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Elements of prophecy – reflections and new directions

The Sibyl (1891), Paul Ranson via Tumblr

Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi film Minority Report (2002) is soon to be re-imagined as a TV series by Fox.

In the original Minority Report three clairvoyants called Precogs (precognitives) spend their days in deep meditation, afloat in water. Their job is to predict murders that could take place in the future. Tom Cruise, a good and honest cop, relies on the Precogs to arrest would-be criminals just before they commit a homicide.

Minority Report puts an interesting twist on the idea of precognition because, in real life, individuals claiming to possess this ability are often treated with suspicion, even derision. But the Precogs’ abilities are highly valued and they are given a kind of eerie reverence.

True and False

As the administrator of, I’ve met many complex and fascinating seekers, on and offline. Some claim that spirit beings appear or speak to them. Others believe they have seen objects, places or souls during their astral travels. Several allegedly read minds; and some say they’ve had a vision of Christ or the Holy Trinity. And like the PreCogs, others claim to foresee the future.

Dealing with alleged psychics and mind-readers is both rewarding and challenging. If psychic abilities are real, it seems there’s no guarantee they’ll be applied ethically. For instance, those who haven’t dealt with personal pain could take a compensatory turn toward self-aggrandizement.¹

Clearly, some folks do take a wrong turn in the spiritual life, and a few might be repeatedly deceived and paranoid. Interior perception is an exacting process and not everyone does it well.

Leading writers on mysticism like Evelyn Underhill say that sincere mystics strive to be humble and analytical in order to avoid deception by the imagination or by negative spiritual influences (traditionally viewed as “demons,” “tramp souls” and “ghosts”).

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the eponym ...

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the eponym of Thomism. Picture by Fra Angelico (c. 1395-1455). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But this is the ideal. In reality, many alleged psychics and prophets seem pretty out to lunch. They speak in such roundabout terms that their predictions could mean a thousand different things. And when flat wrong, some of them just fudge it. False prophecies are quickly swept under the rug or recast as “symbolic” predictions.

Philosophers call this the ad hoc hypothesis or possibly ex post facto reasoning. Rather than openly admitting mistakes (as an honest researcher would) sham mystics do their best to cover them up.

Christian Response

Christian theologians say that genuine prophecy is revealed or infused from a supernatural source. They also tend to believe that God is omnipotent. This means God could use weak and sinful personalities for genuine prophecy, even for a short while. According to this view, one doesn’t have to be a holy guru to be a prophet. For Christians, no one is perfect. And to claim otherwise is misguided.

In Catholicism, personal revelations are called private revelations. Private revelations occurring after the time of Christ are said to add nothing to the faith as defined by the Church. But private revelations declared authentic may have inspirational or cultural value.

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”²

New Directions

Of course, many modern people question the authority of a traditional religious body that, in he past, has proved to be just as susceptible to temptation and error as anyone else. Historically, the Catholic Church has made gruesome mistakes, only to apologize hundreds of years later.

It’s also entirely possible that even the best of prophets distort their revelations through their unique personalities. That is, they interpret according to who they are at a given moment in history. According to the view, much of the Bible is laced with cultural bias and political infighting. That hardly sounds like the “Word” of God.

Guercino, The Persian Sibyl, 1647-48 via Tumblr

So where does this leave us? And by what standard do sincere seekers judge interior perceptions?

I think the answer might be found in a cross fertilization of psychology and spirituality. Einstein once said “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”³  Perhaps we could adapt that to something like, “psychology without spirituality is superficial, spirituality without psychology is questionable.”

Only then can we move forward to a spirituality suitable for the 21st century and beyond.

¹ Many saints say that vanity and jealousy figure prominently in the spiritual life. The more we open to spiritual realities, the more vulnerable we are to temptation and deception.

² Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 67. Catholic theology looks at prophecy in its own unique way. St. Thomas Aquinas is often cited in Catholic discussions about prophecy. But we’d do well to remember that after having a direct encounter with God, toward the end of his life, Aquinas apparently said his writings were like a “house of straw.”


Copyright © Michael W. Clark 2014

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Closer To Truth: ESP

Image via Tumblr

By John Prytz

There is an ongoing PBS TV series (also several books and also a website) called “Closer To Truth”. It is hosted by neuroscientist Robert Lawrence Kuhn. He’s featured in one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with the cream of the cream of today’s cosmologists, physicists, philosophers, theologians, psychologists, etc. on all of the Big Questions surrounding a trilogy of broad topics – Cosmos; Consciousness; Meaning. The trilogy collectively dealt with reality, space and time, mind and consciousness, aliens, theology and on and on and on. Here are a few of my comments on one of the general topics covered, ESP and related psychic subjects.

