Besides serving as a brilliant case study for the evolution of 1990s hairstyles, The X-Files taught an entire generation that Occam’s razor — the simplest explanation for strange phenomena is usually the correct one — is boring and stupid and completely wrong. No, the superior explanation is always 44 minutes of aliens and Sasquatches.
That same lesson applies to these four recent news stories, which are all so bizarre that even the Gillian Andersonest of Gillian Andersons would have a tough time denying the involvement of interstellar poltergeists.
#4. The Mars Rover Found a Mystery Rock (That Wasn’t There Before)
As far as exciting discoveries go, Mars has been kind of a wet noodle — the Opportunity rover has found no signs of ancient teleportation arks, atmospheric reactors, or dead John Carters. Just as it seemed we were all about to stop pretending we cared about any of Opportunity’s billion-dollar photographs of orange dirt, it sent back this picture:
Big deal, it’s a shiny rock. We’ve got those here on Earth. Now, look at a photo taken of the same area 12 days earlier:
That shiny rock wasn’t there two weeks prior. Scientists are baffled by the rock’s composition — it contains high amounts of sulfur, magnesium, and manganese, something they claim they’ve never seen before on the surface of Mars. Of course, all of this takes a back seat to the more pressing question: Who the hell put that rock there? Did it grow legs and crawl like the moon rocks in Apollo 18?
#3. A Wandering Pit Bull Was Found With an Old Black & White Photo in Its Collar
Earlier this month, animal rescue workers in Greenville, South Carolina, picked up a stray pit bull that had wandered into town with absolutely no identification … except for a completely unlabeled black-and-white photograph of a man from Grapes of Wrath times sitting on a porch banister and smiling tucked into its collar.
Presumably the photograph is a picture of either the dog’s human form before he was metamorphosed by a gypsy curse or the man that the dog was sent back in time to destroy. Considering that they have yet to find the dog’s owner or any explanation for its sudden, mysterious appearance, our guesses are as good as any.
Somewhat related: Fox Wants To Bring Back The X-Files, David Duchovny And Gillian Anderson (io9)
Did a poltergeist infest a home in Columbus, Ohio? Or was this the work of a mischievous teen?
In 1982 a terrifying phenomena was lifted from the pages of parapsychology literature and turned into the highly successful film, Poltergeist. Although the film was not based on a real case, and the phenomena in the film veered wildly from the historical symptoms, it did make this peculiar type of event culturally available in a way it had never been before. So when a trouble household in Columbus, Ohio began experiencing flying objects and mysterious disturbances, one had to wonder: was this a poltergeist or merely zeitgeist?
Enthusiasts of paranormal lore will know that the word poltergeist is derived from the german words for noisy and spirit. Before we get into the particulars of the Columbus Poltergeist, lets talk about skeptics and hauntings. Skeptics are often depicted as dismissing the idea of ghosts and spirits without investigation, but there is actually a rich history of thorough scientific investigations of such alleged phenomena. The most difficult challenge is that the allegedly paranormal events rarely manifest themselves when skeptical researchers are present. This leaves the investigator to more of a forensic role and sometimes with nothing but a collection of anecdotes.
Even the terminology for such events is difficult because a skeptical view of any such phenomena is predicated on examining each unusual component rather than collectively viewing them as a haunting. This is a problem for paranormal believers too in that ghost investigations are all trying to explain elusive phenomena. Consider these words: phantoms, shadows, phantasms, ghosts, spirits… there is a robust lexicon to describe these non-corporeal entities, but no scientific proof that any of them exist. For the purposes of this article I’m going to talk about various aspects of this field but remember that these are terms which the scientific community – and Skeptoid – do not endorse as real or genuine. So when I talk about hauntings I’m not endorsing the existence of supernatural manifestations, but using the word to mean “the collection of unusual events” associated with such cases.
Poltergeists cases are characterized by loud noises, things being thrown, apportations of tiny objects, mysterious liquids appearing, rocks falling on the roof, and occasionally people being pushed, clawed, pressed or otherwise harassed. In most cases the poltergeist events are centered around one person – often a teenager. Many times when this central figure is removed from the scene the events stop and do not follow them to other locations.
In 1984 the home of John and Joan Resch became the scene of such events. Glasses, photographs, telephones and lamps were being thrown about and broken and the events all seemed centered on the Resch’s adopted daughter Tina.
by Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia
Hard-nosed science types like myself are often criticized by the paranormal enthusiasts for setting too high a bar for what we’ll accept as evidence. The supernatural world, they say, doesn’t come when called, is highly sensitive to the mental states of people who are nearby, and isn’t necessarily going to be detectable to scientific measurement devices. Also, since a lot of the skeptics come into the discussion with a bias toward disbelief, they’ll be likely to discount any hard evidence that does arise as a hoax or misinterpretation of natural phenomena.
