25 April, 2009
Via Greg Bishop, this timely reminder of when the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims Of the Paranormal (CSICOP- now CSI-Committee For Skeptical Inquiry) conducted their one and only scientific study of an alleged paranormal phenomenon.
The full sorry tale, ‘sTarbaby’ told by physicist and ex-CSICOP Dennis Rawlins is here. RA Wilson told a truncated version in one of the Cosmic Trigger books, but this is the one with the full dirt…
I USED to believe it was simply a figment of the National Enquirer’s weekly imagination that the Science Establishment would cover up evidence for the occult. But that was in the era B.C. — Before the Committee. I refer to the “Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal” (CSICOP), of which I am a cofounder and on whose ruling Executive Council (generally called the Council) I served for some years.
I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs CSICOP was created to debunk. But I have changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism. I now believe that if a flying saucer landed in the backyard of a leading anti-UFO spokesman, he might hide the incident from the public (for the public’s own good, of course). He might swiftly convince himself that the landing was a hoax, a delusion or an “unfortunate” interpretation of mundane phenomena that could be explained away with “further research.”
The irony of all this particularly distresses me since both in print and before a national television audience I have stated that the conspiratorial mentality of believers in occultism presents a real political danger in a voting democracy. Now I find that the very group I helped found has partially justified this mentality…
11 January, 2009
An interesting post on Brainsturbator, on US Military Psi research and brain change.
The year I was born, in 1981, the US Government decided magick was real. Well, the “US Government” is of course an abstraction—specifically, Congressional Research Service was commissioned to do a report on psychic phenomena and offered the following conclusion:
“Recent experiments in remote viewing and other studies in parapsychology suggest that there exists an ‘interconnectiveness’ of the human mind with other minds and with matter. This interconnectiveness would appear to be functional in nature and amplified by intent and emotion.”
That sounds like a pretty accurate description of magick to me. Score one for the weirdos, right?
Of course, I don’t expect you to believe that. Ignore any claims that wouldn’t get made outside a college-level physics textbook. There is no need to believe in non-human or “extra-dimensional” intelligence, no need to believe in telekinesis, no need to believe in any of the claims made by the magick community. They are merely designing rituals to alter their perception and experiencing self-generated hallucinations.
The illusion of moving images is a puzzle that humans have cracked to great success, and by flashing sequential photographs at 24 frames per second or more, we get to watch movies—windows back in time. Humans have even learned to “fake” three-dimensional objects with holographic technology.
If it can be engineered, it can be reverse engineered. If these people are “merely” altering their own consciousness and then taking their own imagination at face value, these rituals can be modeled, measured and ultimately replicated. It is obvious, both to skeptics and to practicing magicians, that most of the words, props and staging involved with ritual is a matter of personal preference and probably not integral to the actual effects.