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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Sunday, February 28, 2021

More Dreams or Visions That Seemed to Foretell a Death

Can a dream give a forewarning of someone's death? In my post "When Dreams or Visions Foretell a Death," I cite quite a few interesting cases of people who had a dream that seemed to foretell someone's death.  The interesting book "The Future Is Now" by Arthur Walter Osborn cites quite a few cases of dreams that foretold a death. On page 51 we hear of a woman who dreamed her young brother had died.  She soon learned her sister had a similar dream, on the same night. In the sister's dream the brother died from drowning. Not long after, the brother did die by drowning. In his paper "Can Death-Related Dreams Predict Future Deaths? Evidence from a Dream Journal Comprising Nearly 12,000 Dreams" Andrew Paquette reports having a dream of the death of a relative named Harmony a day before learning of her death.

As related in Volume 5 of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, a man dreamed "three nights running" that his mother was dying. In one dream someone told him that his mother would last "but five weeks." Five weeks later his mother unexpectedly died.  In the same volume we read of a boy who told his mother that he had a vision of a Mr. Hall (who had died five months earlier) telling the boy that he would die from a heart problem on December 5 at 3:00 PM. Despite seeming to be in good health in the morning of December 5, he died of a heart problem on that day, at 3:10 PM. 

The Norwalk Gazette reported in 1873 that three boys died in a boating accident. The paper states this: "Last Friday (the day before the accident), Dr. Hays, an assistant teacher, and a man of medical attainments, remarked to a fellow-teacher, ' I have dreamed, two nights in succession, that three of our boys were drowned.' "

The following case was reported on page 224 of Volume 4 of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research:

 "In November, 1884, my daughter, then 16, said to me one morning, ' Oh, mother, I had a terrible dream last night about B. I dreamt that you, she, and I were walking along the street, coming, I thought, from some musical entertainment, as I heard the music still in the distance. Suddenly B. appeared faint, and leant against some railings we were passing at the time. I tried to support her against the railings, but she gradually subsided and fell to the ground dead. I thought I ran for a doctor, but could not find one, and in the confusion I awoke.' The dream seemed to have been a peculiarly vivid one, but after mentioning it to some other members of the family we thought no more of it. Just about a week, or rather more, after the dream, we were shocked to receive news of B.'s sudden death in the street coming from an afternoon operatic performance...She had become faint close to some railings, and for a minute leant against them, then gradually fell to the ground dead."

On page 577 of Volume 11 of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, we read an account of  "a dream which came... three times at long intervals, and which was at last fulfilled." The first time a female dreamed that her beloved uncle (who had raised her during her childhood) died:

"I knew in my dream that my uncle had been found dead by the side of a certain bridle-path about three miles from the house— a field-road where I had often ridden with him, and along which he often rode when going to fish in a neighbouring lake. I knew that his horse was standing by him, and that he was wearing a dark homespun suit of cloth made from the wool of a herd of black sheep which he kept. I knew that his body was being brought home in a waggon with two horses, with hay in the bottom, and that we were waiting for his body to arrive. Then in my dream the waggon came to the door ; and two men well known to me — one a gardener, the other the kennel huntsman — helped to carry the body up the stairs, which were rather narrow."

The female told the uncle about the dream, and made him promise "never to go alone by that particular road." We then read this narration by the female:

"I dreamt it again with all its details the same as before, and again with the same profoundly disturbing effect. I told my uncle, and said to him that I felt sure that he had been neglecting his promise, and riding by that field-road alone. He admitted that he had occasionally done so, 'although,' he said, 'I think I have been very good on the whole.' He renewed the promise ; and again the impression grew weaker as four years passed by, during which I married and left his home."

After having the dream a third time, the female found that the uncle had a death as in the dream:

"His guests left him in [the] greatest spirits, and two days afterwards he died, and his body had been brought back as I describe, and he had been found half sitting and half lying in that very field-road, where I had three times seen him. He was dressed in the same homespun suit in which I had seen him in my dream. ...He had evidently felt faint, and slipped from his horse. The same two men whom I had seen in my dream as helping to carry the body had in fact done so."

The Cross Mountain mine disaster was a 1911 tragedy that killed many miners.  The New York Herald reported this about the event:

"After a terrific explosion, that shook the earth for a wide area, 207 men were entombed today in the Cross Mountain coal mine of the Knoxville Iron Company. Hugh Larue, a miner employed in the shaft, owes his life to a dream his wife had last night. When he arose this morning and prepared to go to his daily task Mrs. Larue refused to prepare his lunch for him to carry to the mines. She did not want him to work today. She then recited a dream she had. In her dream she saw scores of miners with their heads blown off being carried out of the mine entrance as she and her little children stood at the mine’s mouth. Larue had not missed a day from his work for many months, but he was prevailed upon to remain out of the mines. It was only a short time after Mrs. Larue told her story that the disaster occurred."

The author of the book Dreams and Premonitions reports getting this account from an acquaintaince:

“I rarely dream, but several weeks before my husband passed on I dreamed of his death. I seemed to be taken into our living room where the casket was placed and saw him surrounded by floral pieces bearing the customary cards. As my husband was a splendid type of physical strength and had never been ill, except for an occasional cold, the dream made little impression upon me. I had no confidence in the reality of any kind of dreams and, after casually mentioning it to an intimate friend, I thought no more about it. Some weeks later my husband contracted pneumonia and died suddenly. My dream came vividly before me then, for every floral piece, every card, and the arrangement of the room, was identical with the dream.” 

Later in the same book we read that a Dr. L. H. Henley had a dream about a choking death of his sister, which was followed by a dream suggesting the death of his sister and his sister's wife: "Again at about 3 a. m., January 10, I awakened, and told Mrs. Henley that my sister was dying, sitting in a willow rocking chair, and that her husband Henry W. Parker, was near death in the adjoining room."  He soon learned by letter that his sister and his sister's wife had both died of pneumonia, which often produces a kind of choking death. 

On page 153 of the book "Some Cases of Prediction" by Edith Littleton, we read of a woman who had a vision of her young's son death:

"In the spring of 1920 while busy with my household duties, I had a vision like a flash of lightning of my little son, aged 9, in a coffin. Some weeks elapsed and again I had the same experience. In both cases I had a consciousness of the large size of the coffin."

Tragically the next summer the child did die after being hit by a car. The mother was brought to a room which had her son in a coffin, a coffin much bigger than his body. 

In the same book  we read of a woman who had a dream about her husband's death, which closely matched the actual events. Here is the narrative:

"In 1922 I had a very vivid dream which I told many people. I thought that my husband died whilst preaching and that I made my way through a great crowd to find him lying dead behind velvet curtains. The dream made a great impression on me, and many times when he was preaching I felt anxious, but I never could understand the velvet curtains. On November 9th 1924 my husband was asked to give the address at the Armistice Service in the Pier Pavilion - there were 2500 present and I sat with my step-daughter right at the back of the hall. I had never heard him more eloquent. As I was finding the last hymn someone said 'Your husband has fainted.' I looked up and saw him being carried from the platform. We made our way through the crowd and when I got on to the platform I found him lying dead behind the green velvet drop curtains."

