The active search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been ongoing for half a century. To date, no ET signals from stellar systems have ever been detected.

Paranormal hallucinations are due to a variation in a fold at the front of the brain called the paracingulate sulcus (PCS).  This brain variation, which is present in roughly half of the normal population, is one of the last structural folds to develop before birth and for this reason varies greatly in size between individuals in the healthy population.  People with an absence of the PCS are significantly less accurate on memory tasks than people with a prominent PCS. 

Everyone loves a mystery. Solve one in science, and accolades are forthcoming. Not so, however, in the realm of the paranormal, where evidence, logic, and theories are often stood on their heads. Whereas forensic scientists, say, begin with the evidence and let it lead to the most likely solution to a mystery, parascientists typically begin with the desired answer and work backward to the evidence, employing confirmation bias: They look for that which seems to confirm their prior-held belief and seek to discredit whatever—or whoever—would argue against it.

For example, in the paranormal field of cryptozoology, the study of hidden or unverified animals, proponents of Bigfoot offer a large quantity of evidence. Unfortunately, it is of very poor quality: eyewitness reports, footprint casts, hair samples—just what is attributable to misperception or deception. It is all questionable evidence because, hoaxes aside, neither a live Bigfoot nor a carcass nor even a DNA specimen is available for scientific study.

The same situation holds true for other claims. They include psychic phenomena; ghosts, poltergeists, and demons; flying saucers and aliens; cryptids, such as the Loch Ness monster; spontaneous human combustion; faith healing and weeping statues; the Devil’s Triangle; and so on and on. Mainstream science has not verified as genuinely paranormal any of these objects, entities, or occurrences.

Parascientists usually take a different tack. For them, investigation is not a quest to explain a mystery (what they deride as “trying to explain it away”) but rather to collect mysteries about whatever paranormalities they believe in, by which they hope to convince others there must be something to it. In short, they are not detectives but mystery mongers.

For them, the mystery is essentially an end point rather than a beginning. If it is not readily explained, they do not blame a lack of evidence; instead they suppose thereby that something has been established: “We don’t know what caused oil to appear on the statue; therefore, it must be a sign from God.” But this is a type of logical fallacy known as argumentum ad ignorantiam, an argument from ignorance—that is, drawing a conclusion from a lack of knowledge. One cannot say “We don’t know” and then assert that therefore we do know.

And yet that very faulty reasoning is behind most paranormal claims: “We can’t explain what caused a; therefore, it’s likely b,” where a is a hairy-monster sighting or hovering light or an unexpected medical cure, and b is presumed to be, respectively, a Bigfoot, or flying saucer, or miracle. Actually it might instead be, again respectively, an upright-standing bear, Venus seen through layers of atmosphere, or the result of prior medical treatment.

The history of parapsychology is replete with ‘successful’ experiments that subsequently could not be replicated. Pointing out that so-called remote viewing and other supposed forms of ESP were defined negatively—that is, as an effect remaining after other normal explanations had supposedly been eliminated, a mere glitch in the experimental data could thus be counted as evidence for psychic phenomena. What is needed, of course, is a positive theory of psychic functioning that enables us to tell when psi is present and when it is absent.  Every other discipline that claims to be a science deals with phenomena whose presence or absence can clearly be decided.

This requirement—this need—for positive rather than negative evidence is ignored or dismissed by the mystery mongers. In the titles of their books and TV documentaries, they trot out such words as unsolved, unexplained, unknown—presenting not mysteries to be investigated and solved but supposedly eternal enigmas that prove (by arguing from ignorance) the existence of the paranormal.

Perhaps nowhere is negative evidence sought and promoted more avidly than by UFOlogists, whose very subject of study begins with the word unidentified. Prominent among such collectors was Charles Fort (1874–1932). Sometimes considered the “first” UFOlogist, Fort was an armchair purveyor of strange mysteries. Having come into an inheritance that allowed him to indulge his hobby, he spent his last twenty-six years scouring old periodicals for reports of unusual occurrences—including anomalous aerial phenomena—that he taunted “orthodox” scientists to explain. Not only was his evidence anecdotal and his approach non-investigative, but his documentation was not always completely accurate.

