Category Archives: Paranormal

Non-Local Senses

Extra-Sensory Perception

Extra-Sensory Perception

Religious individuals believe in the ability to communicate with god through prayer and to receive messages from god or from the devil through a similar extra-sensory mechanism. This is supposedly how prophets and other lucky individuals receive revelations and how disturbed individuals hear evil voices that encourage them to commit terrible acts. Is it possible that communication through prayer or divine revelation doesn’t just occur by magic, but uses an actual physical mechanism? If everything else we do is confined within a well-defined set of physical laws, then why wouldn’t communication with spiritual beings make use of some physical law as well?

For that matter, is it also possible that experiences believed to be communication with god, the devil, or other spirits are actually communications with other humans, animals, extraterrestrials, or other entities who can also make use of this physical mechanism? If such a path for non-local communication between human brains and other entities exists, then is it also possible that this extra-sensory capability could be used in other ways and for other purposes? If god is always right, but the visions, revelations, or prophesies of some people are wrong, it could be that they are just insane, but maybe they are simply receiving messages from other sources that are just plain wrong.

Mind to Mind Communication

Mind to Mind Communication

Maybe god speaks to us on the equivalent an open citizens band radio channel or an online chat room, where any bozo who happens to be passing through and tunes to the right channel can intrude on his transmissions. In the world of radio communications, this is referred to as MIJI, or meaconing, intrusion, jamming and interference. If you have to know, meaconing is when someone falsely simulates the location of a navigation beacon in order to pull someone off course. Let’s use this as a metaphor for how false revelations can change someone’s life by deliberately pulling one in the wrong direction. For those of you too young to remember CB radio, it’s kinda like an anonymous online forum.

The ability for humans to perceive or influence events through some kind of non-local sense (i.e. other than sight, smell, sound, touch or taste) is well documented not only anecdotally, but also in scientific studies. Twins, as well a parents and children or married couples, often appear to have strong bonds that sometimes enable them to sense when something bad has happened to their loved one or when that person has just reached safety. Some studies with statistically significant results have shown the ability of spiritual healers to influence the condition of both human and non-human subjects.

Robert G. Jahn, director of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab, has performed experiments that show a statistically significant effect when people attempt to influence the performance of devices such as random-event generators. Another experiment by Erlendur Haraldsson and Thorstein Thorsteinsson, documented in Reinventing Medicine, tested the ability of two spiritual healers, one physician (who also uses spiritual healing and prayer), and four students to increase the growth of yeast in 120 test tubes. The results showed statistically significant results affirming the ability of the healers and physician to increase growth rates beyond what would normally be expected. Also see Healing Beyond the Body or Entangled Minds. The use of non-human subjects is important because it removes an important variable–the possibility that people can heal themselves through meditation or prayer or can benefit from the efforts of their friends and family.

That Creepy Feeling

That Creepy Feeling

The bottom line is that living creatures may possess some kind of poorly-understood form of extra-sensory perception that is responsible for a wide range of events. I think it is likely that how we feel about someone we just meet is not entirely based on our normal senses. Most of us have experienced a creepy repulsive feeling about someone or an exhilarating feeling of attraction. Sure, maybe it was something physical related to hormones or other bodily emissions that we sense subconsciously, but maybe not. Maybe it is a mental connection.

Parapsychology Revolution

Parapsychology Revolution

It is certainly possible to study this. Maybe we can gather up a bunch of total losers from a high-security prison, along with some really lovable winners, and use them to test their physical and mental emissions. Or is this just too risky a topic for a well-respected scientist? I smell a future Nobel prize here. Is anyone up to the task?

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Is Heaven Really Hell?

The Ghost Whisperer

The Ghost Whisperer

According to James Van Praagh, author of many books on communication with the dead and the inspiration behind the Ghost Whisperer TV show, we carry our old beliefs and habits with us after we die. This allegedly applies both to earthbound spirits and those that have progressed into the light, which is to say they moved onto higher planes of existence. This is discouraging news for anyone who expects to receive some answers after death or at least free ourselves of the stupid habits, phobias, and quirks we have accumulated over a lifetime.

