Earlier this week on The Experience, Jeff Ritzmann announced a new experiment that we can all partake in to see if we can’t catalog paranormal activity as it happens in his and other experiencers’ homes. He calls it Project Oculus. You can learn more in the video below and by listening to The Experience. (I have given away this week’s show with Jeff and last week’s solo show in their entirety for free to nonsubscribers. You can stream or download them at the link above.) Those are the most entertaining ways to understand the project, but the most direct and most important is to go to Jeff’s GoFundMe page, look it over, and if it sounds like the much-needed shot in the arm of research I believe it is, fund it.
I know that in recent years (and months and days) a number of phonies in ufology have made a mockery out of GoFundMe campaigns–begging for money as if it’s an earned wage. They give you nothing in return. They just… you know… want your money. That is not what this is. This is a real experiment he is really going to do that will yield real results, whatever those may be. Not the promise of something, the delivery of something. And that something may end up being crickets–but they’ll be honest crickets–and even paranormal radio silence yields us a clue.
So let us put on our paranormal detective hats and go all in. Let’s go fund Project Oculus.
Know what I’m sick of in ufology this week? It’s that the old guard is trying to gussy themselves up, polish their dull spots, and present themselves as not-the-problem. They are doing this by mimicking dissenting voices, downplaying hypnosis, and pretending to do scientific studies. It’s as if the world of ufology listened to Paratopia, read Project Core, and said, “I can sound like those guys!”
Listening to Peter Robbins talk about the problems of ufology on Jim Harold’s show is like listening to Jeff Ritzmann or me or a handful of others talk about those same problems–except we’d be naming him as one of the problems. Personality Disclaimer: Peter is a nice guy. I like him personally. This is not mud-slinging. It’s a fact that he is the very thing he’s lamenting in that interview.
Being a part of the solution means actually doing what you say you do–which is following the evidence wherever it leads. Not sounding like you do. Not claiming that you do. Actually doing it. And let’s not get started on feeling compelled to come up with new material to keep your career as a stage performer. I won’t accuse Peter of that, but his friends? Oh, the company he keeps.
But I’m only picking on Peter because I just listened to as much of that show as I could stomach. He’s not the whole of the problem; there are many like him. Some have even banded together to form “new” “scientific” groups doing “never-before-performed” studies and surveys of abductees.
And these fresh faces of the new include the likes of the same-old-shit hypnotists that got us into this mess in the first place. One of them is working on decoding some mathematical equations allegedly given to alien abductees by aliens. This only interests me because an experiencer friend of mine told me back in September that members of his group were also coming back from experiences with equations and he wouldn’t tell me more than that. It was all hush-hush, apparently.
I’m going to go on a limb here and say that in all cases these equations will turn out to be of no consequence whatsoever. But I’m going to give you something to chew on as to why. No, it’s not the Trickster and I won’t make a Stan Romanek joke. It has to do with my last blog post.
If any bookworm out there in ufology is looking for a real clue that you can sink your teeth into to further the investigation into the nature of this stuff, I’m giving it to you free of charge. Unless you think the following is coincidence, someone with a brain please do something with this….
When one takes a dose of a psychedelic ample enough to break through to the crazy carnival of transpersonal mind, the barrier one goes through is a visual of flashing symbols and geometric patterns. It is as if one transcends logical structures to end up in the hyper-real imagination that exists beyond yet inclusive of one’s personal imagination.
When one is on the verge of transcending the personal mind and transpersonal mind–leaving the brain-born and the human collective consciousness for that universal “I Am” nothingness/all things experience in which both minds exist, one receives logical, rational, spontaneous epiphanies and insights into the nature of reality.
Sometimes when one engages with the enigmatic other, often called “alien,” the communication begins with flashing symbols, geometric patterns, and mathematical formulas. And sometimes these are perceived to be “downloads.”
Could it be that in spirituality universal, logical truths come to us not because enlightened beings or god(s) deem us worthy to report such wisdom to our tribe but because that’s the barrier of the brain or of the rigid, rational self caving in?
