~The views and opinions expressed here are of the blog author and not necessarily of CCAPSG as a whole~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bizarre In The News - What's human? What's animal? And what of the biology inbetween?

Nik Brown of the Guardian

Friday's report by the Academy of Medical Sciences on the increasingly fuzzy boundaries between the human and the animal is the latest in a long series of policy reflections on how to keep pace with developments in the biosciences.
It can justly be said that politics and regulation have not dealt well with our newfound capacities for muddying the boundaries between us and other species. And yet the last two decades have witnessed an unprecedented growth in bioscientific techniques that increasingly call into question what it means to be human. Take the human genome project: many of us may have intuitively suspected that we might have more genetically in common with the chimpanzee than even Darwin had envisaged, only then to be told of our cousinly closeness to the fruit fly, maize and the zebra fish.
Casting a glance back to the 1990s, trans-species transplantationseemed to promise a new era of limitless animal organs and tissues. Who knows, it may still. But that dream slowly sank from view amid concerns about potentially catastrophic trans-species disease, and increasing evidence of its poor performance in preclinical trials with primates. Move forward a decade and we have the trans-species embryodebate, resulting in legislative changes permitting a whole new class of research embryos incorporating animal DNA. So to the classical question of "what is an embryo", has been added the equally vexing puzzle "what is an animal".
Bioscientific hybrids are difficult to categorise, disorderly, existing on the fringes of the humanised animal and the animalised human. And yet policymaking has arguably had a poor track in getting to grips with and understanding trans-species innovation. Trans-species biologies present acute difficulties especially in terms of regulation because they confuse and traverse regulatory institutional boundaries.
In the UK, as elsewhere, regulatory agencies have tended to regulate humans on the one hand, and animals on the other, with little consideration for what might lie between. The tendency has been to deal with all things animal through the Home Office and its Animal Procedures Inspectorate, and to deal with all things human through the Department of Health. There are good and disturbing grounds for suspecting this division has become increasingly naive and meaningless, as the biosciences enter their trans-species future.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Buyer beware: Ghost tours‏

