Conversation with a Friend

So I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today.  It started off with us bsing around and somehow evolved into a talk on the paranormal, which most of my conversations develop into some way or another. 

Anyway as we dove into the realm of the paranormal certain topics came up in our discussion.  First we were talking about psychics.  My friend made a statement saying “you and I have our differences on our beliefs.  But I do think this guy is a sham.” (I am sorry I have no idea who the psychic was he was talking about)  As I read this, I found it a bit puzzling; did he think that I thought all psychics were shams?  Certainly I have never made that claim, so I explained my exact stance on this subject.

It isn’t that I think all psychics are shams, there may indeed be a legit psychic out there somewhere in the world…I don’t know.  However, there is no positive evidence to support the legitimacy of someone who claims to have psychic powers.  That is what I rely on, positive evidence.  If a person with legitimate psychic abilities could perform their skill under scientific observation in a controlled setting and show positive results; that would be enough for me to say “there is something to this.”  But I would just like say again; I have never said psychic abilities do not exist, as James Randi often says “I can’t afford to make that type of claim.”

Next we jumped into one of my favorite paranormal subjects, the ghost box.  I wrote an article on a few tests I have done on the legitimacy of this specific device which can be read here https://porkrhine.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/ghost-box-tales-from-a-broken-radio/ but again I hold the same stance on this as I did with psychics.  There is no positive evidence that this device can really provide any contact with spirits or entities; however that doesn’t mean that this box (broken radio) can’t transmit the voices and words of the deceased.  I believe that there are many reasons why this ghost box device fails any type of positive testing and I personally think there is nothing to it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work…I could be the one who is wrong.  Again I rely on scientific evidence, but that isn’t to say that one day I won’t hear something that may convince me personally, that could happen.  For example if I were to record a conversation with my dead grandfather and he was telling me information that no one on earth could know, I may say “alright, I believe,” or I would at least think it is possible that this device is in some way a telephone to the dead.  However that has never happened and I doubt it ever will.  But that brings us to another point, which for some reason is hard for a lot of people to grasp.  What is proof?

Proof is defined as evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.  By this definition, nothing in the realm of the paranormal has been established as truth.  I have had many conversations with people who say something to the effect of “I have had personal proof that the paranormal is real.”  Ok, fine, however personal proof that can’t provide sufficient evidence to establish it as something true, it isn’t proof.  I guess what I am trying to say is, though a personal experience may “prove” that the paranormal exists to you, doesn’t mean it exists or that it is proof positive.  For example, someone may have an amazing experience where they see a full torso apparition walking throughout the house and it disappears into the wall; that might be enough to convince someone that ghosts exist, but that doesn’t mean that they do.  So there is a huge difference between personal “proof” and proof.   

This was actually the meat and potatoes of the conversation with my good friend.  He made a comment that he doesn’t believe I would accept that the ghost box is ever legitimate and I said I might if I had the experience I mentioned above about speaking with my grandfather.  He then proceeded to ask me about a specific situation where I didn’t accept and or admit that the ghost box was saying something that in his opinion was obviously saying.  Well if people don’t know, I am co-host on Strange Frequencies Radio (www.strangefrequenciesradio.net) and was talking about show episode 134, hour 2.  We interviewed Steve Hill, a man who claims to be an electronic medium and ghost box enthusiast.  He sent in a few of his samples which he found to be amazing and crystal clear.  My friend thought I was being closed to the possibility that the box was actually giving a direct and correct response to Steve’s question.  He also argued many people in the chat room and even my co-hosts heard what the answer was.  Ok, fine, the reason why I didn’t want to make a comment on the particular audio sample was because I was already primed to hear the response because the response was the name of the file that was sent.  So I didn’t think it was fair to me or my sense to say I heard something after I knew what to look for.  I would also like to speak on behalf of my co-hosts and say that they may have said ok that’s what it sounds like, doesn’t mean they give the ghost box credit or even conclusively agree that the ghost box was really saying anything.

However even if I wasn’t primed, and I heard the one syllable word that the box was claimed to have said, that still wouldn’t be enough for me to say that there is something to the ghost box, I mean not even close.  There are also other factors we have to consider, how long was Steve trying to get a response?  How many times did Steve ask the question before he got what he thought was a response?  What if I took the audio, played it for 50 people (like I have done with Steve’s audio before, I have to mention it has always been different answers than what Steve thought the box to be saying) and 40 people heard the same thing but it was different then what Steve thought it was saying, but 10 people heard what Steve said the box was saying…are the 40 other people lying?  My point is, a one syllable word isn’t extraordinary evidence to this extraordinary claim.

Thank you for reading.

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The Great Paranormal Debate

Last night I was a guest on PSI-FI Talk Radio.  The name of the show was titled “The Great Paranormal Debate” with me taking the side of the skeptic.  I was up against clairsentient KD Foreman of California Paranormal Private Investigations (CPPI) and we went through a load of topics all paranormal related.  If anyone is interested in listening you will find the download below.

Direct Download Link (Right Click and Save Target As): http://www.blogtalkradio.com/psi-fi-para-radio/2011/02/17/the-great-paranormal-debate-with-bobby-nelson-and-kd-foreman.mp3?localembed=download

A Dead Ringer

One of my favorite things to do when bringing in the new year is watch the Twilight Zone marathon that plays on SyFy every year.  This year two episodes caught my attention more than the others.  The first one which aired in 1961 was titled “Long Distance Call” and the second one was called “Night Call” and it aired in 1964. 

