Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brett Dennen - "Ain't No Reason"

Brett Dennen is a master singer/songwriter who deserves attention and accolades from music lovers worldwide. Check out his video for the song, "Ain't no reason."

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Folly of Pride

Pride is an elevator that never stops to let you off, but always waits for you to get in. It takes you to the highest level of achievement, then lowers you to the highest level of self-deception. Case in point, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The audacity of his corruption and lack of his self-restraint will become infamous in the annals of political idiots.

Charles W. Colson, a former aide to President Nixon, was also once a passenger on the elevator of pride, until he realized that he had to escape through the ceiling trap, and jump off.

In a revealing editorial, (highly recommended reading) Charles W. Colson, exposes the folly of pride that took him down with the Watergate scandal and landed him in Prison. In his editorial, Mr. Colson does an amazing job in identifying the spiritual corruption that is often the negative side effect of personal pride.

One of my favorite quotes in the editorial, is a quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who wrote from the gulag, "Bless you, prison, bless you for being in my life, for there, lying on the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity, as we are made to believe, but the maturing of the human soul.

No, you don't have to be a politician to ride the elevator of pride, trust me, I know. You just have to invest in the "culture of self" to such a degree that you no longer recognize the self in selflessness.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Medium Smackdown - Allison Dubois Hits Me on MySpace

In a recent post, I called into question some of the actions and claims put forward by Allison Dubois, the inspiration for the TV show "Medium." Now, Allison Dubois has taken up her defense against these accusations and posted it to MySpace.

In a short blog post, and in a series of comments after the post, Ms. Dubois lashes out at me and Dr. Gary E. Schwartz.

My favorite quote from her lashing just might be -
"Let's all hope that Gary and Marcel spend more time being buddies and less time connecting themselves to my name."
So Gary, should we go fishing next weekend, or do you want to go bowling and have a few beers afterward? Oh, and by the way, Gary, I promise we won't talk about Allison this time.

Some may recall that Ms. Dubois was once a research medium in the Veritas Research Program run by Dr. Gary E. Schwartz at the University of Arizona. Ms. Dubois and Dr. Gary Schwartz had a public falling out in 2005, as so did another one of Dr. Schwartz's research mediums, Ms. Laurie Campbell.

Ms. Dubois' post is short enough for me to print here (her typos included), but you need to read the comments thread to truly appreciate how childish and insufficient Ms. Dubois' replies to the accusations really are.
Recently it has been brought to my attention that Gary Schwartz ("scientist" who use to study me) and his cronie Marcel have been bad mouthing me. First let me say that people in the spiritual field are not suppose to spew venom they are suppose to embrace their intuition and the otherside. They are claiming that law enforcement has never come forward for me which is so far from the truth. It's true that some have lied about not working with me and the media found the truth which supported that I worked with them. Fortunately I have a new show coming out that will allow me to bipass those in law enforcement that fear persecution. I'll let you know more about that when the official announcement has been made. I know Gary and Marcel will be very happy for me. By the way I've never met or heard of Marcel until I was informed that he can't get enough of me.

They also claim I exaggerated my work with law enforcement to Medium producers to get the show which is laughable. The producers approached me in the first place and the show would have just had a different tone if I didn't work with the law. The show is "based" on my life not a biography as you all know from my books. Maybe Gary should talk less and read more. I've been told Gary's mad because he was not invited to be a part of Oprah with me. Sounds like a poor sport. Maybe Gary should spend more time being a professor and less time throwing temper tantrums because I felt his lab was inadequate and left. Let's all hope that Gary and Marcel spend more time being buddies and less time connecting themselves to my name.
Well, as cute and sarcastic as you are, Allison, the facts simply do not support your claims, and you have never provided sufficient evidence to silence challenges to your story. Besides, no one is questioning if the TV show takes creative liberties with the truth, that is obvious. People are questioning whether you have taken liberties with the truth in various interviews and books in which you make extraordinary claims for which there is insufficient evidence, or in some cases, no evidence at all.

So, why do I care what you say or do, Ms. Dubois? I'm glad you asked.

