H2O Equals Extraterrestrial Life; Why the Search for Water Brings ET Closer

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration declared on July 31 of 2008, that their $420 million (US) dollar Phoenix Mars Lander had struck gold.  Or rather they found, through a complex process of gas vapour analysis, that there is in fact water on the Martian surface.[1]

So what’s the big deal you say?  After all, 71% percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in Water, or a total liquid volume of approximately 1,360,000,000 km³.  All mammalian life on Earth is roughly 60% water.  More than half of human food sources come directly from bodies of water, and the rest depends on water for growth, development or refinement.   So, water in-and-of-itself is pretty important, but who cares if NASA’s fancy robot found a little bit on a planet that’s more than a million kilometres away?

Before we get to that, let’s clear up a few facts about what was found.  After a number of attempts to analyse frozen soil from a two inch deep trench dug by the Lander, success was finally achieved as the soil was exposed to surface “air” for two days, allowing the soil to thaw (in effect) to a point that the sample could be manipulated by the Lander’s instruments.  This finding corroborated earlier findings by both the Mars Odyssey Orbiter, and by the Phoenix Lander itself earlier in the mission; both units found evidence of frozen water on the surface of Mars through visual examination, but the July 31 finding is physical contact and analysis of actual Martian Water.

If water on Mars means little to you, then maybe something a little closer to home would be more compelling.  In hot pursuit of the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1, which was successful in identifying deposits of water on the lunar surface this past September, NASA has recently focused the might of their scientific attention on the Moon’s Polar Regions, in hopes of confirming and testing the Chrandrayaan-1 findings.

The search for interstellar water has culminated in a series of unmanned NASA missions to the moon, notably the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, which provided much the same results as the Chandrayaan-1 mission, and in the wake of those successes, NASA officials have done the unimaginable, or so many people believe.  They bombed the Moon.[2]

Now, while I appreciate and even sympathise with the subsequent movement which criticises NASA for such seemingly aggressive action against our closest galactic neighbour, I do understand their reasons, and I also understand that what they did was not a bombing.  The reality of the LCROSS Mission is that, in simple terms, they simply crashed a small satellite into the southern pole region.  There were no explosives involved; there was no great weapon and no intent to harm an otherwise inanimate celestial body.  Despite the truth, a great many people are displeased with the methods of the LCROSS Mission and unfortunately, the real story is being lost in the propaganda.[3]

That real story is significant and I must say that I’m confused about the public’s general lack of regard for the impact of these discoveries.  The real story is an answer to the one question that first propelled man into the heavens; is there life elsewhere in the universe?

I imagine there are a few people still wondering how water comes to equal an increased probability of extraterrestrial life in the universe, and the simple answer is, there is no simple answer.  As a crude explanation, one could say that water creates a sort of embryonic environment for single celled organisms, much as our oceans have done for millions of years.  Of course there is a lot more to it than that.

The reason NASA began the search for water in the first place, was part of a fast moving cosmically-political shift in thinking, away from searching for little green men and their errant radio signals, to a much more focused and logical search for life, in any form, on planetary objects that are close enough to observe in detail.

There are several reasons why Mars was the most logical place to direct that focus; the fact that it resides within the habitable zone of solar radiation in our solar system, the fact that it’s close enough to Earth to be reached by humanity in a reasonable amount of time, and the fact that it very closely resembles Earth in composition and size, to name a few.  But while NASA’s P-R machine had the world’s attention set squarely on Mars, they were quietly discussing the possibility that the same potential for life could exist on our very own moon.

On our quest to define why extraterrestrial water is so important to the search for life in the universe, we have to take a much closer look at some of the life that exists on Earth.  Micro biology is an area of physical science that gets little to no spotlight recognition.  It isn’t particularly exciting, unless you happen to be a micro biologist; it isn’t particularly fast moving, especially in comparison to cosmology, but it does have a few things going for it.

Within the classification index of all known life on Earth, there are many branches of biological diversity, all of which reduce to three main categories.  Every known organism, creature and animal on Earth fits into any one of these three classifications; Bacteria, Archaea or Eukarya.   The difference between these classifications is as significant as the difference between a single celled virus, a mammal and an invertebrate, but in some cases, the difference between members of one classification can be even greater.

There are some organisms residing in both the Archaea and Eukarya branches that bear a significant amount of weight in the search for extraterrestrial life.  Certain species of protists -simply related to bacterium- have been discovered not only surviving in the most inhospitable environments on Earth, but they have actually been thriving in conditions that would mean certain death for any other form of life.  Some of these climates are so dangerous that even studying them is hazardous to ones health, such as within the toxic cooling pools of nuclear reactors (and now it seems even directly in nuclear waste, though there is much debate over this recent discovery), or along side ultra-deep sea thermal vents, or even more than a kilometre below the surface of the permanent glaciers in both the north and south poles.[4]

The life that exists in these conditions is not anything you might recognise, or even be able to see without the use of a powerful microscope, but none the less, these organisms exists, they are thriving and breeding and evolving in these conditions, and the implications presented by these relatively new neighbours of ours on the biological family tree are indeed significant.  In each case, these single celled and sometimes complex organisms have adapted their biology to not only endure in what we might call a hostile environment, but they have evolved to a point where they cannot survive outside of those conditions.  When you consider the environments in question, you can quickly see a correlation to the harsh terrain and atmospheric conditions found on both the Moon and on Mars.

Extreme radioactivity, extreme atmospheric pressure, extreme cold, extreme heat and zero light; in fact the single common denominator for all of these organisms is water -Two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to a single oxygen atom.  It is the unique use of water molecules by each of these organisms that gives them the ability to endure the poisonous, freezing, and rancid environments they have come to require for survival; and because of that, many cosmologists have taken to adapting their view of space exploration with an eye to micro biology.

In turn, the search for life in the heavens has become a race to finding water anywhere but on Earth, and now that we’ve come full circle I’ll reiterate my earlier confusion; why are so few people talking about the significant impact of discovering water on both the Moon and Mars?

I would be prone to believe that the public at large lacks a basic understanding of the meaning of the discovery of off world water, though it doesn’t seem that there are many within the industry of science journalism or even those learned people in UFO enthusiasm than have caught on to the significance.  Essentially, for years science and science-minded theologians have pondered what might be required for life to develop on planetary bodies like Mars, and with some fairly benign disagreement, the top requirement has been touted as the existence of water on those planets.  As was shown above, many other factors of environmental concern can be disregarded as having an impact on the possibility for life, if water can be proved to exist, and it would seem that this one requirement has been met, in spades.  So where are all the ringing bells, the mass hysteria and the tin foil hats?

I think this may be the point where I lose some readers to an eye roll and an indignant “whatever”; but I’m going to suggest that NASA has other motives, and that the officials of other such scientific entities the world over are hesitant to question those motives for reasons of funding, and even possibly national (or international) security.

In the early years, after the controversial decision made by NASA leadership, to abandon such projects as SETI (which has since been taken to private operation) in favour of searching for life through other means, many UFOlogists and even mainstream cosmologists spoke loud criticisms, arguing that it was actually an attempt to subvert the truth of the situation.  A great many people believe that NASA, as an extension of the US Government, has long been aware of the existence of extraterrestrial life, and that this search for water was one of the largest misinformation campaigns ever concocted and perpetrated.  If this were the case, and I have no information to declare either way, then the discovery of water on Mars and the Moon would be as insignificant to them as the discovery of ants on the sidewalk outside of your own home.

As always, I ask only that you consider this point of view, and that you ultimately make up your own mind, but hidden in this mess of conspiracy and science is one fact that should not and cannot be lost…water was found on the surface of Mars and the Moon, and in the name of the original purpose behind that discovery, we now know that life can, and most probably has, developed somewhere other than on Earth, and…that life has also thrived and evolved.

