Friday, October 28, 2011

"Destroyed" Frederick Valentich file turns up

Hi all

Appendix six to the final report on the Disclosure Australia Project's five year search for Australian government UFO files concerned the disappearance of Frederick Valentich (click here) on 21 October 1978. While looking through Australian government files for UFO related material, the Project also kept an eye out for any papers concerning Frederick Valentich.

On 10 August 2004, I submitted an FOI request to the federal Department of Transport requesting a copy of their accident/incident investigation report on Valentich - their file reference V116/783/1047. Their reply on 1 September 2004 in part read "I understand that file V116/783/1047 has been destroyed by the National Archives of Australia." An electronic search of the NAA's records failed to find any trace of this file. It did indeed appear that it was no longer with us.

Fast forward to earlier tonight, when I was browsing the NAA website and to my amazement there was file - safely in the Archives!

File series B1497 control symbol V116/783/1047 DSJ - Cape Otway to King Island. 21 October 1978 - Aircraft missing (Valentich). Date range 1978-1992. Barcode 10491375. Location - Melbourne.

There was one hitch thought, the status of the file is shown as "closed." This in theory means that although the file is in the NAA you can't access it. Then I noticed that the reason for it being closed was that in 2008 when the status was shown as closed, the 30 year rule did not apply. Via the Archive Act you can only access files with papers on them providing they are more than 30 years old.

Now it is 2011, so one should be able to access papers on the file provided they are dated 1978, 1979 or 1980. The Archives still won't let you access papers less than 30 years old.

Needless to say, I have just lodged an application for access to the files, which should get me the 1978-1980 papers.  This process can take up to three months, so I will keep you posted. However, finally we might get to see what the Department of Transport's investigation found.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yowies on the move


I thought sightings of Australian Yowies were a a thing of the past. But number 278 of the English Fortean Times magazine (September 2011 page 19) carried an article which read:

"Just before 2.30am on 17 May 2011, while driving south along the Pacific Highway north of Grafton in New South Wales, Australia, a professional driver identified in media reports only as Dean took the Centenary Drive bypass, and moments later he clearly saw in the middle of the road, just up ahead what seemed at first to be a large person stooped over, wearing a big overcoat.

"But as his headlights illuminated it, this hitherto bipedal entity dropped down onto all fours and swiftly bounded into the scrub fringing the road. Slowing down, Dean peered into the bushes, and saw the entity silhouetted against the sky. "It had an almost sort of a square, shaggy block head sitting straight on its shoulders - I'm a pretty big guy but it made me absolutely awestruck how huge its body was." He said "It had its arm up against a tree and it had about a foot of hair hanging from under its biceps."

He estimated it was at least 6 feet (1.8m) tall and seemed to be covered in jet-black hair. At the time of his sighting, he had never heard of the Yowie - Australia's very own supposed man-beast."

Where do you report strange entity sightings to?

Suppose you were out one day in a remote locality and saw what you took to be a strange entity. Where would you report it to? You might talk to the local ghost society; a big cat organisation; a UFO group or a paranormal research society.

I recently read an article in issue 278 September 2011 of the English Fortean Times magazine pages 56-57, written by Merrily Harpur, about sightings of strange creatures in modern Britain.

"People who see them often report them to the national ABC research group Big Cats in Britain, for want of anyone else to tell."

Reports cited in the article include a Gotham farmer's description of an animal "Very large, the size of a small bull - six feet (1.8m) long; very muscular build, with a huge head and its tongue hanging out..." It had a long tail and it ran at speed as they chased it in the Land Rover, "clearing a six foot (1.8m) fence with ease."

Another report came in September 2002 from an Army commander on Salisbury Plains. A commander in a tank on exercises reported "...a large ape-like creature. It looked scared...Its fur was similar to an orang-utan in colour, and the length and flow of it. Its face looked black, or darkish, but I couldn't see its facial was very fast and seemed to run with large strides...Its height...must have been 6 feet plus."

