Theories On Vortexes & Ectoplasm

Theories On Vortexes & Ectoplasm

A common paranormal phenomenon that is encountered are vortexes and ectoplasm.  These are just as common as orbs for the most part.  As in orbs there are also theories on this phenomenon.  We also have our own theories on this just as anyone else would.  Personally, we believe that vortexes are the portal between dimensions in which ghosts travel through, whether that be from their world to ours or between sub-dimensions that may exist in the Hereafter.  We believe that ectoplasm is un-concentrated spirit energy that is dissipated and which can form into orbs too.  Both are commonly captured on film and video.  Listed below are some more theories on these two topics.

Here are some theories on vortexes:

1. Vortexes could very well be portals from dimension to dimension, which is the theory we go with.  This is probably the most well excepted theory at the time of this writing.

2. Another theory is that a vortex may be of an orb or orbs in motion.  Maybe that’s why it sometimes seems to look like that there are orbs forming a contrail in photographs but they could be just traveling through the vortex, either way both are plausible theories.  The orb theory could also explain why the vortex always seems to be bending in different directions.

3. This is another cheap theory that most skeptics go by is that the vortex could just be a camera strap.  We viewed some pictures in which the camera strap got in the way of the lens and it looks pretty convincing to the untrained eye.  We rarely use cameras with a strap and if you do you should keep it out of the way of the lens or simply wear it on your wrist.  Usually when the vortex seems twisting or seems to look fake its probably a strap.  Here is a photo with camera strap.  This does not explain all the strange pictures of transparent vortexes and the orbs moving through them.  Most ghost researchers can explain camera straps away the instant they see them.  For example, if the “vortex” is too dark, has a uniform pattern like stitching, or is bent in such a way to suggest a camera strap!

Here are some theories on ectoplasm:

1. The theory we support is that ectoplasm is un-condensed spirit energy that has simply not yet formed into orbs or even an Apparition.  Many ghost researchers find this theory to be the most plausible.

2. Another theory (well, not a theory but a fact) is that so-called “ectoplasm” is simply clouds or fog which can be outside which effect the lens which can make these supposedly “paranormal” images appear.  This has happened several times to us so make sure you go out when conditions are fine, no wind, fog, rain, dust, snow, etc. and remember to make sure that the lens of your camera is ABSOLUTELY clean.

3. Another theory is that ectoplasm could be electro-magnetic energy from the Earth but we don’t go by this theory since electromagnetic fields are usually are at their strongest during lunar cycles and cannot usually be strong enough energy-wise to be caught on film.  If the electro-magnetic theory is true then why so many authentic ectoplasm photos.

4. Another plausible theory is that ectoplasm is residual spirit energy that is left behind from a spirit that we recently in the area of where the photo was taken; this may coincide with Theory 1.

If you have a different view or want to share more with us, please send us an email.  Selected opinions would be posted here for follow up.

Ghost Explained (Part 3)

Dealing with Ghosts

Playing host to a ghost is not necessarily a bad thing.  Ghosts seldom present any physical threat to the living, after all, and they tend to be self-absorbed, more concerned with their own problems than with causing trouble for anybody else.  Resident spirits can even be comforting, provided they belong to benevolent ancestors or departed friends, or even to a charmingly sorrowful soul who’s just looking for company.

Viewed with a coldly commercial eye, a haunting can even have practical value.  Harmless but interesting haunts add a certain romantic cachet to a house, and that cachet may enhance property value.

All that having been said, however, most of us would probably prefer to confine our households to the living, simply because ghosts are scary.  Faced with the chilling certainty that some stranger is invisibly among us, its nature unknowable and its motives and intentions unknown, our first reflex is to scream.  But to whom?

To a priest is one answer.  In times past, and sometimes even today, spirit infestation was deemed a religious problem, best solved by religious means.  There has never been a society, primitive or modern, pagan or Judeo-Christian, that lacked the necessary technicians, whether witch doctors or shamans or clergy.  Tibetan Buddhists still use a rite called shedur that involves summoning a protective goddess to oust an offending spirit.  And of course, the Roman Catholic Church still occasionally employs the ancient rite of exorcism.

Some purists argue that exorcism aims to out demons, not ghosts.  But other experts dismiss this distinction as mere semantics, contending that a ghost, broadly defined, is any alien spirit that impinges on the world of the living, not just a spirit of the dead.  Demons qualify, therefore, and demonic possession is the invasion of a soul by some foreign entity rather than the invasion of a dwelling.  Indeed, the most ancient human problem with spirits has not been so much with the haunting of property as the haunting of souls, and these spirits, by definition, were evil.

The Catholic Church perfected its rite of exorcism early, in the 4th centaury, and it has changed little since.  Originally, the rite was built into baptism and could be applied both to the faithful and to those outside the Church as necessary.  But not all ecclesiastics could be exorcists; a certain charismatic quality was needed.  Some priests, for example, showed such power that they could drive out evil spirits by the force of their prayers alone, or by the laying on of hands.

