Interview with Professor Richard Wiseman about his new book “Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t there”

Professor Richard Wiseman

Professor Richard Wiseman

Recently on Strange Frequencies Radio, Korbus and I had the privilege of speaking with Professor Richard Wiseman about his new book “Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t there”.  The interview was amazing and it can be heard here: www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/sfr_show153_hour2.mp3 (right click and save as)

One thing Professor Wiseman told us during the interview was that he was having problems releasing this book in the US.  He went on to explain, that for whatever reason publishers are very reluctant to release a book this skeptical. 

On Professor Wiseman’s blog he wrote:  

“The book has done well in the UK and has been bought by publishers in lots of other countries. However, the major American publishers were reluctant to support a skeptical book, with some suggesting that I re-write it to suggest that ghosts were real and psychic powers actually existed! We didn’t get any serious offers and so it looked like the American public (around 75% of whom believe in the paranormal) wouldn’t get the opportunity to read about skepticism.”

This is a crying shame.  Wiseman openly admits, as he did on SFR, this book isn’t intended for people who already truly believe.  It is more for the people on the fence about paranormal phenomena.  I guess I don’t understand how people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens can be published without being asked to change their opinion on the view of God.  Could you imagine what “The God Delusion” would have been like if Dawkins said at the end “though I am an atheist there is definitely strong evidence to support the existence of God.” 

The fact that the publishers asked Professor Wiseman to re-write that ghosts and psychics exist very insulting, not only to Wiseman but to anyone who has an open mind.  It’s like making Hitchens say “religion is evil, but God is great!” 

Anyway the book is available by going to http://www.richardwiseman.com/Paranormality.shtml pick it up, you won’t be sorry.

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My Interview and Psychic Reading on ParaChallenged Radio

Recently I was a guest on ParaChallenged Radio with hosts Brian Easterwood and Kathy Barts.  I had a lovely time talking about the importance of skepticism, what to watch out for in psychic readings and even got a psychic reading of my own by self proclaimed psychic medium, Angel Garcia (which you will have to listen to in order to see the results).

To download this interview right click and save as: www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/parachallengedbobby.mp3

A Paranormal Debate with CPPI’s KD Foreman

Last Sunday on SFR Jason Korbus and I had a friendly debate on paranormal topics with CPPI’s KD Foreman.  KD and I have gone head to head before on PSI FI Radio, I guess you could call this part two.

To listen to this debate go to www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/sfr_show147_hour2.mp3

Right click on the link and save as.

The Bent Spoon – We’re Still Here – ISSUE 2!

ISSUE 2 OF THE BENT SPOON IS HERE….AGAIN IT’S THE PERFECT PRICE…FREE!!!

BS002

Interview with sociologist Dr. Christopher Bader

In this interview Jason Korbus and I speak to Dr. Christopher Bader. Bader is a professor of Sociology at Baylor University, specializing in the sociology of religion, criminology, and deviant behavior. He, along with colleagues F. Carson Mencken and Joseph O. Baker are the authors of “Paranormal America,” which claims to provide the “definitive portrait of Americans who believe in or have experienced” paranormal phenomena. You can find out more information by visiting online at: WWW.PARANORMALAMERICABOOK.COM

This was a very fascinating interview.  To download or listen to this interview go to: www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/sfr_show140_hour2.mp3 (to download right click and save as.)

“Anatomy of a Bigfoot Hoax” DVD Review

Shortly after conducting the interview with Tom Biscardi I received an email from one of Tom’s “people” offering to send me a review copy of the “Anatomy of a Bigfoot Hoax” DVD.  The interview can be heard by going to https://porkrhine.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/interview-with-bigfoot-hunter-tom-biscardi/

Let me just start off by saying Tom Biscardi is very full of himself and this DVD shows this.  For the first 15 minutes all we see is Tom blabbing about irrelevant nonsense which will quickly lose the attention of anyone watching, I literally had to force myself to pay attention.  Finally after a multitude of terrible transitions we see Tom Biscardi and/or JavaBob sitting in front of a black backdrop telling the same story, almost word for word, that Tom shared on Strange Frequencies. 