I'm reflecting on a "ghost tour" I went on two years ago.  I'm not much of a consumer, but I imagine from what I have seen, read and discussed on numerous occasions with others that it was not that much different than most of the ghost tours being conducted all around the world and I have had time to reflect on it from a more critical perspective - I think it's helpful to look back.
My conclusion: It was an extremely interesting night but was flawed by the consistent use of false positives by the operator to the clients. What I mean by that is that at every location we were set up by being told of others experiences on other tours, and the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and phenomenon etc that we would experience. In hindsight, I feel that this either sets the operator up for both sides of the spectrum - the skeptic who writes it all off as a hoax and suggestion and the more easily influenced person who experiences things that are not there. There is a middle ground which I will discuss as well.
By being told we would see spirit faces in orbs, that angry ghosts would manhandle us in the jail, that strange forces would tug on our clothes, that we may feel weak, sick, sad or tired, we were being manipulated - operating out of the power of suggestion.
That's fine for a ghost train ride at a carniva or a kids campfire session, but it's not ok to manipulate people paying for a research experience, a search for the truth and in an emotionally charged environment tied to history, society, spirituality and culture - and we all know that people from all sorts of religious backgrounds use this type of thing on followers - even creating an emotional environment that is more conducive to offerings, imaginary healings and salvation experiences. That does not discount the fact that people genuinely want to be generous, do get healed and make decisions to really follow Christ as Lord.
And it was the same on the ghost tour.
There were a number of experiences that I did not expect that were difficult to explain:
1) When the tour operator cracked a cat'o'nine tails whip in an old courthouse, a white mist like shape with form moved straight at me from the adjacent corner and literally went through me, blurring my vision and numbing my arm on my right hand side.
Also, when the whip was cracked my EMF meter went all the way to the top after each crack, and I can't understand why that happened or what could have caused it.
2) There was an orb of light in the graveyard that in my opinion and observations was not conjured up by any type of mechanical or digital light source, it bounced around of it's own accord and behaved in a manner I would describe as sentient and reactive to the audience.
3) Even though I believe that we were being set up with a story to heighten the experience, I cannot deny that the back of my trouser leg was "snagged" by something which made me snap around quickly with my torch, only to see nothing but grass and no sticks, branches, wire or snaggable items.
4) We were told that on the Highway that the "Black Lady" inhabited a certain bend and when we hit that spot - you guessed it - the EMF meters went off the dial. Now something set them off at exactly the spot we were told they would. Unless there was a way that the operator could have triggered it with a device, there were no overhead lines or other devices noticeable enough to set them off. But that does not mean that something "supernatural" set them off, it simply means that on cue, they went off, which I think is interesting.
The whole time I was on the trip I remained in a highly prayerful state, at every location spending time seeking the Lord and praying protection over the people who were there. I often found myself drawn into the false positives that were being sown. That doesn't mean that the operator lacked integrity, it just meant that he valued experience over facts, emotions over rationale and probably a rollicking good time over a scientific analysis of the events. Which is fine, that's what I expected anyway.
But I don't think that should define what is counted as evidence. A couple of weeks after I got home I came to a lot of conclusions:
1) Orbs are a natural phenomenon, to promote them as supernatural evidence is just silly. The only exception was the one that was visible to the naked eye which moved of seemingly its own accord. It was too high to be a natural "ghost light" phenomenon in my opinion but I could easily be proven wrong.
2) The faces that we were "shown" or "asked to investigate" in our images was simple matrixing.
3) The feelings that we experienced of fear, fatigue and other feelings usually followed an explanation that we "may experience thesde feelings" in the areas we were in. That is manipulation, pure and simple.
4) There was a number of experiences that defied the false positive environment as mentioned in point form above.
5) That when people realised I was a Pastor, a number asked me to pray and felt more peaceful, which can be attributed to a number of things but one was it made people feel like there was a more powerful force present than any 'spirits'.
I think ghost tours which use the manipulative fasle positive techniques could have a very negative impact on people who are susceptible to fear or have an anxiety disorder or any obsessive/compulsive disorder as it could set them up for fears and attachment to fears that were needlessly placed in their life. They may also bring people into contact with a demonic force that they would have not opened the door too otherwise. But for the person who is strong in their faith, prayerful, discerning, skeptical, and emotionally detached from the environments, feeling healthy in their souls, it is certainly an interesting experience, although far too expensive and fraught with exaggeration to make it a regular event.
God bless you - Pastor Baz.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From around the campfire: Pastor Baz talks to the community

