High StrangenessS


Raising Spirits

Episodes of high comedy in the history of science are rare, but here is one: the investigation of Eusapia Palladino, a tempestuous and erotically charged medium from the slums of Naples, by a sober Cambridge don and his friends in 1895.

The Cambridge group was from Britain's Society for Psychical Research, and they trained themselves hard for the task. Their leader, Henry Sidgwick, was a prominent moral philosopher; his wife, Nora (the sister of a future British prime minister), was a mathematician and the principal of one of Cambridge's first colleges for women. Together the couple practiced how they would hold Eusapia down during seances. As Deborah Blum writes in her fascinating new book, Ghost Hunters, Sidgwick developed an impressive skill for "dropping to the floor, his white beard trailing over the carpet, while he anchored Nora's feet in place."

Eusapia's apparent ability to levitate heavy tables, make mysterious winds blow and produce a substance known as "ectoplasm" - a sort of afterbirth of the netherworld - had already convinced some scientists in Europe that paranormal powers were real. But she had been married to a traveling conjuror and would be caught in trickery countless times. Members of the Society for Psychical Research wanted to be sure. But above all, they wanted to believe. If Eusapia was exposed, they would find someone with more impressive powers. Blum's strange tale shows how and why many British and American intellectuals (including some prominent scientists) ended up on a fruitless but determined hunt for ghosts.


New Zealand: Claims mother died during Maori exorcism

Claims a young New Zealand mother-of-two died as relatives tried to remove a Maori curse from her are being investigated by police.

A homicide investigation is under way into the death of Janet Moses, 22, at a house at Wainuiomata near Wellington on October 12 as relatives looked on.

Police said it appeared she had drowned. She was found with grazes to her upper arms, forearms and torso.

The Dominion Post reported on Monday that at the time of Ms Moses' death family members had been trying to drive out a makutu (curse).

It quoted a relative as saying that the family believed a curse was put on Ms Moses after a relative stole a taonga (treasure).


Nasa told to solve 'UFO crash' X-File

For four decades, residents of the tiny Pennsylvania town of Kecksburg have told their story of strange blue lights in the sky one winter's evening and a fireball crashing into woods.

On 9 December, 1965, they say, they saw armed soldiers cordoning off the area and a large metallic acorn-shaped object bearing strange hieroglyphics driven off at speed on the back of a lorry. They talk of menacing plain-clothes officials visiting homes and warning local people not to tell anyone of what they saw.

Until now the US government has denied that anything sinister took place. It has maintained that a thorough search of the woods by the air force, the only federal agency to have acknowledged it was there, found nothing. But now Nasa has been ordered to examine its X-Files to solve the mystery.


UFOs sighted in Carvoeiro, Portugal

Six unidentified flying objects (UFOs) were sighted and photographed on Tuesday night (November 6) around 11pm by a local resident in Carvoeiro.

©Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson, owner of a bar in Carvoeiro, told The Resident: "There were six orange glowing orbs in the sky at around 11pm. These were moving horizontally across the sky in the same direction, when suddenly one changed direction and the other five followed it before disappearing somewhere above the sea".


South Africa: Mystery fires hit village

The community of Mapuve, outside Giyani in Limpopo, is living in fear after mysterious fires burnt 14 houses in the past few days.

The fires destroyed properties and left many villagers homeless. The mystery fires started last week. When they initially started, the villagers did not take them seriously. But when more houses were burnt down, they began suspecting that someone was responsible.

It is not yet known who or what caused the fires. At least 14 thatched-roof houses have burnt down so far. All attempts by villagers to extinguish the fires had allegedly failed.

Now the community wants a solution to "this frightening problem".

"Community structures, including police, met in the village yesterday to try and establish the cause of the fires, but the meeting yielded nothing," said community spokesman Steven Maswanganyi.


England: Several UFO sightings in Kirkby skies

Sutton's experts on the unexplained, the Ashfield Paranormal Investigation Team (TAPIT), are looking into reports of strange objects in the night sky on Saturday.

The UFO sighting in Sutton that got you all talking earlier this year.

Members of the team say calls have been flooding in from locals claiming to have seen a number of large orange balls in the air.

Says Lee Roberts, team leader for TAPIT: "We have had three reports from people at a restaurant in South Normanton describing the object as like a flame going across the sky which was not a plane or a firework."


Lights, beings, beams: Just a typical night in Australia's UFO capital

On a desert highway in Australia's flat, dry centre is a petrol station by a watering hole where extraterrestrials have been stopping off for millennia, or so "witnesses" say.

If truck drivers or passing tourists find themselves nodding off on the long drive between Alice Springs and Darwin, a pitstop at Australia's self-proclaimed UFO capital might just revive them.

Wycliffe Well and the Stuart Highway, linking Alice Springs and Darwin

Bizarro Earth

Canada: Did departed dad speak through four-year-old?

The following story freaks out a lot of people. See what it does for you.

Often with stories like this, you can't source the original person. Somebody knows somebody who knows somebody else who the event happened to, but you seldom get to talk to the original players.

Not so this time. I know the family, I spoke with the mom Monday night.

Here's how the events unfolded, a year or so ago, in a small town in southwestern Manitoba. The family has since moved to Alberta because of employment opportunities.

Grey Alien

Chile: UFO Image Causes Widespread Surprise

Vanished after making loud reports; hundreds witnessed event which surprised even Ufologists.

The startling and crisp images of what would appear to be a UFO sighting recorded in broad daylight caused consternation among hundreds of witnesses only days ago. The subject drew the attention of local and national experts in ufology. Some photographs and vidcaps of the strange event have been collected, all taken by amateurs. Although the clarity of these images has caused doubt among the researchers, who suspect a photo-montage, they have been startled and even more interested in the subject upon learning of the existence of a video, since this would attest to the truthfulness of the event.

Grey Alien

Plan 9 from outer space; US feared alien invasion more than Soviet attack

In January 1979, The New York Times reported that despite repeated, feverish denials, the CIA had indeed investigated the UFO phenomenon: "CIA Papers Detail UFO Surveillance" screamed the headline. The report is said to have so upset the then CIA director, Stansfield Turner, that he reportedly asked his staff: "Are we in UFOs?"

The answer was yes - since the late 1940s, apparently. But exactly how, what, when, why and who remained layered in mystery, leaving grist for the conspiracy mill.

But this year a raft of newly unclassified CIA documents revealed that the remote possibility of alien invasion elicited greater fear than the threat of a Soviet nuclear attack.

More interesting still, the CIA documents show that despite decades of repeated public denials, behind the scenes there raged a series of inter-agency feuds that involved the highest levels of the US government.

Comment: Interesting that this report comes on the heals of SOTT's podcast with Richard Dolan, author of UFOs and the National Security State.