Skeptiko Roundtable with Seriah and Joshua from WhereDidTheRoadGo |339|


Seriah Azkath and  Joshua Cutchin explore all manner of paranormal phenomena in a very sharp, insightful way. 

photo by: WhereDidTheRoadGo

Alex Tsakiris: As those of you listening probably know by now, I am a fan of podcasting, as well as being a podcaster, and when I find a show I like, I feel obligated to pass it along, and that’s certainly the case with, a show that explores all manner of paranormal phenomena and other weirdness we’re a part of… and does it in a very sharp, insightful and unique way. And that’s largely due to the show’s creator and host Seriah Azkath, who joins us today… Let’s also introduce the other person we have with us today, because joining us is another guy who is responsible for some of the cool stuff, and some of the ways you’ve taken the show Seriah, Joshua Cutchin, a guy who really burst onto the scene in 2015 with his acclaimed book, A Trojan Feast: The Food and Drink Offerings Of Aliens, Faeries, and Sasquatch, which is really a serious, well-researched book and like I said, just was acclaimed by everyone in this field for exploring these unexplored connections between food and food offerings and various kinds of paranormal accounts. Then Josh followed it up, just this last year, with a book, The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors and Monstrous Miasmas…

Seriah Azkath: We can’t understand these things for what they are, because our brains are limited and even though mind may not equal brain, the brain is what we have to use to interpret our reality and a lot of this stuff may just be beyond the capability of our brain to actually faithfully interpret.

Joshua Cutchin: Yeah, I know, I agree, you’ve got a 12 inch, black and wide, tube television, you’re not going to be able to see some of the detail in a film that was released last year.

I think the way to really sell is to sort of just beat them at their own game and I think that, if we can keep on, you know, knocking at the door of what consciousness really is, it isn’t the end game, because I think it’s going to open up a lot more stuff after that, but if we can just undermine that one thing, it really does make everything fall down like a house of cards.

Seriah Azkath: Now, it’s entirely possible the UFO phenomenon has something to do with extra-terrestrials, but not in the materialistic way that’s always pushed. So that materialistic model isn’t just with science but it’s also in so many people studying the paranormal, that they just, everything has to be nuts and bolts and the facts do not support that nuts and bolts scenario.


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Read Excerpts:

Alex Tsakiris: I started with a straight forward approach to the question of “consciousness”, “Okay, go and talk to the best people and they’ll know the answers. You’ll talk to the scientists, you’ll get the answers and then that’ll be it.” So that was my approach with consciousness, And what I discovered is that there’s a lot of gaming of the system. There’s a lot of misinformation, there’s a lot of misdirect, there’s a lot of what has become described as the trickster kind of thing going on, there’s all of that going on, but there’s also just a lot of protecting of turf, you know.

Seriah Azkath: Yep.

Alex Tsakiris: So one of the questions I had or topics I want to throw out is, how do we get past this very materialistic scientism that still dominates the worldview that most people have, and even if they accept it, because people have this strange dichotomy going on, where they’re kind of managing two different ideas? Overwhelmingly, they think science is good and science is true, the idea that science is wrong about everything just throws people, “Wow, what are you talking about? My iPhone works perfectly fine.” But at the same time, you know this, you know, when you talk to people about UFOs, yes, overwhelmingly. When you talk to them about spirit communication, depending on how you phrase it, but when you get down to it, overwhelmingly people think there’s a reality to that.

So, you know, the average person has no problem managing those two, what appear to be contradictions to the kind of real science types, they have no problem managing those two, and yet when we try and wrestle this stuff to the ground in our podcast or in talking to all these experts, I kind of feel like we have to jump on one side or the other. On one hand, you don’t want to sound like a condescending smartass that says, “You’re full of crap man. You’re pedaling this materialistic stuff that just doesn’t make sense and there’s all this strange phenomena out there that we can’t explain,” and on the other hand, you want to lean on science and you want to say, “Joshua, your book relies on careful analysis, relies on that kind of ‘sciency’ kind of serious look at things.” How do we balance those two?