[1] For details, see NASA’s website: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/phoenix/news/phoenix-20080731.html

[2] See NASA’s website: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/moonmars/features/moon20090924.html

[3] See LCROSS Mission Overview: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/overview/index.html

[4] See The Living Cosmos, by Chris Impey and/or The Biology of Belief, by Bruce H. Lipton

A History of Ghosts; A Review

The large and longstanding Aykroyd family, many of whom still reside close to their old homestead near Peterborough Ontario, have been responsible for bringing us much wisdom and entertainment over the years, though so many are unaware of the extent to which this family of reasonable and astute observers has impacted the paranormal community at large.

Peter H. Aykroyd’s newest book, A History of Ghosts; The True Story of Séances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters (With a foreword by Dan Aykroyd) is one that should be read by anyone who considers themselves informed on, interested in, or otherwise occupied by the business of ghosts.

While not an exhaustive history, this book brings the unique insight of nearly 80 years of personal exploration and investigation into the ideas of ghosts, séances, mediums and the general idea of human survivalism, into the foray of speculation and assumption that permeates the wittedly evolved spiritualist movement of the 19th and 20th centuries and to today’s paranormal community.

Beginning with an introduction to and examination of Peter Aykroyd’s venerated Grandfather, Samuel Agustus Aykroyd D.D.S., and his vast and varied experiences with early spiritualist practises, including private (or home) séances, and all of the acumen that went along with that spectacle, Peter then injects and weaves a factual and historical examination of many of the highlights of the spiritualist movement from the early to mid 1800’s, through to the mid to late 1900’s and beyond.

Peter’s familiarity with the players and issues of turn of the century mediums is impressive, and offers an insight not available through the writings of any modern spiritualist.  All of the names you would expect to see in a discussion of this type are present, along side many lesser known psychics and more infamous frauds, hoaxters and even investigators of mediumistic practice.

Considering myself to be somewhat informed on this history and tradition, I found that I was reading this book with my jaw agape in amazement at some of the reported results achieved by both Dr. Aykroyd (whom Peter affectionately refers to as ‘Dr. A.’ throughout the book), as well as through the efforts of like-minded people very much the world over.  For the most part Peter refrains from drawing conclusion at the proclamation of ‘proof’ brought forward to the present day by so-called psychics, and even by their own critics of the time.

He appears equally weary of the true-believer and of the ardently sceptic, though I did find myself questioning his own impartiality at the retelling of his own experiences at ‘Lily Dale’, wondering how such a learned man could have been taken so far in by such obvious trickery.  But no harm was done in the end, so it bears little impact to the weight of the book.

I find myself now, having completed this journey with Peter as my guide, wondering how and why we’ve all strayed so far from the original ideas that spurred on the spiritualist movement.  This book should be heralded by many as a catalyst for bringing back the more reasonable notion that ghosts (and their many, many various incarnations) are nothing at all to fear.  This pursuit is, as it should be, the pursuit of physical, psychical, scientific and religious truth and knowledge, as is embodied by the following quote from the Progressive Thinker of June 28, 1928:

“…we have talked to one who has said he has been a spirit for 600 years and he has never seen ‘God’.” – Mary J. Langley

This idea fascinates me, and brings to mind so many questions, ideas, problems and conundrums, but in the spirit, emboldens me to ask each one in honesty and with a genuine desire to know the truth.  Hidden below the vernacular of Peters literary voice is an underlying message that is as poignant now as it might have been to the Aykroyd family sitters some eight decades ago:

“People these days can’t seem to tolerate one moment without entertainment.” – Samuel Agustus Aykroyd

Buy it today! From Amazon.com

Dead Time; is it a Dead Myth or a Cold Fact?

With society’s recent infatuation with the paranormal, several terms have become synonymous with ghost hunting and paranormal investigation.  EVP, otherwise known as electronic voice phenomenon; EMF, an anagram taken from the physical sciences representing electro-magnetic field measurement; and even Orb, originally being a term used to describe a very rare and specific form of lighting.

Over time these terms, phrases, words and definitions have been adopted, changed, evolved and adapted to fit the requirements of those people who practise the science of paranormal investigation.  But the field isn’t really ready to be called a science, not just yet.  It’s really still an amateurs game, and as a result academia has yet to outline any widely recognised parameters for defining the phenomena and procedure used in the field today.

One term that is used, more and more freely by paranormal enthusiasts, investigators and so-called professionals alike, is Dead Time.  Dead Time, as thought of by many, is a period of time during the early morning hours, 3am specifically.  It is thought that this time (and it is generally not defined enough to provide an actual period of time, i.e. one hour, but rather just the rough time of 3am) is related in some spiritual way to the death of Jesus Christ.  The theory suggests that spiritual activity is more prevalent at 3am because that is in direct opposition to the exact time of Christ’s Death (3pm).

Now, how anyone could ever claim to know precisely what time Jesus died is beyond me, since most religious scholars can’t even agree on what date it took place.  There are many web resources citing various bits of theological evidence for just as many varying times of day, each claiming to have irrefutable proof of their theory; but my purpose here is not to refute or even acknowledge their work or ideas, my purpose is to expose the truth of the term Dead Time.

In any factual basis, the term dead time refers to the period of recharging (so to speak) in particle and nuclear detector systems.  Yes, it’s a term used by physicists to describe periods of quantum inactivity.

The truth is not yet exposed though, for there are other explanations for the use of the term within a paranormal investigation.

Many learned and rational people have undertaken to pursue, explain and capture evidence of paranormal phenomenon in many forms.  Along side of them are many lesser accredited amateurs who look on with earnest, trying to glean a purpose, if not a hobby, from the pursuits of their academic brethren.  What seems to be the result of this is that certain ideas and terms are adopted by the second group, but the true meaning of the experience is not passed on.

In my research I’ve found several other possible definitions for the term, though even through this exploration, I still cannot find any plausible reason for reserving the wee hours of the morning for ghost hunting, but we’ll talk about that in a moment.

One idea that seems more reasonable to me, involved solar radiation; to some the term Dead Time refers to a period over the course of the night, during which the solar radiation and magnetic interference caused by the sun, is blocked by the earth, thus making EMF detection more accurate, and in theory, making spiritual energy more easily detected or visible.  Having mentioned that this theory seemed more reasonable, does not necessarily mean that I agree with it, but it does make more sense than the earlier assertions.

In addition to the many various definitions and/or theories available to explain the use of Dead Time in paranormal investigations, is the propensity for Western culture to reproduce what is seen on TV.  When Ryan (Paranormal State) or the boys from TAPS (Ghost Hunters) frequently use the term, it isn’t necessarily a sign that they believe there is more activity at night (or 3am specifically) than any other time, it may just be that their producers feel shooting at night is more exciting and dramatic for their audience.

The idea that there is a specific time of day (or night) at which ghosts, or specifically demons as some have suggested, are more active is entirely theistically snobbish to say the least.  Every culture on the planet has an entity or two in their folk lore that is described as, or specifically defined as a demon.  They tend to have the same characteristics and even, in many cases, have literal connections.  But what these cultures don’t share is the same theology regarding the death of Christ.

Dead Time is nothing more than a representation of our collective fear of the dark.  During that period of the night (providing we’re awake) our senses are naturally heightened, we are far more aware of our surroundings and we’re on guard, watching for potential dangers, this is an evolutionary translation of our inborn fight or flight instincts.  Historically speaking, our species was most vulnerable during the dark hours of the day, hence we are prone to a heightened sense of fear during that time.