Which, as I’ve mentioned before, is mighty convenient. It seems to boil down to, “It exists, and you have to believe because I know it exists.” And I’m sorry, this simply isn’t good enough. If there are real paranormal phenomena out there, they should be accessible to the scientific method. Such claims should stand or fall on the basis of evidence, just like any other proposed model of how things work.
The problem becomes more difficult with the specific claim of precognition/clairvoyance — the idea that some of us (perhaps all of us) are capable of predicting the future, either through visions or dreams. The special difficulty with this realm of the paranormal world is that a dream can’t be proven to be precognitive until after the event it predicts actually happens; before that, it’s just a weird dream, and you would have no particular reason to record it for posterity. And given the human propensity for hoaxing, not to mention the general plasticity of memory, a claim that a specific dream was precognitive is inadmissible as evidence after the event in question has occurred. It always reminds me of the quote from the 19th century Danish philosopher and writer, Søren Kierkegaard: “The tragedy of life is that it can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.”
This double-bind has foiled any attempts to study precognition… until now.
By Pauli Poisuo via Listverse – August 15, 2013
Some say alien life forms have visited Earth throughout history. However, such claims are difficult to prove. Most UFO sightings and abductions are easy to dismiss as hoaxes or simple misunderstandings.
But what about the times when the little green men actually leave something behind? Or the artifacts people from ancient times have constructed to honor what could only be visitors from other planets? There are many strange objects in the world, both enigmatic and man-made, that are said to be proof of alien life.
10 • The Russian UFO Tooth Wheel
A Russian man found a strange piece of machinery from Vladivostok, the administrative capital of the Primorsky Krai area. The object resembled a piece of tooth wheel and was embedded in a piece of coal he was using to light a fire. Although discarded pieces of old machines are not uncommon in Russia, the man became curious and showed his find to some scientists. Testing revealed that the toothed object was almost pure aluminum and almost certainly artificially made.
Also, it was 300 million years old. This raised some interesting questions, as aluminum of this purity and shape can’t form naturally and humans didn’t figure out how to make it until 1825. Curiously, the object also resembles parts that are used in microscopes and other delicate technical devices.
Although conspiracy theorists have been quick to declare the find a part of an alien spaceship, the scientists researching it are not willing to jump to conclusions and wish to run further tests in order to learn more about the mysterious artifact.
9 • The Guatemala Stone Head
In the 1930s, explorers found an enormous, eloquently made sandstone statue in the middle of a Guatemalan jungle. The face carved in the stone didn’t resemble the facial features of the Maya or any of the other people known to have populated the lands. In fact, its elongated cranium and fine features didn’t seem to belong in the history books at all.
Researchers have claimed that the statue’s unique features depict a member of an ancient alien civilization that was far more advanced than any of the pre-Hispanic races of America we know about. Some even speculated the head might just be a part of a much larger construct underneath (this was found to be untrue). Of course, there’s a chance that the statue might be the work of a more recent artist or even a complete hoax. Sadly, we will probably never find out for sure: The head was used for target practice by revolutionary troops and its features have been destroyed to near obscurity.
8 • The Williams Enigmalith
In 1998, a hiker named John J. Williams noticed a strange metallic protrusion in the dirt. He dug up a strange-looking rock which, upon cleaning, turned out to have a weird electrical component attached to it. The electric device was clearly man-made and somewhat resembled an electrical plug.
The rock has since become a well-known mystery in UFO enthusiast circles. It has featured in UFO Magazine and (according to Williams) Fortean Times, a famed magazine devoted to mysterious phenomena. Williams, an electrical engineer, says the electronic component embedded in the stone has not been glued or welded into the granite. In fact, the rock probably formed around the device.
Many believe that the so-called Williams Enigmalith is a hoax, as Williams refuses to break it (but is willing to sell it for $500,000). Also, the stone device does bear a certain resemblance to heat rocks that are commonly used to keep tropical pet lizards warm. Still, geological analysis has apparently determined that the stone is around 100,000 years old, which (if true) would mean the device inside can’t possibly be of human creation. Williams is confident enough to let anyone research the Enigmalith on three conditions: He must be present, the rock must remain unharmed, and he will not have to pay for the research.
7 • Ancient Aeroplanes
Incas and other pre-Columbian people left behind some extremely puzzling trinkets. Some of the strangest are probably the so-called Ancient Aeroplanes, which are small, golden figures that closely resemble modern jet planes. Originally thought to be zoomorphic (meant to resemble animals), the statues were soon found to have features that look very much like fighter planes’ wings, stabilizing tails, and even landing gears. They were aerodynamic enough that when ancient astronaut believers (allegedly) made model planes with their proportions and fitted them with propellers and (again, allegedly) jet engines, they flew perfectly. All of this has led to speculation that the Incas may have been in contact with (likely extraterrestrial) people who were able to build advanced jet planes, and who perhaps even possessed the technology themselves.
Well, that, or these wonderful statuettes might just be artistic representations of bees, flying fish, or other winged creatures. As always, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.