Saturday, July 30, 2016

My 1990s Brush with Bernie Madoff Revealed A Deadly Secret

 Ah yes.  It turns out that our boy wonder sold a scheme that was so seductive that all the other peddlers grabbed the cool aid to assist their own sales.  Thus we have an industry trying to achieve the impossible.

As the writer, Madoff's offerings passed over my desk back in the day.  I dismissed it immediately as a likely Ponzi. At the time i was not directly  involved in the industry and also i had no idea of the scale of his activities.  My point though that an experienced market operator knows that the claim is simply impossible and thus my or any other operator's dismissal.
Unfortunately far too many folks who manage money are not truly experienced and are actually vulnerable to such a scam. A sad truth as most are selected mostly by their ability to attract money and not on how they invest it.

My 1990s Brush with Bernie Madoff Revealed A Deadly Secret 

JULY 21, 2016

By Michael LewittEditor, Sure Money

Money Map Press

In 1998, my firm visited with a prominent money manager in New York City. At the time, we were trying to raise money to invest in less‐than‐investment‐grade corporate debt. We attended the meeting and, to put it politely, we were given the brush off. That was no big deal-it happened all the time. But what that money manager said struck us as very odd. “Why should I give you guys money?” he asked. “You can’t make me one point a month like my friend Bernie.” We knew who Bernie was, and responded, “It’s not a ‘point‐a‐month’ world.”

Several years later, in 2005, we were sitting in front of another group that said it was interested in raising money for us. The talks proceeded to the point where we were invited to meet with the company’s founder and his top lieutenants. These gentlemen explained they were looking for another product to add to the offering of their largest existing manager (whose identity was treated like a national security secret) who was producing consistent monthly returns in the 80 to 100 basis point range. They stressed repeatedly that they could not consider a strategy that experienced losses of as much as 2 percent a month. We told them that it would be impossible to guarantee that there would not be monthly losses. Needless to say, the talks went nowhere.

The money manager we met in 1998 was Ezra Merkin, whose funds lost a reported $2.4 billion with Bernard Madoff. The money management firm we met in 2005 was Fairfield Greenwich Group, whose clients reportedly lost more than $7 billion in the Madoff fraud. Madoff, of course, was the top secret manager whose identity they refused to disclose. The firm’s now disgraced founder Walter Noel attended that meeting but let his minions do most of the talking.

The truth is that Bernie Madoff led Merkin and Fairfield Greenwich (and many other respected investment institutions) to expect the impossible – high returns with low risk. With very few exceptions, like my Third Friday Total Return Fund that uses options to generate high single digit returns with no leverage, Madoff created a virus that infected the management of capital by the professional investment class….and keeps right on sabotaging it today.

Bernie is still calling the shots from prison…and money managers don’t even know it.
Here’s why.

Madoff’s Model Is Impossible – But Enduringly Seductive

Bernard Madoff Investment Securities offered investors what they think they are supposed to seek in all of their investments: steady returns and minimal risk. This what fiduciaries are taught to pursue with both hands. Unfortunately, when the curtain was pulled back on that particular wizard, what was discovered was a virtual checklist of the worst imaginable investment practices that knowledgeable investors such as Merkin and Fairfield Greenwich were paid obscene amounts of money to sniff out and avoid.

As an aside, it doesn’t appear that due diligence techniques have improved much since Madoff’s fraud was uncovered. The tawdry tale of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which among many other things failed to disclose its relationship with a mail order pharmacy for which it paid $100 million for an option to buy, is filled with due diligence failures that should lead investors to question (and fire) the managers who owned the stock. But that is a story for another day.

These practices included: a total lack of transparency; financial statements prepared by a hole‐in‐the‐wall accounting firm; and an investment strategy that could not possibly be carried out in any markets on the planet earth (the so‐called “split strike conversion strategy”).

Yet fiduciaries such as Merkin and Fairfield Greenwich, as well as a laundry list of other respected investment institutions such as Tremont Group Holdings owned by MassMutual), Banco Santander of Spain, the Swiss fund‐offunds firm EIM, and many other prominent investors were lured by the promise of month‐after‐month of consistently positive (but not too positive, which was an essential part of the scam) returns. The knowledge that such returns are virtually unattainable (and certainly not with the strategy Merkin was claiming to pursue) and that their purveyor refused to reveal how he produced them was apparently insufficient to dampen investors’ hunger for them, suggesting just how rare and valuable such a return profile would be if it were truly achievable in the real world.

Madoff’s scheme had a deeply pernicious effect on the investment management business long before it was revealed to be a complete fraud. In addition to casting a cloud of suspicion on other money management firms, particularly small independent firms that are not part of large institutions, Madoff’s scheme distorted investors’ perceptions about the kind of returns they can reasonably expect. This aspect of the Madoff affair has been insufficiently acknowledged and is an essential part of the reason why capital continues to be so poorly managed by the professional investment class.

The essence of Madoff’s scheme was the proffer of consistent returns with low risk. To some people, this may seem like a reasonable proposition, but experienced and knowledgeable market participants should that only a few managers can deliver on such promises. This should particularly have been the case with respect to Madoff’s track record, which purported to show consecutive years of positive monthly returns with few if any negative months and no correlation to what was occurring in the financial markets. As we told Mr. Merkin in 1998, it is not a “point‐a‐month” world; it is a world of fat tails and, in the term that Nassim Nicholas Taleb made famous a few years later, Black Swans (like the recent Brexit vote).