What this means for ghost hunting, is that in our current evolutionary state we’ve retained our fear of the dark, but we’re largely unable to define what that fear means, since the actual dangers have been removed.  We end up assigning meaning to that fear through the iconic vehicles historically meant to provide meaning (religion) and thus, we come to believe that Dead Time is related to the death of Jesus Christ and in his supposed control over the supernatural.

Ultimately, the term is defined by each of us; we all take part in shaping its meaning for each other and in the current progression of paranormal exploration…misinformation, fear, enthusiasm and ignorance all threaten to cultivate the wrong theories at the wrong time.

The Ovilus – 21st Century Snake Oil

With intrepid conviction, the host of the show sternly asked his question of the air between them, in this dark and cramped loft bedroom.

“What are you?” we heard him ask, as though his questions bore more authority than the next man.

But in a surprisingly clear robotic voice, the handheld machine stated it’s response with chilling candour.


The desired response was achieved, audiences around the world sat in stunned silence at this mystical…nay, supernatural exposition of demonic interaction, but was there any truth to this technological séance?

The device in question is the aptly named Ovilus (also known as the Puck); I say aptly only because I can’t think of a more ambiguous and clichéd name to give it.  The Ovilus is one of many devices designed and constructed over the last five decades or so, in a long line of technology offered to provide some contextual evidence of ghosts and hauntings.

A product of Digital Dousing LLC, the Puck surely is a technological wonder.  In short, it’s a machine to replace all other ghost hunting machines.   Many believe the Ovilus to be the evolution of paranormal investigation, a tool to take the place of EMF readers, digital recording devices, dowsing rods and thermometers all at once.  It provides all-in-one convenience with a user friendly interface that can’t be beaten.

Ok, enough of that.  The Ovilus is a fraud.

It is nothing more than a collection of simple environmental detectors wired to a processer that mathematically produces preset responses.  In fact, it works very much like a handheld slot machine; if you pull the proverbial handle enough times, eventually you’ll hit the jackpot.

Now I  realise that I’m going to suffer the scorn of a great many people for having said that, but in this field of academically ridiculed research and investigation, we as a community cannot afford to bring further incredibility to our pursuit by trusting the comical voices of a magic box.

It seems though, in spite of my warning, and others like it, many would-be ghost hunters are ignoring the facts in favour of fantastic and completely unproven results.  In the above recount of the pinnacle scene in Paranormal State’s Episode “Hells Gate”, Ryan Buell used the Ovilus to generate a fantastic result, supposedly identifying the entity in question as a demon.  They went even further in their “investigation” (placed in quotes because I’m not entirely certain what they do can be called investigating), and came up with a name for this “demon”, supposedly solidifying their evidence as a positive finding.

All this is intended to lead us down a very particular garden path I’m afraid.  Even without a degree in electronic engineering, one can see how ridiculous this is.

Here’s the problem in the most simple terms I can lay out.  In order to design a working electronic measuring device, we must first know what it is we’re measuring.  In the case of EMF meters and thermometers, we know, based on many years of advanced science that these environmental elements exist and are measurable.  When an EMF meter is engaged it is seeking and measuring the magnetic fields that are generated by various items in our environment.  The fields are detected at various strengths according to their proximity to the device and a corresponding level indicator shows the user a reading.

Seems simple enough right?  The same is true for thermometers and even for dowsing rods, wherein the “signal”, a form of magnetic field caused by the interaction between water and the rock it flows over/within, causes the rods to be pulled in the direction of the flow.  This is easily translated into an electronic device.

However…as easily as the above instruments are explained, the Ovilus, which combines the operation of all the above devices, is not greater than the sum of its parts, and I’ll gladly tell you why.

In order for the Ovilus to provide a plausible result, in the form of a metered number or a phonetic word, the maker of the device would have to posses an advanced understanding of the meaning behind the interactions of the various environmental inputs (i.e. EMF signals), as those meanings relate to ghosts or spirits (or demons as the case is above).

The problem is…no one on earth has such an understanding.  The individual measurement devices contained in the Ovilus are based on real science, their principals are understood, but the same is not true for this frankenstien-esque incarnation of their science.

This is a clear example of circular logic getting the better of an entire community of learned people.  We cannot have a machine that defines an unknown phenomenon, when a definition of the phenomenon is required to build the machine in the first place.

I am saddened to see and hear that many reputable researchers have fallen for this trick of marketing, the Ovilus is intended to be nothing more than a toy, and since its adoption by the likes of PRS and Paranormal State, those people who wish to emulate Buell and the like, for whatever reason, will accept the result without critical examination of the principals behind the technology.

For any of those who disagree with my assessment, as I’m sure there will be many, I not only invite you to comment here, but I also invite you to have a look at the Digital Dowsing, Ovilus online user manual located at the link found below, and while reading, take special note of the abundance of indemnity disclaimers posted throughout the document.

Note: Since publication of this piece, Digital Dousing has terminated production of the Ovilus I, please see the related article: Caveat Emptor…Ghost Radar Is Fake (Link below)

If a device such as the Ovilus were a genuine and reliable tool for ghost hunters, would the manufacturer feel compelled to protect themselves from lawsuit to such a degree?

In closing, I will point out that Bill Chappel of Digital Dowsing has flatly denied that the Ovilus is capable of speaking for the dead in any way whatsoever.  If the designer of the device is reluctant to go on record as endorsing it’s capabilities, what confidence should we have in any results we get from the device?

The Ovilus I by Digital Dowsing LLC

The Ovilus I Operators Manual

Ouija Boards are Toys and Hasbro is Not the AntiChrist

“It’s a dangerous occult tool.”  “I had a bad experience one time.”  “My friends and I tried it, and it scared us bad.”  “It’ll open a doorway to another realm.”  “It will let them enter your house and even your body.”  “It’s not a toy…it’s dangerous.”

The "Dangerous" Pink OuijaSounds like a consensus, sounds like everyone’s made up their minds, it even sounds like there’s some factual basis behind the fear of the Ouija Board.  Oh if only Charles Kennard and William Fuld could see the state of their most successful invention now.

A doorway to the demonic, a gateway to the afterlife, a portal of communication with unknown powers and motives; if one were prone to following the collective fears of the masses, one would think that the Ouija Board was the single most dangerous item of the modern world.  I mean, if these things are so dangerous, shouldn’t there be a possessed and tormented child in every other house in America?  Better yet, if these things are so dangerous, shouldn’t our law makers be decreeing that Hasbro and their competitors cease and desist with their manufacture of these cardboard and plastic wonders?

“You can use a Ouija safely, but if you don’t close it properly, you can leave a door open for them.”

OK, who is “them”?  Demons?  Ghosts?  Inter-dimensional beings?  It strikes me that this is precisely what the vast majority of Paranormal Investigators want…an open highway between our world and theirs.

Enough with the issue skirting…Ouija Boards are not dangerous occult tools, they’re toys.  It’s a board game gone wrong; one whose marketing premise worked far too well.  In case you hadn’t guessed, I don’t share the opinion that Ouija Boards are a portal to anywhere but a vivid imagination.  I find it silly that there’s been so much fuss over a simple collection of cardboard and plastic, but fuss there has been.  I’ve recently stumbled over a number of groups and websites who, apparently for a lack of anything better to do, are calling for a boycott of Hasbro.  Why?  Well for no other reason than Hasbro is manufacturing a pink Ouija Board, marketed directly to girls under the age of nine.  I mean, for shame Hasbro, the gall of a Toy Company that would manufacture and market toys, for children no less.

In response to this ridiculousness, I have begun seeking explanations for the above cautionary statements.  Though I’ve had no success, yet.

