immortality. Make sure you catch her on a good day though, otherwise you can expect to be pulled into the pool to your death! http://mondrem.net/myths/Mermaids_Pool.html

Mermaids poolMermaid No. 2 is said to reside in Black Mere Pool.  The picture here was sourced from wildswim.com so, the person is some brave soul who enjoys outdoor swimming locations.

http://wildswim.com/mermaids-pool-nr-leek

Over the centuries the pond has been the scene of a number of drownings and a murder when, in 1679, a woman pedlar was dumped in the pool by a local serial killer so it’s not really surprising the area has an air of mysticism about it and why stories have grown up around it.

It would appear that there are two conflicting legends to explain how the mermaid arrived at this unexceptional inland lake.

The first is that she was brought there by a sailor from the nearby town of Thorncliff, in a tale that is a rather charming love story between water nymph and seafarer (Pirates of the Caribbean style!). However, after the sailor’s death the mermaid became angry and – unable to return to the sea – started to haunt the lake.
The other is a little more sinister, telling of a beautiful young woman who rejected the advances of a local man named Joshua Linnet. Unable to accept the rejection, Joshua accused the woman of being a witch and he convinced the local townsfolk to drown her in Black Mere Pond. With her final breath the young woman is said to have muttered a curse against Joshua and, three days later, his body was found by the pool, his face covered with claw marks. It is said that her spirit still haunts the pool in the form of a demon mermaid.

It is reported that livestock refuse to drink water from Black Mere Pool (but if this pool were also salinated like the Kinder Scout pool, then that would explain this), and that birds will never fly across it. I’ve read suggestions that birds can “see” the lines of the Earth’s magnetic field so maybe this explains them flying around it.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13811-birds-can-see-the-earths-magnetic-field/

The last recorded sighting of the ‘mermaid’ was in the mid nineteenth century, when a group of locals attempted to drain the lake to see if the pool was indeed bottomless as claimed. Shortly after they began digging at the southern end of the pool (where a drainage ditch can still be seen to this day), it is said that the Mermaid appeared from the lake and threatened to flood the nearby towns of Leek and Leekfrith unless they ceased their activities immediately. Apparently, they quickly packed up their shovels and headed back to lower ground!   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blakemere_Pond

However, there is one living, breathing, female form that swims in the ocean with a tail and that’s this lady, Kezzie Mahina http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2910999/Meet-real-life-mermaid-hold-breath-five-minutes-swam-sharks-SIX-MONTHS-pregnant-range-mermaid-fins-allow-share-underwater-dreams.html

She has created and sells Merfin flippers in the shape of a mermaid tail which allows ‘children and adults alike to streak through the ocean.’

The German Emperor’s Sea-Serpent Joke

German emperor's sea serpent joke

This was posted (04/12/15) in the Fortean Times Appreciation Facebook group entitled newspaper clipping of a sea serpent hoax pre WWI.

Having googled, I can find nothing to authenticate this online.  If this is an authentic newspaper article it would prove that our straightlaced Edwardian predecessors were also capable of major hoaxes!

The Barking Cat of NW Thailand

I discovered an interesting article in November 2015 entitled “Tasmanian Tiger”.  It appears a  news team was in the Bang Rakam District in northwest Thailand in early November investigating how residents were surviving the current drought conditions. While filming their story, the crew noticed a strange creature running out of a house. “Strange” means the creature had stripes and looked like a small tiger but barked like a dog.  The owner said she often gets asked why the tiger barks like a dog and went on to say  that she didn’t paint the stripes on it and has no explanation as to how the creature got them, or whether it’s a cat, a dog or something else.

Speculating about this creature, the article asks if it could be a Tasmanian tiger or a hybrid of one?  However, apparently the last Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf was believed to have died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 and no confirmed sightings have occurred since.

Of course we will never know.  Unfortunately the owner wasn’t asked how she came to have this animal as a pet. In my opinion, this is some weird hybrid  of which it turns out there are quite a few that have been found. I was aware of the Liger ( Male Lion + Female Tiger) and the Hinny (Female Donkey + Male Horse) but, doing some research found all of these:

Beefalo (Buffalo + Cow)
Coywolf (Coyote +Wolf)
Dzo (Cow + Wild Yak)
Geep. (Goat + Sheep)
Grolar Bear.(Grizzly Bear + Polar Bear)
Leopon (Male Leopard + Female Lion)
Cama (Male Camel + Female Llama)
Jaglion (Male Jaguar + Female Lion
Leopon (Male Leopard + Female Lion)
Mulard (Mallard + Muscovy Duck)
Narluga (Narwhal + Beluga)
Savannah Cat (Domestic Cat + Serval)
Tigon (Male Tiger + Female Lion)
Wholphin (Male False Killer Whale + Female Bottlenose Dolphin)
Zebroid (Zebra + Any Other Equine)
Zonkey (Zebra + Donkey)
Zony (Zebra + Pony)
Żubroń (Cow + European Bison)

So I’m going to stick with my gut reaction that this animal is a hybrid, since these unusual matings obviously can, and do, happen.

Strange Barking Striped Cat Could Be Tasmanian Tiger

What else it out there I should include here?

Are there any other “monsters” worthy of adding to this list? Do you have any information to add to what I’ve included here?  I’d love to hear from you!

The Kryptos Sculpture

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Kryptos is a mysterious encrypted sculpture, designed by artist Jim Sanborn, which sits right outside the headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Virginia.

It would appear that Kryptos2the CIA Fine Arts Division (I didn’t know they had one!) commissioned Sanborn to create a cryptographic sculpture that would be sited in a courtyard on the CIA campus.

The sculpture consists of two parts, one is a set of stones laid out in International Morse Code. The second was a 12 foot high copper, granite and petrified wood sculpture inscribed with four encrypted messages composed of 1,800 letters carved out of the copper plate.

When I first saw this picture, one thing struck me. There is black lettering to the left of the picture. There is white lettering to the right. The first visible line of text at the top appears to be spelling the alphabet in black lettering followed in white lettering by the word KRYPTOSAB. 

That particular line of “alphabet” has letters missing – they happen to be the very letters in KRYPTOSAB – can’t see past the H on the left but reading across, letters K, O, P, R, S and T are missing from that bit.  

Now I appreciate that I’m no expert in the field of cryptography so I was quite proud of myself until I found out that some of the sections HAD already been decoded!

The passages that have been decoded make for interesting (if mystifying) reading and I quote the following courtesy of Wikipedia:

The following are the solutions of parts 1–3 of the sculpture. Misspellings present in the code are included as-is. Kryptos sections K1 and K2 ciphers are polyalphabetic substitution, using a Vigenère tableau similar to the tableau on the other half of the sculpture. K3 is a transposition cipher, and K4 is still unsolved.