Even weirder was a report from a Canadian woman living in Lancashire, who on 19 March 2001, reported  that while sitting in a car about midnight, by a lake she and her husband heard what sounded like the tide hitting a sea wall. Then they saw "...a strange animal crawling around...the shape and outline of the animal was quite different to a fox...It hopped once then stopped...we turned on our headlights...It was about the size of a medium-sized dog, except for its legs, which seemed to be much too long for its body. Its limbs were twisted and gnarled...It was brownish in colour, with no fur at all, and I do not recall a tail or was best described as 'Gollum' ( a character from the Lord of the Rings movies)...It looked up at us...It had a face, almost human-like but deformed in a way...It crawled away eventually..."

Monday, June 27, 2011

"In praise of the weird"

Page 30 of the 18 June 2011 issue of the "New Scientist" magazine carries an opinion article written by William Laurance (click here) , a professor at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia, titled "In praise of the weird."

It opens with the recent publication of an 8 second long amateur video, taken in Northern Tasmania. This blurry footage shows a long tailed mammal "...trotting across a meadow with an oddly stilted gait." The person who took the video believes the animal is the extinct Tasmanian Tiger.

Laurance himself, upon seeing the animal on the video thought that it was in fact a red fox. A faecal sample obtained from the animal, was subjected to a DNA test which said it was, indeed, a red fox.

The article then goes on to talk about "cryptobiology" "mythical, mysterious or supposedly extinct species."

Laurance acknowledges that there are some credible people undertaking this study. He names David Bickford, National University of Singapore, a tropical ecologist (click here) ; and Aaron Bauer, an evolutionary herpetologist, from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. (Click here.)

"But for mainstream scientists being a cryptobiologist isn't easy. Some have paid for their efforts."

However, he notes that new animal discoveries continue to be made including that of "The Mindoro fruit bat, discovered in the Phillippines in 2007, has a 1 metre wingspan." (Click here.)

In conclusion, "...we should celebrate the intrepid efforts of cryptobiologists. Yes, they chase bizarre creatures and flit around the fringes of conventional science, but we ought to appreciate their adventurous spirit rather than be disdainful."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Psychic spies - remote viewing


If you have been following the topic of "remote viewing," then an article in the April 2011 issue (number 272) of the English Fortean Times, by author Jim Schnabel, may be of interest to you.

Schnabel's article starts by mentioning the use of remote viewing in 2007 and 2009 to try and locate US Army privates who were missing in action overseas.

John B Alexander is quoted as saying about the information provided by a number of remote viewers: "Most of the input that came back was pure garbage...It was so non-specific, what could you do with it?"

Paul Smith, who was involved in the other case said "...I thought the project was fairly successful." (p.30.)

Remote viewing continues:

Hal Puthoff was involved in an official US government sponsored remote viewing program in the 1970's. He is quoted as saying "...a lot of the individual remote viewers...were recontacted by various federal authorities and asked for help" after 9/11. (p.30.)

Another former military RV Lyn Buchanan "...set up a project in the late 1990's-the Assigned Witness Program- in which a team of remote viewers would solve crimes, but apparently has since abandoned it." (p.32.)

Ed Dames:

"Ed Dames, a former member of the military remote viewing unit who is now a fixture on late-night paranormal-oriented talk radio, claimed recently, on the basis of his remote viewing data, that President Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii..."

The military program:

Schnabel then reviews the Government sponsored RV program in the US "The programme had supporters at virtually all levels, from junior intelligence analysts and operations officers up to senior agency officials and even key senators and their staff." (p.32.)

"Yet for all its promise, the remote viewing programme eventually lost support, and was terminated. Later, it was almost entirely declassified-as if to emphasise that US intelligence would never venture into the parapsychological realm again." (p.32.)


There are numerous individuals who have set up RV companies. "From browsing the RV-related websites and speaking to people who are still connected to that world, I get the impression that money-oriented remote viewing-in trading and betting contexts-is an activity on the increase." (p.36.)

"There are rumours of ARV teams that ply unsuspecting casinos, and even hedge funds given over to ARV guided trading." (p.36.)