In a past article, I covered the history and most feasible explanation for the effects that some people claim to experience when using Ouija Boards (or the Ouija’s generic variations); idiomotor effect.  Contrary to the apparent etymology of that word, it doesn’t suggest that Ouija Board users are idiots, what it suggests is that the expectation of an effect (that expectation gained through the dissemination of stories, which have ultimately become urban legend in the case of Ouija) is enough to cause the users mind and body to fulfill that expectation subconsciously.  In other words, when you place your expectant hands on the planchette, no matter how it appears, the movement of the planchette across the board is caused by your own hand, doubly so when there are two people involved.

Is this fact?  No.  It is the most likely explanation.  What makes it the most likely explanation is the mere fact that all other explanations require a belief in any one of a number of paranormal hypotheses in order to be qualified.

Any and all of the reported effects of the Ouija Board are either one of two things; 1) an actual interaction with a ghost/spirit/demon or likewise entity, or 2) the result of imagination manifested through one of several psychological processes or some form of RSPK.

While number 1 is admittedly the wet dream of many a researcher and investigator (myself included), number 2 is far more likely.  I should point out that I have used a Ouija Board, as well as a number of the Ouija’s generic counterparts.  My younger self has sat in amazement while the planchette moved across the board under my fingers, spelling out all sorts of nonsense (some decipherable, most not), but when I think of these experiences, I can’t help but remember one subtle fact in our history, that fact being there have been only two documented instances of people having been harmed by an unknown or ghostly entity in the last 200 years, which sits in dark contrast the perceived danger of the Ouija as compared to the number of boards that exist around the world.

In light of this, I can’t help but acknowledge that the claim of danger involved with the Ouija Board is beyond a little bit silly.  But, I’m not hanging my hat up yet, the purpose of this piece is to incite a response in the believer, I want your responses, in writing.  I want to hear your explanations and experiences, but I’ll warn you, I won’t be kind to those who offer more of the same unsubstantiated anecdotal claims without so much as a nod to reason and fact.  If you had a harrowing experience with a Ouija Board, tell me about it -preferably in the comment section below, though you may also send it via the website’s contact page for privacy sake- be precise, be honest and be polite.

Ghosts and Cemeteries; What A Grave Subject

Everyone knows if you come across a property exhibiting signs of ghostly activity, especially those with a tendency toward malevolence and spite, the cause is always due to that property’s proximity to the sacred land of an ancient Indian burial ground.  Everyone knows this, right?   Hollywood has trained us all too well; but of course, Hollywood would also have us believe that the plains and mountain regions of Canada and the northern US were chocked full of native tribes, with the landscape of most areas being packed shoulder to shoulder with whooping and dancing Indians.  This must be an accurate picture, for, in order for there to currently be the vast number of scared burial sites currently rumoured to be infringed on by certain paranormal enthusiast, the native populations would have to have been in the hundreds of millions.

The AIBG hypothesis, otherwise known as the silliness that is ancient Indian burial grounds being blamed for every manner of paranormal activity in North America, is just about as ridiculous as the hyperbole surrounding Ouija Boards (and you all know how I feel about that).  The reality of this situation, as with so many others in this genre of interest, is that Hollywood has twisted our minds into forgetting our own history and that of our native hosts.

Quite possibly the most famous instance of the AIBG hypothesis showing up in entertainment history is the convoluted and confusing story of Poltergeist (1982), though this is hardly the first introduction of cultural prejudice fuelling our wild and easily manipulated imaginations.  Stephen King even used this contrived idea as the basis for his 1983 novel Pet Sematary [sic], which was adapted to the big screen in 1989.  But whatever the origin of the myth, there are some poignant truths people tend to forget when they let their imaginations run wild.

To some this will come as painfully obvious disclosure, but I shall offer it anyway.  Sacred ground, as identified by First Nations people is quite rare, and likely due to the fact that it’s considered sacred, is rarely lost to their knowledge, thereby allowing the “white man” to develop and build on top of it.  This is in contrast to burial grounds, which can also be sacred though aren’t always so, but which are much more common.  And here we come to yet another one of those unfortunate truths I so revel in sharing; in the world of paranormal research, the burial of human remains bears so little connection to ghostly activity that most reputable researchers cringe at the very mention of an amateur seeking evidence of paranormal activity at cemeteries, grave yards and burial sites.

There are, as is so often the case, a few opposing schools of thought among the paranormal community, the defining lines of which are often blurred beyond recognition.  Some researchers, or more accurately, ghost hunters, seem to be of the impression that burial sites (whether ancient or modern) are the perfect locations to gather their so-called evidence of spirits run amuck.   Others still suggest that the spirit activity at these locations is too intense and potentially dangerous to make evidence collection feasible.  Though, as any who’ve undertaken to read my work in the past can attest, not only do I not subscribe to these schools of thought, I typically scoff at such ignorance.

The truth of the matter is that certain assumptions must be made before a person can genuinely believe such claims, assumptions that are not supported by the facts of our collective understanding. A term coined by a colleague of mine with the leading Canadian paranormal research body (PSICAN) encompasses the nature of one such assumption: the Dead Person Hypothesis.  This is as the term suggests; the idea that ghosts or spirits (or whichever other term you might choose to ascribe) are the immortal manifestations of dead people.  This is a popular idea and one that is adopted by many without even a moment’s consideration for alternatives.  An extension of this idea, for some, is the notion that spirits (in this line of logic being the essence or soul of a dead person) are tied in some way to the physical remains of their corporeal self, and in turn are likely to be found in proximity to their grave.

Even with a most charitable attitude toward this idea, one can scarcely ignore the logical flaws encountered therein.  Namely, if ghosts are bound to their physical remains then ghosts could not be encountered in areas where their physical remains are not.  Most researchers will understand that this is simply not the case.

A variation on the above is the idea that such ghosts, under the DPH, will frequent locations that hold emotional context for their own psyche (whatever that may be), though again, there are some undeniable flaws of logic in this idea.  Notwithstanding the notion that we cannot, through a lack of verifiable information, reasonably assert that there is a discernable psychology to ghosts and their behaviour, does it not follow (with certain exceptions) that the spirit of a passed-on human, would rank many other places as being more emotionally significant than the location of their grave?  This of course, takes other unverifiable notions for granted as well, such as the idea that such a spirit is bound by some physical law, to appear only in one location at one time.

Beyond the above exercise of logic, is the undeniable fact that the huge amounts of data and information collected by enthusiasts and researchers over the past 200 years has shown that gravesites are notably poor locations for the study of ghosts.

So is this conflated notion that ghosts show some favour to cemeteries and the like the result of a Hollywood agenda, or is it a simple misunderstanding of facts based on an ever more present anthropomorphisation of such ghostly activity.  I personally have great difficulty accepting even the DPH, let alone ascribing any support to the notion that ghosts or spirits or what-have-you, are compelled, whether by emotion or some physical law, to accompany the dusty remains of their physical body in death.  There is much we need to learn, and even more we need to forget, before we can come to any real understanding of the phenomena of ghosts.

A Christmas Carol, The Ultimate Ghost Story

An original illustration from A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser of all misers, the progenitor of the inimitable phrase “Bah Humbug”, and the hallmark of the so-called power of the Christmas Spirit -that spirit of course being the objective sense of community and generosity one is supposed to feel once they’ve been visited by their very own Diskens’-esque trio of misfit ghosts, who in turn bring tidings of what was, what is and ultimately what will be.

A Christmas Carol is perhaps the most famous tale in the whole of classic literature, along side Hamlet and maybe The Tell Tale Heart.  Dickens’ work has been twisted and torn and morphed and adapted for every manner of presentation.  It’s been cartoon-ized, modernized and simplified, but in the end the story remains largely the same.  It’s a morality tale, but is the moral really what TV networks and cartoon production companies push at us almost nightly from December 1st right up until the celebrated arrival of old Saint Nick?