Seriah Azkath: For me, like I said, coming from the Kundalini thing, I know that this energy exists, it cannot be explained by a purely materialistic model, there’s just, there’s nothing there for it, and having that personal experience and having that personal experience verified, to me I don’t really care what the experts say. I talk to people all the time, who just, you know, they’ll find out I do Where Did the Road Go? and they’ll kind of start telling me about stuff that’s happened to them. I don’t think to them science… you know, I think it is that, “Oh look, I’ve got a new iPod, cool, science did this,” but they don’t care if the scientists come out and say, “Well, there’s no such thing as this,” or “There’s no such thing as that.” They kind of just take it with a grain of salt and keep going on. I think eventually, you’re going to see that materialistic paradigm just kind of rot away.

Joshua Cutchin: I think the way to really sort of excel in this game of shifting the worldview of folks is to sort of just beat them at their own game, and I know it feels like that’s been tried and it’s been sort of battered down and pushed to the margins, but it hasn’t been tried for that long. I think we’ve just got to keep on hammering away.

I think that [if] you allow a generation or two to die and a lot of this is going to be a lot more accepted. I mean, even since I’ve been following paranormal supernatural stuff, a lot of that façade is already beginning to crumble. I mean, it’s sort of tilting in that direction and I think that, if we can keep on knocking at the door of what consciousness really is, it isn’t the end game, because I think it’s going to open up a lot more stuff after that. But, if we can just undermine that one thing, it really does make everything fall down like a house of card. Just undermine this mind equals brain hypothesis that’s out there; if that can be tossed to the side, then it really opens up all these things that we’re talking about.

Seriah Azkath: The other thing is, when you bring up say, UFOs to people, they’ll automatically think extra-terrestrial, because that’s what they’ve taught to think. I mean, that’s all you see in the mainstream media, if it’s pro-UFO, it’s pro-extraterrestrial. Now, it’s entirely possible the UFO phenomenon has something to do with extra-terrestrials, but not in the materialist way that’s always pushed; anytime I stop someone and say, “What if there’s this?” and, “If you look at this, it suggests this,” they become a lot more interested and they’re willing to kind of go away from that. They’re kind of like, “Oh, that is really interesting.” So, that materialist model isn’t just with science, but it’s also in so many people studying the paranormal, that everything has to be nuts and bolts, and the facts do not support that nuts and bolts scenario.

Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, but the facts don’t support a pure consciousness model either.

Seriah Azkath: No.

Alex Tsakiris: That’s one of the things that kind of, I think sometimes irks me, especially since I’ve spent so much time trying to wrestle these materialistic nitwits to the ground on consciousness and then when I jump over and hear people in the UFO community or the paranormal community  just sprinkle consciousness all over the place, like, “Consciousness, consciousness, consciousness,” like we know what the hell consciousness is – that’s exactly the point, that’s what we’re pushing against with the scientism folks, is we don’t understand consciousness,.We don’t know when it begins, when it ends, what’s necessary and sufficient, so therefore we cannot start making a bunch of assumptions about it.

Seriah Azkath: Right.

Alex Tsakiris: So, it’s like we’re playing this game that we want to play. I want to play the consensus reality game with you guys, I want to play it in my daily life and that is that, you know what, we’re talking on this, through this computer, on Skype, we’re really doing it, this is really happening. But at another level, we could say, you know, nothing’s happening, it’s all assimilation or it’s all created in our mind, my perception is different from your perception, that the very deepest consciousness level, I can only be sure that I’m consciously aware, I can… I mean, you could get into all those philosophical things, and you could also get into, there’s some science stuff too there, in terms of quantum stuff and all the rest of that.

But, my point is, just that it’s tough to play both these games, because we do want to play the consensus reality game, which is what science is saying. We can measure things. We can put together a survey and say, “80% of the people saw this and this and this,” but we have to be careful there because we know that there’s this other dimension to it that we’re totally leaving out of the equation when we do that, whether it’s your energy fields that you’re talking about in Kundalini, or whether it’s spirits and what role they’re playing.

So, how are we trying to carve up this reality in a way that we then can put it into this little box that we can feel comfortable in talking about it? Do you know what I mean?

Seriah Azkath: Yes, yes and I think the problem is, as you said, the pure consciousness model doesn’t quite work because there are measurable things. Now, in the end there may be no separation between consciousness, we may be drops in the same pool, or we could all be very unique things that are connected to one thing underneath. There’s no way for us to see it for what it is, because we’re inside of it and there’s no way to get outside of it and then relay information back, unless possibly that’s what’s happening in near death experiences, which obviously you know quite a bit about.

