Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, May 2016
My own random philosophical ravings on real and not so real life
by: Brent Raynes
No matter how you slice and dice it, humans all over this planet describe experiencing some pretty anomalous, downright strange and unexplained things. How do we process the so-called “unexplained,” experiences that often mainstream science, society, and our religious institutions attempt to assure us aren't real, or either lack confirmation or validity? Where does such an experiencer turn to for answers without looking like a raving nut case?
It's been said that truth is stranger than fiction. Obviously within the domain of science fiction perceived notions and concepts about the “unexplained” can be creatively explored, exploited, and imagined. However, I sincerely and earnestly hope and pray that that stranger than truth business just eluded to doesn't too closely in reality resemble a lot of our popular sci-fi because I've watched in that entertainment medium many horrible consequences to folks who again and again have these fatal encounters with zombies, werewolves, vampires, hostile space invaders, and so on and so forth. Ad nausea.
Sometimes, like most everyone else, I kick back, relax and vegetate a bit in front of the TV (also called a boob tube, and there's a reason for that) and I can't help but notice how people in almost all of those episodes are getting sliced, diced and mangled to death by maniacal supernatural serial killers, monsters and aliens from the likes of Freddy Kruger, a freaky doll named Chucky, and of course those nasty aliens portrayed in Alien, along with an endless host of other hell spawned and murderous fiends of darkness.
Whew! The “fire and brimstone” preacher, TV's Chiller, and the evening news all paint for my mind a terribly depressing life journey ahead. The world of sci fi seems to merge surreal with our perceptions of reality, often with a dark and foreboding undercurrent.
Oh, but wait. You say the evening news is factual, credible journalism. It's real, right? Well, it's real news, but it's hand-selected to cater to our brain's amygdala generated thirst for fear based stimuli. Bambi being rescued from a forest fire or Lassie rescuing Tim from the bottom of a well is a nice story, but it doesn't have the same kick to it as death and destruction (Schwarzenegger and The Terminator comes to mind), or, as with the news, factual based car accidents, murders, shootings, stabbings, rapes, bank robberies, terrorist activities, and war. Everybody knows Chiller and the Sci Fi channel cater to fiction, providing that “harmless” and make believe psychological kick. And, of course, depending on your religious “beliefs” (notice the quotation marks) what the preacher says from his pulpit every Sunday is based on a perception of reality that is considered – well, you know – reality. Perhaps even divinely “inspired”? The sober word of God, spoken by a man. The preacher can really put that amygdala into overdrive with a convincing sounding sermon complete with, “You're going to hell if you don't get right with the Lord this very moment!”
Some folks have been very inspired and their imaginations really fired up (figuratively speaking) by the likes of visionary sci fi writers like Stephen King, J.J. Abrams, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry (Did you know that Gene was genuinely interested in people who claimed to have psychic abilities that they believed may have come from UFO intelligences, like the Israeli psychic Uri Geller, and that he was hanging out with Dr. Andrija Puharich at his estate in Ossining, New York, when author Brad Steiger caught up with them both for an interview. It's described in Brad's book Gods of Aquarius, 1976) .
Space, the last frontier, and what a frontier it is! Billions and billions of stars stretching out into the infinite infinity of deepest space and immense and vast spaces that are, in reality, barely imaginable to us. But thankfully such talented, visionary artists of the written word (and those special effects geniuses who work in the film industry) manage to catapult us up and out of our comfortable armchair recliners and induce our imaginations to perform an otherwise pretty difficult task, enabling us to wrap our minds around it all (or at least that's the illusion), even though science tells us that our brains, which average only about three pounds, contain neural pathways that stretch out some 100,000 miles! (Is that not a big stretch for the imagination or what?).
The sci fi writers can both inspire and terrify us. Our imaginations are let loose to creatively explore and imagine the incredible and mind-boggling possibilities of life....but all too often falling far short of happy endings with morbid death and doom instead.
Let's face it, sci fi is our fear conscience speaking to us. We are a people who have cultivated a great amount of fear that has become incorporated into our lives. After World War II it was the Cold War Era, and today it's 9/11 and ISIS. Conspiracies and conspirators are everywhere! Trust no one! It's a continuing, vicious and reoccurring cycle, and until we address it and deal with it head-on, it's going to influence and guide us subconsciously and true death and destruction will take its toll, unless we change the game plan.
As a result, we will lose out on the truly greatest human adventures and potentials that yet remain out there for us to live. But before we can venture forth into that final frontier called simply “space,” we must master and bring under control our self-destructive drives, impulses, beliefs, and overriding fears before its too late. First we must learn to more discerningly navigate the highways and byways of “inner space” and tap into our true potentials for objective discernment, constructive and peaceful intentions, actions and negotiations, and begin changing our mindsets from quenching our own egos to achieving a better world for all of us to live in together.
Sound like fiction? Well, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction!
