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ETs – We are not alone… or are we?

I think the biggest problem with stories like this is that they assume ET life would be like ours… both in terms of (1) chemical makeup / physical needs and (2) means of communicating.

Many psychics, introverts and mystics claim to be in contact with ETs. The biggest problem with THAT idea is that we can’t really confirm nor deny their claims. They are probably sensing something. But is it their imagination? Or might they be deceived by unfriendly spiritual powers (along the lines of the Christian notion of the discernment of spirits)?

The more I listen to popular talk shows about ETs, the more some sound like cheesy fronts or covers to me. Or maybe just sheer entertainment hucksterism. I can’t be sure, of course, but it seems like the same old types of somewhat clever/somewhat goofy characters keep reappearing on these broadcasts and podcasts, telling the same kind of kooky stories: Long-winded tales about cattle mutilations, bright overhead lights on the highway, etc.

I think ETs could exist. But not necessarily in the anthropomorphic way they’re often portrayed.


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How cults exploit one of our most basic psychological urges

Sigmund Freud saw all religion and the belief in God as a kind of cultic approach to life. However, Freudian lore suggests that toward the end of his days Freud said he would focus on parapsychology if he could do it all again.  Image – Amazon.com (This image and comment added by earthpages.org and is not part of the original article sourced from http://www.theconversation.com)

Lou Manza, Lebanon Valley College

The new Hulu TV series “The Path” – described by Time as the streaming service’s “best show yet” – centers on a cult-like faith, Meyerism, whose adherents seek fulfillment under the guidance of their leader, Cal.

As pure entertainment, the show seems promising. But as someone who studies human cognition and why people believe scientifically dubious claims, I’m more interested in the real-life versions of Cal – specifically, the needs that leaders of cult-like faiths tap into that make them so attractive to certain people.

The illusion of comfort

An answer to this question can take a variety of forms. One that has gotten a considerable amount of attention over the years is the emotional comfort cults can provide.

California Institute of Technology psychologist Jon-Patrik Pedersen, in attempting to explain why people are drawn to cults, has argued that the human desire for comfort, in the face of fear and uncertainty, leads us to seek outlets that can soothe our anxieties.

In and of itself, the urge to quiet internal demons is not a negative trait. I’d argue that, to the contrary, it’s an effective adaptation that allows us to cope with the stressors, big and small, that bombard us on a regular basis.

However, cult leaders meet this need by making promises that are virtually unattainable – and not typically found anywhere else in society. This, according Pedersen, could include “complete financial security, constant peace of mind, perfect health, and eternal life.”

Beyond exploiting human desire for emotional comfort, cult leaders don’t always have the best intentions when it comes to the mental health of their followers.

Psychiatrist Mark Banschick has pointed out that cult leaders employ mind and behavioral control techniques that are focused on severing followers’ connections to the outside world.

These methods can actually deepen members’ existing emotional insecurities, while encouraging them to become completely reliant on their cult for all their physical and emotional needs. At the same time, they’re often told to sever ties with any friends or relatives who are not part of the group.

Hulu’s new series ‘The Path’ is about a fictional cult group called the Meyerist Movement.
Hulu

This can result in physical and psychological isolation, which actually exacerbates many of the problems, like anxiety and depression, that attracted people to the cult in the first place.

The anxiety and depression can become so overwhelming and feel so insurmountable that the followers feel trapped.

It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to truly tragic consequences, such as the well-documented 1978 Jonestown Massacre, when over 900 people died in a mass murder-suicide carried out under the supervision of cult leader Jim Jones. Then there were the Heaven’s Gate suicides in 1997, when 39 individuals, including cult leader Marshall Applewhite, willingly overdosed on phenobarbital and vodka in the hope of being transported to an alleged alien spaceship flying behind the (real) Hale-Bopp comet.

The case for reason

So just how can one face his or her fears, but avoid the potential danger of cult-like groups?

In a word: rationality.

Seeking reason-based solutions for emotion-focused conditions is by no means a new concept. Unfortunately, rationality is not as intuitively appealing as remedies that simply exploit sentimental cravings.

Sigmund Freud, in his 1927 text “The Future of an Illusion,” argued that religion was a mere mental trick constructed to comfort believers and help them overcome insecurities – even though their acceptance of dogma was irrational. While Freud’s position was focused on mainstream faiths, his highlighting of the emotional comfort central to them is analogous to the role that this element plays in cults.

His solution? Replace religion (or, in the present case, cults) with rational guides for living that deal with problems directly. Are you anxious about your appearance? Eat healthy and exercise regularly. Stressed about relationship problems? Talk directly to your partner in a clear and honest manner to arrive at mutually agreed-upon resolutions.

One could certainly argue that Freud, by highlighting religion’s negative elements, was ignoring the potential positive outcomes correlated with spirituality such as stable relationships, moral grounding and life satisfaction.

But there is no denying that emotions can cloud judgment and result in poor decisions.

