Project Oculus: Paranormal Windows

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.

https://www.gofundme.com/24hyx54c

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.

You Can’t Catch Alzheimer’s Disease, Can You?

You Can’t Catch Alzheimer’s Disease, Can You?

By Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, PhD.

Transmissible ADAlzheimer’s disease (AD) does not spread from person to person like a cold virus, but some recent findings suggest the unsettling possibility it might be transmitted through medical procedures (1).

Deadly diseases have been transmitted through medical procedures such as blood transfusions, organ transplants and surgery.  In fact, this new concern about AD was sparked by the grim legacy of a past medical practice in which hormone preparations obtained from human cadavers were injected into children who were not growing normally.  What the physicians did not know at the time was that pathologic prions, abnormally shaped proteins producing the rapidly lethal neurodegenerative illness known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), contaminated some of these hormone preparations.  Over two hundred cases of fatal CJD appeared ultimately in patients who had received cadaveric growth hormone supplements (2).

An unforeseeable sequence of events is thought to have led to the cadaveric growth hormone therapy tragedy.  CJD is a rare disease most often appearing in persons over age 60 (3).  Although clinically obvious CJD is rare, protein mis-folding occurs spontaneously during normal aging and many outwardly healthy persons die with some pathologic prions in their brains.  Perhaps these individuals would have succumbed to CJD if they had lived a little longer.  Hormone therapy necessitated pooling pituitary tissue from large numbers of deceased donors some of whom probably harbored toxic CJD prions without exhibiting any signs or symptoms of disease.  Unfortunately, over 200 hormone recipients received enough pathologic prions during their treatments to develop CJD in short order.

Examination of brain tissue samples from a small group of the growth hormone recipients who died of CJD revealed half of them had amyloid deposits reminiscent of those found in AD patients.  However, these patients were much younger than the typical AD patient and finding such amyloid deposits in them was unexpected.  After ruling out the possibility the results could be explained by genetic mutations linked producing early onset AD, the investigators recognized there was an alarming possibility some CJD prion-contaminated growth hormone injections also transmitted this key pathologic change linked to AD dementia as well.

Another medical procedure, transplantation of cadaveric dura mater, the tough outer covering of the brain, has also been recognized to have transmitted CJD.  A second study of several deceased CJD patients who had received transplants of cadaveric dura mater (the tough outer covering of the brain) revealed the presence of AD amyloid pathology in some of them.  The observations may be explained in several ways, but the results are consistent with the idea that that dura mater transplants also promoted amyloid pathology development.

These new observations have potentially staggering implications.  Scientists do not know how prions produce the massive neurodegeneration characteristic of CJD, but they have convincing evidence the process begins when a normal protein changes its shape.  These abnormal prions seed and spread this neurotoxic change throughout the brain by initiating a relentless chain reaction which forces their remaining normal relatives to adopt the pathologic shape.  The toxic seeds may appear spontaneously, but CJD has been confirmed to have been transferred through several types of medical interventions including contaminated growth hormone injections, surgical procedures and transplants.  Pathological changes associated with several neurodegenerative disorders may spread through the brain using similar prion-like mechanisms (4), prompting concern that medical procedures could also spread AD and other conditions as well.  Discovering some recipients of cadaveric growth hormones and dura mater grafts who died of CJD (5) also had amyloid deposits suggests these treatments introduced the seeds necessary to initiate both CJD and AD-like pathologic changes.

CJD is a rare disease and to see an explosion of cases due to hormone replacement therapy and transplants was shocking.  Cadaveric pituitary hormone replacement therapy was eliminated over 30 years ago when brain extracts were supplanted by synthetic preparations and dura mater grafts are no longer performed.  While the epidemic of induced CJD seems to have subsided, the question now is whether another problem has been exposed.  AD is a far more common affliction than CJD, suggesting that hormone replacement injections and transplants were much more likely to have introduced amyloid seeds than CJD prions.  The true proportion of persons injected with cadaveric hormones or receiving dura mater transplants who consequently developed amyloid deposits in their brains is unknown.  This group is still comparatively young and only a small number of them have come to autopsy and been studied to date.  Conceivably a high proportion of them are incubating prions today and could go on to ultimately develop dementia or suffer the toxic effects of amyloid deposits.

Unfortunately, because AD is widespread, if the ideas as to how this pathology extends itself are correct the number of persons being seeded with toxic amyloid through medical procedures might be enormous.  Pathologic prions are notoriously difficult to inactivate (6) and with neurosurgery where there is a high risk they might be present, stringent methods are employed to prevent their spread.  Because pathologic prions are so tough to eliminate there is a possibility that medical protocols performed with less stringent precautions such as general surgery conducted at other body sites, transplants and blood transfusions have all been inadvertently spreading the seeds of toxic amyloid.  It is important to note that what has been seen in the deceased pituitary hormone and dura mater graft recipients is not precisely AD, but an apparent transmission of amyloid pathology similar to that typical of demented patients.  In addition, to date only brain-associated materials have been identified as a possible source of putatively neurotoxic amyloid seeds.  However, even if ‘only’ an amyloid pathology was seeded and spread within these patients, such deposits are potentially toxic and therefore cause for great concern.