Does ESP Make Sense 1?

Does ESP make sense? Well if ESP made any sense, if say telepathy actually existed, then I probably wouldn’t be here writing this in the here and now. Why? If most people sensed and knew what I was thinking about them, especially drivers, they would have long since beaten me about the head and body until I was a bloody pulp. In a more general vein, I’m not aware of any assault or any crime involving violence that can be attributed to anyone reacting to what anyone else was thinking. I mean what if you walked down the street of some fundamentalist Islamic town thinking all sorts of nasty things about Allah and company. Nothing would happen. As the saying goes, “you can’t go to jail for what you are thinking” because thoughts are private. Given the number of people thinking nasty thoughts that would seriously offend other people, probably millions of such occurrences per day, yet nothing transpires as a result, would seem to discredit the idea of ESP or telepathy as a viable phenomena.

Does ESP Make Sense 2?

If ESP made any sense, how could teachers guard against students cheating on exams? How could the military protect highly classified documents? How could you protect yourself from others finding out the most intimate details of your love letters, you bank account numbers, the contents of your will, and associated privacy issues? There’s been a lot of angst recently displayed over the issues of electronic snooping, but I don’t seem to recall any concern over ESP as being part of the everyday tool-kit used for terrorism; diplomatic, corporate or military espionage; or as a ways and means used by criminals to further their get-rich-quick schemes. If ESP were legit, well blackmail would really be rampant.

Does ESP Make Sense 3?

If ESP/Telepathy/Remote Viewing and related psychic phenomena really existed it would make for an absolutely level playing field since all knowledge and all secrets would be in theory equally available to all. Even your most private thoughts wouldn’t be private any more. We don’t seem to have a level playing field – never have; not now; never will.

There are various absurdities of things that would have to have been documented but haven’t been, like levitation. What hasn’t been documented is prisoners floating out of their prison courtyards to freedom. Surely that should of happened at least once!

Speaking of prisoners, if there were really such a thing as mind-over-matter then prisoners could mentally unlock their handcuffs and prison cell doors. You could mentally pick door-locks and bank vault safe locks, or maybe just float valuables from where they are to where you are. The law could never trace murder to you if you murdered at a distance by say giving your victim a mind-over-matter heart attack. There’s no shortage of criminal mischief you could get up to. I don’t recall any court cases where mind-over-matter was established as the ways-and-means of doing the crime.

If there were such a thing as precognition then we’d all be billionaires. Or, perhaps one might like to argue that all billionaires past and present have had or currently have precognition and they just like to keep that their little family secret.

In short, you could take any of the various individual phenomena that collectively make up all things psychic and come up with things that could and should eventuate as a consequence, yet don’t.

Does ESP Make Sense 4?

Let’s explore the notion that mind-over-matter exists. What sort of things might we expect to have been the case if such a concept were really true and a property of the mind that is part and parcel of each and every one of us, especially if it were non-physical and could violate the laws, principles and relationships of physics.

Well one question that comes to mind is why NASA didn’t employ mind power instead of chemical rockets to send humans into space and to the Moon? It would have saved the taxpayer millions and millions. Related, why do planes require aviation gas or jet fuel? Surely the pilot could just use mind power to get passengers or cargo from place A to place B. In fact you could commute to work in your car on an empty tank!

I gather you could supply all the energy requirements for your home, supply the heat and light the lights, just cause those electrons to flow, all with just a flick of your mental power and abilities. For that matter, what need of the Large Hadron Collider when physicists could accelerate and slam particles together using just their minds?

If your mind had control over chemistry, there would be no excuse for the obesity epidemic. You could smoke without fear and drink like a fish. For that matter, you could turn lead into gold!

Sports wouldn’t be very sporting-like. A routine fly ball would be willed by the batter to become a home run. A baseball pitcher would be invincible game after game since his mind would control the twisting flightpath of the ball instead of relying on aerodynamics. In golf every shot would be a hole-in-one; in tenpin bowling every ball bowled would be a strike; in basketball every toss would go through the hoops. Chess on the other hand might still be aboveboard.

Any condemned convict could ensure their execution would be negated. The rope breaks; the rifle bullets miss; the lethal cocktail of chemicals turn into harmless substances; the neck is mightier than the sword or the guillotine.

If you were so inclined, you could change the wording on documents to benefit you, change a one dollar bill into a one hundred dollar bill, or alter the actual appearance of playing cards and thus never loose a game.

History would certainly be different. If Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had applied mind-over-matter abilities to their war efforts, they would have won World War Two in a matter of just weeks – or less.