Yet Madoff’s return pattern captured the imagination of the professional investment class and led it down the road to ruin. It also led to many imitators as institutional investors came to demand that other managers offer the same impossible model. This is one of the ways that the road to investment hell became littered with fiduciary intentions.

It is hardly a coincidence that the explosion of so‐called alternative investments in the hedge fund industry coincided with the growth of investment strategies that offered consistent low‐risk returns. By the end of 2006, the cusp of the financial crisis, Hedge Fund Research, Inc., estimated that the global hedge fund industry held $1.43 trillion in assets. These assets were spread among 11,000 different funds of which approximately one‐third were funds‐of‐funds, according to the European Central Bank. This was a huge jump from 1990, when hedge funds held less than $400 billion in assets, and even from 2005, when the $1 trillion mark was passed.

Since the financial crisis, hedge fund assets more than doubled again to $3.118 trillion as of June 2015 according to eVestment despite the fact that their performance has been extremely disappointing on both a nominal and risk-adjusted basis. This growth paralleled the growth of private equity assets and related strategies that invest increasing amounts of capital in illiquid securities that can only be valued by their managers rather than by reference to any independently verifiable market standard. The two concepts-alternative investments and consistent positive returns- were joined at the hip in a symbiotic relationship that turned into a dance of death during the financial crisis. With some exceptions, the hedge fund model became one in which managers offered investors the prospect of consistent, uncorrelated positive returns in exchange for exorbitant fees. Investors have learned what an illusion this is since the financial crisis and especially since 2014 when many of the largest funds began to falter.

What these funds did was adopt an investment model in which they offered the illusion of steady high returns with low risk. Some funds did this using highly liquid securities and high degrees of leverage, such as credit arbitrage funds, and others invested in non‐public debt and equity securities in the credit space, like the many highly leveraged credit‐oriented hedge funds that blew up in 2008. These funds collected a lot of illiquid investments and ended up retaining the least valuable ones through a process of adverse selection when forced to sell. Many of these funds either blocked redemptions (i.e., “gated” their funds) or offered to return assets “in‐kind” to investors (which from an investor’s standpoint is the equivalent of winning the booby prize). Realistically, there is nothing else these funds could do with these investments; they certainly couldn’t sell their illiquid assets to anybody at the bottom of the market.

In order to deliver steady streams of positive returns, however, hedge fund managers claimed they were following strategies that were uncorrelated with the financial markets. What does uncorrelated mean? We all know what it is supposed to mean-returns that are not correlated with the movements of other risk assets such as stocks. What uncorrelated really came to mean was something else entirely: Madoff‐type returns, which were simply fraudulent, or private‐market‐type returns, which were based on nonpublic market valuations that could not be confirmed by liquidity events except on a sporadic basis. The latter type of investments included private equity, direct lending to small and midsize companies, structured products, and similar investment strategies (my favorite is investments in timber, where you have to wait years for the trees to grow to see a return on your capital).

Some of the largest hedge funds in the world managed by firms such as Cerberus Capital Management, LLC, GoldenTree Asset Management, L.P., and Highland Capital Management, L.P. engaged in these strategies and grew to enormous sizes before running aground in 2008. Their losses called into question their reported returns in earlier years to the extent those returns included unrealized gains that were later reversed by losses. But in order to compete to manage the money of institutions that believed in the prospect of low‐volatility/high returns, firms that wanted to grow had little choice but to follow these strategies.

Markets Are Still Operating Under the Madoff Illusion

This approach worked out just fine as long as the markets were rising, or at least when they weren’t experiencing extreme volatility. As long as global liquidity was robust and markets were stable, these strategies looked successful on the surface. Funds could continue to borrow to bid up the prices of financial assets, and managers could continue to convince investors that their investments were worth more each year.

But when credit markets seized up, these strategies were swamped by three simultaneous tsunamis. First, the value of their leveraged assets started to decline precipitously. Second, their lenders became nervous and demanded more collateral to support their positions (or, if no more collateral could be posted, forced funds to sell assets at fire sale prices). And third, these firms could no longer convince investors to keep feeding them money and in many cases were faced with requests to return capital.
When the markets sold off, many investors wanted their money back. The problem was that these investments were completely illiquid and investor capital could only be returned in kind or not at all. Returning cash to investors was out of the question because capital had died. This was how Madoff’s Ponzi scheme came apart: It relied on a continual stream of new money to pay interest on investor capital and to handle the return of capital to investors who requested their money back. But when such requests grew increasingly large (reportedly to $5 or $6 billion by late 2008), there simply wasn’t enough new money coming in for Madoff to honor them and the scheme fell apart.

Many legitimate hedge funds (that unlike Madoff’s actually engaged in real investing and trading strategies) suffered the same fate and were forced to suspend redemptions, return capital in kind, or close shop.

This was not only another example of a flawed financial strategy that confused long‐term solvency with short‐term liquidity by borrowing short to lend long, but also emblematic of the fact that institutional investors were seeking an impossible Holy Grail of consistently high positive returns with low risk. One has to wonder how differently things might have turned out had Madoff’s fraud been discovered much earlier and the investment community come to an earlier understanding that markets don’t serve free lunches.

