Author Archive | David Metcalfe

The Hidden History of Artificial Intelligence – Transhumanism and Alchemical Agendas

A potent underground idea is usually scheduled for retirement once it makes it onto the History Channel . The Ancient Alien theory was kept alive in pulpish propagation by Erich Von Daniken and Zecharia Stichen for well on four decades (not including the seeds it sprouted from, which were planted much earlier.) However, now that it’s been relegated to awkward production, fleeting interviews, constant criticism and dull dramatization, the whole mythos is starting to get a bit dry.

Liminal philosophers like Christopher Knowles and Philip Coppens , whose theories have often tread parallel the ancient runways, keep their investigations fresh by swimming in a more cosmopolitan realm of shadows and contemporary myth. So suffice to say some vestige of the Ancient Alien mythos will continue to evolve in their able and imaginative hands.  In fact they’ve already spawned some precursory predictions on the fatted cognitive calves of speculation that are about to be offered up by Feral House Press to all the hungry heresy hunters looking for a new fix of fringe history.… Read the rest

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The Fine Art of Hoaxing – An American Tradition

Ben Franklin (DbM 2010)

Allen Greenfield, recently announced that he had found in his archives a series of unreleased tapes of interviews that were made by Gray Barker, the UFOlogist and folklorist best known for his coverage of fortean events in West Virginia, including the Mothman, Flatwoods Monster, and for his, some say, invention of the contemporary mythos of the Men in Black. Credulous curmudgeons, and stuffy skeptics often lament Barker’s involvement in the field of Forteana, saying that he was nothing more than an ill intentioned prankster that muddied the waters of serious investigation, or worse, a profiteering culture pirate who took advantage of the gullible with articles for Fate Magazine, books like They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, The Silver Bridge, MIB: The Secret Terror Among Us, and the many publications he put out from others via his imprint Saucerian Press.

A proper hoax, however, has a cathartic value that can be missed if we’re too stuck on the dull task of debunking.… Read the rest

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Vodou in NYC

Mambo Carmen becomes possessed by the Loa Klemezin. Shannon Taggart, 2010.

Often relegated to tabloid news coverage, the Afro-Caribbean religions, such as Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Palo Monte, and Vodoun, are some of the most beautiful and complex spiritual paths that can be found in the world. They have been forged in the sorrow, pain and violence of our colonial history, tempered with the hopes and joys that can only come from true perseverance.  It’s unfortunate that when we hear about them their beauty is usually obscured by patronizing, inept journalism, or, more frequently, by fear mongering, thinly veiled racism.

Maya Deren’s seminal work, The Divine Horsemen, was my first encounter with the depth of the Haitian tradition of Vodoun, and I’ll never forget how it changed my view of  life.  More recently I’ve enjoyed the work of Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, an anthropologist,  Palero, and Vodoun initiate, whose works on Quimbanda and Palo Mayombe are published by Scarlet Imprint.… Read the rest

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Paranormal or Normal?

John Kruth, Executive Director of the Rhine Research Center, which has been at the forefront of laboratory research into anomalous perception since its founding in 1935,  pointed out an interesting correlation between psi research and hypnosis:

“For decades, hypnosis was considered by many to be unproven and an illusion because there was no definitive mechanism provided to describe how it worked. Still there is no definitive mechanism that identifies the mechanics of hypnosis, but since there are practical applications in psychology and medicine, it has become an accepted practice.

Today, many people reject PSI phenomenon because no mechanism has been “proven” in the laboratory despite the years of “proof-oriented” experimental evidence for all aspects of PSI. Hypnosis was accepted because it has practical applications. Will the same thing happen with PSI in the coming years?”

One of the researchers helping to guide the field into more applicable areas is Jack Hunter, the Editor of the Paranthropology Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal.  Hunter’s investigations into anomalous phenomena use insights gained from the fields of anthropology, specifically ethnographic approaches, that highlight participatory and experiential elements of the phenomena rather than laboratory findings.… Read the rest

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Second Sight May Take First Place in Consciousness Studies

What if anomalous perception isn’t anomalous, what if it’s an underlying component of consciousness itself? Psi skeptics might be in for a surprise if Dr. Jim Carpenter’s research is correct.

“There is a new theory about your mind — about where your decisions and experiences come from before you are aware of them. This theory has solid science behind it, and it suggests that there is a lot more going on in your mind than you realize.

Parts of this theory are familiar. Research has told us that brain events stand behind every thought we think and lead to them. And we have learned that many implicit psychological processes precede our experiences too, processes like subliminal sensations, stored memories and long-term values. These things aren’t conscious in themselves, but the unconscious mind uses them to help lead to whatever we do become conscious of.

A difference about this theory, called “First Sight,” is that it assumes that a much bigger domain of unconscious information stands behind experience.

