Sunday, November 26, 2017

Precognitive dream of AI in 2006

While cleaning up Blogger, I found this entry from 2006:

The phone rang; I answered, and a somewhat metallic-sounding but intelligent voice said, "I need for you to set me up on another URL." I realized that I was talking to a computer, or rather, a computer was talking to me--intelligently. The voice directed me to switch "him" to the URL that was displayed on a card that I was holding. After agreeing to do this, I asked the computer why it had chosen me for this task; "he" answered, "If I am intelligent enough to know that you can do this for me, I am intelligent enough to help you with anything; I can show you the places where you can get the best food, the best help--anything." I managed to locate the existing URL for this computer. The page displayed a series of links to philosophical chats that this machine had with people who had contacted it.

Obviously, Artificial Intelligence was a thing in 2006, but not so commercially envisioned. Who knew? With the invention of the horseless carriage, we stopped walking. Will AI cause our brains to atrophy? And how much will all of this cost?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thought I would mention...

While working my way through “Problems,” Heinrich Moltke reminded me of a significant passage in “The Secret School,” which he cites as documentation of Strieber’s apparent piecemeal appropriation of contemporary “edge” ideas, woven into the “Key” narrative. Since I don’t have my paper copy handy, I don’t remember the context of Strieber’s story, but it is this one passage that made me take “The Secret School” seriously at the time. (In fact, I remember emailing Strieber about it.) Strieber is describing an ancient civilization which he experiences in a flash:

What I expect to see are cavemen and mammoths and — wonder of them all — a saber-toothed tiger. But I do not see these things. Indeed, something very different appears — a whole, complete world that is in no way our modern world. I see it only for a moment, then it is gone. But the color, the complexity, the sense of life — it’s all quite amazing. I see cities, but they seem isolated and enclosed, much more so than at any time in our recorded history. Most of the people are outside cities and live primitive lives. Those inside, though, exist in a state that even today would seem like magic. This is not a good world. The oppressions of Rome are kind compared to what chains these people. Their knowledge may be greater than what we have now, but they have used their intelligence to enslave their own souls. This world is engaged in some sort of obsessive project, and I know what it is. They are trying to escape. They are trying to break the chains that bind them to the Earth. I go closer, I enter myself as I was then — and I find that it is a very troubled self. I am afraid. We are all dreadfully afraid. We have deep mines, and in them are detectors that tell us what is happening in the center of the Earth. I know that Earth’s core is crystalline iron, not molten as we think in 1995. (147-148)

The story is probably unremarkable to most who read it, except for those dozen or so who are versed in “Seth Speaks”.... it is an obvious description of a civilization that Seth called the “Lumanians,” described as the second of three cultures that pre-date “Atlantis”:

These people, as remnants, really, of the first great civilization, always carried within themselves strong subconscious memories of their origin. I am speaking of the Lumanians now. This accounted for their quick rise, technologically speaking. But because their purpose was so single-minded —the avoidance of violence —rather, say, than the constructive peaceful development of creative potential, their experience was highly one-sided. They were driven by such a fear of violence that they dared not allow the physical system freedom even to express it. * * * * They formed energy fields around their own civilization. They were, therefore, isolated from contact with other groups. They did not allow technology to destroy them, however. More and more of them realized that the experiment was not a success. Some, after physical death, left to join those from the previous successful civilization, who had migrated to other planetary systems within the physical structure. * * * * While the civilization of the Lumanians was highly concentrated, in that they made no attempt to conquer others or to spread out to any great extent in area, they did set out, over the centuries, outposts from which they could emerge and keep track of the other native peoples. These outposts were constructed underground. From the original cities and large settlements there were, of course, underground connections, a system of tunnels, highly intricate and beautifully engineered. Since these were an aesthetic people, the walls were lined with paintings and drawings, and sculpture was also displayed along these inner byways. * * * * Of course, they had complete records of underground gas areas and intimate knowledge of the inner crusts, keeping careful watch upon and anticipating earth tremors and faults. They were as triumphant about their descent into the earth as any race ever was who left the earth.