On page 126 of the same book we read of a dream a woman had of an air disaster. The account by J. S. Wright is below:

 "On two occasions, weeks before the ill fated disaster to the British Airship R.101 at Beauvais - I dreamed of this terrible happening. The clarity of vision was astounding, every detail could be seen. I saw the huge ship plunge in flames, followed by a terrific explosion, almost frightening. Strange enough, the dream was repeated about a week after. "

The R.101 dirigible exploded on October 5, 1930, killing 48, in an explosion similar to that of the more famous Hindenberg explosion. Another person also had a dream of a dirigible crashing shortly before this disaster. He states this: "On October 3rd in 1930 I dreamed that I saw a large airship crash, after some preliminary difficulties in manoeuvring, on to the top of a hill and burst into flames." The source here states, "On October 5, 1930, the British airship R.101 crashed on a hill in Beauvais, France."

Sometimes a mere feeling (rather than a vision or death) may seem to foretell a death. In the book "Some Cases of Prediction" by Edith Littleton, we read of a woman who watched a newsreel showing people who would compete in a flying competition. Here is her account (confirmed by two other people):

"The Schneider Trophy race has, however, interested me very much always, I find it almost terribly exciting. The team that year consisted of R.A.F. men with the addition of one single Naval flying man, he stood out in the group by reason of his different uniform; when the group photograph was shown I noticed nothing except that he seemed very young and rather good-looking. Then we were shewn each man singly. As the photograph of this young naval man was thrown on the screen (it is his name I have forgotten) I received a sudden terrific sensation of shock, the shock of violent physical impact. I started so violently in my seat that my friend sitting next me whispered 'what's the matter?' I answered in great distress 'he's going to be killed, he's going to crash.' That was all. But either two, or three weeks later the newspapers came out with headlines 'Schneider Trophy Fatality,' the only Naval member of the team had crashed into the sea and had been killed instantly while on a practice flight." 

On page 148 we read the account of a woman who suddenly became convinced, for no known reason, that something dreadful was about to soon happen, and that she would soon hear a "terrrible cry." She told this to someone she met at a train station. A few minutes after returning to her home, she saw a woman come out of a house, her body on fire. The scream came from a man witnessing this horror. The woman died horribly. 

In one book we read of a Mrs. McAlpine who had a strange vision a week before someone committed suicide at the same spot where Mrs. McAlpine had the vision: 

"Being at length tired, I sat down to rest upon a rock at the edge of the water. My attention was quite taken up with the extreme beauty of the scene before me. There was not a sound of movement, except the soft ripple of the water on the sand at my feet. Presendy I felt a cold chill creep through me, and a curious stiffness in my limbs, as if I could not move, though wishing to do so. I felt frightened, yet chained to the spot, as if impelled to stare at the water straight in 
front of me. Gradually a black cloud seemed to rise, and in the midst of it I saw a tall man, in a suit of tweed, jump into the water and sink...About a week afterwards a Mr Espie, a bank clerk (unknown to me), committed suicide by drowning at that very spot. He left a letter for his wife, indicating that for some time he had contemplated his death."

In the book Glimpses of the Unseen by B. F. Austin, we read the following narrative by a Mrs. Eames:

"Mr. B. F. Eames, brother of my husband, was in the Army, East, in the cavalry as first lieutenant. I dreamed I saw him coming to me. He smiled and pulled open his vest and showed that he had been wounded — shot in the left lung. I said to him, 'Oh, are you not afraid it will kill you?' and he answered 'Yes,' and seemed to walk right on as if to meet other members of the troop. I looked after him and awoke. I felt sure that brother Ben was shot, and told my husband in the morning, and I dated this dream. In about eight or ten days we received a letter from Father Eames saying Ben was dead — had been shot in the left lung — and was buried, also that they had him removed and buried in their cemetery in West Halifax, Vt. It turned out that my dream had taken place, the next evening after the funeral. Now where did this come from ? No one had written me a word of it, yet I saw it clearly in this vision."

In the same book we read the following account by a George F. Clarke on page 50:

"In the autumn of 1863, a young man connected with one of the New Hampshire regiments, was stationed at Washington, D.C. His mother was a widow, and his only sister was teaching school in a neighboring town. Returning home one day she asked her mother if C , her brother in the army, had recently been heard from. She was answered in the negative, antl that he was well while last he wrote. The daughter replied 'I feel worried about him, for I had a strange dream a few nights ago. I thought that a carriage drove up to the house at midnight, and the driver delivered a telegram saying that C was very sick, and the next night another telegram came announcing his death.' The mother answered 'I had a similar dream about the same time." After retiring for the night they talked about the matter for some time. During the night a carriage drove up to the house, and the mother remarked 'the telegram has come.' And so it proved, saying that C was very sick, and requesting  the brother to come to Washington. He started as soon as possible, but had been gone only a few hours when a second dispatch was received announcing the death of the soldier, who had suddenly died before the arrival of the brother, after an illness of two or three days."

In a nineteenth century book, there is the account below, only one of countless accounts the book tells about a visionary called the Seeress of Provost:

"Three successive days before the death of her 
father, at a time that the news of his illness had not 
reached her, she saw, when she was awake, a coffin 
standing by her bed, which was covered by a short- 
cloth, on which lay a white cross. She was very 
much alarmed, and said she feared her father was 
dead, or sick. I comforted her by suggesting that 
some other person might be signified. She did not 
know how to interpret this covered coffin, as hither- 
to she had either seen coffins with the likeness of 
the person about to die lying in them, or the like- 
ness of the person about to be sick looking into 
them. On the morning of the 2d of May came the 
news of her father’s illness ; on the same evening he 
died ; whilst she in her sleep was much distressed, 
and intimated that she saw something grievous, 
which she would not tell us, in order that she might 
not know it when she was awake ; on the next came 
the news of his death."

In the same book we read the following:

"Dr. Bardili, a young man of talent, who quitted his country for America, and devoted himself much to the study of languages and mathematics — and who, according to the testimony of his friends, had not much faith in spiritual matters — says, in the last letter he ever wrote to them — which letter is still in their possession — 'The most extraordinary thing has lately happened to me : my friend Elwert, who died nine years ago at Wirtemberg, appeared to me, and said, 'Thou shalt soon die!' and what is more strange
is, that the day he appeared to me was the anniver-
sary of his own death.'  Shortly after writing this letter. Dr. B died, very unexpectedly."

In another book we read of a son who had a dream that his father had a fall, and died. At the same hour far away his father had tumbled down some stairs, and later died from gangrene arising from his hand injured in the fall.  A meta-analysis of experimental tests of ESP during dreams found strong evidence of a real effect, reporting a p-value of  5.19 × 10-8 which means the probability of getting such results by chance was less than 1 in a 100 million.   

In recent months I have been having dreams dominated by themes of danger, death, and life-after-death, dreams very often involving the deceased (as described here). Only time will tell whether such dreams were premonitory. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Why We Do Not Understand the Origin of Any Adult Human Being

A common boast of modern scientists is that they understand the origin of the entire human species. But I maintain that they do not actually understand any such thing, and that they also do not even understand something much simpler: the origin of any single adult human being. 

Upon hearing such a statement, the average adult might  laugh and say, "Why, of course I understand my own origin." If asked to supply explicit details, a person might say something like, "I originated because my mother and father had sex, and my mother's egg was fertilized by my father's sperm." But if you state such an account, you are not explaining how you originated. You are merely explaining how your mother got pregnant.  You should not confuse understanding how your mother got pregnant with understanding how you originated. Explaining how you originated is a task very, very much harder than merely explaining how your mother got pregnant. 

