Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time Reversal and Reincarnation

One of the things I most love are scientific papers which appear to prove the existence of supernatural powers.

One I read recently was called "Time-reversed human experience: Experimental evidence and implications" by Dean Radin of the Boundary Institute, Los Altos, California. It’s about precognition.

There are a number of experiments in there which make fascinating reading. My favourite is an experiment into so-called “presentiment”, that is precognition of a future feeling.

The experiment went like this. A computer generates random images. Some of these images are of a violent, sexual or emotionally charged nature. The participants in the experiment are wired up in such a way that the experimenters can tell when the person is affected by the pictures. Violent or sexually charged pictures cause a severe reaction in the measure of the so-called “autonomic nervous system”.

The non-charged pictures include pastoral scenes and pictures of household objects and cause no reaction.

The participants press a button, and after a six second delay the picture flashes up on the screen and remains there for another three seconds.

So this is the thing. During that six second delay, if the picture that is going to be flashed up is one that will cause a reaction, a higher than average percentage of the participants show a reaction in anticipation, before the picture comes on their screen.

In other words, this shows that people often know what’s coming before it comes. We quite naturally, as a matter of course it seems, can see into the future.

I love that. I love it when hard empirical evidence shows us that the universe is far more mysterious and strange than the one suggested by the theologians of materialist science who currently preside over the scientific establishment.

I read about the work of another scientist recently who has been looking into evidence of reincarnation. The scientist was Ian Stevenson, M.D. Professor of Research Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, who died in February this year.

Unfortunately, unlike the precognition experiment above, reincarnation cannot be tested in the laboratory. Dr. Stevenson was more of a detective than a normal scientist.

He would hear of a case where a young child - typically between the ages of two and seven - claimed to have had a previous life. After that he would interview the child, and then attempt to verify the child’s story.

Sometimes some of the children told remarkable tales about people and events which they couldn’t have got by any other means than by reincarnation.

His most famous book is Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, published in 1966.

In a typical case, a boy in Beirut claimed that he had been a mechanic in his previous life who had died in a car accident. Witnesses say the boy provided the name of the driver, the location of the crash, the names of the mechanic's sisters and parents, cousins and friends, all of which turned out to match the life of a man who had died some years before.

Of course, none of this constitutes proof, and Dr Stevenson was too cautious to claim that his investigations were any more than “suggestive” of reincarnation.

On the other hand, almost nothing in science is based upon absolute proof. For instance, there is no “proof” that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. There is, however, overwhelming statistical evidence that it does.

As to what conclusions you might draw from his work, Dr. Stevenson has his own views on the subject.

"I think a rational person, if he wants, can believe in reincarnation on the basis of evidence."

But there are a couple of questions which follow on from this: if it is true that we are indeed reincarnated beings why do we generally forget about it; and why it is that Dr. Stevenson’s cases were all young children? Aren’t older people capable of remembering their past lives?

I’m not sure what the answer to this might be.

Perhaps we are more psychically in tune when we are younger, and that’s why some children but not many adults can remember their previous lives.

As to why we forget: I think that’s obvious.

Forgetfulness might be a survival technique. After all, who wants to remember their own death?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Mandate of Heaven

My favourite book is the Book of Changes, the I-Ching.

Perhaps you have heard of it. It is one of the oldest books ever written. It is also unlike any other book on the planet.

Further links:

Yi Jing, Book of Sun and Moon
Calling Crane In The Shade
The Great Vessel
I-Ching on the net

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blessed By Luck

It was my birthday. I was at the Shobab restaurant in Whitstable with my family: my Mum, my Dad, my two sisters and my brother-in-law, plus my niece Beatrix, who was two and a half years old at the time, and is one of the brightest little creatures on this planet.


I’ve been having this debate with a friend of mine about the meaning of the word “facetious”.

To me it means jocularity at an inappropriate moment: trying to be funny when the conversation calls for something else. A facetious person is someone who thinks that they are funny, when they are not.

My friend says no: it simply means jocularity or humour. A facetious person, according to him, is a joking person, someone who is always making bantering remarks.

Actually, both definitions are true. In its original meaning, in French, facetiousness is simply wittiness or jocularity: a form of bantering humour. The fact that it has also come to mean something more negative is a consequence of the complexity of our language, a combination of Old German and Old French with a bit of Viking thrown in.