For starters, there isn't a day that goes by that skeptics don't use the public media to call mediums,"frauds," or challenge their moral fabric and personal ethics. Yes, I'm use to this, it's part of the territory that comes with being a medium. I'm thick skinned, and I can take it. Yet, each time a high visibility medium like yourself, Ms. Dubois, is caught or accused of manipulating the truth for their own gain, it's harder to argue against the skeptics' criticisms and win back the public trust. So, obviously, this matters to me a lot.

More importantly, though, Ms. Dubois, you were a research medium before you became a TV Medium. Your path from a science-friendly medium to a made-for-TV medium with a dubious story only places a larger target on scientists and researchers who would be daring (or foolish) enough to undertake medium research. Yes, Ms. Dubois, your actions and your story have hurt scientific research into consciousness survival.

Allison, I don't have anything against you personally, and I wish you all of the success in the world. My biggest wish, though, is that you would think about the bigger scientific picture and the overall public integrity of the "survival hypothesis" each time you make a claim that is simply fantasy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mother, you had me, but I never had you...

On Wednesday, they told me you had gone. On Thursday, I fought to carry on. On Friday, I traveled back home. On Saturday, I saw you so still, all alone. On Sunday, we said our goodbyes. On Monday, we opened your will, no surprise. On Tuesday, you returned in an urn. It's Wednesday again, and my heart still hurts.

Mom, it's been quite a week, please tell me you're not still asleep.

I miss you,
your son.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Indymac & Me - How a Medium Broke The Bank

Just the other day, I joked with my wife, saying that I was "The King of all Psychics" because I did more than just predict the fall of Indymac Bank, I may actually have caused it.

On Friday, June 11th, 2008, federal regulators with the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) took over Pasadena based Indymac Bank. The takeover is already being billed as possibly the biggest bank failure in U.S. history. In the political onslaught of public finger pointing and blame placing that followed, the OTS pointed a very loud finger at NY Senator, Chuck Schumer, for causing a run on Indymac's deposits after issuing a public letter of concern about Indymac's fiscal viability. In turn, Senator Schumer fired back and said that the OTS had been "asleep at the switch" when it came to monitoring Indymac's lending practices.

While both parties may have cause for blame, I think it's time for me to be a man and own up to my own culpability in this dark story. So here goes my confession...

I created the advertising slogan that carried Indymac Bank to its grave.

Yes, the pen may be indeed mightier than the loan. For I wrote a slogan so clever in its simplicity, people couldn't believe our enemies hadn't thought of it first themselves. This slogan was lethal in it's precision. Though not intentional, this slogan encouraged brokers to dole out big bucks to both innocent and irresponsible FICO score refugees looking to own property in the badlands of Mortgageville. Unfortunately, the slogan was so precise in its purpose, it was completely blind to the risk posed by the shaky subprime loans that was propping it up.

There is more, though. Not only did I write a killer slogan, I wrote corporate prose that inspired thousands of other Indymac Bank employees to believe that this slogan made Indymac Bank an invincible steamroller of opportunity.

For all this creative hubris, I was paid handsomely, I was personally celebrated and I had my 15 minutes of fame extended to 16 1/2.

I am the guy who not only came up with "Let the fund begin!" (LTFB), I am the guy who talked up the verve "our guys" would feel in the field as our rally cry, "Let the fund begin!" carried them forward into battle, armed with our great loan products.

In my promotion of the slogan, I was relentless. I put "Let the fund begin!" on pins, shirts, hats, canvas bags, mugs, balls, keychains, banners, flashlights, anywhere big enough to hold our new call to crusade.

I started working at IndyMac Bank in April of 2004. I needed the job. My wife and I had moved to California a year earlier, needing a much deserved respite from Brooklyn, NY while we pursued our dreams of parenthood. My wife's job as a fashion designer had brought us to California, and I was sure that I could easily get freelance work as a marketing and advertising copywriter.

Well, it wasn't that easy. I didn't have that many connections, and the market was saturated with writers. Obviously, I hadn't realized how many failed or unemployed TV and movie writers had ventured into advertising.

By April 2004, I was a bit desperate. My head hunter called and asked me if I would be interested in a full-time gig writing for one of the country's top twenty online mortgage banks.

"Mortgage Bank?" I had no financial know-how whatsoever and despised anything to do with banks or financial services. "I'm perfect for it!" I replied, and within a year's time, my wife and I had moved to within a half mile of Indymac's mortgage bank headquarters in Pasadena.

