Saturday, August 30, 2014

Whatever happened to parapsychology?

It seems that stories of the paranormal sprout up every day, and everywhere, in pop culture and the media. Weird news websites number in the hundreds, and there are entire television series dedicated to psychic abilities, hauntings and paranormal investigation.

But that's all showbiz, really. The actual academic study of parapsychology -- the established term for phenomena such as clairvoyance, psychokinesis, telepathy and precognition -- has seemingly disappeared since its heyday in the mid-20th century. So what happened to parapsychology?

It hasn't gone anywhere, said John Kruth, executive director of the Rhine Research Center in Durham, N.C. It's just become disorganized, underfunded and -- in the realm of traditional science -- largely ignored. The Rhine is one of a handful of privately funded groups in the United States still doing active research into parapsychology, sometimes called "psi phenomena."

"People have never stopped doing research in these areas," Kruth said. "But the skeptic community is strong and vocal, and they're much better at working the media." Kruth attributes much of the field's decline in the United States, during the 1970s and 1980s, to media-savvy debunkers such as James Randi.

"Certainly there are fraudulent practitioners out there, and we're always watching for that," Kruth said. "It's like we have the frauds on one side and the debunkers on the other, and we're in the middle, still trying to do science."

Critics respond that, as a field of scientific study, parapsychology has much bigger issues. In short, the science has a fundamental evidence problem.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Exorcism death priest released from prison

A Romanian priest sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the exorcism death of a young nun in 2005 has recently been released. With assistance from four nuns, priest Daniel Corogeanu bound 23-year-old nun Irina Cornici to a cross, gagged her mouth with a towel, and left her for five days without food or water.

The ritual, Corogeanu explained, was an effort to drive devils out of the woman. Cornici died on June 15, 2005; an autopsy found she had died of suffocation and dehydration. Cornici had a history of schizophrenia that had been mistaken as a sign of demonic possession.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Jesus statue found to have real teeth

A Jesus statue that has lived an unassuming life in a small town in Mexico for the last 300 years has been hiding a strange secret: real human teeth.

Exactly how the statue of Jesus awaiting punishment prior to his crucifixion got its set of choppers is a mystery.

But the statue may be an example of a tradition in which human body parts were donated to churches for religious purposes, said Fanny Unikel Santoncini, a restorer at the Escuela Nacional de Restauración, Conservación y Museografía at the Instituto Nacional de Antropología E Historia (INAH) in Mexico, who first discovered the statue's teeth.

"We have to remember that these people were very, very religious. They believed absolutely that there was a life after death and this was important for them," Unikel told Live Science.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Viking ship discovered near Mississippi River

A group of volunteers cleaning up the shores of the Mississippi river near the biggest city in Tennessee, have stumbled upon the remains of an ancient boat encrusted in mud. A team of archeologists from the University of Memphis that was rapidly called to the site, confirmed that the ship is most certainly a Viking knarr, suggesting the Norse would have pushed their exploration of America a lot further than historians previously thought.

The heavily damaged ship was found near the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers, and lies on a private property. It has a length of about 16 meters, a beam of 4.5 meters, and a hull that is estimated capable of carrying up to 24 to 28 tons, a typical size for this type of ship. Knarrs were naval vessels that were built by the Norsemen from Scandinavia and Iceland for Atlantic voyages, but also used for trade, commerce, exploration, and warfare during an era known as the Viking Age, that goes approximately from 793 to 1066 AD. They were clinker built, which means the overlapping of planks riveted together. It was capable of sailing 75 miles (121 km) in one day and held a crew of about 20 to 30 men. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Crowdfunding sought for 'ghost-detecting' computer program

A man who believes he has developed a scientific way to detect ghosts and other paranormal entities in everyday photos and videos has launched a crowdfunding program to raise money for further development.

