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Posts Tagged ‘paranormal’

I dread the ‘reveal’, the ‘outing’, of Kirsten as Paranormal Investigator; or, God forbid, Ghost Hunter. This happens, eventually, at work or at church, which is part of the reason I have joined and abandoned eight churches in five years. The voice changes, lowers: “so . . . ” they say, as if they were about to ask me about a sordid affair I’m having, or query me regarding illicit drug use, or any number of other unsavory possibilities, “I hear you . . . hunt ghosts”. Then they giggle, or raise their eyebrows, cock their heads, and smile in that particular way that tells me that they are thrilled that they have just discovered that I am mad or stupid. They are normal in comparison; they are infinitely stable, acceptable, and logical when standing next to a GHOST HUNTER. Then come the questions. I feel heavy, trapped, and exhausted by this point, because I know exactly how the conversation is going to go. I usually fall into a chair and prepare myself for the stereotypes, the ignorance, and the criticism that is about to come my way. Yes, I could simply refuse to discuss this topic with people and walk away; but deep in my heart, I still think that I have the opportunity to change hearts and minds. And no, it doesn’t usually happen; but hope springs eternal. So, without further delay, here are the Top Three Most Annoying Questions for the Paranormal Investigator:

1. So you believe in ghosts???

No. I don’t believe in them. I don’t believe in you, either. I see you and am talking to you, but I don’t BELIEVE in you. You are not God or Jesus or Buddha. I am interacting with you. Therefore, I ascribe some reality to you. You seem rather material and solid, and you are asking questions that I can hear, and I am responding to you, so you exist–materially and spiritually. Now, for that word, “ghost”, let’s drop that already, OK? Nobody knows what a ghost is. All we can do is describe what we think it is, but since we are talking about a non-material entity that manifests itself in a variety of mysterious ways in this visible universe, let’s stop pretending that we know its identity and purpose. Oh, and if you’re envisioning Caspar floating in a sheet, can we just end this miserable conversation right now???

2. You’re so smart; why do you believe this stuff is real?

Well . . . thank you for the compliment. I am, like, SO SMART. So to prove that to you, let’s deconstruct your assumptions, turn them on their head, and force YOU to define reality. I already discussed the ‘believe in’ issue. Let’s move on to ‘this stuff’: what you mean by this is ANYTHING that you don’t understand or that you can’t sense. If your definition of reality is challenged by what others have discovered, or simply by other people’s observations and experiences that point to something beyond the everyday, ordinary reality of collective consciousness, then you decide to attack someone else’s cosmovision. In other words, if you don’t perceive it or understand it, it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk about the word “real”: this is one of those words like ‘love’ or ‘ghosts’ that simply can’t be defined in a simple, straightforward way. What you REALLY mean by this word is this: real is what is real to me, to my community, to my colleagues, to my family, and is supported by my values, ideologies, politics, beliefs, and stereotypes. If what you experience falls outside of what my community values, or what makes me comfortable, or what my church says, or what my chem professor told me, in other words, if YOUR experience causes me discomfort because it falls outside of what I am willing to accept in my life, I will turn on you and label you delusional or strange. The labels keep you at a distance and allow me to continue to live in my little bubble.

3. Can I go with you on an investigation?

No.

Truth is, most people who ask insulting questions of a paranormal researcher are, deep down, fascinated by the varieties of anomalous consciousness (ghosts). They want to know more, but they’re afraid. I understand that. It’s wise to be afraid. At some point, they admit that they are scared of what I do. So I ask them: “What are you scared of?” The answer is, usually, “I’m afraid that ghosts are real”.

That’s where the conversation can start. Yes, my dear, ghosts are real. Now please stop calling them that.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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Anyone who meditates on a regular basis knows that some strange material can float to the surface of our minds. I used to dismiss such information as a product of random, subconscious associations, but now I pay attention. I realized that what I used to ignore was teaching that I didn’t want and lessons that contradicted what I desired to believe. It seems, sadly enough, that I don’t grow as a human being unless I suffer the pain of reality contradicting my illusions.

I was far away in space during a meditation where I quickly vanished as a ‘person’. I found myself in an odd, geometric void where there were several points displayed in front of ‘me’, or the observer. A master teacher was explaining that the points represented versions of the self. During our lifetimes, we create multiple copies of the true Self, typically by assigning them roles to play. There is the self as mother, teacher, wife, daughter, and so forth. We come to identify with those roles, and therein lies the pain and suffering that so many of us experience when we realize that the roles we play are primarily determined by our culture, family, country of origin, media, and other forces that act upon us in hidden ways. The ‘false selves’ are only painful when they separate from the true Self and take on a life of their own, divorced from a higher, ultimate reality (some call this God, the Divine, the Field, or the Theory of Everything). When the role-identified ego fragments view themselves as independent, the emotional pain grows and intensifies every time we fail to meet the ego’s standards, which are tied to our culture’s definition of success. We become bad mothers, poor teachers, disappointing wives, or bankrupted entrepreneurs. There are an infinite variety of ways we ‘fail’ in our culture: we are old, fat, unattractive, and unsuccessful. Every negative judgment we struggle with is a result of identifying with a false construct of the self that has broken off from the True Self and become autonomous.

Our very culture, the medium in which we live and act, promotes the fragmentation of the self. If we are ‘unsuccessful’ at any of the roles assigned to us, then we will spend money to ‘fix’ the problem that our society created for us. We chase solutions to invented problems, and the people responsible for selling us said ‘solutions’ become rich and powerful at our expense. To some extent, we are all responsible for selling ourselves and others the lies of our culture: how many times have we promoted a damaging, false view of who we are ‘supposed’ to be that is in service to a diseased, dominant culture? If we think that we are substandard employees, daughters, sons, parents, citizens, and so on, we exist in a perpetual state of self loathing and criticism, making us far less likely to pursue avenues of change in our environment, politics, educational system, or social networks. How do you keep the population from rebelling or protesting? Make them believe that they are not good enough to try. I have classrooms filled with students who believe that there is no point in attempting change of any kind. They passively accept the version of themselves that their communities and cultures promote, consciously or otherwise.

While I floated in this space of false selves, I decided that I must be ‘the Observer’ who understood the lessons; the student, if you will. But the Voice, very gently, asked me: “Who observes the observer?” This sounded to me like one of those impossible Zen scenarios where there is, for all intents and purposes, no answer. I was then led to, and ‘infused’ with, the Observer of the observer, and discovered that it was God; but God was me. I was God. Of course, this upset the little ‘me’, who considered this blasphemy. The little observer started protesting that she was a miserable sinner, far from God, and that this truth that I was experiencing could not be true (a tautology if there ever was one). This was now the second time that I have been shown that the true self is God. After all, God experiences herself/themselves (no pronoun works here) in an infinite variety of forms and beings, and I am one of those beings whose true identity is with God.

If we were all to believe this, instead of the lies and distortions that we DO believe, how would the world change? Indeed, the world as we know it would look utterly different (to be clear, I am not talking about the ego delusion that one is God; that’s entirely another problem. I am talking about the actual, true, real Self through which God experiences creation). How beautiful our experience on Earth would be if everyone followed the path of the true Self. It’s too painful to see how far we are from that vision. Perhaps the whole point of life on Earth is to overcome the vast distance between our repressive cultures/constructed selves and our true nature. We come back here again and again, learning and remembering these lessons in various ways, in differing circumstances. Pain and suffering are the most effective teachers when we are ready to accept the falling away of the myriad, scattered, ego selves.
This is why we pray, why we meditate, why we alter our consciousness: to get closer to our true identity and to realize that fundamental change is possible. To make that change requires those little selves floating out there in space to self destruct under the weight of their false values and internal contradictions. Losing those fragments hurts. Those painful identities don’t seem to actually ‘die’: they become ghosts and haunt our collective consciousness forever and ever. But they don’t have to define me anymore, or crush me under the weight of their unprocessed emotion. I choose to send them to the far corners of the Earth, where they can rattle their chains, moan and lament, and scare the paranormal investigators and urban explorers. For that is where they belong, after all: in the agonized and remote regions of our worst fears.

