Archive for April, 2005

Military funding of paranormal spies and warriors

Another of those things stranger than fiction. From a review of Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats originally published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2005:

Then, in 1995, the story broke that for the previous 25 years the U.S. Army had invested $20 million in a highly secret psychic spy program called Star Gate (also Grill Flame and Scanate), a Cold War project intended to close the “psi gap” (the psychic equivalent of the missile gap) between the United States and Soviet Union. The Soviets were training psychic spies, so we would as well. The Men Who Stare at Goats, by British investigative journalist Jon Ronson, is the story of this program, how it started, the bizarre twists and turns it took, and how its legacy carries on today. (Ronson’s previous book, Them: Adventures with Extremists, explored the paranoid world of cult mongers and conspiracy theorists.)

In a highly readable narrative style, Ronson takes readers on a Looking Glass-like tour of what U.S. Psychological Operations (PsyOps) forces were researching: invisibility, levitation, telekinesis, walking through walls, and even killing goats just by staring at them (the ultimate goal was killing enemy soldiers telepathically). In one project, psychic spies attempted to use “remote viewing” to identify the location of missile silos, submarines, POWs, and MIAs from a small room in a run-down Maryland building. If these skills could be honed and combined, perhaps military officials could zap remotely viewed enemy missiles in their silos, or so the thinking went.

Initially, the Star Gate story received broad media attention—including a spot on ABC’s Nightline—and made a few of the psychic spies, such as Ed Dames and Joe McMoneagle, minor celebrities. As regular guests on Art Bell’s pro-paranormal radio talk show, the former spies spun tales that, had they not been documented elsewhere, would have seemed like the ramblings of paranoid cultists. (There is even a connection between Ed Dames, Art Bell, and the Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicide in 1997, in which 39 UFO dev

I’ve listened to Ed Dames on Art Bell’s show many a night. I won’t jump into the debate of whether he’s credible or not. I will point out that I believe it was proven he had a better track record of accuracy than other, mundane methods used by the CIA and DIA, but then again, looking at some of their failures of late, that’s not saying much. I do know I’m looking forward to reading the book, The Men Who Stare At Goats.

I’ll also point out that the FBI consulted the military during the siege of Waco. We all saw how well that turned out.

National Catholic Reporter vs. Father Malachi Martin

The famous exorcist may be dead, but that doesn’t stop the National Catholic Reporter from kicking him while he’s down.

Back in the 1970s, when possession and exorcism were the cinematic and fictional flavor of the era — one that historian Martin Marty appropriately called “the silly season” — it fell to my lot to conduct a pre-publication review of Malachi Martin’s sensational book Hostage to the Devil. I was allied in this with an internationally celebrated clinical psychologist. Working independently, our conclusion was the same: Martin’s five “cases” were fabrications of an inventive but disturbed mind, lacking all psychological, historical, theological and pastoral credibility.

Some time later, I interviewed Malachi Martin on television. A former priest, Martin had left the Jesuit order under cloudy conditions, to say the least. (The sordid details were described in Robert Blair Kaiser’s agonized 2002 memoir, Clerical Error: A True Story.) In person, I found Martin to be a clever, charming, engaging Irish rogue who evaded every effort to document the instances of possession he so graphically described. In the end, my earlier suspicion that Martin was a deeply disturbed individual was strongly reinforced.

Posted in Horror | 4 Comments »

A ghost hunt at ‘the Mouth of Hell’

Why do people always go to the Mouth of Hell when I’m not around? Seriously, if I didn’t have to be out of town this weekend, this is where I’d be:

APRIL 30, 2005


They were the forgotten men! It was the Mouth of Hell!Those who died are restless souls…crying out for help…wandering the battlefield looking for lost friends…waiting for the proper burial that NEVER came!

The bodies were forgotten for so long that many became fodder for the roaming pigs. A local farmer whose family lived on the battlefield during the Battle of Antietam took me to this place. He wouldn’t even get out of the car.