There are two things we would need to explain before we can say that we understand the origin of an adult human being. The first thing we would need to explain is the origination of an adult human body,  a state of enormous hierarchical physical organization and also gigantically dynamic functionality. The second thing we would need to explain is the arrival of the mind of an adult human being. The second task should not be reduced to some mere "problem of consciousness," as if all that we need to explain is some mere awareness of any type.  The second task is the task of explaining all of the mental faculties of an adult human being. Such faculties include awareness, self-hood, thinking, memory acquistion, instant memory retrieval, and the preservation of memories for years.  Scientists have no credible explanation for either the arrival of an adult human body or the arrival of an adult human mind.  Let's look at why existing explanations don't get the job done. 

If someone defines a fertilized human egg as a human being, a definition that is very debatable, you might be able to say, "I understand the physical origin of a human being," and merely refer to a sperm uniting with an egg cell as such an origin.  But the question we are concerned with is whether anyone understands the physical origin of an adult human being. The physical structure of an adult human being is a state of organization millions of times more complex than a mere fertilized speck-sized egg cell.  (A human egg cell is about a tenth of a millimeter in length, but a human body occupies a volume of about 75 million cubic millimeters.) So you don't explain the physical origin of an adult human being by merely referring to the fertilization of an egg cell during or after sexual intercourse. 

We cannot explain the origin of an adult human body by merely using words such as "development" or "growth." Trying to explain the origin of an adult human body by merely mentioning a starting cell and mentioning "growth" or "development" is as vacuous as trying to explain the mysterious appearance of a building by saying that it appeared through "origination" or "construction."  If we were to find some mysterious huge building on Mars, we would hardly be explaining it by merely saying that it arose from "origination" or by saying that it appeared through "construction." When a person tries to explain the origin of a human body by merely mentioning "growth" or "development" or "morphogenesis," he is giving as empty an explanation as someone who tells you he knows how World War II started, because he knows that it was caused by "historical events."

There is a more specific account often told to try to explain the origin of an adult human body. The account goes something like this:

"Every cell contains a DNA molecule that is a blueprint for constructing a human., all the information that is needed. So what happens is that inside the body of a mother, this DNA plan for a human body is read, and the body of a baby is gradually constructed. It's kind of like a construction crew working from a blueprint to make a building."

The problem with this account is that while it has been told very many times, the story is just plain false. There is no such blueprint for a human being in human DNA. We know exactly what is in human DNA. It is merely low-level chemical information such as the sequence of amino acids that make up polypeptide chains that are the starting points of protein molecules. DNA does not specify anatomy. DNA is not a blueprint for making a human. DNA is not a recipe for making a human. DNA is not a program or algorithm for making a human. Not only does DNA not specify how to make a human, DNA does not even specify how to make any organ or appendage or cell of a human. There are about 200 types of cells in human beings, each an incredibly organized thing (cells are so complex they are sometimes compared to factories or cities).  DNA does not specify how to make any of these 200 types of cells. Cells are built from smaller structural units called organelles. DNA does not even specify how to make such low-level organelles. 

Here are a few relevant quotes by authorities:

  • On page 26 of the recent book The Developing Genome, Professor David S. Moore states, "The common belief that there are things inside of us that constitute a set of instructions for building bodies and minds -- things that are analogous to 'blueprints' or 'recipes' -- is undoubtedly false."
  • Biologist Rupert Sheldrake says this "DNA only codes for the materials from which the body is constructed: the enzymes, the structural proteins, and so forth," and "There is no evidence that it also codes for the plan, the form, the morphology of the body."
  • Describing conclusions of biologist Brian Goodwin, the New York Times says, "While genes may help produce the proteins that make the skeleton or the glue, they do not determine the shape and form of an embryo or an organism." 
  • Professor Massimo Pigliucci (mainstream author of numerous scientific papers on evolution) has stated  that "old-fashioned metaphors like genetic blueprint and genetic programme are not only woefully inadequate but positively misleading."
  • Neuroscientist Romain Brette states, "The genome does not encode much except for amino acids."
  • In a 2016 scientific paper, three scientists state the following: "It is now clear that the genome does not directly program the organism; the computer program metaphor has misled us...The genome does not function as a master plan or computer program for controlling the organism; the genome is the organism's servant, not its master.
  • In the book Mind in Life by Evan Thompson (published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) we read the following on page 180: "The plain truth is that DNA is not a program for building organisms, as several authors have shown in detail (Keller 2000, Lewontin 1993, Moss 2003)."
  • Developmental biologist C/H. Waddington stated, "The DNA is not a program or sequentially accessed control over the behavior of the cell."
  •  Scientists Walker and Davies state this in a scientific paper"DNA is not a blueprint for an organism; no information is actively processed by DNA alone...DNA is a passive repository for transcription of stored data into RNA, some (but by no means all) of which goes on to be translated into proteins."
  • Geneticist Adam Rutherford states that "DNA is not a blueprint." 
  • "The genome is not a blueprint," says Kevin Mitchell, a geneticist and neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin, noting "it doesn't encode some specific outcome."
  • "DNA cannot be seen as the 'blueprint' for life," says Antony Jose, associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, who says, "It is at best an overlapping and potentially scrambled list of ingredients that is used differently by different cells at different times."  
  • Sergio Pistoi (a science writer with a PhD in molecular biology) tells us, "DNA is not a blueprint," and tells us, "We do not inherit specific instructions on how to build a cell or an organ." 
  • Michael Levin (director of a large biology research lab) states that "genomes are not a blueprint for anatomy," and after referring to a "deep puzzle" of how biological forms arise, he gives this example: "Scientists really don’t know what determines the intricate shape and structure of the flatworm’s head."
  • Ian Stevenson M.D. stated "Genes alone - which provide instructions for the production of amino acids and proteins -- cannot explain how the proteins produced by their instructions come to have the shape they develop and, ultimately, determine the form of the organisms where they are," and noted that "biologists who have drawn attention to this important gap in our knowledge of form have not been a grouping of mediocrities (Denton, 1986; Goldschmidt, 1952; B. C. Goodwin, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1994; Gottlieb, 1992; Grasse, 1973; E. S. Russell...Sheldrake, 1981; Tauber and Sarkar, 1992; Thompson, 1917/1942)."
  • Biologist B.C. Goodwin stated this in 1989: "Since genes make molecules, genetics...does not tell us how the molecules are organized into the dynamic, organized process that is the living organism."
  • An article in the journal Nature states this: "The manner in which bodies and tissues take form remains 'one of the most important, and still poorly understood, questions of our time', says developmental biologist Amy Shyer, who studies morphogenesis at the Rockefeller University in New York City."
  • Timothy Saunders, a developmental biologist at the National University of Singapore, says"Fundamentally, we have a poor understanding of how any internal organ forms.” 
  • In an essay pointing out the vast complexities and interlocking dependencies of even simpler aspects of biology such as angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels),  Jonathan Bard of Oxford University states, "It is pushing the boundaries of belief too far to believe that it is helpful to see the genome as holding a program." 