My comment:

Schnabel's 1997 book "Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America's Psychic Spies" is still very relevant today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Ever wanted a third arm?"


The brain has a "mind map" of body parts. This sense of "self", of knowing which bit of the universe is you and which is not, is very important. If an arm or leg is amputated, but your "mind map" thinks the appendage is still there, you will experience phantom limb pain.

I came across an article in the April/May 2011 issue of the Australian magazine "Cosmos", page 24, titled "Ever wanted a third arm? It's all in your head" written by Benjamin Skuse, which goes the other way.

"Swedish scientists have managed to convince people that they own three arms, or that they're the size of a Barbie doll, using tricks in a laboratory setting.

"The research addresses some of the oldest philosophical and psychological questions about the relationship between body and mind, and has potential applications in prosthetics and robotics.

" "We demonstrated that the body image is much more flexible then previously thought, even allowing healthy participants to experience awareness of an extra third arm," said study author Arvid Guterstam from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet.

"The experiment reported in PLos ONE involved sitting a participant at a table with a rubber prosthetic arm placed next to the right arm. Touching the subject's right hand and the rubber hand with two small brushes at corresponding locations, the scientists stimulated a feeling of owning the prosthetic arm by synchronising the strokes.

" "Instead of choosing to experience only one hand as your own, we surprisingly, found that the brain accepts both right hands as part of the body image," said Guterstam. On going projects question whether the perceived body can be shrunk to the size of a barbie doll, or if the brain can accept a body of a different sex. "This might have important bearing on the development of advanced prosthetics, where the patient can experience and control an extra arm," Guterstam said."

My comment:

I seem to recall accounts from my reading in which people believed their body size had varied during an unusual experience. I'll try and locate some references on this, for a future post.

The full article may be read here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Near-death experiences - a new book

Hi all

I have just finished reading a new book which has relevance to both near-death experiences and UFO abductions.

The book is "The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain: A Neurologist's search for the God Experience." The author is Kevin Nelson. Publisher is Dutton. New York. 2011. ISBN 978-0-525-95188-9.


Nelson's interest in the subject of NDEs started nearly 30 years ago when a patient he calls "Joe" had an NDE which Joe said was "absolutely real." (p.3.) Over the following years Nelson "...began to collect these stories..." (p.4.) He observed a number of medical professionals research the topic. This lead him to collect " studies of spiritual experiences." (p.18.)

In a chapter titled "What is a spiritual experience?" Nelson reviews the work of William James and his 1902 work "The Variety of Religious Experiences." James' work included spirituality and religion.


Central to later discussions is the subject of consciousness. Consciousness is defined in clinical neurology as "Awareness of one self and one's surroundings." (p.38.)

Nelson writes that "Within consciousness, neurology recognises three states: wakefulness; REM sleep, and non-REM sleep." (p.38.) REM is short for rapid-eye movement. Nelson's work "...has focused on the switch in the brain stem that regulates our three conscious states." (p.38.)

The three states:

"Each of the three conscious states-wakefulness, REM sleep...and non-REM sleep-has identifiable brain activity..." (p.42.)

"The nerve centres arousing the brain to respond to itself and the environment, switching the brain to sleep or wakefulness, are in the structure called the brain stem...located at the base of the skull." (p.48.)

"The arousal system contains the switches that shift our consciousness between it three states." (p.48.)

The self:

We all identify "the self' - that sense of "me." There are a number of ways in which the self can be lost. Firstly, "The Alien Arm" where your arm doesn't seem to belong to you, and moves of its own volition. "Underlying the alien limb is a disconnection from consciousness and other parts of the self..." (p.75.)

Secondly, is the rubber hand illusion. Here a person can be convinced that a lifelike but rubber hand is a part of them - their "self."

Thirdly, phantom limb pain, where an amputee can still sense their missing limb.

Fourthly, "A brainstem stroke can also cause spare limbs to sprout." (p.75.)

These four things lead Nelson to pose the question, "...if I can sprout new limbs from my body-can I trust the seemingly reality of an out-of-body experience?" (p.76.)

