Paracon Australia 2016 Review

It’s been a few weeks now and I have read a few reviews online about Paracon Australia 2016 which have been mainly favourable. The last few weeks has given me time process the events of the weekend long convention which I will share with you now.

This is going to be an honest review without any fluff and in the interest of fairness I am only going to talk about the lectures that I actually attended.

Firstly, Paracon Australia brought to you by Alex Cayas from Ghosts of Oz was very well organised and as far as I can tell went by the numbers. There were a couple of small changes to the program but nothing that I would consider a major problem.

I am not going to review the talks in chronological order as I can’t remember the actual order I saw them in so here goes…

First cab off the rank was Brian Cano of Haunted Collectors TV Show. I really didn’t know a lot about Brian I had watched a few episodes of the program but it never really grabbed me to keep watching, therefore I had few expectations of what he was about.

But I have to say that Brian was a breath of fresh air in his approach to paranormal investigation he liked talking about using science as a tool to investigating. He had a very down to earth, back to basics style which I really appreciated. His presentation was refreshing and he didn’t use a PowerPoint presentation and was very interactive with the audience. Cudo’s to Brian.

The Australian Big Cats talk by Rebecca Lang was very, very disappointing. Being a Cryptozoologist myself Rebecca’s talk was delivered unprofessionally and dare I say it lazily. Rebecca’s PowerPoint presentation consisted mainly of videos of overgrown black feral cats. Yet we can’t blame her for not having actual footage of a Panther as debate continues whether these Black Panthers really exist in the Aussie bush anyway.  When she didn’t know the details she threw to Mike Williams sitting in the front row who filled in the finer details. She plugged their book a couple of times during the talk at one point claiming that it weighed over a kilo and if you threw it at someone you could knock them out with it, hmm?

At the conclusion of the talk she admitted that she had done the presentation several years ago and had not updated it. I’m not sure she could have cared less? It certainly came across that way.

Calvin Von Crush’s talk on Occult objects was fascinating. And delivered very well considering this was only his 4th time at public speaking. Calvin spoke about head shrinking, Ouija boards of which he has collected hundreds, spirit trumpets, and dodgy Victorian physical medium-ship photographs plus much more. He also had various artefacts (which he managed to get through customs) for you to take a look at. A self-admitted sceptic he told us he regularly puts himself into situations in hope of having a paranormal experience but is yet to have one. His talk was informative and entertaining.

Richard Saunders talk on passing the sceptic societies million-dollar challenge was excellently presented considering he was suffering from the flu. He briefly spoke about himself and his background including being part of the reality TV show “The One” where he was a judge alongside Stacy DeMarco, the programs premise was to find of Australia’s top psychic. His spoon bending demonstration was positively delightful to see in real life. He went on to say that stage magicians had been doing spoon bending for years until the likes of Uri Geller came along claiming it was a real paranormal phenomenon.

But the real purpose of his talk was about how to apply, and attempt to prove your paranormal claims and win the 100,000 dollars from the Australian Skeptics and the James Randi’s million-dollar challenge. He showed contrary to popular belief that skeptics don't have all the “cards” stacked in their favour so to speak and psychics are not set up to fail. He went on to say that ALL conditions are agreed upon by both parties i.e. skeptics and psychics before the tests are carried out. To this day no-one has won the Australian $100 000 or the one million dollars from James Randi foundation.

He also spoke at length about water diviners or water witches whatever your preference. And how they have been extensively tested over the years, again under agreed conditions, which no-one has passed to this day.

There was an OK size of people attending Richards talk which I found disappointing as I believe we should look at all sides of the paranormal not just the ones we like or agree with.

The Yowie Panel was a very interesting one which consisted of Rebecca Lang hosting I must say she redeemed herself a little here. Mike Williams, Paul Cropper and Pixie Byrnes.

