IMG_2361
Blog powered by Typepad

« Why so mysterious? | Main | Andrei's vision »

Comments

Sadly, Michael, I think you're right. It's a different world today. I was discussing that with a friend this afternoon. We both concluded the media influence began to sway things in a negative way some years back. Violence, abuse, explicit sex, and celebrity worship seems to be common. One thing, though, maybe I'm a little nuts, but I have felt an energy shift is happening. A positive shift, as many are fed up with it all and, rightfully so. So I am optimistic and hopeful. And ready for change.
Linda

while I agree with what you have written, Michael, I still feel that the pendulum is slowly swinging the other way.

Perhaps because of my age I can look back and can see how life hasn't really changed that much.

Our communication technology brings us face to face with events in every part of the world as they happen.

60 years ago reports of events in other parts of the world took a long time to reach us.

Before rebuilding can happen some demolition must take place and I feel that is what we are seeing at the moment.

I remain optimistic regarding the future.

Michael, you're going through a bad patch, so you're focusing on the negative. The media do that, almost the whole time, and it infects peoples minds, spreading the evil. Things will change when the time is right. I don't think we have control over cycles of change; but cycles have their season. The bad must be balanced by the good. It's a law.

We'd be much poorer if flamboyance were outlawed, laws passed to ensure that we were all meek, submissive, and even Puritanical in behavior.

Creativity need not be limited to officially accepted channels -- the arts, music, literature, poetry, and so on -- it can also extend to our acting on the stage of life.

To believe that modest, self-effacing behavior is best at all times and in all situations has something in common with Gnostic beliefs.

Flamboyance is a kind of exuberant exaggeration of self importance, yet this is external; it doesn't necessarily reveal the inner person at all, while there's nothing to prevent, say, the human equivalent of an iridescent dragonfly from treating others with respect and courtesy, even as he or she draws our attention, our fascination.

We have the mythical Jesus put before us at all times, held in our minds, as representing the ideal of behavior, yet even this alleged son of an archaic and dangerously unpredictable male god called attention to himself at times, as when he upset tables of moneychangers or road a donkey at an auspicious moment.

I submit that this mythical creation is a tad on the boring side, while cringing at the idea of a world in which absolutely everyone did their best to humorlessly emulate such an imaginary ideal, swashbucklers arrested and clapped in irons for having the effrontery to creatively exaggerate their personae, to treat the world as a stage.

The existence of entertaining, highly creative, and very colorful personalities -- Jimi Hendrix comes to mind, one of thousands -- adds greatly to our overall earth experience.

A new wrinkle is added to the promotion of self in a time when an artificially exaggerated egoic consciousness is finally weakening, many finally beginning to see the ego as simply a normal facet of physical life, an external protuberance of the inner self, not the ironclad barrier of separation it had become by the final acts of the egoic age.

I admire some of those who deliberately exaggerate their self importance in artful ways, knowing this to be mere theater, mere pretense, as we enter a time in which souls again begin to shine through our physical selves.

It's merely entertainment.

Bill I.

A more subdued

(My apologies for the last comment. I must write today and need to warm up -- Michael's blog provided the opportunity.)

Bill I.

Who is Christian Bale?

A friend of mine worked on the set of the new Terminator film and claimed that Bale was the single most abusive person he'd ever encountered. That would be in his entire life, and he's pushing 50.

Still, I tend to agree with the other comments here that there's a change afoot, and that the media focus on the negative aspects of our culture presents an unbalanced view of things. When I think of people I've personally encountered in this lifetime, the overwhelming number are decent, kind people. Not that I haven't met some idiots - it's just that they're much more anomalous in the general population than we might come to believe by evaluating any given celebrity's behavior.

My friend also worked on a film with Renee Zellweger, and reported that she was delightful - warm, accessible, open, funny, down-to-earth and just wonderful to be around. Video of her being nice to people isn't likely to go viral though, is it?

What is everyone's opinion on this from Keith Augustine. I have never heard of these tests until now.


The late Robert Thouless, former President of the Society for Psychical Research, developed a test of survival where a message is encrypted in such a way that it can only be decoded by key words known only to one who has died (Stevenson 114). Thouless set up three encrypted messages for himself, hoping to communicate the key words which would decode his messages to his colleagues after his death through a medium. Though the first cipher he proposed was cracked a few weeks after he published it, neither of the other two ciphers were broken during his lifetime, providing a rare opportunity for parapsychologists to produce truly compelling evidence for survival of bodily death. The key to one of the remaining ciphers (a replacement for the cracked key) was a simple two-word key; the key to the other was a roughly 100-word literary passage. The literary passage key, though long, could be obtained simply by relaying the title of the book, the location of the passage in that book, and a couple of words from the beginning of the passage (Oram 118).

