Professor Stephen Braude discussed his lifelong interest in the esoteric and shared a number of cases that feature particularly strong evidence of paranormal phenomena. He was critical of skeptics who point to weak cases as a means of dismissing the paranormal. "Of course there are weak cases, but they're irrelevant to this discussion," Braude declared, "what we want to analyze are those cases that are hardest to explain away."
One particularly strong case that Braude covered was the tale of a woman named Eusapia Palladino, "who had a large repertoire of phenomena." The Naples-based medium became so popular that, in 1908, the British Society for Psychical Research sent their "fraud squad" to investigate her and, ostensibly, debunk her paranormal abilities. Over the course of their investigation, the experts conducted 11 seances with Palladino and documented nearly 500 different phenomena. Braude noted that, following each session, the originally skeptical experts recorded their thoughts on the event and "you can read, as the seances progress, how their resistance to the phenomena begins to crumble."
Braude also shared the bizarre story of Pearl Curran, who allegedly channeled a woman from 17th century England named Patience Worth. Via her sessions, Curran, who had only an 8th grade eduction, received an astounding 28 volumes of written work, including novels, poems, and plays. Once, Curran was challenged to compose a poem where each line began with a different letter of the alphabet sequentially, Braude said, "there was a pause of a few seconds and the poem came out as quickly as the stenographer could write it down." Curran's compositions were made all the more remarkable because the works were written in a form of archaic Anglo-Saxon dialect which baffled contemporary literary experts who "had to work hard to trace down and find out they were legitimate words."
TSA & The Internet:
In the first hour, consumer privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht talked about the TSA's plan to block employees from viewing "controversial" websites. She expressed concern that since the TSA is a part of Homeland Security, their judgements on what is "controversial" could eventually lead to a deleterious effect for everyday citizens who visit these websites. Responding to the department's announced reversal of their plan, Albrecht credited awareness of the public as a key factor in forcing a change. "Once people speak out about it and they begin questioning and complaining, then you see these things roll back," she advised. While she dismissed the idea that the TSA plan is part of an overall plot to control the Internet, Albrecht observed that "there are many signposts that say we are definitely heading in that direction."