I will keep moving towards the Light, which we all need to do long before we die.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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Kirsten doubled

Dear Readers: Today, you’re going to hear me boot the nice Kitty to the curb, because the angry Kitty is ready to write today. Forgive her for her lack of fuzziness and warmth. That persona will be back soon. In the meantime, this is what’s going on:

Every now and then, some kind soul will send me hate mail. Hate mail is never fun to receive, but on the other hand, it means that people are reading. Just like there is no bad publicity, there is always cause for a writer to celebrate when someone takes the time to send an email, even if it’s vicious vitriol from an inflamed and angry soul whose sensibilities you’ve offended.

There is a segment of the population who despises all talk of the survival of consciousness–the idea that we are more than meat machines–and the very notion of the human spirit. In part, those people have been hurt by organized religion, and think (falsely) that I am promoting religion or a particular vision/version of God. I understand the backlash; but let me be clear: although I consider myself Christian, I do not write on soulbank with a conversion agenda nor am I an apologist for a particular faith. Atheists are always welcome to debate issues relating to the survival of death of some aspect of human consciousness.

However, there is a trend in my hate mail: people who believe that nothing survives death–no soul, no spirit, no aspect of consciousness–tend to insult me on a personal level. There is a certain pattern to the meanness: first, attack my PhD. Start by telling me how you can’t believe that someone with an advanced degree would spout such drivel, etc. Then, move on to how worthless my degree must be in order for me to question the status quo of materialism. Then, express dismay at the state of higher education to allow someone like me to exist in the world at all. If you are a distant relative of mine, or a friend of a distant relative, your next move it to wring your hands in dismay over my ‘lost promise’.

The hate mail usually goes on to question my psychology: I am somehow traumatized or deficient in some way, suffering from a personality disorder or simply deluded. My mental stability is questioned or my emotional life must be out of whack. This is followed by the materialists’ trump card:

  • “this is wishful thinking on your part”

Of course, this is an old objection and the excuse for not researching the issue in any depth or at all: since this is just your desire speaking, there is no validity to the question in the first place. Or, there is that other objection that states that this is all fantasy akin to inventing some fantastic creature and attempting to prove it exists. To both of these very typical objections, and by way of some general observations, I offer the following:

  • There is no reason that people who disagree with me cannot be civil or polite in their responses; the failure to adhere to basic, human courtesy tells me more about how threatened YOU feel by the subject matter than it does about a rigorously defensible point of view;
  • My education, my writing and my critical thinking skills speak for themselves. If you are disappointed in me or think that I can’t defend a premise, you are free to stop reading soulbank;
  • Thousands of years of human history have shown us that every culture has believed in a sort of afterlife, and that elaborate preparations for that life are a common feature of those cultures. To say that our entire, collective past is founded upon delusions and wishful thinking makes one the worst kind of colonizer: the kind that believes in her privilege to such an extent that you represent ‘civilization’ and all others are primitive savages with quaint, superstitious beliefs;
  • Science is moving in the direction of more openness regarding the possible existence of consciousness after clinical death. There is now a considerable chorus of voices representing many disciplines in the sciences who are considering the ‘life after life’ questions with curiosity and receptivity. To anyone who wants a bibliography, just let me know. I have a great many books by doctors, physicists, neuroscientists and others who have dared to consider this question.
  •  There is no need to make a religion out of materialism and defend it to the point of alienating anyone who disagrees with you. If you believe in scientific materialism and will not consider evidence to the contrary, that’s fine–but there is no need to be vindictive, wounding, insulting and condescending in the process. Is this what happens to people who deny the human spirit?

There are many nasty things one can write to me that will have no effect. However, there is one kind of attack that I have difficulty with: those who seek to deny the validity of others’ experiences. People tend to label and insult what they do not understand or have not themselves experienced. So, when someone feels that a possible past life is the best explanation for their anomalous memories, feelings and/or behaviors, to call into question that person’s sanity or to state that they are naive, deluded, unable to think critically or don’t understand their own psychology, is an act of violence.

When a widow says she was visited by her late husband and told some important information that is later verified, to call her crazy, to say she’s unable to distinguish reality from fantasy due to grief, is an act of violence.

When someone comes back after a period of clinical death to say that they had an out of body experience where they had extraordinary powers of perception and understanding and you call them sick, drugged or a victim of a ‘dying brain’, that is an act of violence.

When someone has predicted the future, read someone’s thoughts, communicated with the dead, all under strict controls and evaluated in an academic setting by well trained scientists–to insult the researchers, to belittle the protocols, to question everybody’s ethics, IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE.

Let me go further. Even if all these people, across all these cultures, all throughout human history, did not have labs, scientists and formal experiments to monitor their experiences, to call those ‘experiencers’ insane, misled, misinformed, deluded, uneducated or victims of their own desires/illusions/fantasies, etc. IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE.

Whenever we seek to denigrate a human experience that we share with MILLIONS of others, we perpetuate a witch hunt against those who are at odds with our dominant, militant culture of scientific materialism. Whether or not anomalous experiences have been proven for YOU, to YOUR satisfaction, is another issue completely. What I will never understand is why those who profess no belief in anything other than the mechanical/biological workings of the material self behave in ways that are intended to belittle and mock those who see something transcendent and universal behind the forms of the world. To see beyond the material is not to deny the material, or the importance of the disciplines that study it.

If I see beyond this world, it is not due to a sick or infantile brain; it’s comes from a mind that has been either blessed or cursed to perceive pieces of a reality that connect and explain the mysteries of consciousness that lie just beyond the full grasp of any of us, even–or especially–the academics who study the world so ardently.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

 

 

 

 

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Kitty with Yale degree

Is this shameless self promotion on my part, bragging about my degree? Well, sure it is! I worked my ass off to get this PhD, and I’m damn proud of it. Why post this now? There are some articles circulating on social media sites debating whether or not one needs ‘fancy letters’ after one’s name in order to be a published expert on the paranormal. Before I go any further, my degree is not in the ‘paranormal’ because, as I will elucidate, there ARE NO DEGREES IN THE PARANORMAL. My degree is in Spanish literature, culture and language with a minor in Portuguese. My degree, however, did prepare me to conduct research into survival of consciousness, but first things first.

1) There are no ‘experts’ on the paranormal. What makes an expert? Usually a degree in your field (yup, those fancy letters again), articles in peer reviewed journals, the respect of your colleagues, and a solid reputation in academic or institutional circles. In other words, a community of your peers decides whether or not you’re an expert. The study of the paranormal at the moment lacks a rigorous curriculum of study with experts in the field. There is no formal degree in the paranormal. The closest you can get is the University of Arizona, the University of Virginia and the University of Edinburgh. Those universities have “divisions,” usually housed within the Psychology Department, that explore such anomalies as ESP, transpersonal awareness, survival of consciousness, the study of mediumship and reincarnation. You can’t obtain a “degree” in the paranormal; you have to get the PhD within the department of psychology or psychiatry first, and that requires taking a ton of basic, academic courses in the discipline. You are not, when you graduate, an “expert” in the paranormal, but a trained psychologist whose research interests delve into the so-called ‘paranormal.’