Solution of passage 1

BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION

Solution of passage 2

IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE HOWS THAT POSSIBLE ? THEY USED THE EARTHS MAGNETIC FIELD X THE INFORMATION WAS GATHERED AND TRANSMITTED UNDERGRUUND TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION X DOES LANGLEY KNOW ABOUT THIS ? THEY SHOULD ITS BURIED OUT THERE SOMEWHERE X WHO KNOWS THE EXACT LOCATION ? ONLY WW THIS WAS HIS LAST MESSAGE X THIRTY EIGHT DEGREES FIFTY SEVEN MINUTES SIX POINT FIVE SECONDS NORTH SEVENTY SEVEN DEGREES EIGHT MINUTES FORTY FOUR SECONDS WEST X LAYER TWO

On April 19, 2006, Sanborn contacted an online community dedicated to the Kryptos puzzle to inform them that the accepted solution to part 2 was incorrect. He said that he made an error in the sculpture by omitting an “X” used to indicate a break for aesthetic reasons, and that the deciphered text that ended “…FOUR SECONDS WEST ID BY ROWS” should be “…FOUR SECONDS WEST X LAYER TWO”.

Note: The coordinates mentioned in the plaintext: 38°57′6.5″N 77°8′44″W are for a point that is approximately 150 feet southeast of the sculpture.

Solution of passage 3

SLOWLY DESPARATLY SLOWLY THE REMAINS OF PASSAGE DEBRIS THAT ENCUMBERED THE LOWER PART OF THE DOORWAY WAS REMOVED WITH TREMBLING HANDS I MADE A TINY BREACH IN THE UPPER LEFT HAND CORNER AND THEN WIDENING THE HOLE A LITTLE I INSERTED THE CANDLE AND PEERED IN THE HOT AIR ESCAPING FROM THE CHAMBER CAUSED THE FLAME TO FLICKER BUT PRESENTLY DETAILS OF THE ROOM WITHIN EMERGED FROM THE MIST X CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING Q ?

This is a paraphrased quotation from Howard Carter’s account of the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun on November 26, 1922, as described in his 1923 book The Tomb of Tutankhamun. The question with which it ends is that posed by Lord Carnarvon, to which Carter (in the book) famously replied “wonderful things”. In the November 26, 1922 field notes, however, his reply was, “Yes, it is wonderful.”

Solution of passage 4

Part 4 remains publicly unsolved.

However, http://www.wired.com/2013/07/nsa-cracked-kryptos-before-cia/ advises that a small group of cryptanalysts from the NSA had actually deciphered the same three sections years earlier, taking them less than a month, according to documents held in the NSA archives that were unearthed by Elonka Dunin in a Freedom of Information request. Dunin maintains a website entirely devoted to the Kryptos sculpture.

Looking at Sanborn’s Bio-Resume on his website, there is no indication that he has any background in cryptography which makes me wonder how on earth he devised this complex encryption in the first place? With no obvious training in or experience of cryptography (and no one appears to be asking this) WHO did he consult to create this code in the first place – it must have taken many hours of work on this before he ever got around to actually sculpting the work!  On his website are pictures showing other sculptures featuring English, Native American and Latin texts but these all, as far as I can tell, post-date the Kryptos one.

“Artist Jim Sanborn was born in Washington, DC on November 14, 1945. He graduated from Randolph-Macon College in 1969 with a double major in art history and sociology. He received his Masters degree in sculpture from Pratt Institute in 1971.

Sanborn has received numerous awards and grants and has exhibited in major museums in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Jim Sanborn’s public artworks are located in Japan, Taiwan and many locations in the United States.”

To further complicate and mystify those interested in his work he closed down his kryptosclue.com website due to ” an overwhelming number of frivolous or debasing or hostile comments.”  The Jimsanborn web page tells potential enquirers that he will respond to any short personal email on payment of a $50 fee. However, this is only to discuss the enquirer’s possible solution or decryption process and goes on to state that Sanborn “will not intentionally reveal clues or a solution to the remaining unsolved K4 section.”

My question is, will Sanborn take the answer to the unsolved passage to the grave or will he put the world out of its misery before he takes his last breath?  

No doubt he has a contingency plan in place that, upon his demise, his solicitor (presumably entrusted with the solution to the whole code)  would oversee enquiries about decryption and, hopefully, has set an end date at which time the solution to the encryption would be made public.
Further reading:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kryptos

Elonka Dunin’s website http://elonka.com/kryptos/

http://jimsanborn.net/kryptos_fees.pdf

Bible Inconsistencies

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There are lots of unanswered questions when looking back through history so, the archaic document that we call the bible, is just one part of the giant puzzle of our origins that we are trying to unravel.

For starters, I believe that the Bible, and similar texts, should not be treated as if they were/are an accurate re-telling of the human story.  

The bible was an opportunity to more accurately record the stories that had been told from generation to generation –  an oral history – meant to provide the foundation of clean living at the same time as providing the genealogy of man. It’s human nature to question the fabric of our lives: as a child we ask difficult questions like “where did I come from?” and, for the ancients with little actual knowledge of the real reason, it’s more comforting to find an explanation that seems to fit all the questions  So writing the documents that ultimately came to be known as “The Bible” was an attempt to document all the theories and assumptions that had been passed down the generations.

Now the first problem, as I see it, is that an oral storytelling is liable to a little “artistic licence” as it’s passed from person to person, a kind of chinese-whispers if you will. Maybe one of the storytellers embellished some of it to make it a little easier to understand.  However, given the chinese-whispers effect, this means that, in all likelihood, the written word was far removed from the original (one has to presume there was one story from which the subsequent versions were embellished.  the written word was far removed from the original (one has to presume there was one story from which the subsequent versions were embellished.

The bible was an opportunity to more accurately record the stories that had been told from generation to generation –  an oral history – meant to provide the foundation of clean living at the same time as providing the genealogy of man. It’s human nature to question the fabric of our lives: as a child we ask difficult questions like “where did I come from?” and, for the ancients with little actual knowledge of the real reason, it’s more comforting to find an explanation that seems to fit all the questions  So writing the documents that ultimately came to be known as “The Bible” was an attempt to document all the theories and assumptions that had been passed down the generations.

There are numerous references in the bible to names of people who begat sons and daughters, whose whole lives are condensed into a paragraph as if their lives were insignificant in the grand scheme.  Also, the bible is littered with inconsistencies. In Genesis, if Cain and Abel were the only children of Adam and Eve, how could the bible tell us “And Cain knew his wife.” That’s nice, but where the hell did she come from? If Adam and Eve and their progeny are so important, surely they also had daughters, one of whom would have been Cain’s mate, so why are the daughters not also named?  I recall a suggestion (can’t recall where from) that posited that Cain must have mated with Eve, his mother.  Of course, by the time these stories came to be committed to parchment, the thought of a mother fornicating with her son to produce progeny was unthinkable.  Rather than attempt to explain the unexplainable, it’s easier to gloss over it and hope no one will ask questions.

There are places in the bible where the same story is repeated in a subsequent paragraph where the wording is slightly different. In my opinion, this is down to the fact that there WERE a number of variants in circulation.  The writers couldn’t possibly know which one was the original or “first telling”, so took the decision to simply include all of them.

The assertion that some of the people of the bible lived long lives, and the one commonly quoted is Methuselah, who was said to have lived to be 969. Further, patriarchs not only lived long lives but apparently also also sired children when they were several hundred years old. What we can’t be sure, however, is how these peoples recorded time – obviously they understood the differing seasons but counting months and years was probably a little hit and miss until there was a consensus of opinion on recording the passage of time.  So it’s not unreasonable to think that the ancients’ year didn’t represent 365 days as we now know it and, therefore, their reckoning of time and of birthdays was not exactly accurate compared to modern calculation.