Alex Tsakiris: Let’s pin that down, because we’re talking maybe too abstractly for folks. You know, both you guys are not super keen on the ET phenomena, extra-terrestrials, [that] there are aliens in these spaceships that come down. Let me play skeptical here for a minute. Doesn’t Stan Friedman have a point in that we have a lot of observations that, if we’re going to play the consensus reality game, a lot of observations fit into that category. Multiple witnesses on the ground see it. Some people physically touch it. It’s picked up on radar, it’s maybe picked up on some kind of photography in some way. If all those things add up together on one sighting, then don’t we have to say, “The simplest explanation is ET… alien spacecraft?”

Joshua Cutchin: Yeah, but guys like Stan… I mean, you know, admire him though I do, have gone on record saying it’s highly likely that these extra-terrestrials that he’s positing have harnessed the ability for telepathy and if you let that through the door, then everything is on or off the table, depending on how you look at it.

I think that, personally for me, I mean yes, consciousness has become sort of a buzzword in paranormal circles, sort of akin to quantum, it’s used to throw around to explain things when we don’t have an explanation, but at the same time, if psi-effects can have an effect in the material world, a measure material effect, I don’t see why consciousness-based phenomena couldn’t be used to explain some of these other events, like UFO sightings.

Alex Tsakiris: So what’s wrong with Stan saying they’ve harnessed telepathy?

Joshua Cutchin: Well I mean, no there’s nothing wrong with it, but to say that and then to feel as though you have to adhere to the long-standing narrative that there are little scientists coming down in nuts and bolts spacecraft, is to me a bit beyond the pale because, if telepathy…

Seriah Azkath: They can project anything they want?

Joshua Cutchin: Yeah, I mean, something like they could be higher selves that are showing witnesses these things. They could be sitting on a planet a million light years away and projecting this into our minds, because if you let that one unscientific —  in terms of a materialist consensus —  if you let that one scientific data point in, then there’s no reason that you have to adhere to this idea that there are spaceships that require dilithium crystals to float down to the surface.

It seems to me like, if you’re acknowledging the presence of consciousness in these phenomena, and you’re at the same time are dogmatic to any one particular view of these phenomena, especially from a material standpoint, then you’re sort of living a dual existence in the study of these fields.

Alex Tsakiris: I kind of get the No Man’s Land you’re talking about there, but at least let me proceed this a little bit further and be the Stan Friedman supporter here, because…

Joshua Cutchin: I agree,

Alex Tsakiris: We all have respect for him and I have a ton of respect for him and I think, people like that who blaze this trail, so long ago, we will never really be able to fully acknowledge what they went through because they did pave the way.

But all that aside, I mean, here’s a guy who also, I think he wrote the book on Betty and Barney Hill and I think he’s extremely open in that account, and I’ve had him on the show too, just reporting the consciousness aspect of it there.

So, I don’t know what you would ask him to do there, Josh. I mean, he’s saying both, he’s saying, “Okay, over here it looks like a nuts and bolts craft and over here, there’s these consciousness kind of things…” and we can’t just say “consciousness” because we don’t really know what that means, but these extended realms that they seem to be playing in, that also seem to link up with what our government has tried to play in, with MK-ULTRA and mind control, and they’re trying to get in the same place and that maybe the aliens have gone and gotten there first, because they’re erasing people’s memories and they’re talking to people and planning ideas and doing all that stuff. I mean, I don’t know how we both seem to be true. As far as I can tell, what’s the problem?

Joshua Cutchin: Yeah, so I didn’t necessarily mean for this to turn into the “Beat Up Stan Friedman Hour” because the guy has sacrificed years of his life to this in a way that I will never be able to. I guess what it would come to me is, I don’t think Stanton Friedman has ever cracked open a grimoire in his life. I guess that’s sort of where I would come down to it. I feel like, from what I can tell in his interviews, is that this other possible interpretation hasn’t ever really seriously been entertained by him. Contrast that with someone like Jacques Vallee, who from what I hear is very well-read in, other more…

Seriah Azkath: Esoteric?

