Defining Project Phenomena
How does one determine the parameters of an endeavour such as Project Phenomena; how does one define its aims and objectives? It is easy enough to say that it is straightforward, i.e. to provide undeniable proof and incontestable evidence that there is a separate form of existence after the physical and that those on the other side, if the conditions are suitable and they are agreeable, can and do make contact with us.
This is indeed one aspect of the Project, but, as you will see, it is much broader-based than that, because it is also designed to show that the paranormal, and how we interact with it, consists of considerably more than simple contact with non-corporeal entities.
Likewise, in some instances there are no obvious or easy answers to the truly enigmatic nature of the range of phenomena involved. All that can be done is to record them as accurately as possible and one aspect of the sheer diversity is dealt with in the chapter entitled, ‘The City in The Sky’.
Project Phenomena by its very nature is open-ended, so what is contained in these pages is not a definitive final answer and can only record what has been achieved to date and it is likely that it will be added to at some time in the future. The reader may also find that some of what is here appears vague and non-specific but, unfortunately, given the nature of what we are dealing with, this has to be the case.
This presents various problems: e.g. how does one provide solid evidence in support of such a divisive subject that will both stand on its own and be reasonable, repeatable and accurate? The number of times this has been attempted must run into the many hundreds if not thousands and one of the most recent iterations of this was from the team who set up ‘The Scole Experiment’ which, at the time, made a considerable impact on the psychic world, although, perhaps surprisingly, not much anywhere else.
This is a great pity but to be expected, since mainstream science will reject anything and everything that does not conform to its narrow, materialistic strictures. Evidence in one form or another has also come from a slew of individual mediums and psychics, but this is also disregarded immediately, sometimes with unseemly haste, irrespective of how compelling it actually is. This is because individual examples of evidence that is anecdotal and relies almost entirely on the perceptions of a single person, cannot be considered ‘scientific’ and can easily be dismissed pretty much out of hand.
Therefore denials and refutation based on scientific principals must likewise be challenged with science; in other words like must be challenged with like. The question is, however, what kind of experiment or demonstration will ever satisfy mainstream science, especially since those who are likely to be asked to accept and evaluate proof from sources in the paranormal field frequently, if not overtly hostile, have a mindset that is disinclined to accept evidence such as this as being viable in the first place? Unfortunately, this question must also be asked of certain groups purporting to function within the field of paranormal research, which seem equally eager to deny the validity of anything that they do not think meets their own levels and standards of scientific rigour. Regrettably, this can often become extremely personal to the point where those involved seem incapable of making unbiased evaluations of the evidence presented. It has also resulted in petty abuse in the form of name calling and insults directed towards those they do not agree with and this is a real pity, because it often seems that those who should be on the same side are anything but.
One of the maxims that all serious researchers and investigators should apply is this: ‘News is what someone does not want you to print.
All the rest is publicity’, an observation variously attributed to both the legendary newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst and the author George Orwell. Therefore, perhaps the truth is that mainstream science fears anything that would challenge its consensually accepted sense-based norms as a form of collateral damage that could possibly negatively affect its generous and frequently extremely conservative sources of funding.
It would, however, be interesting to see how they handle definitive evidence that flies in the face of their doggedly materialistic paradigm; one which they have professed for most of their lives. This also applies to the concept of materialist reductionism, whereby everything in the universe, including paranormal phenomena, must and indeed has to be explainable in materialistic terms because, if it can be reduced to its component elements, it can therefore be explained. The flip side of this viewpoint is that if something cannot be explained in mechanistic terms, it cannot exist, therefore it does not exist.
This rather blinkered set of rules has repeatedly been shown to be incorrect in terms of the double (or twin) slit experiment, which proved conclusively that particles such as photons can be influenced by the simple act of observing them. It has been repeatedly demonstrated beyond doubt that light particles (i.e. photons) become waves and can also become particles and, what’s more, if the particles are observed at one particular point in the experiment they appear to reorganise themselves to conform to what they have now become. So far no materialist explanation has been found to explain why this occurs and we shall return to the profound implications of this subject in more detail in another chapter. This outcome also seems to suggest that reality is absolutely not what we think it is and implies that reality is created because we observe it. As to what, if anything, would be there if no one was present to see it is a genuinely fascinating and slightly worrying prospect.
This, of course, resonates exactly with the old logic problem that says, ‘If a tree falls in the woods and no one is present does it make a noise’? The proposition is dismissed on the basis that of course it makes a noise, because logic dictates that it would have to, but there is no way to prove it, because even recording the sound of a falling tree with no one physically present still means that it’s being observed, so it would make noise. There is another classic example of this, i.e. the ‘Schrödinger’s Cat Experiment’, which, although slightly different, still has the same premise, but is more difficult to prove. In the case of Schrödinger’s Cat, the idea is that a cat, a glass vial of poison, a Geiger counter, radioactive material and a hammer mechanism were sealed inside a container. The amount of radioactive material was tiny, so that it had only a 50/50 chance of being detected over the course of an hour.