The lack of any specification for building a human in DNA is only one of two major reasons why a reading from DNA cannot explain the physical origin of a newborn baby or an adult. The second major reason is that there is nothing in the human body that would be capable of reading a DNA specification for making a human, if such a thing happened to exist.  Consider what goes on when a house is built. Dumping some building materials and a blueprint will never cause a house to be built. The house can only get built if there are intelligent blueprint readers smart enough to read the complex blueprints, and carry out their instructions. With about 200 types of cells, each so complex they are often compared to factories, a human body is something a million times harder to build than a mere house. If there were some instructions for building a human in DNA, such instructions would be so complex that they would require something extremely intelligent to interpret such instructions and carry them out. But we know of no such intelligence existing in a human womb where a baby grows. 

The "DNA as blueprint" idea is further disproved by the C-value paradox under which many relatively simple organisms have genomes much larger than more complex organisms. For example, a certain flower from Japan has a genome 50 times longer than the human genome, and quite a few amphibians have genomes 10 times bigger than the human genome. 

There is no blueprint or recipe or program for making a human in human DNA, and there is nothing intelligent enough in a human womb to read and execute such immensely complicated instructions if they happened to exist. So the physical origin of each full-sized human body is a miracle far beyond our understanding.  

We lack any understanding of how the supremely hierarchical organization of an adult human body arises. Consider all the different levels of organization. Subatomic particles are organized into atoms, which are organized into amino acids, which are organized into protein molecules, which are organized into protein complexes, 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 the human body.  There is nothing in a speck-sized human egg that explains how most of those different levels of organization could arise. 

We take for granted the miracle of a speck-sized egg growing into a human body a million times more organized than such a cell. Why is that? Mainly because it is something that happens most of the time. It seems that we will not be astonished by any transformation, no matter how inexplicable it may seem, as long as it happens most of the time.  Imagine if you lived on a planet in which you could plant acorns in the ground, and they would grow into three-story houses complete with electricity and running water. You would not think such a thing was very marvelous if it happened most of the times that acorns were planted in the ground, and if such a thing had been happening for as long as your race could remember.  The arising of a full-sized human body from a speck-sized fertilized egg millions of times less complex and organized is a marvel a thousand times more impressive than a three-story house with electricity and running water arising from an acorn planted in the ground.  We do not at all understand how this marvel happens. We do not understand the physical origin of any adult human body. In a section entitled  "Developmental Biology," a paper by a University of Oxford biologist confesses, "We...rarely understand what is going on in any detailed way."

Below we see the very large number of interlocking dependencies in merely a tiny fragment of human biochemistry. Showing such a diagram for the whole human body would require a similar graph, but one that was wall-sized.  And such a wall-sized graph would merely skim the surface, because systems biology is in its infancy. 

biological network

From the scientific paper here

There is a second major reason why we do not understand the origin of any adult human being.  The second reason is that we do not understand how there appears any such thing as the mind of an adult human. We are told a story about this matter, but it is a false story. The story goes like this:

"All your mental capabilites are just produced by the brain. So as a child grows bigger, and his brain grows bigger, his mental powers gradually increase." 

But the idea that the brain explains the main types of human phenomena is dead wrong. Although they have the very bad habit of constantly making groundless claims that brains explain minds, scientists have no understanding of how neurons could create any of the most important aspects of the human mind. Specifically:

  • No neuroscientist has ever given a credible account of how neurons could produce any such thing as consciousness or self-hood.
  • No neuroscientist has ever given a credible account of how neurons could produce conceptual understanding or abstract ideas. 
  • Far from resembling an information storage system for storing learned data, the brain has none of the hallmarks of such systems. 
  • No one has ever presented a credible theory of how human learned information and conceptual information and episodic memories could ever be translated into neural states or synapse states. 
  • Brains seem to have nothing like a mechanism for reading or writing memories. 
  • No one has ever discovered any non-genetic information stored in any animal brain, nor has anyone discovered any of the token repetition that might exist if brains stored memories. 
  • Scientists lack any credible explanation of how a brain could instantly retrieve a memory.  

Such items are mainly just shortfalls in which neuroscientists have failed to produce the type of evidence they would need to produce to substantiate claims that brains produce minds and that brains store memories.  There are also many known facts and discoveries that discredit such claims, including the following:

  • Common facts of human experience (such as our ablilty to instantly form permanent new memories) stand in opposition to widely spread but groundless claims that brains store memories through slow mechanisms such as "synapse strengthening." 
  • The average lifetime of proteins in synapses (the reputed storage place of memories) is less than two weeks, 1000 times shorter than the maximum length of time that humans can remember things (more than 50 years).
  • Human minds and memories are well preserved even when half of a brain is surgically removed to stop severe epileptic seizures, which completely contradicts the claim that the human brain is the source of the human mind and the storage place of memories. 
  • There are many case histories of people with good minds and average or above-average intelligence even when almost all of their brains were destroyed by disease. 
  • Inside the human brain there exists many types of severe signal noise which should make it impossible for the human brain to be the explanation for memory recall when can occur almost flawlessly in many people, and accurate human calculation such as occurs in savants. 
  • Because signal transmission is relatively slow in synapses and dendrites, human brains should be way too slow to explain instant human recall and very fast numerical calculation such as we see in mathematical savants. 
  • Abundant evidence for human extrasensory perception (evidence which has been systematically gathered and published for almost 200 years) suggests the human mind must involve something far beyond the brain, such evidence being inexplicable under any neural hypothesis. 
  • A large body of evidence for out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences (such as discussed hereherehere and here ) suggest that the human mind can operate outside of the brain, and that the mind can often keep operating well when the brain has shut down during cardiac arrest. 

It is very clear that the human mind and human memory is something far beyond the understanding of today's neuroscientists. It is far from true that such neuroscientists "pretty much understand" the origin of an adult's mind. To the contrary, the things mentioned above tell us in the loudest voice that the notions of such neuroscientists about the origins of an adult human mind are mostly erroneous, involving an untrue assumption that minds and memory can be explained by brains.  

Long before anyone understood the enormous functional complexities of the human body's cells and the gigantic fine-tuning of the human body's biochemistry, scientists began spreading the boastful legend that they had figured out the origin of the human race.  To help maintain this legend, scientists have found it necessary to commit many intellectual errors, such as these:

(1) the error of telling us the enormous lie that human minds do not differ fundamentally from animal minds;
(2) the error of telling the false fairy tale that a human body forms because a specification of a human is read from DNA (a molecule that contains no specification of human anatomy);
(3) the error of ignoring a host of anomalies and massive evidence for paranormal human abilities incompatible with the claim that human minds are merely the products of brains;
(4) the error of habitually portraying supremely complex biological systems as being far simpler than they are;
(5) the error of ignoring the extremely hierarchical organization and fine-tuned intricate behavior of vastly complex dynamic biological systems, and suggesting that such marvels of organization with a multitude of interlocking and cross-reliant dependencies can be achieved by a  mere accumulation of random tiny changes (a biology paper by a University of Oxford biologist tells us "the assumption that speciation occurs through the slow accumulation of simple mutations is simply wrong");
(6) the error of ignoring a great deal of evidence about the human brain, evidence telling us that it does not have the characteristics it would have if it were the source of the human mind and the storage place for memories that can last for fifty years or more. 

Once we identify how these errors are being committed, we can realize the humbling truth: that our scientists (who cannot even explain the reproduction of an average human cell) do not understand the origin of the human race, and do not even understand the origin of any single human adult, because they are unable to credibly explain either the appearance of the mountainously organized wonder that is the adult human body or the arising of any adult mind.  