The real question that should be asked is how so many investors could be led to believe that such strategies were prudent (or even possible). After all, the prudent man rule is the basis on which most fiduciaries base their conduct. How could an entire generation of investors be duped into believing in concepts that are so blatantly false? Like many of the other intellectually corrupting influences such as the efficient markets hypothesis, investors were given a mighty helping hand by the political and academic authorities. In particular, the U.S. legal system adopted a doctrine of fiduciary duty that narrowed the focus of those charged with investing other peoples’ money to the single goal of economic gain. Other societal interests such as the rights of labor, the environment, and the distinction between productive and speculative investment, were pushed aside.

Moreover, an entire industry of consultants and academics developed the intellectual scaffolding to dress up this mandate in pseudoscientific language. Concepts like “Sharpe ratio” and “R‐squared” and the infamous Greek chorus of “alpha” and “beta” were used to justify investment strategies that could theoretically deliver steady returns with low volatility and low correlation with the stock market. These arcana dressed the consultants in the garb of a secret ministry holding the keys to the kingdom of gold. The only problem is that when one pulls back the curtain, one finds that that there is no wizard and that the magic formula is malarkey.

There is a perfectly good reason many of the strategies recommended by the consultant community and other investment advisers don’t correlate with financial markets: They involve illiquid securities that are not marked‐to-market or even capable of being marked‐to‐market in any meaningful manner. Accordingly, the entire industry is operating under an illusion from which it would be extremely painful to break free.

It should be noted that there are absolute return strategies that are uncorrelated with the market that can generate consistent high returns without employing high leverage or investing in illiquid assets. I know because, as noted above, I manage one such strategy in The Third Friday Total Return Fund, L.P. (Note: Third Friday is available to accredited investors only.) This strategy was developed over two decades and has been tested successfully through several market cycles. But such strategies are rare. They require a great deal of expertise and discipline. And even they don’t earn “a point a month” despite generating consistently strong risk-adjusted returns. Investors who claim they never lose money are lying. Even the greats such as George Soros and Julian Robertson lose money. The key is that they know how to limit their losses and how to make them back.

Deathnauts: Strange Scientific Journeys Into the Afterlife

It is important to understand that the 'SOUL' is the pattern of your existence and that you live lives in order to enhance and improve that pattern.  Your spirit can actually split to live several lives simultaneously for greater efficiency in gaining all the available experiences.  Thus several aspects of yourself may now be alive on Earth.

 NDEs are remarkably consistent across specific cultures and are altered to conform to the expectations of other cultures which is quite reasonable as well.

Add in the knowledge that spirit body is the processor for each cell, we now have convincing arguments for the proper existence of such spirit bodies..
Deathnauts: Strange Scientific Journeys Into the Afterlife

Posted: 19 Jul 2016 07:01 AM PDT

One of the great frontiers of human experience and the unknown is that of what happens to us when we inevitably die. It is perhaps the final frontier we face, and certainly the most mysterious. What happens to us when we pass on? Do we simply blink out of existence? Are we reborn into new bodies? Does our soul transfer to another plane of existence? Do we even have a “soul” as we like to think of it at all? These are some of the many questions concerning the afterlife which mankind has pondered since time unremembered.

The realm of death is a complete cipher to us, a place into which we can only make a one way journey and which lies in an obscured, unexplored territory more inaccessible than the highest mountain or deepest undersea abyss, indeed more remote than the furthest edges of the solar system and even the edge of the universe as we know it. What becomes of us after death remains a complete mystery to us which we have long been frustratingly unable to explore to any appreciable degree without making that one way journey for ourselves.

Yet, with the advent of science and technology, and our increasing abilities to explore the outer fringes of our understanding, there has arisen a new question: can we scientifically prove and verify what happens to us after death? Can we use our advanced knowledge and technology to settle the age old debate of scientists, philosophers, and lay men alike once and for all? In this era of discovery, where we are ever relentlessly unlocking the secrets to our planet and the universe, pushing out into the boundaries past all that was known before, there have indeed been attempts to scientifically study what lies beyond our demise. These are the efforts of those who would penetrate that last frontier and come back with the answers we seek.

Those who would scientifically attempt to delve into the afterlife have long been plagued by dogma, ridicule, and misunderstanding. In one 1982 poll, it was found that a mere 16% of top scientists from various fields questioned believed that there was an afterlife at all, and only 4% thought we would ever be able to conclusively prove it. This general dismissive attitude and air of disinterest by the scientific community has hampered efforts for those who would seriously try to study the afterlife, as funding is rarely granted for such projects and those who pursue this avenue of research risk ridicule and derisive scorn from their peers. Interestingly, the rate of belief in an afterlife among medical doctors is significantly higher, with a 2005 poll showing that 59% of American medical doctors believed in an afterlife, which is a dramatically higher percentage than any other scientific profession.

Perhaps this stronger belief in something going on beyond the domain of life has to do with medical doctors’ experiences dealing with those who have experienced what are called near death experiences, or NDEs. These are reports by people who have claimed that after clinical death they have retained some form of awareness, no matter how tenuous, and have often reported similar phenomena in this state, regardless of religion or whether they believe in any kind of afterlife or not. These experiences are reported by a staggering number of people, around an estimated 200,000 people per year in the United States alone and untold millions worldwide. Commonly reported NDE experiences include leaving one’s body to observe the room and their own form, seeing a bright light, a feeling of peace or love, or even meeting long dead friends or relatives.

