Monday, August 11, 2014

My Paranormal experience in Afghanistan

One last story I want to do before the class is over. It was about an experience I had in afghanistan. I was a Marine in the infantry from 2009-2013. I did two deployments. My first in afghanistan and secon in yemen when all the riots broke out in the middle east. A lot of marines, soldiers, and sailors could tell you stories of wierd things happening them on deployment. Like gost stories you will here and alot of the stories are the same.

Are the weird stuff that happens to us on deployments or old barracks real? For me i had unexplainable things happen to me. We were in afghanistan and I my squad just set up this patrol base. It was probably around 1 am at night when the only people are up S.O.G.,  two other post, radio man, and me that were up. So only 5 people up and the other 17 guys were sleeping. Now the post I was standing at there is an Afgan cemetery on my left people sleeping on my right and a huge field in front of me with nothing in it. You can see a dog crossing the field at night thats how clear it is and no blind spots. Well I was standing looking out in front me and had a rock hit right in front me. I looked through night vision and my naked eye and seen nothing. Ok I thought to my self and looked out the left window towards the cemetery and another rock hit from that direction where I was looking. This point Im kinda freaked out. This happen right after my team leader died. So I was freaked out and nothing to rule out what through rocks at me because noone was there.

This is another story at an old navy barracks. My wife is in the navy and we were laying in bed at her room. The TV is on and we were wide awake. Then a beer pong ball comes rolling out. We looked at each other and I got up and then nothing was there. The Ping pong balls were in a cup. So How did they get out roll from the counter and turn perfectly in to where the bed was at? Freaky right. No drafts, no fan, and the window was closed. I tried finding a reason but can't rule out anything besides me freaked out.

I figured I would share this because it is weird and could relate to the class to paranormal activity. I tried ruling out everything I could to these weird experiences. But then again there is only my word like every ghost story.Hope everyone had a good class and summer and enjoyed this story.

The Demon Haunted World ~ Carl Sagan

I was relieved to find that this book was sectioned through chapters that seem almost like ramblings at times. I quite enjoyed it though, because it became entrapping to simply want to read more.  Usually when a review is asked of students the reading list is of mundane books that couldn't interest a scholar in that field, yet this book is THE scholar as some may say of the truth behind science and pseudoscience. I even took to finding my place in the chapters on the YouTube link below to keep on track when my eyes began to hurt.
Mr. Sagan simply does not write what he feels the world should know at a particular time. As demonstrated in this book he challenges those around him and those who have wrongfully quoted him in the past ( chapter 11 City of grief).  This correlates well with the Textbook we used in classes's chapters 1 and 10.2.  He grasps at those who have quoted him saying things like his statement "on rare occasions seeming to hear the voices of my dead parents  -- what I described as 'a lucid recollection' -- were keynoted by Raymond Moody... as evidence for life after death." as well as another writers concluding that he believes in aliens due to the fact that he worked on the idea of alien life being possible. They grasp at an expert in science's out of context quotes to "prove" their ideals and notions of their beliefs.

My Favorite chapter is without a doubt number 8. As I read I was filled with my own emotions and beliefs of the idea of "visions," deja vu, and of course feelings of unease that lead us to believe a ghost is responsible. I have had many moments that he describes of turning a corner in an unfamiliar town to only be met by a street you swear you recognize.  I have had even moments where I see a movie and feel that I have seen it before as if there was an attempt to remove it from my memory to let me watch it again.
As Mr. Sagan talks more on the subject of abductions (which at times I feel he may be fixated) he reveals noted medical texts and training that states hypnosis is not only unreliable, memories uncovered through such means are likely even more unreliable then memories recalled out of hypnosis.  I remember the text almost as much as Sagan's book goes over the over use and attempts for hypnosis in cases that can be explained by dissociation disorders or schizophrenia. This technique allows the hypnotist to influence the entire recollection process that the client is undergoing and can shape the "memories" even with out their knowing it.

