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  Columnist: Peter Fotis Kapnistos

Image credit: iStockPhoto

Strange things I don't talk about

Posted on Saturday, 7 March, 2009 | 17 comments
Columnist: Peter Fotis Kapnistos

In my lifetime I have experienced a few incidents that might be described as Fortean because they remain outside the recognized theories of science. Altogether, there were really only four or five such anomalous occurrences in my whole life and they took place years apart. But even so, I remember them in detail because they remain unexplained. I suspect that many ordinary people also experience extraordinary things but don’t talk about them for fear of being laughed at.

I personally don’t have a problem with making people chuckle. The way I see it, it’s a lot better than making people weep. So if you have a psychological need to giggle at something you can’t explain, go right ahead. It’s an excellent fear-repression mechanism. But listen closely to what I have to say.

Paul Dale Roberts, a paranormal investigator and writer recently interviewed me. He put forward a range of questions on the subjects of UFOs and Men in Black (MIBs) that I encountered several years ago. I also touched upon research in remote viewing conducted by the US Navy from 1972 until 1995. L.R. Bremseth, then a Navy commander, described it as a broad-based “transcendent and asymmetrical” research program. But there were some other matters that Paul Dale Roberts didn’t ask me about because they have no obvious link to UFOs. There are a few strange things I don’t talk about.

A most baffling incident happened to me one warm summer evening when I was walking alone. It was somewhere around three or four o’clock in the morning. The streets were empty and the neighborhood was silent as I nonchalantly made my way home after a get-together with a few friends. When I arrived at the intersection lights of two small streets near my house, I carefully looked in each direction to make sure no cars were coming. The junction was undisturbed and the narrow streets were abandoned. Nobody was outside except me. But I suddenly noticed something dim and small rapidly moving toward me from about half a block away. I was standing in the middle of the intersection and thought it could have been a dark cat or perhaps even a large rat running after me. The small dark thing was moving fast and when it approached me I quickly jumped in the air to prevent it from biting my foot. It abruptly stopped next to me. I cautiously crouched down to see what it was and was absolutely amazed by what I saw. It was a big cluster of muddy grapes. Where it came from, I do not know. How it scuttled along the street, I have no idea. There are some things I don’t talk about.

I realize there’s much symbolism to the grapevine. But I’m the type of person who looks for scientific explanations for bizarre experiences. This one really had me stumped. The only rationalization I am able to provide is a long shot. In 2008, researchers discovered single-celled organisms about the size of a grape on the seafloor near the Bahamas. These large single cells (called Gromia sphaerica) can actually scurry along the seafloor. Cosmologist Paul Davies recently speculated that a space-faring civilization could build miniature probes to explore the galaxy, perhaps no bigger than your palm. Such so-called “von Neumann probes” may act as roaming life forms the size of grapes from an extraterrestrial civilization. I told you it was a long shot. But if you can come up with a better explanation that doesn't involve phantasms, please let me know.

About two years later, I visited Israel during the summer months because I wanted to see the old town of Jerusalem. Entering the ancient walled city was like taking a journey into the past. Unfortunately, there was much political tension in those days and soldiers with machine guns patrolled the streets at night. But that didn’t stop me from slipping past the guards and climbing up to the Mount of Olives where I found a comfortable spot to sit and gaze down upon Jerusalem and meditate every night. After doing that for a few consecutive evenings, one night I saw a small ball of light suddenly materialize in front of me as I sat in the grass. It seemed slightly larger than a ping-pong ball but looked smaller than a tennis ball. It was a bright sphere of continuous white light, not flashing, and seemed to float about four or five feet off the ground. It drifted slowly in front of me, from my right to my left, and traveled approximately thirty or forty feet before it abruptly evaporated.

Unlike the grape cluster, there is scientific recognition of this fact. It’s called ball lightning. According to Dr. Keith Heidorn, a similar phenomenon called St. Elmo's fire can also appear on leaves, grass, and even at the tips of cattle horns. Prof. Colin Price, head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences Department at Tel Aviv University, said thunderstorms are the catalyst for a newly discovered natural phenomenon he calls sprites, described as flashes high in the atmosphere.