As Christianity spread, however, and paganism waned, demonic possession became rare.  “It is only Catholic missionaries laboring in pagan lands,” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “who are likely to meet with fairly frequent cases of possession.”  Still, all reports of possession must be taken seriously and closely investigated, but only by those who have led brave and blameless lives and have prepared themselves through prayer and fasting, clergy who have immunized themselves against demonic invasion.


Soothing the Sorrowful

A priest need have no special qualifications, however, to bless a dwelling that may be troubled by restless spirits.  He may visit a home and offer prayers for those who live there.  Sprinkling of holy water and filling various rooms with incense also may be useful.

Malicious spirits sometimes can be persuaded by these techniques to move on.  If they resist, however, it’s possible that they are not malicious at all.  Most ghosts, it is said, cling to Earth because they are troubled souls, not evil ones.

Some experts believe that ghosts respond to exorcists not because the spirit is afraid of the talismans of belief, but because clergy tend to be good listeners, with an aura of emotional tranquility.  In fact, the negative energy of a full-blown exorcism may only enrage the ghost, especially if it’s already angry.

Most ghosts are not mad, merely sorrowful.  It isn’t that they don’t want to leave; their sadness holds them where they are.  More than any other kind of haunter, sorrowful ghosts reflect the living; all they lack is a body.  Because they are so close to live with them as they endlessly relive the moments that define their grief.  Let them brood.  And should they become too much, they generally will depart if asked politely.

Unresolved Issues

The ghosts hunters now summoned by the haunted tend to be less interested in driving away spirits than in understanding them, helping them work through the inner conflicts that keep them forever restive.  There is little room for troupes of bungling, khaki clad “ghostbusters” and their high-tech ectoplasm collectors in the real world of paranormal investigations.  The idea is not to bust ghosts but to counsel and comprehend them, to offer a compassionate solution to their emotional problems.  Like their living counterparts, ghosts have issues of abandonment, self-esteem, loneliness, and anger to resolve.  The language of ghost hunting has altered to reflect this understanding and uses the vocabulary of holistic therapy, not that of confrontation and spectral war.  Today’s professionals must be there for them.

They also must be there for hosts whose kinder, gentler approach hasn’t budged the spirit.  These intransigent ghosts are the plague-rats among haunters, ghosts in whom the touching melancholy of other apparitions seems to have curdled into terrible rage.  They aren’t working through anything familiar to the living, nor do they search for lst love’ they want only to entwine themselves as destructively as possible with the lives of their hosts.

Some of these are down right messy, besides.  Being haunted quickly loses its appeal when decapitated ghost drip blood on a white carpet even when the stain vanishes a moment later.  Slime is devilishly difficult to get out of suede.  A house haunted by such negative spirits is a miserably unhappy house.

China Breaker

And then there are the poltergeists (German for “noisy spirits”).  These demonic whirlwinds of the spirit world seem always to need attention from the living and are willing to go to any extreme to get it.  Some modern ghost haunters say poltergeists are not real ghosts and that the mischief usually attributed to them is actually caused by psychic energy emanating from a troubled member of the household, especially young people.  Whatever the source, however, paranormally flying crockery and slamming cabinets can be problems that need immediate solutions.

Once a poltergeist is sensed, the first step might be to store the family china and other breakables outside the home.  These prankster spirits often seem to have a sense of fun that can make them lively company as long as they are treated well.  They are like pet raccoons, marvelous to watch, often funny, and wondrously destructive.

If you don’t find them amusing, however, the most important tactic for getting rid of them may be to look inward.  Most investigators now believe that ghosts, including poltergeists, are drawn to the projections of the human unconscious.  Thus, before trying to expel an angry ghost or rowdy poltergeist, a certain amount of introspection is in order.  Haunted hosts are often just people under a lot of stress or jangled by a recent emotional ordeal, so they radiate a powerful negativity, a dark flame that draws spectral moths.  Before calling anyone, one must change that aura and deprive the ghost of its negative beacon.

 


Calling in the Ghost Investigators

If the dark beacon attracting the ghost is external instead of internal, i.e., something to do with the property rather than the host, a trip to the library might reveal what happened there that would leave a ghost-drawing psychic imprint.  A murder?  A suicide?  A memorable injustice or failed romance?  Old houses virtually glow with forgotten violence.

To help erase this psychic residue, you may need to call in the professionals.  Their tactics will vary according to the nature of ghost and the nature of the hunter.  Some excel at tracking, some are eager for discovery.

The Singapore Paranormal Investigators, a registered society that has a website of information on ghost hunting and hauntings, has a large collection of ghost photographs posted on the Internet, a kind of spectral rogues gallery to help the haunted to identify what is plaguing them.  Besides photographs, the society has posted tips on on equipment usage and ghost hunting strategies, along with goose-bump-inducing recording said to be voices of the dead.  There is information about club gathering, research trips and a newsletter for do-it-yourself ghost hunters.  For those seeking additional aid, the society provides links to other useful sources such as exorcists, spiritual healers and so on.

