Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Post 3: The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials have been referred to as one of the darkest blemishes in American history. The mass hysteria created by the events of the witch trials would be hard to envision in modern society. However, in the late 1600’s the falsity of claiming one’s neighbors to be practicing dark magic became almost commonplace. Innocent people were being hung, stoned, and burned at the stake due to these false accusations.
This was started when Abigail Williams and other young Puritan girls in Salem, Massachusetts started acting strange. They began pointing fingers at other townspeople claiming they had been practicing witchcraft- as was made famous in the book The Crucible. It is estimated that over 200 people were accused of witchcraft, and 20 were executed.
I can’t imagine any scenario where something like this would happen again for multiple reasons, but the largest reason is the change in our judicial system. In modern society people are considered innocent until proven guilty. They would have different rights such as the right to an attorney and a jury- not just a biased judge and an illiterate doctor determining one’s fate. Therefore any logical person in modern society would want significant proof before deciding if someone is guilty.
While 325 years may sound like a lot, in the grand scheme of time that is really not very much. It is crazy to imagine how this kind of hysteria happened only a few lifetimes ago.


Something that my mom loves to have around the house are aromatherapy candles. When looking through the last lecture, I never knew how popular aromatherapy is in general. Through the lecture, I learned that aromatherapy has a lot of broad claims, but isn’t really backed up by any evidence. Many people/companies who are trying to sell their aromatherapy products are advertising many proven benefits for health and mind, however in reality those benefits aren’t true. Scientists have found that the essential oils used have about the same effect as a glass of water which means that there isn’t any improvement in a person’s well-being after using aromatherapy.
My mom simply puts aromatherapy candles around the house because of how nice they smell and not for its claimed “benefits.” However, this got me very interested in the topic of aromatherapy and I did some research. I found that the oils that are used have been around for thousands of years to heal and enhance emotional wellness in ancient countries. The Ancient Egyptians used aromatherapy scents to cure diseases and the Greeks wrote books on the healing properties of essential oils. The one thing that is true is that essential oils are all natural and therefore, they don’t harm the body. When a person inhales the essential oils, the molecules enter the nose and stimulate olfactory receptors. Each receptor is activated by different odor molecules. The complexity of the receptors and how they interact with the smell molecules allows a person to detect the different scents of the essential oils.
When doing my research, I couldn’t really find information regarding that aromatherapy in fact does benefit a person’s health and mind. It’s more like a subject where people think the essential oils in aromatherapy are benefiting them even though there’s not really any effect. Since essential oils aren’t harmful, I think a person should continue with aromatherapy if it’s generally benefiting them and making them feel happier.

Rituels, Petits. “The Scientific Benefits Of Aromatherapy Candles.” Petits Rituels, 7 Sept. 2016, petitsrituels.com/blogs/petits-rituels-blog/the-scientific-benefits-of-aromatherapy-candles.   


 "In both modern and ancient times, a medium is a person who communicates with spirits, usually apart from the use of witchcraft. A medium is, literally, an “intermediary” between the spirit world and ours. The Bible condemns the practice of mediumship, and attempting to speak to the dead , through séances or other means, is expressly forbidden"(https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-medium.html). I was introduced into the world of mediums through two tv shows "Long Island Medium" and "Hollywood Medium". In "Long Island Medium" Theresa Caputo communicates with those who are no longer living and sends messages to their family and friends. She sees people in private settings, group settings, and sometimes people just come across while she's out and about. "In Hollywood Medium" Tyler Henry communicates messages from those who are no longer living to celebrities in their homes. Both of these shows had me convinced that mediums truly do have the ability to communicate with spirit and pass on messages. However, when learning about the power of ambiguous specificity and Nostradamus's ability to predict so many events I've gone back to reexamine some episodes. I can definitely see some vagueness at time and them saying things and allowing the person they are reading to connect the dots but they also have said things that have left me completely shocked. I'm extremely interested in meeting with a medium and see what type of encounter I would have. I was a full believer but after the lecture on The End of the World I feel as I am a skeptic again. 

Image result for theresa caputo long island medium

Image result for tyler henry hollywood medium


I was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, as was my entire family. The story of the Chupacabra is one I heard as a child from my older cousins. It was told to me that it was a large monster like animal that attacked goats, chickens, and other farm animals of the families that lived up in the mountains. It liked to suck the blood of the animals and leave the carcasses behind. It only came out at night and that's why as children we needed to come inside to play as it got dark because the Chupacabra could come get us. Some of my older cousins would try to bring us into the forest and mountains at night to search for it and even one claims he heard the screech. I think of it now a lot as Puerto Rico's boogie monster. I was scared of the Chupacabra and kids in New Jersey were scared of the Jersey Devil. To me it seems that its just in human nature to find an answer for things or occurrences we don't understand regardless of how ridiculous it may seem.

