Ruth Anne’s Peaceable Kingdom

January 18, 2011 at 2:41 am (By Amba)

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Maybe you and I are not our brain….

January 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm (By Ron)

…but maybe Hitler is!

— from the Psychotronic classic, They Saved Hitler’s Brain

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Ashes to Ashes…

January 14, 2011 at 9:54 pm (By Randy)

(Detroit in Ruins in The Observer)

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Perspective Matters

January 14, 2011 at 9:38 pm (By Randy)

(Click to enlarge for readability. Sorry, but don’t recall where I found it)

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What’s in a Name?

January 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm (By Randy)

Wondering if our resident copy editor has any reaction to the news that Reince Priebus has been elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The reaction of those in the news industry is probably best summed up here:

Read the rest of this entry »

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More Quantum Woo

January 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm (By Realpc)

Oh the pseudo-skeptics are gonna hate this. Luc Montagnier won a Nobel prize for his HIV research, but now he studies memory in water. The same thing that Benveniste was studying when his career was destroyed by Amazing Randi. New Scientist just published this story. It requires a subscription but I found it somewhere and am posting it here. And there is this story at

So was Benveniste right after all, as I always thought? Montagnier is demonstrating weird quantum effects at normal temperatures and time frames. The pseudo-skeptics are always laughing about quantum woo, but I don’t think they will laugh very much about this.

Scorn over claim of teleported DNA

• 12 January 2011 by Andy Coghlan
• Magazine issue 2795. Subscribe and save
• For similar stories, visit the Quantum World Topic Guide
Editorial: “Why we have to teleport disbelief”
A Nobel prizewinner is reporting that DNA can be generated from its teleported “quantum imprint”
A STORM of scepticism has greeted experimental results emerging from the lab of a Nobel laureate which, if confirmed, would shake the foundations of several fields of science. “If the results are correct,” says theoretical chemist Jeff Reimers of the University of Sydney, Australia, “these would be the most significant experiments performed in the past 90 years, demanding re-evaluation of the whole conceptual framework of modern chemistry.”
Luc Montagnier, who shared the Nobel prize for medicine in 2008 for his part in establishing that HIV causes AIDS, says he has evidence that DNA can send spooky electromagnetic imprints of itself into distant cells and fluids. If that wasn’t heretical enough, he also suggests that enzymes can mistake the ghostly imprints for real DNA, and faithfully copy them to produce the real thing. In effect this would amount to a kind of quantum teleportation of the DNA.
Many researchers contacted for comment by New Scientist reacted with disbelief. Gary Schuster, who studies DNA conductance effects at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, compared it to “pathological science”. Jacqueline Barton, who does similar work at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was equally sceptical. “There aren’t a lot of data given, and I don’t buy the explanation,” she says. One blogger has suggested Montagnier should be awarded an IgNobel prize.
Yet the results can’t be dismissed out of hand. “The experimental methods used appear comprehensive,” says Reimers. So what have Montagnier and his team actually found?
Full details of the experiments are not yet available, but the basic set-up is as follows. Two adjacent but physically separate test tubes were placed within a copper coil and subjected to a very weak extremely low frequency electromagnetic field of 7 hertz. The apparatus was isolated from Earth’s natural magnetic field to stop it interfering with the experiment. One tube contained a fragment of DNA around 100 bases long; the second tube contained pure water.
After 16 to 18 hours, both samples were independently subjected to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method routinely used to amplify traces of DNA by using enzymes to make many copies of the original material. The gene fragment was apparently recovered from both tubes, even though one should have contained just water (see diagram).
DNA was only recovered if the original solution of DNA – whose concentration has not been revealed – had been subjected to several dilution cycles before being placed in the magnetic field. In each cycle it was diluted 10-fold, and “ghost” DNA was only recovered after between seven and 12 dilutions of the original. It was not found at the ultra-high dilutions used in homeopathy.
Physicists in Montagnier’s team suggest that DNA emits low-frequency electromagnetic waves which imprint the structure of the molecule onto the water. This structure, they claim, is preserved and amplified through quantum coherence effects, and because it mimics the shape of the original DNA, the enzymes in the PCR process mistake it for DNA itself, and somehow use it as a template to make DNA matching that which “sent” the signal (
“The biological experiments do seem intriguing, and I wouldn’t dismiss them,” says Greg Scholes of the University of Toronto in Canada, who last year demonstrated that quantum effects occur in plants. Yet according to Klaus Gerwert, who studies interactions between water and biomolecules at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, “It is hard to understand how the information can be stored within water over a timescale longer than picoseconds.”
It is hard to understand how the information can be stored in water for more than picoseconds

