Friday, June 30, 2017

Should We Announce Our Presence?

Let’s say you and a group of friends invent a transporter device, like on Star Trek, but with one major difference: You have no control over where it would send you. Suppose, on your first trip, you and your friends found yourselves in a back alley of totally unknown neighborhood in a foreign country. Would you announce your presence? Back in your own country, the news regularly reports stories of strangers being treated very badly by locals. Sure, those are isolated events. Most people back home act quite friendly to others. But you don’t know much about the customs and mores of these natives.

Image your machine transported you to another, alien planet, populated with local beings, where you would be the alien visitors. You know nothing about these beings. Are they so much more superior to you that they might look on you as you see a mosquito? Might they just eat you to sample a new delicacy?

That’s a quandary that faces humanity on a larger scale. We have discovered thousands of alien planets, many of which seem quite capable of supporting life, with more discoveries of potentially life-bearing planets coming every year. For some time, Project SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has been actively searching for signals from aliens that populate other planets. That’s like you and your friends simply listening on a radio to see what you can learn about these other, foreign people.

But now, a newly formed group known as METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), led by the former SETI scientist Douglas Vakoch, wants to take that a step farther and broadcast our existence to the universe. Some scientists argue vehemently against such an idea. Remember, they warn, what happened to the native populations of the Americas after the discovery of the New World by Europeans. In some areas, 90% or more of the natives were killed and their cultures virtually wiped out.

That, claim some voices of caution, is most likely our fate if other, alien races discovery our existence.

In 1974, the director of Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico, then the largest telescope in the world, wanted to showcase its newly renovated abilities. In a demonstration meant more for publicity than science, they designed and sent a 167 second radio message to a cluster of 300,000 stars, known as M-13. M-13 is 25,000 light years from earth, meaning we can’t get a return signal for 50,000 years.

Martin Ryle, then the Royal Astronomer of England fired off a strong condemnation of the stunt. He argued that ‘‘any creatures out there [might be] malevolent or hungry,’’ Ryle further demanded that the International Astronomical Union, the international governing body of things astronomical, forbid any further communication attempts to alien planets.

Today, the voices of dissent echoing Ryle’s caution include scientific luminaries like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. Like Ryle, they warn that aliens might treat us the way Cortez treated the Aztecs five centuries ago. The problem, they explain, is that humans have existed for a mere few hundred thousand years on a planet only 4.5 billion years old. The Milky Way has been making planets for more than 10 billion years. Any race of beings who detect our messages likely will be as advanced compared to us as we are to bacteria, and view Earth as a place with riches to be exploited. That doesn’t bode well, they say, for our continued existence.

Of course, not all humans are so brutal and calloused. Many actively work to help other less fortunate and less well educated than they are. We’ve protected many species and environments on our planet. But as recent political events show, that may not be a permanent situation. And as the fate of those original natives of the Americas reminds us, such kindness towards others often takes a back seat when the opportunity to enrich ourselves arrives.

So, what do you think? Should we announce our existence and location to the universe at large? Or should we remain in our dark alley corner?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

On Ghost and Ghost Hunting

I hunt ghosts. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now. I have a lot of the equipment you see on many of the ghost-hunting shows on TV. Like everyone one I know who does this, I had experiences I couldn’t explain when I was younger.

I actually began hunting ghosts almost 40 years ago, but I didn’t realize it. My then-wife and I ha d been experiencing odd things in our house. I read had recently read about people who, while recording outdoors  while watching birds, found an unknown voice on the recordings, someone who wasn’t there at the time. I read of other examples of this phenomenon, so I loaded my portable cassette player with a 2-hour tape, turned it on record and went to bed. The next day I listened to the tape and for 3 hours and 45 minutes, all I heard was the AC cycling on and off. Then with fifteen minutes left on the tape, a VERY LOUD growl, sounding as if it were right by the mic, emanated from the tape. I never caught another odd sound on the cassette recorder again.

Understand that this was LONG before any ghost-hunting shows appeared on TV. When I found the first such show, “Ghost Hunters,” I knew instantly that I wanted to do that, to validate experiences I had experienced since childhood.

Why do I do this? Mostly out of curiosity. I have always believed that death is not an ending, that there is continued existence after physical death. I also believe in reincarnation and can recall bits and pieces of my own past lives quite clearly. I don’t necessarily expect you to believe any of this, but that’s my reason for trying to interact with dead people.

Walking around in the dark looking for ghosts in supposedly haunted locations doesn’t scare me. Certainly I get startled, as anyone would, if a sudden, loud, unexpected noise breaks the silence of the night. But the idea of coming face to face with a ghost doesn’t make me want to run away. While I believe in ghosts, and I know for a fact there are mean, angry or even evil humans who have died, I do not believe in demons or evil spirits. So I don’t feel like there is anything to be afraid of.

I and my team have captured numerous EVP's that are so clear and obviously not one of us. Some respond directly to questions we asked. In one investigation,m we had two EMF meters space about 3 feet apart. We asked any spirits present to activate one for yes and the other for no. For ten minutes we watched something respond to yes/no questions repeatedly and consistently. For example, we asked "are you female?" Yes. "Are you male?" No. Whoever it was told us how many people were in tee room, how old they were and so on. One of the most amazing sessions I've ever been involved in.

I watch all the ghost-hunting shows and I must say I don’t always agree with what they claim as evidence. I can say that even stronger. A LOT of what TV ghost hunters present as proof of ghosts is nothing but natural phenomena. Orbs are bits of dust floating too close to the cameras to be in proper focus. I’ve seen some ghost hunters claim an obvious bug is a spirit manifestation. More than once I’ve seen what a ghost hunter claims is a shadow entity captured on their video that is nothing more than video interference. Most teams don’t try hard enough to debunk client claims or their own experiences. And any time a TV ghost hunter claims “something just went through me” or “it just grabbed my leg (or arm or whatever)” or “Something just changed my mood” is not proof of anything. They may well have been touched. I have been touched on investigations. But it’s totally subjective, and that’s not proof of anything beyond your own state of mind.

I am critical when I hunt ghosts, just as my training leads me to be in science. I have published articles that describe some known, natural, physical or psychological phenomena can be easily misconstrued as evidence paranormal activity. For example, a room with a dimension, length or width, of around 30 feet will have a natural resonance near 18 hertz. That just happens to be the resonant frequency of a human eyeball. So if your investigating a building with long hallways, you might see lots of shadow figures out of the corner of your eye, you brain’s interpretation of a jiggling eyeball.

In one investigation, a teenage boy claimed to see a figure standing in his doorway as he lay in bed. Turns out there is an electrical junction box in the wall less than a foot away from his brain. Being bathed in EMF’s all night can cause psychological stresses, including hallucinations.

Most of our cases do not show any real evidence of ghostly presence. Often, however, clients don’t want to hear that. They’ve already decided their house/place of business is haunted and my team’s job is to find dazzling evidence of that haunting. We sometimes disappoint clients.

If you think your home is haunted and want my team, Insight Paranormal, to investigate it, go to our web page,, and request an investigation. I’ll even let you follow me around, as long you don’t jump and scream every time your house creaks.