“My grandmother heard the screams comin’ from here from thedying about a week after the battle. She made my grandfather and uncles get in the wagon to go check. When they got here, they could hear the screams and wails of the wounded…but wasn’t one ofthem left alive. Never used that part of our fields agin. Never came here agin. They didn’t eat the pigs that come down here,neither. You stay away from here, Missy! This here’s the mouth ofHell!”


April 30, 2005

Meet us at 8:30 PM in the parking lot behind McDonald’s in Shepherdstown off of Route 45 East.

(There’s only one McDonalds in Shepherdstown!)

$25 per person. Reservations, please!

This Investigation is not appropriate for elementary school-aged children.


For a list of upcoming events, visit the West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters. You also may join their Yahoo group for details of upcoming events, classes and reports of their investigations.

Archaeologists dig into an Iranian mystery


A team of Iranian archaeologists is trying to solve the riddle of why a newly discovered Median monument had been deliberately concealed with material such as stones, bricks, and mud, the director of the team working at the site announced on Tuesday.

“The monument contains one large and one small room constructed in a circular plan. The rooms have been filled almost to the ceiling with stones and their outer section has been hidden with a wall made of stone and brick which is about two meters thick,” Mehrdad Malekzadeh said in reference to the Median monument which was discovered at the ancient site of Zarbolagh near the central Iranian city of Qom.

“The arrangement of the stones and the high precision (used in their construction) indicate that the camouflage had been created deliberately. In fact, the inhabitants probably wanted to prevent any access to the monument in the future,” he said.


“Excavations carried out by British archaeologist David Stronach at Nushijan Tepe in the 1960s led to the discovery of a temple with a beautiful fire altar. The temple was the only example of a camouflaged Median monument for years, but another was unearthed at Ozbaki Tepe over the past few years. This one was a sacrifice altar,” Malekzadeh explained.

Maybe because the site was cursed and the people in the past wanted to protect future generations? (That’s how I’d write it.)

Book worthy of ‘DaVinci Code’ discovered in Wales

From The Western Mail:

Just like Dan Brown’s book, the dusty document contains long forgotten insights into the history and relationships of Jesus Christ.

Now scholars at a Welsh college believe they have unearthed their own version of the Da Vinci code with the discovery of a 400-year-old book. Entitled The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, it has spent the past 70 years locked in the dusty depths of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Papyrus yields ancient secrets to new technology

National Geographic has new details on the stories I blogged earlier this month including an intriguing detail at the bottom of this post:

Similarly, Biblical scholars can expect valuable new material to emerge as some gospels that weren’t included in the New Testament didn’t survive. “The texts that are in the Bible were selected out of a much larger body of work that once circulated,” Obbink said. “We have samples of that material here.”


He says the Oxyrhynchus collection holds a lot of information about the rise of Christianity during the Roman period. (Egypt became part of the Roman Empire after Cleopatra’s fleet was defeated at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.).

“[Christianity] starts out as a small social phenomenon, then just takes over everything,” Obbink said. “You can see other cultural sea changes taking place—changes in taxes, changes in rule. It’s all reflected in the papyrus.”

Oxyrhynchus, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of modern-day Cairo, rose to prominence under Egypt’s Greek and Roman rulers. The town’s papyrus-rich garbage heaps were excavated in the late 1890s by two Oxford University fellows, B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. Researchers have been painstakingly piecing together the Oxyrhynchus papyri fragments ever since.

So far 65 volumes of transcripts and translations have been published by the London-based Egypt Exploration Society, which owns the collection.

The latest volume includes details of fragments showing third- and fourth-century versions of the Book of Revelations. Intriguingly, the number assigned to “the Beast” of Revelations isn’t the usual 666, but 616.

I’ll leave it to the End Timers and conspiracy experts to figure out what that means.

