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This makes me hopeful for cold fusion or something like it - something our world very much needs as we sponge up what is left of our relatively cheaply obtainable oil. Alex Tsakiris of Skeptiko occasionally states here and there that he has read something regarding cold fusion that leads him to believe it is real, besides naysayers saying that it is impossible, a priori (as this unnamed electrician seems to claim about Edison's 'electric lamp').

Thanks, Michael. Those are great fun to read. I especially like:

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?"

I guess that's why newspapers never caught on either. ;o)


"Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years."

I've actually got one of those now! And man, does it suck!

What obviously set Edison apart from his critic in this article was his intuition. Edison was not against using the mechanics of a reductionist/materialist mindset to accomplish his goals, but he also relied on his intuitive instincts to accomplish them. Sometimes intuition is just another word for psi.

Edison was working on designing a machine to communicate with the dead before he died, so I'm sure James Randi would've had a field day with him, had Randi lived back then.

"he also relied on his intuitive instincts to accomplish them."

Good point, RabbitDawg. And as you may know, like the inventor he was, Edison actually devised a method for maximizing his intuition by systematically inducing a hypnagogic state in himself. According to Brian Weiss:

"Thomas Edison valued this hypnagogic state so highly that he developed his own technique to maintain it while he worked on his inventions. While sitting in a certain chair, Edison used relaxation and meditation techniques to reach the state of consciousness that is between sleep and wakefulness. He would hold some ball bearings in his closed hand, palm down, while resting this hand on the arm of his chair. Beneath his hand he kept a metal bowl. If Edison fell asleep, his hand would open. The ball bearings would fall into the metal bowl and the noise would awaken him. Then he would repeat the process over and over again."

Present skepticism never bothered me precisely for your reason above - times change, new discoveries are made.

To add to your list: spherical earth, geocentric model, evolution, the creation of the universe, relative gravity, quantum physics, and possibly pretty soon ... the transmission theory concerning the brain and consciousness.

"Edison was working on a machine to communicate with the dead before he died"
Acording to some mediums, Edison is still working on that machine in the afterlife.
What, with all the advancements in communication technology since Edison passed on, and the number of technicians possessing knowledge of that technology that have also passed on that could work with him, they don't appear to be making a lot of progress.

"According to some mediums, Edison is still working on that machine in the afterlife"
Now where did I read the anecdote of the guy travelling interstate who was spending the night in a motel room that contained an ancient windup telephone that wasn't plugged in or connected to the exchange.the phone rang in the middle of the night. the traveller answered the phone to hear his father on the line telling him to ring home because his Mom was desperately trying to contact him.As it was the middle of the night the traveller decided against calling his mom after breakfast on the phone at the reception desk.Upon getting through to his mom she gave him the sad news that his father had passed away during the night at exactly the same time as he had received the call on that inoperable phone.

Now the question is,If a just departed amature in the afterlife can communicate with the living with through a dead telephone,What the hell has Thomas Edison been doing all these years since he left the scene?

I don't suppose there is a hidden'edit' function on the blog? I always pick up my mistakes after posting, when it is too late.
Correction below.

As it was still the middle of the night the traveller decided against calling his Mom UNTIL after breakfast later that morning. etc.

Michael's topic speaks to the oft-demonstrated inability of "experts" to accurately anticipate the future, even when it's staring them in the face. True that, but drawing the line between caution and vision is always difficult. Only in hindsight does it seem easy.

There's an very heated battle currently going on in theoretical physics about multiverses that stretches the idea of vision. The term"multiverse", interestingly, was coined by William James, and refers (Wiki) to "the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them."

Brian Greene's book book "Hidden Reality" describes various types of multiverses currently being considered by theoretical physicists as part of front line research. Although written for the layman, the first half of the book is a tough slog trying to understand the underpinnings of the Quilted, Inflationary, Brane, Cyclic, and Cyclic multiverses (and there are four others). However, there's a very interesting middle section dealing with the question of whether even inquiring into the existence and properties of such multiverses constitutes *real* science since it involves "Nontestable, nonfalsifiable proposals, invoking hidden realms beyond our capacity to access-these seem a far cry from what most of would want to call science."

Some of the topics discussed:

Can it be scientifically justifiable to invoke unobservable universes?

If the universes constituting a multiverse are inaccessible, can they nevertheless meaningfully contribute to making predictions?

Can a multiverse provide explanatory power of which we'd otherwise be deprived?

Interesting stuff.

I actually had a weird telephone experience once. The woman sounded exactly like my dead mother and called me by name. The call was very staticky, and was disconnected after a few minutes. (There's also a book, "Phonecalls from the Dead," that recounts many people's similar experiences.) Maybe Edison came closer than he thought when he tried to create a machine to reach the dead.

