July 24, 2011

You Don't Need a Body to Have a Good Time

Out-of-Body Exploring: A Beginner's Approach

This book was written by: Preston Dennett, a former accountant who now "is a leading UFO researcher and ghost hunter, and has authored five books and more than eighty articles"(p.181) on paranormal topics.

What is in this book: A discussion of Mr. Dennett's out-of-body expereinces (OBEs), lucid dreams, and voyages "to explore not only the physical world, but the astral world"(p.xiv) Dennett get around to actual advice on how to have your own OBEs in chapter 12, and helpfully includes a three-page question and answer section about OBEs is at the end of the book. Mr. Dennett's book also includes transcripts from his OBE journals:

Out of Body
I am lucid! I feel a wave of sexual desire. I reach out and grab a lady's breast.
Dennett puts his experiences into context by citing the work of other OBE pioneers:

Vee Van Dam wrote that he had good enough control in the dream state to be able to create fully lifelike people with whom he could intimately interact. I also came to experience an increase in control, but I'm not sure if this was good news or not because now I was able to construct more elaborate scenarios and choose whomever I wanted to have sex with. That kind of temptation is hard to resist(p.103).
And he notes some of the challenges he sets for himself and experiments he performs in his nonphysical form:

I decide to see if I can sing the scale. I sing out loudly, Do-Re-Me-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do! It sounds great. I sing it again. I feel proud to have achieved my goal.(p.46)
Like all good scientists, his explorations are guided by a spirit of academic inquiry and a strict adherence to ethical principles:

I had a few inadvertent experiences during which my desire body took control and I invaded the privacy of women's showers.(p.171)
What is not in this book: Credible assurances that out-of-body experiences are safe. It's true that Dennett addresses the topic in the Q&A section of his book, but his answer is suspect:

"Not only are OBEs not dangerous, they occur to everybody every night. There is not a single reported case of anybody being physically harmed by an OBE. It is impossible to be hurt while out of body because you are nonphysical. Nor can you get too far away from your body, or locked out, or possessed."(p.170)
That's exactly what a possessed person would say when trying to convince us that he's not possessed. Also, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. When it comes to "reported" cases of harm, dead astral bodies tell no tales.

Would you recommend this book to Will Robinson? Absolutely. Dennett writes that "by going out of body, I was able to fly to distant locations, visit the moon"(p.xiv), so using it in outer space wouldn't be a problem. Dennett says that he experienced difficulty when learning about OBEs because "nobody warned me that integrating the dream state with your waking consciousness would lead to possible confusion and a bleed-through between the physical and astral dimensions"(p.155), but that robot that followed Will around was yelling warnings all the time, so he'd probably be okay.

Would you recommend this book to that girl in college who claimed she was a lesbian but just seemed really desperate for attention? Yes. She was big on experimenting, so she'd take right to Mr. Dennet's suggestions of experiments you can try while out of body:
  • "Saying your name while out of body is a fun experiment because you never know what is going to happen"(p.166)
  • "'Gaom-Raom-Om-Bour-Bu-Mama-Papa' Repeat this mantra while out of body. If you are able to say this while out of body or lucid dreaming, you may be surprised."(p.166)
Any one of them would be at least as productive as that 10-hour drum circle she led in the Student Union to protest animal treatement in Burma.

What was interesting about this book? The amount of violence that takes place in the astral world. Mr. Dennet relates the story of the time he was "Attacked by an Astral Bull"(p.64) and the following encounter:
Attacked by Homeless People
I am walking down the sidewalk when I see a small group of homeless people. They are dirty, gaunt, and dressed in rags. They are also looking at me threateningly. Suddenly, they atack me. They are pushing, pulling, ripping at my clothes.
Despite the danger, journeying out of body is an important skill to learn because eventualy everyone will be doing it. "Conscious out-of-body travel will become increasingly commmon among the general population. I think it's inevitable"(p.174, emphasis in original).

Out-of-Body Exploring: A Beginner's Approach by Preston Dennett (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2004, ISBN: 1-57174-409-6)

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

July 6, 2011

The God Delusion

God's Debris
(free, available online)

This book was written by: Scott Adams, the creator of the controversial "Dilbert" comic strip, an aspiring restaurateur, and an accomplished puppeteer.

What is in this book?
*bong noises*
There is something about eyes that supports God’s inevitable reassembly.(p.72)
*bong noises*
When we feel the warmth of sunlight, we are feeling the effect of increased probabilities and, therefore, increased activity of our skin cells, not the effect of photons striking our skin.(p.88)
*bong noises*
If, as you say, our minds are delusion generators, then we’re all like blind and deaf sea captains shouting orders into the universe and hoping it makes a difference. (p.121)
*impact noise*

What is not in this book? Action. Or much of anything else, really.
“Then you believe we can only know things that have been tested?” he asked.
“I’m not saying that.”
“Then you’re not saying anything, are you?”
It felt that way.

Would you recommend this book to a chubby, singularity-worshipping transhumanist? No, because that would mean actually talking with one of them. However, parts of this book may resonate with them.
I will admit I’m not the life of any party. Whenever I try to inject something interesting into a conversation everyone gets quiet until someone changes the topic. I think I’m pretty interesting but no one else does. All of the popular people seem to babble about nothing, but I usually have something interesting to say. You’d think people would like that.(p.106)

Would you recommend this book to anyone? If I was cornered by a knife-wielding automaton of a human being who needed some kind of instruction manual for interactions with othersand he insisted that it had to be written by a cartoonistI would suggest that he read pages 105-114, the chapter on "Relationships." And I'd feel terrible about myself afterwards.

What was interesting about this book? The entire book's 132-page argument can be summed up in one sentence: The only thing for an omnipotent god is to do is kill himself, so he must have succeeded and we are the thinking bits left over that work towards the singularity that will rebuild him (so buckle up).
"God’s reassembly requires people—living, healthy people," he said. "When you buckle your seat belt, you increase your chances of living. That is obeying probability. If you get drunk and drive without a seat belt, you are fighting probability."(p.99)

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

Read more reviews...