Even if you have good professional help, “laying the ghost” – the unfortunate but traditional term for getting rid of one, can be a long and complicated process.  Eventually, you may have to decide whether your spectral guest is more welcome than the hunters pursuing it.

Intuition and Patience

Because ghosts generally require patience and understanding more than the shock of an all-out exorcism, a good ghost hunter must be intuitive to a fault, a person whose own psychic abilities allow contact with the spirit on an emotional plane.  No one wants an angry banishment that could result in more ghost trouble down the line.  But the client’s instincts are also central here.  Generally, anyone sensitive enough to have a paranormal problem reads underlying psychic vibes well enough to find the right ghost hunter for the job at hand.

Once a professional has been called in, the investigation unfolds step by step in a logical fashion.  First, an interview examines the hauntee’s report, with the experienced hunter wielding skepticism like a machete.  Few reputable practitioners would undertake an investigation before ruling out every possible natural scenario, turning to the paranormal only as a last resort.  Then photographs are taken of the site, and perhaps drawings are made.  If the haunt has a discernible pattern, the investigators may want to stay on site for a while to map it.  Given the intrusive nature of the inquiry, you should never embark on a paranormal investigation lightly, or with investigators who are not sympathetic companions.  Hunters who are too ready to believe, or too skeptical to accept what their senses tell them, should be replaced immediately: Ghost sneer at their psychic inferiors.

Whatever the type of spectral presence, its removal should be under taken with compassion and understanding, or at worst with tough love.  Despite their restless, worrisome ways, ghosts are more like us, more like the living, than not.  They have beliefs, hopes, fears, concerns, and expectations that must be respected.  And they have vast experience.  Many ghosts are believed to have been roaming the world for centuries.

Sometimes they may be gentled into a tolerable domesticity.  But now and then they are so dark, so angry, so destructive that they have to be forced to leave.  Time is on their side, however, and they know it.  Having one’s ghosts removed, even with today’s conciliatory methods, may take a good long time.  Patience is the key.  Patience is what we should be thinking when we finally decide to pick up the telephone and ask for professional help.

Ghost Explained (Part 2)

Exploring the Other Side

While some people sense ghosts or see them, others are driven to sort them out, to discover what they really are.

What are Ghosts?

Ghosts are easy to define, hard to explain.  Almost everybody agrees on the basic proposition that ghosts are spirits of the dead.  But that deceptively simple definition is just a gateway to a thorny thicket of questions, some of them the most profound that humans ever ask.

What exactly is a spirit?  Is it the same thing as a soul?  Does such a thing really exist?  And if it does, can it survive the death of the body?  In what form?  Why do the dead haunt the living, or just some of the living?  Why do some people apparently see ghosts, others not?  Are ghosts vengeful?  Kindly?  Sad?  Should we fear them?  Avoid them?  Seek them out?

The answers depend largely, of course, on whom you ask, and when.  People who believe in ghosts or claim to have encountered them – a minority that hovers between 10 to 20 percent, according to most polls taken over the year, are quick to speculate on the nature and significance of spirits.  For unbelievers, on the other hand, ghosts are merely the stuff of idle chitchat, the quaint fantasies of credulous minds.  But this wasn’t always so.  There was a time, beginning about a century and a half ago, when some of the world’s finest intellects (skeptical intellects, mostly) pursued the subject of ghosts in deadly earnest.  It was for them, one might say, a matter of eternal life or death.


The First Ghost Hunters

It was in England in the 1880s that a group of Cambridge University scholars formed the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) to fix a cold and skeptical eye on paranormal phenomena.  Not given to mysticism, these dons were thoroughly systematic.  They would collect information, collate, analyze, theorize, test.  They began with ghosts.

A trio of SPR founders Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers and Frank Podmore, interviewed about 6,000 people regarding their experiences with ghosts.  In 1886, they published their results in Phantasms of the Living, a two-volume tome of 1,400 pages.  There Myers coined the word “telepathy”, postulating that some ghosts were really telepathic impulses, which percipients, the people who see or sense ghosts, took to be phantoms.  “Instead of describing a ‘ghost’ as a dead person permitted to communicate with the living,” he wrote, “let us define it as a manifestation of persistent personal energy.”

Eleanor Balfour Sidgwick, a mathematician and the principal of Cambridge’s Newnham College, speculated that inanimate objects might absorb and store psychic impressions from the living in the same way that stones gather heat energy from the sun.  When the impressions were radiated by the object, the figurative hot stones, their energy, she thought, might be perceived as ghosts.  The strength of the apparition, Sidgwick believed, depended on the emotional magnitude of the psychic imprint, the amount of stored energy, and the percipient’s sensitivity.


Ghostly Intentions

Phantasms of the Living was the first great leap into the paranormal unknown.  Based on its findings, the Cambridge group began classifying different types of ghosts.  Motive seemed to be one differentiating feature.

