May 19, 2009

Atlantis: Perspectives

Map of the World, Atlantis in It's Decadence, Published by the Theosophical Publishing Company

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Interviews with William Henry, Graham Hancock, and John Anthony West, on the evidence for an ancient civilization Plato called Atlantis.

May 18, 2009

More William Henry

UPDATE: I'm going to bump this back up to the top, because more videos have been added to this series, and I have updated the playlist accordingly. The newly posted material is mind-blowing. I think some of Strieber's comments need more explanation, so I have added some clarification. See below.

Hot off the... whatever YouTube videos are formatted on, an interview from 2005. Interviewed here by Whitley Streiber, he discusses his book Mary Magdalene: The Illuminator. On a note of sheer hilarity, if you want to view the videos on YouTube, you have to confirm that you are over 18. Apparently the graphic sexuality of 19th Century French painter Jules-Joseph Lefebvre's "Mary Magdalene in the Grotto" was just too much for YouTube users to bear, so the following warning comes up.

This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube's user community.

By clicking "Confirm", you are agreeing that all videos or groups flagged by the YouTube community will be viewable by this account.

Yes, artistically rendered breasts are terrifying. Run away! Run away!


On Junk DNA: In the second segment of his interview with William Henry, Whitley Strieber makes reference to the discovery that junk DNA has been proven to be a language. He doesn't give a lot technical explanation, on that, and I think it requires more background. I read about this discovery in Graham Hancock's Supernatural (pp. 484-487).

All human languages have a strange and most unexpected secret in common. It is called Zipf's Law, after the linguist George Zipf, who discovered it in 1939. He studied texts in many different languages and ranked the words in order of frequency. What he found, which has since proved to be true whether the language is English or Inuit, Japanese or Xhosa, Arabic or Urdu, is that a direct, exact, unvarying and utterly counter-intuitive mathematical relationship exists between the rank of a word and the actual frequency of occurrence of that word. No matter which text he selected, when Zipf created a histogram that plotted word frequency against word rank, the surprising result was a straight line "with a slope of -I for every human language."

Researchers from Boston University and Harvard Medical School, in the 1990s, applied some linguistic tests to DNA strands. They found that our coding DNA, the 3-10 percent, whose purpose we basically understand, conformed to no known linguistic pattern. The "junk" DNA however...

So far so predictable, and so reassuring. Of course our DNA doesn't contain intelligent messages and isn't trying to communicate them to us in a language! If it did, all the basic principles of modern evolutionary science would be turned head over heels! Still, what happened next was most unexpected -- "really remarkable," in Eugene Stanley's appraisal: "There's no rhyme or reason why that should be true." This really remarkable and totally unexpected discovery was that in every case where non-coding regions of DNA have been evaluated, they turned out to demonstrate a perfect Zipf Law linear plot. If these DNA sequences had been books filled with pages of indecipherable printed letters, then this result would oblige us to conclude that the letters were not random alphabet soup but words in an organized language. Stanley didn't shy away from the implications of this. In his opinion, the non-coding DNA sequences do contain "a structured language fundamentally unlike the coding in genes." Even though it doesn't code for proteins, we therefore need to consider the possibility that "the 'junk' DNA may carry some kind of message."

Such a daring proposition receives further support from the second linguistic test that the team also applied to the DNA sequences. Developed in the 1950s by information theorist Claude Shannon, this test distinguishes texts written in true languages from texts written in alphabet soup by quantifying the "redundancy" of any string of characters. The test works, and is universal, because "languages are redundant sequences... You can fill in a typographical error by noting nearby characters. A random sequence, in contrast, has no redundancy."

Again, when the test was applied to coding regions of the DNA, these were shown not to have the properties of a human language -- as we would predict. The genetic code is not, and cannot be, a redundant sequence in which errors can be corrected with reference to the general context; on the contrary, geneticists are well aware that even a single mistake involving a single base pair on a single gene can scramble the code and produce catastrophic abnormalities. By contrast, the researchers found that the non-coding sections of DNA "revealed a surprising amount of redundancy -- another sign that something was written in these mysterious stretches."

May 12, 2009

Graham Hancock on Supernatural

A freshly minted and recent interview with Graham Hancock gives a wonderful overview of his career and views. Primarily focused on his book Supernatural, but also discussed are Fingerprints of the Gods and Sign and the Seal.

