Thursday, May 20, 2010


On many TV documentaries I've watched, Edgar Cayce's name gets bandied about. Cayce (1877-1945) was a well known psychic who is often referred to as the "Modern Day Nostradamus" and the "Sleeping Prophet", because of his alleged accurate predictions of the future. More than 300 books have been written about him. His family set up a foundation called the Association for Research and Enlightenment, located in Virginia Beach, VA. , to carry on research about his predictions and readings. Thousands of people today study his works at Edgar Cayce centers in 35 countries.

Call me a skeptic, but until one of these psychic guys can tell me for certain the Dow Jones Average next week, tomorrow's lottery numbers, or who's going to win the Super Bowl next year, I won't believe in psychics. Actually, at one point in his career, Cayce was hired by businessmen to attempt to predict commodity markets, horse races, and the like, but found that he was no smarter than anyone else. Attempting to do this for profit left Cayce tired and distraught, and he resolved to use his gift only to help the sick and distressed. Thus, except for writing books, psychics' God-given powers don't work for profit making activities.

Promoters of books and documentaries about Nostradamus often cite his predictions of modern day events like World War II and 9/11, but if you read his works, they don't really say that. That's somebody else's interpretation of what he wrote 500 years ago. The wording of his couplets (written in Latin) is so broad as to be almost meaningless. Anybody could write that stuff today about the 25th Century and predict there will be wars, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc., and unfortunately, there probably will be. But since the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 (according to the interpretation of the Mayan calendar), we won't have to worry anyway. If you believe that, you might as well quit your job now and start spending all your money.

Cayce was an interesting character. He was born on a farm in Kentucky and quit school in the 9th grade. At some point, under hypnosis, it was discovered that he could cure people's illnesses and predict the future. While in a trance, he would prescribe esoteric cures for the people who came to him. Some people were cured and declared Cayce a genius, but no scientific analysis was made to determine whether there was a placebo effect or the person was really cured by his home remedy. The ones who weren't cured didn't talk about it. His alleged cures were anecdotal and not scientifically proven. Like most psychics, he used vague statements in his readings like "I feel that..." or "perhaps...", rather than positive declarations of fact.

His assistants included an osteopath and a homeopath which, of course, would be helpful in giving medical advice (Cayce had no medical training), but provide no way to determine whether the cures were discerned by Cayce or his assistants. His proposed cures while in a trance include home remedy poultices like "the raw side of a freshly skinned rabbit, still warm with blood, fur side out, placed on the breast" to cure breast cancer. For breast, thyroid or glandular cancer, he prescribes serum from the blood of rabbits. (Where's Elmer Fudd when you need him?--I'm hunting wabbits!) For tuberculosis, he prescribes "fumes of apple brandy from a charred keg."

When presented with a cancer patient, he prescribed ground up almonds or apricot pits. Essentially, that is the components of Laetrile, a compound which was touted as a cure for cancer but which was proven to be ineffective.

Cayce predicted that the lost continent of Atlantis would be discovered in 1968. In that year, some odd stone formations were discovered on the ocean floor in the Bahamas, but to this day the evidence is inconclusive whether the formations are man made or natural. We know that during the last Ice Age, sea level was several hundred feet lower than it is now because of all that ice locked up in glaciers, and it is certainly possible that early man lived out on the continental shelf. There are even ancient roads in Europe leading into the ocean. However, Atlantis, as described by Plato, hasn't turned up yet.

Cayce also predicted that California would slide into the ocean around the same time. While I enjoyed the Curt Gentry novel, The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California, written in 1968 and although many Easterners were keeping their fingers crossed, it's still there. The theme of the book, foretelling several years in the future, was that California suffered a catastrophic earthquake as divine retribution for electing Ronald Reagan governor. Although Cayce was probably familiar with Ronald Reagan movies, he made no known readings predicting Mr. Reagan's political future.

During his lifetime, Cayce amassed a large body of works, giving several thousand readings while under hypnosis, most of which were duly transcribed by stenographers. These have been published and are available for research.

Cayce's supporters, who are now called "New Agers" assert that his mind was linked into the Akashic Record, a compendium of mystical knowledge encoded in a non-physical plane of existence. It is said to contain all knowledge of human experience and a history of the cosmos. To explain it in our terms, Cayce was plugged into the Internet more than 50 years before it was invented by Al Gore with the help of Tim Berners-Lee.

Another major theme of his work was reincarnation. In his trances, Cayce regresses back to past lives, all the way back to the good ol' days in Atlantis. My opinion is if the Atlanteans were that smart and advanced, they would have built on solid ground--at least not on a flood plain. Moreover, they would have addressed climate change. Cayce, a religious and righteous man, believed in karma, and his readings indicate his belief that human souls are a part of God, and although the body dies, the soul in reincarnated into a new body. He emphatically states that Man did not descend from monkeys. That's a relief! An example of karma would be if a man had been a woman in his previous life or two, he might exhibit gay tendencies in his current life.