Nelson points out that there are also people who are convinced that they are dead - they do not exist - Cotard's syndrome. "Cotard's syndrome patients think they are dead and that their bodies are decomposing or they are walking around in an afterworld." (p.88.)

These type of experiences led Nelson to remind us that "The brain is perfectly capable of creating experiences that are utterly convincing and are often described as "realer than real." (p.89.)

NDE elements:

Nelson then takes a look at the elements which make up an NDE, from a neurological perspective. He points out the work of Dr Thomas Lempert of Berlin, who in the 1990's experimented on healthy subjects by causing them to safely faint in a laboratory. He found that sixty per cent of fainters had visual hallucinations; on the borderland of consciousness and unconsciousness. 10 per cent had an OBE. Comparing these to elements of NDEs, he found " real difference between the two types of experience." (p.125.)

The tunnel mystery solved:

Research by Dr Edward Lambert, a neurophysiologist, on pilots, found that "...when exposed to a force designed to bring on fainting, the pilot's peripheral vision began to dim...the pilot could only see within a small circle in front of him" -it was like looking through a tunnel. (p.129.) "When not enough blood is pumped to the head, the eyes fail first, causing tunnel vision..." (p.130.)

Out of body experiences in NDEs:

"Neurologists have discovered that out-of-body perspectives are created by disrupting how the brain puts sensations together to form the self's body schemas..." (p.139.)

"...out-of-body experiences are about a displacement or misapprehension oft he location of the whole body." (p.140.) The brain brings together various bits of sensory information from such places as the eyes and the vestibular organs in the ear. In an OBE these sensations get disconnected at the tempoparietal junction in the brain.

Nelson proposes that during an OBE in an NDE, "Consciousness has lost its bearings in relation to bodily position, touch, gravity and motion." (p.142.)

Presence of others during an NDE:

NDErs often report seeing a person or supernatural being during the experience. Nelson cites the work of Blank et al who "...discovered shadowy presences lurking in the tempoparietal junction..." of a patient. Instead of an OBE she reported (p.148.) a person behind her when her tempoparietal junction was electrically stimulated.

The Locus Coeruleus:

"Through its connections the locus coeruleus plays crucial roles in arousal and conscious states, paying attention and responding to stress." (p.156.)

Nelson suggests that when in danger " this experiment suggests that we perceive time slowing or our thoughts speeding when we're in danger." (p.171.)

"If we accept that the brain participates in spiritual experience then the orbital prefrontal must be responsible for giving us a glimpse of the rewards that will be ours when we go to heaven or reach enlightenment." (p.180.)

Summary to here:

"Low blood flow reaching the brain from fainting or cardiac arrest leads to many features of near-death experiences. If the tempoparietal portion of the brain shuts down, we have an out-of-body experience or have "sensed presences." When blood flow is cut off to the eye as well as the brain, we experience tunnel vision." (p.183.)

REM sleep:

"During REM sleep, spinal paralysis sets in so we cannot act out our dreams...Our eyes and breathing muscles are left unaffected..." (p.188.)

During REM sleep the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex is turned off. This area of the brain processes logical problem-solving and planning. It organises information, thought and emotions.

Lucid dreaming:

If in REM sleep the dorso-lateral brain were switched on, then we would get lucid dreaming. In lucid dreaming, we become aware we are dreaming whereas normally we do not realise we are dreaming when we dream, only when we awaken. "Lucid dreaming mixes the two conscious states of REM sleep and wakefulness but only in 3 percent of dreams do people enter the borderland of consciousness." (p.190.)

"The experienced lucid dreamer can feel a wide range of emotions, including fear, spiritual ecstasy and sexual bliss." (p.191.)

"Since lucid dreaming can be learned, turning on the dorso-lateral brain seems to be at least somewhat under our control." (p.194.)

"Recently, sophisticated brain-wave recordings have shown that lucid dreaming is a conscious state between REM and waking." (p.194.)

