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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Seance Prediction Matching a Senator's Most Unlikely Fate

Let us now look at seven very interesting cases that are well worthy of attention, even though they are almost never mentioned in the literature of parapsychology.

The Skeptic Who Kept Hearing Glorious Celestial Music

I will now discuss a case described on pages 207-210 of  Volume 1, Number 3 of the Psychical Review (February 1893).  It involves a man of some prestige and achievement who is not named but merely described as follows:

"I shall first relate some of the experiences of a gentleman eminent for his attainments in mechanical science, so eminent that in this regard he has now a national reputation among those in the same line of work. A friend and student of Herbert Spencer, on the further side of the middle milestone of life, sceptical by nature and training, a successful inventor, with his mind engrossed in the management of a large manufactory, he is the last person in the world to become the victim of imagination. "

We are told that this accomplished figure heard glorious mysterious music from no known source:

"These subjective harmonies exceeded by far anything he had ever conceived. They were heralded by long, soft, sweet chords like those which a number of bugles might produce. Other instruments joined, weaving in their sinuous, heart-piercing melodies until the volume of sweet concerted sound flooded the overpowered senses almost to the point of producing unconsciousness. The rapt listener instinctively feels that, were the ecstasy too much prolonged, on its wings the soul would float away from the senseless body. This music is not precisely like anything he has ever heard from visible orchestras. It sounds more like the violoncello and the organ than anything else. Beyond description grand, noble, majestic, like so-styled sacred music, it is never heard gay or trivial, save that sometimes it is a little like the richer, loftier tones of a heavy opera. Following the first few strains of the orchestra are voices, forming a full chorus and taking all the parts, male and female. Sometimes there are duets, sometimes solos, again responsive services from one side and then another. At times there is a tenor of remarkable sweetness and clarity ' like nothing I ever heard or dreamed,' said he, ' a voice to be recognized among a thousand.' The music comes to his inner ear, though apparently, like external music, unannounced and unexpected. It is of short duration — a few moments, at the longest."

The same accomplished figure experienced strange visions:

"Gazing into limitless space, he sees a shining golden vista peopled with angelic forms and glorious faces luminous with 'the light that never was on sea and land.'  They are the singers draped in flowing robes of grace and beauty. Love on earth and in heaven, and peace, good-will, and joy are the themes which are felt, but are untranslatable into mortal language."

The Woman Who Saw a Very Distant Death

The account below is told on pages 159-160 of Volume 2 of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, and in the account a woman relates what was told her by an Elizabeth Broughton:

 "She woke one night and roused her husband, telling him that something dreadful had happened in France. He begged her to go to sleep again and not to trouble him. She assured him she was not asleep when she saw what she insisted on then telling him — what she saw, in fact. First a carriage accident, which she did not actually see, but what she saw was the result, a broken carriage, a crowd collected, a figure gently raised and carried into the nearest house, and then a figure lying on a bed, which she then recognised as the Duke of Orleans. Gradually friends collecting round the bed, among them several members of the French Royal family — the Queen, then the King — all silently, tearfully watching the evidently dying Duke. One man (she could see his back, but did not know who who he was) was a doctor. He stood bending over the Duke, feeling his pulse, his watch in his other hand. And then all passed away : she saw no more. As soon as it was daylight she wrote down in her journal all she had seen. From that journal she read this to me. It was before the days of electric telegraph, and two or more days passed before the Times announced 'The death of the Duke of Orleans.'  Visiting Paris a short time afterwards, she saw and recognised the place of the accident, and received the explanation of her impression. The doctor who attended the dying Duke was an old friend of hers ; and as he watched by the bed, his mind had been constantly occupied with her and her family. The reason of this was an extraordinary likeness — a likeness which had often led to amusing incidents — between several members of the Broughton family and members of the French Royal family who were present in the room. 'I spoke of you and yours when I got home,' said the doctor, 'and thought of you many times that evening. The likeness between yourselves and the Royal family was, perhaps, never so strong as that day when they stood there in their sorrow, all so natural ; father, mother, brothers, sisters, watching the dying son and brother. Here was the link between us, you see.' " 

A Man Who Seemed to Know of a Very Distant Death

The account below is found on pages 64-65 of the very interesting 1866 book The Night Side of Nature by Catherine Crowe, which has many accounts equally interesting:

"One of the most remarkable cases of presentiment I 
know is that which occurred, not very long since, on 
board one of her Majesty's ships, when lying off Ports- 
mouth. The officers being one day at the mess-table, a 
young Lieutenant P. suddenly laid down his knife and 
fork, pushed away his plate, and turned extremely pale. 
He then rose from the table, covering his face with his 
hands, and retired from the room. The president of 
the mess, supposing him to be ill, sent one of the young 
men to inquire what was the matter. At first Mr. P. 
was unwilling to speak, but, on being pressed, he con- 
fessed that he had been seized by a sudden and irresis- 
tible impression that a brother he had then in India was 
dead. 'He died,' said he, 'on the 12th of August, at 
six o'clock; I am perfectly certain of it!' No argu- 
ments could overthrow this conviction, which, in due 
course of post, was verified to the letter. The young 
man had died at Cawnpore, at the precise period mentioned."

Two Who Dreamed of a Distant Death the Day It Occurred

On page 107 of the same very interesting book, we have a remarkable account of a mother and daughter who had a similar dream on the same night:

"To revert in the meanwhile to the subject of double dreams, I will relate one that occurred to two ladies, a mother and daughter, the latter of whom related it to me. They were sleeping in the same bed at Cheltenham, when the mother, Mrs. C, dreamt that her brother-in-law, then in Ireland, had sent for her; that she entered his room, and saw him in bed, apparently dying. He requested her to kiss him, but owing to his livid appearance, she shrank from doing so, and awoke with the horror of the scene upon her. The daughter awoke at the same moment, saying, ' Oh, I have had such a frightful dream !' ' Oh. so have I !' returned the mother; 'I have been dreaming of my brother-in-law !'  ' My dream was about him too' replied Miss C. 'I thought I was sitting in the drawing-room, and that he came in wearing a shroud, trimmed with black ribbons, and approaching me he said., "My dear niece, your mother has refused to kiss me. but I am sure you will not be so unkind." ' As these ladies were not in habits of regular correspondence with their relative, they knew that the earliest intelligence likely to reach them, if he were actually dead, would be by means of the Irish papers; and they waited anxiously for the following Wednesday which was the day these journals were received in Cheltenham. When that morning arrived, Miss C. hastened at an early hour to the reading-room, and there she learnt what the dreams had led them to expect: their friend was dead; and they afterwards ascertained that his decease had taken place on that night."

A 1733 "Life Review"

One of the most common elements of near-death experiences is what is called a life review. The person having such a close brush with death will often report that he experienced a review of his life experiences, often occurring at some rapid rate.  Long before such a term "near-death experience" was even commonly used, the 1866 book The Night Side of Nature reported a case of such a near-death life review occurring in 1733. The book states the following on page 133

"In the year 1733, Johaim Schwerzeger fell into a similar state of trance, after an illness, but revived. He said he had seen his whole life, and every sin he had committed, even those he had quite forgotten — everything had been as present to him as when it happened. He also lamented being recalled from the happiness he was about to enter into; but said that he had only two days to spend in this valley of tears, during which time he wished everybody that would, should come and listen to what he had to tell them. His before sunken eyes now looked bright, his face had the bloom of youth, and he discoursed so eloquently that the minister said they had exchanged offices, and the sick man had become his teacher. He died at the time he had foretold."

The Slowly Vanishing Apparition

The following account appears on pages 124-125 of the book More Glimpses of the World Unseen by Frederick George Lee:

"The following comes to me direct from the clergyman who saw the apparition described, whose letter is dated November 15, 1875, the Rev. Arthur Bellamy, B.A., vicar of Publow, Bristol : ' Some months ago I was suddenly awoke in the night-time, and saw, as I thought, a lady sitting by our bedside. She appeared to be about thirty years of age, and had a calm, thoughtful expression on her countenance. I was particularly struck with the great care with which she appeared to have arranged her hair. After watching the apparition, with feelings more of wonder than fear, it seemed to vanish slowly away. I was perfectly awake, and a light was burning in the room, so that a mere optical delusion was out of the question.  In the morning I related the vision to my wife ; and, from my description, she had no doubt but that it was the spirit of an old schoolfellow who had recently died ; for my wife, some years previously, had agreed at school with the person in question, that the first who should die, should, if Almighty God permitted it, appear to the survivor.  I asked my wife if her friend, whom she had not met for the last sixteen years, had any peculiarity when a girl ; and she replied, 'We used to tease her at school for devoting so much time to the arrangement of her hair.' "   

The Senator and the Seance

On pages 128-130 of the book Contact with the Other World by the distinguished researcher James H. Hyslop, we have a US senator's account of his experiences at a seance.  Carl Schurz states he attended in Philadelphia a seance in which a young teenager of about 15 claimed to be in contact with the Other Side. Schurz asked that the spirit of the German poet Schiller might come forth.  The young girl wrote that the spirit of Schiller had come and asked what was wished of him. Schurz requested that some lines be quoted from his works. The young girl wrote two lines in German. A check found such lines in a work by Schiller that the young girl was almost certainly unfamilar with. 