The idea of False memories, something we could all probably go crazy thinking about. I have faced a scenario when a friend remembers something completely different then what the rest of the group that was present remembers through begin reminded of the event and they falsify their own memories by trying to string out the details ad possibilities.  I myself have sworn that I understood what directions I had been given in a class or when I was in the Army, yet I remembered something completely different from what was instructed, with only the written original instructions as proof that I was incorrect.
As interesting as the chapter was I pose another question, If we are capable of falsifying memories without being aware would we not be able to do te same with memories of the taste, feeling, smell, and sound of something as well? In my opinion the answer is clearly, yes. I have found myself remembering the taste of a quesodilla from one of my favorite places to eat, Chicken cooked just right with green and red peppers, red onion and cheddar cheese, balanced out to the perfect taste. Sounds great right? Now add the mozzarella that I completely forgot was in it and actually complained that there was new cheese in it.  The owner/manager that had served me the same thing for almost 3 months on my lunch break 2-3 times a week looked at me in shock and said "it has had the same ingredients since we opened and you've eaten it every time." I once again swore he was wrong, and was forced to accept what seemed to be the truth in that it always did have cheddar and mozzarella.
  Do we then perceive a memory in the form of a smell, like suddenly smelling our significant others perfume or cologne that they frequently wear when we miss them? Ponder this ----->>>

Like the study described in the video ->
Could it simply be that most if not all abduction stories or multiple personality cases like the studies talked about in our text are simply fiction? Did the individuals simply have the starting point and embellish or exaggerate further on the idea?

Since this is a psychology class, I ponder the same question as the video just above with a twist.  How much of your clients memory of a situation is false? I challenge you to write a memory that you have distinctly in your mind, and in  one week, without looking at your previous entry write the memory as you remember it. Did you write less? more? Ask someone who was there about the experience and see if it is congruent with your own account.

Book Report: Why People Believe Weird Things

Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of our Time is a fitting complement to our own lectures. On top of many of the specific subjects covered within the course, it also puts a spotlight on other pseudoscience-related topics, such as what it refers to as “pseudohistory”, or interpretations of historical events and the past in general that bear many of the same traits as a typical pseudoscientific claim.  The book is excellent in its own right as well, well-written and entertaining, with a myriad of examples to illustrate its major points perfectly.

The book is primarily, of course, all about answering the titular question. In order to do so, it discusses what scepticism really is, and why sceptics are an essential part of the overall scientific process. The differences between science and pseudoscience, history and pseudohistory are important topics, and the book makes excellent use of real-world examples to properly differentiate between them. Why and how subjects such as pseudoscience, pseudohistory, superstition and seemingly illogical or blind belief remain so prevalent in an age undoubtedly more full of aspiring scientists and more scientifically oriented than any before it. Ultimately it looks at why not only people in general believe in “weird” things, but why smart people, people who otherwise may be very knowledgeable and logical, continue to fall prey to such pseudoscientific thinking.

Shermer uses Lefkowitz's reply to a popular
but pseudohistorical belief as an example
My personal favourite part of the book is likely the section “The Most Precious Thing We Have” in the first chapter, which deals with distinguishing science and pseudoscience, history and pseudohistory, and delves in to the scientific methods involved in good science and accurate history. Though early on in the book, this section I feel complements our course the best. It highlights the stunning progress our society as a whole has made in the ways of technology, but also demonstrates a disturbing trend in paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs even among adult men and women, both with fitting graphs and hard numbers.This section also contains the initial discussion of pseudohistory, and gives some very interesting examples of how very seemingly obvious and logical facts about the past can be misinterpreted or misconstrued based on personal bias or an agenda. Of course, it also discusses pseudoscience, but provides its own unique examples on top of some more familiar ones from our lectures. Most of all, however, I found its discussion of “Pirsig’s Paradox” and the differences between scientific laws and “ghosts”, as taken from Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance, to be the most interesting. This particular paradox is about the internalist and externalist views on the progression of science, and how it relates to culture and the societies in which the science is developed.