Image result for chupacabra puerto rico

Monday, July 30, 2018


Rajneeshpuram was a community based in Wasco County, Oregon that was where the Rajneeshees, or followers of Bhagwan Rajneesh, were based. I wanted to talk about this community because it is similar to Heaven’s Gate because both groups are based around a single leader and the devotees tend to give up their lives or livelihood for their new religion or movement. Before moving to Oregon to start his community, Rajneesh began his controversial movement that shunned traditional values in favor of  free love and meditation while he was a professor of philosophy in India. Soon he began gaining wealthy followers and started camps and lectures based on his values. He also began the Neo-Sannyas International Movement which allowed women to join, which was rare because of it's basis in Hindu, and began his world tour where he hoped to help people find spritual enlightenment. The decline of his power and wealth began when his followers poisoned 751 people in Wasco County, Oregon while trying to rig a political election in favor of Rajneeshees. This event led several leaders of the movement to be criminally charged and deported. There is a really interesting Netflix documentary called Wild Wild Country that talks about the rise and fall of his group and even has stories from people who lived at his community in Oregon and left their jobs and lives to follow his teachings. I thought this related to our class because his meditation claimed to awaken people from their daily lives and he even had a session that involved laughing for three hours straight. These practices and their claims fall under pseudoscience because they aren't based on scientific study, but he did use some psychotherapy and other psychology fundamentals in his teachings. 
Image result for Rajneeshpuram
This was Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County, Oregon

Cannato, V. J., Will, B., Feller, D., Heitman, D., & Nadler, S. (2018, May 01). Rajneeshpuram Was More than a Utopia in the Desert. It Was a Mirror of the Time. Retrieved from https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2018/spring/feature/rajneeshpuram-was-more-utopia-in-the-desert-it-was-mirror-the-time

Dream Interpretation

Dream interpretation is an ancient practice of finding meaning and symbols in dreams that translate to many different things, including divine intervention. In ancient societies, dreaming was thought to be a supernatural way of possibly seeing the future or finding spiritual powers. Sigmund Freud actually published a book called The Interpretation of Dreams where he talked about his belief that our dreams are influenced by our unconscious desires and mind, especially as adults. Many people in the psychology community use dream dictionaries and dream journals to try to find meaning and their unconscious desires/fears in them. I found an interesting website that has interpretations for over 10,000 types of dreams. They also talk about lucid dreaming which I didn’t touch on in this post. https://www.dreamdictionary.org

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Post 2: Psychic Crime Detectives

It was very interesting to see the part of the lectures about psychic crime detectives, because I have seen this work in real life. About ten years ago, my family took me to see Sylvia Browne. If you are unfamiliar, she was a world renowned psychic medium. She did a show in Atlantic City, and there was a huge turn out.
She called on several people from the audience to try and make connections to their loved ones on the other side. Most people just wanted the reassurance that their loved ones that had passed were comfortable or watching over them, but one woman’s request stood out far more than the others.
Apparently her daughter had been missing for a few years, and it had been assumed she was abducted and murdered. She begged Sylvia for some information on her daughter’s whereabouts. At first, Sylvia Browne did confirm the daughter was in fact dead, but tried to talk the woman out of this request to spare her the gruesome details.
The woman pressed on, wanting to locate where her daughters remains were. Sylvia Browne told the woman that she had been murdered by being bludgeoned in the woods and that her body was then dumped in the river.
This has really stuck with me, since at that point there was nothing to verify the validity of Sylvia’s statement. However, this woman was going to turn the basis of the entire investigation of her daughter’s death based upon just a simple Q and A and a medium’s show.

