Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Occult Origin of Modern Science

This may come as a surprise to some, but what we know as modern science began as studies into magic and the occult.  One might not recognize this if one were to look at the current view of magic and the occult in the mainstream.  To illustrate what I'm talking about I would like to call attention to the fact that natural magic (the study of astrology, alchemy, herbology, etc.) evolved to become the natural sciences.  Allow me to explain.

Astronomy as a science owes everything to the practice of astrology.  Astrology had us looking to the heavens to discover more about ourselves.  We tracked the movements of the stars and planets, some cultures with more precision than others, and we were able to predict what celestial body was going to do what next and perhaps what that meant for us.  When the telescope was invented astronomy really came into its own and the "superstitions" of astrology were divorced from the new science.

From the study of herbs and their magical and medicinal effects we arrived at pharmacology.  Mankind has known since the dawn of time that certain plants are capable of doing certain things.  Some are foods, some are medicines, and some are deadly poisons.  Through the study of correspondences and the spirit of the plant we determined what it was capable of, both magically and medicinally.  This knowledge of plant medicines led the way to modern pharmaceuticals.  Many powerful medicines are still extracted from plants.

Alchemy is many things to many people, but the quest for the power of transformation ultimately led to the birth of chemistry.  Over time, alchemy became less about transforming the self and more about transforming metals.  From this we began to experiment and observe more closely how substances interacted with one another.  New theories emerged and the symbolism of the reactions was forgotten.  Thus chemistry was born.

Something else that may come as a surprise to the modern reader is that Isaac Newton was a bit of an occultist.  That's right, the man behind universal gravity, calculus, and so much more was an occultist.  More specifically, Newton was an alchemist.  On top of his more accepted scientific pursuits, Newton had great interest in the Philosopher's Stone.  Newton also worked with antimony and it has been said that the star pattern formed by antimony alloys inspired his ideas of light and gravitation.

There is a lesson in all of this.  "Occult" simply means "hidden" and we should not run from what is hidden.  Some of the greatest things that mankind has discovered have come from the study of the hidden aspects of reality.  As such, some might do well not to hastily badmouth occult and magical pursuits.  If the natural sciences emerged from natural magic then what mysteries might await us in the study of ceremonial magics like theurgy and goety?  How about survival studies?  Extra-sensory perception and psychokinesis?  Astral projection and out-of-body experience?  Instead of shunning modern occult or paranormal pursuits, shouldn't we perhaps be looking to them as a means to gain even more knowledge of our reality?

Wikipedia on natural magic.
More on Isaac Newton's occult studies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Update on the dead birds and assorted other creatures.

As far as I know, there are still no definitive answers forthcoming for most of these peculiar animal deaths.  For a complete list of these widespread events please see this link.

Something that I find interesting are the attempts to downplay these deaths without really providing any explanations as to what caused them in the first place.  A more paranoid person might say that this is sleight of hand to keep us from the truth.  That may be the case, but I think it's probably just the usual dividing of the opinions on an issue into a dichotomy.  One group thinks there's more to it that needs to be investigated.  The other group thinks that there's nothing to see here and it's all being blown out of proportion.  Both viewpoints emerge from the exact same information.

For an example of what I'm talking about, see this article:  Conspiracies Don’t Kill Birds. People, However, Do.

I'm still not sure what's causing all of this.  The more information that comes to light, the more I think it could just be the extreme cold of the winter that's doing a lot of this but without any definitive answers the cause may as well be anyone's guess.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Clearing up the chaos around the "new zodiac."

There is no "new" zodiac.  The Western Zodiac is based on tropical astrology, not sidereal astrology.  The precession of the equinoxes over the millennia has not changed tropical astrology, which is based on the Earth's seasons.  Sidereal astrology is based on the stars and that has changed, although not all at once.  If you follow sidereal astrology then you most likely already knew about precession and accounted for it.  If you follow Western Astrology (and odds are that you do) then nothing has changed for you.  See the link below for more information.

Ophiuchus and the "New Zodiac" -- Busted!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The ESP debate rages on.

ESP Report Sets Off Debate on Data Analysis

I think that this is just another example of finding any possible way to mitigate the impact of a study that suggests that ESP exists.  If the protocols can't be attacked then attack the data analysis.  When attacks on the data analysis fail, the critics will inevitably cry fraud.  This is not the first time this has happened and most likely won't be the last.  This said, it kind of makes you wonder about all the statistics thrown around in more accepted scientific fields.

In the constant effort to hunt down bias in results, critics might consider the obvious bias against ESP in the first place.  I don't think that ESP research has a fair shot under the best of circumstances, so it really won't surprise me when Daryl Bem's research is torn apart and kicked aside like so many papers before it.

Bem's results have allegedly failed replication so far which is, again, not surprising.  This happens whenever positive ESP results receive a lot of public attention.  There is usually very little discussion of these failed replications though.  One of the attempts to replicate this particular study wasn't even a true replication attempt as it did not follow Bem's protocol.  This, again, is common when it comes to ESP studies under scrutiny.