The exact cause and nature of ball lightning has yet to be determined; there may be several different types, confusing matters further. But generally it manifests as a grapefruit-sized sphere of light moving slowly through the air which may end by fizzling out or exploding. (David Hambling, “Scientist Looks to Weaponize Ball Lightning,” WIRED, February 20, 2009)

Even though scientists don’t know what causes ball lightning, at least they have a name for it. It seems that it may be a sporadic phenomenon in Israel. Uri Geller, the world’s most investigated paranormalist, said that at the age of four he had an encounter with a mysterious ball of light while in a garden near his house in Israel. He said that he chased after it and was actually hit in the head by the “sphere of light.” This might sound like a childhood flight of the imagination, but many years later an elderly Israeli man named Yaakov Avrahami recalled that while he was once walking to a bus station he witnessed a ball of light. “At that certain moment I noticed a little boy with a white shirt come out from the building to the left. This light ball stopped like it sensed him. Suddenly it moved backwards towards the little boy.”

Journalist Anthony Bragalia says that UFOs are both amorphous and solid. They appear as “lightforms” as often as they appear to be constructed of metal. Bragalia claims that in the coming months newly discovered information will be released revealing that the US government conducted some very interesting studies which, when published, will provide stunning insights.

Some of the aerial "plasma light" phenomena appears to be self-organized and self-directed, even exhibiting some type of intelligence. They can hover, move instantly, morph shape, blink out then reappear elsewhere... or fade into nothingness. Explanations have been proffered that the lights are unknown natural earth or atmospheric events or processes. Maybe they somehow relate to piezoelectricity, ions, earth lights — or unique combinations of these things. Or even still, some feel they may be some sort of unknown aerial life forms. (Anthony Bragalia, “UFOs and the States of Matter,” The UFO Reality, February 12, 2009)
The coincidental timing of my ball lightning experience is what symbolically matters to me. I can now say that “I saw the light” while meditating on the Mount of Olives over Jerusalem. But Uri Geller apparently caught it right between the eyes. Since the nature of ball lightning still remains unknown to scientists, we can’t rule out the possibility of a von Neumann probe in this case either. Observing a celestial probe might be amazing, but having one transferred into your forehead would truly be remarkable.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” is a 2004 non-fiction book by Jon Ronson, and a movie based on the book, starring George Clooney, about the US Army's exploration of the potential military applications of the paranormal. The title refers to attempts to kill goats by staring at them. According to David Hambling of WIRED magazine, Dr. Paul Koloc briefly obtained funding in 2002 from the Missile Defense Agency to create stable “magnetoplasmoids” or ball lightning a foot in diameter which would last between one and five seconds and accelerate to two hundred kilometers a second. This would make an idea anti-missile weapon, generating an intense electromagnetic pulse on impact. The USAF’s Phillips Laboratory supposedly examined a very similar concept in 1993.

Shortly before my father’s death, the hands of a small clock in my kitchen started moving counter-clockwise. We assumed that it was because the clock needed new batteries. When my father was placed in an intensive care unit after enduring a heart attack and a broken hip, I remained at home to watch over my ailing mother. As I prayed for my father’s health, I suddenly felt a mild breeze of air move from the left side of my body to the right. I sensed at that moment that my father had passed away. I looked at the clock in the living room. It was eight-twenty in the evening and I said so to my sister. When we later got our doctor’s hospital report, the exact hour of my father’s death was 8:20 PM. A few days later, our next-door neighbor happened to be visiting us. Because she was near the telephone, she answered it when it rang. It was a man’s voice. He asked about a family member. When my neighbor asked who the caller was, he replied that he was my father — and promptly hung up. Unless that was a heartless prank, it resembled various reports of so-called “dead ringers,” or phone calls from the dead. In many instances the cell or landline numbers had even been disconnected. But they still appeared on caller ID.

Every time the living picks up the phone all they hear on the other end is static. There have been instances of those who receive the calls recording them only to find voices in the recording that were not perceptible to the human ear at the time. (Pastor Swope, "Dead Ringers," The Paranormal Pastor, November 30, 2008)

The Death and Resurrection of Mars

A popular website has built a minor-league reputation regularly nit-picking about “UFOs and the Death of God.” Citing Nietzsche’s schizophrenia and welcoming an existentiality that it presumes to be real, its most recent report claims “some in the UFO community replace God with UFOs for psychological reasons.”

That argument vaguely reminds us of the “Death of Mars” attitude. Scientists have long reflected on the possibility of life on Mars. In the 17th century, after telescopic observation by some observers of apparent Martian canals, it was natural to suppose that some form of life may inhabit Mars. But in 1894, U.S. astronomer William Campbell wrongly showed that water and oxygen were not present in the Martian atmosphere. By the early 1900s, the canal theory was no longer supported. In 1965, NASA scientists unhappily described a parched Mars without rivers, oceans or any signs of life. Mars was officially dead. But today all that has changed. The discovery of abundant sources of water on Mars, together with vast stores of methane gas have most researchers believing once again that Mars is alive and well.