2004 to 2005 was a big learning curve for me. Not only did I have to learn the ins and outs of the mortgage industry, I had to learn how to maneuver around the often schizophrenic mind of a government regulated money lender. By Schizophrenic, I mean that we were encouraged to be fearless in our pursuit of possible loan candidates, but at the same time, we were warned and admonished to not go so far as to be guilty of predatory lending practices.

At Indymac Bank, like at any other bank, that schizophrenic mind has a devil's advocate, a loud voice that tells you when to feel guilty and when to rationalize that guilt so you feel nothing when someone calls you on it later. That voice is the Corporate Compliance Officer.

Compliance Officers can find different meanings at the opposite ends of a Q-tip. They kill concepts like housewives kill roaches and ants; indiscriminately spraying their poison till everything stops moving, even business itself. I can remember many times when Indymac's compliance officers tried to stop "Let the fund begin!" in its tracks. I would argue and debate them every time. "Don't you get it!" I would plea. "How can we beat our competition in a cage fight, when you guys don't even unleash us from the post?"

Compliance was a huge concern at Indymac Bank. Federal regulators and consumer watchdog groups were constantly looking at what we were doing with our loan programs. Over and over again, we were lectured to not write anything in our advertising campaign that could be interpreted as enticing less than perfect credit borrowers with false promises or hiding from them the potential risks of the loans we were encouraging them to buy. Basically, we had to be as clean as possible getting risky borrowers through the door. Once inside, however, loan officers and underwriters had no problem shoving those compliance regulations into the back of their desk drawers to make room for new loan files.

Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, the same month I started at Indymac bank, April 2004, I accepted my first monetary payment as a medium. I was paid $10 for a 15 minute reading as part of a fundraiser for the Spiritualist Church in Monrovia, CA. Though the $10 went to the church, I had broken a 20 year tradition of never accepting a penny for my spiritual work. This was an agonizing moment for me, but when the dirty transaction was complete, I had fallen from saint to sinner, from spiritual philanthropist to material capitalist, and there was no turning back.

The two years I spent at Indymac Bank, my spiritual self and my material self would wrestle with each other like rival brothers fighting for the top bunk. I was never fully comfortable with either role, medium or marketer. This past week, as Indymac Bank's massive failure graced headlines across the land, I couldn't help but feel a bit of that failure inside myself.

Though I know that my silly little slogan had nothing to do with the collapse of the bank, I think this episode serves as a perfect allegory for what can happen to our souls when our individual goals or our personal successes split us up into two equal but separate people.

As the rock group The Police once sang, we are "spirits in the material world."

When the two halves of who we are become too self aware, it's possible that those two halves can start to hate and blame each other for their codependency. This bifurcation of self is like living with a constant feeling of being homesick for a place you've never really been to. You, yourself, become aware that this feeling is irrational, but somehow you just can't really shake it.

Perhaps that's why we are here on this Earth, to experience this irrational schizophrenia of self. There are the many joys of individuality, but with them come the many pains and perils of seeing yourself as separate or different than others.

Both the separation and bond of the spirit self from the material self is what makes joy and agony such existential bedfellows. My belief is that this thing we call "life" has a lot to do with that experience. Some of us get it, and some of us don't, but it is a feeling we will quickly surrender when we reunite with the collective self that seems to guide us from a distant cliff of consciousness. So for me, Indymac will always be that station where my spirit self and my material self took different trains. They are on different tracks now, and I am homesick for that place I've never been to.

I still remember how on my last day at Indymac Bank, a co-worker tried to immortalize me by announcing, "you will always be remembered by the slogan you created." Just before I could get out a "God, I hope that's not true," I saw a John Lennon poster that humbly proclaimed, "Love is all you need." I immediately went home to work on a new slogan to be remembered by.

Epilogue: Marcel is currently living a topsy turvy life with a wonderful wife, two adorable kids, two unruly dogs and not a good slogan in sight.