So we do not at all understand the origin of an adult's body, and we are just as ignorant about the origin of an adult's mind.  The arising of an adult human with such stratospheric levels of hierarchical bodily organization and also with the common features of an adult human mind (such as imagination, self-hood, abstract reasoning and instant accurate recall of very old memories) are both miracles of origination a thousand miles over the heads of today's scientists.  

premature scientist celebration

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Poor Design of the Latest Mars Mission

This week NASA successfully landed a new rover on Mars, and the mission (called Perseverance) will be part of a search for life on Mars. Is this a cause to rejoice? No, it is not, because unfortunately the mission has a poor design. Because of this poor design, you will not be hearing any "NASA discovered life on Mars" announcement anytime in the next few years. 

Here is how a NASA page describes the mission:

"The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA's quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis."

Get the idea? The Perseverance Rover does not have instruments capable of clearly detecting microbial life (the only type of life that may be possible on Mars), unless by some great stroke of luck such microscopic life left unambiguous visible signs of itself (an effect we have not seen in quite a few years of previous Mars rover exploration). The specs for one of its key instruments says that it "can see features as small as a grain of salt," which is not good enough to detect microbes. The specs for another instrument mentions only being able to see things as small as 7 square millimeters. 

So the plan is to just have the rover dig up dirt in particular areas, store the dirt in tubes, and then dump the tubes on the ground, in hopes that maybe later some currently unfunded mission -- manned or unmanned -- will retrieve such tubes and bring them back to Earth (where the samples can be scanned with instruments like electron microscopes that can view at microscopic resolutions).  

This is an absurd way to spend money looking for extraterrestrial life. The Perseverance Rover mission cost billions, and some future mission (not even funded) that might retrieve these surface “caches” would cost billions more. The chance of actually finding clear evidence that life once existed on Mars through the partial help of this mission would be very, very small, because of the hostility of the surface of Mars, the difficulty of reaching previously dumped soil caches and returning them to Earth, the high chance of finding merely ambiguous evidence (discussed below), and because of the very high unlikelihood of life originating on any particular planet by any abiogenesis chance processes. There would be a high risk that the samples would never be returned, because no one has ever done anything like retrieving samples from another planet and returning them to Earth.

A manned mission to Mars could retrieve these “sample caches,” but why would the astronauts even go to the trouble of searching for them, when it would be much easier for them to just drill themselves to get a soil sample wherever they were on Mars? 

The design of the Perseverance Rover is absurdly poor compared to the design originally proposed for a European mission that will land on Mars in 2023. The original design for that mission was to land a heavy rover equipped with some instruments of serious power that could have detected microbes in the soil or past signs of life. But it seems that this mission (originally named ExoMars) has now been scaled down to be much lighter, and have much less instrument power. The latest design for this rover (now called the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover) is a stripped-down design that doesn't carry the powerful instruments previously planned. Now instead of being billed as a mission to find life, the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is now being merely billed as a mission to find building blocks of life on Mars. 

What this means is for quite a few years you will not be reading any announcement that life has been found on Mars, thanks to the incompetence of our Mars mission planners, who keep sending rovers to Mars, but keep failing to have those probes capable of finding microbes (past or present) if they exist on Mars. 

By the year 2026 it will be about 50 years of sending spacecraft to Mars without landing any powerful life-searching instruments on Mars (the last attempt at such a thing being the 1976 Viking mission). You just have to wonder: do these guys really want to resolve the issue of whether Mars has or once had life?  They don't seem to be designing Mars landers as if they really wanted to answer that question.  Perhaps what's going on is something like this:

(1) Maybe the Mars mission designers suspect there is scarcely a snowball's chance in hell of any type of life on Mars.

(2) Maybe they also realize that the sooner we find out Mars is lifeless, the quicker people will lose interest in Mars, and regard it as just a boring dead rock (a place we shouldn't waste any more money on). 

(3) So maybe our spacecraft designers are trying to string things out as long as possible, so that spacecraft designers can keep busy sending things to Mars, without there being some negative tests that force scientists to say that Mars doesn't have life and never had life (a conclusion that might cause the public to no longer support sending spacecraft to Mars). 

The preceding is merely a speculation.  Another possibility is that the bad design of the Perseverance mission is one of those cases when a bad design comes from a committee compromise. The Perseverance mission includes a drone-like device called a helicopter. We can imagine some designers saying "we should concentrate on searching Mars for life" and other designers saying "no, we want to have fun flying a drone around on Mars." So we may have ended up with the Perseverance mission design as a kind of compromise, in which we got merely a half-measure life-searching capability, and also the drone. 

Committee compromises have resulted in some of the worst designs in the history of innovation.  Conversely, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was a great design. There were no conflicting goals there. The designers wanted to do exactly one thing (land a man on the moon, and return him), and they created a great design to do just that one thing. 

At the CNN website we have a story that epitomizes the kind of fawning credulous cheerleading that goes on in the coverage of science news, rather than the critical tough-minded journalism we need about science topics.  After enthusing that the landing of the Perseverance rover was "the happy moment we all needed," we are assured that the rover is "essentially part of us" because "nearly 11 million people submitted their names to hitch a ride with Perseverance on silicon chips."  More poor design, since you easily could have had the IRS supply a computer file with the names of every tax-paying citizen, allowing every taxpayer to say, "My name is on Mars."  And who cares whether there are microscopic bytes on Mars with someone's name?

The reporter of this story has got so emotional that it seems all objectivity has been lost. We read this:

"For me, it's become a very personal thing. Following the journey of this rover from concept to amazing reality has been an inspiring one. Along the way, I've met so many of the people who have dedicated years of their lives this mission. It's impossible not to feel caught up in their motivations, hopes and passion to explore...It's impossible not to feel some inexplicable bond to this 6-wheeled robot."

But some of us who aren't so misty-eyed and choked up by the rover landing have noticed the poor design of this Perseverance mission. As part of the hype of the mission, a former NASA administrator has made the false claim that "the building blocks of life exist all over Mars." The building blocks of macroscopic life are cells, and the building blocks of microscopic life are protein molecules and nucleic acids. No one has found any cells or protein molecules or nucleic acids on Mars.  The building blocks of the building blocks of microscopic life are the twenty amino acids used by living things, and the four nucleotides used by nucleic acids.  None of these 24 things has been found on Mars.  The organic compounds referred to by this former NASA administrator are merely carbon compounds with no biological function.  For many decades our scientists have been making baloney claims that "building blocks of life" are all over the place in outer space. Such claims were false when they were made so often fifty years ago by Carl Sagan, and are just as false today.  The fact that none of the real 24 building blocks of the building blocks of microscopic life has been discovered on Mars is one of the strongest reasons for thinking Mars has never had living things of any type. 

The NASA mission overview page here doesn't even sound like the mission planners have any hope of detecting current life on Mars.  We merely hear of looking for "signs of past microbial life." One problem with that is that microbes do not leave visible fossils.  So any "signs of past microbial life" (presumably got from returning soil samples using a follow-up mission) would probably be inconclusive ambiguous evidence that failed to prove that life once existed on Mars. A relevant science news story states the following:

"When it comes to finding fossils of very ancient microbial life —whether on Earth or on other worlds, such as Mars — the odds are just not in our favor. Actual microbial life-forms are much less likely to become safely fossilized in rocks compared with nonbiological structures that happen to mimic their shapes, new research finds. The finding suggests that Earth’s earliest rocks may contain abundant tiny fakers — minuscule objects masquerading as fossilized evidence of early life — researchers report online January 28 in Geology."