Joshua Cutchin: Better read in esoteric occult literature. Yes, thank you, Seriah. So that would be my criticism and to the contrary to that, if he has really, sort of sunken his teeth into that aspect or that possibility of an explanation of these phenomena, then more power to him, if that’s a conclusion that he’s reached. But I have the sense that that [approach] has always been sort of held at arm’s length with him. I’d love to talk to him about it sometimes.

Seriah Azkath: So my thing with this type of stuff is that [if] we see something, we apply attributes to it that aren’t necessarily the case. So for instance, a lot of UFOs, more often than not, they don’t shoot off into space or across the sky, they just blink out. Many UFOs go under water, so you have the whole USO phenomena, but yet we attach space to it, no matter what it is. And it’s kind of like, you see a light in the sky and you go, “Well that doesn’t look like a plane, it must be a spaceship.” You see the same light in a house and you go, “Oh my god, it’s a ghost.” You know, we attach these labels without having anything to really fall back on, to explain what it is that we’re seeing and I suspect part of what happens is that, our brains don’t know what to do with some of this stuff.

When I had Ken Gerhard on, his stuff was a great example. He did a whole book on flying humanoids and a lot of them were one or two-off encounters and he was really puzzled by this because he’s a very flesh and blood cryptozoologist. I said, “What if we’re encountering energy and our brain has no idea what to make of that energy?” So we come in and we see something and our brain goes, “Ah, monster,” and it just kind of paints something in that place because it doesn’t know, it scares [the mind], it’s a complete unknown, it just throws something in its place, it relays to us, “There’s this big winged creature with horns running at you, get out of here,” and then you go and honestly report it, because that’s what you saw.

Now, what may have actually have been there is a form of energy that we had no idea how to interpret and when you get multiple people it might kind of spread in that sense, or the object itself takes its form off of what we project onto it.

At one point I would have said, in a thousand years we’re going to look at Lovecraft’s work as factual, we’re going to be looking at it with like, “These entities were worshipped a thousand years ago.” At this point however, I’d almost say that’s going to happen a lot sooner, because there are already people who believe Lovecraft was tapping into something and we know Lovecraft invented Cthulhu and these creatures Yog-Sothoth and everything else, but who’s to say he didn’t tap into something, some kind of collective unconscious or some realm that he then interpreted these things into his fiction and that may be what always happens.

We can’t understand these things for what they are, because our brains are limited and even though mind may not equal brain, the brain is what we have to use to interpret our reality and a lot of this stuff may just be beyond the capability of our brain to actually faithfully interpret.

Joshua Cutchin: Yeah, I know, I agree. If you’ve got, well before the age when everything was HD, if you’ve got a 12 inch, black and-white tube television, you’re not going to be able to see some of the detail in a film that was released last year. It all really comes down to the ability at which we can interpret these things and if you aren’t an adherent of this sort of mind equals brain paradigm, if you really do subscribe to the nonlocality of consciousness, you have to admit that there must be limiting factors on the way that we perceive these things.

Seriah Azkath: One of the weirdest experiences I had was being up on the edge of this cliff, the edge of this Potter’s Field from a psychiatric institute where we used to hang out all the time. It overlooked Seneca Lake, absolutely beautiful location, and there were three of us standing there and on the other side of the trees, which you couldn’t see through, the entire tree starts shaking and I thought it was like a deer rubbing its horns against the tree, because there’s a lot of deer around here and buck do, you know, push against the tree, maybe it had young or something nearby and was warning us off. But the whole tree is moving and my friend starts freaking out, “What’s causing the tree to move?” Because, I mean, it was a decent sized tree and the whole thing was shaking.

So, I start walking down the path that goes kind of parallel to the field and I get to the point where I can see the other side of the tree and there’s nothing there and the tree stops. So he’s like, “Well, what is it?” and I’m like, “There’s nothing there,” and it’s a big open field, nothing ran away. So, I walk back and again the tree starts shaking, you can feel the ground just shaking as if something is jumping up and down. That’s another reason I thought it was like a deer or something because you could feel the weight of the, dum, dum, dum, as something was moving.