2) You can be well respected in paranormal community outside of higher education, but you give something up. What do you give up? The respect of academia and the larger culture, which still recognizes education and degrees as necessary for expertise in a subject. Are there idiotic professors with fancy letters after their name? OF COURSE. There are people who can find ways to earn a PhD without any original or interesting thinking on their part. It is entirely possible to spend several years slavishly imitating whatever your professors tell you just so you can get that degree, and once you have it, you can endlessly repeat what others have told you and never really accomplish anything of value. That is true in every, single profession. Letters after your name do not make you talented, original or your work worth reading. But it does mean this: You worked hard for something you wanted. You took years’ worth of courses, you read hundreds of books, you wrote countless papers, your had to research your topic at 3:00 AM in the all-night section of your university library, you gave up your social life while you studied for oral comprehensive exams, you almost passed out from exhaustion writing your 500 page dissertation . . . I could go on and on. If you received your PhD from a legitimate institution of higher learning, then there were blood, sweat and tears involved.

3) Any degree from a college or university should mean that you know how to conduct research and think critically. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Since there is no formal degree in parapsychology that I am aware of, there is a HUGE benefit to a BA, MA and/or PhD in another field. You learn how to approach a topic critically and you understand what is necessary to conduct formal research. You read and read and read and read and read everything you can get your hands on. You know all about the Society for Psychical Research and can name most of the founding members. You are a member of the ASPR. There are many things you can do right now to improve your level of expertise in the paranormal, with or without a degree. If you want to take your education into your own hands, go for it. However, if you are not actively conducting research and reading the ‘paranormal canon’ of great works, then you will end up going in circles with the weirdness of what you’re experiencing on investigations. You need a theory. In order to come up with a theory, or various theories, you need to educate yourself first.

4) Look, nobody needs a degree to investigate a haunted site. I get that. Nobody needs to read in order to collect a million audio clips. Nobody needs to study the history of a place or catch up on quantum theory in order to do a Ghost Box session. Here is the problem with all this investigating without studying: you will amass hundreds, thousands, of audio clips, photos, video clips and so on without any kind of supporting theory to explain it. You will end up a collector of random bits of information without telling your audience what it might mean on a larger, philosophical level. You need History, Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and the Humanities to understand the enormity of what you are stumbling across in the dark. It’s important what you are all doing; IT IS TOO IMPORTANT TO DO AS A HOBBY. You need commitment, you need to read, you need to think. I don’t care if you have a fancy degree, but you do need an education.

I do care that you find answers for us all, answers that are not repetitive, vainglorious or frivolous. Dive down into the meaning of the mystery, however you can, and share what you find with the rest of us.

That’s what truly matters.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD
Yale University, 1992

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Cam Twelve
Cam Ten

Cam 2014 7 another lonely hallwayCam 2014 5 desolationCam 2014 9 Kir looking youngCam Eleven

http://snapjudgment.org/inpatients

If you haven’t already heard the story on NPR’s “Snap Judgment,” the above link will take you there. However, I’m guessing that many of you are here to know something else about that story.

First of all, the story is true. Some of the details overlapped from other investigations, and the ending of the story is slightly different than how I originally remembered it. It was Marsha who opened that door at the end of our journey, not the lady in white (whose name, by the way, is my name: Kirsten). Marsha reminded me that Kirsten 2 didn’t even want to come down that hallway and let us out. She was terrified.

I don’t condone the exploration of abandoned mental hospitals or any other abandoned site. If you know which place is profiled in this piece, you should also know that it is now a University. Said University does not take such exploration lightly, and will prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone they find exploring those buildings. That investigation was several years ago; we would not attempt it today.

Five years later, I am not the same person. I used to enjoy investigations. I loved the thrill of exploration and finding odd voices on audio. I still investigate and record audio, but I am very careful to take certain precautions that I never bothered with before. First and foremost, I pray. I pray for protection from possession or oppression. I pray for the souls of anyone who might be stuck or caught in the time loop of their conscious mind. I pray for all the people who might have suffered or died in a place that offered them no hope.

These investigations are serious business. We may not think so when we start out on these adventures. I started as someone who was curious and looking to recapture some fun from my youth. I ended up feeling very old, very tired, and often very scared. The spiritual realm is real. It’s not all bright white light and love. Sometimes, it exceedingly dark. If you search for the darkness, you will definitely find it.

I grew up in an academic family who prided themselves on their agnosticism, if not outright atheism. We were practical, smart, logical and critical. Only nutty New Age whack jobs believed in spirits and energies from the ‘Other Side’. I prided myself on my academic pedigree and my ability to discern real from fake, authentic from B.S., and conclusions based on rigorous thinking versus conclusions based on fantasy, wishful thinking, or neurosis.

What I discovered is that I don’t know shit. Sorry to put it so bluntly. However, I do have a strong, abiding faith in God. I no longer do work that is out of alignment with what I believe this universal force of love wants for me. As far as the world of spirit works, as far as definite answers are concerned, I don’t have them. I don’t think we will ever have them, because we “see through a glass darkly” by design. If you have answers, you don’t need faith. If you have answers, you stop asking the questions.

I will never stop asking the questions, especially the hard questions. I have lots of those. In the meantime, I stumble around in the dark and keep looking.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD
See also: paranormalhousewives.com for many more audio clips of our investigations.

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PHW 8

The news was all over Facebook: Aaron from Ghost Adventures had been fired for revealing that the show required him to fake his audio clips! That turned out to be untrue; a “satirical” news site had published the piece to stir up controversy, and they succeeded. I fell for it, because the fake news was not satirical or ironic, simply libelous. Satire requires an exaggeration of the truth for amusing or ironic effect, not the wholesale invention of news designed to tarnish the reputation of an individual or a production.

This ‘fake news’ story was so successful precisely because it touched a nerve with the community of paranormal investigators. There is always the lingering suspicion that the best audio and video clips have been invented or created by a show’s producer. The requirements of the entertainment industry are in direct conflict with the requirements of a good, thorough investigation into a haunting or other paranormal activity.

Hollywood requires melodrama and will invent situations among ‘characters’ (investigators are always turned into characters) in order to provoke conflict, pain, upset and a theatrical expression of emotion. In reality, a team of individuals investigating a location must take themselves out of the equation and focus on the external environment. Any upset or misunderstandings between investigators will hurt the success of the investigation. When one is tuning in to activity around them, you forget yourself and enter into something of a meditative or semi-trance state. That does not make for good television.

Hours may go by where nothing appears to be happening. We are all straining to hear something or ‘catch’ something, but often the result of your efforts is a sore back and exhaustion. Later, we might find gems on our audio clips, but again–the voices are often subtle and odd, not explosive declarations of ‘paranormality’. My team has often sent off some of our best audio to producers who want a sample of our data, only to be told that they need something obvious and definitive: one person actually asked for a clip where the spirit identified itself by name and declared he or she was dead. If these consciousness fragments stated their names, family history, their ontological status and their purpose in contacting us, our jobs would be so much easier!

I was interviewed recently for a national radio show (not Paranormal Kool-Aid–that was a blast!). I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I knew from the beginning that my story would be rejected. I was right, of course. They asked for stories about personal transformation: nothing has transformed my life more than the experiences I have had while investigating the world of spirit. I had one particular story that involved becoming lost and trapped in an abandoned hospital, possessed by the spirits of those who were patients there, and redeemed by a woman in white who freed the three of us. This led to my epiphany that the world of spirit was real and not to be played or trifled with. I was a different person from that point on. I even had spectacular audio from that night that was nothing if not clear. So how could a story like that be rejected?

The answer was: We don’t want to be in the business of proving or disproving the existence of ghosts. Ghosts? I didn’t mention that word a single time to them! And yet: everything always came down to that gross over-simplification of our experiences as investigators. I tried to explain that the popular conception of ‘ghosts’ did not apply here. We were dealing with the anguished remains of suffering patients, who had taken over our conscious minds in order to teach us a divine truth: in order to understand injustice and pain, we must experience it directly sometimes; we must help each other, the living and the ‘dead’. We must transform each other for the good. But no; sadly, the question for the producers remained the same: can you prove the existence of ghosts? No? Well, forget it then.