Although reports of NDEs may seem to be wholly subjective and the result of mere hallucinations, the remarkable similarities between them, as well as the sheer number of people who report them hint at an underlying phenomena with elements that may be possible to be objectively and scientifically measured and quantified. One serious study conducted by a team of scientists led by a Dr Berthold Ackermann collected reports of NDEs from hundreds of patients and came to the conclusion that the uncanny parallels between a vast number of accounts from people of all walks of life claiming to have retained consciousness after death suggested that the phenomenon was worth further study. Ackerman said of these similarities:

"Most common memories include a feeling of detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of an overwhelming light."

The presence of these visions in people who were clinically dead, and which remained fairly consistent across faiths and ideals, has convinced some groups of researchers that there is something going on beyond current paradigms, and that it could possibly even point to the existence of some currently unknown duality between the physical brain and consciousness itself, or at the very least some physical process which we have yet to understand. This points squarely at a scientifically provable answer that merely lies beyond our grasp and current tools to fully quantify.

Many of the studies that have delved into observing and objectifying NDEs, and therefore understanding more about life after death, have relied on investigating victims of cardiac arrest. After all, these are people who are at the mercy of a fully controllable environment, and stand a chance of being pulled from the clutches of death. One such study conducted by lead researcher Pim van Lommel, of the Hospital Rijnstate in the Netherlands, in 2001 and published in the British medical journal Lancet, focused on 344 patients who had suffered heart attacks to the point of being clinically dead, and then being successfully resuscitated.

The study meticulously and methodically questioned patients within a week of dying and being brought back to life, and found that 18% of these patients were able to describe some form of awareness from the time when they were declared clinically dead, meaning that their brain had completely shut down due to lack of blood flow and therefore making it technically not physically possible for them to be conscious of anything. 12 percent of those in the study reported classical NDE experiences such as tunnels of light or seeing dead friends and relatives. The extremely sharp, lucid, vivid, and detailed recall of these events seemed to point at factors other than that they were some sort of hallucination or false memories.

Although the study did not make any concrete proclamations of the existence of an actual soul or an afterlife, nor does it lay out a precise way to measure the existence of a life after death, it does suggest that something very strange is going on. The people in the study had been technically brain dead, meaning that they should not have had any memories of anything at all, and if the phenomena had been caused by a purely physical effect, such as cerebral hypoxia, also called anoxia, which is damage to the brain caused by prolonged lack of oxygen, then it should have been reported by a higher percentage of patients in the study, if not all of them. This convinced van Lommel that there was perhaps something more going on than a purely physical or cellular effect, saying of these NDEs in a Washington Post interview:

"Compare it with a TV program. If you open the TV set you will not find the program. The TV set is a receiver. When you turn off your TV set, the program is still there but you can’t see it. When you put off your brain, your consciousness is still there but you can’t feel it in your body."

Another similar study was carried out in 2003 by a Dr Peter Fenwick, a neuro-psychiatrist and senior lecturer at at King’s College, London, who investigated the experiences of cardiac arrest patients in England with the Institute of Psychiatry. During the study, over 60 cardiac arrest patients at Southampton General Hospital’s coronary care unit were interviewed about what they had experienced while technically temporarily brain dead. Of these patients, 7 of them recalled having classic NDE experiences, such as out of body experiences, entering a realm of peace and love, meeting lost loved ones, or journeying through a mysterious tunnel of light. In these cases, the patients had been clinically dead for up to several minutes, which hints that these sensations were not the result of mere normal physical processes or tricks of the brain. Fenwick explained the significance of this thus:

"After a cardiac arrest you lose consciousness within eight seconds; within 11 seconds the brain’s rhythms become flat, and within 18 seconds there is no possibility of the brain creating a model of the world – so the brain is down.Yet whenever we asked people when their near-death experiences occurred, they said it was during unconsciousness. If that’s true, their experience was occurring when there was no blood flowing through the brain – and consciousness would appear to exist outside the brain."

Fenwick came to the conclusion that there was something unusual going on that went well beyond a purely physical explanation, and even suggested that it could be potential evidence that the mind in some form operates outside of and independent of the physical brain. He likened this connection to a TV playing programs transmitted over airwaves. He said of his findings:

"There is now convincing evidence to challenge the current theory that consciousness can only exist inside the brain – and if you can have consciousness without associated brain function, that is enormously important for our understanding of the mind."

Another extremely ambitious scientific study was launched in 2008, and called the AWARE study (“AWAreness during REsuscitation”). Led by Sam Parnia, an assistant professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and frequent collaborator with Dr. Fenwick, the study was aimed at trying to use the unique perspective of those who had stepped over to the other side and come back to tell the tale in order to peak through the window of the unknown to determine the existence of some form of life after death, or at least clues to the true connection between body and mind. The largest study of its kind ever attempted, 2,060 people who had suffered from major cardiac arrest were examined over a period of 4 years at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. Throughout the whole study, strict scientific methodology was observed as much as was reasonably possible in order to weed out claims that were based merely on impressions and thus insufficient for use as evidence, and to maintain as much objectivity as was possible.

