Month: April 2013

209. Talat Jonathan Phillips Chronicles His Transformation From Political Activist to Spiritual Seeker

Interview with activist and author explores his personal journey with Ayawaska, ETs, and energy healing. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Talat Jonathan Phillips author of, The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic.  During the interview Phillips talks about finding a balance between the worldly and spiritual pursuits: Alex Tsakiris: If you buy into materialism, if you think you’re a biological robot and that’s all you are -- you’re lost. If you buy into our materialistic culture and this idea that we need to get all we can, and we need to bomb other people so they don’t get it -- all that stuff -- you’re lost. But as soon as you cross that chasm and you say, “Okay, there’s something more”, then I think you run into this problem what we’re talking about. And that is materialism keeps wanting to creep itself back into the equation. So, you’re saying, “I need to take action here. I need to go do this. I need to vote for this candidate. I need to do that.” Isn’t there the risk that we get into this back-door materialism, this “we’re in control” thing? Talat Phillips:   Oh yeah. But I think it’s both. We’ve set up an either/or and I think it’s both/and because if I look at most of my clients, most of them come in and think we’re going to talk about past lives and this and that. But most of them need to get into the material world a little bit. They need to get in their bodies and figure out jobs and live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean buy a mansion but it just means to know how to support themselves and talk with people. I don’t want to deny that aspect because it is important. I denied it for many years of my existence and maybe that was why I was a marginalized activist. On the other hand, I definitely saw this with Occupy. It was very frustrating for me seeing all the projected anger about finances. I do a lot of anger work with clients. It’s good to express anger but when you project it at others it creates more of that fear culture. What I like with is that we’re more like, “How can you create? How can you follow your bliss and your passions and do what you love?” I think Joseph Campbell talks about this. This is a dance we have of integrating.  So I think what you’ve brought up is a great study that we all do. It’s an alchemy of walking as a human and being as a human on this planet. It’s being and doing and creating a right relationship between that. Talat Jonathan Phillips Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (47 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Talat Jonathan Phillips to Skeptiko. Talat is the author of The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic. He is also the co-founder of a rather amazing web magazine named Reality Sandwich and an equally amazing social movement at Welcome to Skeptiko, Talat. Thanks so much for joining me. Talat Phillips:  It’s great to be here. Thanks, Alex. Alex Tsakiris:   Well, your book, The Electric Jesus, is just a great read. I mean, I was just blown away at how it pulls you in and just makes you want to turn page after page. It’s a spiritual odyssey, as the name suggests, but it reads like a Tom Wolfe novel. Tell us a little bit about this book and how it came about and what people are going to find when they read it.


208. Dr. Julia Assante On Technology Training Us to Talk With Spirits

Interview with author, scholar, and psychic medium Dr. Julia Assante challenges our fear of death. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Julia Assante author of, The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death.  During the interview Assante talks about the effects of technology on spirit communication: Alex Tsakiris:   Let’s face it, we love this materialism we’re wrapped up into. We love our computers—we love our Internet, our Google, our Skype. So whether we wind up merging with the machine as Kurzweil predicts, it’s hard to deny this trajectory of technology. Dr. Julia Assante:   I think we should really enjoy being in physical life. I think our technology is, in fact, the chief art of our era. And technology is also training us to think outside of the box, to think in terms of interdimensionality, and to think in terms of communicating with consciousness in other dimensions. If you think, for instance, of the telephone that was an astounding invention when it was presented in Philadelphia by Alexander Graham Bell. He used Hamlet’s soliloquy, talking to a skull of all things, to demonstrate the phone in public. People were nervous and frightened. They thought he was conjuring ghosts. So that kind of technology alone allows our paradigms to open and include discarnates, invisibles, crossing distances, all that kind of thing. The Internet is even doing more with the idea of cyberspace and collapsed space. I think that our use of electronics and digital systems are causing us to become more sensitive to subtler and subtler electrical impulses so I think technology is not at conflict with the so-called spiritual but is working with it as an analogy and as a training ground. Dr. Julia Assante's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (46 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Julia Assante to Skeptiko to discuss her new book, The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death. Dr. Assante is an Ivy League scholar in ancient Near East studies and--here’s where things get really interesting--a longtime practicing psychic medium who even while pursuing her Ph.D. at Columbia was talking to the dead. So Dr. Assante, welcome and thanks so much for joining me today on Skeptiko. Dr. Julia Assante:   Oh, thank you for inviting me. It’s a great pleasure. Alex Tsakiris:   Your book has received very high praise from the likes of Dr. Dean Radin, Dr. Larry Dossey, who also wrote the Introduction, and other notables. So first of all, congratulations on this fine book. Dr. Julia Assante:   Well, I’m really honored to have these people, and even Deepak Chopra whose endorsements are very restricted. He’s only allowed to do seven a year so I’m very privileged.


207. Rupert Sheldrake Censored by TED Conference’s Anonymous Scientific Board

Interview with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake about censorship of his Science Set Free lecture. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake author of, Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery.  During the interview Sheldrake talks about the controversy: Alex Tsakiris:   The irony of this is, if not hilarious, certainly inescapable. A reputable Cambridge biologist publishes a book claiming  science is dogmatic.  He’s then censored by an anonymous scientific board.  You can’t script that any better. What does this say about how science can be dogmatic without even realizing it’s dogmatic? Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:   I think this whole controversy and the people who have weighed-in in favor of TED’s actions do indeed confirm what I’m saying. These dogmas are ones that most people within science don’t actually realize are dogmas. They just think they’re the truth. The point about really dogmatic people is that they don’t know that they have dogmas. Dogmas are beliefs and people who have really strong beliefs think of their beliefs as truths. They don’t actually see them as beliefs. So I think this whole controversy has actually highlighted exactly that. The other thing that is highlighted is that there are a lot of people, far more than I imagined actually, who are not taken in by these dogmas, who do want to think about them critically. One of the remarkable things about these discussions is lots of people are really up for the discussion of these dogmas. They really want it to happen, far more than I’d imagined, actually. I’m impressed by that and I think this TED debate has actually helped show that the paradigm is shifting. There’s no longer a kind of automatic agreement by the great majority of people to dogmatic assertions by scientific materialists. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (31 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Rupert Sheldrake back to Skeptiko. Many of you know the work of Cambridge biologist, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, including his latest book, Science Set Free. But now you may have heard that this book has seemed to have struck quite a nerve because Dr. Sheldrake has found himself in the middle of a controversy surrounding the censorship of a video lecture that he presented and that was then posted on the very popular TEDx YouTube channel. It was then removed after—and get this—an anonymous scientific board deemed it unscientific. Rupert, welcome back to Skeptiko. Thanks for joining us. Tell us what’s happened here. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:   Well, you summarized it more-or-less. I gave a talk at the TEDx series of talks in London in Whitechapel. The organizers were young women, students at London University, who organized a very lively event. It was called Challenging Existing Paradigms. They asked me to talk about challenging existing paradigms, which seemed just the right theme for my book, Science Set Free. So I did a TEDx talk for it. It was extremely popular; the event was sold out. There was a lot of lively discussion that was really fun. It went up on the TEDx website, as these TEDx talks often do, and all was well until it was denounced by two of America’s leading militant skeptics, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne, who didn’t like it because it upset their rather dogmatic materialist worldview. So they called for it to be taken down and they said it discredited itself, etc. They put enormous pressure on TED and then they got armies of their supporters to send emails to TED and put comments on websites.