So he’s freaking out some more, “Well, it’s moving again,” and our other friend then says, “What are you guys talking about?” and we both looked at him and went, “What? The tree, the tree is moving.” He was like, “The tree is sitting perfectly sill, what are you guys talking about?” And at that moment I thought, “Are you blocking this out or are we seeing two different things at this moment? Like was this whole thing to show me that our perceptions are not what we think they are?” And this was someone, the person who wasn’t seeing it was someone who had experienced a lot of stuff with me, so it’s not like he normally blocked things out. So why was he not able to see? And it was freaking him out because my other friend was obviously so freaked out about what he was seeing.

So, what does that tell us about our perception and what reality is, you know, was the tree moving, was he blocking it out, was he seeing a different reality than we were seeing? What was happening right then?

Alex Tsakiris: And if we reintroduce our friends, the others, the aliens, ET, whatever we want to call it, what if they are at a different level of being able to manipulate this reality kind of thing, as you were eluding to Joshua, you know, if there is a physical component, measurable component of it, which there is, you know, we can’t get around that, what if they’re able to manipulate it better? I mean, then all bets are off again, you know, I mean…

Joshua Cutchin: Absolutely, there’s a great quote that… A friend of my father was being sworn in as president at a Presbyterian College and one of the questions during the interview was, “How big is your God?” and I felt that his response was one of the most insightful things, something so much more nuance than I would ever say, but the response was, “If I could tell you how big my God was, he wouldn’t be my God.” It’s like a movie script line or something.

Alex Tsakiris: It’s good, yeah.

Joshua Cutchin: I feel like, again coming back to my criticism of the ET, I feel like it’s such a narrow way of us trying to understand some sort of thing that’s going on, and I’m not sure that we’re even capable of understanding it. Even if there is an extra-terrestrial component, it could be so advanced that there’s no need for a physical spaceship, but they know that, whatever this extra-terrestrial intelligence is, is aware that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to conceptualize that. Again, I’m still talking in terms that we can conceptualize it, it might even be far stranger than that, what they’re able to do to visit. This is one of the main reasons that I have trouble with that paradigm, but I really do think that once you start introducing things like sci-phenomena, like the validity of the near death experience, to these consciousness denyers, if you can call them that, then I think that it really blows open the lid for anything.

Alex Tsakiris: Okay then, you introduced the G word, so I’m going to go with it. So we’ve got the God thing, you know, and the trouble with it for me is that, I think a lot of times we dance around that being what we really want to understand, that’s what we really want to know, is God there? You know, is there God? Is there this higher thing? And what I always do and a lot of times, is try and refine that down because I get a lot of pushback from the atheist crowd and certainly from the materialistic atheist scientific crowd, total pushback, but there’s a lot of pushback from the paranormal, spiritual, even the magical kind of folks have a lot of pushback on that; what I do is try and tie into… so I’m going to bounce this off you and you guys push back as hard as you can on this, because that’s how I learn and I grow, so I do not mind being pushed back on this, but I look at the near death experience science stuff, for two reasons. Number one: where I think the near death experience science gets us is, and we do have the medical evidence to prove this, is the brain is out of the equation. So all those people who like the mind/brain stuff, they’re really left on the side lines on this because near death experience is not a brain-based phenomena.

Seriah Azkath: Right.

Alex Tsakiris: But number two, where it takes us is, to me the evidence is clear, and I just interviewed a Dr. Jeff Long again, who I think has done really nice work on this and you know, the God thing comes up over and over again and it comes up in a way that’s really hard to dance around it; and the message is, there’s a hierarchical order to this consciousness and it leads somewhere and it’s kind of inescapable at that point, because you start talking about something that starts sounding like what everyone talks about when they talk about God. So, what do we do with that data point?

Seriah Azkath: To me the most interesting thing about the near death experience is the fact that people can report what’s happening outside their body when their brain is not functioning and they can do it to a near perfect level. To me that solidifies that there is something more to us than just the brain, because there’s no way they could do it otherwise and there’s enough evidence there, over the years, accumulated, to make that a pretty definite data point.