It is interesting that the issue discussed above is one that should cause us to doubt all claims that life on Earth is billions of years old, since the evidence cited for such claims could easily be misidentifications. Conversely, we have decent fossils from the Cambrian Era about 540 million years ago.

In an opinion piece at www.nbcnews.com, astronomer Seth Shostak gives us some rather silly talk about what would happen if "long-expired Martian bacteria" were to be discovered.  He says this: 

"The discovery of long-expired Martian bacteria would permanently change humanity’s view of its own importance....it would be a near-certainty that in other places among the trillion planets of the Milky Way, life has evolved to a state of self-aware intelligence....Suddenly, we would confront the likelihood that everything we accomplish has parallels in the actions of unseen others, and that what we find beautiful and worthwhile must have a billion other definitions elsewhere."

This is very wrong.  The half-life of DNA is about 521 years. If some soil returned from Mars was deemed to have long-expired life dating from many millions of years ago, we would have no or very little extant DNA allowing us to tell whether such DNA arose independently on Mars, whether life from Earth had come from Mars, or whether life on Mars had come from Earth. Although it sounds incredible, scientists think it quite possible that life could naturally travel between Earth and Mars, during very rare events such as a comet skimming though an upper atmosphere containing microbes, and then eventually landing on another planet.  So if we got some Martian soil that seemed to have evidence of microbes that lived millions of years ago when Mars was wet, evidence that would be ambiguous and debatable, this would never prove that life had independently arisen from separate events on Earth and Mars.  Even if you had proved that microbe life had independently arisen on Earth and Mars, that would not show a likelihood that large-scale life such as mammals had arisen more than once, and would not show a likelihood that self-aware life had arisen more than once. We still lack any credible theory of how mere microbes could give rise to gigantically organized large-sized organisms, and we still lack any credible theory of how minds like humans could naturally arise, contrary to the unfounded boasts of Darwinism enthusiasts who lack any theory explaining mountainous levels of biological organization in mammals, and lack any credible theory explaining the origin of minds like ours.  

As a method for searching for extraterrestrial life, trying to return soil samples from Mars in a two-part mission is a case of getting ridiculously little "bang for the buck."  The total cost of those two Mars missions would be in excess of 4 billion dollars.  Only a single area of a single planet would be checked; the result would probably be negative or ambiguous or inconclusive; and the best possible outcome would be some microbes of interest only to specialists. By comparison, for one fortieth of the cost  (only 100 million dollars) the privately funded Breakthrough Listen project is searching for intelligent life in more than a million solar systems, by listening for radio messages. So why is the US spending so much on Mars missions, and so little on searching for extraterrestrials by using radio telescopes? It's largely because NASA is a privileged fiefdom that we have got in the very bad habit of giving 20 billions of dollars to each year.  NASA is like some billionaire's daughter who believes she is entitled to a weekly allowance of a million dollars. You would think that with all that money doled out to it, we would always get solid mission designs. 

It is interesting that the Perseverance rover has landed on Mars at a time when the US death toll from COVID-19 approaches 500,000.  But we haven't heard about any large-scale US investigation into the origin of COVID-19. It seems the US government has billions to spend on missions that might (after many years) tell us something about the origin of probably-nonexistent and long-extinct microbes on Mars, but that such a government doesn't have much interest in funding a full investigation into the origin of a definitely existing microbe that has killed almost half a million people here in the US. Very strange.  And what if some sample returned from Mars were to have microbes? It might lead to some pandemic worse than COVID-19. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Robberies Solved by Clairvoyance

In previous posts here and here and 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.  Some very strong evidence of such a thing is presented in the 1851 book Somnolism and Psycheism by Joseph W. Haddock MD.

At the beginning of Chapter IV of the book, Haddock asserts that he almost daily for months has got proof of the reality of clairvoyance.  The rest of the chapter consists of a very long theoretical discussion which will tax the patience of the reader, making the reader ask: but where is your solid evidence?

Finally in Chapter V Haddock begins to discuss some good evidence.  He describes how he came to know a young lady named Emma, who started working for him as a domestic servant.  One day Emma said that she had been "mesmerized" by sucking ether. This was around the time when ether was being introduced as an anesthetic.  Dr. Haddock asked whether she objected if he tried an experiment gassing her with sulphuric ether. She did not object. It was actually very poor medical ethics for the doctor to have tried such an experiment, which might have killed poor Emma. The experiment was successful, and Haddock found that Emma felt no pain, even when pins were pricked under her finger nails. 

Haddock then tried to see what the effects would be if he gradually reduced the ether. The "absence of pain" continued, even though the ether was reduced to nothing but a mere scent. Haddock gives this account of how he first hypnotized Emma:

"Finding that with the bottle in this state I could produce the same results, I began to suspect that the ether had very litttle to do with the strange things witnessed, but that she was in a manner mesmerised, or rather hypnotised, as Dr. Braid would call it, by her steadfast attention in looking at the bottle, while inhaling through the tube. It was therefore resolved to try another experiment. One evening I told her to sit down; and taking a small pocket-comb desired her to look steadfastly at it. She did so; and in a few minutes, as with the bottle, fell into the simple mesmeric, or hypnotic sleep....A few days further on I laid aside all instruments and simply gazed steadfastly at her, desiring her to fix her eyes on mine, when she quickly passed into the somnolent state."

When we see hypnotism going on in movies or television, there is often a long repetition of words, or maybe a swinging of a pocket watch on a chain.  But in the literature of hypnotism, sometimes we hear that a person can be hypnotized by a single command such as "sleep!" or by a simple prolonged gaze into the eyes, with a strong exertion of will by the hypnotizer.  Such a thing can be more likely to occur if the subject has previously been hypnotized, or if the hypnotizer has experience in hypnotizing.  Referring to hypnotized patients, Haddock reports, "Emma gradually manifested all the phenomena, or nearly all, which have been recorded of mesmeric subjects by writers of credit."

Haddock then reports that he could exert a kind of telepathic mental influence on Emma, preventing her from doing something she was trying to do. In the passage below "drawing passes" refers to mere arm motions:

"She would also manifest the remarkable feature of magnetic attraction....For example, a piece of money would be placed on a table in a distant part of the room, and it was told her, she might have it for fetching it. She frequently essayed to do so, and would sometimes nearly reach the money; but invariably, my will, and the drawing passes I made towards myself, overcame her power, and, notwithstanding her determined efforts to the contrary, would draw her to myself, and render all her endeavours to secure the money ineffectual. On these occasions, she described the sensations she experienced, as being like cords wound round her, and drawing her in spite of her endeavours to resist."