Under the advice of Ian Stevenson, Thouless also transposed the first six letters of his two-word key into numbers using a published table in order to reset a combination lock to those numbers (Stevenson 114). Unlike Thouless' encrypted message tests, the combination lock test requires the entire key to be known to unlock it and gives no hints that one is coming close to hitting the key by making near-misses, thus ruling out the possibility that one could narrow down his options for a key by repeated attempts to unlock the combination lock (115). Stevenson has reported that the odds of hitting the right key for a combination lock test purely by chance are 1 in 125,000 (115).

When Thouless died in 1984 roughly one hundred candidates for a key were submitted to the Society for Psychical Research, some of which came from mediums, but none of them were able to decipher any of Thouless' encrypted messages (Stevenson 114). However, in 1995 James Gillogly successfully decoded one of Thouless' messages using the two key words "black beauty" generated by a computer program he wrote[8] which yielded the message: "This is a cipher which will not be read unless I give the key words". The discovery of Thouless' two-word key was further confirmed when Stevenson used his table to transpose "BLACKB" back into numbers which unlocked Thouless' combination lock (115).

The flaw in Thouless' test which allowed it to be deciphered was his use of common words for a key that could easily be cross-checked by a computer program designed to form two-word combinations from all the entries in a typical dictionary (Oram 116). Incredibly, the parapsychologist Arthur Oram has come to the credulous conclusion that the repeated failures of mediums to come up with a key that will successfully unlock Thouless' encoded messages despite numerous tests is due to the inability of the deceased Thouless to remember the simple keys 'on the other side'! (Although the deceased Thouless could apparently remember who Oram was and other similar facts) (Oram 117). A simpler explanation for these failures is that Thouless could not communicate the key words because he had not in fact 'survived' his death and thus was not in contact with Oram through the mediums. To his credit, Oram does concede this point:

It seems fair to assume that if [the mediums] were in effective touch with Thouless they would either be given the key or an explanation that [and why] he cannot remember or cannot communicate the key ... [A] considerable number of people have felt that they have been in touch with Thouless and some of them have felt that rather deeply, including at least one whose submitted key was of a wrong form [italics mine] (117).

Regarding Thouless' simplest test Oram reports: "There are no instances in our records of anyone getting the two-word key even partially correct" (118). Other similar direct tests of the survival hypothesis have also yielded negative results: attempts to obtain postmortem Thouless' literary passage key to his remaining message, J. Gaither Pratt's mnemonic key to his combination lock, and T. E. Wood's key to his enciphered message have all been unsuccessful (Stevenson, et al, 329-334). Oram succinctly characterizes the state of the experimental evidence for survival from mediumship: "We can only be sure of two facts relating this research; one is that work has been done to try to get the keys through mediums and the other fact is that we have not obtained the keys" (Oram 118).

Interesting though this may be what has it got to do with Michael P's post?

Who is Christian Bale?

An insoluble question.

Hi Michael, I hope you don't mind but I copied and emailed your blog to our preacher. I put a link to your blog at the end. I told him he might even be able to get a sermon out it. Good stuff! Thanks, Art

Great post Bill I.

New translations for the beatitudes use the word "happy". When someone is that ballistic they're far from happy, and that should be an object lesson in how money, wealth and fame doesn't impart it. (Though I wouldn't mind a little coming my way from time to time.)
It's been attributed to Confucius, not sure if accurate, that he said, "Always look to the Emperors (political leaders) if they are corrupt the country will be corrupt, if they are just, the country will be just."
We had eight years of a president that threw temper tantrums, trampled on constitutional right, lied, cheated and stole everything his and his cronies could get their hands on. And Christian Bale is a symptom of this society's demise?

When I think of people I've personally encountered in this lifetime, the overwhelming number are decent, kind people.

Yes, but I'll bet most of them aren't people who are defined as "successful" by the standards of our society.

No doubt there are some "successful" people who have retained their basic human decency. You mentioned Renee Zellwegger. Other examples that come to mind are Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael J. Fox, and Jane Seymour. All have reputations as very nice people. I saw a behind-the-scenes clip of Katie Couric a while back, which was distributed to the Web in an attempt to make her look bad, because she was asking her staff rather basic questions about the political primary process. But even if she was not too well informed, she came across as an easygoing, likable person.

So yes, human decency exists, but increasingly it is bad behavior that's celebrated, even idolized. And unlike Bill I., I don't find that abusiveness, aggression, and rampant narcissism add spice to my life.

We had eight years of a president ...

Well, now that Obama is president, I will expect to see no more bad behavior from celebrities.