Now in the interview I conducted with Tom, I was told that everything he was saying was videotaped and was in the DVD.  I must say that this is an absolute lie, there is about a total of 10 minutes of actual footage and none of it was part of this grand story Tom told on SFR.  No shots of him being blind folded, no shots of this “scary” car ride, no shots of the men with Uzi’s, no shots of the private helicopter, no shots of any of the scientists or people who tested the material that labeled it half man half primate, basically everything that Tom said was “all in the movie” wasn’t in the movie.

We do however see a phone call that was supposed to have been videotaped in 2008.   This is video of JavaBob breaking the news to Tom that the Bigfoot was just a costume.  Though I can’t be 100% sure, I believe that this was faked for the film.  I say this because JavaBob looks exactly the same as he does during the interview portions which were shot in present time.  It was easy to compare, being that there was footage of JavaBob from 2008 and they simply do not match side by side.  Also the footage from this “phone call in 08” was shot with the same camera the documentary was shot with and not the camera that the footage from 2008 was shot with.  It literally looks like JavaBob changed his shirt and staged the phone call.  But the one thing that hung out in my mind was after the phone call was over JavaBob looks at the camera and says “We didn’t hoax anything.”

There are also a few sketchy portions of the film where other phone calls were made, supposedly to Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer, none of which can be confirmed that either was on the phone at that time.  Again this footage was shot with the same quality of film that this documentary was shot with and not the camera all the other 2008 footage was shot with. 

In all I thought this was a lame attempt at Tom Biscardi to try and reconcile his credibility as a Bigfoot hunter.  This video is nothing what Tom makes it out to be, it is just his words, his story and from what I can gather it is not truthful at all.  It looks rehearsed and some footage looks staged, typical Tom Biscardi, I wouldn’t expect anything more.

Interview with Dr. Indre Viskontas

Last night on Strange Frequencies Radio, I was privileged enough to  interview the beautiful Dr. Indre Viskontas.  Dr. Viskontas holds a PhD from UCLA in cognitive neuroscience, focusing her studies on how memories and other cognitive processes are supported by neural networks. Aside from being the Associate Editor of the journal Neurocase and performing in contemporary and classical operas as a soprano, Dr. Viskontas co-stars in the television program “Miracle Detectives”, which aired its first season on the Oprah Winfrey Network. You can find out more about Indre, her career, and her art by visiting her online at: WWW.INDREVISKONTAS.COM

Click here to listen to this wonderful interview with Dr. Indre Viskontas: www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/sfr_show138_hour3.mp3

This Sunday (2/27/11) busy busy busy

For anyone interested, I will be incredibly busy this Sunday; however I invite anyone reading to join me.  Starting from 3-6pm EST at www.strangefrequenciesradio.net you can catch Jason Korbus, Robyn McKinney and myself doing our weekly show.

The show kicks off with our free talk segment. This is where we gab about the latest weird and bizarre news pulled from headlines around the world, get into a discussion about some topic, paranormal or otherwise, and maybe even open the phone lines to get your opinions on the issues of the day.

At 4pm Eastern we’ll talk to Tom Biscardi. In August of 2008, two law enforcement officers from Georgia claimed to be in possession of a Bigfoot body they found while hunting in the woods. They released a series of videos on Youtube which went viral, and even had a live press conference on CNN. It was all a hoax. There was no Bigfoot body. One of the people at the center of the fallout was a Bigfoot researcher named Tom Biscardi, who claims he was not only duped, but that his group, Searching For Bigfoot, was swindled out of $50,000. Mr. Biscardi, a Bigfoot hunter with over 35 years of experience, joins us today to bring to light what he calls the true, never before told story of the events behind the event known as “Bigfoot Black Friday” as chronicled in the newly released film “Anatomy of a Bigfoot Hoax.” To find out more information, visit: WWW.SEARCHINGFORBIGFOOT.COM

It should seriously be a good time; you don’t want to miss it. 

From 7-8pm EST I will be a guest on Behind the Paranormal with Paul and Ben Eno and you can check them out at www.behindtheparanormal.com.   We will be discussing how I went from true believer to skeptic, the “theories” and methodology of ghost hunters and criticisms of western science and epistemology. 