According to a press release by ghost hunter Joe DiMare,

“Many people believe in ghosts, but not many people have evidence to support their belief. Now with Hidden Intelligence Tracking (HIT), anyone can shoot a 30-second video and submit it to have minor changes in light and motion amplified to reveal evidence of the paranormal. The creator of HIT has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $49,999 by August 5 to expand computer capabilities so that more videos can be processed quicker. Taking a whole new approach to ghost chasing, HIT works like a microscope for video, revealing minute changes in motion and light. Users can take a 1080-pixel video with an iPhone, an Android device, or a digital camera and submit the video for processing via Google Drive or the HIT app. The amplified video will then be emailed back to the user.”
That “amplified video” is guaranteed to contain a ghost, according to DiMare’s “Ghost Guarantee: We promise to find a ghost on your video if you follow our instruction video.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Man fined for pretending to be ghost in Portsmouth cemetery

A man has been fined for pretending to be a ghost and other rowdy behavior in a cemetery.

Anthony Stallard pleaded guilty at Portsmouth magistrates court to using threatening or abusive words or behavior likely to cause distress.

The court heard that the 24-year-old had been out drinking with friends when they went to Kingston cemetery in Portsmouth, where they started to play football.

A Hampshire police spokesman said that witnesses complained to police about Stallard's rowdy behaviour and his pretending to be a ghost.

"The witnesses reported the group engaging in rowdy behavior and one of them throwing their arms in the air and saying 'woooooo'," he said.

Stallard, of Southsea, Hampshire, was fined £35 and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £20 in costs.

He also had an extra three months added to a conditional charge for previous harassment which he was found to be in breach of, according to a Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman.

A charge of causing criminal damage to gravestones was dismissed.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Vatican recognizes exorcists' association

The Catholic Church recently formally recognized The International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests worldwide who claim to drive demons and devils out of possessed individuals.

An ABC News report notes that "The International Association of Exorcists was originally founded in 1990 and one of their leaders has been housed in the Vatican for years, but this is the first time that they have been given formal approval by the highest order of the Roman Catholic Church. According to The Vatican's official newspaper 'L'Osservatore Romano', the Congregation for Clergy announced Tuesday that the Church's canon law now formally recognizes the group."

The recognition is seen as another sign that Catholic Church formally approves of exorcisms. Pope Francis has been more vocal than many of his predecessors about the reality of demons and devils, and was seen last year praying over a man said to be possessed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Man woke up on fire

Edmonton police are baffled after a man claimed he woke up on fire Saturday morning.

Witnesses are telling city cops that the young man, believed to be around 20 years old, spontaneously combusted.

“The complainant isn’t saying anything, not co-operating with us,” said acting Staff Sgt. Mike Wynnyk. “The witnesses aren’t giving us any information other than they saw his back on fire. That’s it. They’re all thinking it was spontaneous human combustion.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ghost attacks news reporter in Pennsylvania home

FOX43, a local news station in Central Pennsylvania, recently went inside a home in Hanover, York County. This home however, is different from others on the block. The homeowners say their house is severely haunted, with multiple ghosts and other entities.

Homeowner DeAnna Simpson says her family has lived in the home for seven years. After putting “everything they had into buying it” and moving in, she says she and her husband found out it was haunted.

Simpson has many ghostly photos, including some from something that scratches people who come inside. She also has audio recordings of voices, children laughing, and dogs barking that were not in the house.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Porcelain dolls left at San Clemente homes resemble homeowners' daughters

Police have been called in to investigate a curious case after families reported finding porcelain dolls in front of their homes in a gated community in San Clemente, California.

The dolls were found on the porches of eight houses in the Talega development and resemble the young girls who live there, KTLA reports.

"We're examining the dolls in an attempt to identify who may have manufactured [them]," Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Hallock tells PEOPLE. "Are they homemade? Were they purchased at a retailer? Something, some information that will give us the ability to track down who may be responsible for leaving the dolls in front of people's houses."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Worshipper rips out both eyes in mass with his bare hands

Churchgoers were left stunned after a man tore out both his eyeballs in the middle of a priest's sermon at Sunday Mass in a scene that resembled a horror film.

Parishioners in Viareggio, near Pisa, in northern Italy, could only watch as one of their number calmly stood up and carried out the horrific self-mutilation in front of them.