For a brilliant and entertaining NPR podcast of how the whole mortgage crises came to be click here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dubious about Dubois

EDITOR"S NOTE: I wanted to add this point of clarification which I seemed to have omitted from the post itself. I in no way am calling Allison Dubois' or Laurie Campbell's work with the Veritas Research Program into question. I am merely commenting on the controversy surrounding Ms. Dubois' public claims to having played a crucial and pivotal role in the resolution of several high profile investigations across the country.

I have been publicly criticized in the past for crossing the white line. The white line is the psychic world's equivalent to the "blue line" you find in the world of law enforcement. Like the blue line, the white line is an unwritten code of silence and a demarcation of loyalty. If you are a cop and you cross the blue line, you are essentially considered a dirty rat, scum-sucking snitch, yellow-bellied whistle-blower who better watch his back. So, by writing this, I am essentially warned of the pounding that may follow for criticizing a fellow medium.

I experienced a little of this last year when I crossed that white line by challenging medium, Laurie Campbell. Ms. Campbell is a medium made famous by Dr. Gary E. Schwartz in his seminal work, The Afterlife Experiments.

Some have dubbed Laurie Campbell as the most tested medium of her times. This claim may actually be true of this century, though many could still argue that this distinction and honor more properly belongs to Leonora Piper.

Described as a shy, unassuming housewife at the time that Dr. Schwartz met her, Laurie Campbell quickly rose to the top of her game and became the standard bearer for all mediums entering Dr. Schwartz's Veritas Research Program. As a CRM (certified research Medium), Laurie was extremely generous with her time and extremely happy with the attention and business The Afterlife Experiments brought her. As she should have been.

Then in 2005, something changed. That change was a show called Medium, based on the life of fellow CRM, Allison Dubois.

In the lab, Dr. Schwartz called Allison Dubois the "Michael Jordan of mediums." However in 2005, Dubois and Schwartz fell out of favor with each other over Schwartz publication of his book, "The Truth About Medium," which coincided with the debut of the show based on her life and professional claims.

According to Dubois, she had asked Dr. Schwartz not to include her name or her stories in his book. Dr. Schwartz contradicts this, saying Dubois had always been very willing to have her name associated with his research, and had signed a waiver indicating so. He has said this many times, including on my own internet radio program, AfterlifeFM Profiles.

I mention Allison Dubois' falling out with Dr. Schwartz because Laurie Campbell also filed a breach of confidentiality complaint against Dr. Schwartz around this time. I'm not implying anything fishy by this, but it has been suggested to me, though I have no evidence for it, that Allison herself may have influenced Laurie's decision to file this motion as well as having been the influence behind Laurie's famous TV appearance attacking Dr. Schwartz's professional ethics.

On Octeober 6, 2007 (my 40th birthday), Laurie embarked on what I see as a calculated character assassination against the very same man who catapulted her career into the spotlight, Dr. Gary E. Schwartz. I say character assassination only because it's difficult to find another term to describe the type of journalism that was showcased on the Geraldo at large show that evening.

Originally, Fox News had posted a blurb on their website that indicated that Allison Dubois would also appear on the program. She did not, so Laurie appeared alongside investigative journalist Marianne Macy, and together, they picked apart Dr. Schwartz with one unsubstantiated innuendo after another.

I digress. The real focus of this post is not Laurie campbell, but her former associate and current friend, Allison Dubois. Allison Dubois' own fame is centered around some very impressive claims and personal history. The claims entail her pivotal role in assisting the law enforcement agencies of different states in the discovery of information and evidence that led to the apprehension and subsequent imprisonment of several "bad guys". These claims are the foundation of the show Medium.

Ever since Allison has made these claims the springboard of her career, skeptics and debunkers have zeroed in on her. That is their job after all. Most famous of these skeptics is James Randi, who has challenged Allison Dubois to take him up on his "Million Dollar Challenge."

However, the most convincing skeptical review of Allison Dubois' claims was assembled by a skeptical online website called, The Two-Percent Company. In 2005, the Two-Percent Company was fed up with claims that the show Medium was based on a "true story" that they ran Allison Dubois Week - an entire week devoted to investigating Ms. Dubois' claims. The research they did was pretty thorough, and it left me very skeptical of her story as well.

That report is now almost three years old, and Ms. Dubois has never fully answered the credibility questions that the Two-Percent Company brought up. Ms. Dubois and the show, Medium, are no worse for the wear, as her books are still selling well and Medium is in its fourth season, still pulling in impressive ratings.