Of the victims surveyed, 40% of those who had been resuscitated and had survived the cardiac arrest reliably reported some form of consciousness after they had been declared technically dead and had ceased to display any clinical signs of being conscious. Despite this complete lack of any measurable brain activity, these patients were reporting a lingering awareness and consciousness, which should have been impossible. The form this consciousness took varied somewhat from individual to individual, with some describing a sense of awareness but no specific memory, while others reported bright lights, the sensation of floating or conversely sinking, or the feeling of being dragged through water, as well as heightened senses and the sense of time slowing down or speeding up. Many of the patients described an overall sense of peacefulness throughout the ordeal. In the more dramatic accounts, patients described the images of animals, family members, or some form of “mystical being.” There appeared to be little measurable difference between ages or genders when it came to these experiences.

Additionally, 13% of those examined claimed to have separated from their bodies during their deaths, with some of these accounts being rather striking. In one case, a 57-year-old social worker reported that he had floated around the room and witnessed hospital staff trying to bring him back to life. So vivid was his recollection of these events that he even keenly remembered the physical appearance of the doctors and nurses, as well as the distinct beeping and noises of the various different types of machines in the room. Interestingly, the man had been declared dead for 3 minutes at the time, which should have made any awareness completely impossible and rule out the possibility that it could have simply been hallucinations, yet during this time the man was apparently well aware of the scene around him from outside his body.

Parnia suspects that although only 40% of the patients reported any sort of after death consciousness, it is quite possible that the others had indeed experienced these phenomena, but were simply not able to remember them due to the effects of sedatives, drugs, or brain damage. Although the study is unable to unequivocally rule out the possibility that the reports were subjective, and not able to concretely prove that these things really happened or what actually caused them, Dr. Parnia believes that the sheer size of the sampling and the findings of the study are significant, have shed light on the phenomenon, and shown that it warrants a need for further investigation. Of the completed study, Dr. Parnia has proclaimed:

"The evidence thus far suggests that in the first few minutes after death, consciousness is not annihilated. Whether it fades away afterwards, we do not know, but right after death, consciousness is not lost. We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. But in this case conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating."

The presence of a form of consciousness or awareness separate from the physical brain is a recurring theme of such experiments. In another study conducted by a Dr. Alexander Batthyany at the University of Vienna, it was found that in some cases patients with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease briefly returned to a state of complete lucidity just before death, despite suffering symptoms so severe that their brains had been rendered more or less practically incapable of functioning at all. The study covered 227 patients, and in 10% of the cases, people who had up until that point been completely lacking any mental functionality at all had displayed briefly before death a sudden bright flash of awareness and memories from before, which should have been impossible if there was no “soul” that existed beyond simply the physical construct of the brain.

In the future, ever innovative technologies may allow us to not only observe these NDEs and other phenomena, but actually venture forth into the land of the dead, much as astronauts have journeyed into the far reaches of the cosmos. This is a theme that has been covered in popular culture before, most notably the 1990 film Flatliners, in which 5 medical students conduct secret experiments to induce death and explore what lies beyond, along with its mystical near death experiences. Such an outlandish idea is perhaps not so far from reality, and we are on the cusp of technology that may allow us to not only study NDEs, but to experience them for ourselves.

Researchers at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have developed a revolutionary procedure to put animals in a state of limbo between life and death, a sort of state of suspended animation fluttering over the abyss on the edge of death. In the experiments, dogs are drained of all blood and their veins filled with a frigid saline solution. Their body temperatures lowered to around 7 degrees Celsius (37 F), the animals cease all biological activity and are for all purposes technically dead. After 3 hours in this state, the blood is replaced and a mild shock administered, which jolts them back to the land of the living. The process is not without its problems, as some of the dogs have been reanimated with serious physical or behavioral aberrations, which have caused some critics to accuse the team of creating soulless “zombie dogs.”

Nevertheless, the team has grand plans to one day test the procedure on humans, which could be groundbreaking in the field of putting victims of serious injuries, especially those incurring massive blood loss, into a type of stasis while they await treatment. Such a tool could be invaluable in places like faraway battlefields, or other situations where immediate medical care is not available. Regardless, there have been considerable moral questions raised, such as the idea that any humans subjected to the experiments may wake up without souls, with an essential, key part of them missing. However, the research has mostly been seen as hopeful, with one of the directors saying they are merely pushing back the boundaries of what is considered dead, stating:

"The definition of death depends on the technology you have to revive the subject. As medical technology gets better, the limits to being dead are pushed into more extreme physiological states. Death is really when a doctor says: ‘I can’t do any more."

One can most certainly see how such a procedure would be alluring for those who want to research what happens past the veil that separates us from death. Imagine what could be gleaned about the afterlife from someone who spent hours there or even more. We can only wait to see if there is ever a trial on human beings, but one team of psychologists and medical doctors associated with the Technische Universität of Berlin have claimed that they have already done something similar. The researchers have claimed that by using a sophisticated mixture of potent drugs such as epinephrine and dimethyltryptamine, they have managed to induce clinical death in patients for intervals of up to 20 minutes, after which they are revived with a specially designed CPR machine without any ill effects.

The process has already been allegedly tested on around 944 volunteers over 4 years, with some people reportedly dead for up to 40 minutes to an hour. It is unclear what sort of NDEs any of these people may have experienced, but it definitely offers an avenue of pursuit for anyone brave enough to try and find out. Are we on the cusp of having the know-how and abilities to allow adventurous souls to make this once one-way journey into realms unknown and allow them to come back, just as astronauts delve into space to plummet back to Earth with wondrous stories to tell? It is an intriguing notion to be sure.

