Meta Story: Paranormal And The Self

Paranormal events in one’s life tend to create more stories through newly-made story tellers than they explain of the meta story being told by the events themselves. In order to possibly get at the meta story, we have to turn our way of listening on its ear. This means not just asking different questions about the events, or of the witnesses, but listening to the story telling in such a way that novel questions reveal themselves. Here are a handful that may spark something in you.

Which Came First: Fairies Or Fairy Lore?

This one may have an answer that a folklorist could speak to. We know that there are documented cases of fairy encounters dating back hundreds of years, but are these the origins of fairy folklore, or a product of it?

I wonder if when we look at documented cases of fairy encounters, we jump to an assumption that the earliest lore also comes from real encounters. Do we have evidence one way or another for the origin of “real” fairy tales? Could it be that these were, for instance, stories told to affect behavior in children, that then were somehow brought to life, either in the context of a tulpa created unconsciously, or as the mask of an intelligence interacting with us as something we can understand? Not just understand, but that will not be confused for anything else in reality, because it’s borrowing from the imaginal? Perhaps an intelligence also interested in affecting our behavior?

Now apply these questions to ufology.

Is Farce The Only Repeating Factor In Paranormal Activity?

The stranger and more nonlinear the paranormal story is the more likely I am to believe it. If it’s a tidy narrative with a beginning, middle, and end spoken with confidence by a person who has an answer for everything, forget it. They’re making it up. Usually this is conscious, but I have encountered at least one man I know for sure who had a bunch of narcissistic paranormal fantasies that resulted from a mental breakdown gone wrong. (Aren’t you supposed to hit bottom and then get real with yourself?)

Many, if not most, lifelong experiencers of high strangeness reading this (and numerous researchers, too) know that just when they think they’ve got this intelligence pegged it throws a curve ball. As me ol’ broadcast partner Jeff Ritzmann likes to say, the paranormal asks us, “Are you sure?” It’s a dare to believe in our certainty.

Certainty. The unknown? Really? Is there anything more certain, more solidly repeatable in any paranormal encounter, than the fact that it’s a farce? I mean right down to the instrumentation used to detect it.

Repeatability as farce is one of my favorite repeating farces in this circus. The challenge to our letting it all ride on logic at life’s craps table extends to how we detect the paranormal through technology. It may be that something like a Frank’s Box, which is clearly a “you hear what you want to hear” wish fulfillment contraption, worked just enough times to get scores of researchers trying it out, only to find that it doesn’t work at all, and then arguing over its validity. Much as psychics say about paranormal/spiritual apparitions not being able to manifest signs of their presence in the room unless everyone is open to it, detection tools only work clearly and definitely if you don’t have any faith in them working at all. It’s the same principle in reverse, isn’t it? A farce of a farce.

And isn’t that also the exact same principle at play with people who “call in” UFOs? Guess what isn’t going to show up if there’s a skeptic ruining the vibe with his case-closed belief? Guess what isn’t going to show up in any definite “this is an alien craft” form in front of true believers, night after night, while the cameras are rolling? (Well… maybe. Just not if they invite a news crew or a mass of people.)

Something may have shown up once or twice–enough times to get a small group interested in repeatedly trying to call them in night after night, only to have them end up “calling in” satellites and airplanes. The phenomenon pulls a disappearing act after a while, leaving a group of people inviting others to their nightly ritual of meditating on mistaken identities. Meanwhile, you know who will have a life-changing experience from that group? It’ll be the skeptic who runs outta there, and, on his way to the car, feeling silly for even coming to this stupid thing, has a female squirrel approach and start talking to him about how these people are nuts, but that’s okay, she collects nuts–something so ridiculous as to not at all seem related to aliens in spaceships and yet it cannot be coincidence. Therefore, the UFO in the sky? ISN’T ALIENS IN SPACESHIPS. And now that I’ve written that very definite answer, squirrel women in space suits will appear to ask me if I want to travel the universe with them in their acorn.

Is Free Will An Illusion In Paranormal Experiences?

As those of you who have encountered something highly strange retell it to your friends, family, and the people at the party turned off by your assumption that this is the time and the place for such a conversation because there’s nothing else to talk about because what else in life could be more important than something you’ve seen and they haven’t that you can’t explain but that they think is delusional because you’re manic and annoying in your insistence that they listen when all they want to do is talk about how much they hate Tom Brady?–Yeah, YOU. Ask yourself this:  Did you have a choice in what seemed like a free will situation?

How many witnesses to the strange say, “I could have done such-and-such, but I didn’t.” It begs the question, Could you have, or did it just feel that way?

I had the ultimate I AM identity experience of being/seeing nothingness become consciousness and then manifest the universe, which is also me, and which sounds like it unfolded linearly, but actually is always already happening right now. Immediately following the experience I intuited a choice: live as that onenessy nondual now guy or come back to normal. I chose normal so that I could write about it–bring my message to my people, as it were. But guess who cares about that? No one! Because I’m me!

