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The Haunted Universe by D. Scott Rogo

I picked up this book to read because I had recently learned that there is a journalist looking for clues in the murder of D. Scott Rogo and I suggested to her that there might be clues in Rogo’s owns writings that might point to who may have wanted him dead. Was he writing anything that might be considered threatening to any agency or organization? That was the question in my mind as I began to read.

In The Haunted Universe, Rogo starts off telling us how conservative he is and how he has learned how the mind can deceive. Too bad he doesn’t apply this principle to himself. But, I will come to that.

Rogo writes that, “To date, parapsychologists have only been concerned with the study of two groups of phenomena: extrasensory perception and psychokinesis.”

As he points out, this is a very limited outlook and one I have encountered myself in my years of research. In fact, it was very much my own attitude. I tell people that, of all the people on the planet who NEVER wanted to know anything about UFOs and alleged aliens, I deserve a place at the head of the line!

But when I was finally forced by events to take a look at the UFO phenomenon, I discovered as, apparently, Rogo did before me, that the whole field of UFOs is just churning with unbelievable psychic phenomena that includes apparitions, poltergeists, PK, ESP of various kinds including telepathy, clairaudience, clairvoyance, and so on. The UFO researcher who is not also well-versed in the field of parapsychology is actually only playing with half a deck.

At the same time, there are many paranormal events associated with alleged “religious” phenomena, and there is an intersection there, too, of UFOs!!

Rogo points out that only a few writers have ever written about all of these things together and other than rather dry and boring experiments that are repetitious and not very useful, today’s respectable parapsychologists would rather jump off a cliff than discuss such things as the Fatima miracles, UFOs, and so on. From an outcast group that has only recently managed to acquire some respectability, parapsychologists have become even more rigid than any other group of academicians.

Rogo covers the “multiple realities” ideas in a casual, anecdotal way and presents some interesting cases that raise very important questions about teleportation of both objects and human beings. Of course, his conclusion is that it is all being done by the minds of the victims. I used to entertain such ideas myself (under the influence of parapsychology, I should add.)

Rogo tells us quite assertively: “It is my own belief that if these accounts of mysterious transportations of objects and the human body are genuine, they represent some form of poltergeist activity.”

He then goes on to discuss hyperdimensional realities as a sort of “transportation system”.

What I’m suggesting is that all of these oddities represent a transportation system. And like any other system, things are bound to go wrong every once in a while!

“The concept of instantly transporting objects and people via teleportation through some sort of “hyper-dimension” is certainly not mere science fiction. Strange disappearances and psychic phenomena indicate the reality of apportation, and it is a concept that has intrigued scientists and world governments alike.

Rogo then writes a rather odd paragraph:

There are a number of people who have some acquaintance with our field and who come up with intriguing though totally irrational delusions that our military and government are secretly conducting experiments into the paranormal or are nefariously covering up strange discoveries. I’m not what one would call a paranoid-tripper, but my skepticism did become a little shaky as the result of an encounter reported with relish by Ivan Sanderson. Sanderson was once talking to Pentagon officials about UFOs, as part of a regular briefing session. Although the conversation was not top secret, it was obviously confidential. Sanderson, who was always a gutsy sort of person, decided to stretch the conversation as far as he could and asked the officials if he could talk to any scientists experimenting with “teleportation.” Why he thought such experiments were going on is somewhat of a mystery itself, but even he was shocked at the response; all hell broke loose. One top official screamed, “We don’t mention that subject.” He asserted that he didn’t know anything about it, yet another official paradoxically concluded, “Anyhow, we don’t call it teleportation anymore; we call it ITF.” For the uninitiated, ITF stand for Instantaneous TransFerence. So obviously something was up!

Too bad Rogo didn’t follow that line of thinking – or, conversely, maybe he unfortunately did follow it later and that’s why he was killed. In any event, most of the rest of this book is his attempt to “paranormalize” just about anything strange that ever happens on the planet… it’s all about ESP and PK to one extent or another. There is, to his mind, no phenomenon that cannot be explained in these terms. And boy, does he perform some backflips to do it!