Haddock then reports something very widely reported in the literature of hypnosis, that a person under hypnosis can be made to believe some arbitrary thing stated by the hypnotizer, even if the thing suggested is contrary to logic or contrary to what the hypnotized person knows or sees. For example, it may be reported that a hypnotizer told a hypnotized subject "you are a bird," and the hypnotized person will then start flapping his arms, imitating a flying bird.  Or it may be reported that a hypnotizer told a hypnotized subject "this water is boiling hot," and the hypnotized person will report great pain upon touching the water, even though the water is cool.  Such an effect is sometimes called "extreme suggestibility."  Very remarkably, Haddock describes such suggestions being implanted not by mere speech of the hypnotist, but by the "silent operation of the mesmeriser's will." This mesmerizer (also called "the operator") is the hypnotist, Haddock himself.  What he describes is the telepathic planting of hypnotic suggestions.  On page 90 Haddock states this:

"At this time Emma could easily be made to believe, that articles put into her hand, or on her lap, were widely different from their true nature. Sometimes by the silent operation of the mesmeriser's will, or thoughts, she could be led to imagine that a pocket handkerchief thrown into her lap, was a snake, or some other noxious animal, and she would throw it from her, and exhibit evident signs of fear and disgust. If she was told the snake, or whatever she had imagined it to be, should be removed, and the handkerchief was withdrawn, and then almost immediately replaced, the operator, at the same time, thinking of some harmless pleasing animal, such as a rabbit or the like, she would imagine the handkerchief to be the animal thought of by the operator; and by her language and actions, plainly evince that she fancied she had the animal on her lap."

On pages 94-95 Haddock reports that Emma had a toothache, and wished to be given ether, so the tooth could be removed. Haddock refused, and instead hypnotized her, telling her to feel no pain. Haddock then extracted the tooth, with Emma feeling no pain.  The same hypnotic procedure was later done to painlessly extract another tooth from Emma, without any anesthesia or chemical pain relief medicine. 

There are countless documented cases of such a thing. For example, in a 19th-century work, we read of a woman in 1829 who had her breast removed to treat cancer. The woman had no anaesthesia, but was merely hypnotized. The account says the woman "did not betray the least symptoms of pain...she talked tranquilly, during the whole time." Pages 65-67 of the same work describes another similar case of a younger hypnotized woman in 1854 who showed no signs of pain as her breast was surgically removed, as she smiled through the surgery.  In one nineteenth century text, we read the following statement by Dr. J. B. Parker, resident surgeon, who uses the term "Mesmerism" for hypnotism:  "I have performed over two hundred surgical operations without the patient's feeling the pain whilst under the influence of Mesmerism, including twenty most painful operations on the eye, tying the radial artery, more than one hundred bleedings, cutting off a very painful wart, and the extraction of upwards of forty teeth. "

In his book "The introduction of mesmerism, as an anaesthetic and curative agent, into the hospitals of India," Dr. James Esdaile tells how he started to use hypnotism to treat patients in India. In his first attempt, he tried for 30 minutes to hypnotize someone, without any apparent success. But persisent effort paid off, and he was able to put someone into a deep sleep in which he was insensible to pain. Eventually Esdaille found he could produce such a state very quickly, with a few movements of his hands (called "passes") above a body.  On pages 18-20 a witness describes how Esdaile performed major surgeries on patients who had received no anesthesia, but had only been hypnotized by Esdaille's subordinates, who had been trained to hypnotize people into unconsciousness. On page 27-28 of the book, Esdaile lists a host of dramatic surgeries he performed without using anesthesia, but only hypnosis on patients. The list includes about 20 amputations, and 200 removals of scrotal tumors ranging from 10 pounds in weight to more than 100 pounds in weight. Another book on this topic by Esdaile can be read here

But let us return to the story of Dr. Haddock and Emma.  On page 98 Haddock describes the first experiments he did testing clairvoyance in Emma. The results were impressive, with the poor-reading Emma describing the pictures in books, pictures she could not see. But the loose description of the experimental procedure does not yet provide good evidence for clairvoyance. But then we have a description of more impressive tests, produced in public by a blindfolded Emma, with her eyes covered with plaster (I'll replace the archaic "plaister" word used in the text with "plaster"):

"Similar experiments to those just related were successfully performed, in private, before a select company, and also before large public audiences, and this too, with her eyes covered with plasters, and a bandage tied over them. Not that the plasters or bandages made any difference, but they were used for the sake of convincing sceptical people. At this time, in ascertaining the subject of a picture, she first passed the tips of the fingers of the right hand gently over it .... and then placed it over that part of the head marked on phrenological busts, as the organ of imitation. If a book with prints on the pages was given her, she would pass her right fingers gently over the page, and if it was merely reading, or a blank, she would say, 'It is nothing.' But when she had thus found out the situation of the print, she would exclaim, ' Oh yes here it is,'' or, 'Tve got it.' But whether the print was a wood-cut or a copper-plate, did not seem to make any difference."

A similar phenomenon (sometimes called "transposition of the senses") was often reported by nineteenth century literature on hypnosis, which repeatedly stated that hypnotized subjects could do something like "read with the fingers" or "read with the stomach" even when blindfolded.  Remarkably, in the post here I discuss many late twentieth-century reports of a similar ability in some Chinese children, children who could reportedly perform such feats without being hypnotized. 

On page 100 we are told this: "As an experiment, small pictures, and various small objects, were placed singly, first in a card box and afterwards in a wooden box; these she at times, told as readily, as when out of the box and in her hands."  There then follows accounts of limited evidential value. But on page 112 Dr. Haddock starts to tell an account of great evidential value.  He tells us that on December 20, 1848, someone living not far from him, one Henry Wood, had the bad fortune to find his cash box missing. Wood came to Haddock and asked for help in finding the cash box.  On the next page Haddock describes using Emma to solve the crime:

"Having no clue to the thief, or anything to form a medium of connection, I thought it best to put Mr. Wood into mesmeric connection with her, and then to direct her attention to the cash-box, and see whether this chain would lead her to the thief or thieves. I did so; and then told her that Mr. Wood had lost his cash-box, and that I wished her to tell us, if she could, where the box was taken from, what was in it, and who took it ? She remained silent for a few minutes: evidently, mentally seeking what she had been requested to discover. Presently she began to talk with an imaginary personage, as if present in the room with us ; but, as it subsequently proved, she was mentally with him, and he was both real and visible to her. She had, in fact, discovered the thief, and was conversing with him on the impropriety of his conduct, and the great anxiety he had caused to Mr. Wood and his servants ; whom, she said, had not been able to sleep, on account of the robbery. In the course of this apparent conyersation, and afterwards to us, she described where the box was placed, what the general nature of its contents was, particularizing some documents it contained, Mr. Wood said, very accurately ; how he took it, and that he did not take it away at once, but hid it up an entry ; and she then pointed out the direction in which this person lived, and, also, where the box then was. Her descriptions were so vivid, that Mr. Wood recognized in them a person the last to be suspected. To be assured, many questions were now put to her ; among which, — Was there any name-plate on the door she saw ? She replied, yes ; and made the shape of the letters on her hand, but reversed. This was the name of the person to whom her description pointed. Mr. Wood said, that he now felt satisfied that he had discovered the delinquent."

Based on Emma's very exact identification, Henry Wood went to the man's house, and brought him to Emma, threatening to call the police if he did not come. The thief's hand was put in Emma's hand, and she recoiled, and said the man was a bad man who had taken the box. The thief denied the crime. Henry Wood contacted his parents, and told of what had happened, saying he would not press charges if the box was returned.  We are told, "They saw how strongly suspicious the case was, and urged him, if guilty, to confess, and save them from the exposure of a prosecution; but it was not until late in the afternoon that he did so, when he fully acknowledged the truth of all Emma's statements." Haddock says, "In this case, the delinquent was brought into my presence ; I both saw and heard Emma directly charge him with the theft; and sometime afterwards, I received a letter from the young man, acknowledging and regretting his offence, and stating that he trusted it would be a warning to him for his future life, at the same time begging that I would not divulge his name."

