; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Friday, February 13, 2015

Daily 2 Cents: International UFO Conference -- Thailand's Booming Ghost Trade -- Was the Mythical Thunderbird a Real Creature?

Area 51 Whistleblower Speaks At International UFO Conference

In 1989, the world was given a glimpse into a secretive military installation in a remote swath of the Nevada desert, commonly known as Area 51.

With one interview, Bob Lazar, a physicist who worked at the military research site, made Area 51 a household name and raised questions about what’s really going on out there.

Lazar told investigative reporter George Knapp there were nine saucers located in a hangar that was built to blend in with the surrounding desert.

Lazar was thrust into public scrutiny, and there are people who believe he made up the entire story. In a 25-year anniversary interview with Knapp, Lazar said he wished he had never done the interview.

Next weekend, Knapp is speaking at the annual International UFO Congress in Scottsdale, Ariz., before a question and answer session with Lazar himself.

Knapp, a longtime reporter with a raft of journalism awards, including two Peabodys – the TV equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize – has also done his own research.

Knapp produced and directed a series of documentaries, “UFOs The Best Evidence,” which presents information from scientists, journalists and other researchers about UFO sightings and government cover-ups.

Even before Lazar started talking about Area 51, Knapp started pursing the topic and has always treated it like he does any other story.

“I’ve tried to approach it like any other news story,” Knapp said, “That is what it has always been to me. It’s not a campaign. It’s a news story and it’s a really good news story.”

The skepticism of his colleagues is one of the reasons he has stayed focused on the often-maligned topic. Although he admits much of what is talked about in the field is “complete nonsense,” he believes there is at the very least intriguing evidence.

Col. John Alexander, Ret., who authored “UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities,” agrees there is evidence of life outside the planet, but looking into it is “not a career builder.”

They both point out that many Americans and respected scientists believe in extraterrestrials but the science establishment does not, which shuts down research on the topic.

“I think we need to do this research without risk of losing your reputation and livelihood,” Alexander said.

The topic is a difficult one not only because of the almost religious zeal that supporters bring to it, but also because the pieces do not always fit together.

“You always come up with conflicting data and scientists frankly don’t like that,” Alexander said.

Knapp agrees the evidence of extraterrestrials exists. He points to a paper trail of documents and studies done by military and intelligence agencies.

“Those documents paint a pretty dramatic picture that they do take this stuff seriously, or they did at one point, that they do have a pile of information that they can’t explain,” Knapp said.

But he doesn’t believe there is one central figure or agency that is suppressing information.

In the end, despite his interest in the topic, when asked if he has personally seen a UFO, Knapp replied, “Not that I can remember.” - KNPR News

Also appearing:

George Knapp, chief investigative reporter, KLAS Channel 8

John Alexander, retired U.S. Army Colonel, author, UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities


Thailand's Booming Ghost Trade

Ghosts, fortune telling and superstitions remain an integral part of the local culture in Thailand.

While ghost hunting shows and paranormal investigations might have become increasingly commonplace in the West over the last few years, our obsession with all things paranormal comes nowhere close to matching the level to which beliefs in the supernatural have become ingrained in Thailand's society and culture.

From its remote rural regions to its biggest cities, everywhere you go in Thailand you will find at least some reference to ghosts, spirits, fortune telling or a multitude of other esoteric subjects.

Even high profile political figures and military generals take the time to consult a seer before making a big decision and fortune tellers are used by everyone from students to business owners.

When an image of the former Prime Minister, Samak Sundhornvej, appeared on a screen shortly after his death in 2009 many political figures believed it to have been a visit from beyond the grave.

"The spirit of Mr. Samak came back to say goodbye," the speaker of Parliament said at the time.

Not everyone is happy with the way things are however. Science professor Jessada Denduangboripant of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok is involved in a campaign to protest against what an increasing body of scientists are describing as an over reliance of pseudoscience.

"We’ve been told since childhood there are ghosts everywhere," he said. "You can have an iPhone and technology all around you. But you still stick to superstition." Read more at NY Time


Dog-Headed Men: Truth Behind the Legend?