However, if the Geiger counter did detect radiation, the hammer mechanism would activate and smash the vial of poison thereby killing the cat. But until someone actually opened the container and observed the cat, it was impossible to predict whether the cat was dead or alive. The act of looking would in effect ‘collapse the system’ into one state or another, so, until the system assumed one state, the cat would exist in a strange superposition ‘zombie state’ of being simultaneously alive and dead. All this aside, it is doubly confusing when at least some of the scientists who evaluate such concepts profess to believe in a Creator God, which must surely contradict the evidence that both Newtonian science, and particle physics in particular, presents them with on a daily basis.
Even more curious are the small camp of Creationist scientists, who are absolutely sure that the earth must only be a few millennia old. A remarkable example of the academics (and there are several, albeit in a minority) who profess this opinion is Dr. Raymond Damadian, an American of Armenian extraction who invented the highly effective diagnostic tool, the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scanner. Dr Damadian is a committed Christian and also a ‘young-earth Creationist’, who robustly defends his beliefs. A concise statement exactly describing this highly controversial school of thought, which is taken from http://www.CreationScience.co.uk, reads, ‘We believe that the 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God and that it is the infallible, inspired, inerrant Word of the living God throughout. The Bible is without error (2 Tim 3:16;2 Pet 1:21). Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs’.
Showing an astonishing degree of cognitive dissonance, i.e. a sort of willful self-denial of all common-sense and logic, even when the evidence to the contrary is undeniable and overwhelming, those who hold these opinions continually search for and find even more evidence and proof that they are correct. This only serves to drive them even further into the comfortable and reassuring certainty of being right.
This ‘proof’ that they quote is, apart from several dubious biblical references, based on the many anomalies that undoubtedly exist in areas of science such as archaeology.
They see nothing strange in the idea that the Earth, everything on it and by implication the entire universe, were all created in six days and accept this as a fact with no questions asked; and why? Because, as far as they are concerned, God has spoken clearly and truthfully in scripture, therefore there can be no deviation from the accepted word of God. In fact, the last sentence of the above quote from the Creationist website, i.e. ‘Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs’ is itself dubious, since the use of the words ‘assertions’ and ‘factually true’ does not make sense, because ‘assertions’ are not facts, they are claims and allegations, which are not the same thing at all and therefore cannot be ‘factually true’.
This paradigm is effectively like putting your fingers in your ears if something you don’t accept or don’t like is said and shouting, ‘La, la, la, I can’t hear you’: it also demonstrates a remarkable degree of intolerance.
This is similar to the way in which cultists move only within their own narrow, inward-looking circles, so the individuals who hold these extreme views on Creationism tend to gravitate towards others who hold similar ideas. Unfortunately, this narrow, isolationist paradigm also appears in certain aspects of Ufology, particularly among those who espouse the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) as the only possible source for visits by entities that do not belong to this planet.
This is manifestly not the case, but they flatly refuse to engage with any other explanation.
As far as the Creationists go, it makes one wonder how they view the ‘Big Bang’, because at present, based on what has been established, it is assumed that the universe was created around 14.5 billion years ago, when it rapidly expanded into existence from an incredibly small and unbelievably dense singularity. The time involved in the expansion was breathtakingly tiny and is thought to have been in the order of around 10 to the minus 32 seconds, (which is 10 with 32 zeros behind it). When that occurred, a chaotic collection of fundamental particles blasted out at amazingly high temperatures, continually colliding and recreating themselves until eventually things started to cool down and atoms were formed; then the gradual process of universe building began. Before all that happened there was nothing, literally nothing: there was no time, no space, not even the area the universe expanded into. Since the universe, by our understanding, is still expanding, what is it expanding into? The answer to that is (probably) that it is still creating space and time as it goes; in other words it is creating reality as it continues to expand.
It should be emphasised that the Big Bang is currently the most popular theory – it is not a fact – to explain how the universe was created and it came from Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist and Roman Catholic priest, who arrived at his conclusion based on earlier work carried out by other physicists and astronomers. They were, most notably, Alexander Friedmann who was a Russian physicist and mathematician, and the astronomer Vesto Melvin Slipher, who was an American. There was also a German astronomer, Carl Wirtz, and both he and Slipher had observed that, based on what is called ‘redshift’, the galaxies seemed to be moving apart. All of this seemed to tie neatly into the relativity theories of Albert Einstein, which, based on contemporary thinking made it readily acceptable.