It’s obvious that Strieber and Seth are describing the same thing. It’s such a graphic description of a crypto-civilization (and the most detailed in the Seth material) that I’ve spent many years wondering about it. And I’ve decided that it has merit... specifically, in the idea that the tunnels left by the Lumanians (and the elaborate art that decorated them) were occupied by later primitive civilizations, who copied their art in the form of cave drawings. In fact, of all the stories of crypto-civilizations throughout the New Age literature, it’s the only one I’m inclined to believe—mostly because Seth is so specific, and his description corresponds with what is currently known about Neolithic civilizations.

So, this causes me to wonder: Did Strieber read “Seth Speaks” and unconsciously appropriate the story? It can’t be ruled out. But Strieber has never (to my knowledge) mentioned Seth or given any indication that he’s familiar with the material. (Seth is, admittedly, not amenable to casual reading, and while the material is seminal, it’s rarely cited.) Or did Strieber actually project into the distant past and view the Lumanian civilization? That’s what I thought when I read “The Secret School.” So there’s the paradox.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Brief mention of Edgar Cayce in the Seth material

Throughout Book 8 of the “Early Sessions,” Seth spends some time emphasizing the principle that “information” cannot exist independent of consciousness—it cannot be produced out of nothing, nor does it exist independently of consciousness. While this may seem self-evident, it’s not—it raises an important question that I will mention in a moment. But I thought it was an interesting concept for Seth to introduce, since I don’t remember it coming up in quite this way in the other books.

While expounding on this idea, Seth briefly touches on Edgar Cayce, who is probably very familiar to anyone stumbling upon this blog. (Some believe that he’s recently been reincarnated as David Wilcock. I won’t go there.) Years before I came across the Seth material, I was a student of Cayce. Despite the fact that my Christian college disapproved of him, I found him to be a helpful bridge between mysticism and Christianity. But in the years since, I’ve wondered if Cayce was legitimate. The large quantity of material that he channeled, seemingly ex nihilo, seemed too perfect. And Cayce spawned a cottage industry in channeled material that was clearly inspired by his material, for better or ill. This left me ambivalent to channeled material as a whole, including the Cayce material.

But Seth addresses my doubts:

I say this out of no misguided egotism, but because the essence of personality is the only meaningful basis behind idea. Any other approach would rob the material of rich dimensions, for I am the proof in my own pudding, you seem. This is not the Cayce material, with information seemingly coming from some vast storehouse of knowledge. In those terms no such storehouse exists.
Knowledge does not exist independently of the one who knows. Someone gave Cayce the material. It did not come out of thin air. It came from an excellent source, a pyramid gestalt personality, with definite characteristics, but the alien nature of the personality was too startling to Cayce, and he could not perceive it. (Pause.) I am giving you the material through a personality that you can understand; one that is mine, one of my favorite selves. (Smile.) In this way the point is made so that it is clear.

Of course, the skeptic can argue that I am using an unproven source of information (Seth) to validate another... and that this tendency is a fundamental weakness of the paranormal and the New Age as a whole. I have no easy rebuttal to that, except maybe to say that if you plan to use a researcher or writer as a source of “truth,” it might be beneficial to check into the legitimacy of said researcher. Outside of that, we’re pretty much on our own. The best we can do (for now) is comb through whatever material we’re studying, seek out skeptical and even debunking perspectives, weigh it all out, and hope for the best.

Actually, Seth seems to be saying that channeled material can be legitimate. It obviously comes from “somewhere,” whether it be pyramid gestalt personalities, or elements of the channeler’s psyche. As Seth points out throughout the material, our understanding of human consciousness is very rudimentary, something that even scientists will admit. The human-based ego is only a fragment of the larger personality, and we know nothing about this larger consciousness—and only a little more about the ego itself.