There are references to “….giants in the earth in those days” and Nephilim – the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” before the Deluge and people are still claiming to find skeletons of these mythical beings!  

More food for thought, I recently came across an article entitled The 14 Weirdest Moments In The Bible and they truly ARE weird!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/call-me-bald-again-i-double-dare-you#.ypG3wy9db

Aren’t all religions fake?

The difficulty is, religion is a highly individual thing and we should not dismiss any of them lightly!  I have my beliefs and I am sure you have yours.  I do not condone the war and bloodshed that is taking place in our day and age in the name of (choose your deity’s name) and am shocked when I am reminded of all the terrible acts of war carried out over the centuries in the name of said deity – just doesn’t work for me.   A ‘loving’ god?  Only for those who follow him/her/it? Eternal damnation for those who don’t follow him/he/it?

evidenceWhen I started writing the text for this section about bible inconsistencies, I was writing from the perspective of my Jewish upbringing and my own questioning what was taken for granted.  To recap: I feel that the text used to create the bible started life as an oral/aural history and, by the time scribes put pen to parchment, the tale had gone though many storytellers and embellished over the course of time.

 

In truth, I consider religion to be wholly man-made since humans have a fundamental need to have something/someone to pray to in hard times and to thank at the good times.

I have a cursory understanding of what’s called The New Testament.   However, and this is my opinion and I know it will be disagreeable to some, when Jesus preached to the people, I don’t think he had any intention of setting up a new religion, he merely felt that the rabbis were out of touch with their congregations and set about speaking to the people, in a way that they could relate to.

Where did the name Christ come from anyway? Researching this I’m told that:-

The word “Christ” comes from christos, a Greek word meaning “anointed.” It is the equivalent of the word mashiach, or Messiah, in Hebrew. So, to be the Christ, or Messiah, is to be “the anointed one of God.  Now, as far as I am aware, Jesus was neither anointed nor recognised by the rabbis as being a rabbi, or prophet. The title (unless I can find information to the contrary, this is what I believe to be the case) was awarded to him due to the merits of his preaching to, and by the people who told and wrote down the story.

In the name of the Father – killings documented in the Bible

People killed by God in the Bible = 2,476,633, underestimating God’s total death toll, as this only includes those killings where specific numbers were given.  This figure doesn’t include victims of Noah’s flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc.

Yet God’s adversary, Satan, is described as one who went astray and is definitely bad boy on the block.  How many did HE kill in the Bible? Merely 10 it would appear, and even these he shares with God, since God allowed him to do it as a part of a bet in the book of Job – the 7 sons & 3 daughters.  God allowed this so the blood is on both their hands.

Honestly?  In the first place, I wouldn’t have thought that God was a betting man or is that woman or person?  Surely a supreme being is worthy of more than having a spat with his “adversary”?   It harks of the tales of the Greek and Roman gods I remember reading about, upsetting each other, cavorting with mortals and doing things they knew were wrong, more like children than supreme beings!

christianity vs islam

I do not understand how any person can justify their religion as the reason for persecution, proselytising and murder yet our history books are full of it!

As you can imagine, this is a topic which I feel quite strongly about and also has a lot of facets I want to cover.  I have assembled a large amount of research material that I need to work through to continue, hence this is a work in progress.

I came across an interesting interview, purportedly with an American Bishop, who ‘explains why the church invented hell’.  Now it could be argued that hell was mentioned in the writings that subsequently became the Bible pre-Jesus so blaming the church (particularly when you’re the bishop of a branch of the church) is a little injudicious!  However, in spite of that he makes some interesting comments in regard to the Christian religion, but those could equally be applied to the majority of the world’s religions.  Or as he terms it, the guilt-producing, control business.

What I do like is his comment “The idea that the truth of god can be bound in any human system, by any human creed, by any human book, is almost beyond imagination for me.  I mean, god is not a Christian, god is not a Jew, or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist.  All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of god…..I honour my tradition I walk though my tradition, but I don’t believe my tradition defines god it only points me to god.”  I do agree.

https://www.facebook.com/AwarenessAct/videos

Edit 22/06/2016

MIT offer their courses online for free and I came across this one which struck a chord with this blog’s topic: Popular Culture and Narrative: Use and Abuse of the Fairy Tale.

What’s interesting is that the course offers the opportunity to look at how Fairy Tales are conditioned by oral transmission and inherited story-telling techniques. In my considered opinion, the same could be applied to the Bible (and, dare I say it other major religious texts, too!).

The syllabus advises “The goal of the class is to teach students how to approach cultural history in a broad-based multi-disciplinary manner, using a blend of folklore, history, psychology and film and textual studies. Students will gain a detailed appreciation of the links between oral tradition and print, and the means by which culture is transmitted down the centuries via a wide range of media.”

Treading on dangerous ground here in likening any religious text to a fairy tale but you can’t deny that the bible is a blend of folklore and moral/ethical codes (Aesop sprung to mind as I began typing this, too!) and once you look under the bonnet all manner of questions spring out at you/me.

To be continued.

Topics in this thought process that I will be researching to append to this blog:

  • Was life planted here by aliens? Was god an alien?
  • Are we lab rats?
  • Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.  Maybe he was a little lonely that day and needed cheering up so took a friend home for tea?
  • Bible versions.  The Bible we read today is entitled The King James Version.  How many versions are there? An awful lot more than most of us realise, it seems. Having found the following link, I haven’t looked at this in great detail but provide it for you in the meantime Wikipedia’s List of English Bible Translations and THAT’S just English!? How many in Aramaic, Coptic or Greek, I wonder?
  •  Bible inconsistencies and contradictions The fact that, in one point in the bible, something will be stated and then, later text makes the original quote seem meaningless.  They can’t both be right, can they?

This final link which I’m reliably informed is from “The West Wing”.  I’ve never watched the programme but I really did find this funny and appropriate to this article! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1-ip47WYWc

If you liked this blog post, please also have a look at my blog Exorcism and Belief

 

Is an Ouija board dangerous?

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Personally I feel that, although there are strong arguments that the Ouija board is nothing more than an elaborate board game, the fact that when using one, peoples’ experiences are quite dramatic, make this much more than just a game – it’s playing with people’s minds.  It’s commonly understood to be used as a means of communicating with the dead.

Ancient advert for the Mysterious Ouija Talking Board

Ancient advert for the Mysterious Ouija Talking Board

I’ve always felt that people who are happy to use this and similar types of “divination” are the gullible type anyway.  Suggestible people are open to believing what’s put in front of their eyes and then inclined to be indignant when people accuse their beliefs and go so far as to attempt to provide evidence and proof to support their argument!

I’ve known of people who’ve arranged slips of paper with letters of the alphabet, written on them, and ones with the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’, placed on a table and then an ordinary drinking glass used in place of the “planchette”.

In early 2015 a video of a woman using a board and planchette did the rounds on the internet and made interesting viewing.  The woman had videoed herself using it placing a finger from each hand on top of the planchette.  This, in itself, seems wrong since the premise for using the board is that you have 2 or more people all placing a finger on the planchette meaning that no one person could be manipulating it.  During the video the planchette actually lifts up at the front and comments were make suggesting that she had a monofilament line attached (possibly manipulated by someone out of shot), hence it’s lifting as it does. As far as I’m concerned (and quite a few other people who’ve viewed and commented on it) it’s a fake but here’s the link:- 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU5eZJn73QQ&app=desktop

This interesting article is courtesy of Paranormal Examiner of London who posted this information at http://pel.gi9.co/wp/category/qa/ on May 14th 2014.