Advocates of the “God is Dead” hypothesis may also be in for a big surprise. According to Paul Davies, there could be microbes that do not have the standard biochemistry of Earth-dwelling organisms. Davies and other leading researchers now think that an amazing realm of “life as we don’t know it” may exist around us. Scientists would never have identified such “weird life” because the techniques they use for studying microbes are based on the familiar biological processes that drive the living things we understand.

Some microbes may also have a means of carrying genetic information and replicating themselves that is not based on DNA, or that has extra DNA “letters.” These microbes could exist in extreme environments such as deep underground or in hot springs, or they could even live inside other organisms, including ourselves. “They might be right in front of our noses, or even in our noses,” Professor Davies said. (Mark Henderson, “Aliens 'may be living among us' undetected by science,” Times Online, February 15, 2009)

As one observer noted, the Bible clearly talks about life that is not based in DNA, realms of created beings that are not physical. Over eighty percent of the US population believes in God because that inkling appears to be hard-wired in our genes. The remaining twenty percent don’t believe because they have a psychological need (or guilt) not to. They argue that God is “too good to be true.” It is ironic that the English name God actually stems from the words “the good.” If you remove the possibility of an ultimate good, then you’re left with an ultimate banality. Are you good at what you do? Are you good at your job? Are you good in bed? Twenty percent of the US population has abandoned all trust in “the good” and by extension even attempts to identify the entire universe as an object of banality and mayhem. But they can only speak for themselves.

The “God is Dead” campaigners say God cannot possibly exist because he abandoned his people many times over the millennia, and more unspeakably during the Holocaust. Sir David Attenborough, a prominent agnostic and distinguished BBC television naturalist, recently said he rejects the Bible because a loving God would not allow an innocent child in Africa to have its eye destroyed by a parasitic worm. However, he failed to mention that there is still hope for that child if modern science turns away from warfare and concentrates on the healing arts. Perhaps what Sir David really means is: why would God allow an innocent Jesus to be crucified? The answer to that, we are told, is to teach us the importance of courage. Modern man has become a cowardly creature that destroys innocent life in underprivileged nations with push-button ease, while he gradually becomes a vile object of morbid obesity and banality. God’s death was to teach us the worth of valor — and that death cannot hold Him.

It is argued that many “deranged people in the UFO community” have taken to hallucinating about being taken to Him. But can you think of a medical specialist on appendicitis who has never actually seen a human appendix? Or how about a certified critic of hip hop music that’s never heard a single African American or Latino American song? They would probably be regarded as con artists, not authorities. Why then, are there so many official “UFO investigators” that have never seen a UFO — and really don’t want to because they fear it will make them appear to be unreasonable? Where is the expert common sense in that?

Imagine being a civilian in the Iraqi war (or any war for that matter). One day you look out your front door and see a large armored vehicle parked directly outside your house and perhaps a few soldiers patrolling your street with cameras and searchlights. Would you really suppose that the soldiers don’t notice you and that they don’t know who you are? You’d have to be pretty naïve to think that. It would be far more realistic to assume that they know exactly who you are — and they will probably keep tabs on you from time to time. This is how I interpret UFO experiencers: They are known and made use of by intelligent extraterrestrials to circulate and publicize particular facts of the UFO enterprise.

What is happening now appears to be a bizarre form of psychological warfare. We are being literally bombarded with countless sightings and photographs of unidentified aerial objects to drive home the intimidating point that something beyond the scope of human science is watching over our planet. There are simply too many reliable reports flowing in to be dismissed as hallucinations or frauds. Why then, doesn’t the government just admit that UFOs are real? Perhaps because the largest part of taxpayer money goes to an overwhelming defense budget. The last message the Defense Department wants to convey is the likely fact that it cannot defend us from potential UFO upheavals (as if we didn’t know by now). That would be an outright acknowledgment that billions of our dollars are being wasted. So instead, it plays the flightless ostrich game of hiding its head in the sand. Sixty years ago, the Japanese government chose to ignore warnings that America was developing a secret weapon. Japan’s ostrich game suffered a legendary defeat and the state religion of Emperor worship was banned. I don’t have a problem with making people laugh. But there are some things I don’t talk about.

Article Copyright© Peter Fotis Kapnistos - reproduced with permission.

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