The interesting thing about all this celebrity worship is that, for the most part, the celebrities are all "pretenders." Movie actors are, of course, pretending to be real people in their roles. Athletes are pretend combatants or warriors. And, yet, we place the pretenders on pedestals while treating the people they pretend to be as ordinary. I can still remember seeing military troops lined up to get Roger Clemens' autograph. The real warriors were idolizing the pretend warrior.

For some reason, appearing on television seems to make a person a celebrity. Why are TV newscasters celebrities and print journalists not celebrities?

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I will mention it again. Even though the University of Hawaii football team got dumped by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl a year ago, people were lined up to pay up to $25 each for their autographs when they returned. The fact that they appeared on national TV seems to have elevated them to celebrity status in spite of the humiliating defeat. TV = transcendence

I think this is what the First Commandment is all about, i.e., "having strange gods."


for the most part, the celebrities are all "pretenders."

That's true. People are more awed by an actor who plays a cancer researcher than they would be by a real-life cancer researcher.

I think it has to do, in part, with the ridiculously high premium placed on entertainment in our society. But this is itself an ego-driven thing: the ego needs constant distraction, constant amusement. It can't abide silence and stillness.

Michael, you're going through a bad patch, so you're focusing on the negative.

If it's a bad patch, it's lasted a long time. I've felt this way for years. I used to run an occasional series called "Decline of Civilization" in which I would point to disturbing news items. I discontinued this series because readers found it too depressing. But if I'd continued it, I would have had no shortage of material.

Who is Christian Bale?

He's a major movie star and, I have to admit, a talented actor. He starred in the two most recent Batman movies, as well as The Prestige, among other things.

MP, egomania's just the motto in practice of the New Age: "It's all good!"

Despite the fact that I thought Christian Bale was great in the two Batman movies I listened to the clip and the way he was behaving was completely out of order. I think its like Michael said that they have the 'means to get away with it'. You see a similar thing with football or 'soccer' players over here in England.
On a slightly lighter note a newspaper called the sun ran an article on Christian Bale's outburst and called it 'not so christian'. Made me smile anyway :).

Michael P: "And unlike Bill I., I don't find that abusiveness, aggression, and rampant narcissism add spice to my life."

Dear Michael:

I'm not in favor of abusiveness, while the terms "aggression" and "rampant narcissism" are subject to interpretation and require clarification -- they mean different things to different people in different times and places. (What's aggressive behavior to someone who lives in Tokyo isn't likely to be so to a New Yorker.)

I used the term "flamboyance," not "narcissism" and contrasted it with Puritans, who didn't believe in having fun, not so different from Cathars or Gnostics. Would you ban the Oscar Wildes, the Orson Welles, the Walter Raleghs of the world?

All three were rather full of themselves, but I don't hold that against them; they were certainly not variations of the colorless flannel suited "organization man" of the 50s, and weren't afraid at all to exercise their imaginations, often in public. Meanwhile, they added to our collective experience, our pleasure of life.

Regarding your statement: "I really am becoming aware of a deep, pervasive sickness in our society" -- let me trot out a New Age dictum: "You get what you concentrate on."

This reminds me of the court officer I encountered as I fulfilled my civic obligation as a member of a jury.

He kept a book prominently displayed on his desk that had some loud title about a Liberal conspiracy.

During lunch, he spoke about this, and how it was plain that society has gone down hill. For evidence, he mentioned various news stories and recounted examples of trials he'd witnessed.

News, however, is a collection of reports of bad behavior -- a collection of reports of good behavior wouldn't sell newspapers or be featured on a TV news broadcast.

In witnessing defendants at trials, he was often observing the worst examples of his fellow citizens' behavior; those who engage in good behavior aren't arrested, don't go to trial, and don't become defendants seen by this fellow.

He was getting what he concentrated on, reinforcing his negative beliefs about society and people.

Bill I.

Bill: "We'd be much poorer if flamboyance were outlawed, laws passed to ensure that we were all meek, submissive, and even Puritanical in behavior."

Bill: "Would you ban the Oscar Wildes, the Orson Welles, the Walter Raleghs of the world?"

Sorry Bill, but I must have missed the part where MP was suggesting "outlawing" or "banning" anything here. Straw man.

Yes, but I'll bet most of them aren't people who are defined as "successful" by the standards of our society.

Not mega-successful, no. I'm referring to primarily professional, middle-class people - not those who are dealing with adulation, fame and exceptional wealth. The athletes may be the most ego-afflicted, as a group. I'll never forget an NBA player whining a decade or so ago - as the NBA was dealing with a player strike - that if things weren't resolved soon he'd be forced to start selling off his fleet of luxury cars.

Kind of breaks your, heart, doesn't it? The worse thing is, this clown was a marginal player - I'd never even heard of him until I read the piece that outlined his plight.