“We were struck,” said Gurney, “with the great predominance of alleged apparitions at or near the moment of death.  And a new light seemed to be thrown on these phenomena by the unexpected frequency of accounts of apparitions of living persons, coincident with moments of danger or crisis.”  As people experienced death or some other extreme condition, he suggested, their psyche became more adept at projecting itself in ghostly guises.

Nor was crisis the only motive.  Some apparitions brought balm for the grief of loved ones; others, comfort for the dying.  Some apparitions appeared to remind the reincarnate of their previous lives, or to give a future family a preview of a reborn person on the way.

Ethereal Theories

Myers kept his belief that human existence didn’t end at death, but he saw flaws in this telepathy hypothesis.  In Human Personality and the Survival of Bodily Death, published in 1903, he theorized that apparitions were a kind of knot of energy emanating from the agent buy strong enough to alter the percipient’s space.  As for the actual substance of ghosts, Myers proposed that specters existed not as material beings but as “metetherial” – a kind of fourth-dimensional domain.

Some years later, SPR president Henry Habberley Price, an emeritus professor of logic at Oxford University, echoed Myers with the notion of a “psychic ether,” which he described as “something intermediate between mind and matter.”  He believed that thought and other types of mental activity generated an image that survived on another plane even after the death of the thinker.  While invisible to everyone, such images might be perceived as ghosts by psychic sensitives.

Ghostly Taxonomy

G. Tyrell, who became SPR president in 1945, devoted 40 years to ghost research.  Tyrell, who held degrees in physics and mathematics from London University, is credited with formulating the four categories of phantoms that are still generally recognized today: crisis apparitions, apparitions of the living, postmortem apparitions, and continual, or recurring, apparitions.  (More details on Types of Ghosts.)

Drawing on modern psychology, Tyrell proposed that ghosts came out of a confluence of creative energy from the unconscious minds of both the agent and the percipient.  He called the result an “apparitional drama,” or “sensory hallucination.”

Researcher Andrew MacKenzie also postulated a link between apparitions and the subconscious mind.  Examing a number of reported hallucinatory experiences, he found that most of them came when the percipient was tuning out the external world and concentrating on something else.  At such times, MacKenzie reckoned the barriers between the conscious and unconscious come down.  The resulting flow from our unknown mental interior sometimes seems to be a ghost.

Inside the Mind and Out

The pioneering work of Tyrell and MacKenzie can still be seen in the work of present day psychical researchers like William Roll, a prominent American parapsychologist.  Like them, he explains haunting as an interactive drama between haunter and observer, as he calls the percipient, but he proposes that the phenomena occur along a sliding scale.

Haunting visions or sounds can be related to a particular situation or event, which Roll contends, seems “to leave an imprint in the environment that lots of people can respond to.”  But he sees no need for such carrier substances as psychic ether.  “All we need to say is that there is no sharp distinction between mind and matter, and that the processes that go on in the human brain may also go on in the human environment.  To me the main interest of these phenomena is that they suggest body and mind and matter are not as clearly distinguished as we have been led to believe, that mind is enfolded in matter, that there is meaning in matter, that the physical environment has mental qualities that come from the people who have lived in that environment.”

“Those qualities imprinted on the environment compose the ghostly side of Roll’s equation.  The percipient composes the other.  Hauntings move on a sliding scale between them, driven by whichever factor, the spectral or the personal, is more active.  If the power lies toward the environmental end, the imprint should be so deeply etched that anyone can discern it.  At the far end on the percipient side of the scale, the observer creates the ghost out of nothing, that is to say, he or she makes it up.

Roll says that the latter type of haunting seems to follow emotional stress; it is often seen, for example, in strife-torn marriages.  Then, according to Roll, the percipient creates “an objective reality” to fill a void.  “It is like a dream that has become real,” he explains, “a strong need that somehow has created a situation that satisfies it.  My impression is that memories will be drawn out in response to needs.  And it is just as likely to happen in a new duplex as in an old mansion.”  Anything, including oneself, can be haunted.


Ghostly Behavior

Today, speculation about ghosts has largely passed out of the academic realm.  Seldom ghost hunters are full-timers who are serious about their subject.  Their language is more casual than that of the academicians, and their scientific tastes tend more toward psychology than physics.  For instance, Troy Taylor, the founder and president of the American Ghost Society, finds it useful to divide phantom encounters into two types: the intelligent haunting and the residual haunting.

The intelligent haunter, according to Taylor, is “the personality of a once-living person who stayed behind in our world instead of passing over to the Other side.”  Such ghosts are self-aware and are able to interact with the living.  The residual haunter, on the other hand, is merely “an imprint that is left on the atmosphere” of a haunted site.  It is the spirit of an event, rather than a personality, that plays out over and over in phantom form.

As to the nature of intelligent ghosts, Taylor reports that generally, they are “very sad.  We have to remember that many of them are very confused over what has happened to them.”  Some, he says, don’t even realize that they are dead.  Ghosts are never evil, he contends, although they do project in their phantom forms whatever personalities they had in life: benevolent, caring, angry, bitter.