Seriously, all these ‘what if” scenarios imply that mind-over-matter must have a physical mechanism since in each and every case matter and energy is being manipulated. If you do believe in ESP and related psychic phenomena, like mind-over-matter, yet you can’t come up with a physical explanation that independents can verify, well okay, you do have an escape clause. You could be a virtual being in a simulated universe and all psi phenomena is just programmed software.

Does ESP Reveal the Nonphysical?

For ESP to reveal something about the non-physical, one must first demonstrate that ESP actually exists. Since ESP has not been so demonstrated in any peer-reviewed scientific journal, since if it had been there would be no need to have these discussions on “Closer to Truth”, then the bona-fide existence of ESP is still up for grabs. While there is a near total lack of evidence for the establishment of ESP, there is lots of evidence that points in the direction that ESP doesn’t exist. There has to be an actual mechanism that links the sender or the target with the receiver. Claiming that there is a non-physical mechanism that is beyond detection is a cop-out. One can claim all manner of phenomena but when asked to put-up-or-shut-up one just says that it has a non-physical explanation which nobody can actually pin down. As to what that non-physical mechanism is, it’s just pure pie-in-the-sky mysticism. It’s not scientific to a scientist; it’s not acceptable to the average layperson either. It’s like claiming to have an invisible friend but not being able to convince anyone because nobody else, including the claimant, can actually see, touch, taste, smell or hear anything tangible about this invisible entity. Okay, there has to be an actual physical mechanism for ESP if ESP is to claim to have some sort of validity. Alas, as has been more than adequately pointed out, if our brain/mind can detect ESP signals then it must be possible to construct an artificial detector that does the same thing. Further, we can build detectors vastly more sensitive than anything the human sensory apparatus, hence the brain/mind, can detect. Results to date equate to absolute zero. Resorting to a non-physical mechanism is a cop-out; nothing that can be construed to be a physical mechanism can be independently verified.

Is ESP a Window on a Larger Reality?

For ESP to be taken as a window on a larger reality, one must first prove in an accepted peer-reviewed manner that ESP (and related bits and pieces) actually exists. Now there are some phenomena that don’t sit still, phenomena that are so random that it is difficult for investigators to come to terms with their reality or non-reality. Examples are UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot (Sasquatch), and related. However, ESP doesn’t fall into that category. ESP sits still. You have target A and person B or person A and person B and they are both fixed and static. They can be tested again and again. There’s nothing hit-or-miss or random about this. Now what is telling about all of this, quite apart from the idea that nobody has an actual clue what the ESP (and related) mechanism is, is that despite thousands of experiments and millions of “I know what I experienced” events, despite the elapse of hundreds of years of these sorts of investigations, nothing has been set in stone. You would think that by now, if there was any structure and substance to the entire validity of the ESP field, that issues would have been settled long ago. The fact that this debate over ESP and the nature therefore of a theoretical larger reality is still going on, is suggestive that nothing is going on. If there were any nuts-and-bolts reality to this whole area of parapsychology, it would have long since been documented and written up in the textbooks and taught to students with as much conviction as the teachings of the reality of those laws of gravity and of motion.

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About the Author

Science librarian; retired.

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Deploy soft power communication on human consciousness

English: human mind for performance psychology...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

By Steve Hammons

Originally published February 24, 2009

As we increasingly look at our human capital to assess where we have been, where we are now and where we are going, it is probably helpful to consider the current overall understanding of human consciousness.

That is no easy task. The vague and varied nature of the human mind can be challenging to comprehend. It is not always readily visible, measurable or observable, although outward behavior and appearance stemming from consciousness is.

In our everyday lives, we can look at elements of society such as economic development, educational systems, health care, defense and intelligence activities, cultural creativity and social cohesion that reflect the current state of our comprehension of human consciousness.

At the heart of these endeavors is human consciousness, so trying to understand and optimize it seems worthwhile.

When we consider deploying communication, information and education about consciousness, domestically or in the context of international soft power or smart power, what are some of the elements involved?


Although there are indications that consciousness itself can be utilized in interesting ways, more likely we are generally referring to practical and deployable communication, information and education about it.

It is the development and understanding of a perspective on the human race and the current state of our societies and our world.

By using the viewpoint on and of human consciousness, we might be able to transcend many obstacles to problem-solving, rapport-building and creative, innovative approaches and solutions.

So what is particularly interesting about consciousness that might arouse the interest of average people, friends and adversaries?

First, we all have it. We can call consciousness the human mind, human psychology, awareness, perception or even a spirit or soul, depending on our perspectives and what elements we are discussing.

There are a few interesting aspects to consider.

One is that, generally, it is accepted in mainstream psychology that we have a conscious mind, a subconscious and a border area between the two.