From the book (pg. 26), percentage of adult American men
and women who believe in these topics
(Gallup and Newport, 1991)
Why People Believe Weird Things ties in to a lot of the subjects discussed as part of our class lectures, but in particular, as one might guess from the title, it relates most to some of the initial themes in the course, the traits of pseudoscientific and paranormal propositions that make them so believable, at least on the surface, to many and the implications this can have for them, some of which may be more dangerous than we initially think. For example, Why People Believe Weird Things discusses the consequences of cult obsession or mass hysterias brought on in no small part by paranormal and false, pseudoscientific beliefs. The lectures point out as an example that settling for a pseudoscientific result that is in fact more likely a placebo effect, while not always immediately harmful, can become dangerous if the effect wears off over time or does not fully put a stop to a disease or other serious problem, but merely coincides with the regular "ups and downs" of many such conditions.

Magicians Penn & Teller demonstrate the placebo effect,
in their usual manner.
Bill Nye "the Science Guy" discusses pseudoscience. The author,
Michael Shermer, discusses his participation on this episode in the
book. Also featuring James Randi, who should be familiar to most
from our lecture slide videos.

We as humans are pattern recognisers, "thinking reeds", so much so that we find patterns where there are none, the result of simple evolutionary tendencies. Our continued belief in "weird" things, like pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and the paranormal, even in an age filled with scientific proof and discovery, is a direct consequence of this. By understanding why we believe in these things, we can take the first step towards subjecting them to the same rigorous scientific testing and analyses that we respect as part of the scientific process. Once we know that there is a logical reason that even highly intelligent people can be misguided in to believing in pseudoscience, that it isn't anything wrong with them as a human, it will become much easier to promote more rational thought in all aspects of life, and prevent these kinds of pseudoscientific belief from taking as much hold as they do. I believe the situation is hopeful: a few centuries ago, true science was the minority among society, and paranormal beliefs were far more prevalent. Today we continue to see an exponential growth in scientific fact and dedication to the logical scientific process. Scientific knowledge is cumulative and progressive, and books such as Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things help provide the stepping stones for tomorrow's scientific achievements by highlighting the successes, and pointing out the mistakes, of today.

Carl Sagan The Demon-Haunted World

The book I decided to read and do my book report on is Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World". I find readings like this fascinating, just another way to open up your mind to a new realm of thought. I particularly find intriguing the topics of demons and UFOs. I believe that with each topic that Sagan brings up he is trying to get the reader to open up their mind and think about all of the claims that people make, and look at it logically. The example of UFO abduction and lack of sleep is a perfect example. I have been there myself, you lose yourself in a way when you are sleep deprived, I read a post earlier and the author stated while in Afghanistan he lost himself for a second or two and snapped back after three days of no sleep. I've gone through that myself and it is amazing how powerful your brain can be at times. Chapter 6, when Sagan describes his views on hallucinations was also my favorite part of the book, it is truly sensational how your mind can alter your reality.
I also like how Sagan uses his scientific expertise to logically explain and rule out bizarre claims. His essays really open your eyes and beg you to question peoples outrageous claims. When Sagan went into describing how an animal must feel when being captured by a human, it really helps put things into perspective. It is so simple to write off someone who has claimed to be abducted by aliens, listening to their story of how they got taken to a ship and had experiments conducted on them, but like I said when Sagan put it in perspective using the "Human catching an animal" analogy, it really makes you think about these people's claims, it almost makes you believe. Pseudoscience is also another fascinating topic to me, because growing up and even today I still believe in the paranormal. But Sagan makes you wonder if all claims of paranormal activity could be the conscious mind playing tricks, and allowing your imagination to run wild. Certainly todays media doesn't help, with the horror genre exploding with movies like, "The Conjuring", "Insidious", "Paranormal Activity",  and "The Fourth Kind". The entertainment business just adds to the illusion of all of this paranormal activity and when people see the films they think they can relate to it when its really just their imagination. I remember when a couple friends and I saw " The Fourth Kind" which was supposedly based on true accounts of a woman in Alaska whose children had been abducted by aliens, and her small town had been plagued by visitors that came at night. We were terrified after the film because it was so compelling, later that year Warner Bros. had received so much feedback of people's eyewitness accounts, that it released a statement saying that the movie was all false and they added it was "based on true accounts" to add to the level of horror. The movie relies on the tag line "What do you believe?".  Thats a perfect example of Pseudoscience and how if you let it your imagination can run wild.



Freshman 15 OH NOOOOOOO!!!!!