In a sense, there's no little sadness involved in stories like Bale's. Anyone who's engaging in that sort of behavior is living in a sort of personal hell, and apparently feels a need to share it with others, I guess. It's probably best just to use them as a frame of reference of what not to aspire to. That, and try to stay out of their way.

Still, I understand where you're coming from with this post, MP. I went on a rampage against out-of-control egotism in a post at the Grail a few months ago. I think the hope lies in my suspicion that many are beginning to recognize that our society has some serious ills that are predicated on ego-worship in numerous manifestations. I don't know if it's a majority yet, but I do know they're out there. I'm always a little hesitant to invoke sociological categories, but I think there may be something to the idea of the Cultural Creatives. I suspect there are a lot of people - people who don't fit well in traditional pigeon holes - who are also troubled by what they see in the world around them.

Michael, what amazes me is that the sickness of society you describe has taken over the culture of England, which only 50 years ago was the world model for reticence and self-effacing modesty. Dalrymple wrote about this very point recently, as did Paul Johnson when he recalled how people stoically dealt with the depression. I posted about both of these articles here, if I may refer to my own blog:
http://tinyurl.com/bmzu7c

The excesses that we formerly associated with American behaviour have now been overtaken by British. If anything, the British media is now much more of a "boundary free" zone: I see Jamie Oliver recently masturbated a pig on TV, to the hoots of the audience. And of course we had the recent Brand/Ross debacle.

Why the cultural turnaround? I certainly don't blame Thatcherism: depravity and self-centredness has accelerated at a much faster rate than since her time.

Leo

You have seen Keith misrepresent NDE research and you take his word on this subject?

"The Second Coming," by William Butler Yeats, comes to mind more and more frequently these days, one of my favorite poems.

And I'm not the only one. Paul Krugman, over at the NY Times seems to be feeling it too:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/27/opinion/27krugman.html?_r=3

The poem itself, here:

http://www.yeatsvision.com/SecondNotes.html

And some interesting information about Yeats' metaphysics from wikipedia, here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Coming_(poem)

Consider a civilization, let us call it Western, running a feedback loop. It starts with children programmed to disparage learning, continues through teen-agers taught that self control is weakness, and goes through adulthood with media encouragement of violence, narcissism and dishonesty. Add in sexual success for males who display these characteristics. Run this loop for a generation or two. Now watch this civilization enter... (spooky music) the Disaster Zone!

Egomania:

One wonders if a society that prides itself on individualism has something to do with egomania.

On another note, kind of: with communism man exploits man with capitalism it is the other way around. I suspect the Russians understand that axiom better than Americans at least the first part.

Systems based on political and/or religious ideologies can have a profound impact on human behavior. Of course all systems are based on some level of ideology. We tend to blame individuals rather than look at the system. Politics is a classic example of this.

Personally I believe that individuals, societies, and nations have to learn what does not work to learn what does work better to improve living conditions for themselves and others. I also believe there are universal (divine?) laws that exist and the farther we stray from those laws or principles the more problems that arise.

It appears that both religious and political folks believe they understand these universal laws. I wrote a paper once while in college wondering why we sit in church on Sunday and be told that love and cooperation is god’s law then for the next five days value and often promote fierce competition and often-downright greed. Appears to be a disconnect somewhere in that societal ideology.

I also suspect that problems can be great opportunities to align our systems with these universal/divine laws.

Michael P you would have had a heyday during the Roman Empire with your blog on the decline of civilization. Wealth can be as destructive as poverty. Also was Rome’s decline due in part to its continual wars for profits, which led to its decline of the middle class.

And interesting to me was the decline of its small farms where slaves were used to work these farms and all of these former middle class farmers lost their farms to wealthy land owners while away at war for years moved to the city and joined the poverty class. At least that is what one special on TV claimed. Any of that scenario sound familiar to anyone.

Still, I understand where you're coming from with this post, MP. I went on a rampage against out-of-control egotism in a post at the Grail a few months ago.

My husband goes on rants like this quite a bit. I usually try to pay attention while waiting for him to get it over with as patiently as I can, even though I’m not exactly known for my patience (or attention span). Then I’ll say something very annoying like, “Oh look! A butterfly!”

He thinks I am very naïve for such a well-educated, well-traveled person, and he worries that I wouldn’t stand a chance alone in a world as harsh as he sees it. He isn’t always available to keep me out of trouble, and yet I survive just fine. The very fact that I can be the way I am suggests that the world may actually be a better place than he thinks it is.

I really am becoming aware of a deep, pervasive sickness in our society. It goes far beyond politics, crime, or trashy entertainment. There is a festering infection in the heart of our culture, and that infection is the worship of the ego.

I agree with that, even though I tend to be optimistic regarding the evolution of our society (and the overcome of that infection).

