Tag Archives: parapsychology

129 – Scrutinizing The Sandman: Explore Your Dreams with J.M. DeBord

J.M. DeBord is the real human being behind the Reddit user, RadOwl,  who moderates that site’s Dreams forum. On that board he helps thousands of different users try and understand their dreams better. After being plagued by troublesome dreams in his own life, DeBord started taking dream interpretation seriously and discovered  it was a powerful form of self-reflection.

dreams radowl jm debora
This girl should probably be dreaming about where to shop for cooler sweaters. Yikes!

His 1-2-3 method of dream analysis is all about using the power of your subconscious mind to better understand your desires, fears, and motivations. And how to use that understanding to find out what really will make you happy.

  1. The first step is remembering your dreams.
  2. The second step is interpreting and analyzing your dreams.
  3. The third step is using those answers to confront fears, tackle problems and improve your own life.
dream interpretation jm debord morpheus radial
In The Arms of Morpheus by William Reynolds-Stephens

DeBord takes us through some of the most common dreams that people have, from zombie nightmares (which I had for years as a kid!) to teeth falling out to why we always end up back in friggin’ high school about to take a test that we’re completely unprepared for.  He also shares some of his favorite paranormal dreams!

guerin morpheus jm debora dreams
Guerin’s Famous Morpheus and Iris

DeBord wrote a book called Dreams 1-2-3: Remember, Interpret, and Live Your Dreams that goes into his process in detail and you can follow his dream interpretation blog at Dreams123.net. And of course, you can find him on the Reddit dream board as RadOwl, answering questions and helping people share and interpret their dreams.

The song this week felt appropriate because it’s one of the few songs that resulted directly from waking up from a dream. This was when I had a strange dream that I was hanging out with Ryan Reynolds for some reason and we had to defend ourselves against not only vampires, but samurai vampires, so they were twice as nasty and had katanas and we’re chasing us and it was really terrifying.

What could the dream mean? Number one, that I probably wanted to hang out with Ryan Reynolds while fighting otherworldly creatures because he’s funny and I like that. Number two, it continued on my old fear of zombies (the undead, these vampire samurai were coming out of the grave), but it gave the zombies a purpose. Samurai were honorable, they were warriors with a strict code, so this discipline and purpose made them much more formidable than just regular flesh-eating ghouls would be. Samurai were smart and skilled, they had a mission and a purpose, add vampiric powers to that and me and Ryan were in big trouble. They were an upgraded bad guy in my mind for the Twenty-First Century. It was such a strange juxtaposition in my brain that I had to immediately write about it when I woke up and thought it would be a fun song demo.

jm debord dreams interpretation kubla khan
What were they always digging for in their jackets?

Samuel Tyler Coleridge famously wrote Kubla Khan after waking up from an opium-laced dream and that work is still read today as an example of beautiful Romantic poetry. I’m not sure “Samurai Vampires” quite matches Coleridge, but it was fun to work on nonetheless.

Noble of purpose
righteous undead
Go forth and campaign
from their dirtbed
Transcend the wooden overcoat
with skin lukewarm
Called by a master
a duty to perform.
Tonight we justify the crime
And we’ll discharge our duties from on high
Tonight we justify the crime
Dispassionate and cold
never to grow old
Once we bare our teeth we have to bite
Honor and bloodshed,
for the revenant patrol.
a binding magic,
when a sword captures a soul.
Tonight we justify the crime
And we’ll discharge our duties from on high
Tonight we justify the crime
Dispassionate and cold
never to grow old
Once we bare our teeth we have to bite

74 – Science of the Supernatural: An Interview with Dr. Nancy Zingrone

Ever since seeing Bill Murray use the Zener Deck in an experiment in the beginning of Ghostbusters, I wanted to become a parapsychologist. After all, what could be cooler than investigating psychic phenomena? There’s a “science of the supernatural”? People get paid to do research into ESP? You can have that as a job? Sign me up!

Zener Deck
The symbols of the Zener Deck

I even made my own Zener Deck in fifth grade and did an experiment  with the other kids in the class. Sunspot’s guitarist, Ben and I got 21 out of 25 cards correct when we did it. And spookily enough when I did a Ganzfeld procedure (that’s a sensory deprivation experiment) in college, Ben and I got a 100% hit rate when it was our turn the experiment, so I guess we don’t have an excuse when we mess up onstage anymore!

ganzfeld procedure
I can’t believe that ping pong ball eyeglass invention hasn’t taken off yet!