From 8-9pm EST I will be returning to L.E.P. Radio over at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lepradio to talk about healthy skepticism, the history of paranormal investigation and its reliability. 

Hopefully you all join me, if you are unable I will post direct download links when they become available.

I Remember…

I am sure everyone reading this can remember in detail what they were doing when they heard about the catastrophic events of September 11th, 2001.  I remember it very clearly, I supposed everyone would, such tragic events seem to stay imprinted in our memory.

What I was doing when I heard the news.

I remember I was in Mr. Wade’s Information Technology (IT) class.  Everything started off normal at about 8:35am; however that would change very soon.  I am not to certain of the time, maybe about 20 minutes into class a teacher from across the hall named Ms. Eade ran into our class room hysterically screaming “They just bombed us, we are under attack!”  The kid I was sitting next to, Yahia, quickly went to some news website where he read out loud about the plane that had crashed into the WTC, it was still speculation if this was an accident or an attack .  We quickly evacuated our class room and ended up being split up into two class rooms, Mr. Kregel and Mr. Nuendorf’s rooms.  I remember this distinctly because they both had their class room televisions on.  After watching for a short while, I saw the second plane crash into the south tower live on television.

Again I cannot begin to tell you how clear this memory is for me.  It is so vivid I would have actually bet 1 million dollars that the events I described took place exactly how I described them.  To prove my accuracy I devised a small and simple experiment.  I would simply ask 3 of my friends whom I stayed close with over the years, how they remembered hearing the news of 9/11/2001.  Now these 3 individuals were all with me when we heard the news, we were all in the same IT class.

Jeremy’s account

Class had just started when out of nowhere Mr. Nuendorf ran into our room yelling “the twin towers have been attacked.” Mr. Wade told us to stop what we were doing and to get onto the internet and find out what was going on.  After a couple minutes we all gathered in the back of the class room and turned the TV on.  As soon as we turned on the television the second plane crash into the World Trade Center. 

When I asked Jeremy if he would give his recollection of events a 10 out of 10 for accuracy, he responded with yes.

Kevin’s account

We found out in IT class with Mr. Wade.  People kept saying NYC was under attack.  Mr. Wade checked the internet and confirmed that something big was happening.   Quickly Mr. Wade wheeled a TV into class and we watched it on the news.  I remember this like it was yesterday because it was a tragic day.   Things like that don’t happen every day and its burns an everlasting memory of that day into your brain.

When I asked Kevin if he would give his recollection of events a 10 out of 10 for accuracy, he responded with yes.

Yahia’s account

So it was 2nd period and I had a calculus test with Mr. Hershey. Shit I remembered that I didn’t study that day and I was fretting if I was not going to pass or not. About 15 minutes into the test, someone yells out “they hit the twin towers”….I just came from Mr. Wade’s class, so everyone in Mr. Hershey’s class went to Mr. Wade and watched the planes crash into the twin towers. Everyone freaked out….rumors spread fast that the Arabs were the ones and seeing how I am an Arab, I was targeted very fast.

When I asked Yahia if he would give his recollection of events a 10 out of 10 for accuracy, he responded with yes.

After reading each of these memories, I was blown away.  The only thing that seems consistent with all four of our stories is we were all at school when 9/11/2001 happened.  I mean the one guy, Yahia, who I swear was sitting next to me and read the news out loud to the class claims he didn’t know anything about the attacks until second period (IT class was first period).  Some remember Mr. Nuendorf in the memory, others don’t.  This is very interesting to me, because it simply shows how distorted memory can get.  Like I said before, all four of us were together in the same class yet we all have very different description of events.  So who is right?  Like I said I would bet 1 million dollars my account is the accurate version, but that doesn’t do any good when the other 3 are just as confident their account is the accurate description.  We were all there for 9/11/2001; I will even say we were most likely all in the same room when it happened, what I cannot say is whose depiction is exact.  This even means I have to doubt my own recollection of the event, as hard as that may be. 