Once again, nothing can be proven. In the 1950's, a hypnotist-author named Morey Bernstein performed deep hypnosis on a Colorado housewife named Virginia Tighe (1923-1995) who regressed to a previous life in 19th Century Ireland as a young girl named Bridey Murphy. The book created a sensation world wide, and everyone wanted to know who they were in past lives. Hollywood even made a movie called the Search for Bridey Murphy. With the popularity of the book, an army of investigators went out and found no record of such a person in Ireland although many of her descriptions of the country were accurate. The church Bridey said she attended, St. Theresa's, in fact existed, but wasn't built until 1911, long after her supposed death. Ms. Tighe had never been to Ireland, although her parents were partly of Irish descent. Then it was discovered that a Wisconsin woman named Bridey Murphy Cockrell had lived across the street from her in Pueblo, Colorado when Ms. Tighe was a youngster. While it was an interesting story, all it tells us is that a person in a hypnotic state can remember long forgotten events from childhood and is open to suggestions by the hypnotist.

So while there is much we don't know about ESP, there is much we do know, and that is not to put too much stock in the veracity of the reading. A skilled psychic will make many statements and watch closely how the subject reacts. When the psychic gets a "hit", he or she will expound on that and draw the subject into a conversation. The subject doesn't realize how he had led the psychic into these insights about his life, thinking the psychic came up with these conclusions on his own. It reminds me of the football tout who sells predictions about a game. The client doesn't have to pay unless he wins. The prognosticator will tell half of his clients one team will win and tell the other half the other team will win. Half of his clients will think he is brilliant and recommend him to their friends, and the losing half will walk away and try a different prognosticator. But he makes a nice profit anyway. As Nobel laureate Milton Friedman said, "There's no such thing as a free lunch."



Sunday, May 9, 2010


With all the recent talk about aliens, the History Channel presented a new 2 hour documentary last week about prehistoric (undocumented) aliens visiting Earth. Things were easier for the aliens in those days before governments started building fences and checking green cards. Hey, pal, you're not from around here, are ya?

Essentially the program cited many
indications that ancient people had contact with the aforementioned aliens. Many of us are uncomfortable with the subject because it calls the major religions of the world into doubt. To primitive humans, visitors from the sky would be viewed as gods. In the Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, American Indian, Sumerian and other cultures, their oral and written histories clearly state that their ancestors came from the stars. In Genesis 6.4 of the Old Testament, we have space travelers ("Nephilim" or "Giants") dropping in and mating with humans to create "men of renown". To read these epic histories, our ancestors didn't think it all that unusual to have gods literally dropping in to visit them.

Many of us now believe that modern man did not just "evolve" from primates, but rather was brought to Earth by an advanced civilization. Anthropologists tell us that humans evolved from apes several million years ago, eventually becoming what we know as the Neanderthals. But about 50,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon Man, similar to modern humans appeared in Europe and apparently co-existed with Neanderthals for several thousand years. Just last week, a new study revealed that the two actually had more contact than originally thought. As it turns out, up to 4% of our DNA is that of Neanderthal Man. Cro-Magnon Man emerged between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in East Africa, but did not evolve from Neanderthals--they were considered a separate and distinct species, although the surprising result of the new study suggests that they were closely related enough to procreate.

We have no fossils to indicate the evolution of Cro-Magnon Man, if in fact it evolved at all. The easy (unscientific) explanation would be that God created Man. But some in the scientific community are poring over the ancient writings of the Sumerians and others and suggesting that modern Man actually came from somewhere else. "God" in that case would actually mean extraterrestrials. The History Channel suggests that modern humans may have been genetically engineered by the ET's. or at least installed the software in our brains. It certainly gets you thinking.

The History Channel program points out similarities between far-flung peoples of the Earth. For example many artifacts show people with elongated craniums. In Egypt, likenesses of the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his wife, the famous and beautiful Queen Nefretiti, show that feature. In fact, the History Channel points out that Akhenaten's mummy was unearthed and it showed an elongated cranium. That was also a feature of pre-Columbian people in South America. In the last century, bones were unearthed in the Andes with elongated craniums. The Dogon tribe of Mali in West Africa to this day binds babies' heads to create this effect. They can't explain why, except that their ancestors from the beginning of time did so. Were these people trying to imitate their "visitors"--or were they the visitors themselves? Tribes on all continents have ancient ritual dances in which the dancers wear what appear to be spacesuits with headgear, similar to what our astronauts wear in space. Ancient artifacts and wall carvings worldwide also illustrate that.

Akhenaten revolutionized Egyptian life down to its core. Before his reign, the Egyptians worshipped many gods. Akhenaten banished them all, and decreed that only one god, Aten, the Sun God, would be worshipped. He greatly changed Egyptian art. Before him, the pharaohs were often depicted in the wall carvings with broad shoulders and slim waists, like bodybuilders. Akhenaten was depicted as he really looked, a short guy with a sunken chest and a potbelly. Some think, because of his odd appearance, that he was actually an alien, or at least under alien influence, receiving a divine revelation that monotheism was the religion of the future. In any event, after Akhenaten's death, the Egyptians reverted back to their old ways.