I actually had a weird telephone experience once. The woman sounded exactly like my dead mother and called me by name. The call was very staticky, and was disconnected after a few minutes. (There's also a book, "Phonecalls from the Dead," that recounts many people's similar experiences.) Maybe Edison came closer than he thought when he tried to create a machine to reach the dead.

Kathleen, Julia Assante discusses this phenomenon in her book "The Last Frontier" which I've read and is very good. She additionally alludes that someone, somehow, is currently on the brink of perfecting this type of technology - or at least making it far more reliable. You're right - many people have had such experiences with their telephones.

It should be pointed out that this kind of "skepticism" is entirely different from the James Randi et. al. pseudo-skepticism whose followers tend to congregate in gangs and feel that putting down anyone who believes things that they don't.

This is someone who is skeptical of the practicality of a particular piece of technology. This is a matter of judgement rather than belief. It may or may not reflect a general attitude, but it is not a philosophy.

In the early seventies, I assured a friend that a ring with a "stone" that used liquid crystals to change color depending on how the wearer felt. Unfortunately, he listened to me. A few years later, someone else made a huge fortune when "mood rings" became a fad.

I was wrong, but not because I was sure that anyone who believed that such a device was possible was a heretic in the Temple of Science, but because I misjudged the interest that the general public would have in such a thing.

On the other hand, the paranormal bashers are all about belief -- what they do not believe in is wrong, and one doesn't need to consider any evidence because it is self-evident that no valid evidence could exist.

See the thing is,that most of the failed sceptical predictions listed in that Wiki article were disproven within a short period of time, wheras during the several hundred years that people have been researching the Paranormal, nobody has yet to produce hard evidence that can be believed by the world at large, that the afterlife is a reality.
My own example of the phone call from a dead relative through a dead phone above is just one example of how the Paranormal community give so much contradictory so called evidence for the survival hypothesis,that they are gifting sceptics with free amunition to shoot them down with.

This is true.

My father died in 2006 after living in a nursing home for 13 years after a stroke.

He died about 6 AM in the morning. At 10 AM, my mother, sister, and I went to the funeral home to make funeral plans.

About 1030, my sister received a panicked phone call from her boyfriend, who was back at our house. He sounded terrified, freaked out.

It turned out that about 1025, someone had called the house. The phone call went like this:

Caller: "Is Joe S. there?"
Sister's Boyfriend: "i'm sorry, he's not."
Caller: Is Joe S. there?
SB: No, he's not here, I'm sorry.
Caller: Is Joe S. there?
SB: He hasn't lived here for 13 years, I'm sorry.
Caller: Is Joe S. there?

By this point, sister's boyfriend was getting very angry, thinking this was some sort of prank call.

SB: "JOE S. hasn't lived here for 13 years!!"
Caller: Is Joe S. there?
SB: "JOE S. DIED THIS MORNING! He can't come to the phone!"
Caller: Joe S. is there.

At that point, sister's boyfriend hung up.
Then the ceiling in the hallway fell in.

I mean, the ceiling in the hallway LITERALLY FELL IN. A two-foot section of the ceiling broke off and fell to the floor. Boyfriend ran from the house to his car and called my sister.

The caller ID showed that a call had been received at 1025 from "not available."

The contractor we hired to fix the ceiling could not figure out why it caved in. There was no water damage or structural flaw of any kind. The ceiling had just caved in.

We think my dad's spirit was responsible for the phone call and the ceiling collapse.

This is all true.

Anecdote, of course.

I suppose BF could have made the story up. But he's a trustworthy sort, he was genuinely scared, there was a phone call, and the ceiling did cave in.

He's also an atheist, or at least he was before this happened. Now he believes in life after death, though not in any particular religion.

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Didn't someone also say that "the car was a passing fancy?"

I was perusing the manifesto of Chris Dorner (currently running amok in CA) and found this:

"Do you know why we are unsuccessful in asymmetrical and guerrilla warfare in CENTCOM theatre of operations? I’ll tell you. It’s not the inefficiency of our combatant commanders, planning, readiness or training of troops. Much like the Vietnam war, ACM, AAF, foreign fighters, Jihadist, and JAM have nothing to lose. They embrace death as it is a way of life. I simply don’t fear it. I am the walking exigent circumstance you created."

It started me wondering - is the fanatical, mouth-foaming, skepticism that the idea of post-mortem survival so often encounters more about social control than science? Might a population that does not fear death be much more difficult to intimidate and exploit?

How would society change if everyone expected to be accountable for their actions here on earth? Certainly better for us serfs I would think.

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No, it was also said: "the car is a flash in the pan?"

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