Archive for July, 2015
I was an interested, but not convinced, viewer of “Sensing Murder”, the television series where psychics claim to communicate with the victims of unsolved murders in New Zealand. Despite some skepticism, I was much more a fan of this show than any of the magician shows, even though the magician shows were far more entertaining and delightful than “Sensing Murder”. But even though you had no idea how a $10 note you saw torn up before your eyes turned up intact in the wallet of a random spectator, you still knew that it was just an illusion. Not even the magician denies it is just an illusory trick. Unexplainable, much more so than “Sensing Murder”, but still an accepted fake, a deceit of the senses.
“Sensing Murder” claims to be a genuine psychic experience, not an illusion. But it would still have been very easy to dismiss as fake. Yet, probably for that very reason, I could not so easily dismiss it as such (was I victim of a double bluff ? where the potential for faking it is so obvious that we don’t believe they would be so dumb, therefore it must be true). And this doubt made it made much more compelling viewing for me than David Copperfield which I knew, beyond doubt, to be fake. So when Kelvin Cruickshank and his amazing troupe of dead people rolled into town for a performance, I thought, why not?
I expected to be one oddball amongst a couple of dozen gypsies, but was quite stunned that, arriving 20 minutes before the start, I could hardly find a seat. Almost as far from the performance as I could be. There was also quite a range of ages and characteristics represented. It was a congregation that most churches would be very envious of, and even if they had those numbers, they surely would not be getting $65 in the collection box as Kelvin Cruickshank was (plus book sales). On the dot of seven KC (as he referred to himself) strode confidently into the room without a sign of the limp that his name promised.
He spent quite a bit of time warming up (or calming down) his audience before deciding that he could see enough dead people to make a decent show and then over a couple of hours he spoke on behalf of a dozen or so dead people to the appropriate people in the congregation. None of my lot turned up, but then they wouldn’t, would they? Just not their thing. There were tears and laughter among the chosen few as he passed on messages. He certainly appeared to be picking up some specifics that you would not expect; like the ‘dead man’ reminding his wife about his dentures in the glass and asking why? It turned out they hadn’t put his dentures back in his mouth when they buried him.
The lady next to me, not being shy, stuck up her hand to catch KC’s attention and insisted on being told about her family; a bit out-of-order but KC quickly told her that her mother was not a nice lady and then asked who the alcoholic was. That settled her down as she later told me she had nursed an alcoholic brother who had since died and her mother had been such an unpleasant person that she had not even gone to her funeral. He also told her that her friend (beside her) had a spirit visitor called William (it was her father).
So where am I at the end of that. Any the wiser? Well my position is the same as it was when watching “Sensing Murder”. I don’t doubt these psychics can pick up messages and images, but the question I have is: ‘where from?” The answer of the psychics and the grief-stricken is that it comes from the souls of the dearly departed. That this pinpoint of energy, the soul, manifests itself and other images in hologram form in the mind of the psychic and transfers written or verbal messages to the same psychic mind to be passed on. Who am I to say that is impossible? No one living through the last fifty years can rule anything out as impossible as the inconceivable has become reality in so many fields.
Is there a chance that he spikes the audience with stooges? Anything is possible, but I would almost bet the house that the lady with the bitch mother and alcoholic brother beside me was no stooge. I certainly don’t think a stooge-based show could be taken around NZ, to so many small, intimate towns, and sustained for too long before the secret was blown. And he has been going around the country for a few years now.
But there is another source that also cannot be dismissed. The skeptics generally claim that the psychic simply throws out enough generalisations as bait until he/ she spots a reaction and builds from that with just some shrewd intuition until he/ she gets close enough to the truth, usually by taking advantage of unsubtle leads from the emotional subject. I am sure a bit of that goes on at the lower end of the psychic business but, to give him his due, Kelvin Cruickshank was leading the conversations and certainly not taking cues from his audience. But one thing I do not underestimate is the huge amount of untapped capacity in the human brain. The often quoted “we only use 10% of our brain’s capability” is now generally accepted as a complete myth, nonetheless there do seem to be a variety of different ways that brains work to create different talents in individuals.
We know some peoples’ brains are left sphere dominant (language and logic) and others right sphere dominant (creative, intuitive, holistic). Some people are naturally mathematically wired up, even to the point where some have absolutely outstanding mental computing capabilities. Read about Arthur Benjamin as one example. Others are wired up for spatial understanding; there are numerous examples of outstanding child prodigies in music. Our brains can be variously wired to deliver unbelievable outcomes.
I do not think it unreasonable to think that different people with different brain-wiring that accentuates the right brain sphere to a level of intuition well beyond the cognisance of the average person. And I do not think it beyond the realm of possibility that at the highest end of the intuitive spectrum, one brain may be capable of actually reading images and messages from the energy waves sent out of another brain. That it is possible for some brains to communicate at a subliminal, non-verbal level. You may mock, but if you do not accept this theory then you must conclude that he communicates with dead people.