Out of Body Experience

Out of body experiences have been said to occur in many different scenarios.  The most famous of these is Heaven's Gate cult.  They believed their souls were separate from their bodies, and their body was only a vessel to carry the soul.  They believed they had contact with aliens, and in order to make it to the afterlife, they had to leave their bodies behind and get on an alien ship.  This is not the first time this belief has been expressed.  Many religions and past philosophers support the idea that they mind and body are separate.
The out of body experiences we tend to hear about most frequently are those of people who are in hospitals getting operations or those who are dying. Those who study the paranormal have become interested in if these experiences are occurring and why.  People who have had OBE's said it felt as though they were floating outside of their own body, similar to a lucid dream.  Scientists have shut down the idea that these experiences actually exist.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Aroma therapy

 Aroma therapy is suppose to be a non chemical cure for a handful of problems people face everyday. There are some that supposedly decrees stress and others that should help you sleep. Personally I haven’t had the best success with this new type of therapy but I do know people who swear by it. I have tried several variations of aroma therapy from scented oils to incense have haven’t had any success. So in my personal experience it’s not a working solution. But I’m also a skeptic of the idea of a simple scented oil being able to cure help fight my anxiety and help me sleep through the night so I wasn’t expecting a positive result going in anyway. Overall In my own experience anything ‘all natural’ or ‘non chemical infused’ isn’t bound to work. But that’s just my personal opinion.

Heaven's Gate

     One of the videos in this lecture mentioned that the cult's website is still up and running.  Even today, www.heavensgate.com is up and running.  I found it very strange that with salvation being just around the corner there was someone or even a team of people tasked with staying behind to maintain the website for future members.  On the site, there is even an article titled "Our Position Against Suicide".  The article actually doesn't say anything negative about suicide except to say that "The true meaning of "suicide" is to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered." Unsurprisingly, it actually seems to condone suicide in certain scenarios but then states the group decided such a scenario was very unlikely and need not be discussed further.
     The entire website is very surreal. Their reasoning behind their beliefs is very hard to follow but for anyone interested in the inner workings of a cult, their entire book is available on the site. One thing I hand't realized before was that they claim that all UFOs are attempts (some of which may have been successful) at transporting people to the kingdom of heaven. Below is a picture from their website which shows how a member of the Kingdom of Heaven might appear.

Post 3: Law of Attraction

       It is very unclear whether or not subliminal messaging truly works or not. Many people debate that the more they listen to something the more they are able to believe it. It is kind of just speculative whether it works and therefore, it is challenging to truly know whether subliminal messaging is effective. However, I do believe that the law of attraction is very real and can actually be quite effective. I believe that in order to have complete success with it you must be completely invested with the idea that what you want is what you will have. Self visualization is imperative in this process. You must picture your life with all the things you are asking the universe for. In a video, Connor McGregor talks about his belief in the law of attraction and says that when he was broke he still envisioned himself driving a beautiful car with a lavish lifestyle despite being destitute. He says that the most important thing is visualization during this process and the second most important aspect of the law of attraction is being consistent with it. Connor states that its easy to visual good things when good things are happening and you feel great, but when you're beat up and things aren't going well at all is much more challenging, but is also much more important. This is when you truly believe you will have the things you want. The law of attraction is very interesting and can certainly be effective if done consistently.


Post 2: Telekinesis

        "Stranger Things" is currently one of the most watched shows on Netflix. In the show, there is a character; Eleven, who has special psychokinetic powers including telekinesis. Each time she uses her telekinetic powers she drains her body of a lot of energy because she needs to access a much larger portion of her brain. Knowing that we do not fully maximize the potential of our brains it makes me wonder if it would be possible to have telekinetic abilities or would telepathy be possible. In the show, Eleven gets her powers due to her mother being a test subject during the MKUltra project. The tests and drugs administered to Eleven's mother during this project caused her to pass along these special abilities. It is intriguing to think about if there are actually things that can allow us to reach this level of access to our brains. Regardless, "Stranger Things" is really cool concept for television series and is certainly one of my favorites. 

Is telekinesis based on real brains or science fiction? (2017, October 30). Retrieved from https://www.futurity.org/telekinesis-stranger-things-1589532/

Post 1: Graphology

        Graphology is the analysis of a person's handwriting and how it pertains to their personality. For example; graphologists believe that if a person writes with a-lot of space between words it means they are lonely or isolated. If a person writes with their letter crunched together it means that they are desperate for companionship. This is incredibly intriguing and made me wonder if graphologists believe that a certain style of handwriting could be associated to a person's sex drive.
        An article titled "Sex Drive and the Letter G in Handwriting Analysis" mentions that graphologists believe that the way a person writes out a lower case g is actually associated with a person's instincts including expression of human sexuality. The way that I write out my lower case g is with the lower loop curving up to the left. Apparently what this means is that I have a possessive attitude during sexual engagement, along with a subconscious desire for recognition, and a privation during childhood. I am unsure as to how much I believe in the ability to figure out a person's personality and sex drive based solely on handwriting, However, I still find it pretty interesting. 