May 5, 2009

Opening to the Precognitive Mind


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"You have the sight now, Neo. You are looking at the world without time."

~ The Oracle in The Matrix Reloaded

There's a very good article on The Huffington Post, about the nature of psychic and precognitive development. Dr. Larry Dossey began having precognitive flashes about his patients, early in his medical career. In his new book, The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives, he lays out documented cases of precognitive experiences and explains how we can all connect to these abilities. As he explains in the Huffington Post article, psychic ability is connected to our spiritual expansion. The more we become aware of our interconnected and our connection to "God," or "all that is," the more psychically open we become. This is something I've been trying to explain to clients and others for years. Psychic abilty isn't some magical ability that some of us have, and others don't. It's our birthright.

Individuals often find that their power of sensing and knowing expands as they mature spiritually. These expanded capacities often involve the capacity to know yet-to-be events that lie in the future, as the unbroken stream of prophets, visionaries, seers, and shamans throughout history attests. A modern analog of this ancient ability to know the future is premonitions, sometimes called intuition, gut feelings, or sixth sense.

Premonitions are often regarded as unrelated to spirituality, but there are profound connections. The most obvious involves love, as in the following example.

. . .

By linking minds across space and time, premonitions reveal the oneness of which these scientists -- and many spiritual traditions -- speak. Premonitions therefore imply that we are not isolated individuals, but beings whose consciousness operates outside the present and beyond our physical body. They suggest that in some sense we are nonlocal or infinite in space in time. When we deeply sense this, we may become "transparent to the transcendent," as mythologist Joseph Campbell put it.

Through love, premonitions link human beings across space and time. There is no more fundamental aspect of spirituality than love. Premonitions are a window through which we glimpse our connection not only with one another, but with the Infinite as well.

"I wanna tell you a little secret, being the one is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love. You just know it, through and through; balls to bones."

~ The Oracle from The Matrix

May 1, 2009

Frequent Churchgoers Pro-Torture

Variety of Tortures Used during the Spanish Inquisition

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A while ago I asked if we need God to moral. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be, does religion make us immoral? I have to ask, in light of this Pew poll, which found that very observant Christians are more likely than their more secular countrymen to support the use of torture. Staunch Catholic Andrew Sullivan bemoans the startling news:

So Christian devotion correlates with approval for absolute evil in America. And people wonder why atheism is gaining in this country. Notice the poll does not even use a euphemism like "coercive interrogation" - forcing Allahpundit to substitute it. (Even HotAir, it seems, finds it difficult to write the sentence: "Evangelicals are more likely to be conservative and conservatives are more likely to support torture.") But it remains a fact that white evangelicals are the most pro-torture of any grouping. Mainline Protestant groups were the most opposed. A mere 20 percent of non-Hispanic Catholics believe that torture is never justified.

He also points out that in another recent poll, Southern Evangelicals turn to expediency over scripture when it comes to questions of torture. Personally, I don't think scripture would help much, as the Bible condones a wide range of violent, even genocidal, behavior against enemies. Still, you'd think a few of our most devout might ask themselves, "Whom would Jesus torture?"

I think the worst news coming out of this poll is that nearly half the country, overall, thinks the use of torture can be often or sometimes justified, with only 25% opposing torture in all circumstances. In addition to exposing flagrant immorality, it points to a disturbing, underlying ignorance. Part of the problem may be the question asked: "Can torture be justified?" The implication is that it may be a necessary evil. What an appalling number of Americans fail to understand, as they struggle with moral implications, is that TORTURE DOES NOT WORK. So the question would be better phrased, can terrorizing and degrading people into false confessions and bad intelligence ever be justified?

This seminal point has been made over and over by military, CIA, and FBI interrogation specialists, to stunningly deaf ears.

In November of 2007, U.S Army Brigadier General Finnegan took time away from his duties as dean of West Point Academy and flew to Southern California to plead with the brain trust behind the Keifer Sutherland vehicle "24," to stop glorifying torture, because it was confusing recruits. He was accompanied by both military and F.B.I. interrogators. Their overall point: While it may make good television, torture is not legal, not moral, and not effective.

Finnegan told the producers that “24,” by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors — cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions [stet] spread by “24,” which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’ ” He continued, “The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do.”

