29 November 2012

Supporting us by buying or renting houses

Lenin is said to have declared that the way to crush the bourgeoisie was to grind them between the millstones of inflation and taxation.

This seems to be the programme that has been, and is being, followed in this country and throughout Western civilisation.

There is a smallish house for sale near here, and also a small house for rent near here. Any potential supporter could buy or rent one of them, as a holiday home and/or for us to use. It seems that in modern society we have no potential supporters, but I just mention it.

The agent for the house for sale is Penny & Sinclair.

The agent for the house for rent is Morgan & Associates.

26 November 2012

Professor Colin Blakemore and 'near-death' experiences

‘Near-death experiences’, which have become a staple of popular journalism, were never heard of (or at least I had never heard of them) until a decade or so after the publication of my book on out-of-the-body experiences in 1968, so it may be supposed that they arose in reaction to my having publicised the concepts of out-of-the-body experiences, lucid dreams, and apparitions.

I should explain how it was that I came to publish work on these topics, as it has been widely assumed that I found them particularly interesting.

In fact, I was thrown out at the end of my ruined ‘education’ with no usable qualification, after eleven years of state-funded oppression which was aimed at producing an egalitarian outcome, i.e. at cancelling the advantages which I might have been able to gain as a result of my exceptional ability. I had no research scholarship nor any way of proceeding with the high-flying university career which I needed to have, in any field.

In this shocking situation, serendipity led me to the Society for Psychical Research and I was able to obtain a research studentship (the Perrott Studentship) on account of the relationship of the SPR with Trinity College, Cambridge.

I do not know of any other way in which I could have obtained a grant for postgraduate work in any field in the absence of support from Somerville (my Oxford college).

I had therefore to survey the fields of potential research that fell under the auspices of the Perrott Studentship to find the areas most likely to enhance my claim on a university appointment.

Out-of-the-body experiences (OBEs) appeared to me to be the phenomenon which would most readily lend itself to research leading to advances in scientific understanding. They were, however, and perhaps for this reason, ignored by those working or interested in parapsychology. They were predominantly associated with a belief in an afterlife, and the cases compatible with such a belief which were sometimes published by spiritualists or theosophists were supposed by those without such beliefs to be imaginary or dreamlike experiences.

Dr Charles McCreery and I made appeals to the general public for reports of anomalous experiences. As a result of our work, it now appears that such appeals can be expected to produce a substantial number of cases. The cases often had various characteristics in common, which could provide plentiful scope for further research, but we did not see any of this as having any bearing on the question of spiritualistic survival.

We hoped that we had released OBEs as a topic for research from this unrealistic issue. However, the way to our doing further research was blocked by a lack of interest in providing financial support for us to carry it out. (There had all along been hostility to our commencing research in this area, even from members of the SPR.)

After a decade or so, we started to become aware of the previously unknown category of near-death experiences, which began to receive publicity on the television and elsewhere.

For example, a near-death experience was quoted in the Daily Mail recently.
Death was beckoning but I was aware of everything around me. Suddenly, I felt my entire body being sucked up into the white light above. I found myself in a white tunnel — and I knew I had died. Away from the cursing of the medics and the bleeps of the machines, there was a wonderful sense of calm.

But I also became aware of somebody standing a few feet away from me... it was Ruby — wearing her new school uniform and with her hair tied neatly in bunches. She smiled and took my hand. ‘Come with me, Mummy,’ she implored.

At the end stood a gate. I stopped, feeling an urge to walk back down the tunnel, where I was sure my beloved grandmother and other family members who’d passed away would be waiting to greet me.

But little Ruby was insistent. ‘Mummy, step through the gates NOW!’ Her urgency brought me to my senses. I stepped through it and Ruby slammed it shut behind me.

The shock jolted my body — and I am sure it was at this moment that the defibrillator pads being used by the medics shocked my heart back into a rhythm. (Daily Mail, 10 October 2012)
Also recently Professor Colin Blakemore commented in the Daily Telegraph on a book (Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander) about near-death experiences.
... NDEs have taken on a new cloak of respectability with a book by a Harvard doctor. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, will make your toes wiggle or curl, depending on your prejudices. What’s special about his account of being dead is that he’s a neurosurgeon. ... His, and the multitude of other memories reported by people who have been close to death, have to be seen first through the prism of hard science. The crucial question is not whether such astounding experiences should lead us to abandon materialist accounts of brain function, but whether materialist accounts can possibly explain them. ... Since the lucky survivor can only tell you about them after the event, how can we be sure that these things were perceived and felt at the time that their brains were messed up, rather than being invented afterwards? (Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2012)
And this is what has apparently resulted from our attempts to establish out-of-the-body experiences as a field in which we could carry out further research. The concept of OBEs has been replaced by the new concept of NDEs, and these are seen as only of interest in relation to the question of spiritualist survival.