Once you have several words with the same meaning, each variation will tend to acquire more and more nuanced interpretations. Hence “facetious”. Originally just humour. Now humour at an inappropriate moment.

The point about language is that meaning is fluid, not fixed. Meaning is something that shifts over time. As I said to my friend, what does “fabulous” mean? What does “fantastic” mean? Both are words which have changed their meaning.

Or what about “gay”? This is a word which has changed it’s meaning not just once, but twice now.

It is also a measure of how people are constantly subverting “official” language.

To anyone born before the fifties, of course, it will have a range of associations around the ideas of brightness and happiness. Garlands of flowers are gay. People are gay when they dance and have fun. The blossom in early spring is gay.

In my younger days it became purloined by the rising Gay Liberation movement to mean homosexual, its current “official” definition. It is now the first definition in the dictionary. It was a radical move. By forcing the rest of us to redefine our terms it also asked us to think again about our own personal prejudices and, perhaps, to adjust them a little.

Most people these days, I imagine, are happy that the old stereotypes about homosexuality are gone and that people are free to choose their own path, as long as it doesn’t impinge upon others.

What people get up to in the bedroom is their own private business.

However, the irony is that the word has moved on again, with hardly anyone noticing. These days, amongst the young, “gay” tends to mean something like “fey” or “naff”: something slightly over-the-top and ridiculous, superficial or pretentious.

Elton John is gay in all senses of the word.

So “gay” has acquired an additional meaning as an implied insult, despite the language mafia’s attempt to control our use of words.

As for “facetious”: the reason my friend and I started this conversation is that I accused him of being facetious. I have since adjusted my description, calling his humour “tangentially facetious” instead.

He takes that as a compliment. At least I never called him gay.

The Camera Never Lies

“The camera never lies,” they say. Well it does, and it does so with increasing frequency on your TV news these days.

There were a number of occasions when this became particularly clear to me. One was an image of a reporter on the front-line in Afghanistan during the invasion in 2002. He was ducked behind a line of troops in a trench. But there was something wrong with the set-up; the “troops” were Afghan – supposedly members of the Northern Alliance - but their uniforms were brand new.

Since when have you seen Afghan fighters wearing uniforms even, let along brand new ones?

It was so obviously a fake. It was clear from the looks on their faces and the general air of dishevelment and lack of discipline that these weren’t troops at all, but just a bunch of guys off the street dressed up to look like troops, straight from the prop department of the Pentagon.

I wish I had that bit of film to show to you. It was hilarious. There was the reporter with his serious face reeling out all this portentous nonsense, with his flak jacket and his helmet, clutching his microphone, making out that the Taliban were just over the other side, while behind him a bunch of scruffy Afghan peasants were lying in a ditch pretending to be troops, picking their noses and having a laugh.

Another was a shot of the “rebel” army in Haiti in 2004. They were overthrowing President Aristide, the democratically elected leader at the time.

But while the news reports were all making out that this was an internal matter – rebels vs government - it was so obvious from the look of them that this was no ordinary rebel army.

They were too well dressed and too well fed. They were toned and muscled, with tight tee-shirts showing off their abs, with back-to-front baseball caps, clutching the latest in US-made high tech weaponry.

They were so obviously Western-trained mercenaries in the pay of the US government, a point made clear when Aristide was later escorted from the country at gunpoint by the CIA.

This at a time when we were supposed to be promoting world-democracy.

The most famous example however is the one where they pulled down Saddam’s statue in Baghdad.

It looked like a large crowd of ordinary Iraqis celebrating the end of the dictatorship. If you remember they made a great to-do about explaining the insult of people banging the statue’s face with a shoe. But any perspective would have told a different story.

The “crowd” consisted of 150 selected individuals, while the square itself was nearly empty. The shot was a set-up, as later independent photographs (above) made clear. Notice the presence of American tanks guarding the square and ask youself why this shot or one from a similar perspective was never shown on your National TV News.

So you have to beware. Nothing is quite what it seems. Most of the real news is being hidden from us, while, in it’s place, we have fakery and deception, smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand.

You have to watch the news very carefully these days; not to find out the truth: to find out the lies.