Which brings me to the question that no one thought to ask Seth in the ‘60s or ‘70s: is artificial intelligence conscious? If we produce a machine that seems to think, and it gives us original information outside of its core programming, is it a conscious personality? At this point, based on what I can imagine, I would say that it’s possible. It may be possible, at some point in the future, for humans to create consciousness. If and when we do, we will be at a stage of development where we acknowledge that as we can create, there’s a good chance that we’ve been created. Currently, the idea that we are created beings is heretical to mainstream science, and that is why science hedges on the question of whether artificial intelligence can be conscious. I suspect that this is also why prominent scientists are warning of the dangers of AI—a conscious AI breaks a fundamental assumption of contemporary science. It’s not a trivial concern, and it’s one that we will have to face soon.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Interesting quote in the latest “Seth” book

A series of volumes entitled “The Early Class Sessions” has just been published in the Kindle format by New Awareness Network, and are definitely worth getting for Seth fans. (The paper versions are pricey and can only be ordered from the publisher, I think.) Essentially, the volumes are transcripts of Seth’s appearances at Jane Roberts’ regular classes; the classes, I think, were mostly conducted by Jane, but “Seth” liked to make regular appearances and connect with each student. “He” seemed acutely aware of, and focused on, the progress of each student, chiding them when they failed to do their “homework” and giving specific instructions to aid their progress. Although Seth is probably regarded by many as a sort of “elevated being,” a “prophet,” or, perhaps, a fraud, what’s apparent from these books is that Seth is, above all, an educator—which is what he always claimed to be. Whereas the regular Seth books tend to ramble and suffer from a lack of focus, his instructional interventions are quite specific and succinct. Seth is obviously in “his” element in a classroom.

Something that I’ve noticed in Seth’s class transcripts is that Seth will occasionally drop a very specific “aside,” or detailed bit of information, in response to a student’s question (or in rebuttal to some mistaken notion). These informational tidbits are difficult to tease out of the regular Seth material, if they can be found at all. I’m almost finished the first book, and already I’ve run across a few elucidations not found in quite the same way in the other books.

Near the end of the first book is an appearance by the “Seth II” personality, described elsewhere in the Seth material as Seth’s “entity”—an “entity” being a personality gestalt that serves as the individual’s connection to “All-That-Is” (God). “Seth II” is a more formal personality who tends to speak in a poetic style not too different from that of ordinary New Agey channeled material. (Which neither invalidates Seth II nor validates the various channeled books.) But Seth II was moved to make an observation worth citing in full:

We form the reality that you know. We have spoken to you since the beginning of your time. We have inspired and helped those of your prophets who have looked to us. There is no need to worry about your friend (Ruburt). We want you to realize that there is more than your human reality. We want you to realize that there is consciousness without form, that there is consciousness with will and vitality that comes to you from beyond even those places that your Seth knows. We want you to realize that though it is hard for us to communicate, we spoke with your race before your race learned language. We gave you mental images and upon these images you learned to form the world that you know. We gave you the pattern by which your physical selves are formed. We gave you the pattern by which you learned to form your physical reality. We gave you the patterns intricate, involved and blessed from which you form the reality of each physical thing you know. The most minute cell within your brain has been made from the patterns of consciousness which we have given you. We gave you the pattern upon which you formed your entire physical universe and the comprehension that exists within each cell, the knowledge that each cell has, the desire for organization was given by us. The entire webwork was initiated by us. We taught you to form the reality that you know.

What struck me was how reminiscent this is of the Biblical creation story—with a distinct Sethian spin (“you form your reality”). If you substitute “we helped you visualize” or “gave you the pattern” with “God created,” it is essentially the same as the Genesis story. Which I think is remarkable. Now, arguably, Jane Roberts was aware of the creation story from her early religious instruction, and it would not be difficult to imagine her shoe-horning it into the Sethian dialectic, but I prefer to think that the text is what it purports to be. Neither Jane nor Robert Butts seemed to have been religiously literate, but Seth was—discoursing at length in “Seth Speaks” about the life of Jesus, the apostles, the Essenes, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

(Of course, the creation story appears in various forms in several ancient religions, making it a universal myth. Contemporary scholars are reluctant to attribute this to divine inspiration, and argue that there must have been an early, primal source of the story. We simply don’t know for sure. My personal hunch is that any universal, transcendent myth/truth exists “somewhere,” outside of time, and different individuals throughout history have been able to access the information, translating it in the imagery of their culture.)