As of this week, though, the Allison Dubois saga was revived with the publication of a cover story in the Phoenix New TImes News. The article is extremely well-researched and managed to dig a little deeper into other claims made by Ms. Dubois which also raise the credibility issue. More interesting in some respects, the Phoenix New TImes reporter was actually able to get Ms. Dubois to open up about the criticisms she's received, plus the article is sprinkled with interviews of Ms. Dubois' children and key people involved in some of the lore surrounding Ms. Dubois' life and career.

Judging from Ms. Dubois' reaction to the article, the story must have come as a bit of a shock and hit a raw nerve. To some degree, I find Ms. Dubois' childish threats to the Phoenix New TImes reporter more disturbing than the possible exaggerations of the claims she has made. The reactions themselves are indicative of a person driven by vengeance rather than by science. These type of threats would be more at home in the political arena than in the world of spiritual enlightenment.

As a medium devoted to the promotion of psi research and the demotion of charlatans, I would hope that Ms. Dubois would genuinely tackle the very valid criticisms made against her rather than attack those who make them. The more ammunition we give the skeptics to ridicule and debase the search for outer consciousness, the more banging of our heads against the wall we'll experience.

So, Ms. Dubois, until you address point by point the claims you make and the claims made against you, I will consider you a liability to this profession, and if ever asked, I will publicly voice this concern. This may be of little importance to you now, seeing that very little can unbalance your success, but I think inside where things matter to you, the rising volume of people questioning your integrity really does matter to you, or else you wouldn't be lashing out so childishly.

Make no mistake, this post is not about one medium railing against another medium, or a psychic bashing driven by professional jealousy. This post is about the integrity of The Great Question - "Do we survive?" To me, this question must be defended before it is debated. If the people making the case for the survival hypothesis lose credibility, the question itself loses credibility.

It is not enough if Allison Dubois' claims are almost true, or somewhat true. They either are true or they are not. You can't have it both ways in this debate. As a medium, I am always aware of this pressure, so I do the easiest thing I know, stick to the truth, even if it makes me look bad.

My own personal motto as a medium is one I wrote and one that's simple to remember - "there is redemption in truth, and great knowledge in seeking it." This is a motto I hope all mediums will adopt one day, including the ones mentioned above.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Houdini Resurrected in Vegas

Illusionist, Criss Angel, and the amazing, French Canadian performance troupe, Cirque du Soleil, will soon debut their joint venture in Las Vegas. The show is called, "Believe."

First off, it kind of kills me that this show is coming out, because 7 years ago, I dreamed up something very similar, including the whole visual style that Believe is using. The visuals I wanted to use, though, were based on the art work of Slovakian artist and my good friend, Ondrej Rudavsky.

Do you know what it is like to have to surrender your ideas to someone else who is obviously more prolific at putting thoughts into action. It sucks big time! If you have ever seen one of your ideas successfully done by someone else, then you know what I am talking about.

Hmppfff!! C'mon, Marcel, rise above. Rise above.

So, how does Criss Angel's "Believe" compare with what would have been my original idea? Well, in "Believe", it appears that Criss Angel will stress the hidden word "lie" found within the title "Believe." My show would have stressed that creativity and imagination are really part of the grammar of our higher consciousness. My show would have stressed the whole word, "believe."

Criss Angel has recently become an active voice within the skeptical community, and his inspiration for the title of the show "Believe," comes from the father of the modern day skeptical movement himself, Harry Houdini.

The word, "Believe," is the coded anagram Houdini gave his wife, Bess, in 1926 prior to his passing. There is a lot of debate whether or not any medium was ever able to bring this coded anagram forward from beyond the grave.

Houdini's famous ongoing debate with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over the authenticity of spiritualism and mediums is both famous and fabled, and it is a debate that has been played out in the public eye for over a century. As far as debunkers go, Houdini was the pioneer. His passion and dedication for exposing fraud inspired a generation of magicians turned paranormal debunkers. First and foremost on that list is, James Randi.

Of course, there have also been many magicians, who, in spite of their abilities as illusionists and mentalists, still believe that there's something to the paranormal.