For all of the promising research done on NDEs so far, and all of the potential ways our technology may allow us to further and more deeply explore this mysterious phenomenon in the future, there is still a lot of skepticism aimed at this type of study. For many, the results found so far don’t count because they are adamant that any sort of awareness after death is indicative that the person was never really truly dead at all, despite any measurable amount of brain activity. Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society, has said of the matter:

"There’s a reason that these events are called ‘near’ death experiences. The people who have [near death experiences] are not actually dead. In that murky grey area between life and death, the brain is still functioning on some level and can therefore experience something."

This sentiment has been shared by others, who say that there is very little concrete evidence to suggest that any of the NDEs actually occurred at a point when the brain was fully non-functional. Therefore, they say, the studies of NDEs thus far are deeply flawed. Dr Chris Freeman, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Royal Edinburgh Hospital has said:

"We know that memories are extremely fallible. We are quite good at knowing that something happened, but we are very poor at knowing when it happened. It is quite possible that these experiences happened during the recovery, or just before the cardiac arrest. To say that they happened when the brain was shut down, I think there is little evidence for that at all."

The idea that these experiences are caused by merely a malfunctioning brain has been somewhat corroborated by the discovery in recent years of what has been deemed “The God Spot.” In 2000, Swiss researchers at at the Geneva University Hospital were presented with a 43-year-old woman who was admitted for surgery for profound epileptic seizures. An interesting effect was noticed when electrical stimulation was applied via electrodes to the area of the brain responsible for spatial cognition, called the angular gyrus, found in the right cortex. Neurologist Professor Olaf Blanke and colleagues accidentally found that by stimulating that area of the brain, the woman reported having vivid out of body experiences, in which she reported floating about the room above her own body. Blanke concluded that OBEs, and thereby NDEs in general, could be possibly explained by some malfunctioning of the brain rather than an actual soul leaving the body. It nevertheless shows that OBEs are a very real physical phenomenon that deserves further study, no matter what the cause.

A similar physical induction of classical NDE effects has been shown through the use of the drug ketamine, which affects receptors in the brain for the neurotransmitter glutamate. This uncontrolled, totally legal drug can, in the right doses, produce an altered state of consciousness and many of the reported experiences of NDEs, such as out of body experiences, communing with mystical beings, reliving of life events, and traveling through tunnels of light, to the point that one researcher has deemed the use of ketamine to be “experiments in voluntary death.” This has caused skeptics to conclude that all NDEs must be purely the result of misfrings of brain chemistry, but those who have experienced true NDEs are adamant that this is something more. Regardless of who is right, this is yet another case that shows that NDEs are a real phenomenon worthy of further scientific study and not a complete fabrication.

Skeptics remain convinced that these after life experiences are solely the realm of the physical, some last desperate firing of a dying mind. To them this is just psychedelic dreams and euphoria conjured up by chemicals in the brain during death, to which we give unreasonable spiritual weight if we survive the ordeal to return to life. This could describe all of the events of NDEs, including the ubiquitous tunnels of light, which skeptics say could be caused by frantically firing brain cells reacting to a lack of oxygen. Susan Blackmore, a psychology professor at the University of the West of England in Bristol and notable NDE skeptic says of the phenomenon:

"I think what’s happening is that people are trying to validate their experience by making these paranormal claims, but you don’t need to do that. They’re valid experiences in themselves, only they’re happening in the brain and not in the world out there."

Interestingly, some of these skeptics have come around once they experienced life after death for themselves. Cell biologist Joyce Hawkes was once just such a skeptic, and did not put much thought into the possibility of an afterlife, until one fateful accident changed her mind forever. Hawkes fell out of a window and sustained life threatening injuries that put her into a state of clinical death. During this time, she claims that she had an experience that did not fit any of her preconceived paradigms and which she remains at a loss to explain. Hawkes said of the incident:

"I think that part of me — that my spirit, my soul — left my body and went to another reality. It just was not part of the paradigm in which I lived as a scientist. It was a big surprise to me to have this sense of something different than the body — a consciousness different than the body — and to be in this wonderfully healing, peaceful, nurturing place."

So is there anything to these NDEs? Is this a peek into realms unknown or merely the physical effects of a gasping, dying brain; our last feverish dreams before slipping into nothingness? What lies beyond the curtain of the death that awaits us all, and will we ever be in a position to scientifically find out waits beyond? It seems in a world in which we are finding ways to detect ever more bizarre and weird phenomena such as quantum physics and the strange particles and inner working of our universe there may soon come a time when we may conquer the answers to the perplexing questions of the afterlife as well. Perhaps at some point we will delve out into these badlands just as we journey out into space or the farthest reaches of the deep blue seas, and embark on a journey that will bring with it wondrous discoveries of the unknown which lie on the fringes of our understanding. Until then, we are confined within these flesh prisons of ours, waiting for it to finally be revealed where that final journey will take us.

The Prime Directive

It turns out that they will not openly talk to us until we learn how to reach other stars.  Thar sort of makes sense.  In the meantime they are working clandestinely to help us along and we must be pretty close as traffic keeps going up.   That suggests that the Prime Directive is pretty leaky.

We also pick up the formative experiences used by Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek.  It is obvious now that he channeled aliens and came to understand what future technology actually looked like.  This is important because enough is now apparent that I had come to be curious regarding just that.