Long Distance Call synopsis

In this episode we see a 5 year old child named Billy Bayles who is having a very nice birthday party with his parents and grandmother.  When Billy opens his presents he receives a toy telephone from his grandmother.  The grandmother explains to Billy that she doesn’t have much time left and when she is gone all Billy has to do is pick up the phone and they will be able to talk anytime he wants.  Well just as grandma predicts, she passes away soon after Billy’s birthday bash.  A few weeks have passed and Billy’s mother overhears Billy having an interesting conversation on his “toy” telephone.  When Billy is asked who he is talking to, he simply replies “grandma”.  Well come to find out, somehow grandma has been contacting Billy through this “toy” telephone and she is trying to convince her beloved grandson to commit suicide so he may join her in the afterlife.  Billy almost successful in one of his attempts is quickly resuscitated after a heartfelt plea given by the boy’s father to his deceased mother, Billy’s grandmother.    

Night Call synopsis

An old woman by the name of Elva Keene starts receiving anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night.  Freaked out by this she has the operator trace the phone calls.  Again she receives an anonymous phone call and Elva demands the person to speak in which a creepy male voice is heard saying “Hello? Where are you? I want to talk to you.”  Terrified Elva screams at the person to leave her along and hangs up the phone.   Again Elva contacts the operator who says that cause of the mysterious phone calls is from a fallen power line in the cemetery.  Elva has her housekeeper take her to visit the cemetery only to find that the fallen power line is lying over the grave of her dead fiancé.  Elva explains to her housekeeper that when she was younger she was very adamant in getting what she wanted; her fiancé Brian Douglas always did what she wanted.  A short time before they were to be married Elva wanted to drive somewhere when she lost control of the car, resulting in Brian’s death and Elva being crippled.  Once Elva realized that it was her lost love Brian contacting her, this gave her peace and Elva is excited because she no longer has to be lonely.  When Elva returns home she picks up the phone and explains to Brian what happened and begs for him to talk.  After a few moments Brian finally answers telling Elva that she told him to leave her alone and he always does what she says.  Elva begs for Brian to come back but the line goes dead.

So what these two episodes have in common are these phantom phone calls from beyond the grave.  Lately I have been seeing more of these stories surface in the paranormal community.  My question is where did these stories originate?  It is obvious the story has been around since the early 60’s being that the Twilight Zone has made wonderful works of fiction out of them.

 I know that there is an urban legend that is very similar to these stories in which a woman is found dead with a frightened look on her face and in her hand she is holding her telephone.  When the family goes to entomb her body with her husband they find the phone in the crypt off the hook.     

According to snopes (urban legend website) this tale originates from the fear of being buried alive.  In the 18th and 19th century a bunch of different devices would be placed on the gravesite such as bells, buzzers and flags.  They would be used to get the attention of people in case the one in the grave should happen to wake up. 

Again the story above is just an urban legend but like all great urban legends it is very fascinating to watch the tale grow over time.   The story starts off with the dead sending messages using the telephone.  Then there were stories of the dead leaving messages on answering machines.  Now the dead send messages with cell phones, text messages, instant messages and email.  As communication technology grows, so does the story.

I would like to mention that I have read the story of Charles Peck and I don’t find it the least bit convincing that the dead make phone calls to the living.  In fact I would like to state I haven’t found any evidence that the dead can make contact with the living at all, nor that anything exists after death. 

But anyway the story goes like this: On September 12th 2008 at approximately 4:22 P.M. a train carrying 225 passengers crashed at a collective speed of 83 mph with a freight train.  This happened in San Fernado Valley in California and has been dubbed the Chatsworth crash.  135 people were injured, 85 were hospitalized and 25 died. 

One of the men who had died in the crash was a man named Charles Peck.  Now this is where I start getting mixed information, one story says Peck was on his way to meet his fiancé, others say he was going to a job interview, others say his fiancé was picking him up from the train station along with his family and siblings.

Peck was found 12 hours after the crash and coroners said he died on impact; however in other stories I have read, they also said his age was 58 which they later corrected to 49.  So if this is true perhaps it’s possible he didn’t die on impact, I don’t know I am not in a position to make that call.  Anyway for the first 11 hours Charles Peck made some phone calls to his loved ones which included his son, his fiancé, his step mother and his sister.  Yet every time they answered the phone all the heard was static, when they called him back it went right to voicemail. 

Supposedly the way Police found his body was by tracing his cell phone signal, but to make the story more eerie; Peck’s cell phone was never found.    

So in the case of Charles Peck, I have no real evidence that the story is true (the cell phone part at least), I don’t even have a creditable story to go off of, but just going on what I have read, the phone calls his loved ones received never reported talking from Charles, just static.  To me this says Charles wasn’t calling and that there was something wrong with the cell phone.  I know if anyone of my friends or family members call me and there is static, I am not going to assume that there is ghostly interference; I am going to assume that there phone is messed up.   Also when Mr. Peck’s family members called back the phone went straight to voicemail…Ok, I failed to see how this means paranormal, but apparently it is important info to this story. 

However before someone says “well explain how his cell phone made phone calls after he was dead?”  Well could you please explain to me how a dead person makes phone calls?  Or how his spirit or ghost knew how to use the phone but didn’t know how to speak on the other end?  Please refrain from using the argument from ignorance, which would be something like “well since you can’t explain how his cell phone made those phone calls after he was dead, it must have been his ghost.”   Thanks for reading.