In addition, various kinds of philosophies, spiritual beliefs and some significant modern research make reference to the connection between an individual person’s mind and a larger power, force, intelligence or field of some kind. Many different names are given to this in different cultural, philosophical and scientific contexts.

Another fascinating topic is the indication that human consciousness has a “sixth sense” that can pick up information and understanding that is not available to our other five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

The sixth sense can bubble up from the unconscious and enter into the conscious. We might call it intuition, instincts, hunches, gut feelings or something else.

This might manifest itself in our nighttime dreams or even daydreams as the unconscious becomes more active in relation to our conscious logical-thinking brains.

In his 1972 book The Natural Mind, Andrew Weil, M.D., hypothesized that the human mind may have a natural inclination to seek understanding of a wider and deeper consciousness because the mind knows there is more to itself – and more to a possibly larger cosmic mind.

Weil thought that perhaps people have throughout human history then used prayer, meditation, fasting, exciting or dangerous activities, vision quests or even psychoactive plants (including fermented plants), cacti, mushrooms and other fungi to explore human consciousness. (We now even hear of people using excretions from the skins of certain frogs or toads for this purpose.)

Optimizing our understanding of these and other elements of human consciousness and behavior through communication, information and education might be helpful in wide and deep ways.


Although human consciousness is not always easily understood or measured, we know that as a general concept, it includes thoughts, feelings, emotions, dreams, beliefs, perceptions, awareness and similar kinds of characteristics.

And now that we suspect, based on credible research, that human consciousness also probably has abilities to tap a sixth sense, this adds to our more conventional understanding of ourselves and others.

A natural question may arise as to if it is wise to inform troubled people or international adversaries that their minds and consciousness might be worth exploring further along these lines.

One answer to this may be that research into human consciousness and even “anomalous” abilities such as the sixth sense (which actually are probably very natural and normal) are almost common knowledge nowadays. We find information on this in books, movies, articles and all over the Web. The information is in the public domain or what is sometimes called open source intelligence.

When the U.S. Government’s defense and intelligence communities started researching this in the 1970s, it was in response to the old Soviet Union’s activities in these areas. China has also reportedly conducted research on human consciousness and human abilities along these lines.

This kind of research was later referred to as a component of “transcendent warfare.”

We might take a leap of faith and assume that as people understand themselves, their social and psychological programming, their own personal histories and the deeper and transcendent nature within and around them, they will grow as constructive human beings.

In fact, some of the research in human consciousness seems to include a faith-based component. That is, when we try to understand deeper possible realities – whether using psychology, spirituality, biology, quantum physics or other methods – things sometimes get mysterious and not necessarily logical.

Unusual phenomena, synchronicity (odd and meaningful coincidences) or other things that seem to be authentic and can be perceived by us might sometimes occur.

If we try our best to understand, communicate and educate ourselves and others about some of the emerging and leading-edge developments regarding human consciousness, we might be able to optimize these real resources and assets.

About the Author:

Steve Hammons writes on a variety of topics. His work appears on transformational websites and at his blogs Joint Recon Study Group and Trancendent TV and Media. He’s also authored two novels, Light’s Hand and Mission Into Light.


Beyond soft power and smart power: Transcendent power

Consciousness Awakening on Vimeo by Ralph Buckley

Consciousness Awakening on Vimeo by Ralph Buckley (Photo credit: Ralph Buckley)

By Steve Hammons

In discussions about the ideas of hard power, soft power and smart power, several observers have pointed out that the term soft power may not be a good name for this worthwhile, sound and valuable concept.

The word soft sometimes implies weak, flabby or inadequate characteristics in several kinds of contexts.

A term that truly embodies soft power and also includes hard and smart power elements is “transcendent power.”

This refers to the concept of “transcendent warfare” that is based on the idea of embracing and utilizing emerging and leading-edge assets and resources.

The term transcendent warfare was used by a U.S. Navy SEAL officer in a graduate-level paper written for the Marine Corps War College. Although the paper focused, in part, on research and development by the U.S. defense and intelligence communities into human perceptual capabilities, the author seemed to indicate that transcendent warfare goes beyond any narrow definitions.

We might think of transcendent power as the blending and optimization of a range of resources and methods typically associated with both soft power and hard power.


Since transcendent warfare is often associated with unconventional intelligence acquisition and human consciousness research, the concept could be viewed as an “outside-the-box” idea. It is. It is the kind of innovative and forward-leaning thinking that can be very helpful.

At the same time, it is not easily defined or explained.

The idea of transcendent power would include the use of public diplomacy, American cultural resources, humanitarian operations, peace operations, human-based intelligence (HUMINT), constructive and non-manipulative psychological operations (PSYOP), open source intelligence (OSINT), special operations forces, unconventional operations, conventional defense resources, advanced technologies and various other assets.