I really enjoyed the Yowie panel yet I didn’t really learn much more than what I already know about this mythical creature. The main conclusion that the panel came to as far as I could read into it was that the Yowie is a non-physical (spirit) being which is shared by most of the researchers on the panel apart form Paul Cropper who still really doesn’t know what to make of it. Pixie Byrnes as far as I am concerned stole the show on this panel. Talking about her indigenous perspective of the Yowie and how for them it is basically a nature spirit and protector of the bush. She said that you are more likely to have an encounter with the “big fella” if you show disrespect toward the land and towards him. Her perspective of the Yowie was a lot more abstract and completely conceptually different from the way the western mind views its possible existence.  

Paul Croppers talk on Poltergeists was well presented and researched. Although I had seen this same talk in Paracon Australia in 2014. He spoke about the Humpty Doo Poltergeist case in the Northern Territory plus cases he had investigated overseas. I remember asking Richard Saunders opinion of this same talk in 2014 where Richard stated that all Paul had was anecdotal evidence and nothing more. Which in reality is actually true. Nevertheless, a good presentation.

Alison Oborn’s presentation on Paranormal Tourism and Research and how they connect was very interesting. Alison is a friend of mine and I don’t think my review of her talk is biased but she spoke briefly about her Haunted Horizons Tour company in Adelaide, and how through conducting tours at certain places she has made connections through EVP’s and other evidence they have gathered during tours with actual historically verifiable patients or inmates particularly at the old psychiatric Z Ward in South Australia. I particularly liked how she mentioned that she wanted to back over her Ovilus several times with her car.

Alison talk was honest and also very down to earth as she has always been since I’ve known her. At times she would be caught up in a subject and her “handler” would have move her along in interest of saving time.

Damien Nott’s talk was supposed to include a screening of Australien Skies a documentary on Australian UFO sightings but was for some reason cancelled at the last moment. His time slot was two hours which the documentary was supposed to have been shown including a talk by Damien so the poor bugger had to fill in two hours on the spot. If what Damien claims is true he appears to be a true UFO magnet! It appears that nearly everywhere he goes he gets footage of strange lights and UFO’s in the sky. There could be a few misidentifications there with some of his videos but as a whole I think he’s got enough real footage to prove that there is definitely something otherworldly going on in Australian airspace.

But after an hour’s footage of blurry dots in the sky things get a bit tedious, I felt sorry for him being put in this situation. So Cudo’s for Damien for making the best out of a bad situation.

My last lecture was Toni Rielly’s talk on Past lives and past life therapy. Obviously with a subject like this, things tend to get a bit new agey. But I myself have a keen interest in past life recall, so I found her talk interesting though very layman’s level, which I suppose you would expect in a setting such as this. Her explanation of past lives was thorough, but was delivered from more of a “believers” perspective. I was surprised that there was no mention of “cryptonesia” as an explanation for some past life recall.

Karen Rontowski added some much welcome levity to the convention her comedy routine centred around subjects of the paranormal was an absolute scream. And on closing night she did a little more comedy and Tarot readings from the stage where somebody asked “What is the future for Paracon Australia?” Where the cards read that there would be some major shakeups and changes to next year’s convention. At this stage her prophecy appears to be coming true…

All in all, I had a great time at Paracon Australia 2016 at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba it is a great place to catch up in person to people in the “community” who you “talk” to all year online. And attend some interesting and thought provoking lectures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paranormal and Perception

 

We come into this world with 5 basic senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell.

As we grow as children, I have noticed with my own kids that they accept what they see at face value. And it is not until later on after first being conditioned by their parents and then TV, School and the media do they start to begin to have prejudice towards many subjects. How many times as a child did you ask your friends? Do you believe in ghosts? Or UFO’s only to be shot down by someone who says that those things don’t exist. My Dad, teacher - or the TV said so. For example: Some people believe that a child’s imaginary friend is a ghost or spirit guide, they often are told by parents that their friend does not exist. After a few years the friend disappears either because the parent has ridiculed the child or the child simply grows out of it’s psychic ability.