So if something so tragic like 9/11/2001 can happen and those memories can’t be recalled correctly how can people trust the “true” stories people like Bob Gimlin share at Bigfoot conventions?  How could Gimlin successfully recollect an event that happened in 1967?  The same question should be asked to people who retold the story of Roswell decades later, how can those memories be trusted?  Well, the answer is they can’t be.

It isn’t that people are lying about the events that took place, they may really believe it happened the way they say it did, however that doesn’t make it true.  I remember Yahia confirming the twin towers had been hit by a plane in the Mr. Wades IT class; Yahia remembers being in Mr. Hershey’s calculus class when he heard the news.  Which was it?  It couldn’t have been both.

This also shows that you can’t rely on memory as fact.  For instance, I talk to many people who are “ghost hunters”.  They like to present me with electronic voice phenomena (E.V.P.) and ask “how can you explain that?”  Well 98% of the time they are not looking for an explanation they are just looking for me to confirm it is a ghost – but I digress.  I usually say well we can’t rule out people whispering, the response I always get is “I know no one was talking because I was there,” or “well I can rule out talking, because I was there in the room and no one made a sound.” Again I know we went to Mr. Nuendorf’s room to watch the news on 9/11 and Kevin knows we watched the news in the front of the IT classroom.  I know Ms. Eade came in screaming about the attack, Jeremy knows it was Mr. Nuendorf who came in telling us about the attack.  Memory cannot be trusted; it’s as simple as that.

So before you go professing your personal experiences as fact because you remember the account so vividly, remember memory is a flawed thing.  Question everything, even things you feel are certain.

 

An Oldie but Goodie – Toss Out The Q-Tips, Bring In The Ear Candles

Anyone who has ever held a job knows that people in the workplace often engage in conversations completely unrelated to work. Recently, a woman in the customer service department at my job has been praising a form of alternative medicine called thermal-auricular therapy also know as ear candling. After overhearing a couple of women talking about how amazing ear candling was, I couldn’t help but involve myself in the discussion.
 
Although I don’t remember what was said word for word, I was basically told that using cotton swabs, or Q-Tips, to clean my ears was not only ineffective at removing the ear wax but it was also very dangerous. Instead I should be using ear candles. Intrigued by this claim, I asked how they worked. Sadly none of the women knew the science behind this technique. They proceeded to tell me how great their ears felt after using them and that the best part was cutting open the base at the end to reveal just how much ear wax was removed from the ear.
 
Instantly something went off in my brain telling me that this was crap but still I asked where I could purchase some of these “amazing” candles. I figured I was going to have to order them online, but I was surprised to find out that they are readily available my local all natural store Bassett’s Health Foods. After work I picked up a tape recorder and went to purchase some ear candles. As soon as I walked in I noticed the candles behind the cash register and quickly got in line to purchase them. In front of me there were 3 individuals standing in line and I was absolutely shocked to watch each person buy 6 candles a piece. “Is this really that popular?” I thought to myself.
 
Just before going up to the counter I turned on my audio recorder and started to play dumb. Below is the actual conversation I had with the two women behind the counter
.
Me: Hi. Some people at my work told me I shouldn’t use Q-Tips but I should
(I was quickly cut off)
Girl 1: Ear candles!
Me: Yes, ear candles. I was just wondering how do they work?
Girl 1: Um (she grabbed one of the candles) you light this end of it (pointing to the top of the candle) and stick this part into your ear canal (the bottom part of the candle) and what happens is it forms a vacuum sucking all the ear wax out of your ear.
Me: So that’s all there is to it?
Girl 1: Basically, I can give you an instruction sheet as well.
Me: Thank you, I will take a couple of those (talking about the ear candles).
Girl 2: Your supposed to use 2 to 3 per ear.
Me: Really? Why?
Girl 2: Because the first one is what we call a starter, but the second and third one are what really cleans the ear.
Me: Alrighty, I will try 4 for now.
Girl 2: It feels amazing.
Girl 1: I know, it really does, I am going to do mine tonight.
Girl 2: You’re really going to love it (talking to me).
Girl 1: Yea, Q-Tips usually push the ear wax back into your ear, so you really shouldn’t use them.
Me: Really? So basically this is just going to form a vacuum and suck the ear wax out instead?
Girl 2: Exactly, but if you have any other questions just ‘YouTube’ ear candling.
Me: Thank you, I will.
Girl 2: Like I said you are going to love it. I didn’t think it would work until I tried it myself and it feels great. When you are done you can open up the candles and look at all the wax it sucked out of your ear. Its really gross.
Me. Yea, that sounds gross. Well thank you again.
Girl 1: Have a nice day.
Me: You too.
 