REM switch:

"A switch in the brainstem tilts us between these two states." Awake and REM sleep. (p.197.)

"...tucked away near the centre of the brainstem is a portion of the REM switch called the V1Pag. When it activates consciousness tilts towards waking and away from REM." (p198.)

NDErs different:

Nelson located 55 people who had had NDEs. He asked them "...if during the transition (between wakefulness and sleep they had ever experienced visions, sounds, or paralysis, in other words REM consciousness." (p.200.)

"What we found was that the brain switch linking waking and REM consciousness was different in people who had had a near-death experience. Instead of passing directly between the REM state and wakefulness, the brain switch in these people was two-and-one half times more likely to blend the two states." (p.202.)

"Our study strongly showed that people who have had a near-death experience possess an arousal system predisposed to blending REM and waking consciousness." (p.202.)

The vagus nerve:

"Eighty per cent of the vagus conveys information to the brainstem." (p.206.) "Could wild vagus activity alone tilt someone into REM consciousness?" It seems so. (p.208.)

"When the vagus nerve is stimulated for medical purposes in patients, REM appears rapidly with sleep onset and REM intrudes into non-REM states." (p.206.)

"What is clear is that through its nerves the heart can cause REM consciousness in waking times." (p.207.)

The unearthly light:

"Light at the end of the tunnel can come from two sources. The first is ambient light that comes through our eyelids...A second source of light might, of course, be the light of REM consciousness...Light is the core business of the REM system, creating the visual images ..." (pp212-213.)

Bliss near-death:

"Regardless of what gaps remain in our knowledge, experiencing the bliss of heaven while on earth must have its Genesis somewhere in the brain's reward system." (p.214.)

"...near-death experiences...are more akin to the lucid dream...Part of the dreaming brain erupts in a brain already awake...blending REM with waking consciousness creates experiences that are realistic and memorable." (p.214.)

Summary to here:

Nelson proposes the following near-death experience elements have the following physiological causes:

Tunnel - Low blood flow to the eye's retina

Light - Ambient light and REM visual excitation.

Appearing "dead" - REM paralysis.

Out-of-body - Tempoparietal REM deactivation.

Life review - memories from flight or fight.

Bliss - Reward system.

Narrative quality - REM dreaming and the limbic system.

Mystical experiences:

"A sizable 42 percent of our research subjects felt "united, one with the world" during their near-death experience." (p.221.)

How does this occur?

"It seems possible that shutting down the tempoparietal brain could contribute to the loss of self in a mystical experience." (p.232.)

My comments:

This was a deeply engrossing book to read. I have come across numerous explanations for the different elements of an NDE before, but this is a unified hypothesis that covers all elements.

I see relevance to the out-of-body experience, as I have covered in previous posts on this blog about scientific OBE research.

I now need to ponder the possible relevance of some of this material to UFO abduction accounts, for there seems some highly relevant material here. There is the 'oz factor", the loss of everyday activity which overcomes some abductees. Jenny Randles in the UK has written extensively on the 'oz factor.' Some abductions invlove a "floating sensation." Many abductions are reported to have occurred on the borderland between sleep and awake. There is also the bodily paralysis which overcomes many abductees.

What do blog readers think of Nelson's work?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spiritual Encounters with lightforms

Every now and then, one stumbles on a little gem of a book, and my latest find is by Mark Fox, titled "Spiritual Encounters with Unusual Light Phenomena:Lightforms," published by the University of Wales Press in 2008. ISBN 978-0-7083-2157-7.

Fox uncovered a treasure trove of about "400 accounts of unusual experiences of light, nearly all unpublished and gathered over a period of more than thirty years." (p.3.) These accounts were included in a 6,000 strong collection of accounts held by the University of Wales, Lampeter, in Wales.

A man named Alister Hardy gathered the material together from public appeals for such material, and the collection is today managed by the Religious Experience Research Centre (RERC.)

Hardy collected accounts of experiences "...of that continuing sense of spiritual awareness which many people feel makes a difference to their lives," (p.24.) as well as one-off experiences.