The question so often posted  in this regard is: is a Ouija board dangerous?

The answer, in my opinion, is emphatically no. It’s just a cardboard toy and has no significant link to the paranormal.  However, how it’s used and the pure matter of chance in its’ use, is where the problems begin.

Edit 31/10/2016  In the run up to Halloween 2016 I came across mention of a Guardian article entitled The Ouija board’s mysterious origins: war, spirits, and a strange death.  This article advises that the Ouia board owes its’ existence to the American Civil War as reported by historian Robert Murch. In this, he advises that “the name was coined by Helen Peters, a medium who was using the board with her brother-in-law Elijah Bond one night 1890 in Baltimore. When she asked what they should call it, the planchette spelled out “Ouija”, which the board told her meant “good luck”.

In actual fact the name is an amalgamation of the words yes in French and German and one wonders how these people didn’t recognise this mistake for what it was. Although, the fact that Helen Peters was a medium who subsequently took out the first patent on the board so the mis-naming may have more to do with a marketing ploy than a mistake.

The article goes on to mention the bad luck that befell the board’s early promoters, Helen Peters and later the entrepreneur William Fuld whose ‘brilliant marketing’ is the reason why the Ouija board is still very much in evidence over 120 years later!

Some of the most notable hauntings throughout the last 100 years have involved this toy in some way, shape or form.  That’s a fact.  The spirit board as we know it goes back to ancient China and was used for the same reason. It wasn’t until recently when I believe the Parker bros found out about it and made it a family toy.

I venture to suggest that quite a few people will have dabbled with one of these, probably as a teenager or college student.  For myself, I was in 5th form at Grammar School so about 15 years old at the time. Someone had brought an Ouija board in and 3 or 4 of the girls sat down with it. Frankly, I wasn’t that interested in the paranormal then, only the year before I’d discovered science fiction….!  However, they apparently were in communication with a spirit – I wasn’t paying any attention until one of the girls shrieked something about an old lady she’d known who ran out of the room crying.

Now there’s a couple of points here. Young people, particularly juvenile girls, seem to be susceptible to paranormal phenomena, whether real or imagined. Secondly, by using an Ouija board, you’re already entertaining the possibility that there’s some credence attached to “communicating” with the dead.

I’ve recently read a blog that suggested: “You get a bunch of youngsters together. Now, imagine they go out on the streets, laughing and joking and just saying “Hey! Come hang out with us!”.  For the most part you’d think they’re just a bunch of silly kids and go on about your business. Now think logically, if they do this long enough, someone just might hear and take them up on this. Its been done thousands of times in reality. Now lets go to the odds of something not going the way they planned or wanted.  Convert all that to the spirit world.  The spirit world is a cold and lonely place full of confused once people looking for answers. Suddenly there’s a voice calling to them.  Things may not go well for the spirit but it knows that someone at this location tried to communicate with them. It would only make sense for them to return.

They may choose to call it a day and move on or elsewhere. They may stay until they get the help they want. They may lash out to get the attention they need.  Next thing you know there’s a book and a movie. So is it dangerous to use these toys? You decide.”

Frankly, the above hypothesis pre-supposes that: the after-life, the other side, spirit world – call it what you will, actually exists!

In popular fiction and films, these boards are a way for entities, particularly those with evil intent to wreak havoc on the living.

I’ve also read Paranormal Examiner’s argument which goes some way to concurring, saying that, although it’s a toy, it can be used as a gateway to connect with the ‘other side’!  Since I’ve yet to find concrete evidence, I’m afraid I have to disagree! In support of my decision I give you the following by way of justification.

Firstly I quote the ideomotor phenomenon, which is a psychological phenomenon where a subject makes motions unconsciously.  The whole point of having 2 or more people with a finger on the planchette is to rule out the possibility of conscious movement of it. However, if you observe a board in use, there is a likelihood that the people surrounding the board will be attempting to second guess what the next letter is going to be to form a word and, in doing so, are actively supporting the movement without being aware that they are doing so.

To throw the cat among the pigeons, National Geographic asked what happens when you blindfold people using an ouija board?  They videoed a session:

http://www.realclearscience.com/video/2015/08/01/what_happens_when_you_blindfold_ouija_believers.html

Whilst any video can be “manipulated” if this is a genuine National Geographic offering then there’s no reason to doubt the veracity of it.

As further evidence in favour of human rather than paranormal activity, please view http://www.paranormal-encounters.com/wp/derren-brown-on-ouija-boards/

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.

Derren Brown has said that people tend to hear only things that support their own ideas and ignore contradictory evidence; this is known in psychology as confirmation bias. 

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 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

In the words of P.T. Barnum “There’s a sucker born every minute”!

Further reading material:

Edit 14/10/16 Pararationalise’s latest article about Ouija boards concurs pretty much with my feelings.  Please have a read of the article the-ouija-board-is-it-really-a-highly-efficient-path-to-hell.

Ouija Boards: Spiritualism and Manipulation | @ConspiracyStuff

National Geographic’s ‘Do You Believe’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRo8TytvIDw

I’ve told you my considered opinion on this topic.  Have you used an Ouija board? Would you consider yourself to have been successful in making contact with the afterlife?

Ouija board revealed!

Ghost pictures and how to spot the fake

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Presumably you’ve read about how models’ pictures can be Photoshopped to make the ladies appear more ‘shapely’ than they are in real life.

If that last sentence made no sense to you, here’s a brief explanation before we go any further:-

Photoshop is a computer software program that gives the user advanced image editing capability that lets you enhance, retouch, and manipulate pictures. The picture below shows you a before and after of a picture of Britney Spears in 2013.

Britney CGI

So, with a little bit of technical jiggery-pokery aided by some nifty software, the image that adorns newspapers and promotional material is a computer enhanced version of the lady in question.

The software is inexpensive and easily available to purchase as are similar programs by other software companies.

At this juncture I’d like to point out that image manipulation like this is nothing new!

The first documented photo ‘manipulation’ happened back in 1917 with the case of the Cottingley Fairies.

The picture with

The picture with “cut out” fairies.

The Cottingly fairies could only have happened because of the fact that the two girls, Frances Griffiths (9 years old) and Elsie Wright (16 years old), realised they could use a camera to fake a picture showing fairies. Elsie’s father, Arthur, was a keen amateur photographer and had his own darkroom. Arthur knew of his daughter’s artistic ability and that she had spent some time working in a photographer’s studio and he dismissed the figures as cardboard cut-outs.

Elsie and the goblin

Two months later the girls borrowed his camera again and this time returned with a photograph of Elsie sitting on the lawn holding out her hand to a 1-foot-tall gnome.

Exasperated by what he believed to be “nothing but a prank” and convinced that the girls must have tampered with his camera in some way, Arthur Wright refused to lend it to them again. His wife Polly, however, believed the photographs to be authentic.

At this time, photography was in its infancy and most people had little experience of cameras so the idea of faking a photo hadn’t yet been conceived (other than the two girls whose idea it was).