The Paranormal, Technology, and the Electronic Voice Phenomenon
I have had a few personal experiences that have left me scratching my head and at a genuine loss to explain in conventional explanatory terms what occurred. The ones that really stand out in my mind are instances where electronic “voices” were recorded coming through digital recorders or intelligent, interactive "voices" were coming through radio frequencies (witnessed not just by me, but quite a few others). A ufologist that I had a lot of respect for, who had been a huge influence on my studies, and who I had corresponded with some going back to 1969 (he passed away in 2009) came through a good number of times (or at least some voice saying his name....”John Keel”). Keel is a name in ufology that should generate immediate recognition with most. One time I did a blogtalk radio show where myself and my co-host interviewed a ufologist named Rich Hoffman who lives in Alabama. There was some odd background interference during the show and in fact later two people wrote me that it almost sounded like spirits, EVP-type activity, and immediately after the show my co-host wanted to try to get an EVP using the "spirit box," as she felt something might have been going on during the program (she noticed the noises in the background too) and so although I was tired and didn't really want to, I went ahead and set up the small digital radio, attached a set of stereo speakers, and the digital recorder and we gave it a try. We definitely got a voice almost immediately that said "Rich Hoffman". Oddly, I told Rich soon afterwards, "It said Rich instead of Richard." He told me, "Brent, that's how most people know me!"
I remember trying to talk once to a psychiatrist friend/researcher who had passed on and I mentioned his book and I said the name of the book wrong and heard a voice correct me! Coincidence?
Later I gave a talk at a meeting in Rich's area and played the audio with his name on overhead speakers. Members of the audience could hear it - it was quite audible. In fact, for a few weeks afterwards I would be out with other investigators at different sites and I'd ask for a voice to again say Rich Hoffman, and it worked!
One time a lady “ghost hunter,” while we were investigating the notorious Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, Alabama, wanted to ask the "box" a question that I certainly didn't know the answer to myself, but immediately she got the correct answer she was looking for - "Father's Day." I did a long distance experiment once with a couple of UFO/alien experiencers in Australia and the book publicist of one of them in California, and they were to mentally send me some words - I had no idea what they would be - and they confirmed when I sent them the audio file that the words were on the 5 minute recording I sent them. Words were "fingers crossed." I could hear it too, and they sent their emails that they had written between them beforehand to confirm their claim.
I have a good number of people who can confirm these stories, and we recorded these sessions too. I spent hundreds of hours pouring over audio for a good four years. Not so much here lately, but every once and awhile when I get together with colleagues I do.
I can't explain these particular occurrences in any conventional sense. I remember how back in early 2010 when paranormal investigator and “alien abductee” Bret Oldham and his wife Gina tried to show me how they did it, I was skeptical in the beginning. I know others who were too in the beginning, but not anymore. What helped convince me was an experiment I devised. After doing a number of sessions with them, I pulled out some index cards that I had written words on. I was surprised when I was hearing “voices” describe what was written on my cards. In other sessions afterwards, in the weeks and months that followed, we all played around with this further, usually using sheets of typing paper with a word or two written on each one, and it many times actually worked.
In working with UFO “alien abductees” and “contactees” I've become aware again and again how these individuals have a highly pronounced paranormal profile. It's not just aliens that are intruding into their lives, but a host of entities. Many have a great variety of ghost stories too, as well as cryptozoological type critters, plus other entities like angels or so-called shadow people (and some where a category is just plain uncertain). Though I had tried my hand years earlier at EVP work, it wasn't until working with investigators who were psychic and “abductees” themselves (we can also include one Sandy Nichols here too, whose house in Thompsons Station, Tennessee was where we conducted many outstanding sessions) that I realized suddenly I could conduct my own sessions in my own home and pick up a good deal of inexplicable, interactive stuff too.
These abductee/contactee experiencers, besides being UFO “repeaters” (that was once the proverbial kiss of death by the late Dr. Hynek's standards), also describe very elevated paranormal profiles (something many “nuts and bolts” abduction researchers have tried their best to ignore, or even suppress). I found in my own small-scale survey of people who fit the UFO abductee/contactee profile that 33 out of 42 (79%) described having experiences with ghosts and haunted houses, while a Pew Research Center survey of Americans in 2009 produced 18% as the general population norm for seeing or being in the presence of a ghost. In 2007, a Pew survey also showed 20% saying they had encountered an angel or a devil. In my survey, I also found that 55% (23 out of 42) checked off poltergeist experiences too. Out of body experiences among my UFO experiencer group was also quite elevated, with OOBEs being 14% among the townspeople of Charlottesville, Va., 25 percent among students there, whereas it was 87% (47 out of 54) in my UFO experiencer grouping. Then too my UFO experiencer group had 86% (36 out of 42) who felt that they had had premonitions, whereas Atlanta psychologist David Ryback, in a survey of 433 college students, estimated that about 8.8% of the population had genuine precognitive dreams.
My friend and colleague Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz, a psychiatrist who researched and investigated both UFO and paranormal reports, and felt that there was a definite connection, encouraged further investigation and experimental field and lab work with experiencers to better understand their experiences and their psi abilities. He felt that photographic and audio anomalies (like what I just described) were promising avenues to establish objective criteria for verifiable evidence.