He received accounts involving "lights" which could be fitted into a number of categories, including near-death experiences, angelic experiences, lights which seemed to be UFO experiences, and apparent Marian apparitions. A small number (10) featured more than one witness. There are also some very odd accounts such as one in which "...the subject and her companion found themselves casting shadows on the ground, as if a strong light was present and shining on them from behind but where no light could be discerned." (p.68.)


Fox analyses the date provided in the almost 400 cases and noted that "...over 50 per cent of the number of experience of light in the entire archive occurred at a time of crisis..." (p.72.) One of the patterns which emerged was that "Many accounts which contain the features of the emerging pattern of crisis/positive feelings/positive fruits..." (p.91.)

Fox poses the question "Could it, in fact, be the case that the reported lights somehow ease or resolve individuals' crises and produce the good fruits that so often ensues? In other words, could it be that these lights that subjects encounter somehow represent-or in some sense create-turning points that resolve their personal crises and transform their lives, redirecting them in new, more positive, and often spiritually enriched ways?" (p.98.)

Mystical experiences:

In a recent post on the blog I mentioned I had come across a woman who underwent a UFO related mystical experience., and a feeling of one with the Universe. Fox's book has examples of mystical experience which include:

While in prayer, a person "...became suddenly aware of light rays about me...I actually felt that I was in tune with the entire Universe." (p.102.)

Another individual "I was suffused with an awareness of the entire oneness of the universe." (p.119.)

Yet a third, "For a few moments I really did feel at one with the Universe." (p.261.)

Lights seen during near-death experiences:

The term "near-death experience" was first used by Raymond Moody in 1975 in his book "Life after life." The collection of accounts in Fox's work, which seem to be NDE's was gathered by Alister Hardy before 1971. So these NDE accounts have been untouched by all the post-1975 research into NDEs, and hence represent cases "...that cannot have arisen from the attention that was focused on them in the last quarter of the twentieth century and on into the twenty-first." (p.7.)

An account from the Second World War recounts "...found myself travelling down a long dark tunnel. I felt no fear, only a sense of peace. There was a brilliant light at the end...a pair of gates were opening soundlessly...I was being returned and drawn back down the tunnel..." (p.128.) A classic post 1975 NDE.

Analysis and explanation:

Part three of Fox's book seeks to analyse the material in a number of ways. He sub-divides the accounts into those occurring at time of crisis; ones which involve positive feelings; the colours of the lights, and so on.

Fox then looks at possible explanations for the observations of these lights. He finally notes the landmark article by Dewi Rees, from the 1971 British Medical Journal, which I first came across in the 1970's. This was titled "The Hallucinations of Widowhood." Then Fox looks at the "abreaction/rebound" as applied to soldiers with what today would be called Post Traumatic Distress Disorder.

The question is posed as to "...whether or not these unusual episodes of light are evidence of some kind of mental dysfunction...?" (p.179.) He thinks not.

Oliver Sachs' work on migraine auras is reviewed but Fox concludes " appears that migraine auras too cannot adequately explain the vast majority of accounts of light in the RERC archive." (p.184.)

A lengthy examination conducted of temporal-lobe transients, concludes that "...meaningful experiences to be had as a result of TLT is able to account for some fragmentary episodes involving unusual lights." (p.191.)

In the end Fox arrives at the conclusion that " single theory that we have examined so far has been able entirely to explain the phenomena under investigation. We are left, then, with a mystery." (p.196.)

"Reading through the accounts that make up this study it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the pattern which many experiences follow may be telling us something. That there are dimensions to reality that extend beyond the physical, perhaps; dimensions and realities that may be able, on occasion, to interact with our own." (p.196.)

End thoughts:

At the beginning of this post I spoke of finding "gems." Here is another gem" from this book (p.176.)

"Perhaps, then, we should simply conclude that encounters with light after death are just one subset of a much larger group of post-mortem experiences such as those uncovered by Rees that include sensing the presence of the dead, hearing them, or even feeling their touch."