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources.

19 November 2012

Biography of General Sir Richard McCreery

On Wednesday (14th November) a book was published about the life of the late General Sir Richard McCreery, the father of my colleague Dr Charles McCreery. According to the book, Sir Richard was ‘arguably one of the finest British fighting generals of the Second World War.’

The book gives a misleading impression of the life of Charles McCreery and of our past history as an organisation for academic research, an organisation which was intended to supplement the university career of Dr McCreery, among others. The General was, in effect, antagonistic and his hostility had damaging effects on Dr McCreery’s prospects in life and those of the Institute of Psychophysical Research, with which Dr McCreery had become associated.

What is said in the book omits most of what happened and gives a misleading impression of the little that is mentioned.

Other members of the McCreery family should have exerted themselves (but have never done so) to repair the damage to Charles McCreery’s prospects, by disinheritance and otherwise, which resulted from the General’s unjustifiable hostility towards this organisation, and towards Charles McCreery’s association with it.

Readers of the book might like to look at the category Charles McCreery and his family on this blog which provides further insights into the General’s life. The following six posts may be of particular interest.

A Registrar of Oxford and other deflating gas-bags

Slandered by academics

Treacherous parents and a treacherous fund-raiser

Slandered by aristocrats (part 1)

Your name will be up there one day

The sacrifices of sadism are the greater

13 November 2012

Hostility to research on hallucinatory phenomena

text of a letter

This is an account of the conversation about Charles McCreery’s sister Sarah, which I had with Sir George Joy.

Sir George was the only one of our ostensible supporters who visited us fairly regularly and to whom we talked about what was really going on. During my early years at the Society for Psychical Research he had been more like a wholehearted supporter. This had lasted long enough for him to play the role of senior supporter in getting the covenant from Cecil King, chairman of the group that owned the Daily Mirror, but by now he (Sir George) was as worried as anyone that we might get enough money to enable us to do something noteworthy, and acted as if threatened by anything that might increase the chance of that.

The conversation with him about Sarah McCreery must have been fairly early on, because it was very much in the context of everyone having made a lot of effort to convince Charles’s parents, and Sarah, that there was no reason why types of experience which had been associated in the past with parapsychology could not be studied quite objectively and scientifically. What we were proposing to do was in no way different from other psychological research, and we had a large number of prestigious academic Consultants to ensure that we never deviated from the best standards of experimental design.

So I said to Sir George something on the lines of, ‘I hope Charles’s family are genned up enough by now.’

Sir George conveyed to me that Charles’s sister certainly appeared not to be, and that she was stirring up people connected with the SPR, including himself, in demanding further details about what it was really all about, and what Charles’s motivation could be for becoming involved in it.

I was rather dismayed to hear this and said something on the lines of: ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake. What more is there to know? She sounds like a troublemaker. Can’t you get her to simmer down?’

It was clear by that time, although we accepted it philosophically, that Charles’s family were a bad investment. A good deal of time and effort had been expended on dealing with the usual prejudices about anything connected with parapsychology but, after making trivial covenants of £10 a year each when they first became Patrons, General and Lady McCreery had not made any further donations. Nor had any of their relatives or contacts, many of whom were wealthy.

In the years that followed, each time we started a new research project, we applied to the Research Committee of the SPR for funding to supplement our small covenanted income from Cecil King, and we were always turned down. There were plenty of ways in which the projects could have been made more informative, and a better preparation for future work, if it had been possible to spend more than the absolute minimum on carrying them out. Of course the negativity of the SPR might have been as bad as this anyway, but certainly it was increased rather than decreased by the agitation frequently expressed by members of the McCreery family.

It seemed that the most we could hope for was passivity on the part of the McCreerys. Nevertheless, Charles continued to work hard at keeping in with them, because it was so important that he should retain his position as an accepted member of his family and of his social class.

Sarah McCreery certainly did us no good with the SPR, which was already hostile, by contacting Sir George to express her doubts and criticisms.

* * *

Hallucinatory phenomena, as well as other phenomena associated with psychical research, aroused, and still arouse, strong reactions or prejudices. For example, there was a prejudice that the existence of such things must be regarded as a proof of spiritualism or other belief systems.

In fact, the work which we were able to do on them, restricted as it was by a lack of adequate finance, established the existence of some types of experience convincingly enough for them to become acceptable in academic contexts. Nominal research on them began to be done in university laboratories around the world, while complete resistance remained to allowing us to carry out research on them any further. We were as unable as before to obtain academic appointments, or funding for an academic institution, including facilities for research on the topics which we had pioneered, although research of a kind was now being done on them by people with the initial advantage of academic status and salary.

The only recognition of our position as pioneers in these fields was that Charles McCreery and I were, many years later, offered the opportunity to work for DPhils, as the hallucinatory phenomena had by then become acceptable topics for academic research.