No one wants to hear from a self-promoting hypocrite about oneness and joy and love. Unless I’m wrong, in which case, won’t you please join me at www.ourundoing.com? Monthly membership is now available.

The point is, it was, perhaps, a mistake to remain as I am with nonduality as an experience tucked away in the recesses of my awareness, rather than exploding into this dynamic new cave-dwelling character with a wizard beard and yellowed, curling nails that don’t quit. Buuuut… was it? I mean, was the choice real? Or was it that I dragged myself out of nonduality, back into my normal sense of separation, and then choice became a thing again?

The brain, which was transcended and included within the nondual experience, is back at work claiming control as the self and pretending to have a big decision to make. But if the decision of the self is to be annihilated or to live on and “evolve”, when would it ever choose its own demise? You see the problem?

And so this problem very likely translates for all experiences that take you out of yourself. Maybe they take place in some sci fi subspace bubble where you think you’re still in the here and now, but (at least psychically) you’re actually in another realm or a broader bunch of dimensions. Who knows? The question is, does such an experience play out in the only way it can, but when you come back to normal and review it, you think you could have chosen to do something differently?

A common example is not using the cell phone in your hand as a camera to document the occurrence. “Yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it at the time, but I should have done that.” Many a witness kicks herself over this. But don’t kick too hard, lady, you might not have had a choice. In fact, you might not have been in your right mind even though you thought you were. This plays into the age old question, “If anyone else had been there with you, would they have seen the same thing or had the same experience as you?” Getting back to the sense of farce as repeatability, the answer is sometimes no and sometimes yes.

***

What do these three big questions drive toward? What’s the story they are telling if we know how to read? Isn’t it that we cannot trust anything?

We know we can’t trust high strangeness phenomena to present anything conclusively real in the way our culture demands. In fact, we can’t even trust its presentation as anything other than a representation plucked from our own minds. And now we see that we cannot trust ourselves, either. We can’t trust our evidence for very long; we can’t trust the stability of our sense of self in the situation; we can’t trust our choices. This leads many of us to grow frustrated and wonder why this intelligence is hiding and manipulating us if it isn’t malevolent. Some call it toxic. Is it toxic or is it pointing out our toxicity?

Ours is a selfish culture. We believe in the individual, the self, and we believe that this self is moving through time and, with any bit of luck, evolving through learning, through flashes of insight, and through new experiences. We believe in bettering and furthering the self, not self annihilation. Yet here is a circus of seemingly different phenomena that we call paranormal, psychic, spiritual, ufological, and high strangeness, which really aren’t so different beneath their surface presentations. This thing they have in common is their ability to demolish 1.) our expectations and conclusions regarding them and 2.) our ability to control and catalog them. In other words, our arrogance.

They present. We build up. They let us down. In the beginning we question them, but by the end, they make us question ourselves. Unless we refuse, which makes us delusional, which means we become toxic to ourselves, but with someone or something else to blame.

What’s the story there?

And when do we turn the page?

 

 

 

 

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2018 Paratopia Update (1 of 2)

Aloha, People of Paratopia! Paratopians! Is that still a thing? You bet it is!

Jeff Ritzmann and I are thrilled to announce that the Paratopia Archive has just grown stronger, with the addition of all 13 Paratopia Oculus shows! That’s the 12 you’ve heard, plus a bonus episode that never saw the light of day, until now. So, if you haven’t already, go ahead and purchase the archive. There’s never been a better time. If you have purchased it, head on over and enjoy Paratopia Oculus!

Gee, it’s kinda like we’re cleaning house. Spring cleaning? Hmmm…. Wonder what that could be about. Perhaps we will find out in the next update.

Not So Fast on the UFO Warm Fuzzies

Not So Fast on the UFO Warm Fuzzies

by Guest Blogger,
Ellen Tarr, Ph.D.

On Feb. 19, Motherboard posted an article by Daniel Oberhaus entitled, “This Neuroscientst Wants to Know Why People Who See UFOs Feel So Good.” The interview with Dr. Bob Davis discussed recent results of the FREE (Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters) study. Information about the study as well as results from the Phase 1 and Phase 2 surveys can be found on the FREE website. The finding highlighted in the article and in their first paper is that of 3,057 people studied who have conscious memory of “contact with a physical craft associated with some form of non-human intelligence,” approximately 85% “are being transformed in a very positive behavioral or psychospiritual way.” This is an interesting finding, and even Davis points out that is wasn’t what was expected. However, there are a number of reasons these claims should be interpreted with caution and at least a little skepticism.