In addition, transcendent power would dovetail with the emerging and developing nature of American society, the international community, the human race, Planet Earth and other elements that may not yet be fully understood.

Transcendent power weaves together these elements in ways that are creative, innovative and geared toward legitimate, moral and ethical objectives.

In its purest form, transcendent power by its very nature probably cannot be considered part of optional wars based on illegitimate intelligence, military actions to obtain natural resources, unwise sacrificing of the lives and limbs of our military personnel and the resulting devastation for their families, unnecessary killing and injuring of innocents, torture, war profiteering and vainglorious military adventures launched by “chicken hawks.”

coordinate systems by Wen Zhang

coordinate systems by Wen Zhang


Some elements of soft power can be viewed as passive approaches. Attempts are made to attract potential friends, neutral parties and potential adversaries to your own point of view based on the attractiveness of your culture and other components of your society.

Transcendent power might be considered to be more assertive and proactive. It actively embraces leading-edge knowledge, advancements and understanding.

Transcendent power reaches out and touches friends, neutral parties and adversaries.

Transcendent power allies itself with, and is part of a fundamental and dominant force. It dominates human terrain by its association with, and basis in core knowledge of human consciousness and the forces that human consciousness is connected to.

It has characteristics that require a certain understanding. The SEAL officer who wrote the paper referencing transcendent warfare noted that there are Zen-like qualities to it that require an insightful perspective to appreciate some of the possibilities involved with it.

Learning about the interesting research in quantum physics, human consciousness and unconventional intelligence acquisition research and operations is a good beginning toward comprehending the potential of transcendent power.

Soft power is a valuable concept. The idea of smart power, which blends soft power and hard power is another worthy term.

Transcendent power moves us to the next level in our quest for progress on many fronts in the 21st century.


ETs, UFOs and the Psychology of Belief

Uncanny things are thought to happen at night ...

Uncanny things are thought to happen at night in desolate places via Wikipedia

© Michael Clark. All rights reserved.

ETs and UFOs

The acronym ET (extraterrestrial) points to the idea that living organisms might exist somewhere beyond our Earth. And the acronym UFO (unidentified flying object) means that something unidentified appears in the sky.

Sometimes UFOs are eventually identified as a weather balloon, parachute or jet plane, so a mystery becomes an ordinary event.¹ But other times we never understand what’s up there. When we can’t understand, it’s tempting to see a UFO as an alien spacecraft piloted by creatures from the far reaches of the universe.

The distinction between UFOs and ETs isn’t ironclad. Again, the U in UFO stands for unidentified, and it’s possible that some UFOs could be ETs. During World War II, for instance, airborne glowing balls were observed and photographed by Allied pilots. These phenomena came to be called Foo Fighters (the rock band came later…), and suggest that some UFOs might be intelligent life forms. The life forms might not be as we normally understand them. They’d be more like those energy creatures we see in Star Trek and other science fiction stories. And they’d probably be able to survive any kind of atmospheric conditions.

ETs and UFOs in Popular Culture

Among all the uncertainty, hoaxers and confused thinking we find today, it remains true that ETs and UFOs are a part of popular culture.

Different web sites arguably reflect various human myths, dreams and expectations about aliens and their alleged spacecraft. Given the limits of our human consciousness, it’s not surprising that most of the talk about ET/UFOs is colored by personal bias and cultural filters.

Religious fundamentalists, who usually see the world in black and white, often say that aliens are manifestations of the devil. At the other end of the spectrum, some ET/UFO enthusiasts claim that aliens are here to save the planet.

In addition, some individuals believe that they, themselves, are alien emissaries, born of a human but really, so they say, from another planet or cosmic dimension.

While it’s good to be open-minded, the topic of ETs and UFOs requires careful, critical analysis. The following list outlines some of the main questions that any serious researcher should ask:

  • Are ETs/UFOs the stuff of myth and fantasy?
  • Can they be explained by normal, everyday phenomena?
  • Do ETs have physical, energy or spirit bodies?
  • Could ETs/UFOs travel through space and time?
  • How intelligent are they?
  • How much more of the universe can they see?
  • Is every ET kind and helpful?
  • Could some be harmful to other ETs and to human beings?
  • Could this harm be psychological, and not just physical?

It seems probable that ETs do exist in some shape or form. Both the Catholic Church and the CIA endorse inquiry into the possibility of alien life. And Library and Archives Canada has an online resource called Canada’s UFOs: The Search for the Unknown.

There’s a lot of material on the internet about ETs and UFOs. Here’s a sampling of what can be found today. Some of these web sites might seem sort of far out and questionable, while others appear quite sober and raise some good questions.