Anyway, we're in a new century of this debate. Criss Angel has just upped the ante, so to speak, by giving debunking and skepticism some Vegas gloss and partnering it with the world's most original, and beloved circus.

This is a real coup. Honestly, it looks fantastic. I definitely want to see it, even if it kills me to admit utter and total artistic defeat. :-)

Here is the video of Criss Angel revealing the show's title and inspiration.

Here is a funny parody of Criss Angel revealing the name of his Vegas show.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Frankincense Makes Sense

In the story of the Three Magi, or Three Wise Men, Three Kings from the East bring the newborn king of the Jews three "welcome to the world" gifts; they were gold, frankincense and myrrh.

When I first heard this story as a child, I immediately thought, "C'mon, frankincense and myrrh, what kind of lame gift is that?" The magi who brought the gold, now he was obviously tuned in to the mind of a kid.

Frankincense and myrrh are two different types of incense, with different properties and purposes, but totally useless to a child.

As a child, I remember my mom used to burn incense all the time. Sometimes my house would smell like a gypsy brothel (not that I know what that smells like), that I would often come home from school, enter the house and want to vomit, feeling totally nauseated. Of course, school also made me feel nauseated, so home was no escape when Mom was burning the incense.

Now as an adult, and more so as a parent, I look at the story of the three kings in a different light. Yet, I still find myself asking the same questions as I did as a child. Why Frankincense? Wouldn't a rattle be more appropriate? Or perhaps a month's supply of cloth diapers? What's a crying baby going to do with ceremonial incense?

Well, science has the answer I've been searching for. It seems that Frankincense, which is derived from the dried up resin of the Boswellia plant, can alleviate anxiety and depression by activating poorly understood ion channels in the brain. In other words, when you burn this shit, it really calms you down and makes you chill out.

As the parent of two toddlers, I can't tell you how many times I wished that there were some magic pill I could legally give my kids for a few moments of peace and quiet. If only I had known about Frankincense. If only my wife didn't hate the smell of incense.

It's obvious now that King Balthasar didn't bring Jesus the frankincense; the gift was for Joseph and Mary. I'm sure Balthasar said, "Look, this boy may be the son of God, but he's still going to get gas at night and keep you up with his teething, so just keep this stuff handy." Now you see why they called him a wise man.

So let me share with you the same wisdom, here. If you are expecting, or you know someone who's got a bun in the oven, don't buy the child some elitist, classical music CD that's supposed to make him/her smarter than their peers. Instead, get the parents a box of frankincense. It's the legal marijuana for parents. If they feel guilty about giving their children or themselves anti-anxiety agents, just tell them that they are simply following a tradition set forth in the little town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Amen.

Frankincense makes sense, and you can get it here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

R. Kelley Wins James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge, Zammit Rejoices.

It was an historical moment, one that science and skeptics will be reeling from for the next century. R&B singer R. Kelley, currently on trial for soliciting a minor for child pornography in the state of Illinois, was awarded some much needed money for his legal woes by winning the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge.

James Randi, America's best known skeptic and debunker, has made a career challenging and discrediting claimants of paranormal abilities. In his Million Dollar Challenge, Randi offers the prize money to "anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event."

R. Kelley has been claiming such an ability since his 1996 mega hit song "I believe I can Fly," from the movie, "Space Jam."

In the song, R. Kelley contends,
If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
Appearing on Larry King Live, James Randi called R. Kelley's bluff, and challenged him to apply to his challenge.
"If you can really fly," he said, "then let's test it."
Both parties, the James Randi Educational Foundation, and R. Kelley's entourage, agreed that Mr. Kelley would have to fly at least 300 meters unaided by any motorized or non-human method of propulsion.

When the moment of truth arrived, The R&B legend took a step out on to the makeshift ledge that had been affixed to the rooftop of the Sears Tower. He was cheered on by a squad of former teenage defendants, then Mr. Kelley unbuttoned his fine, leather jacket, and whispered, "Let's fly, baby."

At exactly twelve noon, under perfect weather conditions, the R&B balladeer stepped off the Sears Tower and began to fly what ornithology experts called a,"predatory hawk formation" over a high school on the south side of Chicago.