An important point I think, in looking at the UFO phenomenon is tat you cannot separate it from other aspects of the paranormal. I have, for example, come across an alien abduction that had some of the elements of an NDE. I was looking for NDE experiences in Australia in the early 1980s and found the following.

1979 Melbourne Victoria 11pm

"A man named Mark retired to bed one night . Shortly after closing his eyes he lost all sense of sound and feeling and found himself travelling in a tunnel through space. Looking forward he noted a light at the end of the tunnel. In a room, on a table, he was medically examined by three beings...When they introduced a "scanner" to check him over he "freaked out" and woke up in his own bed..."

Other Australian abduction cases have similar elements to mystical experiences. In a 1974 abduction in New South Wales, a man named Peter experienced "a euphoric feeling" during the event.

An excellent book.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kevin Nelson


I've just had a few thoughts about the work of U.S. neurologist, Kevin Nelson (see my previous post.)

There are people who have trained themselves (e.g. Stephen La Berge) to increase the percentage of lucid dreams they have. This would imply that they can learn to switch on the dorso-lateral cortex areas of their own brains, while they are in REM sleep. How would they do this?

There are other people who have trained themselves to have out-of-body experiences (e.g. Robert Monroe). If Nelson's ideas are correct, then such individuals must have been able to learn how to turn off the temporoparietal region of their own brains. How would they do this?

If, as according to Nelson, OBEs during NDEs are in fact due to the temporoparietal region of the brain being switched off, then what about abductions where experiencers tell us they are able to "float" during the event? Perhaps it is in fact due to the same mechanism. Experiencers lose their body's sense of spatical position, and become convinced that they are "out-of-body" floating. Here, we would not be talking of a person who knows how to switch off the temporoparietal region, but who has an experience, when the temporoparietal region switches itself off for some reason, beyond their control. Naturally, as it was out of their control, the fact that it occurred would cause them puzzlement, distress and anxiety, and a total lack of understanding of what was happening.

I look forward to getting a copy of Nelson's new book, to read his hypothesis in full.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Australian Big Cats - a new book



Over the years, besides my interest in NDEs and UFOs, I have kept an eye on the subject of animals turning up where they shouldn't be.

So, when I came across a new Australian book on "Australian Big Cats," I looked upon it as an opportunity to catch up with where research was on this topic. The full title of the book is "Australian Big cats:An Unnatural History of Panthers" by Michael Williams and Rebecca Lang. Published by Strange Nation Publishing, Hazelbrook, NSW, Australia in 2010. ISBN 978-0-646-53007-9.

The introduction to the book tells us that Mike Williams " a Sydney based writer and researcher who has investigated strange phenomena and mystery animal sightings for the past 25 years." Rebecca Lang is a Sydney journalist, whose animal mystery work has appeared in such places as the UK Fortean Times magazine.

What is the subject of the book?

"For almost 150 years, sightings of strange, cat-like creatures have been reported and documented across Australia. While predominantly described as resembling jet-black panthers or sandy-coloured pumas and lions, spotted and striped large cats have also been reported since white settlement."


The book is filled with account after detailed account from individuals who report sighting unusual animals. These accounts span time and come from most states, with the top state being Victoria.

The lines of evidence pursued in the work are:

* carcasses of sheep, cattle, native animals and sometimes even domestic animals, which show evidence of death or attack other than by dogs, foxes etc

* Images-photographs, films and videos e.g. that filmed by Garry and Kerry Blount near Mudgee

* Prints in the ground e.g. John Patterson's from Ninety Mile beach in Victoria.

What do the authors conclude?

"The absence of physical evidence in many cases (but not all, as we have seen above) leaves plenty of room to argue that perhaps these cats are just figments or phantoms of the imagination..." (p.301.)

""We've even heard researchers discuss a paranormal element to big cat sightings , to account for the speed, stealth and uncatchable nature of these animals-but we can tell you that flesh and blood cats possess all of these attributes." (P.301.)

The 2005 Gippsland, Victoria shooting by Kurt Engel, of an animal which DNA testing revealed to be a large domestic style feral cat, which was 1.85m long "...threw up an altogether more frightening...scenario: Australian feral cats are busily super sizing..." (p.302.)