His next subject is so called “Forteana” such as mysterious falls of different objects and objects found in “impossible places.” As he points out (and again, I’ve experienced this myself), those interested in Fortean phenomena do not seem to be very knowledgeable about psychic phenomena just as those that research UFOs are similarly ignorant of psychic phenomena and the religious phenomena connection to UFOs and vice versa and so on.

And again, his solution for the problem of strange rains of frogs, blood, flesh, metal, cylinders, peas, beans, “angel hair,” and whatever else is… poltergeist activity. (Keep in mind that his definition of “poltergeist” is basically PK that is being uncontrollably manifested by some human in the vicinity.)

Regarding OOPARTS (out of place artifacts), Rogo quotes Ivan Sanderson’s three possible explanations: 1) ancient, advanced civilization; 2) teleportation; 3) ancient ET visits left them there.

Rogo smugly tells us that Sanderson easily disposed of hypothesis #1 “on the basis of inherent improbability” (!) and Rogo doesn’t like the “ancient ET visitors” theory, but doesn’t give us any rationale for dismissing it, and turns instead to hypothesis #2 and expands it to… you guessed it, “poltergeist type activity.”

Rogo then begins to cover religious “miracles” as poltergeist activity, (manifested by groups, also, such as the Fatima miracles).

Now, as it happens, I agree with Rogo on his explanations for quite a few of the examples he uses:

Bleeding religious objects are in themselves not miraculous. They are not caused by the will of God superseding physical laws. Instead we can better understand them as psychic effects. […] Additional evidence that what we call miracles are actually collective psychic projections can be witness by anyone willing to travel to Naples to see ‘the Miracle of St. Januarius. […]

The miracle was first reported in the fourteenth century, and it is hard to believe that it could have been perpetrated by so many different clergymen over a period of 500 years! … Some psychic field is affecting the blood which regulates when it liquefies and when it hardens. On the other hand, another likely explanation could be that the act of veneration and celebration by the crowds of the devout projects a collective psychic force that acts on the vial [of blood].

Rogo takes us through a few more fascinating cases and generally does a pretty good job of explaining them, and then marches on to UFOs that have often been associated with religious mania. This is where the weakness in his arguments begin to show.

Because, certainly the hyperdimensional explanation is the correct one, but it is not that everything is “created” by the minds (PK) of the humans involved, but rather that their emotional energies may be being used by “something on the other side of that curtain” as a portal by which to enter this reality.

Rogo writes: “People in an emotional and religious frame of mind are likely to create almost anything. There seems to be a definite relationship between these lights and crowd activities.”

This proposal fails because it is clear that it is not the crowd that is creating, but rather the crowd is being used.

Why do I say this?

“Don’t forget the power of prayer,” we are told by our religious leaders, or “positive thinking,” as the New Age gurus tell us. The only problem is, prayers and positive thinking do not seem to have improved the world very much on the occasions when it is certain that nearly every human being was praying for a certain outcome. Jesus promised: “If any two of you shall agree and ask… it shall be done.” (Matt 18:19) That’s a promise. What do you want or need? Just ask!

But it doesn’t work and we see it!

Over sixty million people died because God didn’t do what everybody thought he should do. C.S. Lewis struggled with this issue in the latter part of his life. He saw clearly that, before World War II, practically every human being on the planet was praying – to Jesus, God the Father, the Virgin Mary, Allah, Buddha and whoever else you can name or mention, so all the bases were covered – that this terrible thing would not happen. The memory of the previous “Great War” was still fresh in the mind of mankind. They remembered the horrible carnage and vowed, never again!

In the end, after the mightiest cry of prayer in human memory, rising from the earth, almost one-third of the world was uninhabitable and sixty-five million human beings were dead. Are we to think that this was God’s answer to prayer? It certainly doesn’t give us much hope for the “power of positive thinking” and this is the “power of the poltergeist” that Rogo is proposing as a solution to the UFO problem.