AD is not contagious, but is it transmissible by medical procedures?  At this point we still have only a vague understanding of the natural history of prion diseases.  Newly arising information suggests a pathological change linked to AD, amyloid deposits, could be seeded or accelerated by some invasive medical interventions, but the frequency of such events and the degree of threat posed by them is uncertain.  Work is in progress to confirm these observations and establish their potential implications for human health

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(1)   A. Abbott.  2016. The red-hot debate about transmissible Alzheimer’s.  Nature 16 March 2016. http://www.nature.com/news/the-red-hot-debate-about-transmissible-alzheimer-s-1.19554

(2)   B. S. Appleby et al.  2013.  Iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from commercial cadaveric human growth hormone.  Emerging Infectious Disease. 19(4): 682–684. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647424/)

(3)   Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Fact Sheet.  http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cjd/detail_cjd.htm

(4)   G. Miller. 2009.  Could they all be prion diseases? Science 326:1337-1339.  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/326/5958/1337.full

(5)   A. Abbott.  2016.  More evidence emerges for ‘transmissible Alzheimer’s’ theory.  Nature 26 January 2016. http://www.nature.com/news/more-evidence-emerges-for-transmissible-alzheimer-s-theory-1.19229

(6)   D. Dormont.  2002.  Prion diseases: Pathogenesis and public health concerns. FEBS Letters 529:17-21.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/S0014-5793(02)032684/abstract;jsessionid=A70616D5CBA695BB66402DBAB86FBBEC.f04t02

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The Untold Limits of Science In “Alien Abduction”

ImageThe sciences are all about repeatability and categorization. This is how scientists come to know the world. But if there is an independent (or interdependent) intelligence behind so-called “alien abductions” and associated phenomena, two things and only two things are clear about it: It doesn’t care what we call it. And defining it has no bearing on our relationship with it. Our wondering at its facade is our own hangup. What unfolds between us is what we share.

No, the enigmatic other doesn’t give a whit if we think it’s an alien, a time traveller, a demon, a fairy, an angel, a ghost, schizophrenia, a dream, alive or dead. It doesn’t care to correct us, and truly, our interactions with this intelligence have nothing to do with categorization. Repeatability is a different question we’ll get into shortly.

In fact, let’s go one step deeper. It does not matter what experiencers name these beings, think we know about them, where they’re from, and all that. The thing that does not matter, then, is our certainty and our uncertainty. If you handle your experiences with certainty that these are alien doctors studying us and I handle mine by saying I don’t know anything, that these beings are a mystery… does it matter to the beings at all? Do we not end up in the same place?

If what we claim to know about them or not know about them doesn’t affect the experiencing of these things at all, then perhaps science as it currently stands cannot give us a proper framework to explore this, for our “objective” and “subjective” stances carry equal weight in the eyes of these beings. Perhaps that’s why they engage equally with one who thinks they’ve got it all figured out, one who believes they know at least something about it, and one who says they don’t know anything. At the end of the day, maybe factual knowledge has little correlation with our personal growth. This is a different kind of school than we’re used to–intellectual education need not apply. Maybe that is because these interactions transcend the rational and so cannot fully be captured by intellect.

Can’t be captured by it but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an anchor point in the rational. Nature unfolds along a “transcend and include” model. Transrationality, then, has a rational component to it. Perhaps repeatability is that component but it is hidden beneath the multitudes of subjective facades, individual and cultural. Perhaps we’re studying the wrong thing, trying to figure out what a ghost is, an alien, a mothman, and so forth. If these are subjective masks on the walls of our personal caves in our personal hero journeys then we need to look elsewhere for the objective thing. Might it be found in the result of the interactions? That is, the result of walking through the cave of masks and coming out the other side?

Who is that person? How does s/he differ from the one who tiptoed in?

When dealing with the seemingly unknowable, theories based on facades always crumble into belief. This is because researchers tend to stick to their theories until proven wrong, which they will not be, by definition. So if you believe, for example, in malevolent space vampires feeding off our negative emotions then any positive outcome for the experiencer will be seen as a trick from the advanced ghouls. But I haven’t known anyone who hasn’t grown more empathetic at least toward Earth and Nature as a result of their experiences be they positive or negative. Be they following the script of “alien doctor”, “space vampire”, “space brother”, friend, foe, or indifferent. How have we ignored this for so long?–That people whose experiences do not logically lead to empathy for Nature do just that? It’s a non sequitur that has been overlooked because it is a clue to an answer that is culturally more uncomfortable than even the dreaded “alien abduction” Hollywood punchline.

It all ends the same. The experiencer ends up caring deeply about the fundamentals of us all. Literally, our roots. The ground itself is sacred ground. People we can take or leave–but plants? Animals? The air? We cared before global warming was cool. But we didn’t care and mostly still do not know how to care as deeply as First Peoples around the world–and perhaps that’s why we have a different relationship with this enigmatic other than do they. We have different needs in terms of growth.

It is taken as a given that if intelligent beings far more ancient than seems possible given the track we’re on discovered us, they’d ignore us, kill us, enslave us, inject their technology into our system to help advance us, or observe us at a distance. The more hopeful among us believe they’d share information with us. That’s all fantasy based on the notion that how we are right now is the pinnacle of what it means to be human. It’s the fallacy of the intellect being the priority of the universe. I submit to you that what we are actually observing is an interaction wherein the importance of intellect is being negated.We are being show that the wholeness of being has an intellectual component, but it transcends this component. Perhaps knowledge, that most sacred grail of science, is only ever a local phenomenon. It is… ironically… subjective to our species and our time.

If the universal constant to sentient life is not a restless intellectual learning by doing and repeating, but a fuller, wordless intelligence and complete satisfaction in being… then if I were such a being I would only be interested in creating equals out of people from wherever who had that same spark. Because being is indivisible. That spark is the light. That light is one light. One light beaming out from behind different masks whether we’ve discovered it or not. And when we do discover it… What happens when we do? What happens when the faces we wear slough off?

What happens when they don’t?