Archive for category paranormal

The Most Unusual Creatures Under The Sun

Seam Monster of Lake Killerny

Sea Monster of Lake Killarny

Now, I must admit, cryptozoology does next to nothing for me. In the leagues of woo, it’s right down there at the bottom, just below Aliens and above Alectryomancy. I think the reason, largely, is that you’ve really got to try hard before you can get harmed by it. You’ve really got to right out there, on a limb, and fully invest before you can wind up getting hurt. It’s not like pseudomedicine, or psychics, or religion – it’s relatively harmless. Relatively.

However, that said, it’s also pretty prevalent in our media and culture, and for that reason alone it deserves attention. How many people would have heard of a certain large body of Scottish water unless there were a purported Beastie living in it? Not many I’d imagine. Which is why I wearily reached for the keyboard when I (foolishly) glanced through The Sun’s website and chanced upon the Lake Killarney Monster. Blahhhhh. But ok, here goes… Read the rest of this entry »

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Putting The ‘P’ In Space

We’ve seen a lot of explanations for UFO sightings in the past – most notably Lighthouses, Surveillance balloons, Chinese lanterns, clouds, meteors, Mars, stars, Venus, the moon, mistaken identities, hallucinations, exaggerations, lies, aircrafts and aliens. Wait, no, that last one shouldn’t be on that list. Not aliens. But the latest explanation to emerge has to top them all – discarded urine. Well, by discarded I mean urine ejected from a shuttle, specifically, not as in ‘left lying around’. In the latter sense a lot of urine gets discarded, granted, but only the former sense leads to UFO sightings.

I’m talking specifically about a bright sparkling glow seen in the night sky over Wisconsin, USA, which left skygazers searching for an explanation. Was it a comet? Could it have been aliens? Well, no, as it turns out – it was in fact the frozen waster water from the shuttle Discovery, which was jettisoned by pilot Kevin Ford in preparation for a landing attempt the following day. Rumours that he had previously attempted the jettison but had been unable to complete the task while his fellow-astronauts were watching are not true, most notably because I just made them up. Because I’m childish sometimes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Standing-Room Only With Chris French

A Great NightOn Thursday 17th September, the Crown Hotel in Liverpool was the setting for our first Liverpool Skeptics in The Pub guest lecture. Guardian writer, TV personality and psychology professor, Chris French, came up to talk about his main area of research, ‘Anomalistic Psychology’. And what a night it was, too!

The event exceeded all our expectations, with at least 75 people turning up (to a room meant for 60!) to hear Chris’s entertaining lecture on a wide range of topics –  from alien abductions to ghosts, to Led Zeppelin and psychics – all under the rational umbrella of  ‘Anomalistic Psychology’. The room was filled to capacity – with many of you standing, though no-one seemed to mind! Everyone seemed to enjoy the night immensely, not least of all us here at the Merseyside Skeptics Society, who were overjoyed to have such a successful and fun night for our first guest lecture.

The talk lasted an hour, featuring among other things, a look at so-called satanic messages in rock music, why people see faces in random patterns, and how everyday psychological and physical quirks can account for many reports of UFOs and psychic ability. It was entertaining and insightful in equal measure. As well as being head of the ‘Anomalistic Psychology’ department at Goldsmith University, Chris is also editor of The Skeptic magazine, and his knowledge and sceptical eye seemingly left no stone unturned. Afterwards, he was kind enough to hold a riveting question and answer session with the audience, and the night ended with many of the audience taking advantage of the opportunity to chat and share a drink with him.

Everyone had a great night, and the large turnout just went to show how big Skepticism is becoming on Merseyside. We truly are part of something great , and it’s people like you who come to events like this, that keep it going. So, thanks to everyone who came, and thanks also to everyone involved in the organisation of this event who helped to make it possible. You know who you are! Thanks also to The Crown for letting us have their upstairs room for the night, and of course, thanks to Chris French himself for agreeing to come up to Merseyside and give the talk in the first place.

The Man Himself!Last but not least, don’t forget that this isn’t a one-off! We have plans for several guest lectures in the coming months, information on which will be released nearer the time. Our next event, however, is fully confirmed: on October 15th, in conjunction with The Liverpool Humanist Group, we have journalist and comedy writer (don’t call her a ‘comedienne’!), Ariane Sherine, coming up from London to talk to us about how she created the now-global Atheist Bus Campaign. More details can be found on this site. If the last event is anything to go by, this is bound to be huge, so whatever you do, don’t miss it!

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Do Angels Believe In The Telegraph?

Specialized Angel by KWC on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwc/127795364/)I thought I’d read it all when it comes to the Telegraph. Homeopathy to cure cancer? Sure. UFOs that are really really not Chinese lanterns? Uh-huh. The moon landing was hoaxed? Gotcha. Telegraph, thy mysteries bore me and thy secrets hold no shock.

Except, I was wrong. That’s fine though, I’m always happy to admit when I’m wrong (I am! What do you know, anyway?!). So it was with equal parts incredulity and glee I allowed my love/hate affair with the Telegraph to take me in its warm and scientifically-bereft arms with the headline ‘Do you believe in angels?

No, I don’t. Nor should you. Silly Telegraph.

Still, it’s been a while since we wrote about them, and it’s rude of me to deny the Telegraph their fun, so let’s see what it’s all about. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unidentified Substances + Wishful Thinking = UFOs

Earlier this month more UFO files were released as part of a three year ongoing project between the Ministry of Defence and The National Archives. The files can be viewed here. They range from the more usual “I saw some lights in the sky and don’t know what they were” type of report, to the more extravagant “Flivob the Venutian wanted my sperm to repopulate his planet” kind of story. Ok, I obviously made that last one up, but those kinds of stories do crop up. I believe whiskey is normally involved. And a prior tendency to spout nonsense.

The files range from the years 1981 to 1996, and we get some cool stuff in there. We get waves of sightings recorded across Belgium in 1989 – 1990, which led to F-16 jets being scrambled by the Belgian Air Force. The F-16s obtained lock-ons with their radars but were unable to explain the phenomena. We also get a 1994 report by an air crew flying from Moscow to Tokyo, which describes a huge object entering the Earth’s atmosphere over the Arctic, creating a shockwave supposedly 200 miles long. The crew reports that the UFO came in over the North Pole at an estimated speed of 10-15,000mph. There are numerous records in the files of reports by pilots and air crews, including near-misses between UFOs and airliners. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ideomotor 101: The Ouija Board

So, as part of our on-going look at basic skeptical topics, lets take a look at the Ouija board.

First things first: does it work? Actually, yes it does!

“OK, great, that’s settled then”, I hear you say, “Lets all go and commune with the devil and some demons or spirits, and find out what the future has in store.”  Well hold on, wait a moment there – it’s not that simple I’m afraid.  After all, this is a sceptical website. You didn’t think it was going to be that easy did you?

Read the rest of this entry »

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