Well I would like to discuss a myth that we all heard about, may have experienced, or know someone that has.  It is a term expressed commonly in the United States and Canada that talks about how people gain 15 lbs or more during their first year of school.  The reason behind this is supposedly because of the increase consuming of fat and carbohydrate-rich cafeteria food and increase of eating from fast food chains.  Well why not fast, easy, and saves us time to focus on school.  The lack of sleep is also another reason for this weight gain because lack of sleep increases leptin level in the body.  Malnutrition, stress, and decreased amounts of exercise.  All this is from studies done by many universities and colleges.

None I personally have been effected by this terrible affliction, what did I change from before I would say nothing.  I lived my life the same well with less sleep though.  Is this something that is meant to happen to all freshman entering college or something we can avoid.

Ohio State University also did a studied that studied the average college freshman gains only 2-3 lbs in their 1st year.  This studied they suggested that they gain about the same amount of weight as non-college students of the same age and that the only possible factor is drinking.  Well I am 38 years old and I started drinking at the age of 18 when I first joined the Marines and I did not gain any weight.  So what is the real reason behind this strange and possible weight gain.

How many of us experienced a moment like that.

So if we think about it can we avoid this, well studies and scientist say yes.  If we take care of our bodies, eat right, and get plenty of sleep we can.  I find that hard to believe because I met several individuals that eat fast food, drink a lot, and talk about how they don't sleep and they have not gained a single pound (lucky them).

I truly believe this falls delusion and falsehood.  I believe this is something we can control or can we.  I didnt change anything in my lifestyle and I gained weight rapidly so is there some kind of curse out there?? I probably will never know but this I like is something we all can be effected by.


When I was in the Navy I served on board a ship called the USS Cole.  In the year 2000 we were in a port called Aden in Yemen.  We are attacked by terrorists which killed 17 sailors.  They drove a small boat full of explosives into the side of our ship.  We were taken to Pascagoula, Mississippi where we underwent major repair.  I went on deployment following the September 2000 attacks on 9-11 and returned to the Cole for her Maiden deployment to the Mediterranean Sea in 2003.  During that deployment a lot of weird things happened on board the ship.  My friend Brandon and I were walking down the side of the ship at 2 am and the red lights were on.  These lights are dim so we remain undetected while at sea.  Brandon was smoking a cigarette and as we walked someone had asked hey man you got another cigarette and he said no and we kept walking.  The person then asked again and Brandon replied no.  On the third time the person asked and Brandon and I turned around and there was no one to be found.

One night I was sleeping in my bed with the curtains closed and some asked me why I was sleeping in their bed and when I opened the curtains there was no one there.  I had told someone what had happened and he asked me what bed I was sleeping in.  I told him and then we went to my bed where my name was taped onto the side of the bad and when I had peeled it back it revealed that it was one of the fallen 17 people.

There were always strange things happening on that boat from white ghosts standing watch on the flightdeck only to be seen in infrared cameras to hearing people talking in the engine rooms only to find nothing there at all.  I was not a believer of ghosts until all this had occurred.  Needless to say that now I am a believer.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark, By Carl Sagan

    The book I decided to read and do my book report on was, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle In The Dark, by Carl Sagan. I chose this book because the title caught my eye. When I seen the title I said to my self I can get into this and I read a little bit of in the store skimmed through and with in ten minutes I was into it.

       I never read a book like this. All the books I ever read were story books with action or based on a movie. This book as essays that Carl Sagan wrote about a topic and each topic had its own chapter. Carl Sagan was more into planetary science stated in the book but goes into details about the difference in pseudoscience and regular science. Me personality I never heard of pseudoscience until I took this class, I just thought science was science. The whole book goes on about myths, demons, aliens,theories and other topics related in the pseudoscience world. Sagan explains why in every field of science there is always pseudoscience stepping on the front door. Carl Sagan in this book to me is trying to get you to think and keeping you on your toes trying to get you to use your brain to think about everything. The book is a big critical thinking exercise to me because talking about pseudoscience and what is considered it, made me think a lot about things I heard growing up, I don't know if it is true anymore because really there is no actual science to back it up. He also talks about how regular science is great us in our life and how we need science to advance. For instance he talks about over two hundred years how human life span is longer now than what it was years and years ago. The help of science made this happen. 