When I die, I expect to be brought into a briefing room of sorts where some experienced soul will explain everything about life, the universe, and everything. With all eternity to look forward to, there must be plenty of time and opportunity for learning, no? I especially want to know how quantum theory really works and if string theory is the bunch of crap I think it is. I can’t imagine a heaven where there is nothing to do other than to float around worshiping some all-knowing deity who doesn’t want to share the secrets of the universe with the rest of us.

Can we really stay just as ignorant after death even after we shed our earthly influences? One would think that we would at least suddenly remember what happened during many past lives and be able to benefit from many diverse experiences, resulting in a sudden “aha” moment of truth! If we are able to read thoughts, then we would instantly know what everyone else thinks about us and they would know all the embarrassing things we did in the past. Everything would have to change. How could we not know more or be smarter, wiser and more accepting of others?

Nuns with Guns

Nuns with Guns

I was really hoping to be present to watch as some ignorant jackasses die and finally realize what how stupid they have been all their lives. That would be an even better reward than 77 virgins. I could just sit there, sipping whatever a soul of pure energy needs for sustenance, watching the newly dead arrive, blushing and embarrassed at their own ignorance and asking for my forgiveness (as if I’m qualified to offer it). Doesn’t everybody long to hear someone they know acknowledge that you were right all along? Doesn’t everyone really want to say “I told you so?” Of course, I’d have to carry my pride and personal grudges with me after death for this to be the case. And if that were so, then there is a good chance that I’d have to put up with some other pompous ass I couldn’t stand who was likewise waiting for me to show up so he could display his superior intellect or maturity.

The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying

Somehow, it just doesn’t sound likely and this isn’t how near death experiences are described. All we hear about is that people we loved come to meet us and lovingly help us move into the light. If these people were still the same imperfect creatures they were when they were alive, then dying would be a pretty embarrassing and uncomfortable situation for the newly dead. Since it isn’t described in that way, then we can’t possibly stay the same. Either we all suddenly learn from our mistakes and use that to transform into loving, sympathetic, empathetic creatures, or we continue to be the same ignorant fools we’ve always been. If we are still fools, we somehow must be kept isolated from all the other ignorant fools. If we were not kept isolated, these others would probably make our life after death pretty much the same as life before death.

If we remain basically the same, then what is the point of reincarnation in the first place? I thought the idea was to progress through diverse experiences. According to Mr. Van Praagh, nobody is there to judge you except yourself. In some cases, he describes the process by which souls review their life in order to learn lessons and prepare for the next life. Others may be there to help and encourage you, but it is essentially up to you to figure things out. This sounds a lot like life as we know it now. I think we call it therapy, or sometimes an intervention.

Can we read each other’s thoughts after death? If so, how could there be any form of games or competition if everyone had total access to the thoughts of others? Is paradise devoid of games and fun? Is it devoid of sarcasm and the kind of humor that often comes from poking fun at others, which is usually the best kind? Are extraterrestrials telepathic? If so, we could ask them what they do for fun other than experimenting on humans and cows. Maybe they are already dead, which is why it is so hard to catch one of them.

Mansion in Heaven

Mansion in Heaven

Does everyone who goes to heaven get a mansion, as suggested in Ricky Gervais’ movie The Invention of Lying? It sounds reasonable if we have to exist somewhere for all eternity. Of course, it wouldn’t be a real mansion. It would probably be a virtual one that we imagine and create ourselves. If I were a being of energy who could build a virtual mansion or an entire world using only mind and energy, without having to worry about the law of gravity or limitations of space-time, my home would probably be pretty outrageous and constantly changing. I might live in a spherical, gravity-free house with no ceilings or doors and would teleport from room to room. The sun would permeate it from the inside or through windows all around. My garden would have snow fountains and chocolate covered strawberry trees.

Of course, if my home was so unusual that it scared everyone else away, I might have to moderate my designs to accommodate the tastes of others. But compromise and trendiness are traits we already exhibit too much of in our daily lives. Do we have to conform with everyone else even after we are dead?