There are way too many contradictory arguments and illogical leaps of assumption to list them all, but I do want to mention one as an example.

As noted above, Rogo announced at the beginning that he was conservative and the reason was that he knew how the mind could be deceived. Well, he goes along debunking just about everybody’s experiences as them being deceived by their minds, even when there is physical evidence! The physical evidence is, of course, to Rogo merely evidence of PK! But, when Rogo or one of his personal friends has a strange experience, all of a sudden, it is quite real and valid and nobody is being deceived!

First he describes the experience of his friend, Raymond Bayless who tells a story about coming home when he was a boy.

In 1938 I experienced an unusual and frightening adventure along with my brother. Our family was living in Denver. We had arrived home one evening only to find no one there. I remained downstairs after entering the house, while my brother went upstairs. At this time, I suddenly realized that something hideous and evil was in the house. There was no logical reason for my receiving this impression, it was a totally spontaneous impression. This impression was so forceful and disturbing that I could not help but run out the back door to escape outside. As I ran, I almost collided with my brother. He was bolting downstairs and was also heading for the door! Outside at last, we compared notes. To my surprise, my brother told me that while upstairs he had been overpowered by the horrible feelings that there was something evil in the house. He, too, had had the urge to run from the house in order to escape from it. Even to this day, I have no explanation to account for this strange experience. Suffice it to say that no normal explanation can account for the fact that both my brother and myself ha identical impressions while in different parts of the house. (Raymond Bayless quoted by Rogo)

Now, what does Rogo do with this after 138 pages of debunking everything that ever happened to everyone else as being PK that manifests out of subconscious conflicts? Well, he sets about confirming that this is evidence for the existence of EVIL!!!

I think we have to conclude that Raymond Bayless actually did confront something evil, something from which he knew he must escape. This loathsome thing was only ephemeral, however. When the Bayless brothers ventured to reenter the house later that evening, its atmosphere was perfectly normal.

He then goes on to tell his own similar story after which he concludes:

Never in my life have I ever had a similar experience. Nor can it be argued that I merely “suggested” the reaction because I knew the house was haunted. That explanation is sheer nonsense since I had lived in the house for two years without ever experiencing anything like that before. … Sometimes this type of evil does not invade or seek to possess some weak mortal, but instead permeates an entire area. The evil becomes affixed to a certain location in space, just as a haunting does.

Now, notice how easily he dismisses the idea that HE might be suggestible! And yet, that is exactly what he says about virtually everyone else when the issue of UFOs are involved, no matter what the other circumstances, the evidence, testimony of multiple witnesses, etc. (You should read what he does with the Pascagoula case and Travis Walton!)

It is this last bit that actually exposed Rogo to me as one who “prestidigitates” the data. Notice his mention of the idea of evil being able to “haunt” a specific area.

Rogo describes an experience that John Keel wrote about where he realized that there are “zones of negative energy” and then he goes on to a most interesting reference to the work of Tom Lethbridge. Rogo writes:

As Lethbridge explains in his book, Ghost and Divining Rod, he and his wife were collecting seaweed at Lodram Bay to use as compost. While on their little expedition, they discovered a specific areas on the beach which caused them to lapse into a deep depression and fear.

‘I can’t stand this place any longer,’ exclaimed his wife. ‘I think there something frightful here.’ Each of the two beach combers had independently had the same oppressive feeling in the area, and they hurriedly fled from the scene.

“The next week, the Lethbridges returned to the beach in order to further explore the eerie zone. They found it with little difficulty and discovered that the intense feelings they experienced there seemed to focus around a small stream that ran onto the beach. Lightbridge’s wife couldn’t stand the feeling the area generated, so she wandered off and hiked up a hill. But the evil even followed her there. As she mounted a cliff to look over the terrain below, something invisible but intensely powerful tried to force her to jump off.