The other, less popular theory is the ‘Steady State Universe’, proposing that the universe has no beginning and no end and has always been here. This view has been enthusiastically championed by astronomers like Fred Hoyle (and others) who account for the expansion by the continual creation of matter; however, once one becomes embroiled in this subject, it invariably ends up mired in a strange and uneasy mix of religion, quantum physics and cosmology. It’s pretty much picking the one that suits you best and, of course, it is still possible that they could both be wrong. That said, and based on how the young-earth Creationists cling so tightly to their rather blinkered views, they must reject both of these hypotheses despite the abundant and solid evidence to the contrary.
This tends to be the viewpoint of many who hold opinions that do not seem to be based on any kind of rational principles, simply because for them the word of God is an absolute and unassailable truth.
Another glaring example of this can be found in Christian Science a.k.a. ‘The Church of Christ, Scientist’, whose believers are absolutely sure that, according to the borderline dangerous ideas promulgated by Mary Baker Eddy (1821 – 1910), illness is an illusion that can be cured by prayer alone, with no medicines required and that reality is entirely spiritual and the material world is an illusion. All this is based on nothing more than one interpretation of scripture and anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have died during their ministrations is assumed not to have had a strong enough faith. In other words their lack of belief killed them.
What they seem to fail to realise is that they are promoting a system that has been used by magicians and healers for millennia and is almost certain to be a function of the mechanism that permits the placebo effect to operate. It is widely used during clinical trials of new drugs that come to the market, to test how effective they really are. As with much that is found in religious practice, the beliefs of the Christian Scientists also resonate with the more extreme doctrine of the early Gnostics who held that the only true God was one of pure spirit and anything else was the work of the Rex Mundi (the God of the World or Demiurge). The word, ‘Demiurge’ stems from the Greek Gnostics and means, literally, ‘partial mover’ as opposed to the Supreme Being, viz.
God, who would be the ‘prime mover’. So, in this context, the Demiurge more-or-less equates with Satan. These are typical of the beliefs associated with the more esoteric schisms within Christianity.
Variants on these views also seem to be present among those who purport to conduct actual evaluations of paranormal phenomena and psi effects within the academic world. There are a few universities in the UK and elsewhere that have departments devoted to this. The Arthur Koestler Unit at Edinburgh University in Scotland is one and they also appear reluctant to accept anything that does not conform to their own ideas of what is or is not valid. This is not necessarily a criticism, because their funding is limited and they have to prioritise, so they tend to concentrate on psi effects rather than overtly paranormal phenomena.
However, that said, precious little positive information seems to emerge from these institutions. These, then, are a few of the questions and issues that Project Phenomena will try to both define and answer.
It does not help the situation, either, when many of the leading names in popular science – Professor Brian Cox OBE is an example – continually deny that the subject is even worthy of serious study. Prof Cox is one of the people who has become a poster boy for popular science on TV and is typical of those who would almost certainly be produced to deny and debunk any evidence of the kind that Project Phenomena has been created to provide. This is no reflection on the man himself, because he is extremely well qualified and has obtained a first-class Bachelor of Science degree and an MPhil in Physics. In addition, he is a member of the High Energy Physics Group at the University of Manchester and also works on several cutting edge experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva in Switzerland.
Professor Cox, because of his excellent qualifications in physics, must be fully aware of the many remarkable anomalies present in particle physics, yet quickly and colloquially denounces the subject of the paranormal as ‘woo-woo’ and those who are courageous enough to attempt to bring proof to the table as, ‘utter nobbers’. Professor Cox also roundly denounced the minority of people who feared that the LHC might create black hole and bring about the destruction of the planet.
What he actually said was ‘Anyone who thinks that the Large Hadron Collider will destroy the world are twats’, and these are direct quotes.
Presumably the use of the pejorative description, ’twats’, must include some of his equally well-qualified colleagues, who also expressed the view that a black hole, albeit (fortunately) very small, might well be produced during the experiments conducted using this massive device.
Yet, strangely enough, Professor Cox has also said that, ‘If you are not comfortable with the unknown then it’s difficult to be a scientist, so I don’t need an answer; I don’t need answers to everything; I want to have answers to find’. All very laudable, you might think, except, apparently, if it involves anything that could be termed as paranormal.
That said, this is the same kind of fear of the unknown that in the 1940’s caused people, including scientists, to worry that the explosion of the first atom bomb might set fire to the atmosphere and kill everything on the Earth. Fortunately this did not happen.
I have no intention of detracting from Professor Cox or his achievements, because he is undeniably a very able man and an excellent communicator who knows his chosen field of physics very well indeed, but sadly seems to have a closed mind regarding anything that he deems as operating outside its tightly monitored and rigidly controlled parameters.
One might feel justified in asking why he thinks as he does, despite abundant evidence that there is legitimacy to some aspects of paranormal phenomena. However Professor Cox is not alone in this and he has able support in the form of psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman. Professor Wiseman is another extremely well-qualified debunker of all things paranormal. In this he does the subject a service, because his criticism and ability to demonstrate that the paranormal might be little more than the faulty interpretation of information processed by the sensory equipment of the human body, requires that any evidence presented had better be absolutely irrefutable and inexplicable by any rational means.