On the ground, fans and ordinary onlookers gazed up in total disbelief. One surprised woman said she was hopeful Mr. Kelley would succeed, but her husband was more pessimistic, noting that wind resistance from a zipper malfunction on Mr. Kelley's pants might cause the singer problems.

James Randi, on the other hand, was visibly upset by the impeding loss of his coveted million dollar prize.
"I can't believe he can fly, I can't believe he can fly! Sure, I've sung that song in the shower like everyone else, but I never thought my money would be taking a bath in it."
Immediately following Mr. Kelley's success, Victor Zammit claimed victory for himself and the afterlife, then quietly pushed medium David Thompson off of Sydney's Harbour Bridge.

(this piece is satirical and should not be interpreted as real news).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

God, Einstein, and I quote...

Warriors, both of science and of faith, have for years played a tug-of-war for the heart and soul of Albert Einstein. We all knew from early on that his mind belonged to science, but what of his true essence, his belief in something grander than the playground that is our cosmos.

Currently, there is an auction making some noise in the halls of science and cheering up its atheist practitioners. The auction is of a personal letter Albert Eistein wrote in 1954 (one year prior to his passing) that "unequivocally" states his disbelief in God.

Dr. EInstein writes,
"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
He also goes on to say in the letter written to the philosopher Eric Gutkind,
"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."
Frankly, I don't see this "new" letter to be revealing anything we didn't already know about our quotable pal, Einstein. Einstein made it clear on several occasions that he did not ascribe to the Abrahamic concept of God, most famously in his "Spinoza" quote,
"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."
Einstein, in addition to his brilliant observations in physics, also made some profound philosophical observations. It is these more romantic and social leanings which often places Einstein in the middle of this battle of beliefs. Einstein once famously stated,
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
Then there is his most confusing quote about God,
"I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details."
However, my favorite Einstein quote, which not only establishes his disbelief in an Abrahamic God, but also distances himself from the rhetoric of hardcore atheists is this one,
"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
To me, this quote is the essence of Einstein - a respect and humility for human kind and an understanding that our knowledge of nature, its order and the further discoveries that await us, are what give rise to passionate living.

Truthfully, I hope everyone stops quoting Albert Einstein after this auction. It's time we took the question of "consciousness survival" out of the hands of scientists, and put it back into the hands of science.

Read more on the auction of Albert Einstein's letter

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drunks in Heaven

Posted by Jackson Citizen Patriot May 12, 2008 08:05AM

Bill Bramanti has booked an unconventional passage into the afterlife. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste, and we don't mean the taste of beer.

The South Chicago Heights, Ill., man loves Pabst Blue Ribbon so much that he ordered — and received — a custom-made beer-can casket. The 67-year-old celebrated recently with a party and filled the red, white and blue coffin with ice and beer.

"I actually fit, because I got in here," Bramanti told the Associated Press.

Why go to such lengths? And for Pabst beer? We don't dare understand. We should note, however, that he's not the first to prepare for mortality in what we might consider unconventional ways.

Ancient Egyptians were buried with everyday objects, and wealthier ones would have coffins filled with jewelry and other valuable items. Some Inuits in Alaska would leave the dead in igloos, where the body could remain intact on ice for eternity. In Jamaica, death would bring on a celebration involving dancing, singing and 100-proof rum.

No beer, though. Hmm.

Then again, in March archaeologists in Britain dug up a 4,000-year-old skeleton with an ornate pot at its feet that one researcher said could have been "a type of beer mug."

All that's missing were the peanuts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tarot for your Chemistry Class

In the cool and interesting department...

The Elemental Hexagons deck is an oracle deck based on the Periodic Table of the elements. It is somewhat like a Tarot deck in that all of the Major Arcana cards are represented, but none of the Minor Arcana are. The deck consists of 60 cards, where each card represents a single element. Just about 2/3rds of the known stable elements are represented.

Elemental Hexagons Oracle Cards on Squidoo

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Collective Conspiracy of Consciousness

What do you trust more,
your senses or your intuition?


The inability of consciousness to distinguish
reality from fantasy, especially in technologically
advanced postmodern cultures.

Hyperreality is a means to characterize the way
consciousness defines what is actually real in a world
where a multitude of media can radically shape
and filter the original event or experience being depicted.