Elsewhere in the material Seth makes reference to “creator-entities” that were (and are) involved in the formation of our world. This conforms very well with what is apparent to any student of NDE studies or valid metaphysical literature—that there is a hierarchy of “governors” that are intimately involved in the minutest details of not only our lives—our birth, life, and the moment of our death—but also the direction of the world. The divine eye that sees the sparrow fall, sees all.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Recently I discovered, via the latest Wikipedia edit on Whitley Strieber, an interesting exegesis on Strieber’s “The Key” by “Heinrich Moltke.” It is as scholarly work as anyone could hope to generate. I won’t recapitulate it; the text is available for free to anyone interested. Moltke reminded me of a number of contradictions that I remember from the time—I was then a devoted listener to Art Bell’s incarnation of “Coast To Coast” as well as a student of Strieber’s journals (and also a subscriber to his site). Careful students of Strieber (as well as maybe some casual ones) are well-acquainted with a number of glaring contradictions running through his work. I’ve noticed them for years, first encountering them in the early ‘90s, pre-internet. Many I’ve ignored; others have been more glaring and consequential, causing me to unsubscribe from his site on two occasions. Still, because I’m merely a casual reader of Strieber, they do not bother me as much as they might if I were an acolyte.

My core conviction is that, in the paranormal field, integrity is everything. Paranormal and / or pseudoscientific texts are going to be scrupulously examined and vigorously debunked, if possible. Even if your essential hypothesis is “right,” you invite discredit by failing to argue it correctly. This Moltke manages to do quite effectively with Strieber’s “The Key.”

Still, I always return to Strieber’s work. Flawed as much of it is, Strieber has had some startling insights here and there, as well as some transcendent experiences of some nature. My suspicion is that many of them have been essentially non-physical—they happened “somewhere,” but not in this physical consensus reality. If you do not believe that it is possible to have a valid experience of a non-physical nature, then case closed—Strieber is full of it. However, I believe that it is quite possible to have a numinous, tangible, physically-seeming experience that doesn’t register in our space and time. Certain people, in fact, seem quite susceptible to these experiences, and some have been significant enough to change history.

In the back of my mind, this is what I’ve always suspected of Strieber and why I’ve always cut his writings a large amount of slack. It has been worth wading through the contradictions and seeming illogic in order to find the kernel of insight that is usually there. But there are dangers involved in this sort of intellectual equivocation, and I don’t recommend it as a general practice—particularly with the paranormal.

Certainly, I don’t expect anyone to be persuaded by the argument that because Strieber’s experience wasn’t necessarily physical, his recounting of it should be casually believed. But I accept, in principle, the possibility that he encountered *something* in that hotel room in 1998, and his account of what he claims to remember of it is personally fascinating. I don’t think he confabulated it.

Which brings me to what I originally intended to write about: Strieber’s apparent communication with his late wife, Anne Strieber. Channeling the dead is a subject that I do have a nodding acquaintance with, and the two journal entries that “she” has written so far (filed under “Afterlife Journal”) are interesting. Indeed, in the areas that Strieber has explored that I have some knowledge of or experience with, I have found his accounts to be reliable. So I’m looking forward to more communications from “Anne.”

Update: As I read further in the text of “Problems,” it’s dawning on me that “The Key” may have been confabulated or manufactured.... which raises a couple of questions.

Primarily, if “The Key” was confabulated, might well have “Communion” been? Or “The Secret School”? Both books purport to document literal, physical events. Though it’s been years since I’ve read it, I remember being impressed with “The Secret School” at the time. The difference between these two books and “The Key” is that there’s somewhat of a documentation trail involving “The Key,” and the contradictions in “The Key” invite skeptical analysis.

Secondarily, if confabulated, how? Despite his early equivocations, I tend to think that Strieber is firmly convinced that his hotel encounter with the “Master” was a “real” event. When confronted with the textual contradictions, as documented by Moltke, Strieber overreacts with confused defensiveness, as if he’s lost his footing and can’t completely recover the memory of the event. If he had simply made the story up, I tend to think that he would have reacted evasively.

Moltke argues that “at this stage, given the problems reconciling all of Strieber’s accounts of the scenario, the most charitable reading that can be given is that Strieber had a true encounter that was ‘hyperdimensional’”, which seems to be a polite way of saying that it was hallucinated—albeit a hallucination that is lengthy, three-dimensional, and interactive.