Schurz then asked that the spirit of Abraham Lincoln come forth. The girl wrote that Lincoln was ready. Schurz asked some questions, and eventually the girl wrote the prediction that Schurz would become a US senator from Missouri. Schurz writes the following:

"Hardly anything could have been more improbable at that time than that I should be a senator of the United States from Missouri. My domicile was in Wisconsin, and I was thinking of returning there. I had never thought of removing from Wisconsin to Missouri, and there was not the slightest prospect of my ever doing so. But — to forestall my narrative — two years later I was surprised by an entirely unsought and unexpected business proposition which took me to St. Louis, and in January, 1869, the legislature of Missouri elected me a senator of the United States. I then remembered the prophecy made to me at the spirit seance in the house of my friend Tiedemann in Philadelphia which, during the intervening years, I had never thought of. I should hardly have trusted my memory with regard to it, had it not been verified by friends who witnessed the occurrence.” 

Senator Carl Schurz (credit: US Senate Historical Office)

Friday, September 25, 2020

A 330-Page E-Book of Mine, Available for Free

 I collected all of my posts at my blog www.headtruth.blogspot.com and placed them in a single PDF file that I uploaded to www.archive.org, where the file now exists as a 330-page E-book entitled "Why Mind and Memory Cannot Be Brain Effects."  Using a huge number of references to neuroscience papers, this book discredits the common claims that the brain produces the human mind and that the brain stores memories. Such claims are not things taught us by nature, but are merely speech customs of an academia belief community, a community that has discovered many facts conflicting with such claims (facts I discuss in the book).

You can now read the book for free (without any login) at archive.org using the address below:


The native format you get using that link is instantly usable and very easy to use, but has the one disadvantage that the very many links in the book will not lead anywhere when you click them.  If you are interested in following the many links in the book, you can simply click on the link allowing you to download a PDF version of the book.  After I get a PDF version (using the link below) I am able to follow all of the links in the book.


The book can also be downloaded in many other formats (such as Kindle), using the first link above. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ten Fumbles of the "Evolution 101" Web Pages

This is a year in which leading biology authorities have displayed astonishing incompetence about simple matters relating to the coronavirus. As discussed in my posts here and here, such authorities have been stumbling around all over the place in what we might call a comedy of errors, were not the results of their confusion so deadly. The latest twist this week is that the Center for Disease Control issued a statement finally describing coronavirus as airborne, causing many to say, "It's about bloody time." But then a few days later the CDC reversed their new position, saying it was an error. NBC News says, "The move is yet another misstep for the nation's leading public health agency, which recently reversed its guidance for the second time on testing asymptomatic people for the coronavirus." 

A year in which there have been so many huge errors by our biology authorities regarding elementary matters pertaining to coronavirus may be a good year for us to take a hard critical look at web sites in which biology authorities are boasting of their deep understanding of matters a thousand times more subtle and complex. So let's take a close look at the core of the very widely read “Understanding Evolution” web site, and some places that its treatment is inadequate, scrambled or misleading. The heart of the site is a group of pages  called “Evolution 101” which you can reach at this page  (the page here gives a Table of Contents for this "Evolution 101" set of web pages).  My comments below refer solely to the pages under this "Evolution 101" tab heading (the pages listed in the Table of Contents link just given), and when I refer below to "the site" or "the Evolution 101 site" I refer only to that set of pages. 

Fumble #1:  The Definition of Evolution Very Soon Replaced with a Vastly Different Definition

On an early page on the site, entitled “Introduction to Evolution,” there appears a definition of evolution. We are told “Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification.” Very strangely the site fails to explain what that term means. It will certainly not be obvious to the average reader what exactly is meant by “descent with modification.” Another site states, “Descent with modification refers to the passing on of traits from parent organisms to their offspring.” But that's biological inheritance, not evolution.

In fact, there are many different definitions of evolution. When someone refers to “evolution,” he may be referring to any of the following things:

  • the mere vague idea that change occurs over time
  • the more specific idea that gene pools change over time
  • the idea that organisms inherit some random mutations that originated in their parents or an earlier ancestor
  • the idea that small changes gradually occur in the physical characteristics of an organism because of changes in gene pools that are passed on
  • the idea that dramatic new biological innovations such as eyes, ears, wings and complex brains have appeared from merely accidental effects such as random mutations and so-called natural selection
  • common descent, the idea that all organisms are descended from a common ancestor

I may note that the last of these definitions of evolution is an unproven claim more than 1000 times harder to prove than the first two of these propositions.

What is very strange is that just after defining evolution in one way, the page then very quickly changes its definition. A few lines after saying, “Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification,” the page says, “The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor.” But that idea is an idea more than a thousand times harder to prove than the mere idea of “descent with modification.” You can believe in descent with modification without believing that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor.

So the “Evolution 101” site fumbles very early in the game, by changing its definition of evolution very quickly after it first offered a definition of evolution, changing from one definition of evolution to a vastly different definition. 

Fumble #2: The Super-skimpy “How We Know What Happened” Page

A crucial page of the site has the title “How We Know What Happened When.” The page is absurdly skimpy, offering only three lines mentioning (but not explaining) radiometric dating, stratigraphy, and molecular clocks. The topic of molecular clocks is quite controversial, with some of the molecular clocks disagreeing with the results from radiometric dating. There are also disagreements on how to calculate a molecular clock, or whether molecules even offer anything like a precise clock as to when or why things happened. Radiometric dating tells us about the age of fossils, but does nothing in itself to establish an ancestry of species. So from this page we are not at all assured that biologists "know what happened" millions of years ago. 

Fumble #3: The Giant Omission of the “Important Events in the History of Life” Page

The page here is supposed to educate us about important events in the history of life. What we have is a visual that allows us to point to various positions on a widget, and read some text. If you click around on the widget, you will be told the following timeline.

3800 million years ago: Replicating molecules (the precursors of DNA) form.
3500 million years ago: Unicellular life appears.
555 million years ago: Multi-cellular marine organisms are common.
500 million years ago: Fish-like vertebrates evolve, and invertebrates, such as trilobites...are common in the ocean.

The chronology does not consist only of scientific facts. There are very good reasons for rejecting all claims that unicellular life was preceded by self-replicating molecules.  A recent scientific study published in the journal Nature says that self-replicating RNA would require more than 40 chemical subunits arranged in just the right way, and concludes that we would not expect such a thing to happen by chance in the history of the observable universe. 

This timeline almost entirely conceals the great truth of the Cambrian Explosion. The largest classification group of animals is called a phylum. The Cambrian Explosion was a relatively brief period of time during which almost all animal phyla appeared rather suddenly.  The fact of such a thing has always been a gigantic explanatory problem for Darwinism, because it contradicts the predictions of Darwinists. If biological innovations appear very gradually because of slow evolution caused by random mutations, then we would expect the animal phyla to have gradually appeared over many hundreds of millions of years. Instead, almost all of the animal phyla appeared within a Cambrian Explosion lasting no more than about 20 million years.

By failing to notify its readers about this issue, the "Evolution 101" site reads like a site that has no answer to such a difficulty, and a site that is trying to hide this huge difficulty from its readers. 

Fumble #4: The “Mechanisms of Change” Page Mentioning Only Superficial Color Changes

The “Evolution 101” web site has a page entitled “Mechanisms of Change.” It has the purpose of trying to explain for us some mechanism by which evolution could produce changes in organisms. Unfortunately, all of the examples given refer only to the most trivial type of microevolution: a change in the color of bugs. There are no examples explaining how any of these mechanisms could produce a complex change such as the appearance of a new protein, a new organ, a new appendage or a new organ system.