Well, as the years passed and I started getting more and more into music and entertainment, my dreams of becoming a research scientist faded into the background for the glamorous life of being an independent musician (ha!) But I always told people (with my tongue only half in my cheek) that being a parapsychologist was my Plan B. Now, with the podcast and haunted history tours I get the best of both worlds, but a part of me still yearns to do research of a more scientific kind into the unknown. That’s why it was such a delight to have Dr. Nancy Zingrone on the show to talk about her parapsychological journey. She’s a parapsychologist and professor originally from the Chicago area who has been conducting research in the field for over three decades.

We start this episode with a quick aside about Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead, who passed away shortly after Christmas. In his last interview, he must have known that the end was coming because he talked a lot about death as well as if he ever came back to haunt other musicians, it would be Tears for Fears! We always loved a little Motörhead in the Sunspot van while traveling, where Lemmy would sometimes make his presence known by one of us singing “It’s time to play the game!” at random times.

Interviewing Nancy was especially exciting because she worked as a Visiting Scholar at the Rhine Research Center at Duke University for over a decade. Just a little background, J.B. Rhine and his wife Dr. Louisa Rhine were scientists who viewed psi phenomena as a branch of abnormal psychology and they worked to professionalize the field in the United States in the first half of the Twentieth Century.  They developed a research center at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina where they studied phenomena like ESP, poltergeists, ghosts, and telekinesis.

In the interview, Nancy tells us how she got interested in the field, how she found love in psychic research (her husband Dr. Carlos Alvarado is a formidable researcher and teacher in his own right) and some her favorite experiments. She also discusses the challenges that a budding scientist faces in a field that’s often considered outside of the scientific mainstream. In fact, many of the research centers that are set up (like the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh) only exist because of a monetary donation from someone rich that’s fascinated with the topic. Like in Scotland, the research unit exists because an author named Arthur Koestler donated his entire estate to a university that would research the paranormal. Oxford and Cambridge declined, Edinburgh University didn’t.

Nancy has some excellent advice, though, for people who are looking to get into the field:

  1. Follow your passion
    If you’re interested in history, physics, psychology, etc… then get trained in it. You are encouraged to start on the conventional academic path and develop your science-y skills (even J.B. Rhine started out as a botanist!)
  2. Get collateral education in parapsychology
    There are lots of courses that you can take online from real scientists so that you can get introduced to the methodology. Nancy and Carlos have a Massively Open Online Course that starts this month and is FREE, so you can see lectures and discuss these topics with top experts in the field. Really, you should sign up for this right away if you’re interested!
  3. Find a professor that will let you write your papers on parapsychological themes
    When I was an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, I had the chance to write some of my reports on parapsychological topics in my psychology courses. That was in the 90s, but there should even be more opportunities now. After all, universities are the cultural center for independent thought, right?
  4. Check out the schools that take on graduate and doctorate students in parapsychology and go there!
    Sure, you might have to go to Germany or Brazil, but travel is good for you! Here’s an awesome list of resources of universities and colleges that offer courses in parapsychology.

You can find more about Nancy and her husband’s teaching and research at The AZIRE website (The Alvarado Zingrone Institute for Research and Education) where they have lots of information about their online courses (they’re even in Second Life, which sounds like a lot of fun!) and you can even read their published papers.

And make sure to check out their Facebook community for Parapsychology Online, it’s a great place to talk more about research, experiences, and advances in the field of easily the coolest science!

This week’s Sunspot song is all about reading minds, just like that “Zener Deck” experiment.