The important thing is to know what's the cause (or causes) of that. Given that sociological problems tend to have multiple causes, maybe it's hard to isolate a single one (if it exists). Is that a educational problem? Does it have to do with the socio-economical system? Or instead is it a consequence of the "practical materialism" (existing even in many "religious" people) of our daily lives? (Conspiracy theorists would add another possibility: the slow destruction of society is a planned agenda of certain powerful groups)

Whatever the cause or causes, I believe spirituality and global consciousness is slowly increasing too, and probably it will have an tangible effect in the next years to come. I hope it will be the case.

You can see the trailer of Terminator Salavtion here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYc3vOmof_8

Michael, I sent your blog to our preacher because I thought he would appreciate it and I thought you might appreciate his response.

"Thank you for sharing this, Art. I think I’m going to get one of the older teen guys to read it at their next devo." - Darryl

The important thing is to know what's the cause (or causes) of that.

It seems to me that every society in history has ultimately reflected the philosophical assumptions of that society. Those assumptions run deep as well, and in many cases aren't even regarded as philosophical assumptions - they're regarded as "common sense", instead. Education, politics, economics, art, music and all other cultural artifacts are always constructed upon a foundation of philosophy.

It seems to me that the 20th Century represented the heyday for the core assumptions of materialism and naturalism, and that the ego sickness that MP has identified here is exactly what results from a broad cultural acceptance of these ideas. If we've accepted that the human intellect is the highest level of intelligence in existence, I'm hardly surprised to see people like Christian Bale reach the conclusion that since they're occupying the descending slope of the bell curve that they have an inherent right to excoriate others.

There were many positive things that resulted from the application of reason over the last century. Diseases were eradicated, means of communication were tremendously enhanced, international travel became a matter of hours rather than weeks. We also learned to maximize agricultural production - The Smithsonian ran an article a few years back that pointed out that if it weren’t for synthetic nitrogen we would not be able to feed our current population. It goes on and on - whatever aspect of our lives we look at, we will discover endless examples of the application of reason to our physical environment; things that we take for granted today that didn’t even exist a century ago. I can walk into the local supermarket today and purchase fresh cherries in January, grown in Chile, bring them home in my car, put them in my refrigerator and enjoy them for several days – and not give a moment of thought as to exactly how much thought went into making any of that possible.

Still, and in spite of everything that reason has accomplished for humanity as a whole, what has grown in lockstep over the last century is a pervading sense of emptiness, a sense of dissatisfaction with life itself, which has manifested not the least in the explosion of depression in western society. Not to mention epidemic drug and alcohol abuse. The ego asserts itself in many ways beyond blatant arrogance.

I quoted some excerpts from Peter Kingsley in the previous thread, and he makes some observations that apply to this conversation as well:

Perhaps the simplest way of describing the situation would be to say that, two and a half thousand years ago in the West, we were given a gift — and in our childishness we threw away the instructions for how to use it. We felt we knew what we were playing with. And, as a result, western civilization may soon be nothing but an experiment that failed.

We can still trace out how, well over two thousand years ago, the schools of Plato and Aristotle put the seal on what was to become the most enduring Athenian contribution to intellectual history in the West: instead of the love of wisdom, philosophy turned into the love of talking and arguing about the love of wisdom. Since then the talking and arguing have pushed everything else out of the picture-until now we no longer know of anything else or can even imagine that there could be.

Nowadays we like to think of rationality as completely distinct from mysticism, of science as something utterly separate from the knowledge of another reality. But that’s just an optical illusion. Really there can only be one kind of knowledge. And rationality is simply mysticism misunderstood.

The greatest possible pessimism is the one each of us shares when we take at face value this ridiculous world we have managed to construct for ourselves; is when we imagine that soon we are going to die and that is that.

We can cite as many reasoned arguments as we want. But in our hearts none of us believes we only live for thirty or fifty or eighty years, because we all know there is more to us without even understanding how we know. And this is the knowledge Parmenides was working to bring to life, in our minds as well as hearts.

The difficulty, of course, is that we all do think that philosophy is the love of talking and arguing about the love of wisdom. I’m not sure how to overcome this, except in making an individual effort to bring the quiet voice of the heart into our own minds – one person at a time, following whatever path that resonates. There’ll still be Christian Bales out there, along with Jerry Springer and criminals and drug addicts and corporate thieves and all the rest. I don’t think we’re going to be able to fix all of them.

It may be that Sandy’s right – it can’t hurt to notice the butterflies, too.