      Chapter six, Hallucinations, is my favorite part of the book. Starts off with UFO's and advertising in magazines making people believe it with catchy headlines. The chapter goes into explaining certain stories of people of why they were abducted throwing their story out of the window by using logical sense. Like lack of sleep causing hallucinations. Personally that happen to me once. I was standing post in Afghanistan and we had no sleep and for a matter of several minutes I thought I was in middle school and I snapped out of it because I smoked my cigarette all the way between my fingers and it was so real. I know it was lack of sleep because we didn't have going on day 3. So I like this chapter because I related my experience to it and when it was talking about the New Hamphire couple, proving their story wrong with logical answers. In our class we seen the video of the powers people have to move stuff and easily proven wrong and how advertising gets people to believe in stuff that has no evidence but peoples statements and no science. One last thing that I liked about bthis chapter was because explaining why kids hallucinate and have nightmares. I thought it was interesting because I never thought about the reason sleeping alone. How different it was back then till now. Carl Sagan in this book made me think about things I would of never thought about ruling out to see if it was true.  

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan is a very enthralling series of essays that tells of multiple subjects of superstitious beliefs in regards to science. He speaks on so many different topics in this regard, some including: UFO’s and aliens, witchcraft, demons and the supernatural, and mediums. He uses his scientific knowledge to logically describe how the curious mind is at fault for making outrageous claims of the bizarre. Through the use of these essays, Sagan shows evidence of how to break through these bizarre claims and find truth.
            In Chapter 11: The City of Grief, Sagan tells of how after his views of UFO’s were published in Parade Magazine, many readers wrote to him in response. Among the sections of letters Sagan includes, I found the most prominent part of the book for me. The reader describes how animals must feel when humans capture them for testing:
”They see a large hovering object making a terrible noise above them. They begin to run and feel a sharp pain in their side. Suddenly they fall to the ground . . . Several man-creatures approach them carrying strange-looking instruments. They examine your sexual organs and teeth. They place a net under you and then let it take you in the air with a strange device. After all the examinations, they then clamp a strange metal object on your ear. Then, just as suddenly as they had appeared, they are gone. Eventually, muscle control returns, and a poor disoriented creature staggers off into the forest, not knowing [whether] what just transpired was a nightmare or a reality.”
            After reviewing chapter 6 in our lectures about alien abductions, I had felt that people who claimed to be abducted had a wild imagination of what it could be like. I had watched the video of Jesse Long and felt utterly confused about his recollection of the accounts of his own several abductions. It is powerful to watch a grown man nearly in tears as he recalls the embarrassment of being taken into a “spaceship” and being paralyzed while these strange beings conducted experiments on him. However, after reading the review of Sagan’s reader who intelligently linked the abduction of humans to the abduction of animals by humans, it actually made the claims of Jesse Long and other abductees become more realistic to me. After I was able to see that connection of how abductees describe their experience, with how animals are treated indefinitely, I was able to feel more empathetic towards those who claim abduction.

            Pseudoscience has a very large “market”, so to speak, and can be found in many areas. Carl Sagan described many cases of Pseudoscience and how it comes to play in the real world. It is hard to believe some claims; however, I would like to share a story of the supernatural that I have personally encountered.  I had heard stories for years of a supernatural being they called “Shadow Man”. He would appear in the late evenings and terrorize young children with nightmarish thoughts and long nights awake. Once you first see the Shadow Man, he haunts you forever. I never believed in him, until one day I was taking pictures of my new house and I noticed a strange figure outlined in one of my photos. This is the actual picture that clearly shows a ghoulish figure in front of my fireplace.
Shadow Man
       Of course, Shadow Man is not real. In fact, I just took this picture on my iPhone using a family member standing behind me. The point is that anyone can take a picture, or see something out of the ordinary, and let the imagination run wild. This is where Pseudoscience comes from; this is the basis of what Carl Sagan is portraying in his novel, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. There are many things that I had heard while I was growing up that I fully believed. I even went through a phase that I was terrified to sleep at night because I thought there could be a "ghost" in the house. I had absolutely no evidence of this being true, but I had heard of other kids who supposedly had ghosts in their houses so I assumed reasonable belief to be scared. This is how paranormal beliefs live, and this is the reason why small and unrealistic stories grow into what we now know as Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. 
       Carl Sagan's words are launched straightforward into his opinions of why Pseudoscience is what it is, and how to detect what is real and what is not. There are so many different paranormal beliefs and stories that it is difficult to see through these stories sometimes. Sagan gives us tools for the real world to be able to use his scientific mind as a basis for exposing stories such as "The Shadow Man", which is a story that sounds fake and unrealistic, but has a picture to prove it and apparently many people that saw him. Using tools given by the genius mind of Carl Sagan, we can use science to show why reality still prevails when it comes to these stories, and the very many other forms of Pseudoscience.