For example, Gerd Gigerenzer, a German psychologist who studies decision-making, illustrated the very real consequences of favoring an emotional response over a more data-driven one. In his 2004 analysis of highway fatalities in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, he pointed out how people became afraid of flying in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Many who still needed to travel ended up driving instead of flying in order to reach their destinations.

However, this influx of cars on the road led to approximately 350 more people dying in automobile accidents from October to December of 2001. As Gigerenzer noted, these deaths could likely have been avoided “if the public were better informed about psychological reactions to catastrophic events.”

It’s not easy to simply “use reason over emotion.” The fact that cults continue to exist – and that people continue to play the lottery despite the minuscule chance of winning, or insist on subjecting themselves to unproven cancer treatments such as urine therapy – is a testament to the potency of emotions as behavioral motivators.

Furthermore, this should not be taken as a directive to surrender our emotions, which can enhance human experiences in many ways.

But it’s important to be vigilant, and recognize the value of approaching decisions using logic, especially when emotion-driven choices can lead to negative, life-altering outcomes.

Which of these paths will Cal and his Meyerists pursue? My guess is emotions will win the day. In the fictional world of television, that’s OK.

But for those of us viewing their exploits from our living rooms, perhaps it’s an opportunity to think about our choices, and whether or not our feelings had the final say.

The trailer for ‘The Path.’

The Conversation

Lou Manza, Professor and Department Chair of Psychology, Lebanon Valley College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


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Henry Ford believed in reincarnation

Henry Ford in 1919 via Wikipedia

I don’t really believe in reincarnation, myself. The theory seems too simplistic and limiting. Also, whenever I consider it, my consciousness tends to drop a few levels to something other than the Christian spirituality that I prefer.

But I was bored tonight with my usual pursuits so browsed through my library. I came across a book,  Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology (1961) and found the passage by Henry Ford, tweeted below.

The last two paragraphs at 67 Not Out appear in reverse order in the book. I don’t know who made the mistake, the blogger or the book publisher. But other than that, everything else checks out. So this tweet isn’t some silly internet hoax. Ford really did give the interview mentioned.

There’s also another Ford interview reproduced in the book. This isn’t included in the tweet but both are in the book:

Henry Ford in Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology, The Julian Press New York, 1961, p. 270.

Henry Ford cited in Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology, The Julian Press: New York, 1961, p. 270 (Click image for larger size).

A bit of a wonky scan, I know. I did it with the hand scanner I blogged about yesterday. It’s hard to hold the book and the iPad at the same time. But I chose this version because scanning it with my real scanner would have meant bending back the cover of an old book. I tried it and bad noises started coming from the spine, so I stopped and settled with this scan.

MC


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Rethinking Purgatory


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Though only 1% Hindu, 25% Italians believe in reincarnation & 20% in karma

Illustration of reincarnation – via Wikipedia

Special to Earthpages.org

In a predominantly Christian nation Italy, though only one per cent declared to be Hindu, but a quarter believed in reincarnation and nearly a fifth believed in karma, according to a survey/poll conducted by research firm SWG and published in various media.

Rajan Zed said that this showed that Hinduism concepts developed in ancient Hindu scriptures were gaining universal acceptance beyond the one billion Hindus.

Hinduism had given lot to the world, including the liberation powerhouse yoga, which was highly popular world over for the multiple-benefits it offered, Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out.

Karma, the law of consequence of action or causality of action, first appears in ancient Rig-Veda and later in Brahmanas and Upanisads, and repeated often in Bhagavad-Gita. Reincarnation doctrine finds mention in Brhadaranyaka Upanisad and Chandogya Upanisad. Karma, incorporated with reincarnation, forms a kind of theory of cosmic justice and provides a motivation to improve one’s behavior.

Founded in Trieste in 1981, SWG does market surveys, opinion and institutional polls, sector studies, etc.; analyzing trends and dynamics of the market, politics and society.

Wind, Fire and Earth…

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A treasure trove of a library

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Steven Greer & David Wilcock – The Matrix

Thanks to Shamagaia for forwarding this. I have to admit that I haven’t listened to it fully. But I did click thru and listen to short bursts, to determine if I was familiar with the material. I guess that’s the Digital Age way of what used to be “skimming” over a written article, which if I remember right, was not regarded as a bad habit in high school but, rather, as a valuable skill.

Featured Image -- 26043


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The State of the Science: Parapsychology (Book Review)

Doubtful ~ Sharon Hill

In October of last year I wrote a blog post about a review of a new parapsychology compendium. Finally, I’ve gotten to read the entire book referenced for myself, cover to cover, 400+ pages.

cardena coverParapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century (2015) edited by Etzel Cardeña, John Palmer, David Marcusson-Clavertz

It took about 7 weeks to get through the whole thing. I took copious notes, as I always do, to help me remember and understand. But why do this? Most people have zero interest in academic parapsychology. They can’t even explain what it is or why I might pay any mind to it. Most of my skeptic friends dismiss it outright. I’ve been interested in professional and amateur endeavors in this subject area for 20 years. There are two main reasons why I spent so much time crawling through this book:

  1. I wanted to see what they have to…

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