However, what happens beyond that point, although there are similarities, there’s also a lot of differences and I’ve always like, pushed away from channelled stuff. Most of the time I feel like a lot of the channelled things, even if they’re somewhat genuine, don’t seem to give you really anything, other than like false platitudes and such. The only exception I have to that is Jane Roberts with Seth and part of the reason is when I read, Seth Speaks, one of the things that had bugged me about near death experiences, is that people will die and not have a near death experience and I would read other accounts where people didn’t actually die but they had a near death experience.

So, Jane Roberts, writing all this stuff before near death experiences were a thing, really, I mean before the first books on it came out, talking about what happens when you die; Seth is saying, “Well, some people stay in their body for a while, they don’t leave their body right away. Others will leave their body as soon as the body starts dying”, he’s like, “there is not strict point of death. Consciousness will sometimes leave earlier or later,” and I’m thinking, “Well, that would explain some things right there.” Then, he went on to explain that some people have very set ideas of what they’re going to encounter when they die and that there are those on the other side that help those people make the transition by creating a reality for them that is what they expect to see.

So, I think, when you look at some of the similarities, you can find out, sort of what’s really there, but you know, one person meets Jesus, one person meets Mohammed, and another person meets Grandma, is it really any of those things or is it something else masquerading as those, because deep down that’s what you expect to see when you get there.

Joshua Cutchin: But then again, to play to the role of Alex, there are people who see figures from other beliefs that they were not expecting to see. Again, it doesn’t quite line up with the whole  sort of thing.

Seriah Azkath: But you also find, and correct me if I’m wrong here Alex, but a lot of people who survive near death experiences, don’t necessarily get more religious but they get more spiritual.

Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, but that’s kind of the point right? So, Dr. Jeff Long in his latest book, I thought he just did a fantastic job because this is the point, I think for me that really resonates and yet not enough people want to dig in there is, it’s not about the narrative. What people report over and over again is that it’s not about the narrative, it’s not about seeing Jesus, it’s not about all that stuff. The overwhelming experience people have is the experience of love.

Seriah Azkath: Yes.

Alex Tsakiris: Right? This indescribable connection, this indescribably feeling of love, but there’s also a morality component to it, it’s inescapable. So, if you add those two together, if you add the love component and you add the morality component, there is a right and there is a wrong, you’re just now playing in the God playground and I don’t know what that means. I mean I am not a religious person and I don’t have this fixed dogmatic understanding of what God is, but you know, it’s one of those pet peeves, like we’re all kind of sharing some our pet peeves. When I hear people talking about this fuzzy, fuzzy, consciousness, consciousness, spirit, spirit, it’s like, there seems to be some order there guys, that seems to be the evidence that’s coming back is, there is an order, there is a morality, there is a structure and that puts the big guy up on top.

Seriah Azkath: There’s also people who have negative near death experiences and they’re not necessarily bad people, but you have those people who experience just being out in the middle of a void.

Alex Tsakiris: Sure.

Seriah Azkath: And being very alone and…

Alex Tsakiris: Sure, but it’s not about the narrative.

Seriah Azkath: That sense of love isn’t there in those is what I’m saying.

Alex Tsakiris: Seriah, I’ve talked to a bunch of different people that have explored that kind of thing and one is, we don’t know exactly what that process is, right?

Seriah Azkath: Um-hum.

Alex Tsakiris: So, we have to take the accounts one by one and kind of tear them apart. But the majority of those accounts that I’ve talked to people about, who have actually researched them, invariably they resolve themselves in a positive way, as kind of a lesson learned, you know, “I was down there and then I saw the light and I came through it.” And yeah, there are some that say, “I was just in that darkness, horrible place and then boom, then I was back,” so that’s not always the case. But overwhelming, that is the case that they’re down there for a short period of time and then there’s a speck of light and they move towards the light or someone comes down and helps them move up and it winds up resolving itself in a lot of the same ways. So again, if we look past the narrative and kind of look at the overall message, the feeling, a lot of people are saying the same thing.

So, let’s not get too hung up on the near death experience, but we all think it’s an important data point in this whole thing, because if we didn’t try and fit that back in, like you mentioned Kenneth Ring or occult experiences, I mean it’s like all this stuff out there, that has to be one of the data points.

Seriah Azkath: Sure and I think, I don’t think we can possibly conceive of what God is. I mean, we can’t even conceive the size of the universe, much less what is beyond it.



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