Fumble #5: The Misleading Page on Mutations

On the page here, the “Evolution 101” site tells us about mutations. It states, “Mutations can be beneficial, neutral, or harmful for the organism,” without telling us the important fact that virtually all mutations are harmful or neutral (which means neither helpful nor beneficial). In fact, it is all but impossible to imagine how a single genetic mutation could be beneficial.

You can get a good analogy by imagining a person who has carefully typed a computer program that accomplishes some particular task. Imagine the person has the text for that computer program in a text editor running on his computer. Now, suppose the person clicks on a random position on that text, and then closes his eyes, typing a random keystroke. That is a very good analogy for what a random mutation is. In this case, almost certainly the random keystroke or random mutation will have no benefit in the computer program, or produce a harmful effect (such as preventing the code from running successfully). Tremendous luck would be required for the random keystroke to actually improve the computer program that was being written. Similarly, the chance of a random mutation producing a beneficial effect is very many times smaller than the chance of a random mutation producing a harmful effect.

But the “Evolution 101” site has not told about this very important reality.

Fumble #6: The Misleading Page on Development

On the page here, the “Evolution 101” site clumsily describes development as “Development is the process through which an embryo becomes an adult organism and eventually dies” (strangely including death as part of development, unlike almost all writers). The page says, “Through development, an organism's genotype is expressed as a phenotype.” But a phenotype is not an expression of a genotype, and a genotype does not specify a phenotype. Nowhere in the genotype does it state that humans have one head, two eyes, two ears, one back, two legs and two arms. Nowhere in a genotype (DNA) do we have a specification of any of the organs or appendages of an organism. Nowhere in a genotype (DNA) do we have a specification of how to make any of the 200 cell types used by humans. The genotype does not even specify how to make the organelles that make up a cell.  As a recent article in The Scientist concisely puts it, "Genomes are not a blueprint for anatomy."

Type of informationCan it be specified in DNA?
Linear amino acid sequence of a protein moleculeYes
Three-dimensional shape of a protein moleculeNo
Exact location where a protein is located in bodyNo
Layout of a cell organelleNo
Layout of a cellNo
Layout of a tissue typeNo
Layout of an organNo
Layout of an organ systemNo
Layout of a full body planNo
Structure progression from simplest tiniest form to fully grown formNo
Dynamic behavior inside an organism during a particular month or yearNo

By telling us that a phenotype of an organism is an expression of the genotype, the "Evolution 101" web site is repeating the Great DNA Myth,  the gigantic untruth that DNA is a specification of how to make a particular organism.  There are several ways in which this false myth can be told:

"DNA is a blueprint for an organism."
"DNA is a recipe for making an organism."
"DNA is a program for making an organism."
"A phenotype is an expression of a genotype."
"The genome has all the information needed for development."

All of these statements are false.  DNA is not a blueprint or a recipe for making an organism, and does not even specify how to make any of the cells of an organism.  While a phenotype (the observable characteristics of an organism) are influenced by a genotype (the DNA of an organism), such a phenotype is not at all an expression of a genotype because the genotype only specifies low-level chemical information, not high-level structural information. In the post here you can read quotes by more than 15 distinguished authorities (mostly PhD's) who say that DNA is neither a blueprint nor a recipe for making an organism. 

Why do some biologists keep telling us the untruth that DNA is a blueprint or recipe for making an organism? Because it's the misstatement they need to make, given their previous boasts. If DNA is not a recipe or blueprint for making an organism, then we cannot explain one species gradually changing into some vastly different species by imagining gradual changes in DNA, and there can be no genetic explanation for how large-scale macroevolution can naturally occur.

Fumble #7: The Pages on Natural Selection

On the page here, the “Evolution 101” site discusses natural selection. We have some examples trying to describe how natural selection could occur. But all of the examples mention only superficial color changes.

The next page is called “Natural Selection at Work.” We are told “Any coffee table book about natural history will overwhelm you with full-page glossies depicting amazing adaptations produced by natural selection.” Now the site is attempting to convince us that very complex biological innovations have been produced by natural selection. But the site has not done anything to explain how that could occur. The examples on this page and the previous page only explained how superficial color changes in an organism might be helped along by natural selection. The page mentions two other cases: the darkening of moths called industrial melanism (another example of a mere superficial color change), and the variation of beaks in Galapagos finches. Neither of these is a case of an impressive biological innovation. The Galapagos finches already had beaks, and if so-called natural selection caused a variation in such beaks, that is not a case of a novel biological innovation that can be compared to innovations such as the appearance of wings and vision systems.

A later page on the site entitled “Adaption” talks about impressive biological innovations in nature such as echolocation, the kind of “radar” used by bats. No discussion is given about how such innovations could be produced by natural selection or evolution. Then on the next page, we read this: “Because natural selection can produce amazing adaptations, it's tempting to think of it as an all-powerful force.” But the site has done nothing whatsoever to show that natural selection can produce any adaptations other than superficial color changes. The site simply leaps from a discussion of trivial unimpressive adaptions to the claim that “natural selection can produce amazing adaptations,” without doing anything to explain how that could occur.

On the same page, we have a misstatement. We are told, “Natural selection is NOT random!” But natural selection as imagined by Darwinists certainly is random. When I do a Google search for "defintion of random,” I first get this definition: “made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision.”  The Cambridge Dictionary defines random as "happening, done, or chosen by chance rather than according to a plan." Natural selection as imagined by Darwinists does match that definition, so it is indeed random. I may also note that since Darwinists do not actually believe that nature is consciously making a choice when natural selection occurs, the very term “natural selection” is a misleading term. Instead of using it, Darwinists should refer to “survival of the fittest” or “the superior reproduction rate of fitter organisms.”

Because Darwinists do not actually believe that nature makes conscious choices, they speak in a misleading way every single time they use the phrase "natural selection."  When Darwinists say things like "natural selection is not random," they are being doubly misleading in their speech, by: (1) referring to something that does not involve a choice as "selection," (2) referring to something they believe is not according to a plan as "not random." 

Fumble #8: The “Causes of Speciation” Page

The page here is entitled “Causes of Speciation.” Speciation is the appearance of new species. The page lists only two causes: geographic isolation and reduction of gene flow.

Geographic isolation does nothing to explain how new biological innovations could occur. As for “reduction of gene flow,” the page notes that such a thing “may or may not be sufficient to cause speciation,” which hardly sounds like confidence. To explain the origin of species with dramatic new biological innovations, we need to have an explanation for the appearance of new genes, and a burst of new biological information. That certainly isn't covered by “reduction of gene flow.”

We are left with the impression that our experts have no real explanation for the origin of new species.

Fumble #9: The Laughable Discussion of Macroevolution

On the page here, the “Evolution 101” site discussed macroevolution. Macroevolution means the appearance of dramatic new biological innovations such as eyes and wings, not just the superficial, unimpressive changes such as color changes (which are referred to as microevolution). The page does nothing to credibly explain how macroevolution can be produced. It merely states an equation:

"Mutation+Gene flow+genetic drift+natural selection+3.8 billion years = macroevolution"

But it does not at all follow that the things on the left of the “equal sign” in that equation should produce macroevolution. And the page does nothing to back up such a claim. Moreover, since almost all animal phyla appeared during the relatively short time span of the Cambrian Explosion (lasting no more than about 20 million years), it is quite laughable for the "Evolution 101" site to be giving some equation implying that macroevolution requires 3.8 billion years (a length of time 190 times longer than 20 million years). 

The page makes this statement:

"A process like mutation might seem too small-scale to influence a pattern as amazing as the beetle radiation, or as large as the difference between dogs and pine trees, but it's not. Life on Earth has been accumulating mutations and passing them through the filter of natural selection for 3.8 billion years — more than enough time for evolutionary processes to produce its grand history."

To explain macroevolution, and the appearance of dramatic new biological innovations, we need to explain mountainous amounts of organization. Organization is something entirely different from accumulation. The idea that you can accumulate your way to fantastically high levels of organization is utterly fallacious.

Organization is something vastly more complicated and more hard-to-explain than accumulation. A snow drift next to your car is an example of accumulation; your car itself is an example of organization. As an evolutionary biologist confessed a while ago, referring to the “modern synthesis” that is Darwinism combined with genetics, “Indeed, the MS [modern synthesis] theory lacks a theory of organization that can account for the characteristic features of phenotypic evolution, such as novelty, modularity, homology, homoplasy or the origin of lineage-defining body plans.”

things requiring organization
Protein image credit: RCSB Protein Data Bank.