I didn’t ask the producers to prove anything. The story was about personal transformation. They had fallen into the same trap that almost everyone in the entertainment industry falls into: prove it’s real, or at least fake it so well that most people will believe it. Or, perhaps, they didn’t want to start the ‘real or fake’ discussion with their listeners, and maybe they knew intuitively that nobody would listen to my story for its spiritual value; it would end up where all paranormal stories end up: everyone weighing in with their opinion regarding the veracity of someone’s evidence for ‘ghosts’. Whether this experience “transforms” you or not is entirely beside the point.

I was disappointed and sad, not because I wasn’t going to appear on a national show–that part filled me with a certain amount of dread, due to my fear of misinterpretation and backlash–but because once again, a rep from the ‘industry’ had completely misunderstand the importance of my story. My team and I go through this process on a regular basis. Who we are and why we do what we do is not as important as whether or not we can create the required drama, pain, anger and emotional firestorms that television (and radio) require. The ideal show is one where I turn on my best friends, throw wine in their face during some disagreement about an audio clip, present my friend Wheezer the ghost to the audience, and then throw up on him after a night of drinking margaritas at a haunted restaurant.

Even a respectable show doesn’t want to be part of the conversation about the reality of the soul or the world of spirit (with the exception of the shows our own paranormal community produces). A national radio program that wishes to be taken seriously has to turn its back on the entire question–arguably, the most important question for all humankind–in order to avoid the idiocy of Hollywood’s ‘ghost shows’. We tried to change that. The ladies of the PHW stuck to their guns and refused to fabricate emotions or data in the service of selling a show. My personal role models are still the boys of Ghost Adventures. I worked with them on an episode (“Linda Vista”), and I never saw anything remotely fabricated during those long hours of filming. Not only that, we collected some truly amazing evidence right there on camera. You don’t have to believe me. See the episode yourself and make up your minds.

As soon as I wrote that, it occurred to me that anyone reading Soulbank could accuse me of self promotion. That’s how deeply I’ve been affected by the poisonous environment of entertainment. By simply inviting people to make up their own minds, I’ve fallen into my own trap: ghosts are real! This is what I truly want to say: my life has been utterly changed by the data I have collected on investigations. I think that anyone with a sincere interest in life after life could do exactly what I have done and find themselves flabbergasted by what they discover. What I can’t change is the apathy and lack of interest that many people seem to feel about pretty much everything of importance in their lives. Television is responding to what they see people care about: confusion, discord, negative emotions, dysfunction and theatrics.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a sizable market out there of people who truly, honestly care about the Big Questions; could the ‘industry’ change the entertainment culture by taking us seriously? Of course it could; it’s just easier and more profitable to sell shows that roll in the mud instead of fly with the angels.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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abandoned_house_chicago
I used to wonder about all of those homes out there abandoned to foreclosure; were they haunted by the emotions of the living, or did the trauma stir up the spirits that were already there? Or, perhaps, were both situations occurring at once? Of course, there is no way to prove spirit activity in a home, only build a case for it; however, my personal situation placed me in an interesting position to study such a theory.
On a personal note, we have decided to sell our beloved cabin via short sale. There isn’t much else you can do when your home is worth $300,000 less than when you purchased it, and your banks (IndyMac and Green Tree) refuse to modify your loans to an affordable level. For those of you who don’t know this, IndyMac—a subsidiary of OneWest—has already been reimbursed for their real estate losses by 80% of the original loan amount (through the FDIC), PLUS they can resell your house through foreclosure or short sale. So, they stand to make about $340,000 from the sale of my house. Why modify my loan when there are profits to be made? This is why, dear readers, when people email me asking about whether or not they should try to stay in their homes, I say “beware”. It is not in the banks’ best interest to modify anyone’s loan, although some banks are better than others.
What does this have to do with hauntings? Plenty, as it turns out. When you place a homeowner under extraordinary amounts of stress over months, sometimes years, as they navigate the emotional horrors of the loan mod scams, you see an increase in paranormal activity in the house. I used to think that it was a poltergeist-like phenomenon, something like telekinesis, but now I think that it’s our emotions that stir up the spirits that linger around us and our own personalities in distress that split off from our psyche. In my case, I’ve noticed that when I am most upset about the fate of my home, I start hearing raps and cracks all around me, but especially on the ceiling or roof. This terrifies the cats, who can see things I cannot. They start following something across the room and bristle in fear. Yesterday, after yet another crying jag, the entire house started popping and knocking with such force that I felt alarmed.
Perhaps that was the signal that I need to tone down my emotional response to selling my house. As for the new place, it appeared to be nothing but an empty shell at first. It is fairly new; our family has never lived in a house built after 1950! So, for the first time, I was thinking that the home would be both history and spirit free. It is far too early to tell, of course, but there is something funny going on over there, too. The strange noises I attributed to a new house with unfamiliar aches and pains. Fairly quickly, however, I zeroed in on an “active zone” in the house that is very specific (and NOT in my daughter’s room, in case she is reading this) and feels entirely different from anything I have experienced in the old house.
The new house also saw its share of trauma. The owners endured a bitter divorce where the husband underwent a complete change of personality, moved to a distant country and engaged in activities which broke his wife’s heart. She was forced to live alone in the house that he had lovingly remodeled for her. In our small way, we are helping her by taking care of the house and plants and making sure that her home is occupied and well loved. Of course, over time, her house will become ours. What makes a house “yours” is the time, love, and care that you invest in it, not what a bank loan states or who appears on title. In any case, something strange happened at the new house that was not at all traumatic, but plain weird.
Early in the morning, I was lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, wishing that I was looking at wood instead of plaster (my current cabin has wood ceilings, and I adore them), when I heard the insistent and loud coughing of a man in the room. My husband was fast asleep, and I was wide awake. Obviously, there was no source for another man’s hacking up a lung in the bedroom. It wasn’t us, so who was it?
The noises in the house and the general feeling of “occupancy” are very specific to certain areas, and the energy is entirely male, and sardonic . . . it’s a feeling that is close to mockery, but not quite that strong. It’s a slightly arrogant, male energy who seems to feel amused by us. I get the sense that his humor was slightly cruel or condescending. Now, my guess is that the ex-husband might have left some of his personality behind in the house that he built (or extensively remodeled), but given the fact that he is still alive, the theory that works here is simply this: you do NOT have to be dead to haunt your house. I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating: your energy, personality, all of you that is non-local and expressed through mind (not matter) can split off and remain behind, especially where strong emotions were involved.
For that reason, I am trying very hard not to haunt my old house. The only way to accomplish this is to maintain your integrity, your values and your love of your family, yourself, and God (or your equivalent). Most important is to continue in your spiritual practice, since almost—if not all—spiritual traditions seek to keep one’s self, soul and spirit, intact through belief in a higher reality and regular spiritual practice, whether through prayer, meditation or some other union with the divine.
I hope to be successful in this endeavor, but it’s very hard. For not only do I not wish to split my soul and spirit, I do not wish to upset the existing spirits of the house. I have not invited them to the new house, because I am not quite sure who they are, and perhaps I need a ghost-free home for once in my life. However, I suspect the new home is not ghost-free; I need to banish the remnants of a very angry and confused man who left part of himself behind when he jumped ship on one life and started a new one in bad faith.
So, loyal readers and fellow ghost hunters, it appears that hauntings can be very complicated. Just when you think you might understand the dead, you have to bury the remnants of the living, usually the worst part of their personalities and inclinations. If you have any thoughts on this, advice or commentary, I would certainly welcome hearing from you!
Yours in spirit,
Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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Robert Lanza, MD