I thought it was fascinating and very informational that the clerks told me to ’YouTube’ instead of providing me with helpful information. Nonetheless, I went home to try a simple experiment. What I planned on doing was use 2 candles in one ear and set up a box where I could stand up the candles in a similar way as to how they are place in the ear. I wanted to see if these candles really sucked the ear wax out of your ear, or if this nasty orange residue people are seeing can be produced if the candle is not in your ear.
 
So I lit the top of the first candle and laid on the couch sticking the bottom into my ear canal. Immediately my ear was filled with the noise of crackling and popping, similar to listening to a bowl of Rice Krispies. I could feel the heat inside of my ear, and the only thought I kept thinking was “Q-Tips are dangerous? I have a lit candle in my ear.”


 
One thing I didn’t know was that it takes a fairly long time for each candle to burn. It took about 8 to 10 minutes for the candle to reach the point to where it should be extinguished. Though that may not sound like a long time, I promise you, laying there holding one of these candles and hoping to God you don’t accidentally burn your house down in the process seems like an eternity. After the first candle was finished I started the same process for candle number two.


 
After the relief of finishing my ear candling and not burning down my house, I continued to the second part of my experiment. I took a cereal box which I poked two holes into, and carefully set up the remaining 2 candles and lit both at the same time (might as well get both done at once).

When they were finished I carefully extinguished them and placed each set on 2 different napkins and carefully opened them. I wanted to see if the set I used on my ear pulled out ear wax and the second set was clean or if both sets would produce the same results. I opened up the set I used on my ears first, to my amazement I saw the nasty yellow orange residue everyone was talking about. It looked just like ear wax. I moved onto the set that were place in the holes on the cereal box and just as I thought, the same exact results.

This one was used in the ear This one was used in the ear
These were done in the box These were done in the box

So unless the cereal boxed produced ear wax, I think its safe to say that this yellow/orange substance is in fact the wax of the candle itself.

After researching a little bit on ear candles I found out that they are said to cure many ailments. These ailments include cleansing the ear of wax, relieving sinus infections, strengthening the brain to stabilizing emotions, aligning your chakras and healing your auras. I also found out in my research that ear candles are actually very dangerous. The major threat associated with using ear candles is the possibility of burning yourself. There is also the possibility that hot wax from the candle may also drip down into ones ear causing obstructions in the canal. Another dangerous and potential irreversible side effect is the perforation of ones eardrum. There has even a reported death by someone using ear candles. A report of a 59 year old woman accidentally ignited her bedding after dropping the ear candle. Although she didn’t die in the house, she did die later at the hospital. Very sad and unfortunate.
 
Besides the dangers of using ear candles, research shows that it is not even possible for the candles to suck the wax out of your ear. The amount of force the candles would have to use to suck out the wax of ones ear would actually cause the ear drum to rupture. These candles don’t even produce any type of vacuum. Furthermore, researchers found that these candles do not remove wax, but actually deposit wax into the ear instead.
 
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) strongly advises against the use of ear candles because there is no scientific evidence to support any health benefits, even by following the directions. The FDA is also very concerned because some ear candle manufacturers are suggesting the use of this treatment in children and infants. This is extremely dangerous because the ear canals are smaller and children and infants are more likely to move during the procedure.
 
This is very valuable information. I now feel obligated to pass on this knowledge to people who may not know about the dangers associated with ear candles. What started out as just a way to find out if these candles are bunk or not turned into something much more. I hope this finds many readers and opens the eyes of those who use these candles and/or are thinking about using them. They are seriously very dangerous and should not be used under any circumstances.
 
References:
http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html
http://newyorkcity.injuryboard.com/fda-and-prescription-drugs/ear-candles-and-candling-are-a-dangerous-health-scam-says-fda.aspx?googleid=278518