Keeping all of this in mind, if we ever hope to have any scientific recognition of psychic abilities then we need to stop relying on statistics that can be made to say whatever each particular side wants them to say.  All this gets us is endless battles over statistical analysis and proper interpretation of results.  If we really want recognition and acceptance then parapsychology needs to focus on more observable effects.  The best that I can think of would be macro-psychokinesis.  That is, the movement of objects by mental means.

Most, if not all, demonstrations of psychokinesis on a larger-than-statistical level have been decried as hoaxes with various conjurers stepping forward to demonstrate how they can do the same thing through parlor tricks.  Some performers, demonstrating what is ostensibly a psychokinetic effect, have been later exposed as frauds.  A small number, however, have not.  One such case would be that of D.D. Home, whom I have written about before.

The thing about psychokinesis is that most psychokinetic feats can indeed be duplicated by parlor tricks.  That is just the nature of the beast.  However, I think it would be foolish to proclaim that the PK feats are tricks when there's no evidence to support that claim in a particular case.  Just because something can be duplicated by trickery does not mean that it is impossible by less-deceptive means.  When one cries fraud the burden of proof is theirs.  All of this in mind, I still think that demonstrating psychokinesis will be the thing that silences the detractors.  It may take many years of laboratory study, but I think it's the best bet.

My message then is that anyone that wants psychic abilities to be taken seriously should set about developing their abilities to the highest level possible.  It is going to take direct observation of psychic functioning to get it viewed as a real phenomenon.  Even then you should expect fire from all sides.  There are people that won't be convinced no matter what.  Many psychics and researchers alike have been permanently disgraced because there was too much doubt cast on them, too much ambiguity in the results they produced.  Some just weren't vigilant enough in examining what they had to offer before offering it, or they tried to augment it with parlor tricks.  My advice, then, is try to prove it at your own risk.

Parapsychology going mainstream? - My previous post about this very topic.
Journal’s Paper on ESP Expected to Prompt Outrage - More on the debate and "outrage."

Friday, January 7, 2011

The dead bird situation keeps getting strange.

UFO strikes. A military death ray. Or the coming of Armageddon. Why ARE thousands of birds falling from the sky?

I think that this article gives a pretty good summary of the situation as it stands currently.  I really don't have anything more to say about it right now except that I hope we get some definitive answers soon.  The thought did occur to me that the shifting of the magnetic north pole might have something to do with all of this.  More on that here.

Thailand shows that it is not impossible for the supernatural and the modern world to coexist.

Thais Look to the Supernatural

The Western world typically treats things like astrology and horoscopes as entertainment only.  In Thailand, coups have been initiated because of the advice of a fortune teller.  Some might argue that this is superstition overriding common sense and reason.  The Thais might say that it works for them.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The dead birds are still a mystery and more have joined them.

Dead birds falling from sky still mystify experts

Scientists still don't know what caused the birds to fall from the sky in Arkansas.  On top of that, there were more birds to fall from the sky in Louisiana and reports of birds falling in Kentucky.  There was also a mass fish die-off about 100 miles from the first fall of birds in Arkansas.

None of these things are really that unique as both have happened before.  Perhaps what makes this trend so startling is the short span of time between events.  I've seen some speculation that the government may be experimenting with something but I'm not so sure.  Something occurred to me while I was reviewing the new information though.  What if all of this is somehow related to activity within the earth?

Looking at recent seismic activity in the region, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe earthquakes or other activity within the earth were affecting the birds (and potentially the fish).  Perhaps more profound is the thought that perhaps these anomalies with the animals may be giving us warning of something to come.  Maybe the New Madrid Fault is getting ready to let loose?  It is a scary thing to consider, but it may be worth looking into.

This map shows recent seismic activity in the region.  If you zoom in on the activity in Arkansas you can see that there have been a lot of small quakes very close together just in the past week.  There was a larger quake near Kokomo, Indiana and a small one in southern Missouri as well.  I am not a geologist and I don't know how common these events are, but combined with the strangeness happening with the birds it has me worried.

This is the Wikipedia article on the New Madrid Seismic Zone.  According to the article, the New Madrid Fault produced four of the largest North American quakes ever recorded, all within three months time.  I only hope that this recent series of quakes combined with the series of anomalous animal die-offs is not leading up to a repeat of the 1811-1812 quakes.

Seismic activity could be releasing gasses (such as methane) into the air and water and that could explain the mysterious bird and fish die-offs.  If that was the case though, wouldn't the scientists testing the air have detected it?  To my knowledge, there is no evidence that earth gasses killed the birds.  Perhaps it was some other unknown aspect of the seismic activity?

Then again, the conspiracy theorists could be right; there may be something more sinister going on.  If there is a covert experiment being done then maybe it is related to all of these anomalies, including the earthquakes.  Maybe it's related to HAARP. This could still portend something potentially a lot worse that's in store for us, but only time will tell.

MORE Dead Birds Fall From The Sky: In Louisiana This Time, Not Arkansas
Dead Birds and Fish in Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Fortean start to the new year.

Thousands of blackbirds fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year's Eve, reminiscent of the Fortean phenomena of creatures mysteriously falling from the sky.  The creatures are typically fish or frogs but falls of birds have happened before.  While there are lots of possible explanations for the mysterious fall, no one seems to know for sure what caused it.

Thousands of birds fall from the sky in Beebe