David Oester and Sharon Gill, co-founders of the International Ghost Hunters Society, agree.  “A ghost is a mirror of who he or she was in life,” they say.  “If they were happy campers in life, they will happy campers in death.  The reverse is also true.  If they were angry and mean in life, so too in death.”  Whatever their natures, the spirits remain earthbound “because of unfinished business, unresolved issues, or because they have a comfort level and choose to remain here.  In many cases, the soul or spirit has negative earth emotions that were not released while living, and now these negative emotions are creating an anchor that will hold them back until they can release these negative emotions.”

Times have changed.  Pondering a ghost’s “unresolved issues” seems a far less pressing task than trying to validate religion by proving that spirits exist.  Now and then, though, an echo of the old urgency can still be heard: “Ghosts are really the evidence,” say Oester and Gill, “that religion should lean toward as proof of an afterlife.”

Ghost Explained (Part 1)

The Quest to understand life after death

From Spiritualism to quantum physics, the quest persists to find out exactly what haunts us, and how, and why…

Inquiring Minds

The idea that the energy of life just vanishes into nothingness in death has never been comfortable for us humans.  Such potent energy must go somewhere: to Paradise, perhaps, or the Underworld, or some purgatorial holding pattern, or the interstices between the stars.  It must revive secretly on some other side of existence.  And there, many have long supposed, the spirits traverse eternity, reaping whatever good or ill they sowed in life.

Such an explanation accounts nicely for what happens to an individual’s life force.  But not all energy that has gone on to its post-mortem dimension seems content to stay there.  Unfinished business, hatred left unquenched,  revenge uncompleted, one’s murderer gone free, lost or unrequited love, the need to warn or scare or save one’s survivors; there are so many compelling reasons not to rest that one would expect the ether to teem with souls still not quite decoupled from life.  And so they seem to over about us, occasionally visible, often subtly perceptible, just out of earshot, but nevertheless there, palpable enough to prompt never-quite-answered about who they are and what they want.

The questions about the fate of the life force have been asked for thousands of years.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, it appeared at times that science was on the verge of providing some definitive answers.  Energy of all sorts was on the verge of providing some definitive answers.  Energy of all sorts was much on people’s minds then: electrical energy, magnetic energy, how to two transferred back and forth, how energy was transformed into light and heat.  Energy never vanished, it seemed, it merely changed forms.  So it might be with the energy of life, some scientists speculated:  Perhaps life was another manifestation of energy, as indestructible as electricity or sunlight, and as quick to take another form.

It made sense, and it carried the advantage that the whole business of an afterlife might be viewed objectively, not through the distorting lenses of superstition or metaphysics.  And if one could quantify the existence of human energy after the body’s death – ghosts and spirits, as it were, why couldn’t one get in touch with them?  Why couldn’t science open a line to the Other side?

Science and the Supernatural

The idea smacked somewhat of hubris; the science of the time (and of today, for that matter) was as yet ill-equipped to unveil nature’s most closely held secret: the mystery of death and what lies beyond it.  Even so, there were pioneers willing to try.  And if they fell short, some were equally willing to cloak their efforts in enough pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo to at least confuse the issue.

One of these was Franz Anton Mesmer, the 18th century Austrian physician whose theory of “animal magnetism” – a natural magnetic energy he believed to exist in all living creatures, suggested the possibility of sensing objects and events beyond ones’ waking ken.  Mesmer was wrong about nearly everything except the technique of hypnotizing or “mesmerizing,” subjects.  Still, his incorporation of magnetism into his spiel imparted a certain learned aura to his work and to the otherworldly pranks of a legion of Mesmerists who sprung up on both sides of the Atlantic.

Emanuel Swedenborg, a renowned Swedish scientist who was a contemporary of Mesmer, offered a philosophical counterpoint to the Austrian’s mind-bending hocus-pocus.  The hidden worlds to which Mesmer clamied to send his hypnotized subjects were familiar ground to Swedenborg, who reported the frequent company of Jesus, a host of spirits, and even God.  He framed the afterlife into six spheres of Spiritualism, which spirits traversed from the lowest (life on Earth) to the highest (unknowable to us).  About equal parts brilliant and deranged, Swedenborg like Mesmer, helped fertilize the occult ground of what would become, in the 19th century, the Spiritualist movement.


Science and the Soul

By the end of 19 centaury, science and mediumship have gone their separate ways, the latter dissolving into the often suspect claptrap of channeling and psychic hot lines, the former searching for spirits in wholly new directions.

These days, the serious scientists speculating on the soul’s possible survival tend to be, of all things, physicists.  Their mystical turn of mind is doubtless linked to quantum mechanics itself, the science describing the cosmos as a mysterious mesh of being and nonbeing in which tiny, invisible bits called quanta – the building blocks of the universe – behave in exotically erratic and unpredictable ways.

All creation is joined “in a state of unending flux of enfoldment and unfoldment,” says the University of London’s David Bohm, a leading authority on quantum mechanics and also a student of Eastern mysticism.  Bohm asserts that human consciousness is part of a unity that includes the whole universe.  If such oneness is indeed the case, it’s logical to assume that somewhere in that universe, disembodied souls exist.