On pages 117-120 Haddock describes an equally impressive case of Emma's clairvoyance, which resulted in the recovery of notes worth 650 pounds which had been carelessly misplaced at a bank.  The case is very complicated, so I won't summarize it.  On pages 125-127 we have another description of Emma solving a robbery by clairvoyance. A woman came to Haddock after hearing of the recovery of the misplaced 650 pounds because of Emma's work.  She described some money of hers that had been stolen. Emma described very exactly a particular person who she said had taken the money, a person who the woman recognized; and Emma described very exactly the woman's home she had never seen. Later the woman confronted this person, and although he never confessed, soon the money was found returned back where it had been stolen, just as if the thief had returned it. 

On page 128 Haddock describes another "theft solution" case in which Emma "told the exact sum in pieces of gold in the missing purse, and said the party who took it had become alarmed, and had concealed the purse, but that one piece of money had been abstracted: and eventually the purse was discovered in such a place as she had described, and one piece short."

In a work by Frederic Myers, we have a similar account of a robbery solved by paranormal means. A Lady Mabel Howard wrote the following:

"Some time after my marriage (1885) there was a burglary at Netherby Hall, in Cumberland, a few valuable jewels being stolen. The robbers were caught three or four days later, but the jewels were not found. Next Sunday...I was asked by some friends to write where the jewels were. I wrote, ' In the river, under the bridge at Tebay.' This was very unlikely, and had never been suggested, so far as I know, by any one. Every one laughed at this ; but the jewels were found there."

On the same page as this account, Myers quotes the testimony of a witness corroborating this account. 

In one of his interesting books on the paranormal which can be read on www.archive.org, the writer Colin Wilson relates the following account concerning one of the Didier brothers (whose abilities you can read about here and here):

"‘Travelling clairvoyance’ was demonstrated most clearly in a case of theft. In 1849 a clerk named Dubois vanished from his place of work, the Mont-de-Piete, with two hundred thousand francs; a lawyer friend of the manager decided to go and consult Didier. Without prompting, Didier told his visitor the sum stolen and the name of the thief: Dubois. He added that Dubois was at present in Brussels, in the Hotel des Princes. The lawyer hurried there, only to find that the clerk had left a few hours earlier. Didier now stated that he saw the clerk in a casino at Spa and that he would have no money left by the time he was arrested. The lawyer rushed off to Spa (in Belgium), and again missed the clerk by hours. Back in Paris, Didier told him that the clerk had been to Aix-la-Chapelle but was now back in Spa gambling away the remaining money. This time the clerk was arrested but — as Didier had foretold — he was penniless."

A nineteenth century work describes at length clairvoyant abilities in a woman known to all in her town as the Widow Wade. In the town it was generally believed that you could find missing objects by simply going to the Widow Wade and asking her to use her powers. Another nineteenth century work gives this summary, using the word "magnetizer" to mean hypnotist, "somnambulist" to mean a hypnotized person, and "magnetized" to mean hypnotized:

"I have said that these persons, in their elevated state, are un- conscious of anything in the visible world, except their magnetizer ; but as soon as the latter places them in rapport with another person, by means of certain graspings of the hand, they immediately see this other person in like manner, not with the eyes, but from the region of the pit of the heart ; and in this same way, they perceive also, distinctly and correctly, what that person thinks and imagines at the time. In this state, the somnambulist has a most lively recollection of his whole life ; all the faculties of his soul are in a state of elevation, but as soon as he awakes again, he is totally unconscious of it. Persons who have long been magnetized, who have often been in a state of somnambulism, and have attained to a high degree of inward vision, read and recognise drawings and pictures which are held before the pit of their hearts. That there is no deception in this matter, which is incomprehensible according to our common mode of thinking, is evident from the repeated experiments that have been made ; so that there is no longer any doubt of the certainty and correctness of the fact. Gmelin, Wienholt, Bockmann, &c.,have made these experiments so frequently and so carefully, that the thing may be received as an infallible truth, founded in nature, and from which correct inferences may be drawn."

A nineteenth century work describes a demonstration of clairvoyance in a hypnotized person:

"He had been told that the patient could see through the darkest substance, and read writing and letters through walls. He asked if this were really the case, to which she replied in the affirmative. He therefore took a book, went into an adjoining room, held with one hand a leaf of this book against the wall, and with the other took hold of one of those that were present, who, joining hands, formed a chain which reached to the patient, on whose stomach the last person laid his hand. The patient read the leaves that were held to the wall, which were often turned over, and read them without making the smallest error."

This account was published in a newspaper in 1807. We literally have centuries of abundant eyewitness testimony in favor of the reality of clairvoyance, supplied by a vast collection of witnesses.   

In Volume 4, Number 13 of the journal The Zoist (April 1846), page 86, we have a description of a committee that tested a clairvoyant boy named Thomas Laycock, with a successful test that involved heavy blindfolding combined with a covering of the blindfolding with plaster:

"His eyes were fast closed, and the scrutineers, who were watching him closely, failed to detect any effort on his part to unclose the lids. He was also asked if he could see and describe the table-cover before him, which he did correctly. These trials were made by Mr. Fry to ascertain if the boy was in a right state to apply the tests, and he now stated that he was ready to apply the plasters, which he did, first placing the slips longitudinally and horizontally so as to form a complete casing over each eye; and as the plasters were warmed before applying them, they adhered closely to every part. When the scrutineers were satisfied that a sufficient number of slips had been applied, the square pieces were put on, fitting closely over the whole, and additional slips were then applied covering the edges of the square pieces. Wherever the scrutineers, or any of the committee, pointed to a spot to be covered, Mr. Fry immediately applied a plaster, until the scrutineers declared themselves perfectly satisfied that the eyes were effectually secured. The process of plastering occupied about twenty-five minutes. A few passes were made, and the depositor of the five pounds then produced a paper which no one in the room had previously seen. This was handed to the mesmeriser, who held it between his hands for a few seconds, and breathed upon it ; he then placed it in the boy's hands, desiring him to read it. Laycock placed it on the table before him, passed his hands over it, and almost immediately read, '11 Plymouth and South Devon Savings Bank,' which he said was printed in red ink, and then flung the paper from him. He was perfectly correct— the paper being a receipt form from the savings bank, and printed in red ink."

In the very interesting 1891 book Mental Suggestion by Julian Ochorowicz on page 188 we are told an account that helps to clarify why clairvoyance under hypnosis has not received the attention it deserves from scientists, despite abundant accounts of it.  It seems that in 1839 there was a skeptical Dr. Comet (an "editor of medical journals") who was a bitter opponent of the claim that people in altered mental states could be clairvoyant (despite a previous academic commission attesting to the reality of such a thing). But his wife fell ill, and entered a state in which she seemed to possess great powers of clairvoyance.  We are told, "To mention but two of Mrs. Comet's feats, she would describe every little object held in the closed hand and divined thoughts that related to her." Dr. Comet invited scientists in to investigate, but after viewing Mrs. Comet and noting the extraordinary situation, "they hesitated about going on." 

And so things continue today, with scientists so very reluctant to study books or persons or powers or effects that conflict with their cherished worldview.  When we hear such scientists write about the paranormal, we are usually hearing the ignorant judgments of people who never bothered to read the relevant literature. So it is like hearing an opinion about World War II from someone who never bothered to study World War II. 

academic taboos
"Entry forbidden" signs erected by senseless taboos of professors