Elsie’s mother attended a meeting of the Theosophical Society in Bradford and at the end of the meeting Polly Wright showed the two fairy photographs taken by her daughter and niece to the speaker. As a result, the photographs were displayed at the Society’s annual conference in Harrogate, held a few months later.  There they came to the attention of a leading member of the Society, Edward Gardner.

Gardner sent the prints along with the original glass-plate negatives to Harold Snelling, a photography expert. Snelling’s opinion was that “the two negatives are entirely genuine, unfaked photographs … [with] no trace whatsoever of studio work involving card or paper models”. He did not go so far as to say that the photographs showed fairies, stating only that “these are straight forward photographs of whatever was in front of the camera at the time”. Gardner had the prints “clarified” by Snelling, and new negatives produced, “more conducive to printing”,  for use in the illustrated lectures he gave around the UK. Snelling supplied the photographic prints which were available for sale at Gardner’s lectures.

Author and prominent Spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle learned of the photographs from the editor of the Spiritualists’ publication Light. Gardner and Doyle sought a second expert opinion from the photographic company Kodak, who declined to issue a certificate of authenticity. The prints were also examined by another photographic company, Ilford, who reported unequivocally that there was “some evidence of faking”.

Princess Mary's Gift Book

In 1983, the cousins admitted in an article published in the magazine The Unexplained that the photographs had been faked, although both maintained that they really had seen fairies. Elsie had copied illustrations of fairies from a popular children’s book of the time, Princess Mary’s Gift Book, published in 1914.

They said they had then cut out the cardboard figures and supported them with hatpins, disposing of their props once the photograph had been taken.

Now I’d like you to have a look at the following webpage, by Mashable, which is about trick photography entitled 1850s-1950s, Photoshop before Photoshop – 100 years of manipulating images without computers.http://mashable.com/2015/02/19/before-photoshop/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link

The Silent Screen

I realise that this next bit is less about the paranormal and more about the history of cinematography. However, the pioneers of the film industry were the first to realise, and experiment, with the moving image.  Yes they started out as films to entertain and offer a little escapism for the viewing public but film directors realised they could use film to show action that audiences had never thought possible.  Melie's Moon

Méliès’ fantasy film “A Trip To The Moon” showed a capsule being fired from a large cannon at the man in the moon, with the rocket landing in the moon’s eye. The film was one of the most popular films of the early years of the twentieth century and heralded an interesting future for cinematography which brought Buster Keaton, Keystone Cops and Charlie Chaplin to our cinema screens.

The Talkies

We know that The Jazz Singer was the first movie with sound. Fast forward to the 20th Century.  We’re used to seeing films like 2001, Independence Day, Avatar and Interstellar. These films look so real and yet we know they were filmed in a studio and special effects were added using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), blue screen, scale models, animatronicspyrotechnics and 3D. Film makers have been experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what can be produced on film. No doubt you will have seen many SciFi and horror films where the supernatural/paranormal has been the storyline – The Shining, The Exorcist, The Ring, Paranormal Activity to name just a few.  The technology is not just the domain of those making blockbuster movies, software to create special effects is readily available for anyone with a PC, laptop, tablet or other computing device, including mobile phones.

Returning to the present

With the proliferation of smart phones and their ability to add ‘apps’ (applications i.e., programs) it is not surprising that photo imaging programs have become available for these, too.

Smart phones (they all have cameras now) have, as standard, basic image editing capability like adding a sepia effect, creating a negative view or making the picture black and white.

However, there are programs that will ‘enhance’ pictures that you take – you could add borders to your photos or create a montage but, more specifically, there are ‘ghost apps’ freely available for both iPhone and Android.

Since you are reading this document, it is a foregone conclusion that you have an interest in the paranormal and it is likely you will have seen, either in Facebook groups, through Google searches or on dedicated paranormal websites, videos and photos purporting to show one or more ghost images.

If you are going to deal with this topic objectively and rationally, you should seek to eliminate the obvious, e.g., the possibility that a picture has been doctored by superimposing an image on an otherwise ‘normal’ looking photo.

I would suggest you use as reference material the excellent FB page that RiPA HQ (Research into Paranormal Anomalistics) have put together called “Has that pic been app’d?” which you can find at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.474504212650788.1073741831.135752936525919&type=1

New in 2015: Adding a Facebook group who are on the case too and worth a look is you’re doubting a photo https://www.facebook.com/FakeGhostPhoto

A short explanation on EXIF meta data written and reproduced here with kind consent of Leon B:-

Every digital camera attaches an explanation, or record, of each photograph taken. It is attached to that photo as a secondary file internally, on that photo. It’s found by clicking on “properties”. It includes information like: camera brand/type, file size, f-stop, whether the flash was used, etc. Some also include the Geo coords.

When a photo has been manipulated, as we see a lot of in the paranormal field, that data will usually replace the original data. Sometimes the exif will only state that it is simply a jpeg, with some other non-camera data, such as the date and time.

In the case of editing software, such as ExifTool, there will be a “composite” annotation, which is not part of the camera’s exif meta data. Facebook compresses any photos and replaces the meta data with its own (raising concerns of ownership and privacy!). Transferring a photo, via email or texting from your phone, will also compress the photo with the same affect. The larger files, using cameras with 10+ megapixels can potentially cause even email transference to be compressed.
In a nutshell, the metadata on exif files, attached to all digital photos, is the easiest way to determine authenticity. The last program to affect that file will leave its signature.

Example of EXIF dataImages: exif data straight from a photo taken on my phone, and data taken from a photo downloaded from Facebook.

 

 

Addendum 20/09/15

To corroborate my comments regarding pictures and hoaxes (separately or together!) I today came across this very useful information:

https://theconversation.com/six-easy-ways-to-tell-if-that-viral-story-is-a-hoax-47673

Addendum 23/02/16

I’m not alone in my concern with the ways in which technology is used to ‘enhance’ a picture by adding or hiding elements.  Whilst we know photoshopping of celebs is all too common, it’s becoming that much harder to identify a real picture from a clever hoax  The blog Neuralogica addresses like-minded concerns: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/identifying-real-or-fake-images/

In particular, what is now going to be called into question is the future of photographs  or videos used as evidence in court in the case of a crime.  If we are now able to so skilfully treat pictures and videos so that they look, to all intents and purposes, to be totally real, there is an argument that these may no longer be acceptable in a court of law.

Addendum 02/04/16

Became an admin for an FB page that debunks pictures by showing that a ghost app has been used, so well worth a look at https://www.facebook.com/GhostAppGhosts/

However, I’ve come across a website called Obsidian Dawn who generate photoshop brushes, one of which is entitled “ghosts”.  I’ve created a document with each of the images the app provides as a handy reference tool:

www.obsidiandawn.com ghosts-photoshop-gimp-brushes

Smartphone Apps

Some examples of the type of apps you can find on GooglePlay and iTunes:-

Android
ghost app used in photoGhostCam Spirit Photography

“The best spirit photography app on Android market. Prank and fool your friends easily with mock up haunted ghost photo.”

Ghost camera allows you apply ghosts to your photo select from gallery,  or you can use phone’s camera to take new ghost photos.