Another physicist influenced by Eastern thought is Brian Josephson, a Nobel laureate and professor at England’s Cambridge University.  “One is not the same as one’s body,” says Josephson, who defines the soul as a nonphysical “organizing center” of the self.  He is convinced that this organizing center survives death.

Mind, Brain, Soul

Other scientists approach the soul by speculating on whether human consciousness is separable from human flesh: Is the mind merely what the brain does?  Or is it more, and other – an entity that can exist independent of the brain and survive the brain’s death?  One renowned thinker who argues for the second proposition is Australian neurophysiologist Sir John Carew Eccles, another Nobel Prize winner.  “I cannot believe,” says Eccles, “that the wonderful gift of a conscious existence has no further future, no possibility of another existence under some unimaginable conditions.”

Eccles has an ally in Sir Karl Popper, the eminent philosopher of science.  Popper posits the existence of three worlds: a material one containing the brain and all other material objects, an abstract world in which the mind dwells, and a world that holds all the mind’s achievements, all the fruits of civilization.  These worlds interact constantly, but they are essentially separate; the mind, therefore, enjoys an existence independent of the brain.

No End in Sight

Inquiring minds, including some of the best minds around, do indeed want to know.  But this side of the grave, will we ever really understand what death is and what the spirit is and whether it survives after the body dies?  The best minds seem to think not.

Physicist Josephson contends that physical science will never, by itself, unravel all reality’s secrets, although he concedes that mystical insight may open new path-ways for rational thought.

Neurophysiologist Eccles is even more modest about the prospects, although a good scientist that he is, he allows for all possibilities.  “I don’t want to claim that I have some extraordinary revelation telling me the answer” says Eccles.  “I keep everything open.  I keep so many doors open because I am, as it were, a lost soul trying to find my way in the unknown.”

The Strange Case of SIA flight SQ006

The Strange Case of SIA flight SQ006
Written by SPI Research team: Scapula and Portagee
 


Yuiiko has taken this strange photo by chance in the flight cabin;
Is it an anomaly or a camera fault?

Recently the crash of Singapore Airlines flight SQ006 in Taipei in 2000 was mentioned in the SPI public forums.  According to the story, the crash of flight SQ006 may be caused supernaturally by an earlier tragedy that involved the Singapore Airlines (SIA); the murder of a SIA flight stewardess in Los Angeles. This story has been circulating on the Internet since 2001.  It has gained popularity in Singapore and has even become an urban legend amongst flight crew members in SIA.  Since the anniversary of both events is drawing near, SPI has decided to take a closer look at the story.

Murdered SIA Stewardness Came Back for Revenge?

Background information provided by the author sets the tone of the story:

Singapore Airlines (SIA) have removed SQ 006 permanently from their timetable. The flight number is now replaced by SQ 030. The return flight of SQ 005 is now SQ 029. From now on, SQ 006 is history. The flight numbers were changed after the SIA investigating team and management found something spooky happened on the SQ 006 final flight. Believe it or not? If you recall, a few years ago on the date that SQ 006 crashed, there was this Taiwanese SIA stewardess who was murdered in a hotel in Los Angeles. The murder suspect was her fellow colleague, an Eurasian guy.

Her naked body was dismembered and hidden in a cupboard. Do you know that she was wearing red when she was flown back to Singapore on SQ 006 via Taipei and wore red when she was buried? Her mother wore red too to receive her body at the Changi International Airport. Exactly one year (31st October) later on her death anniversary, the plane crashed in Chang Kai Shek International Airport in Taipei. Coincidentally, this was also the day the Eurasian steward was released from prison.

   
Memories of flying with SIA flights

Something Spooky Caused the Plane Crash?

The author of the story claims that the flight number, SQ006, was permanently removed from the SIA flight timetable after the crash investigations were completed.  The story suggests that the reason behind this was because “something spooky” was discovered in the events leading to the doomed flight.  However, the flight number SQ006 was changed after the accident because the flights had been re-routed to that of SQ030; the flight number was not replaced but discontinued.  What had permanently changed in SIA after the crash was the discontinuation of painting any SIA aircraft with a promotion livery.  At the time of the accident, the Boeing 747-412 9V-SPK aircraft that had operated on SQ006 flight was painted with a “Tropical” livery instead of the standard SIA livery.  The “Tropical” livery was part of the airlines’ marketing exercise promoting its new First Class and Business Class seats.  There was only one other SIA aircraft that was painted with a similar “Tropical” livery; the sister aircraft of the plane involved in the crash: 9V-SPL.  After the accident, it was re-painted with the airlines’ original colours and SIA discontinued the use of any promotional livery on its aircraft, possibly in memory the tragedy.