That’s all Rogo tells us about the Lethbridge experience. He then compares it to Keel’s, and, by default, his own and recounts a couple more examples to bolster his point. He then goes on to write:

What was the force that attacked the Le Leaus and Mrs. Bartell, which confronted the Bayless brothers, and over whose depraved domain Keel and the Lethbridges trespassed? There is no doubt in my mind that these cases all but prove that evil can become a concrete psychic force in the world. In fact, I believe that there might actually be two kinds of evil forces that can haunt us. First, some totally independent evil force may exist in the world… a primordial evil that compulsively seeks to destroy. There might also be an evil force lurking within our own minds…

Now, what is wrong with this picture?

Well, I would like to present an ACCURATE account of the Lethbridge experience. This is important because it will reveal how Rogo has manipulated the facts and avoided valuable data that lead to other explanations for many of the things dismissed or misinterpreted by Rogo. Because, it is clear that he WAS familiar with the work of Tom Lethbridge.

Tom C. Lethbridge, was Director of Excavations for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society and Director of the University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He had absolutely no interest in psychical research until after he had retired. In the early 1930’s, he and another archaeologist were looking for Viking graves on the Isle of Lundy in the Bristol Channel. After finding what they came for, they were just killing time while waiting for a ferry and decided to try some experiments with dowsing, which had been an interest of Lethbridge for some time. Lundy Island is crisscrossed with seams of volcanic rock that extrude through the slate, and Lethbridge wanted to see if dowsing would locate them. So, he had his friend blindfold him and lead him about with a forked hazel stick. Every time he passed over a volcanic seam, the hazel fork twisted violently in his hands. The friend was carrying a very sensitive magnetometer and was able to immediately verify that Lethbridge had accurately located the volcanic seams of rock.

Lethbridge realized that, like running water, volcanic rock has a faint magnetic field. He had written about dowsing earlier, “Most people can dowse, if they know how to do it. If they cannot do it, there is probably some fault in the electrical system of their bodies.”

Lethbridge’s success with finding volcanic rock started him off on his investigations into other realms. Hidden objects could not stay hidden when Lethbridge was wandering around with his rods, twigs or pendulum. There didn’t seem to be any limits to what could be detected this way. He had proved to his complete satisfaction not only that dowsing worked, but that it was “mind stuff” – the rod or pendulum was connected to the mind of the person holding it in some way.

Tom Lethbridge’s results proved to be not only accurate but also repeatable, and he found the responses appeared to be governed by vibrations of various wavelengths. The wavelength of water, for instance, was different to that of metal. His principal instrument became the pendulum, and he found a lot depended on the length of the pendulum’s cord. He was able to test not only for minerals but abstract things and qualities like anger, death, deceit, sleep, colors, male, and female. In a lengthy series of trial and error experiments, he created a table of very precise measurements showing, for example, that a 22-inch length would reveal the existence of silver or lead, while iron demanded a 32-inch stretch, but sulphur a mere 7 inches. Stranger still, though, the pendulum would react to different emotions and attributes, with a different length for feminine (29″) and masculine (24″) objects, including human or animal remains. The details of his experiments are utterly fascinating. This open-minded and extremely literate man was aware that many people would regard his methods and findings with suspicion. He once wrote:

“It is impossible for it to be imaginary. If you can use a pendulum to work out within an inch or two exactly where something lies hidden beneath undisturbed turf, and do this in front of witnesses, and then go to the spot which the pendulum has indicated and take off the turf, dig up the soil beneath and find the object. If you can do this same operation again and again and almost always succeed, this cannot be imagination, delusion, or any of those things. It is scientific experiment, however crude it may be.”

Lethbridge found himself confronted with a very strange world – “far stranger I feel than anything produced by physics, botany or biology” – , and he wrote of millions of cones of force surrounding each of us in our homes and backyards which can be contacted instantly by something in our own “energy field.” It was much more difficult to comprehend than molecules, atoms and electrons, he said, because we had been brought up to take these for granted.

Where does the power to work a pendulum come from? Lethbridge thought that it might be something invisible and intangible, a part of us, which knows far more than we do. Is it mind or soul? Some sort of electromagnetic or psyche field? Something linked to a higher dimension? He agonized over this and admitted he wasn’t wise enough to come to any definite conclusion, apart from the thought that ancient man knew far more about it than we do today.