ETs, UFOs and Spiritual Discernment

UFOs and common sense - see image notes, below.

Arlan K. Andrews summarizes a good number of reports suggesting that psi abilities (ESP, clairvoyance) increase after a person believes they’ve had a first ET/UFO contact.2

Although inadequately explored in the ET/UFO literature, from the perspective of interfaith mysticism it’s conceivable that unfriendly ETs or, perhaps, demonic spirits posing as ETs impart paranormal abilities on psychologically vulnerable individuals, leading them to develop a kind of inferiority/superiority complex (as spelled out by the American psychologist, Alfred Adler).

It would be easy for a vulnerable individual to overlook painful personal issues if meddling ETs or demons were (apparently) feeding them other people’s thoughts, along with false prophecies and delusional ideas about being special and better than everyone else.³

Indeed, some people seem convinced that they’ve been sent to Earth as sacred rulers over the unenlightened masses. And they’re willing to ignore or patch up false prophecies with ad hoc explanations to prevent their (most likely) delusional bubble from bursting, which would probably bring painful personal issues to the fore.

While the powers that be tend to see false prophecy in terms of a delusion or mental illness, there’s nothing wrong with this approach when it’s right. A problem arises, however, when that kind of explanation might be wrong or, at least, incomplete.

Along these lines, contemporary and ancient religious traditions suggest the, perhaps, related approach of discernment. Admittedly, discernment is a tricky concept with a meaning that really depends on who’s using it. But I believe it still has some value.

The anthropologist I. M. Lewis notes in Ecstatic Religion (1971) that saints, sages and shamans from all walks of life agree that the psyche is not an island. This may have a positive aspect. Figures like St. Anthony, for example, reportedly have guided individuals toward lost articles and missing children.

However, personal openness to being guided has a downside. A good number of spiritualists and theologians believe that the mind can be obsessed or even possessed by spiritual hackers, traditionally regarded as demons, tramp souls and ancestral spirits.

For convenience, the possibility of evil ETs and demons will be grouped under the single heading of Negative Spiritual Influences (NSI). While some believers in NSI might be paranoid reactionaries, it’s improbable that all of them are paranoid and deluded.

Different spiritual traditions suggest that NSI can produce hallucinations and manipulate individuals. Existing in a more comprehensive space-time than human beings, NSI might see future possibilities, influence a person’s choices, and compel them to accept false explanations as to why certain events occur.4

Most of us have probably met someone with an underlying inferiority complex or unresolved psychological trauma who parades around telling others they’re an achieved saint. This kind of thing seems quite common in both organized religions and cults, where not a few borderline – or perhaps insane – individuals hide out under the safe, well-defined and socially legitimate structures of their particular religion or cult.

To avoid this kind of scenario, interior influences allegedly of ET origin must be painstakingly discerned. Discernment in the religious sense means the use of reason, experience and divine gifts to separate true and false interior perceptions. As Henri Martin P.S.S. puts it:

The charism of discernment is “a kind of supernatural instinct by which those who have it perceive intuitively the origin, either divine or not, of thoughts and inclinations submitted to them.” (J. de Guibert, Lecons, p. 306). It is to be distinguished from revelation of the secrets of hearts, properly so called, made directly by God. In such revelations, which is extremely rare, objective certitude is absolute. In the case of discernment the chances of error lie in the subjective interpretation and use of the supernatural light received. Lacking an infused charism, ordinarily “God will assist by special interior light a gift of discernment acquired by experience and prudence in the application of the traditional rules of discernment.” (ibidem).5

On the need for spiritual seekers to be sincere, humble and rational in the discernment process, the scholar of mysticism, Evelyn Underhill, says:

Ecstasies, no less than visions and voices, must, they declare, be subjected to unsparing criticism before they are recognized as divine: whilst some are undoubtably “of God,” others are no less clearly “of the devil.”6

The Next Step

When approached with an appropriate degree of care, the notion of ETs and UFOs can be thought-provoking and good material for sci-fi tales. The possibility of ETs and UFOs point to a broader canvas and, for all we know, the next stage of humanity’s journey through the cosmos.

As with any new and uncharted territory, however, it’s usually unwise to act on blind impulse. Those who believe they inwardly perceive and, perhaps, possess special abilities from ETs would probably do best to err on the side of caution.

Unconventional interior perceptions and alleged psi abilities should be soberly evaluated in the spirit of humility and, in whenever possible, within the context of informed and qualified peers. Predictions should be checked with actual outcomes. Either something happens or it doesn’t. And no amount of ex post facto fudging can change the fact that an ET prophecy didn’t come true. And interior perceptions should be checked within a larger group of qualified peers so that mistakes are identified and corrected. A genuine conversation among real human beings could result in coming to terms with personal issues or, perhaps, revealing faulty information that contributed to a false interpretation of an interior perception.