By the way, dmduncan, Yeats was an interesting fellow. It was at Yeats' urging that W.Y. Evans-Wentz tackled his doctoral thesis, the anthropological study of the Celtic belief in fairies, which ultimately became http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/index.htm>The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. As J.B. Hale writes in his introduction at the given link:

"This is one of the most in-depth and scholarly attempts to explain the phenomena of the Celtic belief in fairies. Based on Evans-Wentz' Oxford doctoral thesis, it includes an extensive survey of the literature from many different perspectives, including folk-lore, history, anthropology and psychology. The heart of the book is the ethnographic fieldwork conducted by Evans-Wentz, an invaluable snapshot of the fairy belief system taken just on the cusp of modernity. There are regional surveys of the fairy-faith in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and the Isle of Man. Evan-Wentz later went on to become one of the leading authorities on Buddhism, and published many of the key documents of Tibetan Buddhism including the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

"Evans-Wentz examines each of the hypothetical explanations of the fairy phenomena. Among these are the theories that fairies were a reclusive race of dwarfs, that they are disembodied spirits, or that they are a figment of our imaginations. Evans-Wentz concludes that they may indeed be a manifestation of inhabitants of a higher reality that only some of us are able to view, let alone understand.

"We come away from this study with a multi-dimensional view of the fairies, who, much like the grey aliens of UFO belief, inhabit a narrative which seems too consistent to be the product of insanity, yet too bizarre for conventional explanation."

Strange as it may sound, there may be a connection between rampant egotism, 'rational' thought, and . . . fairies. On pages 122-123 of Evans-Wentz's dissertation, he quotes a John Davies, who says, in part, "I am only a poor ignorant man . . . But one does not have to be educated to see fairies, and I have seen them many a time . . . Before education came into the island more people could see the fairies; now very few people can see them. But they (the fairies) are as thick on the Isle of Man as ever they were."

It's especially interesting to me that Yeats encouraged Evans-Wentz to take on the project because of his concern that the encroachment of modernity that was occurring at the time in the Celtic countries was dramatically reducing the number of people who encountered the fairies.

It all raises very intriguing questions in regards to what exactly is, and isn't, imaginary. In other words, are fairies imaginary, or is it our ideas about education, instead?

Hi Kris

I don't take his word, but he didn't twist any information with these particular tests. I went to search for the book called "An introduction to parapsychology. Two tests were done one in 1946 called the "cipher test" another Ian Stevenson's combination lock test done in 1968.

http://books.google.ca/books?id=jB88qA7C9oYC&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=parapsychology+thouless&source=bl&ots=L6_QOEv4iA&sig=AGNFz5-57-eNUhEhmvanFq5o9v4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA146,M1.

I did a rebuttal to Keith Augustine's review of these tests. One of the problems with the cipher test was the fact that a solution to one of Thousless's own ciphers was eventually generated by a computer. Nonetheless the conclusion Keith went by is that a simple explanation would be that Thouless didn't survive his own death because he didn't remember a few simple keys. But apparently this entity knew Arthur, how did he get that information? through his subconscious? or was it an entity pretending to be Thouless?. My view is that it was an entity pretending to be Thouless.

Here's my rebuttal here

http://paranormalandlifeafterdeath.blogspot.com/2009/02/rebuttal-to-keith-augustines-look-at.html

A comment came from a skeptic who said my view was too far fetched.

He says

sbu said...

But their are certainly more explanations then that. One explanation would be that he was not communicating with thouless at all but some other entity and was being deceived by this entity. To me the explanation that another entity who pretended to know Oram is more plausible than the explanation that Thousless didn't survive death.

This is simply too far-fetched. The obvious conclusion is either
a) There is no survival - only extinction. There is only anecdotal evidence from a century back that survival is a reality. So ofcourse this is the likely conclusion until better evidence is provided.

b) Survival exists but contact with the deceased, mediums etc. does not exists. In this case we will never be able know anything about the other side.

On top of this we can envision all sorts of weird explanations but usually in this world is the logical explanation the correct explanation.

My response to him

How is it far fetched? Maybe i forgot to add their are many cases of spirits pretending to be something else. Of course i cannot prove that is the case, perhaps yes in this case maybe he didn't survive but that seems far fetched because it appears that this spirit did appear to know Oram. Where could that information come from other then either from an entity or his subconscious?.

“Egomania:”
“One wonders if a society that prides itself on individualism has something to do with egomania.”

Further explanation: individualism is in conflict with our longing or yearning for oneness and therefore is destined to fail or self-destruct. The law of progress demands that it self-destructs in every soul. Stated another way it goes against universal or spiritual law of love and compassion and the reality of oneness.

This does not mean our individualism is in vain it is a phase that I suspect every soul must go through at some level or degree on its journey back to oneness. We become self-conscious Beings and an element of that phase from simple consciousness to self-consciousness to gods is some level or form of egomania in the self consciousness phase.

Egomania is feedback that allows a society and a soul to view its cherished beliefs and contemplate their effectiveness. Of course we often blame the individual and not the system that promoted and even encouraged such behavior.