In 1957, Lethbridge left Cambridge in disgust at the narrow-minded attitudes of the scholars there. During his retirement, he continued his experiments and wrote a number of excellent books that form a collection that has been called one of the most fascinating records of paranormal research ever compiled. In recent years, Lethbridge is finally beginning to be fully appreciated. Combining the skills of a scientist with a completely open mind, he conducted a series of experiments that convinced him of the existence of hyperdimensional realms that interact dynamically with our own. Colin Wilson called him a man whose gifts were far ahead of his time and credited him with one of the most remarkable and original minds in parapsychology. I agree most heartily and highly recommend his work to the reader. Over the past ten years or more, Lethbridge’s work has served me and my physicist husband as a platform for many fruitful speculations and experiments about hyperdimensional realities.

In Cambridge, Lethbridge and wife moved into Hole House, an old Tudor mansion on the south coast of Devon. Next door to him lived a little old white-haired lady who assured Lethbridge that she could put spells on people who annoyed her and that she was able to travel out of her body at night and wander around the district. She explained that if she wanted to discourage unwanted visitors, she had only to visualize a five-pointed star in the path of the individual and they would stay away. Lethbridge, of course, was skeptical.

But, being an experimenter, Lethbridge was trying the visualization one evening while lying in bed. That night, his wife awakened with the feeling that somebody else was in the room. She could see a faint glow of light at the foot of the bed, which slowly faded. The next day the old lady came to see them and told them that she had come to “visit” them the previous night and had found the bed surrounded by triangles of fire.

Leaving aside whether or not we can prove this story to be anything more than a subjective experience, there are two important points we would like to make. The first one is that somehow, this practice of “visualizing pentagrams” seems to have a causal relationship to the appearance of the old woman in Lethbridge’s bedroom. It was almost as though the practice “attracted” the visitor, possibly even inspiring the wish or compulsion to visit. The second is that the visualized pentagrams appeared as triangles of fire. Theories of how of hyperdimensional objects might appear in fourth dimensional space-time, or how four dimensional objects might appear in three dimensional space time, in mathematical terms, lends a modicum of credibility to this story. If the old woman had seen fiery pentagrams, we would not take such notice of the event. That a pentagon in our world might appear as a triangle in another realm suggests something very mysterious here.

Several years later, the old lady told Lethbridge that she was going to put a spell on the cattle of a farmer with whom she was quarreling. At this point, Lethbridge took her seriously and warned her about the dangers of practicing magic. She ignored him, and one day not long after declaring her intentions, she was found dead in her bed under mysterious circumstances. As it happened, the cattle of two other nearby farmers did get hoof and mouth disease, but the cattle of the farmer with whom the old lady was quarreling were unaffected. Lethbridge was convinced that the “spell” had rebounded on the old lady in some way. But, it was this event that led to an important insight for us here, which is why we have recounted the story.

Sometime after the old woman’s death, Lethbridge was passing her cottage and suddenly experienced a “nasty feeling,” a “suffocating sense of depression.” His curiosity aroused, Lethbridge walked around the cottage and discovered a most interesting thing: he could step into and out of the “depression” just as if it were some kind of invisibly defined “locus.”

This reminded Lethbridge of a similar experience he had had when walking with his mother as a teenager. It was in the Great Wood near Wokingham, on a nice morning, when suddenly the two of them experienced a “horrible feeling of gloom and depression, which crept upon us like a blanket of fog over the surface of the sea.” They left in a hurry and only later discovered that the corpse of a suicide had been discovered lying just a few yards from where they had been standing.

Some years later, Lethbridge and his wife went to the seashore to collect seaweed for their garden. As he walked on the beach, he again experienced the sense of depression, gloom and fear descending on him. Resisting this influence, Lethbridge and his wife began to fill their sacks with seaweed. After a very short period of this activity, Lethbridge’s wife, Mina, came running up to him demanding that they leave saying, “I can’t stand this place a minute longer. There’s something frightful here.”