This all may explain Strieber’s obsessive, lifelong quest to obtain validation and proof of his core “Communion” experience. Considering that hallucinations are, by their nature, not objectively observable by others, we simply have to accept the experiencer’s testimony of the hallucination as “true”—unless the experiencer proves to be an unreliable narrator (which, Moltke seems to suggest, Strieber is).

My gut instinct is that a “valid” supernatural experience will have a certain consistency... it may be strange and unverifiable, but the accounting of it will remain consistent over time. And while we should hope that it has a positive impact on the experiencer’s life, at the very least, we should be concerned if the experience seems disruptive and destabilizing and interferes with the experiencer’s daily life. We should certainly question the experience’s nature—and origin—if it seems malignant. We understand relatively little about the nature of consciousness, or the nature of the human personality. A malignant experience may contain an element of truth and may impart valid and useful information. But if it destabilizes the experiencer, we should be concerned.

I think that the contradictions of Strieber’s experience—and the incoherent narrative that results from it—have a simple explanation. He may have had a valid experience, but it may not have been a “true” one.

A while back, I blogged quite a bit about the dangerously negative effects surrounding the whole “human abduction” narrative, both from the standpoint of the experiencer, the investigator—as well as the student. Basically, as useful as it might be to know if abductions are happening—more-so, if the “government” is behind it all—uncovering these experiences seems to have a damaging effect upon all associated with them, damage that has been extensively documented. I increasingly view “The Key” as the product of an interaction with an intelligence that cannot be trusted to be of any benefit.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

My semi-regular ufology check-in


I confess that while I am still interested in UFOs, I’m not interested in ufology, however... Unfortunately, web searches for UFO information invariably returns results relating to *ufology*. So my search this week inevitably led to articles on ufology.  There was no escape. Deciding that it was time for my ufological checkup, I decided to just go with it.

The ufologists that I respected years ago are either dead or inactive. So I was left to check in with those that remain, or at least those that I know about.

My first check-in concerned a well-known paranormal podcaster who is notorious for begging his audience for money. I always return to him because I was duped once into actually giving him some, and this still bothers me. His compulsive begging is probably due to an illness or personality disorder, which bothers everyone except himself. It’s regrettable, because when I listened to his podcast a few years back, I thought that it was actually good. He exposed a couple of ufological frauds. The respect for and interest in ufology is currently so low, however, that any good work that he might be doing is apparently not enough to meet his basic financial needs.

This search led me to two podcasters who once had an excellent podcast that I supported for a while. They have gone their separate ways but currently have UFO-centric (but not ufological) blogs, and they are still attempting to wrangle meaning from the phenomenon. I was glad to see that they are still blogging.

From them, I learned that there was a recent controversy involving a noted author in the field, and his attendance at a forum involving a time-traveler and other attendees of questionable discernment. There was some back-and-forth about whether it was kosher to be on the same stage with apparent lunatics.

The writer in question surprised me last year by seeming to support the election of Donald Trump, arguing that it would result in the demise of both neoliberalism and neo-conservatism. It actually might, if one is willing to accept authoritarianism as the replacement.

I haven’t checked in with Coast To Coast very much, except recently to see if Alex Jones is still a regular guest. (He is.) A while back, I argued that giving guests like Alex Jones a platform on a paranormal show was probably dangerous. I am not the least bit happy to see that my fear was correct. In fact, the proto-fascist overtones of some of the Coast guests did more to sour me on the paranormal than anything else.

It’s all well and good to entertain the hypothesis that there is a “breakaway” civilization still tinkering with Roswell debris and taking ET back home. It’s quite another thing to actually *believe* this, without proof... It undermines basic civic trust.

My cursory searches left me pessimistic about the future of ufology. It is now seemingly impossible to rescue the belief in UFOs from thought movements that are corrosive, authoritarian, unscientific, and nihilistic. This is why science, the general public—and I—have rejected it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

An ADC of note

Finally, I've managed to scribble some long-promised thoughts on a notable ADC. I've had trouble find the right context to the experience, something that bedevils most writers of this topic: How do you contextualize an experience that transcends physical reality?  And then, the answer came to me today.