Sex Drive and Letter g in Handwriting Analysis. (2018, February 09). Retrieved from  http://www.handwriting-graphology.com/g-in-handwriting/

Fair minded skepticism, perhaps what they say is true.

So this is my 4th post but I feared my first one was lacking in content. For this post I figured I’d go in the opposite direction of my typical skepticism and share a defense for difficult to accept statements. As I was watching some of the videos and the slides about Alien and UFO abductions there was a point when it was mentions that alien/UFO sightings skyrocketed after such events were getting sensationalized in the public eye. That’s a painfully eye rolling, “no kidding” type of observation and I’m almost certain that the desire for attention or even just the priming of people to think their experiences could be explained via extraterrestrial phenomenon are mostly to blame for this. However, I couldn’t help but think of the opposite argument to this in the name of fair minded thinking. This argument being that people are also more likely to come forward if they feel that there is greater chance of acceptance and lesser a chance of rejection. While the same arguments about false memories in general can be used to explain away alien encounters, and I in particular have doubts about people undergoing regression therapy since such therapy is known to implant false memories, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that everybody who has ever claimed to have had an encounter is absolutely wrong (though I will personally believe it when I see it for myself). To look with doubt upon the entire group of those making these claims would be no different than doubting the truth behind peoples inherent sexualities simply because at one point in time they absolutely could not be public about it without repercussions or rejection. Making the argument that people aren’t really gay but rather it’s merely a “trend” based on the fact that at some arbitrary point in time people were conforming to social norms completely overlooks the innate human desire to be “normal” and to satisfy social customs. Likewise, if you have no support or way to make your alien abduction experience fit into the social norms and body of knowledge currently available to people – than it’s just as plausible that you will recreate your memories to fit a story line more acceptable to the people around you (even if you truly did have an alien experience) as it is that someone could prime your memories to believe in an alien abduction that actually didn’t happen.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Report: Flim-Flam!

Book Report: Flim-Flam!  

            Flim-Flam! by James Randi disproves many supernatural theories to be nothing more than hoaxes. James Randi is a retired stage magician and a scientific skeptic. The media and television exaggerate stories and claim it is supernatural. Many believe in Kirlian photography, ESP, pyramid power, the Bermuda Triangle, and prophecy. Kirlian photography is “a technique for recording photographic images of corona discharges and hence, supposedly, the auras of living creatures,” which is a ridiculous notion (Merriam-Webster). Psychic surgery is a phony process of “healing.” Some surgeons practiced laying on of hands to cure a person’s tumor. In reality, the surgeons used animal parts claiming it was the person’s removed tumor. Randi has also exposed many frauds who claimed to have psychic abilities, such as Uri Geller.

            My favorite chapter of Flim-Flam! discussed the elaborate theory of the Bermuda Triangle.  The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the western Atlantic Ocean boarded by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami. Charles Berlitz wrote The Bermuda Triangle, Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds and Without a Trace. Both books make outrageous claims with poor or nonexistent research to support his arguments. “Early in 1979, Berlitz took a group of fifteen archaeologists, explorers, and divers into the so-called Bermuda Triangle to study the ‘Lost Civilization of Atlantis’” (Randi 42). In 1945, five aircraft flew into the triangle and supposedly “disappeared.” Berlitz took the story and embellished it in his novel. Larry Kusche studied Berlitz’s claims. In 1953, thirty-nine people disappeared north of the triangle on a flight to Jamaica. An SOS signal was sent out and then suddenly ended. The plane had Jamaica as its destination and it would have to cross the Triangle, but instead, the plane took a “northwesterly path away from the dreaded area” (45). The plane stopped in Newfoundland, Canada and then it flew to Jamaica. Also, the plane was lost 900 miles north of the Triangle due to strong, icy winds and rain. The SOS signal that “mysteriously” ended was a “tragedy, but one that has occurred hundreds of times around the world” (45). Berlitz wrote about the loss of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 that “‘suffered a loss by disintegration’” (46). In reality, the crew of the plane was on autopilot at night while flying over the Florida Everglades “where there are no ground lights for reference” (46). Then while fixing a problem in the cockpit, they did not even notice the descending altitude until the plane crashed. Berlitz also believed that Christopher Columbus saw a fireball that circled his ship while sailing through the Triangle. The fireball was instead a meteor and it did not circle the ship. In 1945, Avenger torpedo bombers flew into the Bermuda Triangle and vanished. They were on a training flight and their compass was broken. Also, their fuel was low. The bombers flew around until they ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. Another ridiculous idea of Berlitz is that Atlanteans built a road underwater. The “road” is nothing more than beach rock. It contains “scraps of glass bottles, nails, nuts, a laser tube, and a trace of a TV set” that should not have existed during the mythical Atlantis era (51).