Could it be that in the psychedelic trip it’s a similar story? A logical breech into the translogical means you see the logical being breeched?
Similar also in the “alien” encounter, which marries the two: an experiencer perceives these beings from on high downloading their brains with symbols or otherwise being shown flashing visuals of physics.
Could these three similar/same types of visuals be what the fabric of reality looks like when the egoic, rigid self is about to transcend its own state and/or its own physics? Do we, in those moments, necessarily see… physics?
There might be something we can grab onto here. At the very least, we can say that when these abductee equations come back as a hodge-podge of stuff we already know, we’ll have another theory to look at besides they’re lying, they’re delusional, or it’s the self-negating principle of Trickster Theory.
And we can now question whether these equations were given to them or were just a natural part of their hyper-real circumstance.
Hyper-real circumstance… hmmm… This means that an alien abduction… ah… how do I put this delicately for the alien crusaders? … Wait for it… –ain’t nuts and bolts aliens here with us in the flesh and blood.
Yes, taking a look at what I just laid out means calling into question the reality in which abductions take place. It may mean there’s no Star Trek-like disclosure coming anytime soon because the abduction or communication–whatever the correct term is at this point–is taking place not in a ship hovering over one’s house, but in a frequency right next to channel normal,which is located just outside the bubble of the brain-born self.
Are the Peter Robbins’ of the world ready to tackle that? Ready to give up the hypnosis crusade and the Rendlesham noise of the dying cottage industry they built or partied in, yet now wish to publicly divorce themselves from?
Project Core – Demarcation and Departure by guest blogger, Tyler A. Kokjohn
Paranormal phenomena encompass a diverse array of experiences that are often considered to be entirely outside the boundaries of science. However, the tools and techniques of scientific investigation are so powerful because they can be applied to many situations and this demarcation is not necessarily sharp. Some cryptozoology research efforts and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are solidly within the scientific mainstream in terms of approach and methodology. While the often fleeting and unpredictable nature of paranormal events complicates their study, it is possible to investigate certain aspects of them scientifically. Project Core was created to initiate that process.
Investigations begin with a question, or as a scientist might put it more properly, a hypothesis. The heart of the scientific method is asking questions that can be answered through direct observation or experiment. The art of the process is ensuring that your approach and answers are unbiased and valid. Some of the challenges are illustrated by a simple experiment I conducted in my own back yard.
The video (below) combines a series of photos taken at one minute intervals over about an hour which shows flower blooms opening up in the morning and moving to face and follow the sun.
How do plants respond to the environment like that? That is a complex problem, but it is possible to reduce the scope of inquiry to an answerable question. Scientists often employ a reductionist approach to break down complicated problems into more manageable smaller pieces. In this case the correlation between sunlight and flower opening leads to a testable hypothesis; exposure to visible light induces flowers to open.
To test my hypothesis I collected two yellow flowers in the morning before they had opened. I placed one under a light indoors and the other inside an adjacent container (a coffee cup with a lid) which I could keep dark. The experiment was started at 8:47 a.m. and was stopped at 9:34 a.m., when I noted almost all the flowers outside had opened up.
The experimental outcomes:
Unfortunately, it seems the original hypothesis that light exposure triggers bloom opening was not supported by the experimental evidence. The flower blossom incubated in light opened up, but because a similar flower held in the dark (the control) also opened up, it seems light exposure had no impact on the bloom opening response.
Case closed? Not exactly, I made a couple of mistakes. The tricky part was trying to do my best to debunk my own investigation to discover any errors in method or logic. To start, I reviewed the rationale for the experiment design. Both orange and yellow flowers were available to me, but I used only yellow flowers from the same small garden area to study. Hopefully, these actions provided experimental subjects that were as similar to each other as possible. That means any activity differences observed during the experiment could confidently be attributed to the differences in the manipulated variables, in this case, light exposure.