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Project 1794 – The U.S. Air Force’s Supersonic Flying Saucer

Have you ever wanted to build your own Flying Saucer? Well now’s your chance!

Benjamin Plackett, reporting for Wired’s Danger Room, details the recently declassified saucer schematics from Project 1794:

“Newly declassified materials show the U.S. Air Force had a contract with a now-defunct Canadian company to build an aircraft unlike anything seen before. Project 1794 got as far as the initial rounds of product development and into prototype design. In a memo dating from 1956 the results from pre-prototype testing are summarized and reveal exactly what the developers had hoped to create.

The saucer was supposed to reach a top speed of “between Mach 3 and Mach 4, a ceiling of over 100,000 ft. and a maximum range with allowances of about 1,000 nautical miles,” according to the document.

If the plans had followed through to completion they would have created a saucer, which could spin through the Earth’s stratosphere at an average top speed of about 2,600 miles per hour.

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Martian Romances, Channeled Landscapes and the Social Value of Gross Speculation

“We dare to hope that the day will come when scientific methods yet unknown to us will give us direct evidences of the existence of the inhabitants of other worlds, and at the same time, also, will put us in communication with our brothers in space.”
- C. Flammarion, La Planète Mars et ses conditions d’habitabilité (Paris, 1892)

NPR just ran a story looking at some interesting enigmas in the Martian landscape, strange black spots that appear seasonally on the surface of the sand drifts during the Martian spring. Scientists have been batting around speculations on what they could be since they were first observed in 1998.

The most accepted hypothesis, at the moment, is that they are some sort of mineral deposit left after the increasing heat of the sun on the surface of Mars allows CO2 deposits to spew forth from beneath:

“Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it’s transformed my idea of what it’s like to be on Mars.

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William S. Burroughs, Cat Fancier

William S. Burroughs loved his cats. The outlaw author known for his unabashed avant-sexual space operas and hyper-spatial exploratory prose wasn’t one to apologize for his utter disgust over a society he saw crumbling under the iron claws of Control. However, behind the icy eyed visage of ‘El Hombre Invisible’ was a heart warmed with the gentle purrs of his coveted feline companions.

As Yony Leyser, director of the critically acclaimed bio-pic Williams S. Burroughs: A Man Within, discusses in an article for Vice, understanding Burroughs’ cats is central to understanding the man behind the myth:

“Author William S. Burroughs made his love for all things feline known in his book The Cat Inside, in which he refers to cats as “psychic companions” and innate “enemies of the state.” In his final journal entry, written just before he died, Burroughs discusses love as the ultimate cure-all. I feature the quote in my documentary William S.

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Connecticut Vampires in a Naive Skeptic’s Court

Can you trust skepticism that isn’t based on a firm grasp of our collective history? After just penning a piece for The Teeming Brain on the serious case of cultural amnesia that our media representatives seem to enjoy regarding Isaac Newton’s mystical proclivities, I run across Sharon Hill, a leading cultural critic and skeptic with a background in Geology, writing for Doubtful News, and her brief dismissal of historical depth in a post that links to a Smithsonian article on 19th century vampire beliefs. Hill’s commentary shows a similarly stunted viewpoint as the authors of the Newton articles, only she is not just a journalist, but someone who claims to be working to educate the public on scientific rationality:

“In 1854, in Jewett City, Connecticut, townspeople had exhumed several corpses suspected to be vampires that were rising from their graves to kill the living. Yes. 1854.”

Now, I admit I’m a bit biased because I’d rather have my Forteana reported in sober academic fashion, or by a breathless Keelian storytellers (the Smithsonian article that Doubtful News links to is a nice mix of both.)  However, stories filtered through naiveté, like the pontification surrounding this one on Doubtful News, show why a passive skeptical attitude can get in the way of deeper encounters with the churning waters of the cultural mythosphere.… Read the rest

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If Religion is No Longer Adequate…What About UFOs?

The media is a’buzz with the Office of the Dali Lama’s recent statements regarding organized religion. A FaceBook message posted on September 24th presented the following provocation for fundamentalist and arm chair devotees:

” The reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.”

Nor was it ever so, and Buddhism has long held to this fact in its diverse applications of the simple monikor – If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

So let’s move past any undue shock over those statements and get straight to the UFOs. In 1992 John E. Mack, the noted Harvard Professor who specialized in abduction experiences, had the opportunity to meet with the Dali Lama and discuss his views on the UFO phenomenon. Central to this is Mack’s theory, similar to that of Jacques Vallee, that whatever is behind the UFO phenomena, and specifically abduction experiences, is central to changing our perceptions of reality and the progress of our culture.

It is interesting to hear Mack discuss the difference in how the Buddhist world view integrates these experiences, juxtaposed with how the ‘Western materialist’ mindset faces these anomalous encounters:

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