UPDATED Leave it to the fine folks at The Daily Grail to point us to the answer so quickly. The Marvel Universe that we read about in the comics is dubbed Earth-616 (as opposed to the many alternative universes, timelines, planes of existence, etc.) Alan Moore apparently created the reference. From Wikipedia:

Another theory is that Moore simply chose a random number to show the “mainstream” Earth was inherently no more important than any other (unlike DC Comics, whose Earth was known at the time as Earth-1).

It is possible that Moore’s choice was inspired by the release date of Fantastic Four #1, which is considered by most to be the date the modern Marvel Universe was launched. Although the cover date of the comic book is given as November 1961, there are claims that the comic book was released as early as June 1961, hence, “61/6” [1] (

It is also possible that “616” is a reference to the Number of the Beast in the final chapter of the Christian Bible, the Book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse of John). While most early manuscripts give the Number of the Beast as “666”, the earliest existing fragment of the Greek text of this book gives it as “616”.

Irenaeus argued against the “616” number in his neverending battle against early heresies. Moore, a student of mystic esoterica from a very early age, could well have known about this alternate rendering. Quite why the Marvel Universe should even be named after the Number of the Beast may be an indirect reference to set it apart from the DC Universe. For many years, the headquarters of DC Comics was located at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Thus, the name could be a subtle joke that the DC Universe was Earth-666 while the Marvel Universe was Earth-616; both numbers, of course, are renderings of the Number of the Beast.

Experts dismiss link between full moon, behavior

From the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader:

So, if the effect is a myth (as most experts say it is), how did the full moon get associated with wild behaviors in the first place? After all, there’s a long history of blaming it for acting out — the term “lunatic” has its roots in the word “luna,” which is Latin for moon.

William Wedenoja, a professor of anthropology at Southwest Missouri State University, wonders whether the full moon had more of an immediate effect on people’s behavior in the past.

“Basically (without artificial lighting) it’s dark after the sun goes down, but if there’s a full moon, you can stay awake later into the evening,” Wedenoja said. That means, before artificial lighting, people could be more active on full-moon nights.

Also, Wedenoja said, a connection between full moons and out-of-the-ordinary events could be more a perception than a fact.

“We have the persistency to believe things even when there’s no foundation,” he said. “If you expect your patients to act odd on a full-moon night, they are always acting odd.”

On the other hand, there’s this exchange from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein:
Larry Talbot: You don’t understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf.
Wilbur: You and twenty million other guys!

Posted in Horror | 2 Comments »

Scientists study Lake Erie’s ‘Dead Zone’

This could make for the plot of a horror story if I ever get back into the groove of writing fiction. From the Detroit Free Press:

An expanding, oxygen-starved “dead zone” in Lake Erie is generating a massive international mobilization of scientists, high-tech equipment and research vessels to find clues to the biological mystery.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory will lead the 2-year study, one of the largest such probes of Lake Erie.

Launched this week, the study involves dozens of experts from Canada, Great Lakes states, universities and federal agencies. Potential factors contributing to the dead zone include the zebra mussel, low water levels and fertilizer runoff from large factory farms, experts say.

“We not only want to find out why this is happening, we want to find out how it might affect the food web and what the consequences might be,” Stephen Brandt, director of the research lab, said Monday.

Too bad reality is providing too many horrors. Fictional horrors need not apply.

‘Witches’ lynched in India

This is horrifying. Two women suspected of witchcraft were lynched in their village in northern India. The Courier-Mail in Australia has the shocking story:

A Tribal mob in northeastern India lynched and decapitated two women accused of practising witchcraft, threw their bodies into a river and paraded their heads as trophies, police said.

The mob dragged the 60-year-old Bodo tribal woman and her 30-year-old daughter from their village in Jarbari, 280 km west of Assam state’s main city of Guwahati, and killed them.


Eight people have been arrested over the attack. Witchcraft is practised in various areas in India but is particularly popular in some parts of the remote northeast where it is used to treat ailments or cast spells on enemies.

Do you want to see something REALLY scary?

Not for the faint of heart.

Hat tip to Georgia10.

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