To rigorously examine a given truth claim is hardly a groundbreaking idea. It’s prominent in religion with the discernment process and in science with the peer review. And there’s no reason why sincere ET and UFO research should be any less responsible.

Image Notes

Image copyright © Michael W. Clark. All rights reserved.

See photo in middle of this article

These lights appear about ½ – ¾ inch below the moon in the original photo posted in the middle of this article (detailed here with enhanced contrast). This is not a UFO but at first I thought it might be. After taking several pictures of the same scene it was clear that the three lights moved in some kind of mathematical relation to the camera angle. I concluded that these lights were a quirk of the camera and am compelled to ask how many other UFO images could be explained this way.


¹ See, for example, Steve Hammons’ article, Extraterrestrials curious about American football?

2 “Psychic Aspects of UFOs” in Ronald Story, ed. The Encyclopedia of UFOs. Doubleday & Co. Garden City, New York: 1980, pp. 286-289.

³ On the belief in reading other people’s thoughts, see Have some people just lost it?

4 (a) George P. Hanson discusses this area in The Trickster and the Paranormal (New York: Xlibris, 2001, pp. 210-248).

(b) The belief in demonic influence is found in almost all religions, myths and folk traditions. See, for instance, Sir J. G. Frazier’s The Golden Bough. Some have attempted to integrate the spiritual view with perspectives from contemporary psychiatry and psychology.

(c) Spiritual seekers sometimes believe that a divine voice foretells the future or outlines the best course of action. Others say God appears to them personally. However, in some cases it’s unclear whether these voices and visions are from God or perhaps a NSI that phrases things and applies specific emotional tones (e.g. firm and domineering or perhaps gentle and loving) to prey on psychologically vulnerable individuals. Similarly, destructive cult leaders manipulate disciples through prolonged psychological, sexual and/or cultic abuse. Victims compensate by believing they’re special or ‘chosen’ vehicles of the divine when, more likely, they’re being duped and exploited by the charismatic leader (and possibly a NSI). Moreover, a cult leader or alleged spirit guide may give victims new names and even induce extraordinary numinous experiences to reinforce a delusional sense of superiority and holiness. Chrystine Oksana points out that victims of prolonged abuse often denounce their families and form ties with a new family, creating new names for themselves to fit with their new self-image. This may be a necessary stage in the overall healing process but the question remains: How many victims abreact their pain and heal from the initial abuse? In addition, Catholics and Muslims accept new names when entering a monastic community. So the issue of taking on a new name is potentially complicated and jumping to the conclusion that it indicates pathology seems unwarranted.

5 Jacques Guillet, Gustave Bardy et. al. (trans.) Sister Innocentia Richards, Ph.D., Discernment of Spirits. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1970, p. 104. Learn more about discernment »

6 Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, New York: New American Library, 1955, p. 361. Likewise, William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience, suggests that some lower forms of mysticism may have “proceeded from the demon” (London: Penguin, 1985, p. 423). See also, An Outline of Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy, Chapter XVI – The ‘Cruder’ Phases.

Further Reading

Ashpole, Edward. The UFO Phenomena. London: Headline, 1995.

Bletzer, June G. The Donning International Encyclopedic Psychic Dictionary. Norfolk, Virginia: The Donning Co., 1986.

Dennet, Preston E. One in Forty: The UFO Epidemic. Commack New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1997.

Frazier, Kendrick et al. (eds.). The UFO Invasion. Amherst New York: Prometheus Books, 1997.

Godwin, Malcolm. Angels: An Endangered Species. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.

Hanson, George P. The Trickster and the Paranormal. New York: Xlibris, 2001.

Hough, Peter A. and Jenny Randles. The Complete Book of UFOs : An Investigation into Alien Contacts and Encounters. London : Piatkus, 1994.

Howe, Linda Moulton. Glimpses of Other Realities, Volume II: High Strangeness. New Orleans, Louisiana: Paper Chase Press, 1998.

Lewis, James R. (ed.). The Gods Have Landed: New Religions From Other Worlds. Albany: State University of New York, 1995.

Matheson, Terry. Alien Abductions. New York: Prometheus Books, 1998.

Story, Ronald D. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of UFO’s. Garden City, New York: Dolphin Books, 1980.

Thompson, Keith. Angels and Aliens: UFO’s and the Mythic Imagination. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1991.

Vallee, Jacques. Forbidden Science. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1992.