“The structure would be destroyed instantly,” agrees Felix Franks, a retired academic chemist in London who has studied water for many years. Franks was involved as a peer reviewer in the debunking of a controversial study in 1988 which claimed that water had a memory (see “How ‘ghost molecules’ were exorcised”). “Water has no ‘memory’,” he says now. “You can’t make an imprint in it and recover it later.”
Despite the scepticism over Montagnier’s explanation, the consensus was that the results deserve to be investigated further. Montagnier’s colleague, theoretical physicist Giuseppe Vitiello of the University of Salerno in Italy, is confident that the result is reliable. “I would exclude that it’s contamination,” he says. “It’s very important that other groups repeat it.”
In a paper last year (Interdisciplinary Sciences: Computational Life Sciences, DOI: 10.1007/s12539-009-0036-7), Montagnier described how he discovered the apparent ability of DNA fragments and entire bacteria both to produce weak electromagnetic fields and to “regenerate” themselves in previously uninfected cells. Montagnier strained a solution of the bacterium Mycoplasma pirum through a filter with pores small enough to prevent the bacteria penetrating. The filtered water emitted the same frequency of electromagnetic signal as the bacteria themselves. He says he has evidence that many species of bacteria and many viruses give out the electromagnetic signals, as do some diseased human cells.
Montagnier says that the full details of his latest experiments will not be disclosed until the paper is accepted for publication. “Surely you are aware that investigators do not reveal the detailed content of their experimental work before its first appearance in peer-reviewed journals,” he says.
How ‘ghost molecules’ were exorcised

The latest findings by Luc Montagnier evoke long-discredited work by the French researcher Jacques Benveniste. In a paper in Nature (vol 333, p 816) in 1988 he claimed to show that water had a “memory”, and that the activity of human antibodies was retained in solutions so dilute that they couldn’t possibly contain any antibody molecules (New Scientist, 14 July 1988, p 39).
Faced with widespread scepticism over the paper, including from the chemist Felix Franks who had advised against publication, Nature recruited magician James Randi and chemist and “fraudbuster” Walter Stewart of the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to investigate Benveniste’s methods. They found his result to be “a delusion”, based on a flawed design. In 1991, Benveniste repeated his experiment under double-blind conditions, but not to the satisfaction of referees at Nature and Science. Two years later came the final indignity when he was suspended for damaging the image of his institute. He died in October 2004.
That’s not to say that quantum effects must be absent from biological systems. Quantum effects have been proposed in both plants and birds. Montagnier and his colleagues are hoping that their paper won’t suffer the same fate as Benveniste’s.

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Christmas Clowning [UPDATED]

January 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm (By Amba)

Ridi, Pagliacci,” but not the original version — Donald O’Conner in Singin’ in the Rain.

UPDATE: Better view of the foam rubber reindeer antlers.

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The Pseudo-Skeptics Fight Back

January 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm (By Realpc)

Parapsychology has been out of style for a long time. Maybe this is partly because of James Randi, who devoted his career to debunking psychics. Randi became famous when he, supposedly, exposed Uri Geller as a fake on a live TV show. I doubt that Geller is a total fake, although anyone who makes their living on these unreliable and fickle abilities must use trickery at least part of the time. Anyway, Randi became famous and “smart” people became skeptical of anyone who claimed to have psychic abilities. Randi offered a million dollar prize to anyone who could demonstrate these abilities, and the prize has never been won. If you argue with a pseudo-skeptic materialist, their argument will always depend mainly on this fact.

I don’t know why no one has won the Randi prize, and there could be various reasons. But the field of parapsychology has suffered. Parapsychology has been around for about as long as experimental psychology, both having begun somewhere around the turn of the 20th century. In both of these sciences, something called inferential statistics are used. And this is also the case in various other branches of science, such as medical research.

Parapsychology has been respectable at times, but in recent decades it has not been, in general. There are a very small number of parapsychologists working in universities. I only know of two in America, Dean Radin and Gary Schwartz. Mainstream scientists mostly ignore parapsychology, and mainstream journals have refused to publish the research. Well until just recently that is.

Daryl Bem of Cornell University did some high quality experiments that seem to demonstrate precognition. That is not so surprising if you already have an open mind about the paranormal. What is surprising is that a mainstream psychology journal accepted the research for publication.