In fact, we know of a very good reason why random mutations would never accumulate to become extremely complex functional innovations. The reason is that a random mutation is merely a tiny fragment of what is needed for a functional innovation.  Since a random mutation is such a tiny fragment of what is needed for a biological innovation, 99.9999% of such mutations should fail to produce any survival benefit. Far from accumulating in a gene pool, such not-yet-beneficial mutations should drift out of a gene pool, according to Darwin's principle that natural selection is always discarding what is not beneficial. 

On the page here, the “Evolution 101” site gives away that evolutionary biologists really have no understanding of how complex biological innovations can arise. The page lists four “questions that evolutionary biologists are trying to answer,” and one of these is “How does evolution produce new and complex features?” If evolutionary biologists do not currently understand how evolution can “produce new and complex features,” they have no business asserting claims that all organisms have a common ancestor, and no business asserting claims that humans are descended from any other organism.

Fumble #10: The Final Insult of “Looking at Complexity”

In the second to last page in the “Evolution 101” site, we have a page entitled “Looking at Complexity.” But nowhere does the "Evolution 101" set of web pages (referred to below as "the site") honestly discuss the mountainous complexity of living things. Most notably:

  1. The site has had no mention of facts such as the fact that humans are built from more than 20,000 different types of protein molecules, each of which is a very complex innovation.
  2. The site has had no mention of the incredible complexity of protein molecules, and how they only become functional when they have a very rare and hard-to-achieve state that allows protein folding to occur.
  3. The site has no mention of the incredible complexity of cells, which are so complex that they have been compared to small cities or factories.
  4. The site has no mention of the fact that human organisms require about 200 different types of cells, each different type a separate marvel of biological innovation. 
  5. The site has had no mention of the incredibly fine-tuned complexity of complex systems such as the human vision system, the human reproduction system, and the human cardiovascular system.

The site has not even discussed the complexity of protein molecules. Most protein molecules in the human body consist of more than 300 amino acids arranged in the right way to acheive some specific functional effect. Each of these proteins is as complex an invention as a 60-line computer program, and a large fraction of these proteins are as complex as a 200-line computer program. We have in our bodies more than 20,000 different types of protein molecules, each of which  is a separate invention as complex (and unlikely to appear by chance) as a 60-line computer program that achieves a particular functional result. 

Biological organisms have mountainous levels of complexity and organization. A human being is a far more impressive piece of functional complexity than an aircraft carrier. We understand exactly how to put together an aircraft carrier piece-by-piece, but no one understands how to put together a human being atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule.  The human body is only one of countless such wonders of organization in the biological world. Atoms are organized into amino acids, which are organized into polypeptide chains, which are organized into protein molecules with three-dimensional shapes, which are organized into organelles, which are organized into cells, which are organized into tissues, which are organized into organs, which are organized into organ systems, which are organized into organisms. 

To explain such staggering marvels of hierarchical organization, you need a theory of organization. Darwinism is no such thing. Darwinism is a mere theory of accumulation that gets by through the use of a word trick (the misleading phrase "natural selection" to describe something that is not actually selection or choosing), and by making gigantically inaccurate claims that DNA is something like a blueprint or recipe or program for making an organism.  Because Darwinists do not really have any theory of biological organization, it is necessary for them to avoid speaking candidly about the vast amounts of organization and fine-tuning in living things. And so we have sites like the "Evolution 101" web site that never tell us about how complex organisms are.  

The credibility of Darwinism as an explanation for organisms is inversely proportional to the degree of organization and dynamic functional complexity in organisms. The richer the functional complexity and organization of organisms, the less credible Darwinism is as an explanation for such organisms. So the champions of Darwinism tend, in various ways, to engage in a kind of complexity concealment, in which the reader is not informed of supremely relevant facts that would allow him to correctly conclude that the organization and functional complexity of living organisms is greater than in anything humans have ever constructed with their hands. 

The "Evolution 101" website is currently almost unreadable by any but the most patient, because whenever you go to a page on it, you get an annoying pop-up nagging you to fill out some "short survey" that will be used to redesign the site (a survey that turns out to be a hassle to fill out). Given all the issues I have discussed, I understand why someone might feel a need to redesign the site. 

Postscript: Now in October 2020 the CDC is declaring COVID-19 can be transmitted by airborne transmission, correcting their previous "correction."

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Scientists Fail to Correctly Predict Some of the Universe's Element Abundances

The readable posts of widely read cosmologist Ethan Siegel can be read at forbes.com and realclearscience.com. Siegel sometimes makes extremely dubious statements about the Big Bang, the universe's sudden origin in a hot dense state. Contrary to what has been maintained by his fellow cosmologists for decades, who have always spoke of the Big Bang as being the very beginning of the universe, happening at Time Zero, Siegel has again and again tried to redefine the Big Bang as something that came after the beginning, after a period of exponential expansion called "cosmic inflation" (as he does in his most recent post). There is evidence that the universe suddenly began in a hot, incredibly dense state, something like the Big Bang, but there is no observational evidence for such a period of exponential expansion called cosmic inflation.  There is no scientific basis for claiming that the Big Bang occurred at any time after the very beginning, but only evidence that something like the Big Bang occurred at the very beginning of the universe.

Siegel has claimed that the Big Bang theory of the universe's origin has a wonderful record of predictive success.  In an over-enthusiastic article entitled "CONFIRMED: The Last Great Prediction of the Big Bang!" Siegel refers to predictions of the Big Bang theory, speaking as if they were all successful. He states this: "Each one of these predictions, like a uniformly expanding Universe whose expansion rate was faster in the past, a solid prediction for the relative abundances of the light elements hydrogen, helium-4, deuterium, helium-3 and lithium, and most famously, the structure and properties of galaxy clusters and filaments on the largest scales, and the existence of the leftover glow from the Big Bang — the cosmic microwave background — has been borne out over time."  

But the claim he makes about a successful prediction of lithium abundances is not at all correct, according to many other cosmologists, who say that the Big Bang theory does not correctly predict the amount of lithium we observe in the universe.  In fact, they tell us the Big Bang theory predicts the universe should have three times more lithium than it actually has.  This shortfall is called the cosmological lithium problem.  A university press release tells us, "The standard models of the Big Bang that are currently used predict an abundance of Li-7, the main lithium isotope, which is three or four times more than that determined via astronomical observations."

Last month a paper by two scientists stated the following (using the symbol 7Li  to refer to the main lithium isotope):

"Assuming the best numerical value for the cosmic baryonic density and the existence of three neutrino flavors, standard big bang nucleosynthesis is a parameter-free model. It is important to assess if the observed primordial abundances can be reproduced by simulations. Numerous studies have shown that the simulations overpredict the primordial 7Li abundance by a factor of ≈ 3 compared to the observations."

The authors tried hard to search for some nuclear physics solution, using some computer search algorithm. But they came up empty-handed. They report their gloomy result as follows:

"We employ a genetic algorithm to search for simultaneous rate changes in these four reactions that may account for all observed primordial abundances. When the search is performed for reaction rate ranges that are much wider than recently reported uncertainties, no acceptable solutions are found. Based on the currently available evidence, we conclude that it is highly unlikely for the cosmological lithium problem to have a nuclear physics solution."

So the Big Bang theory does not correctly predict the amount of lithium in our universe, failing by a factor of 300%. This is not at all the biggest failure of the Big Bang theory. Its biggest failure is that it predicts the universe should consist of equal amounts of matter and antimatter.  We know from experiments in particle accelerators that when two high-energy photons collide at very high speeds, they produce matter and antimatter in equal amounts. In the first instants of the Big Bang, the universe should have consisted of such high-energy photons, colliding with each other constantly, leaving equal amounts of matter and antimatter. A web page of the leading particle physics organization CERN starts out by saying, "The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe." But it is known that the amount of matter in the universe is actually at least 10,000 times greater than the amount of antimatter in the universe.  If even a tiny bit of antimatter came into contact with some matter here on our planet, it would create an explosion vastly bigger than a hydrogen bomb explosion. 

There are other cases in which prevailing scientific theories have failed to predict the current distribution of elements in the universe. A recent article at the Daily Galaxy site tells us that current theories fail to correctly predict the amount of gold and silver that we observe in the universe. 