Wright, Susan. UFO Headquarters. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Zukerman, Ben and Michael H. Hart. (eds.). Extraterrestrials: Where are They? (second edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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ESP may be useful in defense, health, survival, unconventional areas

Gen. David H. Petraeus chats with Sen. Barack ...

Gen. David H. Petraeus chats with Sen. Barack Obama after a briefing to a congressional delegation via Wikipedia

By Steve Hammons

This article first appeared on Joint Recon Study Group, May 8, 2011; it also appears on American Chronicle, May 11, 2011.

Of the many kinds of so-called anomalous or unusual phenomena, the mysteries of the human mind certainly seem to be among the most interesting.

For example, the extrasensory perception (ESP) techniques and processes generally called “remote viewing” have provided valuable information and insight for U.S. defense and intelligence activities.

Although many of these remote viewers reportedly had better-than-average natural ESP abilities to begin with, it is also conjectured that all people have these sixth-sense perceptions too. However, many people probably don’t recognize their internal hunches and feelings. Further, most of us don’t practice using these awareness skills on important defense and intelligence efforts.

A range of ESP-type perceptual abilities have been referred to as anomalous cognition. We might also call these skills “enhanced situation awareness.”

Following on from the leading-edge health care concepts of integrative medicine and complementary medicine, the terms “integrative perception” and “complementary cognition” have also been proposed as a broader view of ESP.


An inspirational and amazing incident involving U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, current nominee for CIA director, occurred in June 2008. Something very interesting happened that appears to be related to these concepts, including their application in health care as well as defense and intelligence.

That day in 2008 when Petraeus went to visit Army 1st Lieutenant Brian Brennan in the hospital, there was little hope for the 101st Airborne Division officer. He had lost both legs in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Afghanistan. He had suffered extremely serious traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Brennan had been in a coma, unresponsive to medical staff and his family. Petraeus paid his respects and tried saying a few words of support to the comatose 101st lieutenant, also with no response from Brennan. As Petraeus began to leave, a thought struck him.

He thought of the motto, battle cry and touchstone concept of the 101st Airborne: “Currahee.” This is a Cherokee word that means “We stand alone together.”

Petraeus spoke the word aloud to the comatose officer and immediately Brennan began to move his body vigorously. His responsiveness continued to the point where he eventually made an apparent miraculous recovery, according to his family and health care professionals.

When President Barack Obama recently visited the home of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, did this mysterious incident cross his mind? After all, Obama has stated that he has some Cherokee background in his family tree, like millions of other Americans.

And, interestingly, Fort Campbell is located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border in the general area of the ancient and traditional Cherokee homeland of the Appalachian Mountain region.


When a Navy SEAL officer coined the term “transcendent warfare” in a graduate-level research paper for the Marine Corps War College several years ago, he was referring to forward-leaning discoveries and concepts, particularly those related to ESP and remote viewing.

However, this officer did not limit the transcendent warfare concept to the activities of Project STAR GATE and related research into human consciousness.

Rather, he noted that advanced research into a range of unconventional scientific developments could be applied to defense, intelligence and other areas of human endeavor to produce positive results.

When the idea of transcendent warfare is applied as a complementary or integrative component of hard power, soft power and smart power, a follow-on modality of “transcendent power” may be quite useful.

Additionally, when transcendent power is applied to a wider range of activities such as health care, communications, education, technology and various kinds of research and development, we may be able to envision further significant emerging progress.

How wide and deep could such progress be? Could new (or rediscovered) aspects of human perception and awareness contribute to significant change on planet Earth? Could human development itself be impacted by this kind of understanding?

In addition to the serious conventional challenges such as war and terrorism, injury and disease, overpopulation and hunger, poverty and injustice, pollution and climate change, we also may be facing some very unconventional developments.

These challenges could also be approached using a more up-to-date view of human consciousness and new theories in quantum physics about the Universe and Nature.

What are the limits of the application of transcendent power when applied by individuals and groups to even more unusual situations and theories?

For example, can we use advanced perception to verify the existence of an afterlife or Heaven where our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on now reside? Will we be able to confirm that angels do exist and conduct covert operations here in our world?

What about the idea of a larger intelligence – an overarching intelligence that may even have a plan for us?

An even more unconventional area of study involves the reports, rumors and indications that Earth could be visited by unusual beings from other planets, dimensions or times. How would expanded or enhanced human awareness dovetail with such developments? Do certain unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have real significance for national and global defense as well as other human activities?

These questions seem like interesting food for thought.

When we do think about possible future events and outcomes, it could be helpful to remember the work of Project STAR GATE, other advanced research, the concept of transcendent warfare and Gen. Petraeus’ sudden impulse in 2008 to say the word “currahee” to seriously-wounded warrior Lt. Brennan.


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