Recall that I had worked my way through the bulk of the science fiction oeuvre from inception through the early sixties during my teens.  They did not in any way properly anticipate the world of Star Trek.  Snippets here and there yes but we really did not have Moore's Law sufficiently accepted to anticipate cell phones and the types of hardware seen.  And that happens to be the easiest aspect to anticipate for a writer.

Yet everything shown us in Star Trek becomes more plausible as we advance to the absurdity that the universe of Star Trek has never needed a true over haul.  Try that with Buck Rogers or other lame attempts to do science fiction in those days.

Is this the reason why aliens not openly lands in the front garden of the White House?

By lionsground - Jul 17, 2016

In 2013, the former Canadian defense minister Paul Hellyer made a shocking statement: a federation of alien races mankind are watching and controlling us. Reported television channel History.

Some say there is enough evidence to support this claim. Almost every culture has stories or emperors, kings and pharaohs who consulted a group of nine gods. Even CIA scientists channeled in the fifties with an alien group that was called ‘The Nine’. This group are here to influence events on earth, according to the station.

In 1952 the American physician Andrija Puharich put a special laboratory that was part of a top secret government program. In the lab experiments were done with psychological manipulation and hallucinogenic drugs. One of his subjects was Uri Geller.

Nonphysical Beings

One of the most controversial aspects of his research related to channeling, making contact with non-physical beings. contact was made in December 1952 by a group of entities that was called ‘The Nine’.

“The Nine said they were an endless presence,” explains Nick Pope from, who has worked 20 years for the British Ministry of Defence. “They kept an eye on mankind from the beginning, in his own words.”

Star Trek

In his private residence dr. Puharich discussed his research with people from the top layers of society. Someone who actively participated in those sessions was Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the famous TV series Star Trek. The series was inspired by the mysterious group ‘The Nine’.

The Prime Directive, a directive from the popular series prohibiting active involvement with less advanced species would have emerged from the sessions of dr. Puharich.

“If we are being watched by aliens, it is very likely that they do not openly land in the garden of the White House because of the Prime Directive,” says Pope.

Top Psychiatrist Says Mental Illness is Demonic Possession

This is good news.  He has produced the largest data base and is able to discern patterns.  What we learn is that there is not a lot of these but there is some that are clearly just that.

Our own work informs us that a spirit released early may well attach itself to a living person and then ride side saddle ( my term ) in order to experience life and continue to advance the soul as originally planned. Mostly this happens to be completely neutral.

The problem arises when the spirit involved lacks maturity or inclined to serious mischief.  This produces situations in which aberrant behavior shows up when the spirit is able to override the operational spirit.

At least this will begin a mature discussion on this topic that has now come back into vogue..

Top Psychiatrist Says Mental Illness is Demonic Possession

A New York psychiatrist has shocked the science community by admitting that patients are suffering from mental illness are the subjects of demonic possession.

Richard Gallagher, who is a board-certified psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College has come forward saying he has had personal experiences with demonic possession adding that it's 'very widespread'.

According to the In the late 1980s, I was introduced to a self-styled Satanic high priestess.
She called herself a witch and dressed the part, with flowing dark clothes and black eye shadow around to her temples. In our many discussions, she acknowledged worshipping Satan as his “queen.”

I’m a man of science and a lover of history; after studying the classics at Princeton, I trained in psychiatry at Yale and in psychoanalysis at Columbia.

That background is why a Catholic priest had asked my professional opinion, which I offered pro bono, about whether this woman was suffering from a mental disorder. 

This was at the height of the national panic about Satanism. (In a case that helped induce the hysteria, Virginia McMartin and others had recently been charged with alleged Satanic ritual abuse at a Los Angeles preschool; the charges were later dropped.) 

So I was inclined to skepticism. But my subject’s behavior exceeded what I could explain with my training. She could tell some people their secret weaknesses, such as undue pride.
She knew how individuals she’d never known had died, including my mother and her fatal case of ovarian cancer. 

Six people later vouched to me that, during her exorcisms, they heard her speaking multiple languages, including Latin, completely unfamiliar to her outside of her trances. 

This was not psychosis; it was what I can only describe as paranormal ability. I concluded that she was possessed. Much later, she permitted me to tell her story.

The priest who had asked for my opinion of this bizarre case was the most experienced exorcist in the country at the time, an erudite and sensible man. I had told him that, even as a practicing Catholic, I wasn’t likely to go in for a lot of hocus-pocus. 

“Well,” he replied, “unless we thought you were not easily fooled, we would hardly have wanted you to assist us.”

So began an unlikely partnership. For the past two-and-a-half decades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness — which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work. 

It’s an unlikely role for an academic physician, but I don’t see these two aspects of my career in conflict. The same habits that shape what I do as a professor and psychiatrist — open-mindedness, respect for evidence and compassion for suffering people — led me to aid in the work of discerning attacks by what I believe are evil spirits and, just as critically, differentiating these extremely rare events from medical conditions.

Is it possible to be a sophisticated psychiatrist and believe that evil spirits are, however seldom, assailing humans? 

Most of my scientific colleagues and friends say no, because of their frequent contact with patients who are deluded about demons, their general skepticism of the supernatural, and their commitment to employ only standard, peer-reviewed treatments that do not potentially mislead (a definite risk) or harm vulnerable patients. 

But careful observation of the evidence presented to me in my career has led me to believe that certain extremely uncommon cases can be explained no other way.

The Vatican does not track global or countrywide exorcism, but in my experience and according to the priests I meet, demand is rising. 