Stories of dog-headed men pervade lore from ancient Greece through to medieval Europe and Africa. Many accounts center around India. What’s behind these accounts? Were they dehumanizing descriptions of foreign peoples? Were they distorted descriptions of real animals? Is there another explanation?

After invading India in the 4th century B.C., Alexander the Great purportedly wrote to his teacher, Aristotle, describing dog-headed men, along with other outlandish creatures dwelling in the East. The letter is included in a manuscript dating from about 1000 A.D., part of the Cotton Vitellius A. xv manuscript, which also includes the famed epic poem, “Beowulf.”

Ctesias the Cnidian wrote about the dog-headed men, also known as cynocephali, in the 4th century B.C. David Gordon White explained in his book “Myths of the Dog-Man,” that, “Although Ctesias believed he was reporting ethnological or geographical fact in his ‘Indika,’ there can be no doubt that a number of his accounts were in fact inspired by Indian myths.”

White wrote: “For some 1,500 years following Ctesias, conquerers, missionaries, and adventurers looked for, and indeed said they found, cynocephali in India.”

Gregory C. McIntosh, a leading expert on medieval maps (which often include depictions of cynocephali), said during a presentation at a 2013 conference at the Turkish Embassy in London that cannibals were often depicted as dog-headed men. Ancient Persians had a tradition of leaving their dead exposed, to be eaten by dogs and other scavengers, which gave the dogs a cultic importance in their culture. Herodotus, a Greek historian of the 5th century B.C., wrote of this Persian tradition. He also wrote of cynocephali living in Libya.

The cynocephali became part of Christian lore after the famed St. Augustine wrote about them, along with other monsters, in the 5th century A.D. He saw them as the the inheritors of Cain’s curse and the descendants of Noah’s disobedient offspring. White wrote: “Thanks to Augustine, the cynocephali were seen to be a part of the economy of salvation, albeit a fallen or exiled part; and so it was that they became widely allegorized and moralized as a quarrelsome, morally dumb, or even demonic race that was nevertheless redeemable.”

One theory is that accounts of cynocephali in Africa may actually refer to a large species of lemur, the indri lemur.

In his book On The Track Of Unknown Animals Bernard Heuvelmans wrote of the indri lemur: “It is the largest of the lemurs known today and is extraordinarily like a little man with a dog’s head. Three feet high and with no tail but an inconspicuous stump, the indris is astonishingly like a man in outline. Like the other lemurs, or half-monkeys, it has a fine and pointed muzzle, which makes its head more like a fox’s or a dog’s.

“When you have seen one it is easy to understand why the Betsimaraka tribe [of Madagascar] both fear and worship the beast they significantly call babakato, or ‘child-grandfather.’ They believe it is a descendant of the men who used to hide in the forest to avoid working for the tribe. All lemurs are fady, or taboo, to many of the tribes, for they are thought to have once been men.”

Like Augustine, the tribe equated the human-like animals with morally depraved humans. - The Epoch Times


Was the Mythical Thunderbird a Real Creature?

Perhaps the most elusive and legendary among America’s mythical creatures is the thunderbird, a giant eagle-like bird with incredible strength. This creature has been reported throughout the Midwest and a particular case in Illinois included a dangerously close encounter.

The legend of the Thunderbird is present throughout the American Midwest and has many incarnations among the Native American tribes that once lived and continue to live throughout this land.

The Sioux Nation, particularly, the Brule Sioux tribe of southwest South Dakota on the Rosebud Reservation, has a thunder bird legend known as “Wakinyan Tanka,” or the “Great Thunderbird,” according to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

To this tribe, the Thunderbird isn’t a mythical giant bird, but a group of non-physical beings that lived in the Black Hills. Clothed in clouds, the Thunderbird men are formless and their colors correspond to the four cardinal points; the Thunderbird of the west is black, the one of the east is yellow, red for the north, and white for the south. They are giants with four-jointed wings. In place of feet are enormous claws with a huge beak in place of a face with sharp, pointed teeth. Read more at The Epoch Times


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