It is a real pity that as parents we push our prejudices on to our children. I am what would be considered an open-minded parent when it comes to things of a strange nature. And at times I have even heard myself say to my kids things like: “what a load of rubbish” and so on – about something they say. Like many things such as racial prejudice, skepticism begins in the home. I was lucky enough to have two “fairly” open minded parents but compared to me they are like night and day. I consider myself quite skeptical when it comes to investigating the paranormal. But at the same time I am quite willing to accept the impossible as possible. I have had in my life two paranormal experiences that I believe were very real and I believe that this is quite unremarkable compared to other individuals. The question now needs to be asked why certain people have one of more paranormal experiences compared to people how have never had one?

Does it come down to perception or is it something more physical such as right/left brain preference. Right brain people tend be more intuitive, arty, musical and so fourth. Left-brain more logical, mathematical and scientific. Ask pretty much any Left-brain person about paranormal activity and they will tell you that it is all rubbish that can be explained away sensibly and logically. Therefore this type of individual is 1) Less likely to perceive a paranormal event and 2) If they did experience something they would most likely dismiss it. On the other hand a right brain may be far too willing to accept everything they experience. Right brains also tend to be fantasy prone personalities.

Presently our main schooling system is based on left-brain logical thinking. Personally I hated school. I found it difficult to learn in the way that I was being taught - although I was pretty good at science. Because of this system of schooling do we neglect the right brain children over the left-brain who win all the awards and get all the praise? And the poor right brain kid who is good at art and music feels less important and ends up feeling less valuable to society in their adult life. Therefore the right-brained kid is indoctrinated into left-brain thinking and represses natural talents and gifts. Such as possible psychic ability, once this part of their brain has been “turned off” they could tend to perceive more like a left-brain. What could become confusing to a turned off right brain is that they may receive psychic information and don’t know how to deal with it or process the information. Resulting in confusion, which could lead to other “disorders”? They could then be prescribed medication, which sometimes makes matters worse. Unfortunately for most of us when we reach adulthood the damage is already done. We become less able to experience psychic phenomena.

I believe many people have their feet placed too firmly on the ground. Because people get bogged down in their mundane existences e.g. work, family, financial concerns etc. We tend to forget about our place in the universe - we are a race of primates that lives on a rock that travels around a star. And many people are far too busy concerned with our mundane everyday activities to be think about Ghosts, Poltergeists, UFO’s or Cryptic animals. The human being who lives in a modern country lives much of their lives indoors. Most of us live and work in cities. We get up in the morning get dressed in our dwelling, hop in our car and trot off to work, which for most of us is indoors or in suburbia. We finish work come home cook dinner and watch TV or do some other activity that is located indoors. This does not give the individual an opportunity to experience any paranormal activity whatsoever.

If this is the case it is not surprising that the most common paranormal experience is a ghost or haunting which are mainly centred on a home, building or a particular person. Could this be the reason that other types of paranormal phenomena such as UFO sightings, and Cryptic animals are not seen as frequently? With regard to Cryptic animal sightings - I quite often like to get out in the bush and wander around and see what I can see. But it is very rare to see a regular animal such as a Wallaby or Kangaroo living or dead. Let alone see a Cryptic animal such as a Yowie, Big Cat or Thylacine. As far as Cryptids are concerned it is the people who spend much of their time in the bush that see such creatures (i.e. loggers, hunters, bushwalkers, campers and people who live in blocks that back on to the bush). Numerous Yowie sightings by locals in the Blue Mountains NSW are a testament to this theory.

Many believe that psychic ability is passed on genetically from parent to child. Historically the village Seer would pass on their talents to their children. Most people who have psychic ability have children who experience things like telepathy and precognition. Could it simply be that the child’s mind is open to possibilities because their parents have encouraged them to follow their intuition and gut feelings. Is this where it comes down to perception or belief? If we believe something is possible it is probably more likely that we could experience it. Perception is a funny thing - if someone perceives the world as a violent place then that person will most likely see people fighting in the street and catch all of the violence on the nightly news. The same can be true for people who perceive paranormal/psychic activity. This person is far more likely to experience the paranormal than the person who is only concerned about work or the footy score. An example of this exists called the Sheep/Goat effect. A term coined by Parapsychologist Gertrude Schmeidler in the 1940’s. In Psychical research it was found that a person who believed in Psychic ability (the sheep) was more likely to score higher in PSI tests, than the non-believer (the goat).