It has always struck me, the propensity for people to ignore the harder truths of such stories, in favour of those more easily digested.  It is a convenient thing to see that Scrooge took heed from his wispy callers, and quickly changed his own outlook on the nature and value of Christmas, that he ultimately opened his eyes to all that was wrong with his life and his person as a result of this harrowing experience.  Isn’t it telling though, that a man should need the outside influence of the supernatural in order to see the error of his ways?

Scrooge though was a larger than life character, as is to be expected from such prose, so we should excuse the lengths to which Dickens went to teach his protagonist a lesson.  I think though, that Dickens was hiding a deeper moral truth in this work, hiding it right under our noses.

Despite this, what follows is an editorial critique of the story, from the perspective of a fictional ghost hunter (me).

2416_zSetting aside that we know conclusively that this story is entirely fictional; can we set up some pseudo-facts to examine, in an effort to determine if our beloved Scrooge did indeed experience the company of four ghosts on that fateful night?

The first encounter our unwitting hero experiences is a timely reunion with a dearly departed friend.  Moreover, Scrooge is faced with the gruesome and frightening apparition of his old partner and mentor Jacob Marley; who, in the various incarnations of the story, appears to Scrooge in clanking chains and rotted flesh -apparently a punishment for his own miserly ways in life.  His coming to Scrooge is a warning that Ebenezer himself is lined up for a similar fate, and to punctuate that warning Marley has arranged for three spirits, ghosts of particular ability and affiliation, to visit him on this eve, and so explain to him the virtues of embracing the Christmas Spirit, as though a late conversion is better than none at all.

In the original story, as opposed to the any one of its modern perversions, Marley appears to Scrooge shortly after he retires for the night following a particularly stressful day.  The encounter is anything but typical of a ghostly experience.  It ends up being an interactive apparition with ectoplasmic form and clairaudience.  Shall we say…rare?

Much like the other spirits, Marley speaks directly to Scrooge, though in this case, Scrooge rightly suspects that these ethereal visions are the result of a partly digested bit of bad pork.

Bill Murray and Carol Kane (Ghost of Christmas Present) in Scrooged(1988)

Next up of course, is the first of the three Ghosts of Christmas, in this his first lesson, Scrooge is transported into the past, so that he may observe and reflect on his various misdeeds and poor choices.  The highlight of this segment is the warming of Scrooges heart to the idea that he did once love and indeed can love again.  It is this transportation through time that lends credence to the experience for Scrooge; he heard the Spirit’s words, he felt its touch and its presence, and for that matter he had heard and felt that same essence with Marley, but this time he believed.

Secondly, and only after finding himself safely, warmly back in his own bed, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present (a nice play on words, which I’m sure wasn’t intended by Dickens, but rather is relevant only to modern readers in a time of incensed materialism).  This time his guest fly’s him out the bedchamber window and proceeds to show him the harm his attitudes have done to the people of his life who are in need.  People Scrooge saw daily, whom he interacted with and whose lives he knew virtually nothing about.  Ebenezer was right to feel ashamed, to be abashed by the effect his behaviour has had on those less fortunate.  The highlight of this episode is the life and home of Ebenezer’s employee, Bob Crachit and his hobbled son Tiny Tim.  It would not have been adequate for Scrooge to simply experience and identify with the hardships of poverty and then to see that in spite of this hardship Crachit bears him no ill will; no, the handicap of Tiny Tim was the catalyst for change in this act, apparently to suggest that mere paucity is too mundane for the Spirit of Christmas to handle.  Or was it that Scrooge was extra deserving of a lesson or two in the face of all that was wrong with the Cratchit household?

Once again Scrooge found himself safe and warm in his bedchamber at the close of this second encounter, though to his own admission he needed no further encouragement from the spirits to change his ways, and drastically.  He had seen what was and what is, and had decided like any other that he would do more to help those in need –though more, in Scrooge’s case, was tantamount to raising Bob Crachit’s salary and allowing him to care for himself and his family (and in my mind would have been a better outcome).

Disney’s Scrooge McDuck

However, on his third and final encounter, Scrooge found himself in the company of a menacing and intimidating spirit -the Ghost of Christmas Future.  Given images and ideas of isolation and solitude, of dying alone and unappreciated, of bearing no legacy on the world, other than to perpetuate the overly thrifty survival of his Counting House, or as in the original, the untimely and unfortunate death of the crippled Tiny Tim; this it seems was too much for Ebenezer Scrooge.  He begged and pleaded with the spirit to allow him a chance to change things, he was motivated now, to off-load his immense wealth through charitable donations, and to seek the value of people rather than of things and money.

Aside from examination of the ghostly elements of this story, I feel compelled to point out that the plot would have worked out much the same, had the story taken place over another holiday, say Labour Day, or even over a regular Tuesday in the middle of summer.  The moral herein is no more exclusive to Christmas than is the idea of kissing under the mistletoe –which is connected to Christmas only because Holly flowers in December.

Now, considering all that we know about Ebenezer’s campfire ghost story, the most obvious conclusion is that he experienced a night terror that was connected to sleep paralysis.  Each encounter took place as an interruption to his nights sleep, and the indication that he had been preoccupied by distaste for Christmas prior to retiring suggests that the issue weighted heavily on his dreams as well. This would have been a frightening experience for sure, but not fundamentally supernatural.

The physical elements of each encounter are not entirely foreign to night terror experiences, often Experiencers claim that their dreams are so vibrant and convincing that they cannot believe they were simply dreams.  One argument could be made for the seemingly accurate details Scrooge gleaned of Crachit’s home and life, details we are to believe he didn’t have prior to this experience.  For explanatory purposes, we can present two possibilities, each with their own merits though one may seem more plausible than the other.

Ebenezer and the Ghost of Christmas Future

Over the years, working closely with Crachit in the Counting Office, Scrooge no doubt heard countless details of Crachit’s life, and though he may consciously have avoided acknowledging these details, his subconscious mind would have stored the information and in turn it would have shaped his view of Crachit and what Crachit meant to the community.  This subconscious accounting of Crachit’s life would have been ample for constructing a sufficiently accurate mental picture of what the Crachit family would have been experiencing during the Christmas holiday.

Alternatively, it could be said that old Scrooge had a bit of the vision in him.  That he was psychic, at least partially.  I admit this is a stretch, and as I said earlier, one of these possibilities holds more water than the other.

All in all, the facts of the story don’t seem to support the idea that Ebenezer’s new acquaintances were ghosts.  No one but Ebenezer saw or experienced them; in fact during the events, Ebenezer came into contact with people in his life, but none of them saw or experienced him either, suggesting that the events took place in his head.  The fantastic physical feats performed by the spirits and visited on Scrooge also suggest a dream, flying, teleportation, transmutation; all of these elements are common to dreamscape.  We know that the story is fiction, Ebenezer Scrooge did not exist, and neither did Jacob Marley, Bob Crachit or Tiny Tim, but there is a drastic difference I would like to point out, between believing that Scrooge had been visited by Ghosts in this fairy-tale, and in believing that he dreamed his own conversion to charity and humanitarianism.

If we accept that the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future were to be thought of as real elements of Scrooge’s world, then we inherently believe that our attitudes and beliefs are guided by an outside force, that we must depend on others to show us the ways charity, others with a higher moral authority.   Alternately, if we believe that Scrooge dreamed these events, does this not suggest that he, like us, was ultimately in control of his attitudes and actions and it was his own moral compass that spoke to him while he slept, forcing him to acknowledge that he had been a miser of the worst kind, and ultimately allowed him to change for the sake of goodness on its own?

Whatever you take from this examination, or even from the classic tale of A Christmas Carol, there are lessons to be learned by each of the characters, and as I personally have no love of Dickens’ collected works, I do believe that his more popular stories should be found on the bookshelves of anyone claiming to be well read and learned.