            The Bermuda Triangle hoax was created by a selfish critical thinker. He used his thinking and his ideas to make money. By leaving out contradictory evidence of the Bermuda Triangle’s mysterious disappearances, Berlitz has no credibility. The Triangle is a “product of mass exposure, repeated lies, large profits from book sales, irresponsible publishers, a gullible public, and the current taste for the ridiculous” (46). People who read Berlitz’s book believe that it is factual rather than a misrepresentation of events because of Berlitz’s ability to deceive the public. Giving misinformation to a person can change his/her memories and beliefs. The media’s portrayed alteration of events of the Bermuda Triangle causes people to believe it as true. James Randi is one of the few people who is not afraid to go against the lies that the mass media is feeding people. “There are no laws that protect the consumer from these misrepresentations. Literature about these subjects is a consumer product and should be regulated by the same laws that ensure the quality of other products. The consumer should have the right to return the product for a refund if it is faulty. The Berlitz books about the Bermuda Triangle are in this category of unsatisfactory goods” (46).

Works Cited

Merriam-Webster. “Kirlian photography.” merriam-webster.com. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Kirlian%20photography. 

Randi, James. Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and other Delusions. Amherst NY, Prometheus Books, 1982.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Near wins

The lecture on physic crime detectives’ talks about various things including cold reading and the vagueness of language tricks used to fool people into thinking they’ve been given more details than what they have. It was clear with the Noreen Reiner example that her given details weren’t all that clear (and sometimes downright inaccurate).  Think – stating things like “wooded area”, “fence” and “antenna tower” are literally descriptions you could find anywhere and you can also easily change such details to make them fit your description. For example, is the antenna 1 mile away or 5 miles away? No matter the result, you can easily argue that either was close enough to constitute a “hit” as Darren Brown put it. Furthermore, these examples made me think about certain concepts brought up in my chosen book “How we know what isn’t so”. A similar but not completely equivalent example is given of how gamblers can fall into the habit of gambling. They do this by defining their losses not as true losses but as “near wins”. By viewing the situation as if skill set, mood, or some other external factor had impacted the results – you begin to view your losses as not as statistically sound as your wins. This example may not seem similar to the crime detective one but they do share something in common – the failure to clearly define what constitutes a positive or negative result. You cannot see clearly that gambling has a 50-50 shot (assuming no cheating) if you convince yourself that your wins are valid but your losses are not. Similarly you cannot see clearly that a physic detective is a fraud if you fail to clearly define the level of detail that is required to truly constitute “substantial evidence”.



Phrenology is a pseudomedical technique that focuses on measurements of the skull. It is based on the
concept that the brain is the organ of the mind and it has localized functions they can use the skull the
analyze the brain. It was developed by a German physician, Franz Joseph Gall, and was very popular in
the 19th century. The technique was based on the belief that the skull acted as a glove for the brain and
expanded to fit different sizes of different parts of the brain. To analyze the brain the physician would feel
the skull of the subject and use it to determine their personality, similar to reading a palm. Gall believed
the skull was made of 27 different organs that combined make a person’s personality. Europeans used this
pseudoscience as “scientific evidence” to be racist, claiming that their cranial structure made them
superior over other ethnic races. It was also used in diagnosing “criminal tendencies” but this was just
creating a negative association with a certain race and a negative characteristic just because they share
similar genetic structure.

Of Telepathy and Trickery

     Many years ago I stumbled upon the same video featuring James Hydrick that is in our lectures.  Coincidentally I found it after trying to learn more about the 10% brain power myth.  After a few quick searches, it seems that psychic powers are everywhere.  Youtube has pages of videos offering tutorials on pyrokinesistelepathy, and even Atmokinesis which is apparently the ability to make clouds disappear with your mind.
     James Randi, the man who tested Hydrick and many other psychics offered a million dollar reward to anyone who could prove they had psychic abilities of any kind.  In 2015 he left the James Randi Educational Foundation and the reward ended.  There have been about 1000 applicants but none have been successful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Jersey Devil and South Jersey

Growing up in South Jersey sorta numbs the fear of the ‘Jersey Devil’. From surf teams to hockey teams, the name Jersey Devil is plastered everywhere turning a once local horror story into a simple South Jersey Mascot. I remember the first time I heard the tale of the Jersey Devil in school around Halloween. Of course I was afraid the first three times I heard it but after that it became more repetitive and less scary. Later on I did in fact look into the tale and was a little disappointed in the lack of content available to me. Unlike most monsters and creatures there aren’t that many videos of “sightings” of the Jersey Devil.  Instead, you get a short Wikipedia page and you’re almost always directed towards the NHL hockey team. One could even say our cursed Devil has been outranked by the newly popular Mothman. That’s totally understandable considering the abundance of content and stories surrounding it. If you’re a fan of The Jersey Devil, some cool things to look at  is episode five of the X-files, a horror movie titled “The 13th child”, an entire episode of Buzzfeed unsolved as well as multiple horror themed video games.