Weather and climate and the body and maind

I'm sure everyone has had a person say something like I have arthritis, trust me its going to rain, or after its already raining say I've felt it coming all week.  Truth be told these conclusions are often conditioned responses through hydration, barometric pressure, and possibly even a neurosis that has been established through extreme belief.  I have Carpal tunnel, degenerative disks and joints as well as aches and pains that i don't really know what are causing them, and not once has a doctor looked at me and said, be careful I hear its going to rain so you may feel additional discomfort. Who do I always hear it from? The gullible friend.

Can't even count the amount of times I have heard or simply said watch out its a full moon the crazies are out.  I have yet to find research that can correlate any mental issues being more or less present due to the moon being full, well aside from those whom believe themselves to be werewolves.

I asked my physician who helps keep my pain minimal for my back and hands, and the only correlation I can truly say I believe as truth is noticeable changes in temperature.   As the body chills or becomes colder muscles are more likely to tense or spasm as a way to conserve or create heat, and as the body is warmed the muscles are likely to relax. Which is why you put ice on a swollen area and heat on a spasm or ache unless told otherwise.

Book Report: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

For my book report I chose to read The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. While looking at the list of books, this book stuck out the most interesting to me. I liked how it talked about the science and also the pseudoscience involved in different aspects. For example, aliens, demons, witchcraft, and magic; all things that I find very interesting. So because of this, this book definitely stuck out the most to my interests. I started reading the book and couldn’t put it down.

The book has a collection of twenty-five essays, which several of them are written with Carl Sagan’s wife. The essays range. For example, humorous accounts of a variety of pseudoscientific endeavors to serious attempts to understand the nature of alien abduction delusions. Carl Sagan I believe wants his reader to ask questions about what they are reading. And also to get you to be a little skeptical about what you hear on the news or what you read on the Internet or in newspapers. His book definitely made me ask questions and had me thinking. I found it fascinating.  

 The reason I liked this book was because it was different from any other book I have ever read. I enjoyed how it was a bunch of different essays, so it kept the book interesting because you didn’t get bored of it after the first chapter of reading. For someone like me that doesn’t necessary like to read, this book was perfect for myself because of how it was broken up. While I was reading the book there was a quote that I found interesting. It was on page 43 and it said, “pseudosciences…pseudoscientific doctrines…that alien beings from distant worlds visit the Earth with casual impunity.” Carl Sagan did not find it rational to believe that aliens were visiting us with what he called “casual impunity.” I just thought this was interesting because I do in fact believe that there is another life out there, I just don’t know exactly what it is.

This book relates to our class. I found it to relate to chapter one because chapter one talks about pseudoscience and this book explains methods that help differentiate between what is pseudoscience and what is science. But also, I found this book to relate to a decent amount of what we discussed in the power points and also what we read in our class book.

Overall, I found this book to be an interesting and unusual read. It was definitely a book that I was not used to reading, but it expanded my horizons. I would encourage people to read this book, especially those that have a love for science. Also I decided to do a little research to see if I could find out why Carl Sagan decided to write this book. I found different parts to his last interview. Below is a link to part 1 which he discussed pseudo-science, religion, and his love affair with science. I’m glad I took this class and got to read something that I wouldn’t have normally picked up on the bookshelf.