A Christmas Carol was written by English author Charles Dickens, its original or full title is: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being A Ghost Story of Christmas .  The book was first published December 19, 1843 with illustrations by John Leech, and is one of very few classical tales that has never been out of print since its first edition.

Astrology, A Science for the Scienceless

Astrology, not to be confused with the legitimate, highly valuable and experimentally verified [actual] science of Astronomy, is the pseudo-science of tracking the position of various groups of stars (known as constellations) and relating those positions to the wellbeing, personal characteristics and prospective future of every human on Earth, through mystical and wholly unscientific methods of, believe it or not, divination.

Astrology is actually an ancient and historically significant aspect of human cultural evolution; it is rooted in the development of scientific observation, of not only the stars, but our own surroundings.  Widespread use of Astrology owes its popularity to the scholars of the Library of Alexandria, in Egypt in the 3rd century BC.  Believe it or not, Astrology was once a complimentary science along side, and historically often indistinguishable from, Astronomy.  As one was considered the study of the Celestial Heavens, the other was the study of the Celestial Heaven’s effect on terrestrial happenings.  However, not every gem offered to us by the ancient scholars is to be regarded as valuable insight, and the true origin of what is considered to be the core of Astrology is argued over quite loudly by modern scholars.  Whether we owe ancient Babylonian society, Vedic traditions, Greek Mythology or Asian development for the current incarnation of our oldest and most believed form of divination is best left to historians who are qualified to answer such questions.

What was once though, considered to be the domain of high priests, commissioned scientists and of course, royalty, is now the innocent pastime of everyone and anyone with the ability to read a newspaper left on a park bench.  And the practitioners of this common-foolery, known as Astrologers, are little more than advice columnists with a deadline, and are even less than a mere shadow of their historical counter-parts.  In the roughly two thousand years since the proliferation of astrological superstition to the masses, immense amounts of so-called astrological data have been compiled, edited, mixed and shared, all in an effort to create a great encyclopaedia or compendium of knowledge about the effects of celestial bodies, and their positions, on the human condition.  All the while it’s counterpart, its ever more rational sister-science Astronomy, has evolved and burgeoned into a scientific endeavour that, both historically and most recently, has provided science with some of the most astounding and experimentally verified findings imaginable.

But the relationship between our two sisters of science, Astrology and Astronomy, has been tense at times, and with the advent of the Copernican Revolution resulting in the Heliocentric theory of cosmology (no longer a theory by the way, which is a ridiculous but apparently necessary rider to include), and Magellan’s stupendous and, at the time, heretic declaration that the Earth is not flat, but round as an apple (which he went on to prove via the first circumnavigation of the globe), that relationship has been strained well beyond the breaking point.  Astronomy has been the single most influential scientific pursuit since, well…ever.  It has brought with it discoveries, methodologies and philosophies that have shaped very nearly every aspect of modern life.  Astrology cannot make the same claim, it has not done the same laudable acts, nor has it provided any real insight into the hearts and minds of men or Gods.

To many fans and believers today, Astrology, which is the base for the daily or weekly horoscope you almost religiously take note of, whether for fun or for purposes of planning and guidance, is simply the interpretation of star signs into quirky limericks and severely vague predictions of the near future.  But on closer inspection, what one will find is that Astrology is a system of measuring constellations, planetary positions and even the position of the moon in the night sky, and interpreting that information into unique personal information for everyone and anyone who may be interested in the divined conclusion.  One might ask then, how exactly that Astronomical data (yes, it’s a direct borrowing of Astronomical observation) can be and ultimately is converted into predictive behavioural knowledge, and really, it’s quite simple.  Over the past two to three thousand years, many, many Astrologers have written down their observations for how certain people act, relative to the position of, yes, you guessed it, stars (in lieu of including a realistic measure of the numbers of Astrology practitioners who have contributed to this endeavour, let it simply be known that there have been more of them than there have been religious zealots fuelling the fire of holy wars over the centuries).

They have painstakingly observed and documented the interpersonal goings-on of the people around them, and attempted to correlate that massive amount of information with the movements of the celestial bodies overhead.  Here though is the problem…there is a significant difference between a correlation and cause/effect relation.  Simply because two events happen near each other, whether in time or space, does not automatically mean that one is the cause of the other, and vice versa.

There are many other valid arguments flying in the face of Astrology, for example, the celestial constellations relied upon for these measurements and interpretations are, shall we say unique to the observers position on Earth, and even in the universe.  Change that position even a small amount (in terms of galactic distances), and the constellation, if visible at all, becomes completely indistinguishable.  Since there are few who would argue against Copernicus and his wild notion that there is nothing particularly special about mankind, earth or even our solar system, so as to believe that it is the center of anything worth speaking of, then why would we believe that the relative position (to earth) of constellations, whose very existence relies on our perspective from earth, would or should have any impact, measurable or not, on our relatively insignificant lives?

One could make such arguments, and many have, though in all honesty one needn’t go so far.  Horoscopes, sun signs, astrological readings; all of it is now permanently relegated to insincere carnival sideshow venues.  There is no truth to the predictive assertions of the Astrologer, even as there are many millions of people around the world who believe, even passively, in those predictions on the whole.  As has been offered in the past, it seems interestingly disturbing that the mass of humanity so easily offers trust and hope to wish-thinking endeavours which bear no logical or even tangible fruit to speak of.

Inter-Dimensional Trickery

In the evolution of the paranormal epoch of which we are currently at the pinnacle (arguably), there have been a class of entities -called so for lack of a better term to describe the phenomena associated to them- whom have been deemed by a great many people, some more learned than others, to be visitors, or sometimes possibly invaders, from another reality, more specifically another dimension of reality.  Schattenwesen readily comes to mind, as does some of the wilder speculation about the origins of El Chupacabra and even the Loch Ness Monster.  There are those who would even go so far as to say that all (or most) paranormal activity is the result of various incursions of inter-dimensional energies and/or consciousness’, including ghosts, demons and the like…and at some point in the past, I would have been included among them.

Is there any truth to this notion?  Is there any possibility that everything we know to be real is just a short space away from the alien reality of another dimension?  The short answer is yes, though getting to that point is going to take some work.

Before moving toward an explanation, it bears relevance to separate the visions of the silver screen from the reality of this complicated science.  Hollywood has been working hard to proliferate a notion of inter-dimensionality into our collective culture, they seem to be smitten with the idea of infinite worlds, replete with earthen similarities in physics, environment, atmosphere and even biology to our own “dimensional reality”, all only just a “spacetime tear” or “stargate jump” away.  However, the truth about such notions is much less fantastic and far more interesting.

Unfortunately, this notion is based on a total misunderstanding of the science in this regard.  That science is the realm of quantum physics, superstring theory and M-theory[1], and if we were to look for a reason for this thorough misunderstanding, it might be rooted in the simple and unfortunate fact that these topics are notoriously complicated and exceedingly difficult to visualise.  Few talented writers are able to grasp the subtle nuances of the science and few scientists are interested in explaining them in simple terms, though there have been exceptions, but nonetheless this is the realm of science and not science-fiction.

Calabia-Yau shape

A Calabi-Yau alternate is a 10 dimensional shape thought to be an appropriate visual representation of the full measure of reality.

If you were looking for ways to bolster an argument on the side of inter-dimensionality as a refuge for weird and wonderful creatures, who harbour an ability and a penchant for visiting our world’s darker places, then I’m afraid you’re about to be disappointed.  I intend to shed some light (in my humble capacity) on the misuse and misunderstanding of the terms and ideas behind inter-dimensional physics.  Firstly, what is a dimension, and how has its concept been twisted through a preponderance of general ignorance toward the theory.

