Wikipedia currently is the area in which dogmatic skeptics are most successful and influential. One of these activist groups is called Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia, founded by Susan Gerbic. Another leader of the online skeptical movement is Tim Farley, who runs the website Skeptical Software Tools.The situation is particularly bad in any areas to do with parapsychology, alternative and complementary medicine, and on the biography pages of scientists involved in investigating these areas.
The Wikipedia skeptics work in teams (contrary to Wikipedia rules) and most are well trained. They generally operate under pseudonyms. It is not necessary to have any particular skill or expertise to become an editor. Anyone can edit. But it is necessary to understand the complex rules of Wikipedia. The skeptical activists are well versed in the rules, and are able to bully and outwit editors who are trying to ensure that articles are balanced and fair. When fair-minded editors oppose the skeptic teams, they are accused of defying the skeptical consensus, and warned that they will be banned from editing. If they persist they are indeed banned. Many such editors have been driven away, to the detriment of Wikipedia and its users. For a detailed case study, see Wikipedia, We Have a Problem.
Although Wikipedia’s official policy is that articles should represent a neutral point of view, skeptics have infiltrated the administration of Wikipedia and have managed to get parapsychology defined as a pseudoscience, along with many aspects of alternative and complementary medicine. The skeptic teams then claim that any editor opposing them is contravening the neutral point of view policy, because these subjects are defined as pseudoscience. These teams are committed to a kind of scientific fundamentalism, and take an extremely narrow view of science, even narrower than that of more mainstream skeptical organizations. Even the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry does not dismiss all parapsychology as pseudoscience: indeed some leading skeptics, like Professor Chris French, have explicitly stated that they regard it as a real science (French, C. C., & Stone, A. Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
Unfortunately, the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is a supporter of the skeptical extremists. In response to the systematic distortion to Wikipedia entries on holistic medicine, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) organized on online petition to Jimmy Wales through change.org asking for a balanced and scientific approach to these subjects. There were 7,000 signatures. In response, Wales called practitioners of alternative medicine “lunatic charlatans.” He resisted calls for change by saying that Wikipedia’s policies are “exactly spot-on and correct.”
So beware! Until Wikipedia can be reformed or replaced, it is essential to treat its skeptic-infested pages with extreme skepticism.
People’s bodies know a big event is coming just before it happens, at least according to a new study.
If true, the research, published Oct. 17 in the journal Frontiers of Perception, suggests something fundamental about the laws of nature has yet to be discovered.
“The claim is that events can be predicted without any cues,” said Julia Mossbridge, a Northwestern University neuroscientist who co-authored the study. “This evidence suggests the effect is real but small. So the question is: How does it work?”
Other scientists are skeptical of this interpretation, however. They suggest some bias in which studies get published could play a role in seeing an effect where there is none.
Many studies have shown that physical responses including heart rate, pupil dilation and brain activity change between one and 10 seconds before people see a scary image (like a slithering snake). In most of these experiments, frightening pictures were randomly interspersed with more-neutral ones, so that in theory participants didn’t have any clues about which photo would pop up next. But because the finding seemed so unnatural, those studies were understandably met with skepticism.
To see whether the effect was real, Mossbridge and her team analyzed over two dozen of these studies. As part of the analysis, they threw out any experiments in which they saw bias or flaws.
They still found a “presentiment” effect, in which measures of physiological excitement changed seconds before an event. The finding suggests that people’s bodies subconsciously sense the future when something important is about to happen, even if the people don’t know it.
For instance, if you were a day-trader betting lots of money on one stock, “10 seconds beforehand you might predict your stock tanking,” Mossbridge told LiveScience.
While the statistical methods used in the study are sound, that doesn’t mean presentiment is real, said Rufin VanRullen, a cognitive scientist at the Center for Research on the Brain and Cognition, in an email.
“All it means is that there is a statistical trend for scientists who search for these so-called presentiment effects to actually find them,” wrote VanRullen, who was not involved in the study.
Instead, it’s more likely that the experiments are biased, perhaps unintentionally, in a way the study authors missed, Kyle Elliott Mathewson, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said via email.
It’s also possible that scores of researchers looked for this result, failed to find it and forgot all about it, added Mathewson, who like VanRullen wasn’t involved in the study. Those studies would never be published, he said, so the overall effect in the published studies would be biased.
According to the researchers, in order for such bias to explain their results, at least 87 other unpublished studies would need to show no effect.
“Between psychology labs and parapsychology investigations, I can imagine this many failed experiments that go unreported easily,” Mathewson wrote.
Metaphysical and psychic phenomena have long existed on the fringes of conventional science and academia. ESP, Clairvoyance, Telekinesis and Astral traveling have all been relegated to the back seat of mainstream, accepted belief systems in spite of an extensive mention of these practices down the ages, across myriad cultures. It has always been challenging for practitioners of the science to be validated by the prevailing status quo.