Scientists claim that the Big Bang produced only the four simplest elements: hydrogen, helium, beryllium and lithium.  They explain the origin of some more complex elements such as carbon and oxygen by appealing to effects inside stars, such as supernova explosions. That gets you up to elements with 8 protons in their nucleus:

Hydrogen: 1 proton in nucleus

Helium: 2 protons in nucleus

Lithium: 3 protons in nucleus

Beryllium: 4 protons in nucleus

Boron: 5 protons in nucleus

Carbon: 6 protons in nucleus

Nitrogen: 7 protons in nucleus

Oxygen: 8 protons in nucleus

A supernova remnant (Credit: NASA)

But what about much more complex elements, such as gold? Each gold atom has 79 protons in its nucleus. The Daily Galaxy article tells us that the explanation for atoms of such complexity has been one of colliding neutron stars.  Such an explanation sounds very fishy. We know that neutron stars (consisting of incredibly dense matter) can form when a large star explodes in a supernova explosion. But stars are so far apart (and neutron stars so uncommon) that colliding neutron stars should be a very rare phenomenon.  The number of neutron stars in our galaxy has been estimated as only 2000. 

We read the following:

“ 'Neutron star mergers did not produce enough heavy elements in the early life of the universe, and they still don’t now, 14 billion years later,' said Karakas. 'The universe didn’t make them fast enough to account for their presence in very ancient stars, and, overall, there are simply not enough collisions going on to account for the abundance of these elements around today.'  Instead, the researchers found that heavy elements needed to be created by an entirely different sort of stellar phenomenon—unusual supernovae that collapse while spinning at high speed and generating strong magnetic fields. The finding is one of several to emerge from their research, which has just been published in the Astrophysical Journal. Their study is the first time that the stellar origins of all naturally occurring elements from carbon to uranium have been calculated from first principles."

But be very suspicious when scientists tell you that the previous explanation they were giving you was wrong, and that there's some new explanation -- particularly when the new explanation appeals to something as seemingly farfetched and unlikely as the old explanation. "Unusual supernovae that collapse while spinning at high speed and generating strong magnetic fields" does not sound like a very plausible mechanism for generating gold. And the theorists concede that their new theory falls short in predicting the correct abundances of gold and silver. In the Daily Galaxy article, we merely read the scientists stating, "Silver is over-produced but gold is under-produced in the model compared with observations. " But looking up the relevant paper by these scientists, I find a more specific confession, where they state this: "We find that silver is overproduced by a factor of 6, while gold is underproduced a factor of 5 in the model." Oops, it sounds like our scientists are still failing to predict correctly the universe's element abundances:

Lithium: off by 300%.

Silver: off by 600%.

Gold: off by 500%.

Also, referring to a problem with predictions regarding the abundance of phosphorus in the universe, an article last month in the journal Nature told us, "There still remain strong contradictions between the nucleosynthesis models available and the chemical abundance pattern observed in P-rich stars."  It seems that our scientists can't explain very well the abundances of elements in our universe or the ratio of matter and antimatter in our universe. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

No, They Haven't Detected Life at Venus

 A scientific paper claims to have found an "apparent presence" of the gas phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus, but only in the barest trace amounts (20 parts per billion). Since phosphine is a gas that is mainly produced on our planet by living things, some are hailing this as evidence of life in the atmosphere of Venus. Some sources in the science press (always prone to hype and exaggerate doubtful or inconclusive research) are making this report sound like something epic. A Dr. Dena Grayson incorrectly states, "Scientists assert that something now alive is the only explanation for the chemical’s source." But the paper does not provide compelling evidence for life at Venus, and in the paper the scientists did not at all make such a claim. 

There are two alternate explanations here that do not require us to believe in life on Venus. 

(1) An error in interpretation could have occurred in spectral data that is hard-to-interpret because of overlapping signals from a variety of different gases in the atmosphere of Venus. 

(2) There could be a non-biological reason why phosphine appeared in the atmosphere of Venus. 

The first of these two possibilities is not very unlikely. For many decades scientists have used a device called a spectograph to detect elements in distant stars and planets. When light passes through a spectograph in something rather like light passing through a prism,  an output visual called a spectrogram is produced. In such a spectrogram there may be particular lines that are caused by the presence of particular elements in the astronomical target. In a simple case, such lines are easy to interpret. But in a case when there are many gases and elements in a distant target, the spectrogram can be complex and hard-to-interpret.  For example, here is a spectrogram obtained when the sun was the target:

Credit: NASA

When there are all those tiny little lines, the spectrogram can be very hard to interpret. We may assume that an equally complicated spectrogram was obtained using a target of Venus. In such cases there is a large possibility of misinterpreting the little lines. The authors claim to have detected phosphine after analyzing some complicated spectrogram, but they may have erred in their interpretation. Such an error is all too possible when you are merely claiming the existence of borderline traces such as 20 parts per billion.

The possibility of such an error seems real after you review a scientific case such as the BICEP2 affair. In that case a group of scientists declared they had discovered proof of primordial cosmic inflation in some hard-to-interpret readings from distant space. For weeks the science press crowed about this apparent triumph. But eventually scientists realized that the claim was not solid, and that what was observed could easily have been caused by mere dust.  One of the BICEP2 scientists wrote a book called "Losing the Nobel Prize" about the missteps and premature celebrations that occurred. 

We should also remember the case in which some NASA scientists in the 1990's declared that they had detected evidence of life from Mars.  Their claim was based on subjective interpretations of debatable anomalies in a meteorite. Other scientists did not agree with this doubtful interpretation, and the claim is now generally regarded as no solid evidence of life on Mars. We should always remember that a scientist eager for "discovery glory" may be biased towards interpretations that suggest he has discovered something important. 

The Venus paper authors refer to their "candidate discovery" of phosphine in the clouds of Venus, which does not sound like great confidence. Given their claimed detection of something existing in such marginal traces, we should not at all be surprised if some later paper by different scientists (analyzing the same data) claims that phosphine was not actually detected at Venus. 

Another possibility is that phosphine was actually detected in the atmosphere of Venus, but that it is phosphine that arose because of non-biological reasons.  Chemically phosphine (PH3) is a very simple compound. It consists merely of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms. So simple a compound could in theory be created by any number of non-biological processes.  Since we do not understand very well the geology of Venus,  we cannot exclude geological processes on Venus that might produce phosphine. 

A 2014 paper claimed to have detected phosphine (PH3) in the atmosphere of a distant star.  The paper states, "The detection of PH3 challenges chemical models, none of which offers a satisfactory formation scenario." Apparently phosphine can arise for non-biological reasons around a distant star, for reasons we don't understand.  It is therefore not very unlikely that it might arise at Venus for non-biological reasons, for reasons we don't understand.  Since it is almost infinitely easier for you to get by chance processes a simple molecule like phosphine than even the simplest living thing, a non-biological origin for phosphine at Venus would seem like a more plausible explanation. A 2006 paper also claimed to have detected phosphine in the atmosphere of a distant star.  The paper suggests this non-biological origin: "In the case of hydrides such as PH3, a likely formation process is the direct hydrogenation of the heavy atom taking place on grain surfaces."

Another scientific paper claims that we should expect to find phosphine in the atmospheres of large planets and "hotter objects":

"Disequilibrium abundances of phosphine (PH3) approximately representative of the total atmospheric phosphorus inventory are expected to be mixed upward into the observable atmospheres of giant planets and T dwarfs. In hotter objects, several P-bearing gases (e.g., P2, PH3, PH2, PH, HCP) become increasingly important at high temperatures."

The scientists who claim to have found phosphine at Venus claim that they have wracked their brains searching for a non-biological source of phosphine, without finding one. But we should not at all be persuaded by such a failure. Scientists in their position who have a motivation not to find a non-biological source of phosphine may not think of such a source. But give me a scientist motivated to find such a source, and he may think of 100 possible sources of phosphine.  We can expect to see future papers describing possible non-biological sources of phosphine in Venus, written by authors motivated to think of such sources (for the sake of publishing another paper). 

Another reason for rejecting a biological explanation for the phosphine is the sheer implausibility of life arising at Venus. The surface of the planet is about 900 degrees F, about twice as hot as the temperature in an oven set on high. Such a temperature (hot enough to melt lead) would seem to rule out life ever forming on the surface of Venus, as would the atmospheric pressure on Venus: about 90 times greater than on Earth, a pressure so great that it quickly crushes spacecraft landing on Venus. Temperatures are much better in the clouds of Venus, but no one has ever given a credible scenario for how life could arise in an atmosphere like that of Venus.  The clouds of Venus are composed mainly of deadly sulfuric acid droplets (75% to 96%), and contain only trace amounts of water vapor (20 parts per million). It is hard to imagine life arising in so dry and caustic an environment. 