Egomania and egotism are expressions of our fear of nonbeing. The ego asserts itself to say in a bold way “I am”. Of course there is no individual “I am’s:” there is only oneness and we are a manifestation (aspect) of that oneness. Ism’s (egotism and individualism) are troublesome but revealing.

“This is simply too far-fetched. The obvious conclusion is either”

I suspect there are many if not infinite explanations. For one remembering numbers may not be that easy for some spirits after they cross over. Some spirits state they have a hard time remembering their names but can remember other detailed facts about their lives. Skeptics will always have an out even if they have to resort to calling the researcher a liar or a fraud. It is a slippery slope we all live in and their slope appears to be very slippery.

They will even resort to accusing the researcher of having an affair with the medium even through there were hundreds of other people that witnessed the same phenomena over a period of many years.

Think about it for an ultra skeptic just one acknowledgment of a paranormal event and their whole system of beliefs comes tumbling down and that is painful. I have had to endure several of my cherished beliefs come tumbling down and each time it was mentally painful. I suspect but don’t know that we may hang on to our cherished beliefs in spite of the evidence to avoid that mental pain.

Michael, I sent your blog to our preacher because I thought he would appreciate it and I thought you might appreciate his response.

"Thank you for sharing this, Art. I think I’m going to get one of the older teen guys to read it at their next devo." - Darryl

Thanks, Art. I hope when he reads it, he changes the wording "treat their fellow human beings like shit" to something more appropriate for a church setting!

Seriously, thanks for passing this along.

Thanks, Art. I hope when he reads it, he changes the wording "treat their fellow human beings like shit" to something more appropriate for a church setting! - Michael Prescott
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whoa! I didn't catch that. I'll give Darryl a heads up. Our preacher is pretty cool and interesting. He's got a Master's degree in religion so when he talks he's pretty interesting. He's not difficult to listen to. I'm amazed by the amount of effort and writing you put into your blog? Does it detract or take away time from your book writing? My sister wants to gather together all my stuff about NDE's, death bed visions, and the holographic universe and put it together in a book. I know I'm not a good enough writer to do that so she'd really have her work cut out for her!

I just wondered where Bale's American accent came from given he is British. How should one interpret such a stream of invective delivered in a fake accent?

If a 'celebrity' acts like an ass it is news. When one acts like a nice person it is not.
Which do you think occurs more often?

I suspect there are many if not infinite explanations. For one remembering numbers may not be that easy for some spirits after they cross over. Some spirits state they have a hard time remembering their names but can remember other detailed facts about their lives.

So being dead is in your opinion being in a severe state of dementia? I don't think Art is going to accept this possibility in his holographic universe philosophy.

As Arthur Oram explicitly states himself:

"We can only be sure of two facts relating this research; one is that work has been done to try to get the keys through mediums and the other fact is that we have not obtained the keys".

After all he is the person closest to this research - apparently he didn't think anything supernatural was going on. I'm not particular skeptic to anything except wishful thinking which too often clouds an objective interpretation of results like this.

But you forgot to mention sbu, that the tests themselves were far from perfect.

"I just wondered where Bale's American accent came from given he is British. How should one interpret such a stream of invective delivered in a fake accent?"

He travelled around a great deal as a child and his mother is American. Here's a fact for you: his mother invented the phrase "like a fish riding a bicycle"

I say let Bale off. He is Welsh after all...

There's no excuse for being Welsh.

Oh no you didn't...

So being dead is in your opinion being in a severe state of dementia?

A pretty common theme of "channeled" communications is that the communicator has to go into an altered state of consciousness in order to influence the medium. In this state the communicator finds it difficult to recall (and even more difficult to convey) certain specific information, such as names and numbers. He may be in full possession of these facts when he is not trying to communicate, but the communication process itself interferes with his memory and thinking. Some communicators speak of "lowering their vibrations" to the earth level and becoming sluggish and tired as a result.

Of course, one can always dismiss these communications, but the same information comes across so frequently, through so many different mediums, that I'm inclined to believe it.

that was a joke by the way.

"But their are certainly more explanations then that."

Since we suspect a lot, but really know nothing about life after death, our experiments either to prove or disprove it are likely to resemble simplistic modes of disjunctive reasoning, which is to say, we are probably missing all sorts of possibilities that could explain it.

Fr example, spirits may move on or stick around. And if they move on they may be incommunicado to psychics, assuming some psychics do have genuine powers at some times.

Or, if they stick around, their sticking around may reduce them to consciousness states barely rising above the zombie level, and disinclining them to participate in any experiments at all regardless of what they promised they would do while still alive.

So the experiments and criticisms each reflect certain assumptions about what it's like to be dead, which may not be true. The skeptic's either-ors here are just pretense.