Nevertheless, Fort is the darling of many UFOlogists and other collectors of phenomena that supposedly “defy natural explanation,” what they term “Fortean phenomena” or “Forteana,” named after him.

One of history’s top UFOlogists was astronomer J. Allen Hynek (1910–1986), once a consultant and self-claimed “debunker” on the U.S. Air Force’s UFO-investigating Project Blue Book. Hynek (1977, 7–9, 17) became impressed that, at first, 23 percent of UFOs he studied remained “unknowns” and—going on to found the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS)—he embraced the negative evidence: The transformation from skeptic to—no, not believer because that has certain “theological” connotations—a scientist who felt he was on the track of an interesting phenomenon was gradual, but by the late ’60’s it was complete. Today I would not spend one additional moment on the subject of UFOs if I didn’t seriously feel that the UFO phenomenon is real and that efforts to investigate and understand it, and eventually to solve it, could have a profound effect—perhaps even be the springboard to a revolution in man’s view of himself and his place in the universe.

Hynek nevertheless grew cautious about the extraterrestrial hypothesis, noting that it “runs up against a very big difficulty, namely, that we are seeing too many UFOs. The earth is only a spot of dust in the Universe. Why should it be honored with so many visits?” Instead, he said, “I am more inclined to think in terms of something metaterrestrial, a sort of parallel reality,” positing “that UFOs are related to certain psychic phenomena” (qtd. in Story 2001, 252). Thus he tried to “explain” one unknown by invoking another!

Today, UFOlogists such as Peter B. Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), believe that the great number of unidentifieds indicate at least something momentous is behind them. Given “impressive quantities of principally eyewitness data,” says Davenport, while most eyewitness descriptions are of poor quality, “many of the high-quality sighting reports involve certain objective aspects, which, to an open-minded bystander, are quite impressive.” He adds, “Strong evidence suggests that we are dealing with a phenomenon that is being caused by palpable solid objects whose characteristics are not of human design, and whose behavior is suggestive of intelligent control” (qtd. in Story 2001, 150). He is, of course, hinting at extraterrestrials—albeit coyly—while the “objects” remain unidentified.

Another who cites the unexplained nature of UFOs is Richard Hall, a UFO advocate associated with such groups as MUFON and CUFOS. He emphasizes, “Among the hundreds of so-called ‘UFO reports’ each year, a sizeable fraction of those clearly observed by reputable witnesses remain unexplained—and difficult to explain in conventional terms.” He believes that “Collectively, these cases constitute a genuine scientific mystery, badly in need of well-supported, systematic investigation.” Again he says, “The circumstantial—and sometimes physical—evidence indicates that something real is going on for which no satisfactory explanation currently exists.”

Hall believes that mistaken observations of terrestrial objects as well as “hoaxes/imagination” are to be rejected as explanations because both are “inapplicable to the hard-core unexplained cases.” He prefers instead the possibility of “so-called ‘nuts and bolts’ visitors from elsewhere” (qtd. in Story 2001, 239).

Even vacillating UFOlogist/folklorist Thomas E. Bullard (2010, 311) suggests—at least tentatively:  Investigators of current and historical UFO reports have sifted out cases with sufficient credible evidence to qualify as defensible. These cases suggest that the character of UFO narratives depends in some part on the character of UFO events, and those events owe their character to a source independent of UFO mythology. . . . Even allowing for human fallibility and self-deception, a genuine mystery seems to be left over.

Bullard is clearly relying on the process-of-elimination method that is the basis of negative evidence.

Then there is Stanton T. Friedman, who promotes the notion of extraterrestrial visitation with bluster, smoke screens, and ballyhoo. He rationalizes, “I learned early on that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence for absence.” True enough, but then he is still left with absence of evidence. Friedman, a onetime self-described “itinerant nuclear physicist” was fooled by the amateurishly forged “MJ-12 documents” that purported to prove the U.S. government had retrieved a crashed saucer and its humanoid occupants—proof, Friedman believes, that positive evidence has been covered up by a high-level conspiracy (Friedman 1996, 8, 13, 209–219; Nickell with Fischer 1992, 81–105).

