Sunday, 6 April 2014

Why Psychics Don't Win Lotteries

     Readers of this blog will be aware that I consider there to be adequate evidence for extra-sensory perception (ESP), or clairvoyance. So this raises the question - the $64,000 question - which skeptics always introduce: how come these "psychics" never seem to win the lottery? Is there some special dispensation to the rest of us that they are unable to use it for their own advantage? Well, apart from the possibility that some of them might just be doing so, the short answer is: the skeptics are mostly right. 90% - perhaps 99% - of professional psychics are either outright charlatans or self-deluded. But what about the small residue of genuine cases? To answer that, just look at the claims. The most plausible psychic anecdotes - the ones most likely to be true - fall into two categories. The first involves sudden flashes of insight, usually involving danger or disaster. The second involves vague impressions induced by the presence of a person or an object - sufficient to predict being decorated by the King some time in the indefinite future, but not good enough to determine whether you will gain the latest promotion, let alone next week's winning lottery numbers. To put it bluntly, nobody's psychic powers are that strong. If you don't believe me, just ask the U.S. intelligence services

Friday, 7 March 2014

Smoke Billowing from the Newspaper

     In my last post, I detailed John Heymer's research proving that people do, in fact, burst into flame for no obvious reason - and in front of others, as well. Mr Heymer insists, nevertheless, that he does not believe in the supernatural; everything that happens must be the result of natural laws. Well, yes. We can't argue with that. Unless we are talking about miracles ie the Divine Programmer applying the manual override function to the universe, then everything must be the result of some law. It begs the question, however, whether we know enough of the laws, by-laws, and regulations of the universe to explain everything.
     There was, for example, one incident which really puzzled him. In December 1994, he had appeared on a TV program, "Schofield's Quest" to discuss spontaneous human combustion, and requested feedback. That inspired an elderly couple to come forth with an account of what had happened to them three years before.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Flames Roaring Out of Her Mouth

In this present-day know-it-all scientific age, a woman can erupt into flame in the full view of witnesses and her body be ravaged with flames while sitting on newspapers in a chair and neither the papers nor the chair suffer any fire damage, and the facts will be denied in a coroner's court because such things cannot be.
     That comment came from page 185 of The Entrancing Flame by John E. Heymer (Little, Brown and Company, 1996). I had finally got around to reading it, and it took me by surprise. For those unfamiliar with the concept, spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a phenomenon assumed to have taken place because the victims are burned to ashes without any obvious source of fire, and with the damage limited to the body and the seat to which it was attached, and everything else in the room being untouched - including the victim's legs, which are presumed to have been out of the circle of combustion. But this was the first time I was aware that the phenomenon had been actually witnessed.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

They Saw It Coming

     I've boarded more long distance flights, both international and domestic, than I can count, and suffered nothing worse than a missed connection. I never worry about them. I never have premonitions - about aircraft, or anything else. That is why I occasionally ponder this proposition: suppose the night before a fully prepaid flight, with a fully prepaid package holiday waiting at the other end, I had a vivid dream of a crash, what would I do?
     I happen to know that premonitions of disaster are one of the most commonly reported psychic phenomena. And I have already explained why the glib explanations of coincidence or the manifestation of prior anxiety fail to hold water. It is probably part of our in-built survival mechanism.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Of Course, Santa Claus Can Do It!

     All of you will be familiar with Clement Moore's famous Christmas poem, and no doubt most of you call it The Night Before Christmas. However, its correct title is An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, and that is how the visitor is identified throughout. Perhaps a brief background in linguistics might clarify the situation. In English we shorten 'Nicholas' to 'Nick'. Likewise, the Dutch shorten 'Nicklaas' to 'Klaas'. Thus, 'Sinter Klaas', or St Nick, has been Anglicized as 'Santa Claus'. This is important to remember, because at this time of year a lot of cynical, rationalistic, materialistic people come out and pontificate that Santa Claus could not possibly, in the course of a single extended night, cover the whole of the world - or at least that part which celebrates Christmas.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Even Stranger Visitors

     In last month's post I recounted the Very Strange Visitors received by one ufologist, and promised that the next post would detail even stranger visitors. Indeed, the victim this time was not a ufologist, but she was inflicted a potentially fatal disease by visitors who did not appear to be flesh and blood.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Very Strange Visitors

     "Men in Black" were an unusual feature of the North American UFO scene in the early years, and have not completely disappeared. Dressed in dark suits, and driving black cars, they would descend, usually in pairs, upon UFO witnesses or investigators, making unspecific threats which were never carried out. One suggestion involves investigators/witnesses accidentally crossing paths with government agents undertaking investigations of their own. Add a certain degree of paranoia, and a cultural myth has started. It sounds plausible, but I shall leave it to those more familiar with the subject than I. Nevertheless, once in a while a well documented case turns up which is really, really strange.