Can you read my mind?
do you know what I mean?
Can you tell what I’m thinking?
Because there’s nothing clean.
You’re inside my head,
it’s just a bottleneck,
these words don’t need to be said,
like a Zener Deck.
I felt you on the edges, taking a peek inside,
Seeing a couple stick figures making wavy lines.
You don’t need to be psychic to unlock,

my intentions are as clear as circle, a cross, a star, and a box

Can you read my mind?
do you know what I mean?
Can you tell what I’m thinking?
Because there’s nothing clean.
You’re inside my head,
it’s just a bottleneck,
these words don’t need to be said,
like a Zener Deck.
What do you think you’re going to find out?
I don’t know what you think you know.
A brain on the lookout for a freakout.
I don’t know what you think you know.
Can you read my mind?
do you know what I mean?
Can you tell what I’m thinking?
Because there’s nothing clean.
You’re inside my head,
it’s just a bottleneck,
these words don’t need to be said,
like a Zener Deck.
I can read you like a Zener Deck.
I can read you like a Zener Deck.
I can read you like a Zener Deck.
I can read you like a Zener Deck.

27 – Parapsychology Fact Vs. Fiction: An Interview with Loyd Auerbach

Looks like Mike survived his half-marathon that we were talking about last week in the below-zero temperatures on Sunday, but just barely!

Before and after. 13.1 miles in the deep freeze for the Hypothermic Half Marathon. #minneapolis #nikeplus

A post shared by sunspotmike (@sunspotmike) on

and here’s Mike and Wendy recording the intro to the interview in the Sunspot rehearsal space.

Podcast recording @othersidetalk at the Sunspot rehearsal space this evening!

A post shared by Wendy Staats (@sunspotwendy) on

Today’s interview is with parapsychology mainstay, Loyd Auerbach. He really has been keeping the fires burning for the scientific study of the unexplained for four decades and his book ESP, Hauntings, and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook was extremely influential on a young Mike (which is one of the reasons that he’s so excited about the interview.) Not only has Loyd been highly involved in keeping parapsychology in academia, he has been on thousands of paranormal investigations, and consulted for television (especially on a forgotten classic from the 80s, Shadow Chasers.)

The conversation begins with how Loyd got into the paranormal, his study at Northwestern University under the great UFO researcher, J. Allen Hynek, and then his job at the American Society for Psychical Research. It’s basically a lesson in how to get your dream job so that’s worth listening to the podcast for that information alone.

Loyd moves out to the West Coast to continue his studies at JFK University who was the only place in the United States a post-graduate degree in parapsychology at the time. It was a different time, and he discusses the difference between scientific attitudes towards the unexplained was more welcoming in the days before today’s science vs. faith culture wars.

Loyd talks about some of his Hollywood script consultation and also how he’s not that interested in appearing on paranormal television shows anymore because they don’t portray parapsychology and paranormal investigations in a realistic light. He goes into the difference between reality and what they show you on TV and the movies.

Mike and Loyd then delve into not only tips for novices interested in going on paranormal investigations, but also tips for people who are interested in letting a paranormal group investigate their house. It’s a must-listen for anyone who’s interested in finding a paranormal group to investigate their home because it’ll help you weed out the inexperienced groups from parapsychologists who might actually be able to help.

The conversation also goes into Loyd’s latest endeavors to help educate newbies to parapsychology and his latest online courses, which are all about learning to investigate paranormal phenomena like hauntings or ESP in a scientific way so that your investigations can help further the field of parapsychological research.

Loyd Auerbach Parapsychology Links:

Loyd Auerbach’s website

ESP, Hauntings, and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook

Follow Loyd Auerbach on Twitter

Take one of Loyd’s paranormal classes online at the Rhine Education Center

Featured Song: Pascal’s Wager

We are but tiny,
inside a world of infinity,
all we have is our reason,
to make us better than the beast.

Pascal was a gambler,
who wanted to believe.
Pascal made a wager,
for the souls of you and me.

And if you win, you win, you win it all.
And If you lose, you lose,
and it don’t matter anyway,
And there’s so many things I’ll never know,
But even the brightest stars,
must lay down their cards,
when the ferryman calls.

I was born a cynic,
but I’m willing to take my chance,
that the universe is big enough,
to be more than coincidence.

We’re playing a game,
that we don’t want to admit,
All the things we feel,
that you just can’t dismiss.

So if you win, you win, you win it all.
And If you lose, you lose,
and it don’t matter anyway,
And there’s so many things I’ll never know,
But even the brightest stars,
must lay down their cards,
and figure out just who they are,
when the ferryman calls.

You’re not a fool to believe.
You’re not a fool to believe.