The United States is home to about 50 “stable” exorcists — those who have been designated by bishops to combat demonic activity on a semi-regular basis — up from just 12 a decade ago, according to the Rev. Vincent Lampert, an Indianapolis-based priest-exorcist who is active in the International Association of Exorcists. 

(He receives about 20 inquiries per week, double the number from when his bishop appointed him in 2005).

The Catholic Church has responded by offering greater resources for clergy members who wish to address the problem. In 2010, for instance, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a meeting in Baltimore for interested clergy. 

In 2014, Pope Francis formally recognized the IAE, 400 members of which are to convene in Rome this October. Members believe in such strange cases because they are constantly called upon to help. (I served for a time as a scientific adviser on the group’s governing board.)

Unfortunately, not all clergy involved in this complex field are as cautious as the priest who first approached me. In some circles, there is a tendency to become overly preoccupied with putative demonic explanations and to see the devil everywhere. 

Fundamentalist misdiagnoses and absurd or even dangerous “treatments,” such as beating victims, have sometimes occurred, especially in developing countries. 

This is perhaps why exorcism has a negative connotation in some quarters. People with psychological problems should receive psychological treatment.

But I believe I’ve seen the real thing. Assaults upon individuals are classified either as “demonic possessions” or as the slightly more common but less intense attacks usually called “oppressions.” 

A possessed individual may suddenly, in a type of trance, voice statements of astonishing venom and contempt for religion, while understanding and speaking various foreign languages previously unknown to them. The subject might also exhibit enormous strength or even the extraordinarily rare phenomenon of levitation. 

(I have not witnessed a levitation myself, but half a dozen people I work with vow that they’ve seen it in the course of their exorcisms).

 He or she might demonstrate “hidden knowledge” of all sorts of things — like how a stranger’s loved ones died, what secret sins she has committed, even where people are at a given moment. These are skills that cannot be explained except by special psychic or preternatural ability.

I have personally encountered these rationally inexplicable features, along with other paranormal phenomena. My vantage is unusual: As a consulting doctor, I think I have seen more cases of possession than any other physician in the world.

Most of the people I evaluate in this role suffer from the more prosaic problems of a medical disorder.
Anyone even faintly familiar with mental illnesses knows that individuals who think they are being attacked by malign spirits are generally experiencing nothing of the sort. 

Practitioners see psychotic patients all the time who claim to see or hear demons; histrionic or highly suggestible individuals, such as those suffering from dissociative identity syndromes; and patients with personality disorders who are prone to misinterpret destructive feelings, in what exorcists sometimes call a “pseudo-possession,” via the defense mechanism of an externalizing projection. 

But what am I supposed to make of patients who unexpectedly start speaking perfect Latin?

I approach each situation with an initial skepticism. I technically do not make my own “diagnosis” of possession but inform the clergy that the symptoms in question have no conceivable medical cause.

I am aware of the way many psychiatrists view this sort of work. While the American Psychiatric Association has no official opinion on these affairs, the field (like society at large) is full of unpersuadable skeptics and occasionally doctrinaire materialists who are often oddly vitriolic in their opposition to all things spiritual. 

My job is to assist people seeking help, not to convince doctors who are not subject to suasion. 

Yet I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners nowadays who are open to entertaining such hypotheses. Many believe exactly what I do, though they may be reluctant to speak out.

As a man of reason, I’ve had to rationalize the seemingly irrational. Questions about how a scientifically trained physician can believe “such outdated and unscientific nonsense,” as I’ve been asked, have a simple answer. 

I honestly weigh the evidence. I have been told simplistically that levitation defies the laws of gravity, and, well, of course it does! We are not dealing here with purely material reality, but with the spiritual realm. 

One cannot force these creatures to undergo lab studies or submit to scientific manipulation; they will also hardly allow themselves to be easily recorded by video equipment, as skeptics sometimes demand. 

(The official Catholic Catechism holds that demons are sentient and possess their own wills; as they are fallen angels, they are also craftier than humans. That’s how they sow confusion and seed doubt, after all.) 

Nor does the church wish to compromise a sufferer’s privacy, any more than doctors want to compromise a patient’s confidentiality.

Ignorance and superstition have often surrounded stories of demonic possession in various cultures, and surely many alleged episodes can be explained by fraud, chicanery or mental pathology. 

But anthropologists agree that nearly all cultures have believed in spirits, and the vast majority of societies (including our own) have recorded dramatic stories of spirit possession. 

Despite varying interpretations, multiple depictions of the same phenomena in astonishingly consistent ways offer cumulative evidence of their credibility.

As a psychoanalyst, a blanket rejection of the possibility of demonic attacks seems less logical, and often wishful in nature, than a careful appraisal of the facts. 

As I see it, the evidence for possession is like the evidence for George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. In both cases, written historical accounts with numerous sound witnesses testify to their accuracy.

In the end, however, it was not an academic or dogmatic view that propelled me into this line of work. I was asked to consult about people in pain. I have always thought that, if requested to help a tortured person, a physician should not arbitrarily refuse to get involved. 

Those who dismiss these cases unwittingly prevent patients from receiving the help they desperately require, either by failing to recommend them for psychiatric treatment (which most clearly need) or by not informing their spiritual ministers that something beyond a mental or other illness seems to be the issue. 

For any person of science or faith, it should be impossible to turn one’s back on a tormented soul.
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