In a virtual world, people should be able to visit each other’s virtual homes and, when they see something they like, be able to copy it. So, we would all end up becoming collectors of the ideas and designs of others. Would this become a form of competition? If so, would there be some kind of intellectual property rights that would guarantee us at least some form of credit for our creations? Would we care? If we don’t care what others think, what would drive us to create in the first place instead of just keeping it tucked inside our own thoughts, assuming that privacy is even possible? Do we all have to share everything after we die, including our thoughts? Would it drive us crazy? Would it turn us all into an interconnected selfless mass of souls connected for all eternity like the Borg Collective from Star Trek? Maybe we should try this all out in a virtual computer game before we die, so we can set our expectations and avoid excessive shock.

Star Trek Virtual Reality Holodeck

Star Trek Virtual Reality Holodeck

On the other hand, if everything is mind and energy, wouldn’t we be able to create our own visions on top of everyone else’s? For instance, if my wife were to decorate our virtual home with her favorite art and nick knacks, couldn’t I simply visualize a totally different form of art on the walls and a room stocked with my favorite things? When I walk into a room, I would want my wife’s decorative pillows to vanish from the couch or the bed or the chair or wherever else she decided to stick her ubiquitous, color-coordinated piles of fringy fluff. Since objects would be nothing more than creations of mind or energy rather than matter, nothing would be permanent and could be perceived differently by everyone. I think this kind of virtual reality is what Google Glass and Facebook’s Oculus Rift will eventually be able to do here on Earth, so maybe we’ll figure out how well this works soon enough.

For that matter, she might visualize herself differently from the way I visualize her. And the words I speak or think could be translated differently so that she hears what she wants to hear instead of the inappropriate babble that is likely to come out of my mouth or brain. She might perceive herself in her favorite stylish J. Crew clothes while I mentally picture her in her sexiest underwear or swimsuit. Of course, she would know it once she read my mind, but would she care? Would I even care without hormones and a body that is able to get sexually excited? Would we all want to dress in drab blue Mao clothes or Men-in-Black suits just to avoid bringing up any memories of the hot sex we are no longer able to enjoy? Or would sex become something that is based purely on mental stimulation? Wouldn’t it be ironic if we could now read the minds of our lovers and know exactly what they want, how they want it, where they want it, when they want it, and be able to materialize in any physical form desirable with any kinds of toys imaginable, yet be unable to act upon our desires!

The more I think about it, heaven or life after death sounds less like paradise and more like the candy store from hell–it looks good, but you can’t touch the merchandise or do anything fun! I think I would prefer Earth with virtual reality technology. After I die, I think I will have to make a special request: send me back to Earth again, pleeease!

Entangled Thoughts

Psychic Powers

Psychic Powers

When I was a teenager, I attended a psychic demonstration that was set up for a relatively small group of us at our local community center. During show, the psychic placed the answers to some questions in an envelope before asking audience members the questions.

He called on me and asked me to tell him my favorite make of car. I knew at the time what car l wanted–a racy Pontiac Trans Am. But as soon as he asked me the question, I perceived a pounding, flashing sign in my brain, showing me the word Pontiac. It occurred to me that this could be a psychic signal from him indicating that he might want me to say Pontiac, but the odd thing is that I already knew it was what l wanted to say anyway.

Pontiac Trans Am

Pontiac Trans Am

So, I imagined for a second that I could be a wise guy and say some other car make that would screw up his demonstration. Instead, however, I went along with the flashing Pontiac. I knew that I had a choice, but chose to go with what I wanted to say from the beginning. All the other teenage kids laughed as if they thought it was a stupid choice of car model. So, I explained that I was thinking of the Trans Am, which they accepted as reasonable. When the psychic opened the envelope, we discovered that all the answers he had written down were correct, including the car make, a Pontiac.

Obviously, I was looking for some kind of trick, a slight of hand that might have allowed him to pull one over on us. Aha, you are saying, he just looked around the room for the kid with greased back hair and a leatherjacket, or maybe a popular jock. Maybe he was a former used car salesman who knew what kind of kid had the personality for a muscle car, but not enough money for a more for upscale sports car like a Corvette, Porche or Ferrari.

Greased Lightning

Greased Lightning

The problem is, I was just a shy, geeky kid with 70’s clothes that were too tight to look even remotely cool. And we were in a reasonably wealthy community. If they made a Prius back then, maybe that would have made a better guess. But I just can’t see how l would have looked like a Trans Am buyer.