The problem with all such grandiose extrapolation from the data is that it lacks positive evidence. No actual flying saucer or extraterrestrial pilot has ever been captured—notwithstanding hoaxes, folktales, and conspiracy claims. There are only eyewitness reports, photos, ground traces, and the like—all of something unidentified.

But don’t all those unidentifieds count for something? Well, quantity is not quality. As extensive evidence shows, cases once touted as unexplained were only that; they were not unexplainable, and, as a matter of fact, many of them have since succumbed to investigation. Not one proved to be anything other than a natural or manmade phenomenon—not such classic cases, for example, as Roswell, Rendlesham Forest, Flatwoods, Kecksburg, Exeter, Phoenix, and Stephenville (Nickell and McGaha 2012; McGaha and Nickell 2011, 2015). Some cases may never be explained because of original eyewitness error, falsified evidence, lack of essential information, or other flaws. For similar reasons some murders remain unsolved, yet we do not consider those cases evidence of a homicide gremlin.

Nothing said so far means we should not continue to investigate unexplained phenomena, including UFOs. After all, onetime skepticism of fiery stones falling from the skies ultimately gave way to proof of meteorites. Science has nothing to fear from the examination of UFO reports, which, to date, have not been useless after all: We have learned much about illusions and misperceptions and fantasy, about personality traits, about rare phenomena such as ball lightning, about the propensity of immature persons to perpetrate hoaxes (skeptics included!), and much more. But investigation must go beyond just collecting negative evidence. It must represent a real attempt to solve—that is, to explain—a mystery.

Encryption has become a top priority for those wanting to protect their privacy online, but the security measure makes it impossible to detect signals sent from aliens.

If you have an an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there’s only one small period in the development of their society when all their communication will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means.

So when we think about everything that we’re hearing through our satellites or everything that they’re hearing from our civilization, all of their communications are encrypted by default.

Encryption would render communication indistinguishable from cosmic microwave background radiation. If you look at encrypted communication, if they are properly encrypted, there is no real way to tell that they are encrypted. You can’t distinguish a properly encrypted communication from random behavior.

Most people believe in the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH), the hypothesis that some unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are alien-driven physical spacecrafts visiting Earth.  ETH is clearly an emotional idea. There are two sorts of self-deception here: either accepting the idea of extraterrestrial visitation by space aliens in the face of very meager evidence because we want it to be true; or rejecting such an idea out of hand, in the absence of sufficient evidence, because we don’t want it to be true. Each of these extremes is a serious impediment to the study of UFOs.

Some UFO evidence points to ETH. The important implications of ETH are going unconsidered by the scientific community, because this entire problem has been imputed to be little more than a nonsense matter unworthy of serious scientific attention. Despite public interest, NASA considers the study of ETH to be irrelevant to its work, because of the number of false leads that a study would provide, and the limited amount of usable scientific data that it would yield.

Photos of supposed UFOs abound. Most of the time they show dark stains or bright dots in the sky, of varying dimension and quality, which could be due to military aircrafts, weather balloons, birds, meteors, and so it goes. Sometimes the UFO is well focused, but the flying saucer always looks suspiciously similar to a pan lid suspended from a thread or a lamp holder or a wheel cap thrown in the air. And of course today the possibilities for digitally retouching an image are endless.

What are lacking, however, are credible photos of the creatures that should be flying these UFOs, the actual aliens or extraterrestrials. It appears there are no more than fifty such photos shot in the past eighty years, but once you take out those plainly fake and the more suspicious looking ones all you are left with are about ten photos. These are, essentially, mug shots of wanted extraterrestrials.

The Iwase Bunko Library has in its possession a document entitled Hyouryuukishuu (Tales of Castaways), which was printed during the late Edo period (1603-1868). The document recounts the stories of Japanese sailors who find themselves in foreign lands after becoming lost at sea, as well as castaway foreigners washed ashore on the beaches of Japan. To the Japanese people, who at the time had been living in a prolonged period of national isolation, these exotic tales must have seemed very fantastic.