The Venus paper authors state the following about this possible discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus:

"Even if confirmed, we emphasize that the detection of PH3 is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry. There are substantial conceptual problems for the idea of life in Venus’s clouds—the environment is extremely dehydrating as well as hyperacidic."

Showing some commendable candor, one of the study authors, David Clements, is quoted here as saying, "It’s probably a 10% chance that it’s life.” But he's just picking a number out of a hat. Study the difficulty of life forming in water-scarce clouds of sulfuric acid, and you'll come up with an estimate more like 1 in 1000 or 1 in a million.  If life were to be discovered on Venus, we would not know that it had independently arisen on Venus (without studying the microscopic details of such life).  A Harvard professor points out that asteroids grazing the atmosphere of Earth and then going to Venus could have spread life from Earth to Venus. 

Postscript: On LiveScience.com, we have an article that echoes some of the points I made earlier in this post, as well as making some good new points.  The article is entitled "'Grand claims' of life on Venus lack evidence, skeptics say."  The article says the atmosphere of Venus "is full of carbon dioxide and other oxygen-containing molecules, which should rip apart phosphine in no time." That fact makes it more unlikely that the scientists really did detect phosphine.  We read the following:

"But did the research team really see phosphine? The observations contain a good amount of noise, which might simply be mimicking a phosphine signal, suggested Carpenter.  Michael Way, a physical scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, agreed. 'More lines are needed to verify that it is this particular molecule,' Way told Live Science in an email. 'As this point it's not 100% clear exactly what they have measured.' "

We also read the following:

"Cronin suggested that Venus' surface, which is thought to be geologically active, might on occasion split open, revealing underground reserves of phosphorus. Should Venus' sulfuric acid (H2SO4) clouds then send down rain, they might spark a reaction to form plumes of phosphine that could explain its presence in the atmosphere. Any number of other ways to make phosphine could also be plausible, he added....Moreover, the idea of Earth-like organisms, even microbial ones, living in Venus' hellish, toxic atmosphere is a tough one for many scientists. 'The cloud droplets are concentrated sulfuric acid,' Catling said. 'Chemists know that if you add biomolecules to concentrated sulfuric acid, you'll get a vigorous reaction where the biomolecules end up looking like charcoal and deader than a doornail.' "

Fulfilling rather quickly my prediction that "we can expect to see future papers describing possible non-biological sources of phosphine in Venus," a new paper suggests that volcanoes can explain phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus.  The paper states, "Rather than pointing to the existence of life in the clouds, we argue that phosphine is pointing to a Venus that is geologically active today—a conclusion perhaps disappointing to biologists but surely intriguing to planetary scientists."

At the National Geographic web site, we have the following quote:

"Still, ALMA observatory scientist John Carpenter is skeptical that the phosphine observations themselves are real. The signal is faint, and the team needed to perform an extensive amount of processing to pull it from the data returned by the telescopes. That processing, he says, may have returned an artificial signal at the same frequency as phosphine. He also notes that the standard for remote molecular identification involves detecting multiple fingerprints for the same molecule, which show up at different frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum. That’s something that the team has not yet done with phosphine."

Now we have four additional recent papers (published after the widely discussed "phosphine at Venus" paper) saying that there is no phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. One paper by a single author states, "There is thus no significant evidence for phosphine absorption in the JCMT Venus spectra." Another paper with many co-authors is entitled, "No phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus." A third paper states there is "no statistical evidence for phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus."  Another paper says, "These findings, along with the recent papers by Encrenaz et al. (2020), Snellen et al. (2020), Lincowski et al. (2020), and Villanueva et al. (2020) undermine the reported detection of PH3 [phosphine] by Greaves et al. (2020a,b) and its possible biogenic origin."  A news account of this paper says, "The team concluded that what the scientists probably saw was just sulfur dioxide, which is a common gas around Venus and would not indicate the possible presence of life."

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Uncanny Skills of the Trance Seers

In previous posts here and here I have discussed evidence that there can exist extremely powerful clairvoyance that may arise when someone is in a trance or put in a hypnotic state. Let us look at some additional evidence for such a thing. 

 On page 32 of the 1852 book Natural and Mesmeric Clairvoyance by James Esdaile we have an example of a skill that is reported by many other sources in the two posts I just mentioned: an ability to read while blindfolded. We read the following:

On the 20th November the reporter took a black silk handkerchief, placed between the folds two pieces of cotton wadding, and applied it in such a way that the cotton came directly over the eyes and completely filled the cavity on each side of the nose : various names were then written on cards, both of persons with whom she was acquainted, and of those who were unknown to her, which she read as soon as they were presented to her.”

On page 34 of the same book, we have an account by a man who suddenly got a mental vision regarding a stranger he had encountered. We read the following:

This man's former life was at that moment presented to my mind. I turned to him, and asked whether he would answer me candidly if I related to him some of the most secret passages of his life, I knowing as little of him personally as he did of me ? He promised, if I were correct in my information, to admit it frankly. I then related what my vision had shown me, and the whole company were made acquainted with the private history of the young merchant : his school-years, his youthful errors, and lastly, with a fault committed in reference to the strong box of his principal. I described to him the uninhabited room with whitened walls, where to the right of the brown door, on a table, stood a black money box, &c. A dead silence prevailed during the whole narration, which I alone occasionally interrupted by inquiring whether I spoke the truth. The startled young man confirmed every particular, and even, what I had scarcely expected, the last mentioned.”

On page 76 we read of a test done by a Dr. Chalmers of a lad in Calcutta said to be a clairvoyant. A bank note note was put between two candles in a bathroom. The boy was put into a hypnotic trance, which is referred to in the text as a "somnambulistic state."  Asked to describe the bathroom he could not see, the boy stated that he could see the two candles and some paper between them. When asked what type of paper it was, the boy correctly identified the value (25 rupees) and four numbers on the note. When the note was replaced with a 10-rupee note, the lad also noted that the note now said “10.” When a gold watch was placed on the note, the boy also reported seeing such a watch.

On pages 84-86 we read of a Lord Ducie who tested a young woman said to have clairvoyant powers. The following happened after the woman was put in a hypnotic trance by a surgeon:

"He (Lord Ducie) had before seen something of Mesmerism, and he sat by her, took her hand, and asked her if she felt able to travel. She replied : ' Yes ;' and he asked her if she had ever been in Gloucestershire, to which she answered that she had not, but should like very much to go there, as she had not been in the country for six years ; she was a girl of about seventeen years old. He told her that she should go with him, for he wanted her to see his farm. They travelled (mentally) by the railroad very comfortably together, and then (in imagination) got into a fly and proceeded to his house. He asked her what she saw ; and she replied : ' I see an iron gate and a curious old house.' He asked her : ' How do you get to it ?' She replied : ' By this gravel walk;' which was quite correct. He asked her how they went into it, and she replied : ' I see a porch, a curious old porch.'  It was probably known to many that his house, which was a curious old Elizabethan building, was entered by a porch as she had described. He asked her what she saw on the porch, and she replied, truly, that it was covered with flowers. He then said : ' Now we will turn in at our right hand ; what do you see in that room?' She answered with great accuracy : ' I see a bookcase and a picture on each side of it.' He told her to turn her back to the bookcase, and say what she saw on the other side ; and she said : ' I see something shining like that which soldiers wear.' She also described some old muskets and warlike implements which were hanging up in the hall ; and upon his asking her how they were fastened up (meaning by what means they were secured), she mistook his question, but replied :  'The muskets are fastened up in threes,' which was the case. He then asked of what substance the floors were built ; and she said : ' Of black and white squares ;' which was correct. He then took her to another apartment, and she very minutely described the ascent to it as being by four steps. He (Lord Ducie) told her to enter by the right door, and say what she saw there. She said : ' There is a painting on each side of the fire-place.' Upon his asking her if she saw anything particular in the fire-place, she replied : ' Yes, it is carved up to the ceiling ;' which was quite correct, for it was a curious old Elizabethan fireplace. There was at Tortworth Court a singular old chestnut-tree, and he told her that he wished her to see a favourite tree, and asked her to accompany him. He tried to deceive her by saying : ' Let us walk close up to it ;' but she replied : ' We cannot, for there are railings round it.' He said : ' Yes, wooden railings ;' to which she answered : ' No, they are of iron ;' which was the case. He asked : ' What tree is it ;' and she replied that she had been so little in the country that she could not tell ; but upon his asking her to describe the leaf, she said : ' It is a leaf as large as the geranium leaf, large, long, and jagged at the edges.' He (Lord Ducie) apprehended that no one could describe more accurately than that the leaf of the Spanish chestnut. He then told her he would take her to see his farm...She then went on and described everything on his farm with the same surprising accuracy ; and upon his subsequently inquiring, he found that she was only in error in one trifling matter, for which error any one who had ever travelled (mentally) with a clairvoyant could easily account, without conceiving any breach of the truth."