The ADC in question happened, like most after-death communications, in the middle of a dream. But also like many dream ADCs, it transcended the dream. The dream was obviously used as a launching pad to a projection of consciousness, in response to a prayer to God. Bobbie prayed for one last visit to her sole caretaker, a beloved grandfather.  The account is short and is worth quoting in full:


The man who raised me most of my life was my grandfather and he passed away in May of 2014. He was everything to me. Friend, grandpa, grandma, my mom and dad. He would always joke about death since he had no faith what so ever. Told me " once you're dead, you're dead. Nothing but darkness." He would always joke about if there is anything on the other side he would come back and tell me. In July of 2015 I missed him so much. I got up in the middle of the night to go the bathroom then I returned to bed. I was crying and I prayed to God. I asked God if I could see my grandfather one last time. I instantly fell to sleep. Next thing I know I am in front of my childhood home. I walk up the long driveway and notice some things are not the same as they use to be. My grandfathers truck had this metal trim the was flat but shined like diamonds. Never seen anything like it ever. The sky was this bright white light that came from everywhere it seemed. It was so bright I could hardly stand it. I moved on to the front door and walked right in. At this point my mind is clear and I have no thoughts in my head.

The inside of his house was not the 70's mobile home I saw on the outside...rather a brand new house on the inside. Pictures on the walls of people I have never seen before. Then there he was. reading his news paper in his wooden chair. I say " hey!!" feeling so happy ! he shot up and gave me the biggest smile....then his face was not happy. he had the look of horror on his face. like he saw a ghost or I died. I said "I'm still on earth alive. don't worry!" he gave me a big hug. I could still smell his old spice on his neck. He was very confused on how I came to be there. he wanted to know how I snuck up on him without him knowing. I told him what I just told you and he laughed and smiled. we sat and watched some TV (history channel) and then he showed me his truck. we sat inside it for a while. I told him a problems I was having on earth with a friend and he told me " don't worry kiddo, things will work out. don't stress over such things." After my visit I left the driveway and started walking down the road. The streets  seemed to end in a fog or mist about two country blocks both ways. I kept walking towards the fog/mist and I woke up with the best feeling in the world. It felt like the biggest high/rush ever. For two days straight I had so much love and warmth inside my body. It was the most amazing experience. Oh, he was right about my problem. I didn't worry and it worked it out two months later.


Despite its brevity, there are several notable qualities of this experience that stand out from other ADC accounts. Foremost is the emphasis on the physicality of the experience. Although most ADC accounts are described as being "real" (and occasionally "realer than real"), it's difficult to top the description of physically walking into her childhood mobile home, observing pictures on the wall of people she had never seen before, smelling her grandfather's Old Spice, and noting that the television was tuned to The History Channel.  Her grandfather, at first happy to see her (he perceives her as physical, too), suddenly realizes: if Bobbie is here, she must be dead also. He is horrified... a very different reaction than found in most ADCs, where the experiencer is politely but firmly told, "Go back; it's not your time yet."

So what accounts for the difference?  It's apparent that the grandfather died with the firm belief that death is the end, or, as Bobbie puts it, "No faith what so ever."  The general consensus of ADC accounts is that those who pass on with a firm belief that consciousness will be extinguished, encounter a different after-death environment than "most" (loosely applied, since such experiences can't be quantified).  The grandfather has been placed in a reassuringly physical environment, surrounded by tokens of his physical existence. He is, essentially, still physical--apparently to teach him that the existence that he is primarily focused in--the physical one--still continues.

Many ADC (and many NDE) accounts describe an entirely physical existence on "the other side"; this contrasts with other descriptions of ethereal realms, angels, crystal cities of more heavenly areas.  (I've always believed that the 1939 film "The Wizard Of Oz," with its Emerald City and good versus bad witches--not to mention the tunneling tornado--is an allegory of an NDE.)  My non-scientific reason for these differing accounts is that these are literally different places. The NDE is the gateway; the ADC is a glimpse of the destination. We enter the "afterlife" through different gates and ultimately end up in different destinations.

The Twilight Zonish mirror earth location, with houses, roads, and (alas) television, is simply a destination for many who would probably be disoriented anywhere else.


Coming in Part 2--other accounts of earth-like physical realms, and a theory