I suppose for most people something has to be experienced to be believed, and I think it is unfortunate that western society has forgotten it’s spiritual path, which some other cultures have kept alive. E.g. the Native American Indians, African tribes and some Asian cultures - it was societies like this that embraced visions and spiritual quests. Perhaps the insights that a spiritual life provides give deeper meaning and therefore more happiness to our lives.

 

Copyright Murray Byfield 2005

Do we live in a “kind of” Matrix?

The Matrix films described a world where humanity was enslaved to a massive computer simulation where no-one or only a select few became aware of their bondage. 

In the matrix script we hear terms such as “system” “enslavement” “waking up” “sleeping” and “blinded from the truth.” 

Now I am not going to be so bold as to suggest that we live in a computer simulated dream world such as depicted in the Matrix films. However I will suggest that some of the concepts the writers Andy and Larry Wachoski were getting at are quite real or for those of us who are paranoid enough can see it in our daily existence. And I am one who IS paranoid enough and to have the time on my hands to contemplate such a bizarre theory unlike the 9-5ers of the world who are “enslaved” to “the system”.

So metaphorically what the Matrix stands for (in one of its many levels) is the “enslavement” to this “system”. If this is case what “system” we are “enslaved” to?

One of the questions the character Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) asks Neo (Keanu Reeves) is “What is real, how do you define real?” If we ask ourselves this very same question about the “perceived” world we live in. What would our answers be?

We are fed our information in this “system” by the media, the government, our parents, our teachers. We are told that man has landed on the moon. We are told that there is no life in outer space. We were told that Iraq had WMD’s we are fed the information from TV, newspapers and the internet and we believe it without question. But ask yourself. When was the last time you were in outer space. How are we really to know if man has been there or not? 

We allow ourselves to be manipulated by these different forms of media so much that we barely have an original thought of our own anymore. And those less perceptive ones of us could even be convinced by the “powers that be” the black is indeed white. And these “powers that be” know this and exploit it. 

What really seems to amaze me is the “total loyalty” that many people give to the corporations that employ them. This could be a Private Corporation or a Government agency such as the Police force. Now quite often these people are looking after No 1 paying the bills and surviving in this world. But how an employee becomes totally loyal to a corporation that will sack them at the drop of a hat when the going gets tough is beyond my imagination? They are too part of this system and as stated in the Matrix film some will “die to protect it.”

I am a strange kind of person I don’t watch commercial television, I watch very little paid/cable television, I don’t listen to the radio. Although I do read the papers and get my news from the internet. I don’t work a 9-5 job. I don’t take drugs and drink only a little. But when I work is when everyone else is not. When I am at work I see the guy or girl that has worked hard all week to earn money to survive only on the Friday night to anesthetize themselves with alcohol just so they can forget about the miserable time they had all week at work. They are then bombarded by televised team sports (Football seems the best distraction) that promote a “herd mentality” sponsored by major corporations who are selling you the means to anesthetize and slowly kill yourself. All in an attempt to distract you from the harsh realities of the world we live in, and the policies that are made by Governments whilst you are “asleep.”

We are influenced and convinced by the media, government policy into a way of thinking so easily we don’t even stop to think for ourselves. We are coerced into buying, thinking, behaving and voting in just the way that the mass media and government want us to. This is what the creators of the Matrix were referring to. Metaphorically being plugged in to the Matrix with a port in the back or your head is no different from tuning the News channel or switching on your radio. Another example is the scene with Keanu Reeves being chewed out by his boss for being late for work. What they are saying is; Submit to authority, do as you are told, work hard and don’t upset the equilibrium or the Feds will come and get you!

To what end do I hear you ask? Well that’s where the mind boggles. Some point to a New World Order where an elite class rule the world under one banner and you are the mind numbed, docile peasant. Or is it simply greed, keep you in the dark, drugged, feed you BS to keep buying their products while they get rich and you get poorer and where we are simply cattle in a herd feeding from a trough of propaganda.

Lucky for us today we have the internet I hear you say? But who invented the internet anyway? Answer: The US Military!

Have a nice day!