A dimension is a spatial direction, or axis, along which objects can move within an area of space.  We inhabit a three-dimensional universe, in that there are three directional axes along which objects in our reality can move.  Another way to look at it is, in order to find a particular point in space you need to have three pieces of information; on earth a latitude, longitude and altitude (you would also need to know what time to look, as time constitutes the fourth dimension of space-time, though this isn’t particularly important for the current topic).  This is a relatively easy to understand idea and visualising objects in this reality is equally easy, though modern physical theory has thrown this idea out the window.

It is conceivable and indeed likely, that there are spatial dimensions necessarily beyond what we can perceive; in fact the most advanced understandings of superstring theory and M-theory have all but proven the existence of several additional dimensions…seven more to be precise.  Through decades of mathematical theorising and cosmological observation, modern physicists are on the threshold of astounding experimental confirmation of this idea, culminating in results achieved through the use of particle accelerators (also known as particle smashers) like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and both the science and history of these theories is well worth examination.

Essentially, and with an admittedly limited knowledge of the actual science, the existence of these extra dimensions will be proven through the discovery of supersymetrical particles[2] created as a result of smashing known particles (electrons and protons etc) together at enormous velocities and then measuring the constituent particles that rain out of the collision.  Already, this subject is overcomplicated, but then we are talking about understanding that which cannot be seen or detected in any other way.  I can do no justice to the beautifully contrived experimentation, but I can tell you that most physicists are confident in the existence of 10 spatial dimensions, plus one more to account for time.

So, one might ask, how can there be 10 dimensions in a three-dimensional reality?  And the answer is quite simply that the other seven are just too small for us to perceive.  And barring a lengthy discussion of gravitational theory, the second law of thermodynamics and basic cosmology, suffice it to say that this answer is far more complicated than it appears.  However, as it pertains to the paranormal notion of inter-dimensionality, this answer provides some insight into the problems one would encounter when trying to fit any theory of inter-dimensional beings together with string theory/M-theory.  Most estimates suggest that all seven other realities, which we already inhabit, are on the order of a billionth of a billionth of a millimetre in size (a Plank length[3] or 10-33 centimetres), and while the size of each dimension presents certain problems for the notion of housing entire worlds whose inhabitants can visit our own, the fact that we already inhabit these dimension puts a bigger wrench in the works of this paranormal theorising.

String theory, or more accurately, superstring theory, makes certain suggestions about what it is that makes up the particles that make up atoms, the supersubatomic realm.  Essentially, string theory describes, through highly complex mathematical predictions, the constituent elements of subatomic particles.  The idea is, as the name suggests, that strings of energy, in various shapes and lengths, and vibrating a various frequencies are what make up and what determine the species of the various subatomic particles (quarks, bosons and leptons etc), but further than this, string theory also suggests that there may be what some physicists are calling branes (membranes) to which the strings are attached, and which take on or possibly even generate the same vibrational frequencies as their companion strings.  Many of today’s leading physicists believe that our three dimensional reality is housed inside one of these branes, a three-brane, and as such the other seven dimensions are housed in other branes, which precludes our being able to detect them.  They suggest that, if we inhabit our own particular three-brane, then because of some equally complex ideas, such as Einstein’s cosmological constant and certain elements of gravitational theory, all the other possible branes must only exist on the supersubatomic scale (Plank scale).

None of this, of course, does anything to improve our ability to visualise these concepts, and alas, I won’t be the one to provide such understanding, as I have just as much difficulty with the idea as the next man.  However, the one aspect I can fully grasp is that, while we speak of alternate or disparate dimensions of reality that exist beyond our own, we’re actually speaking of dimensions of reality that exists alongside and within ours.  As alien and awkward as the ideas may seem from a visualisation standpoint, they are no more foreign than our own living rooms, and as such are not suitable originations for the likes of demons, monsters or ghosts.

Others have posited ideas that conjure visions of alien worlds and alternate universes, though, as much interest as even I have in speculating on the many-worlds and multiverse theories[4], there is less and less scientific support for such notions as viable descriptions of reality, as the envelope of understanding is opened by leading physicists and cosmologists around the world.

In recent years there have been various books written to bring this science reasonably into the realm of layman understanding, though most have failed miserably.  Some have painted pictures of multiverse hives, huddled together in some vast and cold void like soap bubbles on the surface of someone’s dirty dishwater, and others have inspired notions of many-worlds floating in alternate realities, just begging to be explored by those with the technology to breach the threshold between them.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of these books and ideas have fallen short of getting across the truth about these theories, and even where they haven’t, the readers have often taken more from the subtle misunderstandings than from the grand ideas.   By all accounts, if there is a realm beyond ours, travel between is a physical impossibility not soon to be overcome, if ever, and not for reasons of technology, but for the boundaries of physics in this universe.

Underlying the demotion of inter-dimensional possibilities from the origins of paranormal creatures and entities, is the assertion that, with qualification, a great many paranormal encounters are bound inside the mind of the experiencer and not of the corporeal world we inhabit.  This is not to say that the various entities don’t exist, any more so than it is to say that every claim of an encounter is true and accurate.  The unfortunate outcome is that the many imagined or misidentified experiences that are reported through official and unofficial channels, serves only to dilute the total field of potential cases, thereby obscuring the relatively small amount of truly wondrous phenomenon from scientific observation.

To gather a deeper understanding of the above, in a much more elegant, albeit much more complicated form, I suggest picking up a copy of Brian Greene’s national bestseller; The Fabric of the Cosmos – Space, Time and the Texture of Reality, as well as the classic by Carl Sagan; Cosmos.

[1] For a reasonable accounting of the basic science behind string theory (technically termed ‘superstring theory’) and M-theory, please see the Wikipedia entry for each respective title:



[2] An involved description of supersymetry can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersymmetry

[3] A discussion of Plankian distances etc can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_length

[4] Multi-verse theory is a Big Bang Cosmology theory discussing possible conditions of pre-bang universes, and Many-Worlds is specifically a discussion of parallel cosmic timelines.

Ushering In The Inevitable, A New World Order

Human population growth, now sitting somewhere in around 6.7 billion people, is often thought of as an exponential process.  The year 10,000BC saw a global population of one million people, fifty million by 1000BC, then three-hundred-ten million by 1000AD, and a full billion by 1800.  In 1900 there were 1.6 billion people and by the new millennium the global population was just over six billion.  But this growth is not actually exponential; it’s just that we tend to breed a lot.  In spite of the fact that most anthropologists predict a global population of somewhere near 10 billion people by the year 2012 (convenient considering we’re all supposed to die in 2012), population growth rates in developed countries are actually negative.

These growth rates are the result of a calculation of the difference between birth and death rates, wherein a positive growth rate is the result of a higher birth rate than death rate, and transversely, a negative growth rate is the result of a lower birth rate than death rate.  Ideally speaking, a neutral growth rate is utopian for any society.  As many children being born as there are people dying, leaving stable numbers of attrition and replacement in each sector of development and occupation.  An obvious advantage to overall stability, though as mentioned, growth rates in first-world nations, as opposed to developing nations are negative (and falling, I might add).  Translating to potentially unstable attrition rates as the bulk of the population nears an age of occupational retirement and social dependence.  The process is two-fold devastating on social hierarchy, in that the bubble of experiential wisdom achieved by older generations is inefficiently shared with the replacement generations and as a result occupational expertise dwindles.  Secondly, the shift of the majority populous into states of growing social dependence precipitates an increase in new positions for which occupational expertise has yet to be developed, not to mention the strain of supporting such a huge population of the occupationally inert.  Both of these ideas contribute to a notion that the middle of this first century in the new millennium has a bleak prospect for overcoming expertise driven scientific, social and political problems, especially so when the sad state of western education systems is factored in.

