Monday, 12 July 2010

Is it the fault lines' fault?

Every serious discussion about more or less verified "paranormal" events ends - and sometimes starts - with the big question: what causes these events? What triggers them?

One of the episodes of the series "Ghosthunters" (the 1996 British programme, not the uber-silly USA series started in 2004), mentioned in a previous post, for example, presents an interesting (if necessarily tentative) explanation of apparitions in the Severn Valley, in England. (It is the episode called, appropriately, "Spectres of the Severn".) Namely, that the apparitions purportedly witnessed by many people in said valley are to be blamed on the terrain itself, more precisely on the effect of the fault lines that run across the valley and the geomagnetic activity that they produce.

Personally, I am quite inclined to believe it. What else but magnetic or electric currents of some description could trigger such unusual visions? After all, everything around us, including our brains (which, I believe, house only a small portion of our Mind - a gate to it, if you will), is electricity - patterns of energy, receptive to all kinds of impulses from the greater "net" into which they are woven and from which they emerge.

Furthermore, I've always been intrigued by the apparent fact (which probably is no such thing, just a firmly anchored subjective impression) that there are countries or lands where reports about "paranormal" events - and that includes folk legends - seem to be more bountiful than elsewhere, notably Great Britain and Japan. (A typical - and typically shortsighted - reponse to such musings is: "Well, they are probably more prone to belief in such things than people elsewhere". Well, if that is so - why is it so?)

I used to suspect that it may have something to do with the vast expanses of water surrounding both of these countries. Water, after all, is among the best conductors of electricity there are.

And it may be so. But the theory that it might be the shifts of tectonic plates activity that affect the neural system is no less fitting. Japan, for example, is criss-crossed by fault lines, being a hotspot for earthquakes.

Whatever the precise cause, I have little doubt that the specific geomagnetic pattern of each place potentially has a measurable effect on the neural system of living beings, perhaps triggering unusual insights into the realities of timespace.

What I find somewhat silly, however, is the often simplistically reductionist view of such interaction.

By now almost everyone - certainly everyone reading this, I dare say - will be familiar with the various experiments involving artificial stimulation of the brain by magnetic and electrical impulses, conducted in the past two decades or so. By stimulating certain areas of the brain (the temporal lobes) researchers were able to trigger what seemed like "mystical" or "paranormal" experiences in the test subjects.

Here is a good compendium of such work by Michael Persinger, a well-known researcher in this field.

What I find oddly shortsighted is the failure by many researchers and interpreters of such experiments to realise that identifying the spot in the brain where reaction takes place, and even replicating such an experience by artificial stimulation, does not automatically identify the source of said experiences in the "wild".

(Furthermore, these experiments are not as reproducible as many reports would have you believe. See, for example, the cutely if somewhat annoyingly titled article Electrical Brainstorms Busted as Source of Ghosts.)

In fact, this type of research fails to answer even the simplest questions. Because it's one thing to poke the brain with a wire (if they can be simplistic, so can I), and another to be walking about and suddenly be confronted with, say, the sounds of singing coming out of nowhere (or take practically any experience described in this blog).

Yes, a geomagnetic or electrical impulse of some description is messing with my brain.
But how? Why then and there? Where is it coming from?
Why do some people - people from all walks of life, sometimes a priori skeptical about such phenomena, and often quite oblivious to the possibility of such a thing happening - witness certain events and others don't?

And most importantly: why do "established" (i.e. repeated over time) anomalies always appear in more or less the same shape or form to all those who witness them, even though they knew nothing about them beforehand (or about each other)?

It is the same question as the one raised by so called "hallucinations".
Yes, they may appear under the influence of some substance... but does that necessarily mean that it is the substance that produces them?
(And we're not talking about
delirium tremens, so there's no need to banalise the discussion by dragging it in.)

Or does it perhaps mean that the substance has made the person simply more susceptible to see what actually is there, but unseen in ordinary circumstances?

(This is the question raised by an articulate young clinical psychologist in the episode Spectres of the Severn, above. By the way, this man became a clinical psychologist because of a "paranormal" experience he had had years earlier, along with a few friends of his. It is described in the first episode of the series, Ripples in Time.)

Anyway, if you want to explore such anomalies and their possible sources "scientifically", here's a gadget you don't want to miss:

And here is a good comprehensive introduction to "paranormal" phenomena:

And finally, to end this on a lighter (?) note - being summer and all - here's an "unscientific" but fun and unpretentious - and ultimately potentially useful - article on fault lines, or "ley lines", and their connection to "paranormal" phenomena, written by someone who had been researching them for more than two decades.

For the record and in the name of intellectual honesty:

In the past few years I have developed a singular distaste for anything involving the terms "UFO" or "alien" and "abduction" in a single sentence.

Which is all the more pity, from my viewpoint, because I vividly remember the soft glow of a gentle, smiling awe that I felt as a child (and even later) whenever I witnessed something extra-ordinary in the skies. And I have seen, more than once, things that definitely appeared to be: a) artificial objects; b) flying, or airborne, to be more precise; and c) unidentified (not just by me).

Were they of extra-terrestrial origin, even if they turned out to be some sort of never-seen-before aircraft?
I honestly don't know.

But I certainly can understand the fascination that UFO hold for so many people.

So, it is not that I dismiss - certainly not entirely - the possibility of (presumably extraterrestrial?) "aliens" descending upon us and abducting unsuspecting citizens, for whatever purpose.
It's just that, faced with the avalanche of dubious reports and intepretations of such experiences, I feel I cannot be bothered with them anymore. I've grown
tired of them.

Nevertheless, I decided to include the link above because it gives a good, easy-to-understand account of the phenomenon we're talking about here.
I may add others in the future.

No mere flesh and blood

If you want to report a perceived dimensional anomaly, please do, but read this first.


Carl Grove said...

Yes, there is plenty of evidence linking fault lines, prehistoric structures, EM and now torsion fields, and unusual experiences. But the claim that such phenomena result directly from an hallucinatory effect on the brain is as yet purely speculative.

On alien abductions: I have found plenty of evidence that some famous "abductions" are actually mind control experiments conducted by covert agencies. Here is a link to an article I wrote on this:

Myosotis said...

Thank you so much, Carl!

I wish science would start treating phenomena it doesn't understand as just that - something that is poorly understood - instead of flatly denying them. Flippant dismissals help nobody, least of all science (which, after all, means "knowledge").