So, you may ask, whose mind could he be reading in “Sensing Murder” when the victim was unknown to him and long since deceased? The answer is very simply the minds of the production staff who had so carefully researched the programme before he became involved and the police who are in attendance with the psychic process. All with their own information and theories.
I am not saying Kelvin is not a medium for the dearly departed. In the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” I have myself witnessed events that have been pretty compelling as regards contact after death. I am certainly not denying the journey of the soul. The great philosophical debate in this topic is whether the consciousness of an individual is created by the brain of the newborn according to its genetic code and developed by experience throughout life, or whether consciousness exists in perpetuity around us and the brain simply opens up a connection to that universal consciousness during gestation and begins to apply that consciousness to situations that the individual experiences throughout life. Choosing either option is largely a question of faith. The medical pragmatists deal only with what is empirical evidence before them and so believe that the brain creates its own consciousness and on the death of the brain that consciousness ceases. Spiritual people believe that through meditation and prayer they can connect more closely with the supreme consciousness.
One interesting observation arises from the understanding of homosexuality which has only been more scientifically and empathetically studied in recent decades of humanity. It is now universally accepted that there is a real, natural human condition whereby a person of male consciousness exists in the physical body of a female human and vice versa. Medical pragmatists would say that is no more than a genetic code mutation. But if you believe that, during gestation, the brain opens up a connection to a universal consciousness, then it must be connecting with a consciousness that has a male/ female gender option and that this process is completed prior to the physical gender being determined. So that while the consciousness may be one gender, it does not guarantee that the physical would be the same gender.
That looks like a rather complex rabbit hole which I am tempted to stay out of without a very good map and compass, however it does bring us to the belief of the psychics and of religions which is that, once initially created, the consciousness retains its own unique identity in perpetuity. Presumably that includes a gender identity. Some religions believe in reincarnation whereby those unique creations of consciousness have a rest period in the non physical form and then continue to recycle through new physical forms in this physical world until the state of perfect consciousness is achieved.
So are these travelling psychics truly in contact with the dearly departed on another dimension or are they just in contact with the brains of the dearly grieving. If I was an exceptionally intuitively wired-up person who received images and messages into my brain that seemed to have very highly emotional resonance with grieving friends and relatives, and this was how I would earn my living, then I think I might also be presenting myself as a medium for the dearly departed rather than a mind-reader for general entertainment. It may, of course, well be that the psychic may have no more idea than I do where these images and words come from.
But if he helps people break out of the spiral of grief, then that is a positive thing and well worth the $65; I am even happy to donate my $65 to help others break out of that cruel spiral, for the natural cycle of life depends on saplings seeking the sunlight beyond the shadow of the fallen tree.
“So what do you know about the tower of Babel?” I asked Danny over coffee. Seemed as good a morning-talk subject as any. “The one in the Bible? asked Danny, “dunno, why?”.
So the ‘why the subject itself occurred to me’ is that I was thinking about the linguistic challenge facing the multi-national astronauts working in the international space station. I recalled the Biblical story that God confused the one common language on earth in order to prevent men building the Tower of Babel to reach the heavens. So that just seemed an interesting mirror to the past.
The ‘why I asked Danny’ was because he had been raised in a religious school and spent some time of his career teaching in a Jewish school; I thought with that background he might have an insight or at least a conspiratorial opinion on a classic Bible story. But no, it drew a blank. He told me to Google it; that’s school teaching 21st century style.
So to summarise the Biblical story according to Genesis 11: ‘throughout the land mankind spoke one language and they moved eastwards to the land of Shimar (Sumer). And they said: “Come let us build a town and tower with its top reaching to heaven”.’ The Tower of Babel, a baked brick structure intended to reach the heavens, was halted by God and his angels, because (Gen. 11: 6-9) “the Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world.”
But what was it about this Babel tower that so concerned the God of the Bible, Yahweh? The Tower in question was built in Shimar (Sumer) which was Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq). Archeology dates the arrival of humans into Mesopotamia between 3500 and 4500 BC. as they moved eastwards from the Mediterranean. This is from carbon dating the virgin soil beneath the earliest records of human occupation. The Bible records in Genesis 10:10, that a descendant of Noah’s son, Ham, a man named Nimrod was the first ‘king’ of this region and built his city called Nippur. We know from unearthed and translated Sumerian tablets that a six-seven story Ziggurat had been built in the city of Nippur where this priest-king lived.
The Sumerians are known for their skilled metalwork, stonework and statues. But more importantly they developed mathematics system based on 60, a twelve-month calendar based on moon cycles and a cuneiform alphabet which they used to keep records on clay tablets using a stylus. We also know that the oldest records of the science of astronomy are from Sumerian tablets dated back to the 3rd millennium bc and that they demonstrate that the Sumerians had a sophisticated knowledge of the solar system.