Bem is a respected psychologist at a respected university. He does not think precognition is ridiculous or impossible. He does think it is compatible with current knowledge in physics. So maybe those of us who believe in psi are not all complete idiots and wackos after all.

Of course, the pseudo-skeptical materialists are fighting back. They are assuring us that the experiments will never be replicated (scientific research cannot be accepted until it has been repeated, and therefore verified, by independent researchers). As far as I know, others have already done similar precognition studies, so it has already been replicated. But 3 recent attempts have failed. That is not surprising given the tricky and unreliable nature of psi.

The pseudo-skeptics are also telling us that the effect sizes were small, and therefore can’t be trusted. For example, in one experiment subjects’ hit rate was 53%, when 50% was expected by chance. But Bem was not trying to show that people are constantly gazing into the future with ease. We are influenced by the future in subtle ways. If we had constant easy access to the future, this would be a very different kind of world.

The point of using inferential statistics is to show that an effect,  however small, is probably real. The pseudo-skeptics are skeptical of these statistical tests when they are used in parapsychology. But  when          they are used in psychology or medicine, for example, the pseudo-skeptics have no problem with them.

The pseudo-skeptics also complain that Bem has not provided an explanation for how precognition might work. Without an explanation, they are unwilling to accept any kind of evidence. Well that is ridiculous. No one can explain how gravity works, for example, yet we still believe it exists. Most things are not explained.

It will be interesting to see if Bem’s precognition research is replicated. Parapsychology might become respectable again. But more importantly, mainstream science might be forced to finally let go of materialism. Minds that were closed might be forced open.

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The Honeymoon is (Finally!) Over.

January 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm (By Amba)

When you hear something three times, it no longer sounds like a coincidence and it gets your attention.

What I’ve heard at least three times this holiday season, as people — including at least one hard-core tech head — left for family gatherings or beach vacations or cruises, was:  “I’m not taking my computer.”  Often followed by, “And I won’t get a phone signal.”

Have you heard this?  Or maybe even said it?

Vacation has, at last, become a getaway from electronics and virtual worlds and incessant, obsessive non-face-to-face communication.  We now take our refreshment in what the tech heads used to contemptuously call “meat world”:  the old world of the senses, movement, handclasps, facial expressions.  Electronic communication and information sharing is a life-changing, world-changing marvel, but it also has severe limitations — sensory, social, emotional — and we’ve hit that wall.  Enthrallment has turned to humdrum and even harassment.  Screens are, finally, flat, and they can make you feel for all the world like a transfer ironed onto a T-shirt.

I think this is a good thing, in that it restores a sense of proportion and of appreciation for poor old jilted reality.  I’m not suggesting that people should throw away their computers (I’m writing this on a computer), only that it’s a good sign that we can get sick of them.

(Another of the biggest tech heads I know — a professional in the field — got off the plane back from a conference on digital publishing and left his iPad in the back-of-seat pocket.)

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The Black Swan

January 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm (By Realpc)

I saw the movie The Black Swan the other day, and I resonated with it on several different levels. I actually felt my soul blazing throughout the whole movie. It’s about the ballet Swan Lake, which I have never seen (but now of course I want to see it). The main theme of the movie is, I would say, the universal human struggle with the Shadow.

The main character, Nina, is a carefully controlled perfectionist, a young woman still tied to her mother. She never lets go, and therefore the Shadow bursts out in strange ways. Nina scratches her skin until it bleeds, and experiences psychotic hallucinations.

She will be a great artist as soon as she learns one more lesson — how to accept the deep violent passion within her. And by the end of the movie, she has learned.

Anyone who has read any of my posts might know that I believe in trying to face Reality. Rather than escape into comforting fantasies and ideologies, I try to see what is there and find ways to live with it.

The post that I think expressed my philosophy best was, by a strange Jungian “coincidence,” about swans on a lake. We look at swans gliding effortlessly and we never think about the hard ugly reality that supports their beauty.

We think that grace and beauty can be manufactured and maintained by us, by our cleverness. Our mythology tells us that we are gods, that we are in control.

We are not. Just like Nina, everything we fear and hate rages within and around us. Our deepest love and desire rests on the Shadow. Our greatest and most perfect artistic expressions rest on the Shadow.

How could any so-called “progressive” ever reconcile these horrible blazing truths with their bland fantasies of peace and fairness for all?

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