Gary Solis, a retired law professor who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders curriculum at West Point, told me that he had similar arguments with his students. He said that, under both U.S. and international law, “Jack Bauer is a criminal. In real life, he would be prosecuted.” Yet the motto of many of his students was identical to Jack Bauer’s: “Whatever it takes.” His students were particularly impressed by a scene in which Bauer barges into a room where a stubborn suspect is being held, shoots him in one leg, and threatens to shoot the other if he doesn’t talk. In less than ten seconds, the suspect reveals that his associates plan to assassinate the Secretary of Defense. Solis told me, “I tried to impress on them that this technique would open the wrong doors, but it was like trying to stomp out an anthill.”

. . .

Cochran, who has a law degree, listened politely to the delegation’s complaints. He told me that he supports the use of torture “in narrow circumstances” and believes that it can be justified under the Constitution. “The Doctrine of Necessity says you can occasionally break the law to prevent greater harm,” he said. “I think that could supersede the Convention Against Torture.” (Few legal scholars agree with this argument.) At the meeting, Cochran demanded to know what the interrogators would do if they faced the imminent threat of a nuclear blast in New York City, and had custody of a suspect who knew how to stop it. One interrogator said that he would apply physical coercion only if he received a personal directive from the President. But Navarro, who estimates that he has conducted some twelve thousand interrogations, replied that torture was not an effective response. “These are very determined people, and they won’t turn just because you pull a fingernail out,” he told me. And Finnegan argued that torturing fanatical Islamist terrorists is particularly pointless. “They almost welcome torture,” he said. “They expect it. They want to be martyred.” A ticking time bomb, he pointed out, would make a suspect only more unwilling to talk. “They know if they can simply hold out several hours, all the more glory—the ticking time bomb will go off!”

. . .

“In Iraq, I never saw pain produce intelligence,” [former Army interrogator Tony] Lagouranis told me. “I worked with someone who used waterboarding”—an interrogation method involving the repeated near-drowning of a suspect. “I used severe hypothermia, dogs, and sleep deprivation. I saw suspects after soldiers had gone into their homes and broken their bones, or made them sit on a Humvee’s hot exhaust pipes until they got third-degree burns. Nothing happened.” Some people, he said, “gave confessions. But they just told us what we already knew. It never opened up a stream of new information.” If anything, he said, “physical pain can strengthen the resolve to clam up.”

Lagouranis also detailed his Iraq war experiences in a book, and numerous media appearances. His life lesson was a hard one. He compromised his moral compass and put himself in legal jeopardy... for nothing.

In some of the discussion I've read of the poll, I think the wrong conclusion has been reached, correlating Christianity with this appalling ethical lapse. The poll, itself, says otherwise. The largest percentage of those opposed to all torture was among mainline Protestants. (31%) The defining factor seemed to be religious fervor, as indicated by church attendance. This, of course, skews the overall result towards Evangelicals, and it is among Christian Evangelicals that torture was indicated to be the most popular. How much of this has to do with Christian teaching and how much to do with the political leanings, is a key question. Personally, I think it may have a good deal to do with an attraction to fundamentalism in authoritiarian personalities, but that's pure conjecture.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time religious fervor, grafted to imperial aspirations, was fueled by torture and false confessions.

It appears that the Franciscans participated in the witch trials in a supporting or facilitating function by gathering or manufacturing evidence such as for the Logroño witch tribunal (in Euskadi), for which they interrupted their preaching crusade to present a "dressed toad" and pots of "witches' salve" as evidence of witchcraft (Henningson p.345). They were deeply involved in spying out potential witches and reporting them to the authorities. The Franciscans even tortured women extracting false confessions such as the one done by the monk Fray Juan de Ladron. He took part in the witch-hunt in Alava as one of the Inquisition's special emissaries. Three women were reported by him after the priest at Larrea, Martin Lopez de Lazarraga, had tied them by the hands and neck, assisted by de Ladron, who then threatened to take the women to the Logroño showcase witch-trial if they did not confess. They did confess but later told Salazar what happened. Lazarraga had been appointed inquisitorial commissioner and put into the head of one of the women the idea of accusing six uncooperative locals priests of witchcraft. At Logroño many people were tortured into admitting anything the monks told them to say. One of the women, Mariquita de Atauri, felt so bad after denouncing so many innocent people under torture that she drowned herself in the river near her house.

Inquisition of a Witch

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