That however changed in 1995 when the CIA declassified a top secret program that had been training individuals in the esoteric science of ‘Remote Viewing’ in which, it was claimed, people were able to envision ongoing activities in distant places and future events.
Although reminiscent of a Sci-Fi yarn, Remote viewing was tested and deployed under rigorous scientific conditions to obtain data about foreign espionage activities, counter terrorism efforts, secret military bases abroad and hidden missiles. It recognized the inherent psychic potential in humans and attempted to harness these special faculties or ‘powers’ for the purposes of intelligence gathering, often of a vital nature.
The initial testing was done at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) where extensive investigations were carried out into the human mind’s capacity to transcend all bounds of time and space. SRI’s research was supported by the CIA and other government agencies for over two decades.
Russell Targ, Hal Puthoff and Ingo Swann were the original founders of this once-secret program. Their task was to learn to understand psychic abilities, and to use these abilities to gather information about the Soviet Union during the Cold War. They found from years of experience that people can quickly learn to do remote viewing, and can frequently incorporate this direct knowing of the world — both present and future — into their lives.
They were the original ‘Psi Spies’ named after the title of Jim Marrs’ exhaustive study of the phenomenon. The project produced some remarkable results. Among them were detailed renderings of secret Soviet bases, the whereabouts of Red Brigade terrorism hostages in Italy, location of victims in the Israeli hostage crisis, locations of Scud missiles during the first Gulf War and even the impending attack on the Twin Towers in NY! (done by a private contractor and ignored until after the event). The program eventually came to be called ‘Operation Stargate’.
The initial media flurry (Ted Koppel’s Nightline, ABC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.) that surrounded the declassification in 1995 uncovered some surprising details. The names that surfaced at the time were of Ingo Swann, who initially helmed the project, Dr.Russell Targ, Pat Price, Dr. Hal Puthoff, Joseph McMoneagle and others, an interesting group comprised of respected senior military personnel, path breaking scientists and academic luminaries. On ABC’s Nightline, one of the operatives, Joe McMoneagle was put to the test by none other than Ted Koppel. He was able to prove the authenticity of the system with flying colors.
Remote viewers can often contact, experience and describe a hidden object, or a remote natural or architectural site, based on the presence of a cooperative person at the distant location, or when given geographical coordinates, or some other target demarcation — which they call an ‘address’. Shape, form and color are described much more reliably than the target’s name, function, or other analytical information. In addition to vivid visual imagery, viewers sometimes describe associated feelings, sounds, smells and even electrical or magnetic fields. Blueprint accuracy has occasionally been achieved in these double-blind experiments, and reliability in a series can be as high as 80 per cent. Case Studies
In 1984 Targ organized a pair of successful 10,000-mile remote viewing experiments between Moscow and San Francisco with famed Russian healer Djuna Davitashvili. Djuna’s task was to describe where a colleague would be hiding in San Francisco. She had to focus her attention ten thousand miles to the west and two hours into the future to correctly describe his location. These experiments were performed under the auspices and control of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Djuna hit the mark on all counts and the experiment was declared a resounding success.
Ten years earlier, in 1974, Russell Targ and his colleague Hal Puthoff carried out a demonstration of psychic abilities for the CIA. Pat Price, a retired police commissioner, described the inside and outside of a secret Soviet weapons laboratory in the far reaches of Siberia — given only the geographical coordinates of latitude and longitude for a reference. (That is, with no on- site cooperation.) This trial was such a stunning success that they were forced to undergo a formal Congressional investigation to determine if there had been a breach in National Security. Of course, none was ever found, and the government supported them for another fifteen years.
Data from these formal and controlled SRI investigations were highly statistically significant (thousands of times greater than chance expectation), and have been published in the world’s most prestigious journals, such as Nature, The Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and The Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences. The twenty years of remote viewing research conducted for the CIA is outlined in ‘Miracles of Mind: Exploring Non-local Consciousness and Spiritual Healing’, co-authored by Targ and Katra.
Recent research in areas as different as distant healing and quantum physics are in agreement with the oldest spiritual teachings of the sages of India, who taught that “separation is an illusion.” The powers we are discovering now are described by Rishis as ‘Siddhis’, or fruits of deep penance and arcane Yogic techniques, verbally transmitted, only known to inner circles.
The military and institutional exploitation of this timeless phenomenon is alarming. It is being harnessed by world governments in a game of cosmic brinkmanship, none of whom can possibly know the complete ramifications of unleashing such latently devastating forces without comprehending the holistic nature of the universe and interconnectedness of all life.
What is remarkable however, is the fact that the cat is out of the bag finally with regard to parapsychology, metaphysics and the occult. The so-called ‘mainstream’ has not only recognized the stunning potential of psychic energy but has gone so far as to harness it for territorial one-upmanship. The human race only needs to realize the vast reserves of raw power that it has at its disposal to effect profound and genuine transformation of the human condition on a global scale.
Image byWestern, courtesy of Creative Commons license.