Michael H: The Lakota, interestingly, seem to have a belief in fairy like beings too, among other sorts of beings. Strangely, I know of a fairly recent story from my time on Rosebud of a boy who was kidnapped by a group of them! Believe me, I know this sounds strange, but you've never heard it because this stuff stays within small groups of people on the rez, which is the only reason I heard of it.

As an off-topic, I was seeing a The Simpsons episode where Lisa took an edition of the "Junior Skeptic Magazine" to debunk one of Homer's ridiculous ideas.

The interesting thing is that that episody motivated professional pseudoskeptics to create a real "junior skeptic" magazine.

According to wikipedia: "Like Skeptic, Junior Skeptic is dedicated to the critical examination of paranormal claims" And then add: "This publication was inspired by scenes in the animated comedy television series, The Simpsons, in which Lisa Simpson reads a magazine called Junior Skeptic"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_Skeptic

Some pseudo-skeptics are able and clever propagandists.

It's very intelligent to create a magazine aimed to young people for indoctrinate them into materialism in the name of the "critical examination of the paranormal" (and the existence of real frauds and fake mediums in the paranormal world gives it an apparent support and justification for the need of "skeptical" publications like these).

If that strategy works, the young readers of that magazine will be in a few years the new generation of adult debunkers, media pseudo-skeptics and armchair critics of psi research.

Child-like versions of Randi or Shermer. Do you imagine a 8-year old boy saying "parapsychology? Bullshit. There is not scientific evidence of any real paranormal phenomenon (and other delusions like God, Santa Claus or fairies). There is not such thing"

LOL

"So being dead is in your opinion being in a severe state of dementia? I don't think Art is going to accept this possibility in his holographic universe philosophy." - SBU
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"grin!" So my message is coming through in spite of my poor writing! No, I don't accept that. According to a myriad of NDE's one is at a higher state of consciousness on the other side, and it will feel even more real to us, and we will have access to "all knowledge" due to those overwhelming feelings of "oneness and connectedness" (i.e. it's holographic nature).

As far information that's retrieved from Mediums? One thing that bothers me is the banality of the information. It's always so silly. Your on the other side connected to all the information in the Universe and you come through with Uncle Willy's wart on his nose or Aunt Ruth's flatulence problem? Why in the world aren't Mediums getting information about nuclear fusion, curing cancer, and anti-gravity devices?

And don't get me started with physical Mediums? Table tipping? Raps and knocks on wall? Hands appearing, trinkets appearing? Is that the best they can do? How silly! What a waste of time!

Yes, I enjoy and am impressed every once in a while by glimmers of information from mental Mediums, but it's rarely mind blowing. It's always little dibs and dabs and always banal. John Edward said that talking to someone on the other side is like trying to communicate with someone at the bottom of a swimming pool. That I can believe.

I am much more impressed by the aggregate of information from near death experiences and death bed visions and it's connection to quantum physics and the holographic nature of the Universe.

ART: "'grin!' So my message is coming through in spite of my poor writing! No, I don't accept that. According to a myriad of NDE's one is at a higher state of consciousness on the other side, and it will feel even more real to us, and we will have access to "all knowledge" due to those overwhelming feelings of "oneness and connectedness" (i.e. it's holographic nature)."

Art, the video and audio evidence suggests that some very unhappy souls are behind what we call hauntings.

If you've bothered to read a book much older than "The Holographic Universe," for example, you will find that in "The Tibetan Book of the Dead,"the NDE is accounted for too, but the book provides an additional insight, warning that the heaven which you will experience will soon turn to a hell as your own self created demons come alive to taunt and chase you, and in fleeing from the projections of your own mind you seek and achieve rebirth.

It also cautions us that people can be reborn in a number of realms, including one they call the "hungry ghost" realm in which one does not have the level of consciousness that we have on earth, and so is a realm that is harder to get out of because it does not offer us the same opportunities, and this idea does seem to corroborate both the lingering quality of ghosts, who appear to be attached to specific places or items, and the zombie-like consciousness that many ghosts appear to have.

So NDEs may be glimpses of what happens after, but only glimpses of the beginning, not of how it ends, which the Tibetans add more detail to, which is not pleasant. All's well that ends well, but an ending to the afterlife experience, within the afterlife itself, is precisely what we do NOT have, since all modern NDE stories end with them being brought back to life. So I'm trusting the advice of the Tibetan adepts on this issue, because I think doing so and being mindful of that possibility is a no-regrets tactic.

And looking at all the evidence we do have, however an imperfect picture it is, I think the-afterlife-is-a-bowl-of-cherries viewpoint should be regarded with great suspicion.

I would agree with Christians AND Buddhists that what happens after depends on how you lived your life in this world.

There's no free lunch in this world, and I don't think there will be any in the next, and NDEs certainly don't support the idea that there will be.

The comments to this entry are closed.