Aliens and Media

The idea and question of other life in the universe has always been unanswered yet caused many to ponder the idea of alien life. The first major media incident relating to Aliens can be traced back to a now legendary crash in Roswell New Mexico in July of 1947. The incident was the first documented UFO crash that was released to the public through the Roswell Daily Record. The incident would later be covered up and written off as a weather ballon. However, soon after the public started to speculate about the incident and began to question what would happen if an Alien species did crash on earth. Hollywood, never one to miss a new money making trend, started to release movies featuring ETs, most commonly under the horror genre as early as 1951 with a movie titled ‘The Think From Another World’. This movie would be the first of many alien fantasy horror films like the ones being made today. Although ETs aren’t purely subjugated to horror, it is more likely to find them playing the villain then a friend. There are a handful of examples such as the tv show based off the Roswell crash with a more romantic flare that ran from 1999-2002 (link 1) as well as the most recent Netflix remake titled ‘Lost in Space’. TV and movies aren’t the only place to get your Alien fix. Many blogs and conspiracy channels have several sections purely dedicated to the instances and life style of Aliens(link 2 + 3) or Alien abductions (link 4).

Personally, I do believe that there is other intelligent species somewhere out there. As stated by my seventh-grade science teacher “it would be extremely selfish of us to think we are the only species with intelligence like ours”. I think about the idea of aliens often as well as how much of space is still unexplored. While I’m not obsessed with the idea of aliens I do agree that it would be extremely unlikely that we are the only advanced species out there.


Book Report: Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions by James Randi

      Definitely an interesting read. At times, however, I found myself less interested in the material than trying to figure out why he was so angry! His anger seems to drive him to prove that anything remotely related to the paranormal is trickery as he refers to it. That seems to be one of his favorite words. The author feels that all paranormal claims are harmful, even dangerous, to the believers. He states that he does not want to see anyone harmed by these charades and lies yet frequently refers to those who believe as stupid, gullible and even used the word dunces.

      Mr. James Randi, or The Amazing Randi as he was known, is a retired magician himself. He differentiates himself from those claiming to have psychic ability. He always informs his audience that what they will see are illusions. He retired from performing at age 60. Since that time, he has made it his life's mission to debunk every supposed psychic phenomenon that crosses his path. Mr. Randi is a high school dropout who identifies himself as a self educated man. He is definitely an expert in the art of illusion. Throughout the chapters of his book, he explains one magic trick after another. Everything from fork bending to levitating tables. Card tricks, ESP and UFOs. He has offered a 10,000 dollar prize to anyone who can demonstrate genuine psychic ability. So, if anyone reading this has those particular abilities, the offer still stands. No one as of yet has been able to claim it.. Mr. Randi also explains the tests, or controls, that are designed by himself and must be agreed upon by those trying to prove their abilities. He has traveled to multiple countries, spent an exorbitant amount of money and tells some interesting stories throughout the book. His explanations are quite lengthy at times which made the read a little difficult.

      My favorite part of this book quite honestly was the very beginning. Mr. Randi tells a simple story of two young girls who had taken some photographs of themselves with supposed fairies. I found the pictures very beautiful. These young girls indeed were quite creative. It was very easy to identify just by looking at those pictures that they were not real. The endless tests that were done to prove their validity was a little overboard. But, people believed they were real. I don't think that these girls ever meant for these pictures to turn into such a big deal. This is where critical thinking should have come into play. But it did not. People were not trying to disprove the pictures. They wanted them to be real! This is where I first noted Mr. Randi's angry tone. If you dig deep enough, you can find some potential for harm in believing in these pictures. They could have damaged the families reputation. Mr. Randi claims to have concern for the well being of others. In my opinion, you don't call others stupid if you are concerned.
      I think that this book can be helpful to others, if only to make you think. You can not take everything at face value. We all must learn to critically think and to analyze a situation before we make a decision. I do believe also that a person has a right to believe what they want even if the evidence points the other way. I have watched many You Tube videos on James Randi. Most praise him for his accomplishments. He has won several awards from the scientific community and has received much funding for his endeavors. I get a sense that he is not completely honest himself. Attached is a video of someone else who shares my opinion.