Apple

ghost capture pictures2Ghost Capture You can manipulate any photo from your iPhone photo album. After choosing an image, (or taking a new photo directly through Ghost Capture) select a ghost to superimpose onto the photo. Choose from creepy Victorian children, faceless torsos, Civil War soldiers, ghostly orbs, and more. After placing the ghost, adjust the size, rotation, and transparency to achieve the optimum effect.

ghost capture picturesGhost Effects Wanna freak out your friend with a picture with ghosts in it? You should try Ghost Effects.

ghost effectsGhost Effects lets you add horrible ghost effects to camera or pictures.

Take a photo with your friends with a ghost right behind them and send it to them, and wait to see their reaction.

They will get the chills and you will have a good laugh.

A recent picture was captured by a schoolgirl at Hampton Court Palace and featured prominently on many daily papers, professing to show the “ghost of the grey lady”.

Not a ghost at all, just the girl's phone camera having difficulty processing the image cocrrectly!

Not a ghost at all, just the girl’s phone camera having difficulty processing the image cocrrectly!

However, gullible the general public were the truth is that the girl was, in all probability, using the “panoramic” setting on her phone and the phone couldn’t cope with a person moving out of shot.  It’s discussed in detail by the Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ghost-of-the-grey-lady-at-hampton-court-how-image-aliasing-allows-iphone-cameras-to-photograph-spectres-10069536.html

A brief discussion of orbs

It is appropriate, at this point, to mention photos and videos that I have no doubt that you will come across, showing “orbs”!

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orb_(optics) defines these as unexpected, typically circular, artifacts that occur in flash photography —sometimes with trails indicating motion—especially common with modern compact and ultra-compact digital cameras.

Orbs are generally understood to be produced from retro-reflection of light off solid particles (e.g., dust, pollen), liquid particles (water droplets, especially rain) or other foreign material within the camera lens. Please refer to my blog post entitled “Cameras, Orbs and Lens Flares” which deals with this topic in greater detail.

You are advised to read about these in order to familiarise yourself with the phenomenon. They are most commonly seen when viewing a photo but not at the time of taking it. There are people who attest to having seen orbs with the naked eye.

Whilst some pictures that you will find during your paranormal research are likely to have been tampered with using the techniques highlighted above, there are some photos where there is no explanation for what appears on a picture.

http://strangeoccurrencesparanormal.weebly.com/orbs-explained.html explains the phenomenon well.

Ghost videos
Akin to what has been mentioned above, there are numerous videos on Youtube and paranormal websites attesting to paranormal activity – poltergeist activity, inexplicable noises and actual sightings of ghosts, shadows and strange beings.

You only have to think back to films like Paranormal Activity, White Noise and Poltergeist, which depict “paranormal” events taking place. In big screen films we know they’ve used high tech equipment to carry out this wizardry. However, ‘home-made style’ videos are just as easy to produce, using low tech solutions, using fishing wire (invisible from a distance) or out of shot humans to move items so that they appear to have been moved by an unseen force.

Edit 28/01/2016 Came across a youtube video by Eric Biddle which I’d like you to view Obejects move by themselves (sic) since it shows some quick demonstrations of how easy it is to make objects appear to move “by themselves”.

A particular video that I watched on Youtube some time ago, purportedly showed evidence of paranormal activity in a living room.  The video camera was placed at one end of a through-lounge, showing a sofa on the right of the picture, furthest away, a window with full-length curtains in front of which was an armchair.  The video did not show the whole room, both walls, left and right, were out of shot.  The video captures the curtain behind the armchair being moved.  After a delay the sofa is up-ended by being pushed from behind so that it’s back tips forward onto the floor.  In my opinion, these  “effects” were all achievable by a person out of sight of the video camera. I’ll have to find that video and post it so that you can see for yourself.

 

Edit 07/12/2015 Facebook post of a children’s entertainer/magician whose video shows how expertly videos can be edited to show us the most amazing things that AREN’T possible but are fun to watch. https://www.facebook.com/ChuttiVikatan/videos/648673875235158/

 

 

 

Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC)

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I have been fascinated with this topic for many years and it’s one of the earliest phenomena that sparked my interest in the paranormal.  Yes, it happens but,in spite of all our technological advances, we can only theorise about WHY it happens because we still don’t know the trigger factors that are necessary for it to take place.

So it was interesting to find this article

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/unexplained-phenomena/shc.htm

which tells us:

The first known account of spontaneous human combustion came from the Danish anatomist Thomas Bartholin in 1663, who described how a woman in Paris “went up in ashes and smoke” while she was sleeping. The straw mattress on which she slept was unmarred by the fire. In 1673, a Frenchman named Jonas Dupont published a collection of spontaneous combustion cases in his work “De Incendiis Corporis Humani Spontaneis.”

It seems SHC has been around long before electric heaters and modern cigarettes. What intrigues me is that it appears that the fire consumes the body fat of the person combusting but why doesn’t the fire take hold and make everything go up in flames?

If, in 1663. a candle had fallen over and set alight the bedding of the Parisian woman, surely, wouldn’t the fire have continued to burn and set the rest of the room alight?

The fact that the fire seems to burn hotly in one particular area – and then dies out for no apparent reason – when there’s enough combustible material around to have enabled the fire to continue seems unaccountable?  To have burnt to ash the majority of a body and leave a portion of a limb untouched?

What evidence we have is limited. Have a look at this picture:-

SHC just the legs If what is visible is the remains of a human being (and I have no reason to doubt this), all that is left are the two legs, from the knees down to the feet.

The head, body and arms appear to have been burnt – literally gone up in smoke!

Since I first discovered articles about SHC I’ve been enthralled by the possibility that a person could have been burnt beyond recognition yet nothing in close proximity to the body got burned!

Looking closely at the picture, only a small amount of fire damage has occurred around the person’s body. The legs are still supported by what remains of the seat. The fire was obviously quite intense given the fire damage evident behind and to the side of the “victim”. My question is, if the heat was so intense, how was it, that it didn’t burn the wooden table on the other side.  The distance of the damage on the one side is the same distance to the table on the other side (if you get my drift). Maybe there was a door or window open which might have fanned the flames rather than them spreading equidistantly. We will never know.

Why did the fire go out? Once a fire takes hold, it normally finds flammable material nearby which helps to spread the fire.  There’s a rug underneath the chair.  Surely that intense heat or the flames taking hold on the body would have been close enough to have set it alight also?

I wasn’t aware of this but, in carrying out this research, I discovered that Charles Dickens actually ‘killed off’ a character in “Bleak House”, called Krook, who dies by SHC.  Krook was an alcoholic, following the belief at the time that spontaneous human combustion was caused by excessive amounts of alcohol in the body.

There are a number of theories about the cause but no real evidence.  It has been suggested that, as we have methane build up in the gut (putting it bluntly, the gasses in the body that makes us fart) this methane is ignited by enzymes in the body. However, victims have been reported to suffer greater damage outside of their body than to their internal organs.

Another theory suggests a build-up of static electricity inside the body or from an external geomagnetic force exerted on the body.  The truth is, no one has been able to come up with an answer – and proof – for why or how this happens.

What factors have to come together, at the right time and at the same place for SHC to occur?