 
1. Every airacraft carries a registered number, like a license plate on automobile;
this one is 9V-SRK. It looks like 9V-SPK which was the SQ006 plane from a distance
2. This one is 9V-SYL. Aircrafts that are registered in Singapore all start with prefex 9V by the international codes

SPI Debunks the Fallacies

The author of the story attempts to link another tragedy in the airlines’ history to the tragedy of SQ006.  The murder of Chang Yu, an SIA stewardess, in 1995 received considerable media attention in Singapore.  She was murdered by her SIA colleague who was later arrested in Singapore and extradited to the United States to face trial.  According to the story, key dates in the murder case and the SQ006 crash looked like they are strangely and coincidentally related. However, when these coincidences were compared they become questionable. The crash of SQ006 took place on 31 October 2000, but the murder of Chang occurred on 25 October 1995; it was neither “on the date that SQ006 crashed” nor was the crash “exactly one year later on her death anniversary.”  Finally, the air steward  (whose name is Zaini Jeloni and there was no mention that he is an Eurasian), was released in the US on 8 January 2001 after serving a prison sentence for causing Chang’s death, not coincidentally on the same date of the SQ006 crash.  The only coincidence that linked the two tragedies was the year when Jeloni was released from prison was also when this story was first circulated on the Internet.

The story claims that Chang’s body was found “dismembered” in a closet in her hotel room when in actual fact he body was found strangled with evidence of blunt trauma wounds to her head and stomach. The author went on suggest that the aircraft which repatriated Chang’s body back to Singapore was the same plane that crashed on 31 October 2000: “She [Chang] was flown back to Singapore on SQ 006 via Taipei� Exactly one year (31st October) later on her death anniversary, the plane crashed in Chang Kai Shek International Airport in Taipei.” The aircraft involved the accident, Boeing 747-412 9V-SPK, was delivered to SIA in January 1997, two years after the murder of Chang in Los Angeles.  It could not have been the same aircraft that repatriated Chang’s body back to Singapore.

   
In year 2002, Hong Kong released a ghost movie “The Stewardess”. The ghost of the air stewardess was also wearing red

     
The storyline consists of elements of affairs, murder, body dismembered, and the ghost returned for revenge
Such are typical stereotyped attributes for ghost story


Dressing in red color upon death has a certain influence in Chinese culture

The author of the story also claims that both Chang and her mother were dressed in red when Chang’s body was repatriated to Singapore. For this claim we can only rely on the author’s research.  Information of such nature is usually classified.  It is worth mentioning that there is a popular belief in Singapore that if a deceased was dressed red at the time her dead or burial, she would return to seek vengeance on those who caused her death.  The author had interestingly made special mention of this detail in the story.  Clearly the author did not just casually mention the colour of their dresses; he/she was writing to a readership that would understand its connotations when he/she continues the story to suggest that the crash of SQ006 may have been caused by supernatural forces:

The SQ 006 TPE/LAX sector was scheduled to leave TPE at 10:55pm. As there was an approaching typhoon, the SQ 006 Captain and his crew decided to board the plane and depart 15 minutes early. The Left 1 and Left 2 doors were not closed until 10:55pm (the original departure time). The reason was that, the number of passengers did not tally with the passenger lists in economy section. One of the junior stewardess counted 5 times and advised her colleague that she could not tally the passengers in the economy section. Both of them then counted the passenger again and confirmed an extra passenger in the cabin. When they recounted the passengers with the chief stewardess again, the number of passengers was correct. The junior stewardess advised her chief stewardess that one of the lady passenger sitting in 40A (front section of the economy class) was not there and they could not locate her in the lavatories either.

The flight received push-back clearance as scheduled. The two junior stewardesses were among the casualties in SQ 006 where none of the passengers in the front economy section survived the crash. The chief stewardess only suffered slight injuries as she was sitting in the business class section.

While preparing the flight for LAX ( Los Angeles ) in the business class section, one of the male in-flight supervisor who could “see things” happen, saw a lady flipping through the passenger list which was placed on one of the first class cabin table. As there were cleaners in the cabin, he did not shout at her but when he walked to the first class section, there were no signs of this lady. The male in-flight supervisor was among the survivors left unscratched in the crash as he was sitting in the back section of the economy class. This story was brought up during an investigative interview with the SQ 006 crew.

There was suspicion that the murder a year ago could have involved more than one person but it was not pursued further. It was believed that the (Eurasian guy, who was also a SIA steward) accomplices could have been in the SQ 006 flight. It was also understood that one of the male in-flight steward who died in this crash was a buddy of the Eurasian guy. The flight number was immediately changed after the interview.

Loop-holes of the Story

The main concern and key factor that influenced the flight’s departure time was the approaching Typhoon Xangsane, which was making it increasingly hazardous for aircraft taking off or landing at the airport.  The author of the story mentioned the typhoon and claimed that the pilot and flight crew had “decided to board the plane and depart 15 minutes early”.  Commercial flights can only be delayed and they do not leave before the scheduled departure time.  Imagine the chaos and confusion that it would cause to passengers and ground staff if a flight’s time of departure was determined solely by decisions made by the pilot and flight crew. 