 Author’s note: I’m writing this in bits and pieces, which seems appropriate to the topic. Since I wrote the body of the paper, I posted a query on Facebook regarding time and entropy, and received some great responses and leads. I’ve dutifully read and considered the responses and followed up the recommendation to read Sean Carroll’s website. I did, in fact, slog through great sections of From Eternity to Here, but I confess that I felt, at times, overwhelmed by the content. I must revisit the book and read it again more carefully. Also, I checked reviews for Biocentrism and was dismayed by the sheer nastiness of many people purporting to “critique” his work. More often than not, reviewers—scientists and non-scientists alike—were unbearably nasty and disrespectful to the author. A notable exception is Richard Conn Henry’s quick overview (http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/biocentrism.pdf) where he points out factual errors in Lanza’s physics, but ends up agreeing with his major tenets. Otherwise, there was much Lanza bashing out there, boiling down to the fact that anyone who seeks to merge any kind of spirituality into the study of the universe is a complete, babbling New Age idiot enamored of bad science and bewitched by ‘woo’. Sigh. My entire website would be bashed mercilessly for the same reason. I am not a scientist, but I do have a sharp, critical mind honed by decades of reading and study, helped along by a Yale Ph.D in literature and culture. That doesn’t matter at all for those with degrees in the sciences, which apparently gives many critics license to disembowel you with sarcasm and contempt. However, if you try to do something really big—like explain the universe and its workings as related to human consciousness—you’re bound to upset people. What interests me, of course, is how all of this relates to life after death, or to the survival of consciousness unfettered from the animal, so to speak. If you will kindly bear with me as I first discuss the general implications of Lanza’s work, I will address the issue of EVPs and evidence for the afterlife right afterwards. I promise.

I tried. I really did. I’ve slogged through so many ‘popular’ books on quantum mechanics and Theories of Everything that I’ve lost count. The latest one was Dr. Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism. I have not finished the book yet, but I’m close. I’ve made it through six of the basic tenets or precepts of his theory. I thought this biocentric view—in which living things create all reality according to their perceptions and perspective–was pretty amazing, but I was troubled by the need to obliterate objective reality in favor of one entirely dependent on us. He explained why it is when you kick a tree, it hurts—it’s not because the tree has any objective reality, it’s simply a complex reaction between wave-functions of the tree that have collapsed into ‘thing that causes pain’, or something like that. I confess, it’s a little murky to me. I lay awake last night wondering how Dr. Lanza would explain why it is that a tree could fall on us and kill us, even though we never looked at it, never ‘collapsed’ it into reality or filtered it through our sensory systems.

I then wondered why it is that we all agree to such a large extent on what constitutes outside reality (assuming, as I’m afraid I still do, that such a thing exists) and to what we are referring when we use language. I suppose Dr. Lanza would say that a community of human animals agrees on illusory external realities because we all process information in a similar way: we’re built from the same ‘stuff’, so to speak. Then, just because I thought it would be fun to fret over this until 4 AM, I questioned the entire time issue. Of course, time is relative, and I do understand that on a layperson’s level. If you’re shot out into space and travel at a certain speed, you will age more slowly than your counterparts on Earth. There is even a formula to determine this. What upsets me about time is its relation to aging, to ‘entropy’, I think, if one can equate the two. We assume that as we age, time is passing; somehow, time is responsible for wrinkles and bad knees. Dr. Lanza says that the very notion of time is illusory, created by humans to make sure we can get to the office on time and function in a capitalist society (those are my words regarding the office and capitalism). Simply because we measure something does not mean that it exists in any objective sense or in any sense at all. Clocks are solely for convenience; as the author claims, we could measure the same thing by melting ice cubes or sunsets or tides.

So why, then, do we age and die as all biological things are wont to do? Dr. Lanza maintains that where we see progressive change there is really only a series of present moments that we link together and pretend form some kind of coherent trajectory from past to present to future. I think we all accept that the past and future don’t really ‘exist’ in any meaningful sense; the past lives only through memory of it (and we all know how tricky and deceptive memory is; even if we could remember everything ‘perfectly,’ we still don’t know what it is that we are remembering—certainly nothing material, nothing we can point to) and the future hasn’t happened yet, so by definition it has no objective existence either. This eternal present has always terrified me, because it rips me out of context. I think our author would say that ‘context’ is just the human animal’s way of making sense of things that aren’t there. That’s the problem. The previous statement doesn’t mean anything, yet that’s what Dr. Lanza is saying. Back to the aging and dying issue: all of humans experience this trajectory, whether or not ‘time’ exists. It seems to me that if we all share this path, always, without exception, then something ‘like’ time is happening to us. We don’t have to call it time, but we have to call it something. Here’s a quick and concise definition of entropy:

“Entropy is a measure of order and disorder. If left alone, aging systems go spontaneously from youthful, low entropy and order to old, high entropy and disorder”. (http://www.worldscibooks.com/popsci/p597.html)

So if entropy is responsible for aging and ultimately what we call ‘death’, then what is entropy’s relationship to time? If time is a human-made illusion, then what is killing us? The key word in the quote above is ‘spontaneously’. That word, by definition, indicates that a process is occurring without resorting to the passage of time. How is it that aging can occur ‘spontaneously’? If it is not a process, and doesn’t the word ‘process’ indicate something occurring over time, then what the heck is it? I’m afraid that Dr. Lanza cannot say that time is purely illusory when biological systems age and die due to a process that we call entropy. His argument against this is interesting, yet in many ways illogical.

He states that what we see as having progressed to a state of entropy is simply another snapshot in the present moment, and what we observe is change from one present moment to another present moment; it’s only our interpretation that sees a progression or superimposes a pattern or value judgment. In other words, aging is an assumption we make when faced with changes in the human organism. Those changes result from an illusory past in the first place. If time doesn’t happen, then change doesn’t either; therefore, nothing we observe is a result of a change. We don’t, however, live in the eternal present. I would argue that we can’t. Does it make sense that we could possibly understand life as one present moment after another and then death? We can’t think that way, so if that’s the way “things really are,” then what’s the point if we can’t make that conceptual leap? The Theory of Everything makes no sense if we can’t live it or even fully grasp it.

I have to finish the entire book before I get to the implications of Dr. Lanza’s theory. If life creates consciousness and consciousness creates the universe and everything in it, we are certainly all-powerful. Maybe he is about to say that we are eternal, since nothing that is out of time can possibly cease to exist. OK, so I will take that to mean that my consciousness is boundless and not in any way bound by change (an illusion created by time). However, I know that I will age and die, as evidenced by everything around me succumbing to entropy. So I’m back to square one. My death means something to me, as it does to those who love me. Of course, if Dr. Lanza says that Kirsten will ALWAYS exist, the question is HOW will she always exist? All that which limits my consciousness—including my body, my perceptions, and my brain—is what I know as real. One might TELL me that what I know as real actually isn’t, but that doesn’t change anything for me. You can say that my iced-cream is an illusion that I brought into existence, but in any case, it tastes the same whether it is an external reality or a consciousness-created reality.

The following quote is from Sean Carroll’s web site:

“The first mystery of the arrow of time is that it’s nowhere to be found in the fundamental laws of physics. Those laws work perfectly well if we run processes backwards in time. (More rigorously, for every allowed process there exists a time-reversed process that is also allowed, obtained by switching parity and exchanging particles for antiparticles — the CPT Theorem.) Nevertheless, the macroscopic world we observe is full of irreversible processes. The puzzle is to reconcile microscopic reversibility with macroscopic irreversibility.”

Therein lays the issue, the knot: what happens on a microscopic level—including, of course, the quantum level—is apparently NOT occurring on the macroscopic level. Photons can behave in bizarre, contradictory and fantastic ways, but that doesn’t mean anything in our large, material world is doing anything remotely like it. Our ‘big’ world seems to function according to the classical laws of physics. There are two possibilities here: we have a fundamental contradiction which can only be resolved when someone—probably a physicist—finds the missing link (something like the debunked notion of the aether) that explains everything (the GUT: Grand Unifying Theory), OR the world on the macroscopic level DOES contain all of the contradictions of the quantum level upon which its existence rests, and we simply haven’t devised the correct experiments to illustrate this correlate. Again from Sean Carroll’s web site:

“Is there any way the arrow of time can be explained dynamically?