My friend from the FB group “The Real World of the Paranormal” discussed it with us (I had suggested SHC as a topic of conversation) by posting a picture telling us:

SHC Bentley“This picture from the early 80s “Unexplained” magazine used to scare the stuff out of me.

I too, was fascinated by the alleged phenomenon of SHC, so did some snooping (and this was pre-internet, I had to use, gulp, books in my local reference library!).

What I discovered was that the physical possibilities of SHC are remote due not only to the body consisting mostly of water, but aside from fat tissue and methane gas, there isn’t much that burns readily in a human body. To cremate a human body requires a temperature of around 1100 degrees fahrenheit for about two hours so, to fuel an internal chemical reaction sufficient to almost completely incinerate a corpse, is beyond any known human thermogenic capabilities.

The most plausible theory that I could find for SHC (how human bodies burn in rooms without having the entire room engulfed in flames) came from the idea of the “wick effect”.  To get the fire going would require an external source (eg, a discarded cigarette or a blanket close to a fire) . Once ignited, however, a “wick effect” from the body’s fat would burn hot enough in certain places to destroy even bones.”

Here’s another:

SHC Kim

This was a case I hadn’t read previously. The article doesn’t indicate if the 78-year old was a smoker or drinker.  The ‘flames bursting from his abdomen’ could well be a cigarette which fell onto his stomach as he dozed, setting his clothing alight.

It’s generally believed that victims of SHC were either smokers or drinkers. One suggestion is that “some of the fires and strange states of the victims’ bodies were the result of a criminal act and subsequent cover-up.”   That still doesn’t explain why the fire didn’t spread as we would have expected it to.

What all this amounts to is that we really do not understand SHC!

For some further reading material on SHC:-

http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/reports/shcdata.php

http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm204053.html?t=Mysterious

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/unexplained-phenomena/shc.htm

Here’s another link worth a read at http://skepdic.com/shc.html.

These links are just the tip of the iceberg and I know there are many more out there on the good ol’ interweb!

Please let me know what you thought about this article.

Debunking the hoaxes

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In my personal quest to research the paranormal: I am seeking the truth, not attempting to perpetuate hoaxes!

Those that really believe implicitly cannot accept that it is possible to disprove their beliefs. On the other hand, those of us that are skeptical are researching the paranormal precisely to prove or disprove the authenticity of “activity”.

I’ve made a lot of people dislike me just by my pointing them in the direction of Snopes.com and Skeptics Boot to show these people that you really CAN’T believe the posts on the internet, no matter how real they may look or that a good-natured friend sent them in good faith. To this end I touch on the topic of why people hoax towards the end of this blog.

One particular regular dose of hoax is the hospital demon which I researched in 2014 and you can read my explanation on this earlier in my blog.

Metabunk.org is dedicated to the art and pastime of honest, polite, scientific debunking. It is primarily a discussion forum, however the focus is on providing concise useful resources, and attempting to avoid repetitive debate and arguments.

Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 to December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He is credited as follows “he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and common sense, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness.

He produced the baloney detection kit:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/01/03/baloney-detection-kit-carl-sagan/

in which Sagan reflects on the many types of deception to which we’re susceptible — from psychics to religious zealotry to paid product endorsements by scientists. It’s notoriously hard because hoaxes are shared across the Internet and, with the popularity of Facebook, there just seems no way to quash them when they’re found and “shared in good faith”.

Addendum 20/09/15

To corroborate my comments regarding pictures and hoaxes (separately or together!) I today came across this very useful information:

https://theconversation.com/six-easy-ways-to-tell-if-that-viral-story-is-a-hoax-47673

Here’s an interesting site that, when you read it, you’ll see why I’ve included it here.

It’s Skeptic’s boot.

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

The link takes you to a page which is subtitled “Before it was news…. it was still bullshit”.  That sums up a dreadful website called Beforeitsnews.  This site is one of the main reasons why the same stories keep cropping up time and time again with easily led people having read about a story and going “Wow I have to let all my buddies know!”.

So I’ve told you I’m a skeptic.  What IS a skeptic?  Why do I think I am one?  Here’s an article (which agrees with everything that I believe in regard to my researches about the paranormal) that attempts to explain this:-

What Is Skepticism? By Brian Dunning © 2014 Skeptoid.com

To quote Dr. Shermer: Skepticism is not a position; it’s a process.

The popular misconception is that skeptics, or critical thinkers, are people who disbelieve things. And indeed, the common usage of the word skeptical supports this: “He was skeptical of the numbers in the spreadsheet”, meaning he doubted their validity. To be skeptical, therefore, is to be negative about things and doubt or disbelieve them.

The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It’s the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.

It’s thus inaccurate to say “Skeptics don’t believe in ghosts.” Some do. Many skeptics are deeply religious, and are satisfied with the reasoning process that led them there. Skeptics apply critical thinking to different aspects of their lives in their own individual way. Everyone is a skeptic to some degree.

Skepticism is, or should be, an extraordinarily powerful and positive influence on the world. Skepticism is not simply about “debunking” as is commonly charged. Skepticism is about redirecting attention, influence, and funding away from worthless superstitions and toward projects and ideas that are evidenced to be beneficial to humanity and to the world.

The scientific method is central to skepticism. The scientific method requires evidence, preferably derived from validated testing. Anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies generally don’t meet the qualifications for scientific evidence, and thus won’t often be accepted by a responsible skeptic; which often explains why skeptics get such a bad rap for being negative or disbelieving people. They’re simply following the scientific method.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, particularly in claims that are far fetched or that violate physical laws. Skepticism is an essential, and meaningful, component of the search for truth.

Conitive Dissonance by Frantz Fanon

The skeptic…..does not mean ‘he who doubts’ but ‘he who investgates or researches’ as opposed to ‘he who asserts and thinks that he has found.’  Miguel de Unamuno

Susan Jane Blackmore (born 29 July 1951) is an English freelance writer, lecturer, sceptic, and broadcaster on psychology and the paranormal, and is best known for her book The Meme Machine. She has written or contributed to over 40 books and 60 scholarly articles and is a contributor to The Guardian newspaper.

Ms Blackmore, in a New Scientist article in 2000, wrote:

It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end. Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena – only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a sceptic.

Since discovering the information about Ms Blackmore she and I would appear to be on the same wavelength. She has been in the fortunate position to carry out research and experiments that are beyond my means and I hope she continues to do so for many years to come.

I describe myself as a sceptic because, whilst I would not say “I do not believe in the paranormal”, my past experiences of the paranormal took place many years ago when I was a teenager and my analytical skill and understanding of what took place was limited.  I’ve had a couple of experiences in later life that I would class as having been paranormal events but these were at emotional times in my life when I was unable to recognise, let alone document, what I had experienced until I thought about it much later. I have yet to put myself “in the line of fire” to experience the possibility of paranormal activity, in order to rationalise and judge in the light of the knowledge I now have.

A quote I particularly like from Charles Bukowski “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

Edit 8th January 2016

The Pieran Element posted yesterday an article which I deem relevant and I urge you to take the time to read it:

http://thepierianelement.com/2016/01/07/five-hard-to-swallow-facts-about-paranormal-research/

Edit 9th February 2016

Came across two separate youtube links where fraud psychics were exposed.  Whilst I have no doubt there are people who can convey messages from those have passed away, most of the real psychics do it because they have the gift and genuinely want to help, often it’s the person sending the message from the other side coercing them to be their go between! It upsets me that so many people pose as psychics when all they’re doing is cold reading.  Derren Brown exposed a psychic in a TV programme he did on this topic a couple of years ago.  He admitted that he has no psychic ability yet was able to cold read a client and pass on a convincing “message” just by old reading.  Have a look at the links.