Among these stories is the account of a wrecked ship with a very mysterious appearance.  According to the document, this vessel washed ashore at Harashagahama in Hitachi-no-kuni (present-day Ibaraki prefecture). The body of the ship, described as 3.3 meters tall and 5.4 meters wide, had been built from red sandalwood and iron and was fitted with windows of glass or crystal. The mysterious characters of an unknown alphabet were found inscribed inside the vessel.

Aboard the drifting vessel was a finely dressed young woman with a pale face and red eyebrows and hair. She was estimated to be between 18 and 20 years old. Because she spoke an unfamiliar tongue, those that encountered her were unable to determine from whence she came. In her arms she clutched a plain wooden box that appeared to be of great value to her, as she would allow nobody to approach it. The document shows a portion of the text found inside the ship .

Other Edo-period documents describe variations of this mysterious encounter. Toen Shousetsu (1825), a book by Kyokutei Bakin (who is most famous for his 106-volume samurai epic Nansou Satomi Hakkenden) tells the story of the same encounter, referring to the strange vessel as the utsuro-fune, hollow ship. Another variation of this tale appears in Ume no Chiri (1844), penned by a relatively unknown author named Nagahashi Matajirou. A thorough analysis of these two variations of the story can be found in a translated article by Kazuo Tanaka titled “Did a Close Encounter of the Third Kind Occur on a Japanese Beach in 1803?” Contemporary fans of the paranormal know this ship as the Edo-period UFO.

Sightings of ghosts are mostly the result of optical illusions and hallucinations. Limitations of human perception and ordinary physical explanations can account for ghost sightings, such as air pressure changes in a home causing doors to slam, or lights from a passing car reflected through a window at night.

Pareidolia, an innate tendency to recognize patterns in random perceptions, also causes people to believe that they have seen ghosts. Reports of ghosts seen out of the corner of the eye may be accounted for by the sensitivity of human peripheral vision. Peripheral vision can easily mislead, especially late at night when the brain is tired and more likely to misinterpret sights and sounds.

Changes in geomagnetic fields by tectonic stresses in the Earth’s crust or solar activity could stimulate the brain’s temporal lobes and produce many of the experiences associated with hauntings. Sound is thought to be another cause of supposed sightings. Infrasound can cause humans to experience bizarre feelings in a room, such as anxiety, extreme sorrow, a feeling of being watched, or even the chills. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause changes in perception of the visual and auditory systems, is also a possible explanation for haunted houses.

There are many stories of paranormal paramours. But no one has ever presented anything other than only anecdotal evidence for paranormal sexual encounters. For example, no woman has ever been impregnated by a ghost. The culprit of the Madonna virgin birth was probably a Roman soldier!  There is no single story and therefore there is no single explanation for claims of paranormal paramour.

Barring pranks, a number of possible natural explanations can be posited. Most of these experiences occur at night when the victim is in bed, suggesting that an erotic dream or hallucination has taken place. Such hallucinations are associated with a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis, otherwise known as a waking nightmare.  

Sleep paralysis is a common experience for many people and is also a symptom of the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis is an interruption of the REM stage of sleep; the individual awakens prematurely yet remains in a dreaming state. An episode can present a wide range of visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. This explains many paranormal encounters, from ghost sightings, vampires, and alien abductions.

Attributing sexual dreams or sexual thoughts to a supernatural force is a guiltless absolution for those with moral objections.  Hallucination may also play a role when people believe they’ve experienced a sexual encounter with a deceased lover. The concept of sex after death provides hope that there is life after death and that the pleasures of life are still obtainable in death. 

Past-life regression therapy, repressed memory therapy, hypnosis, guided visualization, trance writing, dream work, and other related pseudoscientific therapies are dangerous for their tendencies to create false memories. Repressed memory therapy has led to the creation of false memories and confabulations of sexual molestation, satanic ritual abuse, and alien abductions. Past-life regression therapy fails to diagnose and treat real physical and psychological conditions.

There are many different modalities and schools of thought in hypnotherapy. In the end, past-life regression therapy comes down to the individual beliefs of the practitioner. Past-life regression therapists are teaching their own personal beliefs, and their clients are being diagnosed and pseudotreated by their own fantasies.


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