I can think of two ways. One is to impose a boundary condition that enforces one end of time to be low-entropy, whether by fiat or via some higher principle; this is the strategy of Roger Penrose’s Weyl Curvature Hypothesis, and arguably that of most flavors of quantum cosmology. The other is to show that reversibilty is violated spontaneously — even if the laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, the relevant solutions to those laws might not be. However, if there exists a maximal entropy (thermal equilibrium) state, and the universe is eternal, it’s hard to see why we aren’t in such an equilibrium state — and that would be static, not constantly evolving. This is why I personally believe that there is no such equilibrium state, and that the universe evolves because it can always evolve. The trick of course, is to implement such a strategy in a well-founded theoretical framework, one in which the particular way in which the universe evolves is by creating regions of post-Big-Bang space-time such as the one in which we find ourselves.”

 So, if the universe were static and eternal, time would be an illusion that we clearly create from a biocentric position. If, however, the universe is constantly evolving, we certainly do need time to account for that. Of course, Lanza would say that the universe is only evolving because we “evolve” it through our perceptions. I think he goes too far, actually. It’s an interesting idea that he presents, but it makes much more sense that the internal/external worlds are in relationship to each other, not that one precludes the other:

“To say that time is not well understood is one thing, but to assert that time is therefore an illusion seems unfounded to me. When forced to summarize his conclusion, he (page 111) backtracks from the bolder statements and writes only that: “Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.” I could add that time is real because mind and change are real.” http://darwiniana.com/2010/02/12/biocentrism-review/

I’m inclined to agree with the author of this quote. We perceive changes in the universe and the passage of time through our ‘animal sense perception,’ but that doesn’t mean that time and change are non-existent properties or phenomena. We need the notion of time for classical physics and we don’t, really (from what I am able to glean) for quantum physics, but again—time appears to be a hypothetical concept in every area of cosmology, necessary but not ‘proven’. Time may not exist, but entropy does, and I feel entropy as growing older and facing biological death. My experience of time leads me to believe that I (and all other living things) am in a constant state of evolution and flux. What might stand apart from that? Consciousness. It is entirely possible that what is in the constant evolutionary state is the material world, not the quantum world. If my consciousness arises from a quantum field, if awareness itself functions according to the rules of the sub-atomic realm, then consciousness is not bound by time and would, theoretically, continue on indefinitely.

Critics would accuse me of bringing ‘dualism’ back into the discussion as an excuse to save the notion of a soul. However, I’ve never understood why dualism is such a dirty word for scientists. If we can have a material and a quantum world that function according to different paradigms, then why is it not possible that the ‘human animal’ functions in two entirely different ways as well? Why could we not be both ‘material’ and ‘quantum’? Yes, I realize that no one has proven that consciousness emerges from a quantum field; however, it seems the best explanation that we have right now. Now we can engage in Part Two of this grand discussion, which involves the data that paranormal researchers bring back from their investigations. Yes, I realize that many scientists will stop reading right here and forever turn their backs on soulbank (if they would even look at it to begin with) and everything herein contained, but . . . we DO come back with tantalizing data that is not explained by normal means. I can say that with authority after years of painstakingly sorting through audio, video, ITC sessions and so on. I think that the hypothesis that consciousness occupies the quantum space might explain EVPs and all the other anomalies we bring home and puzzle over.

STAY TUNED.

Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D

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Dear reader: I reproduce below, in its entirety, an article by Michael Talbot that summarizes recent thinking into the nature of reality itself. It is based on the work of theoretical physicists, psychologists and scientists working in various fields. Do you care about such things as ghosts, spirits, survival of consciousness and the possibilities for reincarnation? Does it matter that science is on the track of providing us a model of reality that accommodates such experiences and validates them as real? (or, as real as anything gets in the holographic model) If this topic fascinates you, then I IMPLORE you to read the article below. Soon, I will provide my own commentary and insights into what this could all mean for paranormal investigators. I anxiously await your feedback.

Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

In 1982 a remarkable event took place. At the University of Paris a research team led by physicist Alain Aspect performed what may turn out to be one of the most important experiments of the 20th century. You did not hear about it on the evening news. In fact, unless you are in the habit of reading scientific journals you probably have never even heard Aspect’s name, though there are some who believe his discovery may change the face of science.

Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart.

Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein’s long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect’s findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.

University of London physicist David Bohm, for example, believes Aspect’s findings imply that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.

To understand why Bohm makes this startling assertion, one must first understand a little about holograms. A hologram is a three- dimensional photograph made with the aid of a laser.

To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference pattern (the area where the two laser beams commingle) is captured on film.

When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless swirl of light and dark lines. But as soon as the developed film is illuminated by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object appears.

The three-dimensionality of such images is not the only remarkable characteristic of holograms. If a hologram of a rose is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the rose.

Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole.

The “whole in every part” nature of a hologram provides us with an entirely new way of understanding organization and order. For most of its history, Western science has labored under the bias that the best way to understand a physical phenomenon, whether a frog or an atom, is to dissect it and study its respective parts.

A hologram teaches us that some things in the universe may not lend themselves to this approach. If we try to take apart something constructed holographically, we will not get the pieces of which it is made, we will only get smaller wholes.

This insight suggested to Bohm another way of understanding Aspect’s discovery. Bohm believes the reason subatomic particles are able to remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating them is not because they are sending some sort of mysterious signal back and forth, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.

To enable people to better visualize what he means, Bohm offers the following illustration.

Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the aquarium’s front and the other directed at its side.

As you stare at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish, you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them.

When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case.

This, says Bohm, is precisely what is going on between the subatomic particles in Aspect’s experiment.

According to Bohm, the apparent faster-than-light connection between subatomic particles is really telling us that there is a deeper level of reality we are not privy to, a more complex dimension beyond our own that is analogous to the aquarium. And, he adds, we view objects such as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing only a portion of their reality.

Such particles are not separate “parts”, but facets of a deeper and more underlying unity that is ultimately as holographic and indivisible as the previously mentioned rose. And since everything in physical reality is comprised of these “eidolons”, the universe is itself a projection, a hologram.

In addition to its phantomlike nature, such a universe would possess other rather startling features. If the apparent separateness of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected.

The electrons in a carbon atom in the human brain are connected to the subatomic particles that comprise every salmon that swims, every heart that beats, and every star that shimmers in the sky.

Everything interpenetrates everything, and although human nature may seek to categorize and pigeonhole and subdivide, the various phenomena of the universe, all apportionments are of necessity artificial and all of nature is ultimately a seamless web.

In a holographic universe, even time and space could no longer be viewed as fundamentals. Because concepts such as location break down in a universe in which nothing is truly separate from anything else, time and three-dimensional space, like the images of the fish on the TV monitors, would also have to be viewed as projections of this deeper order.

At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. This suggests that given the proper tools it might even be possible to someday reach into the superholographic level of reality and pluck out scenes from the long-forgotten past.

What else the superhologram contains is an open-ended question. Allowing, for the sake of argument, that the superhologram is the matrix that has given birth to everything in our universe, at the very least it contains every subatomic particle that has been or will be — every configuration of matter and energy that is possible, from snowflakes to quasars, from bluü whales to gamma rays. It must be seen as a sort of cosmic storehouse of “All That Is.”

Although Bohm concedes that we have no way of knowing what else might lie hidden in the superhologram, he does venture to say that we have no reason to assume it does not contain more. Or as he puts it, perhaps the superholographic level of reality is a “mere stage” beyond which lies “an infinity of further development”.