On pages 87-88 of the same book, we have an account of a man who began spontaneously to become clairvoyant after five or six weeks of hypnotic treatment (also called Mesmeric treatment).  On page 88 we read this: 

"I have put on a shooting-jacket, in which were eight or ten pockets ; I have put various articles into each pocket, of a description very unlikely to be mixed together ; and then, with all the pockets closed, and the jacket buttoned up to my throat, I would proceed to the dark room where Homer was, and, I standing a couple of yards before him, he would tell me truly the several articles in the several pockets, describing the situation of each pocket, and naming each article within it."

I have previously quoted many accounts describing clairvoyance under hypnotism involving Alexis Didier. There are many similar accounts involving his brother, Adolphe Didier. You can read some of them in Adolphe Didier's book Animal Magnetism and Somnambulism.  On page 209 Adolphe quotes a witness of his skills:

"I proceeded to mesmerise him... Lord ---- directly reached (quite at random) a book from a shelf, and, holding it behind him, asked, 'What book have I now in my hand ?' Adolphe Didier in a few seconds replied, ' Voyage en Suisse.' The inquirer immediately held up the book, that we might perceive that Didier had correctly read the gilt lettering on its back. Placing the book behind him again, and without opening it, he requested that Adolphe would read the first four lines on page 27. Adolphe immediately repeated several sentences in French. On opening the book and turning to page 27, we found that Adolphe had correctly read four lines from the twenty-seventh page of a closed book, held behind his querist, entirely out of all possible range of natural vision."

The witness then describes on page 211 a remarkable success by Adolphe Didier, in which he is able to tell lots of relevant information after being given only the name of a lady:

"As I happened, on perusing my note, to say that I must now 
go and mesmerise Adolphe Didier, the French clairvoyant, the lady remarked, 'I wish he could tell you about a ring which was stolen from me two years ago.' I rejoined that I would, if an opportunity occurred, ask him about it ; that I did not know anything of his method of perceiving, but that if she wrote her name on a piece of paper I would give it to him, and try if he could make out her wishes, or discover anything respecting the lost article. I now placed this piece of paper in his hand: He put it to his lips and on his forehead ; and, after a short interval of apparent reflection, he stated that it written by a lady, whom he described correctly ; and that she wanted to know about a lost ring. He then described the ring ; the apartment from which it was taken ; what articles were in the box where it had been previously deposited ; who had taken it, and where it was pawned ; adding, that it would not be recovered unless the pawnbroker would admit having received it, and declare where he had disposed of it. His description of the lady, of the apartment, of the box, and the various articles contained therein, one article being very curious and having therefore puzzled him much, were all perfectly correct : the person who he stated had taken it is deceased. There was some difficulty in ascertaining the pawnbroker indicated by him. The party who was presumed to be meant denied ever having taken in pledge any ring of so great a value, and thus verification of the latter part of his statement was not possible. This was not cerebral sympathy or thought-reading. The particulars were totally unknown to any one present, and the event to which they referred had taken place two years previously. It is somewhat curious and corroboratory, that on Alexis Didier being asked in Paris, and Ellen Dawson subsequently in London, also respecting the ring, they each described the same person as having stolen it. For these three clairvoyants each to have described the same person and circumstances without a possibility of any of them knowing what the others had said, is a fact somewhat too remarkable to be accounted for on the ground of extraordinary coincidence,' or 'fortunate guess-work.'  "

On page 240 Aldophe quotes a newspaper account regarding him, in which he is referred to as "the somnambulist" (a term which then meant someone showing activity while hypnotized):

"A short repose being granted, a journalist who had no faith in clairvoyance, being put en rapportrequested the somnambulist to describe to him his apartment. 'Travel there mentally yourself,' said the somnambulist, 'and I shall follow you.' 'Well, I am doing so,' said the journalist. 'Your apartment,' observed then the somnambulist, 'is on the third floor. Yes, it is on the third floor, and I am now in your room. Everything in it appears in disorder. There is a table by the side of the window with many papers upon it ; but I can see nothing striking in your apartment ; in short, there is scarcely anything in it.' 'That is very true,' admitted the journalist ; 'but now I am thinking of something. Can you see what it is?' 'You are thinking of a portrait which hangs over the mantelpiece; it is a daguerrotype; it is even your own likeness.'  'Still very true,' again admitted the journalist. Another gentleman tried the same experiment, and the very objects he only thought of were named 
to him, which further proved the extraordinary lucidity of the somnambulist."

On page 270 Adolphe quotes this account from the Cardiff Journal, using the term "somnambulic state" to mean a hypnotized state:

"In order to satisfy the doubt of some gentlemen, it was arranged that a billiard match should be played by Adolphe when blindfolded, in the somnambulic state. This took place immediately after the public seance, on Monday evening ; when, his eyes having been bandaged with three handkerchiefs, under which were two large pieces of cotton-wool, and all possibility of seeing in the ordinary way quite done away with, Adolphe took the cue, and played his game as well as many could have done in their natural state with, open eves. He described the position and colour of the balls, and made his remarks on the strokes, showing that he was perfectly clairvoyant. As he expressed himself as being much fatigued, the game was brought to an [early conclusion ; most sceptics being convinced of the astounding fact, that in a peculiar state of the human brain, preception can and does take place without the use of the ordinary means of vision."

On page 289 Adolphe quotes another press account of one of his innumerable public exhibitions, one in which plaster was affixed over his eyes:

"These gentlemen no longer considered the balls of carded 
cotton as sufficient, for they literally closed up M. Didier's eyes with two real plasters, which they first took care to scrutinize. But all this could not hinder the somnambulist from playing with extraordinary celerity, and remarkable certainty, several games of cards, dominoes, and draughts, nor from reading at the instant whatever was presented to him."

On page 307 Adolphe quotes another of a great number of favorable press accounts of his public exhibitions:

"A gentleman handed to the clairvoyant a gold watch, requesting him to read what was written inside. M. Didier answered as quickly as the question was put to him, VenitiaThe watch was then opened and this word was, in fact, found inside." 

On page 127 of his 1869 book "Artificial Somnambulism, Hitherto Called Mesmerism, or Animal Magnetism" William Baker Fahnestock MD states that he "very much doubted" ESP under hypnosis, but was forced to believe in it because he "proved more than a thousand times" that it occurs. On page 132 he states this about hypnotized persons:

"It is astonishing with what facility some subjects follow, or read the minds even of strangers who may desire to take them to places where they have never been ; and when there with what accuracy they describe places, persons, or things existing or passing at the time."

On the same page we read this:

"Mr E was desired, at the request of a gentleman, to visit his home with him — which was distant about fifty miles — and when he had followed him by reading his mind, he described the peculiarities of the mill and the house attached to it, the number of rooms in the house, where entered, the furniture and relative position of the same, his wife, whom he described as being slim, tall, with very dark hair and dark complexion, dressed in a brown gown, having a child in her arms. Another child, of about four years old, was described as running about the room ; and an old gentleman, rather portly, bald, and dressed in drab clothes, was seated upon a settee. All this the gentleman declared was correct, and could not have been better described by the subject if he had been there in body at the time ; and, as the gentleman had never seen the subject before, nor the subject either him or any of the family, he was convinced, though skeptical before, that he must have just seen what he described. The description of the above residence and family was so minute, so clear, and so unhesitatingly done, that if it, or a like description, had been given to the most skeptical, it must have convinced him that there was something more in their powers than 'is dreamed of in the world's philosophy.' " 

In the following pages (133-135) the author gives equally impressive examples of clairvoyance under hypnotism. On page 219 Dr. Fahnestock states this about hypnotized clairvoyants: 

"Darkness, matter, and space, seem to offer no ob- 
struction to their view, and I have had them, times 
without number, correctly to describe and name arti- 
cles held in the closed hands of others, of which I had 
no knowledge whatever. In the same manner they have described pictures, etc., held behind them, and named persons outside of the house, although their presence was not expected, and they arrived after the subject had been in this  state for some hours. They have told the contents of closed boxes at a distance, which they never saw, and named the amount of money, and kind of coin in pocket-books and purses which were held in the hands of inveterate skeptics. They have found persons at a distant city, with whom they were acquainted, without ever having been there themselves, and told accurately — neither more nor less — what they had been doing at a certain time and place. They have described places and scenes at a distance, where they had never been, to the perfect satisfaction of hundreds of skeptics who, at different periods, requested them to go with them in thought." 