Although they didn't have telescopes, ancient peoples had a phenomenal knowledge of astronomy. They knew about Uranus and Neptune which Europeans didn't "discover" until relatively recent times. According to the theories of Professor Robert M. Schoch who wrote several books about the ancient Egyptians, the Sphinx and the three Giza pyramids were built thousands of years before conventional historians place them. Carbon dating does not work with granite. Schoch's theory is that their placement reflects astronomical configurations at the end of the Age of Virgo, about 10,900 B.C. He points out that the Sphinx had water erosion, not sand erosion around its base which would indicate that the Sahara was green and rather wet at that time. We know that 10,000 years ago, much of the Sahara was green. And we still haven't addressed the engineering and mathematical complexity of constructing the Great Pyramid. It seems unlikely that pre-Egyptian men of the Stone Age could pass on that kind of knowledge. Schoch's theories were once thought to be crazy, but now they are gradually gaining acceptance among "mainstream" scientists. The great library of Alexandria which might have answered these questions was destroyed in a war in the 7th Century A.D.

The three Giza pyramids near the Sphinx, which I've recently visited, are in the same configuration as Orion's Belt in the summer night sky. From North to South, those are commonly known as the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. The most important star for the Egyptians was the "dog star" Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Its position signified major events of the year, like spring planting. The goddess Isis, depicted as a mermaid, is linked with the star Sirius.

The West African Dogons, who are believed to be descendants of the ancient Egyptians, have an ancient tradition that gods, resembling mermen and mermaids, called Nommo, came from the Sirius star system 5,000 years ago in 3-legged space ships. This whole thing sounds fishy, and you can believe what you want, but their ancient carvings are amazingly accurate models of that star system, which wasn't discovered until the 20th century. Their oral history, told to French anthropologists in the 1930's, describe Sirius B as a small, heavy star. Sirius B, first photographed in 1970, is the companion star to Sirius. It is a white dwarf star, about the size of the Earth but so dense that it weighs as much as the Sun. The great density of this star wasn't discovered until recently. The two stars rotate around each other in a spiral pattern similar to DNA in a 50 year cycle which the Dogons were aware of. This is not visible to the naked eye, and not even to most telescopes. The Dogons also describe a Sirius C, but because of its small size, we moderns haven't discovered it yet. Take it from the Dogons--it's probably there! On the other hand, the Dogons celebrate this cycle every 60 years. Go figure!

Speaking about the Nommo, these same guys appear in Babylonian, Akkadian and Sumerian mythology. Are their mythology stories independent of each other? More study is needed.

Don't even get me started on the Sumerians. They left us much written history which we're in the process of deciphering. If we can believe the few archaeologists who speak and read Sumerian, author Zecharia Sitchin, prominent among them, these ancient people were descended from the Anunnaki, a people who came to Earth from a large planet called Nibiru about 450,000 years ago to mine gold, needed for their planet's atmosphere. The writings indicate that Nibiru apparently swings between our solar system and that of Sirius on a 3,600 year cycle. Sirius is 8 light years away. As you can imagine, there are lots of holes in his theories, and many scientists think he's a crackpot, drawing his conclusions from a mis-translation of the language. For example, Nibiru would have to travel at a speed over 400 miles per second, far faster than the Earth or solar system travels through space. But we shouldn't entirely dismiss the Sumerians' accounts, which tell much about their culture. Other than reading their prolific accounts describing various kings who reigned for thousands of years at a time, anthropologists and archaeologists have no independent evidence where this advanced civilization came from.

If they came out of the Stone Age, they certainly did so at astonishing speed. Some of this stuff is pretty extreme, but if these folks evolved from cavemen, or whatever, you would think that their civilization and language would evolve slowly also, and be very simple in ancient times. But early languages were quite complicated and early civilizations were very advanced, especially in astronomy, engineering and mathematics.

The History Channel production discusses our DNA, of which 98% is essentially "junk" DNA which does not appear to have any effect on our appearance or traits, and may be left over from evolution. We still have much to learn about that, but until we can find a real alien and analyze his DNA, we can't prove we're related.

In conclusion, I think the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program is a waste of time and money. Incidentally, the government does not fund it. There are many indications that they've already been here, seeded the planet, and moved on to another. But they check up on us regularly, occasionally crash landing (see Roswell). The U.S. government may or may not be keeping them in Area 51, and if they are, would would be the point of funding SETI? And the ones far away are probably not impressed with the re-runs of I Love Lucy that we're beaming to them, so they probably won't answer anyway. Physicist Stephen Hawking has warned us recently that we should be careful because some extraterrestrials may be hostile. We may or may not be descended from them. The answer is still out there!