The flowers I tested were cut and that meant they were physiologically different from the ones out in the yard with functioning root systems. However, I synchronized my experiment with the bloom opening behavior of the rooted flowers. The cut flowers, including the one in the dark, had also opened at the same time of day. In addition, the fact that cut flower blooms opened suggests that all the necessary systems functioned like those active in the rooted plants. If the cut flowers did not open or did so in a very different time frame it would be a lot more difficult to make a convincing case for functional physiological equivalence. So it appears my reductionist approach using cut flowers mimicked reality closely enough to be useful.
The work began with an obvious correlation between light exposure and bloom opening. However, even the most apparently clear-cut correlations do not necessarily reveal the true underlying causes. To avoid falling prey to the logical fallacy ‘with this, therefore because of this,’ deceptive correlations are rooted out by subjecting them to additional confirmatory tests. However, these tests must be done carefully and their results interpreted skeptically.
There are problems with my study because I was too lax with the self-criticism from beginning to end. I set up and performed the experiment improperly, but failed to notice the error until after the work was completed. Suppose I wanted to submit a manuscript describing this work and my conclusions to a scientific journal for publication. Before it is published, it goes through a peer review in which it is evaluated by anonymous experts chosen by the journal editors. Editors rely on peer reviewers to expose shortcomings in approach or execution.
It is not hard to imagine if I had not noticed the errors and submitted my work for publication, an alert reviewer would probably returned a polite, but devastating, critique of the work and results to the journal editor and me.
The author has failed to test his central hypothesis that light exposure induces closed flower blooms to open. Unfortunately, the collection of flowers seems to have taken place after dawn when all the blooms had already been exposed to indirect light. Perhaps this exposure was sufficient to catalyze petal motion. If so, the observation that a flower incubated in the dark could open is easily explainable as nothing more than experimental artifact. To answer the question, the investigator will need to collect flowers at night and take precautions to ensure the dark controls are incubated without any light exposure.
Without this system of external checks, you can see how easy it would be to make and publish errors. In this case, I did not have a true controlled experiment because of an unnoticed oversight in how I performed the work. That small mistake was the difference between being able to reach a scientifically valid conclusion or not.
With experience a person can get better at developing controlled experiments, but a more insidious danger, confirmation bias, sometimes confounds investigators. Humans are natural story tellers. Accepting the experimental results at face value it was easy to conclude that light exposure has nothing to do with bloom opening. That idea is so seductive because it seems to fit all the observations so well. The problem is that the way I did the work makes it impossible to reach any experimentally-validated conclusion at all about the impact of light on bloom opening. I quit being skeptical too soon. Believing the results of a single shoddy experiment, I then built a tidy global narrative as to how the whole process worked. But note how I began by investigating one hypothesis (light exposure induces bloom opening) and ended up answering a different one (light exposure has nothing to do with bloom opening). These subtle shifts and circular logic traps can be extremely hard to recognize because few stories appeal to us more than the ones we create ourselves. Poor experiment design is troublesome, but lethal confirmation bias may emerge at any point in the investigation process. Even liberal applications of Occam’s Razor may not prevent biased investigators from extracting preconceived answers out of uncorroborated correlations and poorly executed experiments. If a mainstream scientist is skillful or simply lucky, he or she recognizes any errors and corrects them before proceeding to publication. If not, a peer reviewer will probably be delighted to expose them.
Creating and evaluating hypotheses by confronting them with data demands proficiency, patience and determined ruthlessness. Hypotheses for which no properly controlled, reproducible supporting evidence can be developed must be modified, put aside or rejected. The process is sometimes so tricky that scientists do not trust themselves to do it properly every time. That’s why they employ peer review to check their work.
Aspects of paranormal phenomena can be reduced to experimentally tractable questions. The Project Core survey is best viewed as a departure point to construct hypotheses to be confirmed or refuted through additional work. Some potential lines of inquiry are already clear. We invite you to explore the questions posed in the Project Core survey as well as develop new testable hypotheses, the ultimate peer review.
The inherent challenge of paranormal phenomena investigation suggests that many attempts to describe and comprehend them may be deemed crude and unsatisfactory. We should anticipate needing to systematically eliminate biases, refine ideas and explore alternative approaches as new data and insightful constructive criticisms dictate.