Tales from around the campfire

All my life I've been involved in sport from Tae Kwon Do to Ballroom Dancing to Boxing to Surfing to Rugby league and Oztag. Right now I type this short article with a badly sprained thumb from attempting to score a try last night  - try typing without your right thumb for a while!!! You keep missing the space bar.
And around sports you meet lots of people from various backgrounds, experiences and belief systems. You just have to be willing to ask - "Have you ever had a supernatural experience"
This week I was talking to my major sponsor, a sports warehouse and I asked that question "Do you guys have any stories".
And this is the story I heard from the manager - which was turned on its head  two hours later when another person (a missionary raised in the occult) gave me an interesting perspective on what I'd heard.
The first part starts in an old house, which was built between the world wars. The lady who owned the house was named Minnie. Minnie died in the house and then it was sold as a deceased estate and snapped up by a young family.
Not long after, conversations could be heard in the oldest childs room - a child who had no understanding of the history of the property. One night, when the father of the house heard the talk, he walked in, saw no-one but the child and turned off the bedroom light. As he walked away the light turned back on. He walked back into the room puzzled and as he went to flick it off again he noticed his child sitting up in bed.
"Are you ok" He asked?
"I was talking to the old grannie of the house - she comes and sits on my bed. She said her name was Minnie. I told her to go away, so she did".
The same man went on to share with me stories of his wife working as a nurse at various Sydney hospitals, where similar stories - including that of an old lady who rummages through peoples belongings looking for cigarettes - but who is the same person who died in the hospital years before - for half an hour.
An hour later I had a meeting with a potential sports chaplain who shared with me his stories of being raised in Wicca, life as a missionary in Indonesia and the incredible supernatural stories from that country and deliverance ministry that followed them wherever they went. Stories of incredible demonic oppression of the local people and the freedom they encountered in Jesus Christ as they were set free.
I shared with him the story about Minnie and he added his own to it.
"We lived in a house in Sydney, and there was the ghost of an old lady in it. One night my mother saw her sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room and she said that the kids room was this room and we should be moved into here. My mum, being a person who was involved with many seances trusted the spirit and moved us into the room as indicated. One night I was walking past the room and saw the old lady pulling the bedsheets over my brother. I always thought this was a benevolent spirit who cared about us until I had a dream".
He then started to unpack the reality of the situation. 
"In the dream the old lady was knitting in the room, smiling at me. Then the facade of who she was started to unravel - literally. Her skin started to unravel and I saw the most diabolical monster underneath - it had sharp teeth and claws and eyes full of hate. As her real form was revealed, she leapt at me from the chair and I cried out 'Jesus save me' and she dissapeared in a puff of smoke. I believe that when people tell me they see ghosts, especially of the departed, it is usually a mimic, trying to get the person to focus on the phenomenon and to lose their focus on God - which if you look at the increase in shows on this subject has worked. People aren't interested in God, their focus in on working out what this phenomenon is, and it draws them deeper and deeper in until they are snared in it".

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old Hag Syndrome

Old Hag Syndrome or sleep paralysis as its now called is a type of sleep disorder where the person who is suffering it feels as though they are awake but cannot move.  All other senses are awake except they are paralysed. That is in very simple terms. There is a tonne of different things people can experience in sleep paralysis. One of the main experiences is a vision of an old ugly hag that sits on your chest preventing you from moving or breathing.  Thus it used to be called Old Hag Syndrome.
Accompanying the paralysis is usually a sensation of immense evil, a sinister presence etc.
From About.com The current explanation of sleep paraylsis is that it is a problem with the regulation of REM.  In this phase of sleep the body is relaxed so we do not act out the dreams, if this carries on when we wake up, it can cause temporary paraylsis. 

This seems a pretty good explanation but what baffles me is the similarities of what people experience. Why do they all experience the same feelings? The feeling of dread, a heavy chest, seeing eyes, hearing footsteps, feeling a presence etc?

Do you believe in the REM theory for Old Hag Syndrome? Or do you believe its something else? Ever experienced anything similar?

For further watching....

The Science of Sleep Paralysis

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Real Life Stories: The Bleeding Monster of Tweed Heads

This week Pastor Baz wants to discuss the bleeding monster of Tweed Heads on our FB page, so go to our page and read the story, then in that thread work together to assess what the encounter could have been or how it could be followed up.

Will There Ever Be Enough Evidence?

Recently I blogged about Sanger Paranormal and their up coming press release that was penned as the most significant bigfoot evidence since the Patterson-Gimlin film.

They presented what they see as pretty significant findings which can be found here.  The basic gist of the story is they had to abandon their car in remote forest and when they went back they found face imprints on the truck. They are looking for a lab to process the DNA and they are convinced its not a bear, mountain lion or gorilla.

But from what I have seen there has been pretty much negative feed back. Most say it is most definitely a bear.
Here's a pretty convincing picture from Ghost Theory that says its possibly proves it is a bear.


And from Sanger Paranormals website they have tried to prove its NOT a bear or any other animal:

Now I am hoping that someone will test the DNA and this can be settled. I won't comment either way as to what I think this could be. My question is, will there ever be enough evidence to satisfy the masses?

What would convince you to the existence of Bigfoot?