* * *

Charles McCreery’s family have treated him outrageously. I was shocked that a respectable family with professed high moral standards could behave in such ways. His appeals for reparation, or even for support independently of any admission of responsibility for harm done, were greeted by assertions that his father was such a great man that other members of the family felt that respecting his wishes was the primary consideration. (I.e. that if he wished one of his sons to be unjustly treated, no right-thinking person could wish to remedy that.)

I was, however, amazed that no friends or relatives of the family felt it incumbent on them to use their influence to make the family behave honourably.

We are seeking money to enable us to do the research which we need to do outside the university system to establish our claim to be given suitable, high status positions inside the university system, and to take much further our work in various fields, including those associated with hallucinatory experiences which were initiated by us.

08 November 2012

Discrimination against the cleverest by schools, universities and families

It is a feature of the downfall of Western civilisation that above-average ability is discriminated against; this is expressed in the form of preventing it from having ‘unfair’ advantages. In the case of people with exceptional IQs, not only is the school and university system geared against them, but their families are encouraged to turn against them, especially if they make any attempt to recover from the position in which they have been placed by a disadvantageous education. (‘Education’ here means ‘process of acquiring, under the supervision of negatively motivated teachers and tutors, qualifications considered necessary for careers of certain kinds’.)

The paradigm of the ‘pushing parent’, supposedly providing the clever offspring with unfair advantages in the taking of exams, came in with the Welfare State. Less well advertised is society’s fear that middle or upper-class families might give financial and social support to clever offspring attempting to recover from the ill effects of an education over which they had no control. In practice this is not a serious risk; families, rather, appear spontaneously to invent accusations against their cleverest members, which justify them in treating them as if they had voluntarily placed themselves into a socially disadvantageous position.

The family members of the outcast person are probably already jealous of his superior ability, and readily latch on to the opportunities for casting him in a bad light, which can only be to their advantage in obtaining increased shares of any inheritances.

Inheritances, and any social support which the family might give, are now far more important to the outcast than they would have been if his way into a suitable career had not been blocked. At the same time he can be represented as a left-wing, anti-capitalist dropout who despises money, and who lives in poverty as a matter of free choice – but who can also be criticised as ‘greedy’ if he asks for money. (In spite of the vast quantities of money poured out in grants for rubbishy work, carried out in socially recognised academic institutions by people of no particular ability.)

05 November 2012

Fast Track to losing your freedom

The time it takes to diagnose dementia is to be slashed from 18 months to just three following a scientific breakthrough. David Cameron will this week announce the creation of a chain of brain clinics to end the agony of those who find out they have Alzheimer’s when it is too late for help. Experts say early diagnosis will give those suffering from the early stages of dementia 18 months of extra independent living, transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and elderly.

More than 400,000 people in Britain are suffering from dementia but are denied the care and support they need because their condition is undiagnosed – in part because they have to wait a year and a half for it to be confirmed.

Patients at risk will be able to do a series of tests on an iPad in the comfort of their local GP’s office. In only ten minutes the software can determine the difference between people with normal and abnormal memory.

Those at risk would then be referred to an NHS brain health centre where they would have more extensive memory tests while hooked up to an MRI scanner. A new computer program can detect signs of dementia such as brain shrinkage and damage to blood vessels that can affect memory. The results would be beamed back to the GP.

The Government is also investing in a series of mobile diagnostic clinics which will park outside GP surgeries, so people can be tested on their own doorstep. (Daily Mail, 5 November 2012)
The population of people over what is, at present, pensionable age is a population with an above-average IQ.

Once a person has been ‘diagnosed’ with Alzheimer’s they are potentially regarded as incapable of making decisions in their own interests, leaving the way clear for their GP to pop them into the killing fields of a ‘care home’, with or without their consent.

The article from which the above extract is taken stresses how comfortable and easy the process of diagnosis will be made.

Given what is emerging about the treatment by state hospitals of those who are seen as ‘past it’, one should be wary of the medical mafia finding easy ways to diagnose ‘dementia’.

During the Second World War, Jews who signed up for ‘relocation’ (which would turn out to be to a concentration camp with gas chambers) were rewarded with supplies of flour and other food. ‘If they did not want to help us, why would they give us flour to keep us alive?’ some said desperately.

‘Mobile brain clinics’ may come to have the same resonances as ‘gas chambers.’

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources.

I hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed research department, to all universities, and to corporations or individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.

02 November 2012

West of the Moon, East of the Sun

Charles Morgan (1894-1958) was a writer who expressed a kind of psychology that is suppressed or outcast in the modern world. This comes across most clearly in his novel Sparkenbroke, published in 1936.