Nevertheless, I did want the Trans Am, so he somehow may have been an unbelievably good profiler after all. He could have simply profiled the audience, chosen the best possible subjects, and guessed. But I doubt they were odds good enough for him to get consistently good enough results to make a living out of the gigs, never mind 100% accuracy.

I could be wrong, but it just didn’t seem possible that we had been so well duped. I left pondering the possibilities of what else could have happened. Had I imagined the feel of the thumping, flashing word in my brain? It felt pretty weird to me, like nothing l had felt before. But maybe it was merely the surprise and embarrassment that a shy teenager might feel after being selected to answer a question in front of an audience, which could have triggered a chemical response in my brain–a fight or flight response.

If he didn’t use profiling or sleight of hand tricks, did he try and influence my answer through some kind of psychic connection or, even more spooky, did he somehow know in advance what I would say?

In the first case, he would have to have been extremely confident in his to ability influence answers by placing suggestions directly into people’s thoughts. Even hypnotists know that you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. However, if he also profiled us wisely, he would have a reasonable chance to somehow suggest an acceptable answer. Maybe he was also a ventriloquist whispering the proposed answer in my ear?

In the second case, he either would have had to predict the future or probe into my thoughts to sense what my answer would most likely be. Being able to accurately predict the future, even just a matter of minutes in advance, would be a huge deal. It would be so big that I would expect psychics with real precognition to be accomplished day traders or gamblers rather than stage performers who get paid a minimal amount to put on a show for teenagers.

There is no way I can claim that this psychic was able to predict the future, but I will say that if it is possible, we are likely to find the best evidence of precognition by looking for people who are able to use it consistently to their personal advantage, such as day traders or gamblers on games of chance, such as craps, roulette or slots. They would have to have a consistent track record of results. Obviously, not every lucky winner should be considered a psychic, but it is a starting point for scientific inquiry.

Poker World Champion

Poker World Champion

So, my final hypothesis is that he used Telepathy to probe our thoughts in advance by telling the audience what the questions would be and sensing what answers some us of were predisposed to give. Then, he wrote those answers down and put them in the envelope. Finally, he reinforced our predispositions with psychic suggestions. If it is possible to make a psychic connection with another human, this technique would provide the most consistent way to get good results. It would also be useless if you tried to apply it to day trading or to gambling when games are based only on chance, since it relies on a one to one communications path. Poker is another story. That would be the game for telepathic psychics to play unless good poker players are able to obscure not only the physical clues to their thoughts, but the thoughts themselves.

So, what does the scientific evidence have to say about Telepathy, or psychic communication, between two humans? Have any particles, waves, or other forms of communication been observed? No. At least as far as scientifically controlled studies go, the best we can do is to say that some people have a higher than average ability, in some tests, to perceive what another person is thinking.

Entangled Particles

Entangled Particles

That takes me to quantum entanglement. There is clear scientific evidence that two particles are able to communicate with each other in some unknown way and they can do so over distances that may require speeds faster than the speed of light. We call such particles entangled since a change of state in one particle seems to cause a change in state in the other. We don’t know how this happens, and even brilliant scientists like Einstein, who mocked it by calling it “spooky action at a distance,” could not believe it was possible. Yet the measurements are clear and reproducible. They are even being used today to create new and theoretically unbreakable quantum computing and encryption devices.

What hypotheses may explain this behavior? Energy or particles may communicate at a speed faster than light, but we haven’t detected the mechanism yet. Or, energy or particles do not communicate at a speed faster than light, but it seems as if they do. In the first case, we have a problem with Einstein’s theory of relativity, which prohibits anything from travelling faster than light. I’m not going to touch that one with a ten-foot pole. Trekkies are just dying to find a way to actually travel at “warp speed,” but so far nobody had come up with a theory to predict it yet.

In the second case, there must be an alternate path between the particles that is actually shorter than our classical three dimensional space would suggest, thus allowing the communication to take place at a speed slower than or equal to the speed of light. We just haven’t discovered this method of warping through space-time through an alternate path or dimension. If there were any wormholes loitering around the laboratories on the days they conducted these experiments, nobody has yet observed them.

What do psychic powers have to do with physics? We don’t know yet. We can only observe, hypothesize, and try to figure out what is going on inside our brains. They might be the next frontier for exploring and understanding the universe.