The first segment starts with Nostradamus, but of course. That anyone still takes Nostradamus seriously seems to be more of a function of regular History Channel shows about him than any actual track record of accuracy or any actual popular enthusiasm for him outside of the occult media promotion of him. His quatrains are so ambiguous as to be meaningless, and little says more about his “abilities” than the fact that the same quatrains yield different “meanings” depending on who is analyzing them. Also: Mitch Horowitz is in this segment, and he believes that you can change the universe just by wishing hard enough for cash money.
Another part of the segment suggests that traumatic brain injuries can cause people to speak new languages or unlock abilities heretofore unrealized. Some of the examples are real, some are exaggerated, and some are probably not true. The show suggests that the “beyond” is responsible, and William Henry tells us that our consciousness is basically a receiver for skills and knowledge “outside” the brain, presumably in the ethereal realm.
Henry says that one day in the past “our neocortex was mysteriously switched on” and therefore aliens were responsible. This doesn’t make sense in any logical way—how does he know it wasn’t “on” one Tuesday in 100,000 BCE but was that Wednesday?—and it also misunderstands the concept of evolution, falsely implying that earlier structures were useless until they reached some teleological goal.
The second segment is about ESP, including government interest in ESP. Nick Pope visits an ESP research center and wastes a lot of time looking at some unconvincing experiments. An “energy healer” claims to be able to use his mind to move an object hooked up to some wires and controllers that measure static electricity. The show says this is using the power of the mind to move objects, but it isn’t. He’s generating electrical activity in his hands that the controllers pick up, which is interesting, I guess, but not psychical. The show claims that such activities “tap into other realities,” but, again, the guy isn’t doing anything paranormal. Even by the show’s own claims, he’s just demonstrating greater than normal control over his bodily functions.
When I was in college, a classmate named Demetrius claimed to have gained supernatural powers from his Buddhist studies, and he would demonstrate what he claimed to be telekinetic abilities by pointing at empty bottles, folded paper, pencils and pens and making them fly off across a desk or table. My whole anthropology class was enraptured and believed he had supernatural powers. It took me a couple of days to master the trick, but I got good enough that I could make the same objects shoot across a flat surface just by pointing at them, too. (It was an illusion—my hand actually swept across the table, generating a breeze that blew the objects.) I showed everyone in the class, to their disappointment. (I also mastered the Yuri Geller spoon-bending trick, which mystified students and professors alike. People are dumb.) Demetrius then claimed he could levitate, but when challenged to do so, he said that he couldn’t when others were watching because of the “energy.” It’s all bullshit. In this segment, the psychical researchers offer some bullshit that the energy healer has ESP powers that manifest as light, with its photons carrying “information.” But nothing we saw on the show suggested any psychic ability, so all they seem to be measuring is the healer’s ability to spike the electrical signals in his nerves. The show says he can “manipulate energy,” but the infrared footage shows only that he is consciously dilating his blood vessels, heating his skin. The researchers allege this is really “brain energy,” though there is no evidence that this heat signature is “light” (as the show says) or psychical power, only heat.
Somehow an infrared heat signature is now alleged to reflect photons being emitted from the brain as it shoots out light, though I am not aware of evidence that the heat being picked up on the infrared cameras is visible light. Infrared radiation also uses photons, but it is not visible light. The show conflates electromagnetic energy in general, visible light in particular, and heat, and all of this is also claimed to be a communication line to ETs. They never quite say why, nor can they provide any evidence of psychics “emitting light,” even though they allege it is common. Again, they seem a little slippery on whether the light is supposed to be visible, infrared, or something else.
The fourth segment covers CIA remote viewing experiments, which the show alleges were successful, though there isn’t much evidence in favor of that point of view. People see what they want to see in ambiguous data. The Nazis tried it, too, in the hope of finding Mussolini at the end of World War II, and a fat lot of good it did them. There is no reason to suspect the CIA was getting any better data. However, the more interesting facet of the discussion is how the talking heads frame this in terms of accessing a divine spirit realm that somehow proves the reality of God. Later, a remote view alleges that while in a trance he encountered a Grey alien-like being. Big deal. I had a similar experience once when I was asleep. It was quite realistic, but I knew better, reached out to touch it, and watched it disappear. Then I woke up. There is simply no objective evidence that visions seen in dreams or trances have any reality outside of the experiencer’s brain.
The segment then lurches into a logical fallacy that if Ronald Reagan consulted a psychic, then it must be real. That sort of logic suggests that Rudy Giuliani is a great lawyer and Jared Kushner is a competent Middle East peacemaker. Just because a president believes something doesn’t make it true.
The fifth segment discusses the holographic universe hypothesis and suggests that this is somehow the same as the cyclical time cycles of Eastern philosophies. It is not. The show circles around the Theosophical Akashic Record without naming it (though they have done segments about it in the past), and it speculates about people being able to access information from the future. Aliens are somehow involved, but no one really makes an effort to explain why. They are basically just Christian angelic Virtues running the communication mechanics of the universe just beyond our ken. Never have the aliens been more irrelevant or more obviously just renamed pagan gods in a syncretic New Age religion.
The sixth segment claims that Nostradamus predicted that the world will end with a solar flare. Well, he also “predicted” that in July (or August) 1999 a “King of Terror” would come from the sky and bring war. It didn’t. I don’t give much credence to the idea that he somehow correctly predicted that we would all flee the planet to avoid a solar flare. The show doesn’t bother to cite the specific quatrain or analyze it in detail, probably because even they realize that they are just making stuff up. They end the show by speculating about humans gaining more powerful telepathic powers as we naturally “evolve” to be more like aliens. They don’t really note the irony that they imagine humans will “evolve” in the future, even as they deny that humans could evolve in the past without alien genetic engineering.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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