However, these nations don’t live in a vacuum; they are offset by the positive growth rates of developing nations, through immigration and outsourcing, and subsequently, a detailed look at national growth rates offers only a skewed, nationalistic perspective.  On the whole the global population, in spite of the mixed national growth rates, is positive (this is most definitely not a value judgement).  On a global scale we continue to produce more people than are dying, in spite of the wide variety of ways in which a person can die these days.

War, terrorism, famine, natural disaster, crime, disease and old age, are apparently not enough to counter-balance what seems to be an almost unnatural predilection for humans to breed uncontrollably.  There are many reasons for positive growth rates in developing nations, some competing and contradictive, others counterintuitive to say the least.  Religion, the oppression of women’s rights, and even regional famine are just a few ideas that can easily explain increases in family size over poverty stricken nations, and coupled with, or perhaps entangled with these ideas (and many of the other socioeconomic ideas associated with the third world) is the anthropocentric notion that the global human population on the whole has some further obligation to help nudge these growth rates to ever more positive scales through “humanitarian aid”.

Now, this is not to say that a general sense of charitable obligation toward our own species is undesirable.  This is simply meant to highlight a particular underlying idea, or rather a train of ideas.  Humanitarianism is thought to be, at least by those who participate in it, an altruistic endeavour.  But both for hidden and even unintended reasons of personal or societal gain, it truly cannot be viewed as such.

A visual representation of global population (scale is arbitrary)

The human population explosion, in which we are still participating, is like most other explosive processes, a destructive cycle.  The larger the population within a finite environment, the faster the resources of that environment will disappear.  Because of our quickly rising population, we are facing a global food and water shortage, not to mention a global energy crisis.  And yet our population continues to increase unchecked at almost exponential rates.  All the while we continue to work feverishly, albeit indirectly, at increasing these numbers even further.  The proliferation of medicines to disease ravaged nations, the outpouring of charitable donations for natural disaster victims, the rolling in of agricultural and engineering resources for nations considered to be underprivileged in terms of education and economic representation.  Each of these efforts serves to extend the life span of those who are indigenous to these developing nations and in turn is serving to drastically increase the population growth rates of each nation and ultimately the planet.

Why, you might ask, shouldn’t they have just as much right to each and every one of these charities as anyone else, and even more?  No one is saying they shouldn’t mind you, but the simple fact is the more of them that survive, the worse our situation gets, globally speaking.  Cruel hearted as this sounds, there is logic here, but, and to the relief of at least my email inbox, this is not the end of the story.

There is a key idea here that many who think of these issues will miss.  Third-world countries are contributing, wildly, to our global population growth rate, and hence contributing in large part to the overall shortage of global resources, while first-world nations are actually showing population decline, and despite the fashionably popular notions of a super-sized America, are actually less of a burden, on a per populous basis, to those same resources (not including fossil fuels, of course).  The short sighted answer to the global food and water resource problem is to cut off aid for those countries that refuse to limit their population growth.  The right answer though, might be, to increase aid for those developing nations, in an unprecedented effort to boost their overall quality of life to that of the so-called first world nations.

Widespread public education, social support systems, as well as medical, engineering and permanent agricultural resources; when one considers what it may have been that ultimately contributed to the correlated (and some would argue illusory) high standard of living and acceptably low rate of population growth in developed countries like the US, one has difficulty nailing down a single idea.  Nevertheless, when thought of in these terms the answer is almost too simple to deny.

An unexpected possibility comes out of this argument though; one that may not sit well with the long standing notion that international outsourcing is destroying the North American economy.  A necessary effect of deliberately and drastically raising the standard of living for developing nations is an increase in that particular nation’s gross national product (GNP), and that is done in no other way than to create industries and jobs with which to sustain a working economy of their own.  Now, as western society is unwillingly, or perhaps, unwittingly moving toward an information based economy, rather than an industrial or even service based economy, the fact (sad or otherwise) is that international outsourcing is the single most efficient means for cultivating emerging economies in these nations.

And while there are many people, uninformed or ill-informed as they are, who would vehemently oppose such an idea, it can scarcely be denied that these steps are unavoidably connected (at least based on the population scales we seem intent on maintaining), for the alternative seems, while pragmatic, to be unthinkable.

Some may already see where this is headed, and those familiar with my own predilection for this idea may already have jumped ahead.  What we’re talking about here is nothing more than the natural evolution of global culture.  Nations develop; they emerge, they grow, they begin to participate and they develop.  Ultimately they develop into an international partner alongside other fully developed nations (as though there is some deep meaning to the term “fully developed”, beyond simply saying that they are no more or less developed than any other nation).  When I mention that humanitarian aid is both necessary and in some respects damaging, I am not suggesting that the participants have any control over it, or that they should discontinue their crusade.  When I say that efforts should be undertaken to raise the GNP of developing nations, I’m not suggesting that a third-world development committee be formed to oversee their progress (though the UN has made a valiant effort).  No, I’m simply pointing out that this process is necessary, what I haven’t pointed out is the fact that it’s happening, right now, whether we want it to or not.  It is simply a function of humanity’s social evolution.  It is no more stoppable than was our Darwinian departure from our ape cousins…its happening, get used to it.

This idea though is somewhat disconcerting to a great many people, myself included, that we’re no longer in control of our own development (as though we ever were, or even ever will be), that we cannot take control, at least of some aspect(s) of that development on a global scale.  There are those though, who suggest we can do just that, but now, what might we need in order to do such a thing?

Global governance is what we need, plain and simple; well actually it’s not even remotely plain, or simple for that matter.  Imagine that, if you will, humanity, finally realising that we’re all…human.  An anthroposphere, as coined by Harvard Social Scientist Nicholas Christakis.  A planetary population no longer separated by questions of border, and property and ownership.  This is by no means a suggestion that any one culture on earth should be overshadowed by those next door, not in the least.  In fact this is the suggestion that cultural differences should be celebrated for what they actually are instead of the caricatures of what national borders make them out to be.  We should be a population of humans, working in concert to propel humans into the future, not a fractured and bitter collection of ever poorer nations, whose pastimes amount to petty games of one-upmanship.  Idealistic as this may seem, even unrealistic to some, Global Governance extends directly from the fact that the coming years, decades and centuries will yield many, many more voices to be counted on issues that affect our global population.  It can’t be avoided that we will need a group of globally minded people to listen to all those voices, and ultimately decide what social, political and economic choices are best for the entire planet.

In case you missed it, this is actually a proposal for a New World Order; you know that dark and shadowy and frightening monster hiding in the dark corners of Doctor Evil’s laboratory, or should I say, in the closets of the world’s military-industrial complex.  As much as there may be (or more likely is not) a conspiratorial group of neo-political superpowers teaming with ideas of world domination, the reality of our social evolution is that 10 billion people cannot govern themselves in such a fractured political structure as we have today.  A unified global government is absolutely necessary for our survival on a global scale.  But for those who might argue this point, I shall offer what may amount to a crushing blow.  Just as the economic development of third-world nations is occurring all on its own, so too is the creation of a New World Order, by way of changing attitudes toward what it means to be human.  In this regard, we are our own worst enemy; our populations increase at an almost exponential rate, which means, unavoidably, that we produce a new globally scaled generation of humans every two decades or so.  Even if you’re not familiar with neo-Darwinism, you’ll have to concede that evolution has no preference for our political structures.  Our children will do whatever our social evolution demands of them, which means that this never was a discussion of what we should undertake, it was, from the beginning, an examination of what is most likely to come anyway.

In the end, it’s our children who will decide how to move forward, though as history tells us, forward movement is seldom planned to any great degree, it just happens, much like the development of those third world countries.  Those particular nations need to be developed, as much as you need to eat, hence they do develop; global governance is a necessity that rivals even our super-sized appetite.