In a discussion about the phenomenon with Mina’s brother the following day, the brother mentioned that he had experienced something very similar in a field near Avebury, in Wiltshire. When he said the word “field,” it clicked in Lethbridge’s mind and he remembered that field telephones often short circuit in warm, muggy weather. “What was the weather like?” he asked.

“Warm and damp,” replied the brother.

Right there, the idea began to shape itself in Lethbridge’s mind. Water. On the day he had been in the Great Wood, it had been warm and damp. When they had been at the beach gathering seaweed, it had likewise been warm and damp. Experiment was obviously in order!

The next weekend, Lethbridge and his wife again visited the bay. Again, as they stepped onto the beach, the same bank of depression and gloom enveloped them. Mina led him to the spot where she had experienced such an overwhelming sensation that she had insisted on leaving the place. At that spot, the sensation was so powerful that they actually felt dizzy. Lethbridge described it as being similar to having a high fever and full of drugs. As it happened, on either side of this spot were two streams of water.

Mina went off to the cliff to look at the scenery and suddenly walked into the “depression” again. She actually had the sensation that something or someone was urging her to jump off the cliff! When she had brought it to the attention of Lethbridge, he agreed that this spot was as “sinister” as the spot on the beach between the streams.

As it turned out, nine years later, a man did commit suicide from that exact spot. Lethbridge wondered if there was some sort of “timeless” sensation that had been “imprinted” on the area via some sort of “recording” principle. It seemed that, whether from the past or the future, feelings of despair were somehow recorded on the surroundings, in the very atmosphere, it seemed. The only question was, how? Lethbridge believed that the key was water.

According to Lethbridge, hints were provided by the work of Y. Rocard of the Sorbonne, who had discovered that underground water produces changes in the earth’s magnetic field, and this was proposed as the solution as to why dowsing works. The water does this because it has a field of its own which interacts with the earth’s field. And most significantly to us here is that magnetic fields are the means by which sound is recorded on tape covered with iron oxide. This suggested to Lethbridge that the magnetic field produced by running water could record strong emotions that, as Lethbridge also noted, produce electrical activity in the human physiology. Such fields could be “played back” continuously, and amplified in damp and muggy weather.

This would explain why these “areas of depression” seem to form invisible walls. If you bring a magnet closer and closer to an iron object, you notice that at a certain point, the object is “seized” by the magnet as it enters the force field.

Lethbridge’s experiments took a new turn at this point, and led to evidence that many things that are perceived as “hauntings” or “ghosts” are really just “recordings.” At some point he thought about the fact that ghosts are often reported to reappear on certain “anniversaries” which suggests that there are other cyclical currents that turn such recordings on or off or simply amplify them.

Getting back to The Haunted Universe, earlier in his book, Rogo talks about a religious relic that had strange properties. His explanation was:

In this respect the object is acting like a miniature haunted house. A haunting is set up when a tragedy and the strong emotions accompanying it contaminate a house, church, or other structure. These emotions somehow are ingrained into the structure and periodically cause the scenes of the disaster to replay themselves. Apparitions are seen, footsteps are heard, and phantom dramas are reenacted. It is as though a motion picture of the events had been projected onto the atmosphere. Sometimes these residues even have physical side effects. I once stayed in a haunted house during which time the bed in which I slept was shaken every night for about a week.

Two important points to note about the above paragraph: first of all, Rogo excuses himself from the definitely poltergeistic type activity of the bed in which he was sleeping. It had nothing to do with HIM! But more important, what he writes reveals that he knew a lot more about the Lethbridge ideas than he let on.

So why did he twist an obvious scientific conclusion that negative energies could be manifestations of electrical energies, or even recordings into some hocus pocus about evil?

I guess we’ll never know. But having discovered this twist in Rogo’s thinking, put together with his other illogical assumptions and leaps, I don’t think I trust much of what he writes at all.

Have to give him two stars for trying, but he loses points for obfuscation of evidence and subjective thinking.

Originally Published 2007_05_06