"That said, assessing the evidence from Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, we still believe exotic cats have also carved a niche for themselves in the Australian ecosystem. Our belief has been supported by the discovery of government paperwork on a scat and hair analysis on the Winchelsea cat hairs that came back as a possible melanistic leopard." (p.303.)

Where do they come from?

"The zoo/circus angle is perhaps the most credible of all potential origins. " (p.303.)

"And what of the marsupial lion, Thylacoleo Carnifex - could it still be roam the Australian bush? We're not 100% certain, but a distant marsupial relative might account for the profusion of 'Queensland Tiger' sightings." (P.304.)


Given my interest in the UFO phenomenon, with its conspiracy theories, alleged Government interference and the frailties of researchers, it was curious to see the same things were operating in the field of big cat research. For example;

Evidence disappears - David Pepper-Edwards was "the former senior specialist keeper of exotic cats at Toronga Zoo...sadly just before his retirement and shortly after a 'big cat' meeting of several representatives from various departments, the box containing some of the best documentary evidence to date went missing from his workplace." (pp43-44.) Similar things happened to vet Peter Brighton (p.171) and researcher Wally Davies (p.172.)

Suppressed reports- Dr Johannes Bauer, "...a wildlife ecologist from Charles Sturt University, who was engaged by the Department of Primary Industry in 1994 to look into sightings in the Hawkesbury area---After evaluating the evidence he concluded, "Difficult as it seems to accept the most likely explanation of the evidence of the presence of a large feline predator in the area."
His report to the Department was not publicly released and it was only after application was made under the Freedom of Information Act that the report surfaced." (p.44.)

Experts erring- "During this time the group also conducted a 'blind test' of several experts by sending leopold hair and scat...sure enough, after dispatching hair samples taken from a melanistic leopold...the results came back Felis Catus! The scat came back 'dog.' (p.34.)

Overall comments:

This work follows on from the 1981work "Savage Shadow: the search for the Australian cougar" by journalist David O'Reilly, published by Creative research. Perth, WA. ISBN 0908469136; and "Out of the Shadows" by Paul Cropper and Tony Healy, published in 1994 by Ironbank/Pan Macmillan. Sydney. ISBN 978-0-33027-4999.

It is an excellent overview of the state of 'Australian big cat' research as at 2010. There are excellent footnotes of sources on many pages, and a good index. The book might have benefited from a bibliography, but that is only a minor point.

All in all, a great book for your bookshelf.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kevin Nelson's latest NDE research

Hi all,

Kevin Nelson is a neurologist at the University of Kentucky. A book by Nelson has just been published in the USA by Dutton, reports an article in the 25 December 2010/1 January 2011 edition of the "New Scientist" magazine (pp 80-81.) It is titled "The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain."

Nelson suggests that there are three states of consciousness, these being "awake"; "non-REM sleep" and "REM sleep." These three distinct states can blend at times.

Regarding NDEs he says "What I have discovered is that the switch in the brain stem that regulates these three states functions differently in people who have NDEs. These people are more likely to get stuck between the REM state and waking. So it looks like some people are prone to having these kinds of experiences. Interestingly, it tends to run in families."

On OBEs during NDEs.

"These come about because the temporoparietal region of the brain is turned off, so the brain is no longer able to map the body's position in space. "

"REM consciousness turns the temporoparietal region off, so if you are semi-conscious in a borderland between waking and REM, you can easily have an out-of-body experience."

Lucid dreams

Brainwave measurements show that lucid dreaming is a conscious state between REM and awakening. During REM consciousness, the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex is turned off. As that's the executive rational part of the brain, this explains why dreams are so bizarre. But if the dorso-lateral cortex turns on inside a dream, you become aware you are dreaming."

My comments:

Very interesting material. I look forward to reading the book.

Naturally, one also thinks of the possible relevance to alien abduction accounts. I'll ponder this question for a while.

For more on Nelson's work, click on