 

 

Why Do People Hoax…? (Courtesy of Scott Sanders from Real World of the Paranormal)

When it comes to all things “ghostly” it’s just not possible to prove, beyond all doubt, that they don’t exist. That being said, there are still many reasons to be sceptical of such claims.

The media love a good ghost story, but seem less inclined to publish a story that debunks the original claim (well, by that point “important” things may have happened to Kim Kardashian’s arse…er, if you know what I mean?). Many claimants are sincere but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are accurate and correct, and just because someone can’t think of a rational explanation doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.

It’s not unusual for human perception to become an altered state; just take for example the symptoms associated with sleep paralysis or audio/visual pareidolia. But where does the manipulative hoaxer come in to the picture?

With a good many hoaxes there’s the issue of anonymity. Many who perpetrate hoaxes are never exposed, and as such it’s unlikely that saving face or avoiding blame have any real impact on their actions. Also, there’s a reward in it functioning as an ego-boost, and that the people involved are trying to bolster their own self-esteem by duping individuals, or the public at large, so as to feel superior to those who aren’t capable of seeing the truth. It seems more than a lie in that it’s an insensitive manipulation of people’s beliefs and emotions. But why do they hoax? For the simple reason that they can! Sad and bad… but true.

Most people don't really want to know the truthMany people are ready, willing and able to believe that there is more to this world than meets the eye and, perhaps, quite rightly so. However, the non-skeptical believer will accept, or will actively seek out, information that supports their desire to be mystified. Those who wish to believe and who disregard other, rational, explanations will continue to do so, and those who seek to exploit that belief will continue with their hoaxes.

Update 28/12/2015

 

The BBC posted this link entitled “How the internet lied to you in 2015” and it makes for interesting reading

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-35051618?SThisFB


“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” ― Mark Twain.

I’d like to introduce, although I doubt he needs much introduction, Dr Richard Wiseman who, in his blog describes himself as a psychologist, author and speaker https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/. This description is modest indeed since I have found him to be a proponent of debunking hoaxes in  both a clever but light-hearted  (and non-offensive) way.

His blog advises that he began his working life as a professional magician and currently holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology (University of Hertfordshire).  He researches the psychology of luck, change, perception and deception, and his work has been published in leading academic journals.  If you haven’t read his books, I strongly urge you to do so.  He also posts wonderful videos that will astound you because he not only shows you the magic but how artfully the magic is created – more the point, how easily you were fooled by it!

When you are dead, you don't know you are dead...I know this assertion sounds somewhat crass however, there are a goodly number of individuals who, in spite of reasoned and scientific rationale to explain a video/photo by way of “evidence”, doggeedly maintain that sceptics are non believers and hence will always try to denounce anything that is posted.

Believe me, I would like nothing more than for you to absolutely and positively prove the existence of the afterlife, of paranormal phenomena in any of its’ manifestations.  However, from a scientific point of view, outright proof has to show that your results are consistent and repeatable and, unfortunately, the paranormal just doesn’t work like that.

Finally, Chad Steeler’s Ghost Flames Blog gives some excellent advice on “How to check for a scammer” !

http://chadsteelers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/how-to-check-for-scammer.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+GhostFlames+(Ghost+Flames!?)

Picture said to be from a Russian mental institution, 1952? No! Actually a still from American Horror Story!

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American Horror Story photo trotted out as being a pic from a 1950s mental asylumGirls “climbing” or suspended half way up a wall – touted on the internet and various paranormal groups as being photographic ‘evidence’ of the paranormal.

Although various comments said it was obvious the girls had one foot in a recess enabling them to look as if they are suspended in midair against the wall, none actually recognised that this was a still from a horror series from America.

A little research (I found it so easily I’m surprised that this hadn’t been previously debunked by others!) found International Business Times’ review partially reproduced below.  Simple proof that it’s another fine example of cinematography and nothing more.

American Horror Story’ was created by the co-creators of `Glee’, but the shows have little in common besides that. The show revolves around the Harmons, a family of three, who move from Boston to Los Angeles in order to reconcile past anguish. What the Harmons don’t know is that the house they’ve moved into is haunted. But it’s not haunted by Casperesque friendly ghosts – it’s haunted by demonic creatures. The creatures have a history of not only spooking the house’s residents but also devouring them. After living in this house, family patriarch and psychiatrist, Ben, may need a shrink of his own.

First episode date: October 5, 2011

However the following text (the link from which it’s taken is also given below)

Detention” was released on Aug. 6 and immediately got fans of the FX mini-series into an excited frenzy. The 17-second video featured eight girls in black and white facing a wall … while floating in the air. In the background a chilling voice sang the line, “There is a house in New Orleans,” from the song “House of the Rising Sun.”

Immediately sending shivers down the spines of viewers, it appears that “American Horror Story” had some inspiration for “Detention” – German performer Pina Bausch. In 1977 Bausch performed a piece called “Blaubart” (or in English, “Bluebeard”) with the recording of Bela Bartok’s “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle.” During her performance, a series of women seemingly were able to hang in the air while facing the wall (there were holes in the wall helping keep them in place).

A photo taken from the performance began to make its round on Twitter thanks to @TerrifyingPics. But the Twitter account got a little creative about the performance still. It carries the caption: “

“Picture said to be from a Russian mental institution, 1952.”

The photo was subsequently posted on Reddit  where users immediately dismissed the idea that mentally ill people in Russia have the ability to levitate. Instead they unearthed Pina Bausch’s 1977 performance.

You can read the whole article here http://www.ibtimes.com/american-horror-story-season-3-spoilers-detention-promo-coven-mirrors-pina-bauschs-blaubart-1401183

Hospital Demon – Debunked!

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Here’s an image that has been circulating around the paranormally-inclined on the net for a little while now. Variously described as either a “demon” or an extraterrestrial looming over the bed of a terminally ill patient (who died some after if you believe the story that is coming along with this in many cases), what this actually presents is an example of how our eyes can deceive us, and how our minds seek to organise random data based on our cultural bias.

original demon

So…. Quite creepy.

The “shape” certainly resembles a hunched, deformed figure.

But what are we actually seeing here?

Here’s an excellent breakdown of the “demon’s” constituent parts from a Metabunk user.

metabunk demon

Now I don’t know about you, but once I viewed that breakdown I could no longer “see” the demon or alien in the original image. That’s the power of pareidolia and a great example of why we should never just believe our eyes when it comes to assessing   indistinct images of alleged paranormal entities.

In my opinion, the nurse who took the photo was working on the night (“graveyard”) shift, was viewing the patient on a monitor with tired eyes.

This article was originally typed up by me on Wednesday, 9 April 2014 and was inspired by (and for which I give credit to) a blog called The Skeptic’s Boot. The Rational Paranormal.  No Politics… No Drama… No Pants…

http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2014_04_01_archive.html

Credit is also due to https://www.metabunk.org/ for the valuable observations of what we’re seeing in the picture.