First, it is unclear from the information available how many people were really included in the study. Phase 1 and Phase 2 results show 2,658 and 1,792 respondents, respectively, although most questions were not answered by this many individuals. It is unclear how they arrived at the 3,057 people mentioned. The total from both phases would be 4,450, but it is likely some of the respondents participated in both phases. This could result in the lower number, but the section of the paper describing the methods does not include this information. It is standard practice when reporting survey results to report how many people answered the survey as well as how many surveys were used in the data analysis. It isn’t unusual to have exclusion criteria, but they need to be stated. The Appendix gives an N of 2,990, also with no explanation of how the number was obtained. To give benefit of the doubt, let’s assume for the remainder of this article that surveys from 3,057 unique respondents were analyzed in the study.

Second, the authors need to differentiate between the “study population” and the number of people responding to a given question when reporting their results. For example, 85% of the study population would be 2,598 individuals. This “major positive behavioral transformation” was represented by an answer of “strong increase” to items, including: concern with spiritual matters, desire to help others, compassion for others, appreciation of the ordinary things in life, ability to love others, concern for ecological matters, an understanding of “What is Life all about,” understanding of others, and conviction that there is life after death. I identified 28 items in the Phase 2 study that seemed to directly address these issues. These had an average “strong increase” response rate of 49%. Similarly, “strong decrease” responses to some questions was also evidence of a positive transformation: concern with material things, interest in organized religion, and fear of death. The average “strong decrease” to six items I identified was 42%.  It is possible that different respondents answered “strong increase/decrease” for different items, such that 85% of individuals responded this way to at least one of the questions, but the provided data don’t address this. The average overall response rate for these questions was 77% of the 1,792 Phase 2 respondents, so even if all of them had answered “strong increase,” it would not be enough to be 85% of the study population (3,057 respondents).

In the paper that is available from the website, they specifically report state that, “Overall, 50.9% reported a ‘Highly Positive Effect’ and 21.7% reported a ‘Slightly Positive Effect’ on ‘changing their life’ directly from their UFO-NHI interaction. In contrast, only 4.3% reported a ‘Highly Negative Effect” and 6.7% a “Slightly Negative Effect’.” These appear to be the responses for Q415 of the Phase 2 survey, which had only a 74% response rate. Combining the two positive responses, the reader might think that 72.6% of the 3,057 respondents (2,219) reported a positive impact on their life when instead, it is 72.6% of 74% of 1,792 (Phase 2 respondents), which is 963 individuals. Q99 on the Phase 1 survey was similar, and approximately 64% gave a “positive effect” response; the overall response rate for the question was 48%, so this was only 31% of the Phase 1 respondents.

A third major issue is the lack of controlling which respondents answer follow-up questions. The results are supposed to be for people “who have reported to have had unidentified flying object (UFO) related contact experiences with non-human intelligence (NHI).” However, it isn’t clear that analyzed responses were only given by people who claim to have had this type of experience. Only 924 people claimed there was a craft or ship associated with the ET contact experience (Phase 2, Q41), and only 553 and 708 claimed to recall being on UFO in Phase 1 and Phase 2, respectively (Phase 1, Q97; Phase 2, Q42). Only 1,275 claimed to have observed and NHI entity/ET (Phase 1, Q79), and 1,850 claimed to have seen an intelligently controlled craft in the sky or on the ground (Phase 1, Q14). There are numerous cases within the survey where more people responded to follow-up questions about a specific type of experience than had claimed to have had the experience. For example, 211 respondents reported having sex with an ET and 236 gave answers regarding what type of ET they had sex with. The likelihood that many items include responses from people who did not have the experience calls many results into question. Survey programs (such as SurveyMonkey used in the study) provide the ability to use skip logic to allow only those who respond a certain way to one question to see related questions. This problem could have been avoided if the authors had just taken the time to design the survey appropriately.

My fourth point relates to exclusion criteria. The methods section states that, “All subjects included in this study reported that they have never been diagnosed with a mental illness by a licensed mental health professionl [sic].” This is the only exclusion criterion mentioned, although there is no explanation of how many respondents were excluded for this reason. It seems unlikely that no one with a mental health diagnosis even tried to take the survey. While it is understandable to exclude those with mental health issues, it has direct implications for interpreting the results regarding positive impact of contact. Individuals who have had UFO/ET contact that has been very negative, even traumatic, may be more likely to have PTSD, anxiety (including a panic disorder), and/or depression. Excluding these individuals has a high probability of biasing the results toward individuals whose experiences were less negative/traumatic.

For my final point, I’m going to overlook the myriad problems with the survey itself and the analysis (much of it not discussed here), and accept for the moment that the “positive transformation” finding is valid. A positive transformation can, however, occur following a negative experience. One can imagine a renewed appreciation for life and what it has to offer following a serious accident or major illness. Should the accident or illness itself then be interpreted as a positive experience? I hesitate to advocate for that interpretation.

While it is tempting to conclude from these survey responses that contact experiences are overwhelmingly positive, negative experiences should not be ignored. As SNL points out, for every two people having these positive experiences, there is a Ms. Rafferty saying, “Yeah, a little different for me.”