On page 221 and the next page we have specific examples of such clairvoyance. A female was asked what a Mr. K was doing in the next room, the door to which was closed.  She answered, "He is standing in the center of the room, and is holding a chair above his head."  When the room was inspected, Mr. K was found doing  exactly that.  The experiment was repeated, and the person correctly stated that the unseen Mr. K was holding a pillow upon his head.  The experiment was repeated again, and the female correctly stated that Mr. K was lying down on the floor. We read the following about experiments with a Mr. S.:

"On another occasion the same subject was requested by several other skeptics to tell what Mr. S. was doing in the next room. Answer. — 'He is standing up, and is holding the piano-stool upon his right shoulder.' Her answer was correct ; and in like manner she told that he was holding a note book upon his head; and again that he had thrown a shawl about his shoulders, and had placed a bonnet on his head. The same precautions were taken by the gentlemen to prevent deception that had been used on a former occasion. The door was guarded closely, and opened by themselves, and the positions which Mr. S. assumed were not premeditated by him, but assumed upon the instant after the door had been closed. Deception was therefore out of the question."

In the next twenty pages the author then describes numerous other similar cases of clairvoyance under hypnotism

In his book on hypnotism Teste states the following on page 75, using the term "magnetizer" for a hypnotist and "somnambulist" for the hypnotized: 

"Vision through the closed eyelids and through opaque bodies is not only a real fact, but a very frequent fact. There is no magnetiser who has not observed it twenty times, and I know at the present day in Paris alone a very great number of somnambulists who might furnish proofs of it."

There then follows in Teste's book many pages documenting such an ability in a Madame Hortense.  In his book Animal Magnetism and Magnetic Lucid Somnambulism by Edwin Lee, we read the following on page 105 about a patient who would fall into hypnotic trances: "The patient would frequently announce the arrival of unexpected  visitors, and describe their attire, and the objects which they held in their hands, while they were yet only approaching the house, and even perhaps a mile away from it."  On page 110 of the same work we read the following (in which a hypnotized person is called a somnambulist): "Thus, a somnambulist, after accurately describing a distant friend of the questioner, can sometimes state what that friend is occupied about at the time, or, having described a distant residence by means of thought-reading, will also describe the persons there, in the drawing-room, or in some other part of the house or grounds, and state what they are doing ; and these statements are found by subsequent inquiry to be true." The book gives innumerable accounts backing up such claims. 

On page 124 we read the following, referring to cotton wadding:

"His eyes being padded over with wadding, and bandaged by any one of the audience, the exhibitor gropes his way down from the platform to distribute to any persons who choose to take them, tablets, and chalk or pencil, wherewith to write on them whatever they please—as a series of names of celebrated artists, authors, &c., the towns through which they would pass on making an imaginary journey, dates referring to historical events, &c. He then tells the holder of each of the tablets what he has written and what it refers to.... A gentleman sitting not far from me had written down the names of a dozen literary and artistical celebrities, which, like the other trials, were correctly told."

On pages 130-131 we read the following (using the word "somnambulist" for someone hypnotized, and "magnetizer" for a hypnotist):

"Dr. Macario, adverting to this part of the subject, 
observes : ' Of all the faculties of somnambulists, 
the transmission of the thoughts of the magnetiser is 
that which the least shakes our belief, and which 
consequently reckons the greatest number of believers. 
I have witnessed this phenomenon in company with 
several physicians of repute. This is what we saw : 
On the magnetiser simply willing it, a male somnambulist
began to sing an air of an opera, or a romance which is mentally indicated to him by the magnetiser; and he ceased singing in the midst of a phrase or of a word, as soon as the magnetiser mentally ordered him to be silent. We took all imaginable precautions against being made the dupes of trickery. The somnambulist had a thick bandage over his eyes, which completely intercepted the transmission of luminous rays, and the magnetiser was placed at the distance of several yards behind him, no material means of communication existing between them. It was one or the other of 
us who intimated to the magnetiser, by means of a 
sign agreed upon beforehand, when to cause the somnambulist to sing, and when to stop.' ” 

In this post and previous posts here and here I have discussed very abundant evidence (attested to by a very large number of witnesses) that there can exist extremely powerful clairvoyance and ESP that may arise when someone is put in a hypnotic state. The failure of living researchers to investigage this very promising lead is deplorable. 

Postscript: Francois Noizet wrote a 428-page work on this topic which I am unable to read because I can find only a French edition. But I have found a very notable quote from the book in the work Mental Suggestion by Julian Ochorowicz. Noizet states the following, using the term "magnetizer" for a hypnotist, and "somnambule" to mean the hypnotized person, and referring to a Duke de Montpensier who was the King's youngest son:

"I reached my friend's place before the magnetizer and his somnambule, and the master of the house told us that among the extraordinary powers she was credited with was, that she could tell what a person with whom she was put in rapport had been doing throughout the day. Now, on that very day it chanced that I had done something quite out of the common — I had gone to the Hotel des Invalides with the Duke de Montpensier, to show him the gallery of relief -plans of the fortifications. I proposed to test on myself the somnambule's power, and this proposition was accepted by my two friends. The somnambule having arrived...I forthwith put myself in rapport with her, and asked if she was able to see what I had been doing that day. After some details of little consequence, and obtained with difficulty, as to how I had passed the morning, I asked whither I had gone for breakfast. She answered, without much hesitation, 'To the Tuileries.' That might mean a simple stroll thither, so I persisted and asked at what point I had entered. 'By the wicket on the quay hard by the Pont-Royal.'  ' And then ? ' ' You went up into the chateau.' ' By which steps, the middle ones ? ' ' No ; by those at the corner, near the wicket.' Here she lost herself among the different sets of steps — and well she might, for there are many of them. Finally she set me down in a large hall where some officers were. It was a reception hall on the ground floor. ' You waited,' said she to me. ' And then ? ' ' A tall young man came and spoke to you.' 'Who was that young man?' 'I do not know.' 'Try hard to find out.' ' Oh, it is the King's son.' 'Which?' 'I do not know.' (I tell her it was the Duke de Montpensier.) ' Afterward ? ' ' You entered a coach.' 'Alone?' ' No ; with the prince.' 'Where was I placed ? ' ' In the rear, to the left of him.' ' Were we two alone in the coach ?'  ' No ; there was, further, in front, a stout gentleman ? ' 'Who was that gentleman ? ' ' I do not know.' ' Try.' (After reflecting) ' 'Twas the King.' ' How,' said I, ' I on the rear seat and the King on the front ? You see that is not reasonable.' ' I can't say ; I do not know that gentleman.' ' Well, it was the Prince's aide-de-camp.' ' I do not kriow him.' ' Where did we go ? ' 'Along the riverside.' ' And then ? ' ' You entered a large chateau.' ' What chateau ? ' ' I do not know ; there are trees before you come to it.' 'Take a good look ai: it, you must know it.' ' No ; I don't know.'...At last she said to me : ' There were long tables.' ' And what was on the tables ? ' 'It was not high nor was it entirely flat.' (I could not bring her to tell me that it was relief-plans — things that she, no doubt, had never seen.) ' What did we do then, at those tables ? ' 'You got on a bench, and with a long rod pointed out something ? ' (This remarkable specification was perfectly exact.) At last she had us in the coach again and away. I then said to her : ' But just look back ; you must recognize the place we are leaving.' ' Ah ! ' she said, as though astonished and confused, ' 'tis the H6tel des Invalides.' She said, furthermore, that the Prince quitted me at the door, which was the fact.  Though familiar with the phenomena of somnambulism, this scene nevertheless impressed me much, and I could not reasonably attribute to any cause save the faculty of reading my thoughts or of deciphering impressions still existing in my brain, the kind of divination exhibited by the somnambule. That is the only explanation I can give even to-day."