Watching this documentary may disrupt your sense of reality.

Did film director, Stanley Kubrick, help
President Richard Nixon fake the moon landing?

The Dark Side of the Moon

(You must watch all 5 segments in order/Approx. 44 min. total)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I will survive... why consciousness does not die

When I posted the Humphrey article (two posts ago), I was trying to shed light on opposing ideas on consciousness that are interesting. The fact is, all ideas are mere hypothesis because science has no freaking clue what consciousness is, where it comes from, what its for and what it can do. Just look at the placebo effect. Why is it that the placebo effect is more powerful to heal sometimes than actual drugs?

Anyway, what I didn't mention in either of my two previous posts is that the survival hypothesis has an abundant and significant amount of evidence suggesting an extremely viable alternative to the materialistic interpretations of consciousness.

I'm talking about evidence that has spanned all cultures and all time. Evidence experienced by all types of people, from intellectuals to dopes like me. The evidence is pervasive, yet elusive enough to create the great consciousness debate we have today.

The current paradigm in Scientific Reductionism. The idea that all can be understood by science, everything reduced to some form or another of matter, and that everything in the human mind is the result of evolution, DNA, neurobiology, culture and education.

However, this idea is not shared by all top scientists, and furthermore, the intellectual framework holding up these tenets of materialistic belief are riddle with holes and gaps that cannot be dismissed or talked away with loosely held together science jargon.

Science isn't an exclusive country club, though it would like to be. Through our critical thinking and careful analysis, we are all granted admission to the deepest thoughts that are still left unanswered. Though I'm not a scientist, I can think scientifically like anyone else.

Obviously as a professional medium, my ideas and opinions about consciousness survival have been developed through personal experience and experimentation. Of course, my subjective experience cannot replace scientific inquiry, that's why I look to unbiased scientific research to make the claims I've observed.

Anyone truly interested in the subject of consciousness survival can easily access this data in numerous articles, papers and books available online and beyond.


Irreducible Mind
Parapsychology and the Skeptics
Immortal Remains
Best Evidence
The Conscious Universe
Entagled Minds
The Afterlife Experiments
The Trickster and the Paranormal

This site also has a decent summary of the evidence, science and principles supporting the survival hypothesis.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Toward a theory of consciousness survival

A commenter in my previous post asked me "what is the consciousness survival theory?" Great question, as there actually isn't a unified theory of consciousness survival. I often make the mistake that many others do by interchangeably using the words "hypothesis" and "theory". These two words in the framework of the scientific method are quite different, and it is wrong to interchange them the way that I have.

I meant, the "survival hypothesis", which stipulates that consciousness co-exists (at least for a time) in both a physical and non-physical form. The most obvious question based on this hypothesis is, "what exactly is consciousness?"

The answer to that question is, "nobody really knows." So technically, the survival hypothesis itself is very weak, in that the focal point of the hypothesis is an undefined "thing" which can neither be described nor measured (not yet).

I believe we are several years away from having a real definition of consciousness and decades away from the hope of having a theory that can be tested.

Some people compare the survival hypothesis to the theory of gravity. They point out that there's still a lot about the theory of gravity we don't know or understand, yet we know it's there from observation.

For those who are interested in the search for consciousness and a survival hypothesis/theory, here is a well-written, balanced, yet slightly skeptical summary of where we currently stand.

National Institute for Discovery Science: Survival of Consciousness by James Whinnery, M.D.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Trying to Unravel The Consciousness Conundrum Pt. 1

Though this article from SEED magazine completely ignores the theory of consciousness survival, Nicholas Humphrey's observations posit an incredibly creative and perfectly thought-out theory on the evolutionary purpose and mystery behind human consciousness.

From the article...
"The philosopher Jerry Fodor recently claimed, 'The revisions of our concepts and theories that imagining a solution will eventually require are likely to be very deep and very unsettling.'

If you smell theoretical panic, you're right. But are the scientific answers really so far out of reach? Have people been beguiled by the marvelous properties of consciousness into asking for the moon, while what is at issue is really much more down to earth? Everybody says they are waiting for the Big Idea. But perhaps the big idea should be that consciousness, which is of such significance to us subjectively, is scientifically not such a big deal."
SEED article