The official findings and reports of the SQ006 crash did not mention changes to the flight’s scheduled time of departure due to discrepancies with the passenger list and a headcount of passengers by the flight crew.  If there were any discrepancy in the headcount would be reported immediately to the cockpit.  The cockpit voice recorder recovered after the crash did not contain any communication between the pilots in the cockpit and the flight crew over any inconsistency with the passenger list and the passenger count.

  
1. A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 in its normal livery.
The airline removed the tropical livery given to SPK’s sister ship after the disaster of SQ006 (Image source: Public Domain)
2. Artist’s rendition of 9V-SPK lined up with taxiway NC during Typhoon Xangsane (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
3. The wreckage of SQ006 (Image source: iasa.com.au)

According to the author of the story, the first half was told from the experiences of two junior stewardesses and a chief air stewardess just before the flight took off.  In the story, the two junior stewardesses did not survive the crash.  Of the four flight crew members who did not survive the crash two were flight stewardess, one however, was a Leading Stewardess, not a junior stewardess as the story had claimed.  The second half of the story claimed that the male in-flight supervisor could “see things” and prior to the accident, he saw something that was amiss on the plane; a “lady flipping through the passenger list” who was not supposed to be there.  The author implied that the in-flight supervisor may have seen a vision of a lady, possibly a vision of the flight stewardess murdered years earlier.  These were revealed, the story went, during an interview with the in-flight supervisor who “was among the survivors left unscratched in the crash” because he was seated “in the back section of the economy class”.  The official investigation reported that “Crew duty time, flight time, rest time and off-duty activity patterns did not indicate influence of pre-existing medical, behavioral, or physiological factors of the flight crew’s performance on the day of the incident. [1]”   All interviews with surviving members of the flight crew after the crash were primarily focused on the emergency evacuations procedure of the flight.  There was no account of an in-flight supervisor’s “visions” mentioned in the report.  Moreover, a SIA flight crew servicing a Boeing 747 is led by one in-flight supervisor.  During takeoff or landing, the in-flight supervisor usually takes his seat in the middle of the plane near the stairs leading to the upper deck, not at the rear of the plane in the economy class. And the in-flight supervisor on SQ006 on 31 October 2000 did not survive the accident. He could not have been interviewed by crash investigators.


Diagram of 9V-SPK illustrating crew and passenger seat locations:
0: Fatality (location unknown), 1: No injury, 2: Minor injury, 3: Serious injury, 4: Fatality, 5: Child on lap (fatality), 6: Fuselage break
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)


Diagram of Chiang Kai-shek International Airport and the taxi path of Singapore Airlines Flight 006.
The dotted green line indicates the correct path to Runway 05L.
The green arrow indicates the path to Runway 05R. The red path indicates the fatal takeoff path.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

SPI Separated the Truths and the Lies

The story contains a number of questionable points.  There are no links between the murder case in 1995 and the crash of flight SQ006 that can even be considered coincidental. The story was also based on interviews and survivor accounts that did not exist.  This is at best a fictional story with supernatural themes.  However, creating a fictional story based on two tragedies, not to mention one that is also rather recent, trivialises these painful events and diminishes the memory of the victims.  Of the two stewardesses who died in the accident, the Leading Stewardess survived the impact of the crash and returned into the plane wreckage to try and rescue survivors.  She did not return alive. Her family and friends have known her to be passionate about her career with SIA.  The in-flight supervisor of SQ006 who died in the accident also reacted heroically after the initial impact of the crash.  The official reports showed that he survived the impact of the crash and went up to the business class section on the upper deck to look for survivors.  He did not return from the plane wreckage.  The story claimed that in-flight supervisor survived the crash and was interviewed by crash investigators, ignoring his courageous act, sense of duty and responsibility.  Finally, the story reminds of the tragic death a SIA flight stewardess who was killed at a young age and on her maiden flight with the airlines in 1995.  It also mentions the release of her murderer in 2001 after serving a prison sentence in a medium security prison in the United States.  In a Singapore where convicted offenders of serious crimes are usually given stiff sentences, or in some cases the death penalty, some Singaporeans may find the release of Chang Yu’s murderer and his return to Singapore questionable. 

For families affected by the tragedy of these two traumatic events, their pain and loss is unimaginable.  While the story circulating on the Internet may help keep the tragedy of these two events in the public mind, it does not remember the victims and survivors in a deservingly manner.

References:

[1] Findings of the Aviation Safety Council, Taiwan, Republic of China after the investigations of the crash of flight SQ006.  This paper acknowledges that the ASC report was disputed by the Singapore authorities with regards to probable causes leading to the crash.

   
   
Some reference photos of an air stewardess in a hotel – she of course is not Chang Yu

Related News:
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/364835/

Possibly one of the original and earliest “sources” of the rumour posted:
Spooky revelations of SIA crash, posted 17th July 2001, 10:02
http://www.pprune.org/spectators-balcony-spotters-corner/35989-spooky-revelations-sia-crash.html

Photo Gallery of SQ006 Crash by Zaobao:
http://www.zaobao.com/special/sia/siacrash_photo.html