Professor Wiseman, who, in his younger days, was a talented amateur magician, is a Professor of the ‘Public Understanding of Psychology’ at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and has written several popular books on the subject. Again he is an admirably qualified and well-informed man, but, as we have seen, like many in the academic field, he seems to be incapable of accepting any evidence that he cannot explain away, (materialistic reductionism again) and, invariably, he draws the conclusion that these events are due to faulty or misinterpreted human senses. At present, however, he has not gone on record, in public at least, to describe those who hold different opinions to his as ‘nobbers who believe in woo-woo’.
Before leaving Professor Cox and CERN, news from this location suggests that black holes might even provide a gateway to other parts of the universe. This idea, surprisingly enough, is not new and was first promulgated in 1921 by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen. It is known as the ‘Einstein-Rosen Wormhole Throat’ (or bridge). The problem, here, is that the throat/bridge is around an atom in diameter and would, therefore, destroy anything material that was passed through it. On the other hand, it has been suggested that anything that did pass through it would be ‘spaghettified’ into an incredibly fine strand, then compressed and reassembled on the other side, although whether or not a human being could survive this drastic process is unknown. What is even more surprising, (or worrying depending on how you look at it), is that, in the USA, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is rumoured to be attempting to create such an artefact. Perhaps the TV series ‘Star Gate SG1’ and its many spin-off s were closer to the truth than we think.
All of this rather chimes with an email exchange that this author once had with James Randi, a co-founder and one-time chief assassin of, CSICOP (The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of The Paranormal), now less clumsily referred to as CSI. I suspect that the association with the police CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) is not entirely unintentional, since they may well consider claims that the paranormal is feasible are indeed a crime against logic and reason.
He was once asked by me (via e-mail) if, because he could produce an effect by trickery or illusion, did this mean that the phenomenon was invalid and that he had never seen anything that he could not explain? The remarkably honest answer was, “No, I have been witness to several things for which I have no rational explanation”; sadly, he did not elaborate on that statement. Debunking attempts at demonstrating the reality of an afterlife by using trickery is quite common and the logic is almost always the same. This occurred during a TV show entitled ‘Weird or What’, when the producers went to considerable lengths to demonstrate how the extraordinary paranormal phenomena observed during the aforementioned ‘Scole Experiment’ might have been faked: no consideration was given to the fact that they may well be genuine.
We will return to The Scole Experiment a little later.
Randi, who has rightly campaigned tirelessly to reveal blatant (and not so blatant) hoaxes and hoaxers, is not as prominent as he once was, but is nevertheless still active in the field. Perhaps his finest moment was when he exposed an ongoing and shameless hoax being perpetrated by the televangelist, Peter Poppof, who was shown to use a radio link to receive messages concerning people in his audience. The messages in this case came from his wife using a transmitter on a frequency of 39.17 Mhz, who was reading from cards previously filled in by members of the audience. Showing his typical fl air for wit, Randi called this the ‘God frequency’. These ‘messages’ were purportedly coming from the ‘beyond’ i.e. God. Poppof is still hawking his tawdry trade on the Christian evangelical channels on television. After all why not? It pays well and there are still plenty of people out there willing to believe him and, in the process, pay handsomely for the privilege. The nature of the original scam, however, perhaps illustrates the sheer gullibility of his evangelical fellow travellers. Incidentally, the damning evidence of this shameless fraud is still available on You Tube.
Others who constantly attempt to disprove the existence of the paranormal are entertainers such Derren Brown, a first class psychological illusionist who regularly baffles audiences both in the theatre and on television. Mr Brown, who has also produced a couple of very readable books, has also appeared in documentary TV shows to reveal how various fraudulent faith healers and psychics operate and he has always managed to do so. He also appears in regular one-hour specials on TV, showcasing his ability to persuade some individuals, using various psychological and other techniques, to act completely out of character and carry out acts that are, or should be, alien to them.
To be fair, stage psychics and healers, while they may be well intentioned, are almost certainly using the aforementioned and still little understood phenomenon of ‘placebo’: i.e. the ability of the body to convince itself that it is healed, to effect their ‘cures’; a technique still being employed to good effect by the more unscrupulous TV evangelists.
In fact the placebo effect can and does produce measurable and therefore real effects over an entire spectrum of physical processes, such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure, chemical activity in the brain and also in various psychosomatic conditions cases involving pain, depression, anxiety and fatigue. It clearly shows that perception and the human brain are inextricably linked and that the brain can be persuaded to produce a specific chemical or hormone if the person is convinced that they are being given a cure, irrespective of what this cure is, or where it comes from.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published January 2019
Size: 229 x 152 mm