Monday, July 23, 2018


When learning about false memories, hypnosis was a topic that particularly stood out to me. After doing some research, I found that hypnosis dates all the way back to the ancient times and was used in sorcery, magic, and medicine. Documents from the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, Chinese, Persians, and Sumerians showed extensive studies in hypnosis which altered the states of consciousness and parapsychology. Hypnosis was considered as a cure for many physical and emotional ailments and disorders.
Franz Mesmer was the first person to propose the rational basis for the effects of hypnosis in the 18th century. He was also the first person to develop a consistent method for hypnosis which was passed on and used by his followers. In his studies, he started investigating an effect he called “animal magnetism” or “mesmerism.” He discovered that he could induce trance without magnets and incorrectly concluded that the healing force must come from within or from an invisible fluid that occupied space. After he proposed his conclusions, more and more scientists began to take an interest in studying hypnotism.
The Scottish ophthalmologist James Braid is the father of modern hypnotism. It was Braid who first coined the term “neuro-hypnotism” which means nervous sleep. This term later became known as “hypnotism” and “hypnosis.” He studied the demonstrations and ideas of mesmerists and became the first to suggest that hypnosis was psychological. The concept of hypnosis was later used in America for rapid treatment of injuries and trauma in WWI, WWII, and the Korean conflict which lead to a renewed interest in hypnosis in the fields of dentistry and psychiatry.

Holt, Ron. “Brief History Of Hypnosis.” Clevedon Hypnotherapy Centre, 2018, www.clevedonhypnotherapy.co.uk/brief-history-of-hypnosis/.

Mongiovi, John. “A History of Hypnosis: from Ancient Times to Modern Psychology.” John Mongiovi Board Certified Hypnotist, 22 Oct. 2014, johnmongiovi.com/blog/2014/10/22/a-history-of-hypnosis-from-ancient-temples-to-modern-psychology.

Book Report "How We Know What Isn't So" By Thomas Gilovich

This book was very interesting, on the cover it states; "The fallibility of human reason in everyday life". Gilovich talks about how us as individuals trust in what we think. This book really is all about perception and how stereotypes help us process information. The three main topics he covers is beliefs about special psychological powers, beliefs about New Age health practices, and beliefs about the effectiveness of various dysfunctional social strategies.

This book has many good chapters, but there is one chapter that stood out the most; Chapter 4 Seeing What We Expect to See. The reason why I chose this chapter was because it explains that we can believe in whatever we want to believe in. An example Gilovich used in this chapter is that "No feature of human judgement and reasoning illustrates this trade-off of advantage and disadvantage better than the tendency for our expectations, preconceptions, and prior beliefs to influence our interpretation of new information". I really like this because the belief isn't necessarily religion but it can be any belief. Such as a belief is extraterrestrials,  the belief that astrological predications are true, believing in something is endless. And if it makes you happy, just keep believing in it, theres nothing wrong with that.

I really think this chapter goes great with our class. Since this is a "paranormal"class, belief falls right into it. Looking as some of the posts, you can easily see what people do and don't believe in aliens, The Jersey Devil, Medications, the list goes on.


Psychic Crime Detectives

After reading the lecture on psychic crime detectives, it sparked my interest in the usage of them as a tool in investigations.  Although more often than not the information they provide is not the most accurate, psychics are still used in some investigations and believed in by people all around the world.  Some psychics use personal items of the victims in order to find their locations or piece together what happened when the crime when was committed.  Other psychics, such as Troy Griffin, have premonitions of the event and are able to warn the would-be victims before anything has actually occurred.  In 2010, Griffin had a vision of a friend getting into a car accident on her way home from work.  Later the same day, the accident happened.  Luckily no one was injured, but the crash happened just as Griffin had seen it in his vision.  Griffin has now been offering his services to local authorities to help solve missing persons cases.  He recently help police locate two bodies of missing mothers in Tennessee.  He had visions of the roads in which the crimes happened and what the motive had been (Peyser, 2016).

Reading news stories such as these makes me interested in the accuracy of using psychic crime detectives as an asset in police departments nationwide.  Most research confirms there is little accuracy in their predictions, but some cases have been solved by their input.  In makes me question if there is accuracy in their visions or if the cases solved were lucky guesses.