The tablet VA/243 shows all known planets in the solar system in correct relative size, including Pluto and, importantly, showed planets circuiting the sun (represented by the star of David). It was not until the 16th century AD that modern astronomers worked out that it was the earth travelling around the sun not the sun travelling around the earth.
While the five planets out to Saturn can be seen with the naked eye and were known to ancient astronomers, Uranus was only discovered by William Herschel in 1781, Neptune discovered by Johann Galle in 1846 and Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. And yet these three outer planets are depicted accurately on this 3,000 BC Sumerian tablet.
Babylon itself is first mentioned in tablets around 2300 BC as a small city in Akkad. Its status grew and around 1800 BC, a ruler named Hammurabi expanded the borders of the Akkadian/ Babylonian Empire, conquering Sumer. Babylon is recorded as replacing Nippur as the “Holy City of Mesopotamia”. The Babylonians adopted the Sumerians cuneiform alphabet and then adapted it to their own Akkadian language.
The literal words of Genesis 11 are that the whole earth spoke one language. But this is the Bronze age. There were well-established civilisations in Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Sparta, Troy, China, Europe, North and South America and archaeology demonstrates that there were already many languages around the world. Being so concerned about this one baked-brick tower trying to reach the heavens also seems a bit pointless when just along the road the Egyptians were building their pyramids, in Britain Stonehenge was built 3000 bc, in South America pyramids were being built and the remains of many ziggurats have been uncovered throughout Mesopotamia, having been built between 3000 BC and 600 BC.
So perhaps it was not the tower itself that was of concern but rather what was actually inside the tower. Perhaps it was no more than an historical account of the Babylonians conquering the Sumerians, plundering the library of knowledge, cosmology and science stored in the Priest-King’s Ziggurat in Nippur and replacing the Sumerian cuneiform language with the Akkadian cuneiform language so that the knowledge contained in the Sumerian tablets would become confused within a generation.
And so it could get all too academically speculative or just dismissed as another Biblical myth that just doesn’t quite stack up against archeological evidence, except for the uncanny message that it is recorded in the Bible which tells us that a common language would enable men to reach the heavens and so a diversity of language was imposed on man to prevent that achievement; and that situation is now being challenged 4-5,000 years later.
While the modern exploration of the heavens was initiated as part of the USA/USSR cold war, it is today very much a global mission. USA launched the space station Freedom in 1987 with support from the European Space Agency (Columbus Laboratory) and Japan (Japan Experimental Laboratory). In 1990 NASA launched the Hubble space telescope into low earth orbit. Russia then abandoned its plans for a successor to the Mir space station and in 1993 became a partner of the International Space Station (ISS). Without Russian support, the Western partners probably would have had to give up the Freedom Space Station.
Though NASA no longer sends its own shuttles into space, it has an agreement to help staff the ISS until 2020 and, as part of this agreement, will continue to send astronauts to the ISS in conjunction with the Russian Federal Space Agency. So astronauts from around the world, including Japan, Canada, Europe in addition to Russia and the United States, travel to the ISS. Several languages are spoken on board. This communication challenge is assisted by the spoken dialogue computer on the ISS, named Clarissa, which is programmed to understand both English and Russian. But future NASA astronauts will be required to learn Russian before they go into space. Because the Russian Federal Space Agency is facilitating the space flight to and from the ISS, it makes sense that the NASA wants astronauts to be able to correspond with their fellow space travelers. For over ten years all European astronaut activities are conducted at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. In fact all the other astronauts on the ISS: Americans, Russians, Japanese and Canadians are also trained with European laboratory equipment. And European astronauts receive training in either Houston, USA, Star City in Russia, Tsukuba in Japan or Montreal, Canada to learn to operate the systems and components of the partners. The arrangement between the international partners is that any partner who owns a laboratory or another infrastructure element on the station trains the astronauts of all partners for it. We will also soon have to take into account that China, as the emerging dominant global economy, will probably start playing a much larger role in reaching the heavens.
To seriously explore the heavens we need international financial and intellectual co-operation and so we really do need a common language. An Anglo-Asian-Euro common language may possibly evolve in time, but it seems far more likely that Apple.com will much sooner adapt Clarissa into a virtual common language by translating multiple languages instantaneously into a receiving earpiece; sreating a virtual common language. The confusion of language will then be unravelled. Maybe they will name it Nimrod. And when we understand each other, will “nothing we plan to do be impossible for us”?
So from the rubble of the Tower of Babel emerges, 4-5,000 years later, the Satellite of Apple reaching the heavens; such is the imagination of man. But will the Gods intervene again? Will the satellite come crashing down to earth and will Apple’s universal language become confused? And just how did the ancient Sumerians know about the outer planets 4-5,000 years ago?
This is the conversation I was trying to have with Danny. Coffee has that effect on me, its surprising that it is still legal. I must contact Peter Jackson and see if there’s a movie in it before I come down from my caffeine buzz.