Bohm is not the only researcher who has found evidence that the universe is a hologram. Working independently in the field of brain research, Standford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram has also become persuaded of the holographic nature of reality.

Pribram was drawn to the holographic model by the puzzle of how and where memories are stored in the brain. For decades numerous studies have shown that rather than being confined to a specific location, memories are dispersed throughout the brain.

In a series of landmark experiments in the 1920s, brain scientist Karl Lashley found that no matter what portion of a rat’s brain he removed he was unable to eradicate its memory of how to perform complex tasks it had learned prior to surgery. The only problem was that no one was able to come up with a mechanism that might explain this curious “whole in every part” nature of memory storage.

Then in the 1960s Pribram encountered the concept of holography and realized he had found the explanation brain scientists had been looking for. Pribram believes memories are encoded not in neurons, or small groupings of neurons, but in patterns of nerve impulses that crisscross the entire brain in the same way that patterns of laser light interference crisscross the entire area of a piece of film containing a holographic image. In other words, Pribram believes the brain is itself a hologram.

Pribram’s theory also explains how the human brain can store so many memories in so little space. It has been estimated that the human brain has the capacity to memorize something on the order of 10 billion bits of information during the average human lifetime (or roughly the same amount of information contained in five sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Similarly, it has been discovered that in addition to their other capabilities, holograms possess an astounding capacity for information storage–simply by changing the angle at which the two lasers strike a piece of photographic film, it is possible to record many different images on the same surface. It has been demonstrated that one cubic centimeter of film can hold as many as 10 billion bits of information.

Our uncanny ability to quickly retrieve whatever information we need from the enormous store of our memories becomes more understandable if the brain functions according to holographic principles. If a friend asks you to tell him what comes to mind when he says the word “zebra”, you do not have to clumsily sort back through ome gigantic and cerebral alphabetic file to arrive at an answer. Instead, associations like “striped”, “horselike”, and “animal native to Africa” all pop into your head instantly.

Indeed, one of the most amazing things about the human thinking process is that every piece of information seems instantly cross- correlated with every other piece of information–another feature intrinsic to the hologram. Because every portion of a hologram is infinitely interconnected with evey other portion, it is perhaps nature’s supreme example of a cross-correlated system.

The storage of memory is not the only neurophysiological puzzle that becomes more tractable in light of Pribram’s holographic model of the brain. Another is how the brain is able to translate the avalanche of frequencies it receives via the senses (light frequencies, sound frequencies, and so on) into the concrete world of our perceptions. Encoding and decoding frequencies is precisely what a hologram does best. Just as a hologram functions as a sort of lens, a translating device able to convert an apparently meaningless blur of frequencies into a coherent image, Pribram believes the brain also comprises a lens and uses holographic principles to mathematically convert the frequencies it receives through the senses into the inner world of our perceptions.

An impressive body of evidence suggests that the brain uses holographic principles to perform its operations. Pribram’s theory, in fact, has gained increasing support among neurophysiologists.

Argentinian-Italian researcher Hugo Zucarelli recently extended the holographic model into the world of acoustic phenomena. Puzzled by the fact that humans can locate the source of sounds without moving their heads, even if they only possess hearing in one ear, Zucarelli discovered that holographic principles can explain this ability.

Zucarelli has also developed the technology of holophonic sound, a recording technique able to reproduce acoustic situations with an almost uncanny realism.

Pribram’s belief that our brains mathematically construct “hard” reality by relying on input from a frequency domain has also received a good deal of experimental support.

It has been found that each of our senses is sensitive to a much broader range of frequencies than was previously suspected.

Researchers have discovered, for instance, that our visual systems are sensitive to sound frequencies, that our sense of smell is in part dependent on what are now called “osmic frequencies”, and that even the cells in our bodies are sensitive to a broad range of frequencies. Such findings suggest that it is only in the holographic domain of consciousness that such frequencies are sorted out and divided up into conventional perceptions.

But the most mind-boggling aspect of Pribram’s holographic model of the brain is what happens when it is put together with Bohm’s theory. For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is “there” is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality?

Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion.

We are really “receivers” floating through a kaleidoscopic sea of frequency, and what we extract from this sea and transmogrify into physical reality is but one channel from many extracted out of the superhologram.

This striking new picture of reality, the synthesis of Bohm and Pribram’s views, has come to be called the holographic paradigm, and although many scientists have greeted it with skepticism, it has galvanized others. A small but growing group of researchers believe it may be the most accurate model of reality science has arrived at thus far. More than that, some believe it may solve some mysteries that have never before been explainable by science and even establish the paranormal as a part of nature.

Numerous researchers, including Bohm and Pribram, have noted that many para-psychological phenomena become much more understandable in terms of the holographic paradigm.

In a universe in which individual brains are actually indivisible portions of the greater hologram and everything is infinitely interconnected, telepathy may merely be the accessing of the holographic level.

It is obviously much easier to understand how information can travel from the mind of individual ‘A’ to that of individual ‘B’ at a far distance point and helps to understand a number of unsolved puzzles in psychology. In particular, Grof feels the holographic paradigm offers a model for understanding many of the baffling phenomena experienced by individuals during altered states of consciousness.

Creation – Holographic Universe
In the 1950s, while conducting research into the beliefs of LSD as a psychotherapeutic tool, Grof had one female patient who suddenly became convinced she had assumed the identity of a female of a species of prehistoric reptile. During the course of her hallucination, she not only gave a richly detailed description of what it felt like to be encapsuled in such a form, but noted that the portion of the male of the species’s anatomy was a patch of colored scales on the side of its head.

What was startling to Grof was that although the woman had no prior knowledge about such things, a conversation with a zoologist later confirmed that in certain species of reptiles colored areas on the head do indeed play an important role as triggers of sexual arousal.

The woman’s experience was not unique. During the course of his research, Grof encountered examples of patients regressing and identifying with virtually every species on the evolutionary tree (research findings which helped influence the man-into-ape scene in the movie Altered States). Moreover, he found that such experiences frequently contained obscure zoological details which turned out to be accurate.

Regressions into the animal kingdom were not the only puzzling psychological phenomena Grof encountered. He also had patients who appeared to tap into some sort of collective or racial unconscious. Individuals with little or no education suddenly gave detailed descriptions of Zoroastrian funerary practices and scenes from Hindu mythology. In other categories of experience, individuals gave persuasive accounts of out-of-body journeys, of precognitive glimpses of the future, of regressions into apparent past-life incarnations.

In later research, Grof found the same range of phenomena manifested in therapy sessions which did not involve the use of drugs. Because the common element in such experiences appeared to be the transcending of an individual’s consciousness beyond the usual boundaries of ego and/or limitations of space and time, Grof called such manifestations “transpersonal experiences”, and in the late ’60s he helped found a branch of psychology called “transpersonal psychology” devoted entirely to their study.

Although Grof’s newly founded Association of Transpersonal Psychology garnered a rapidly growing group of like-minded professionals and has become a respected branch of psychology, for years neither Grof or any of his colleagues were able to offer a mechanism for explaining the bizarre psychological phenomena they were witnessing. But that has changed with the advent of the holographic paradigm.

As Grof recently noted, if the mind is actually part of a continuum, a labyrinth that is connected not only to every other mind that exists or has existed, but to every atom, organism, and region in the vastness of space and time itself, the fact that it is able to occasionally make forays into the labyrinth and have transpersonal experiences no longer seems so strange.

The holographic prardigm also has implications for so-called hard sciences like biology. Keith Floyd, a psychologist at Virginia Intermont College, has pointed out that if the concreteness of reality is but a holographic illusion, it would no longer be true to say the brain produces consciousness. Rather, it is consciousness that creates the appearance of the brain — as well as the body and everything else around us we interpret as physical.