Peyser, A. (2016, August 01). Meet the psychic who uses gift to solve FBI cold cases. Retrieved from https://nypost.com.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Psychics: Visions

After learning more about psychics through the lectures, the concept about visions interested me and I couldn’t help but remember one of my favorite childhood tv shows called, “That’s so Raven.” This show revolved around a teenage girl named Raven Baxter who had short, psychic visions of the near future. Often times she would want those visions to come true, however there were other times where she would try to stop them which would often lead her into hilarious trouble. It’s funny how this show depicted the life of a psychic and what she may have thought caused her visions wasn’t always the case. A lot of the times her visions would cause problems because she wouldn’t be able to see everything that would happen in the future, only five seconds of it. Raven’s visions of how they were very vague reminded me of the situation with Noreen Renier and Charles Capel. The visions that Renier received in Virginia about where Capel could be were very vague. She claimed that Capel would be about 8 miles from his home, but in fact when he was found, he was only less than a mile away. This shows how uncertain and unclear visions can be.
After doing some research, I found that the term “visions” is also known as the word “clairvoyance” which means clear inner seeing. It’s one of the most well known, but least understood gifts that a psychic has. Someone who is clairvoyant is not necessarily seeing the future or having dramatic psychic visions as the ones seen on television. Instead, they are often very subtle; a person may only see a color, number, or even a symbol and that is considered as having a vision.

Lee, Jessica. “List of Psychic Abilities and How They Work.” Psychic Readings Guide, 23 Oct. 2017, www.psychic-readings-guide.com/list-of-psychic-abilities/.  

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Loudun Witch Trials

        Similar to the Salem Witch Trials, the Loudun Witch Trials was yet another case of paranormal mass hysteria. There are two different stories about this particular case, but each one deals with the supposed demon-possession of the nuns of the parish of St-Pierre-du-Marche, and one Urbain Grandier, who was the center of it all. Grandier was appointed priest of the parish. He was wealthy and attractive, and although he was well-liked by many of the girls in the town, he wasn’t too accepted by some other members of the clergy. In one story, the members of the clergy who sought to have Grandier removed from the parish approach the nuns and ask them to act as if they were bewitched by Grandier in order to have him removed. In the other story, the nuns and the parish’s Mother Superior claimed that they were possessed and having sexual dreams about Grandier. Regardless of the story, both stories were seen as an opportunity to have Grandier removed from his position as priest of the parish. When Grandier attempted to get himself out of this little jam he was in, calling in help from doctors and the like, the situation blew up. Exorcisms occurred, people who proclaimed they were possessed even named the demons that were influencing them. And in the end, Grandier was incarcerated and eventually executed for his supposed crimes. Interestingly enough, the possessions didn’t end even after his death. So maybe he really wasn’t the cause of it all. But who can say?


Crystal Balls

        After learning about psychics and what they claim to be able to do through the lectures, I was pretty curious about a particularly popular psychic-tool: the crystal ball. It is a familiar object—one that is in movies, television shows, you name it, and we have a general idea what they are for. The psychic looks into it, maybe does some weird motions with her hands, and voila, she manages to figure something out about the person sitting in front of her. At least that’s how it looks in fiction. Looking back, however, the crystal ball has been used since the Celtic Druids of the Iron Age who held strong beliefs about psychic energies and divination. They would shape the mineral known as beryl into a sphere in order to “enhance the reflective properties,” and that would become their crystal ball. The ball would then be used alongside meditation, wherein the psychic/fortune-teller/what-have-you would gaze into the ball in a meditative trance, supposedly opening their minds to secrets about the past, the present, or the future. That came to be known as scrying.
        After the Druids, the popularity of the crystal ball took off amongst people in the Middle Ages. These people used crystal balls as magical objects or magical accessories, believing them to be “symbols of power, class status, and… magic talismans that warded off sickness and evil.” It seemed to be more of a symbol of wealth in this time than what it had been used for during the time of the Celtic Druids.
        As for modern day usage, there was a so-called psychic named Jeane Dixon who was given a crystal ball and then made predictions, some of which were surprisingly accurate, and others not so much. For example, she made a claim through divination that World War III would occur in 1958… as you can see, it never happened. (Interesting to note—Dixon’s crystal ball sold for nearly $12,000 after her death.)
        That about covers some of the important bits of history surrounding the crystal ball. I thought it was neat to learn its origins and that it wasn’t just an object used for stage magic and as a prop as it is commonly seen through fiction and media today. You can learn more about it right here. It's a really interesting read!

(The crystal ball was also featured in a music video for one of my favorite bands! Which sort of prompted this particular post, haha.)