There is a sense of incalculable possibility that human psychology may lead to something different, which was also expressed by J.R.R. Tolkien in a poem in The Lord of the Rings, and by H.G. Wells in his short story The Door in the Wall.

As Tolkien’s poem1 puts it,
Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
In H.G. Wells’s story, a boy finds a door which leads into an enchanted garden, and throughout his life is haunted by glimpses of it, but is always prevented from entering by some urgent consideration of his normal life.

The following extract2 from Charles Morgan’s Sparkenbroke shows that in 1936 it was not yet unfashionable to admire genius, nor to entertain ideas about the possibilities of human psychology, which now might be called ‘elitist’.
“Do you remember where Lord Sparkenbroke wrote this?” [Mary] asked, and quoted his words. [“The gods offer their own nature to all of us, but only a god knows how to accept.”]

[The Rector] said at last, answering her unspoken question … “When he says that the gods offer their own nature to all of us, he’s writing what most people will deny. They deny the offer because they can’t bear to remember their refusal of it; but I think it’s true that the offer is made. I know it was made to me. There was a moment in my life when I was capable of changing my nature, perhaps of becoming a saint. It was partly my curiosity for mankind, and partly – by an odd paradox – my love of it, that prevented me, and instead of a saint made new I became what you see – a scholar, something of a pedant; a parish priest, a little puffed up by the simplicity of my life; not a failure, not unhappy, but not what Piers [Sparkenbroke] calls ‘a god.’ ‘Only a god ... knows how to accept.’ It’s a hard saying, and harder for Piers than for the rest of us; he knows how to accept but cannot. The offer was made to him when he was a child. It is made to him continually, it is always open to him – that’s the meaning of genius. But because his genius and his life are incomplete he can’t fully accept.”

“But everyone?” she said. “He – yes. And you. But everyone?” … He said instantly: “I think so. To me it’s one of the Christian evidences, though Piers wouldn’t see it as such. Everyone – usually when very young – goes through a kind of spiritual crisis. It varies greatly in intensity and it arises in form with the temper of the age, but in its essence the thing doesn’t change. Sick of a world seemingly stuck fast in the mud of human nature, the young man believes, in certain instants, that he alone has wings. In those instants, he does indeed possess them. He has power to tread the air as St. Peter the water. He cries out, like St. Paul, ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ and for answer, the gods, as Piers says, offer their nature to him. No one knew this better than Paul himself, but even he couldn’t accept fully, even his great genius was incomplete. And the rest of us? In the very impulse of flight the young man remembers the earth and fears it and desires what he fears. …

We turn away because we have not yet power to cast off our own natures, and are, as it were, stagnant, standing apart from that principle of energy, of movement, of perpetual becoming which, as Heraclitus conceived of it, is an essential principle of the universe:

Man is a king in exile.
All his greatness
Consists in knowledge of that Kingdom lost
Which, in degree of quickness, is his fate
And character on earth.
We are in exile. We have lost our power to ‘become’ because we haven’t the genius to die and be reborn – that is Piers’s idea. If the genius of death fail us while we live; if – as he puts it – we can’t die of ourselves; if we’re so weak that we can’t seize any of the opportunities of transcendence, then death itself will accomplish what we cannot, endowing us with the resurrection.” …

And, pursuing the line of his own thought, he began to speak to her of Voltaire and of the value of scepticism in driving faith back upon its sources.
Sparkenbroke was published about twenty years before the onset of the oppressive (Welfare) state in 1945, at which time Morgan appears still to have been a well known, prestigious and even fashionable writer. When I was at Somerville some ten years later, he was still well known: other undergraduates had heard of him and had opinions about some of his books. But by now the opinions were becoming dismissive. He was not down-to-earth; what he wrote was divorced from real life.

Any idea of relating human life to something beyond itself had become annoying, and was treated with hostility.

I aroused hostility myself, partly no doubt on account of my high IQ, but also in part because my motivation was driven by internal determinants, not by a wish to comply with social pressures.

Mary Adams of the BBC, atheist socialist, and friend of the Principal of Somerville (who was also an atheist and a socialist) said, when I mentioned Morgan’s name, that he was ‘insanely Christian’. My own drive to get on with doing research was also ascribed by her to pathological psychology. I was supposedly ‘schizoid’ and ‘reclusive’. She said of me that I wanted to do research ‘not for any sensible reason, but because she thinks she is divinely suited to it’.

Before the onset of egalitarian ideology, an interest in transcending normal experience was not associated with social dysfunctionality. The man in H.G. Wells’s story, for example, who is haunted by the memory of his door in the wall, is a successful politician and Cabinet Minister.

Nowadays, any motivation other than that of social conformity is automatically diagnosed as pathological and ‘autistic’.

1. The Return of the King, George Allen & Unwin, 1955, p.308
2. Sparkenbroke, Macmillan, 1936, pp.284-287