Such a turnabout in the way we view biological structures has caused researchers to point out that medicine and our understanding of the healing process could also be transformed by the holographic paradigm. If the apparent physical structure of the body is but a holographic projection of consciousness, it becomes clear that each of us is much more responsible for our health than current medical wisdom allows. What we now view as miraculous remissions of disease may actually be due to changes in consciousness which in turn effect changes in the hologram of the body.

Similarly, controversial new healing techniques such as visualization may work so well because in the holographic domain of thought images are ultimately as real as “reality”.

Even visions and experiences involving “non-ordinary” reality become explainable under the holographic paradigm. In his book “Gifts of Unknown Things,” biologist Lyall Watson discribes his encounter with an Indonesian shaman woman who, by performing a ritual dance, was able to make an entire grove of trees instantly vanish into thin air. Watson relates that as he and another astonished onlooker continued to watch the woman, she caused the trees to reappear, then “click” off again and on again several times in succession.

Although current scientific understanding is incapable of explaining such events, experiences like this become more tenable if “hard” reality is only a holographic projection.

Perhaps we agree on what is “there” or “not there” because what we call consensus reality is formulated and ratified at the level of the human unconscious at which all minds are infinitely interconnected.

If this is true, it is the most profound implication of the holographic paradigm of all, for it means that experiences such as Watson’s are not commonplace only because we have not programmed our minds with the beliefs that would make them so. In a holographic universe there are no limits to the extent to which we can alter the fabric of reality.

What we perceive as reality is only a canvas waiting for us to draw upon it any picture we want. Anything is possible, from bending spoons with the power of the mind to the phantasmagoric events experienced by Castaneda during his encounters with the Yaqui brujo don Juan, for magic is our birthright, no more or less miraculous than our ability to compute the reality we want when we are in our dreams.

Indeed, even our most fundamental notions about reality become suspect, for in a holographic universe, as Pribram has pointed out, even random events would have to be seen as based on holographic principles and therefore determined. Synchronicities or meaningful coincidences suddenly makes sense, and everything in reality would have to be seen as a metaphor, for even the most haphazard events would express some underlying symmetry.

Whether Bohm and Pribram’s holographic paradigm becomes accepted in science or dies an ignoble death remains to be seen, but it is safe to say that it has already had an influence on the thinking of many scientists. And even if it is found that the holographic model does not provide the best explanation for the instantaneous communications that seem to be passing back and forth between subatomic particles, at the very least, as noted by Basil Hiley, a physicist at Birbeck College in London, Aspect’s findings “indicate that we must be prepared to consider radically new views of reality”.

http://www.crystalinks.com/holographic.html

Article from: http://www.rense.com/general69/holo.htm

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I am one of the few people disappointed by Steve Volk’s Fringeology. It’s well written, compelling, interesting and thoroughly researched, so I certainly can’t fault him for providing us all with a great read. I do, however, fault him for not fully exploring and embracing the significance of his Family Ghost Story (spoiler alert warning: if you are planning to read the book, you may not want to continue here. I will reveal the ending!).

Volk tackles several areas of paranormal activity and/or research, such as aliens and U.F.O.s, lucid dreaming, consciousness outside of brain activity, Near Death Experiences, and—of course—ghosts. In every chapter, he makes the case that most people will ardently defend paranormal phenomena without applying sufficient critical thinking skills, or rabidly debunk it without considering the evidence. He argues for a middle ground where one is not forced into either position, but allows the paranormal to remain a mystery. On the surface, I find that argument compelling. Of course, the two camps will always war over the reality of survival of death or the existence of alien civilizations; that does not further discourse or advance our search for the truth. However, maintaining the fence-sitting position does nothing to move us forward in our quest for knowledge. Volk’s contention that much of the paranormal is “unprovable” by the scientific method doesn’t take into account the vast amount of research that has been conducted in this area over the last 150 years (at least). Yes, attempting to recreate paranormal phenomena in a laboratory setting is nearly impossible—or at the very least, very difficult. The psi results obtained so far, for example, are fairly unimpressive but statistically significant.

Clearly, much of the frustration of anomalous phenomena consists of its amorphous, changeable nature. Volk doesn’t appear to place much trust in the truth of people’s experiences and stories, which is how most of what we know about the paranormal is examined. Volk comes across as afraid to take the stories too seriously, because so much of our current knowledge is anecdotal. “Proving” the existence of another reality is more like making a court case and presenting the evidence. In the legal profession, we rely on eyewitness accounts and a preponderance of evidence indicating that something is more than likely true than not when deciding someone’s fate. That is precisely what we need to do with the paranormal—treat it at as a court case, subject it to academic and legal standards for evaluation and interpretation instead of our odd insistence that only hard science can validate what most of us already know is real.

The average citizen appears to believe that only a laboratory can yield the hardest of truths, but I am at a loss as to why we treat the paranormal that way. After all, so much of what we accept as truth comes from sociological, psychological, legal and historical epistemology (ways of knowing) and our own hard-won wisdom gleaned from experience. Volk still has traces of that annoying “you can’t trust yourself” philosophy that bases everything we perceive as potentially explicable by chemical reactions and primitive responses. Yes, it’s true that we are often governed by chemical and endocrine processes, but that does not mean we can’t separate reality from fantasy or understand on a profound level the meaning and validity of our experiences. Fringeology is a text afraid to move too far from science when it comes to documenting and understanding anomalous experiences.

What really bothers me about this book, however, is the way Volk refuses to explicitly state what he believes about the Family Ghost. The phenomena he describes during his years in the family home are so intense and compelling that it boggles the mind to think there is any explanation other than the paranormal (assuming we believe that our author is telling the truth, and I have no reason to disbelieve him). When he discovers the answer to what he thinks caused the disturbance (which, apparently, continues to this day) through lucid dreaming, he REFUSES TO ACTUALLY DISCUSS IT or openly state his hypothesis. He has boxed himself into a corner with his own philosophy, which is to leave the strange stuff to mystery and wonder. We can feel and appreciate the mystery and wonder without refusing to come up with a theory or advance a belief. Volk forces the reader to figure it out on her own, through suggestion and hinting, a literary practice that does not work for me here.

What we are supposed to divine from the last chapter or so is that his grandfather’s alcoholism created the disturbances, or perhaps the ghost of the grandfather himself, unable to be at peace with his soul due to his substance abuse issues. Volk doesn’t want to SAY that, yet I don’t see what other conclusion can be drawn based on his presentation of events and the content of his lucid dream, which he either takes seriously but is embarrassed to admit it, or he doesn’t take seriously, in which case there is no point in wrapping up his entire text with that revelatory vision. You either take your dreams/visions/lucid hallucinations as meaningful, or you don’t—but it’s a coward’s way out to refuse to delve deeply into the implications of what you have discovered.

Judging by the reviews the book has received, I am fairly alone in my assessment here. Perhaps most readers will find the mysterious ending to be consistent with the book’s message and perfectly appropriate. My issue is that the ending is NOT mysterious, simply vague. Yes, I get what the author is attempting to convey here—but sometimes, you need to take a stand and tell the world what you suspect is or has been happening in your haunted home. Volk seems to KNOW, to have a theory, but I get the sense he is far too embarrassed to lose his street cred as a hard-nosed, objective journalist and acquire the dreaded Paranormal Taint from which he sees the worst of the skeptics flee.

I love mystery and a good ghost story. More than that, however, I am passionate about the pursuit of truth. That requires taking a stand with the evidence that you have at your disposal. It also requires that you risk making a mistake or having to revise your beliefs. That is the dialectical method, and it moves forward your thinking and that of others who engage with you in debate and discussion. If your grandfather haunts your house in a violent and negative fashion, it’s time to dig in and go deeper. Yes, you could leave it as a “mystery”, or you could dare to confront the questions of a family tragedy that will haunt you forever if you don’t.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

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