The Sleeping Prophet of Willow Bunch

In the Saturday, June 13th, edition of the Star Phoenix the entire front page was dedicated in to an eccentric group, recently arrived from British Columbia. What made this group so unusual, is that it is headed by a self proclaimed prophet named Alan Patterson, also known as Alan Harmony. Alan Patterson is the project manager of a group called the Pacific Way Foundation. This group seems to be formed around Patterson’s belief that dreams can predict the future. Patterson even claims that he dreamed about moving to Saskatchewan. Talk about a self fulfilling prophecy!

Patterson has other motives for this move; he believes that all of Vancouver, and possibly the entire West Coast, will sink into the ocean within the next 10 years. How does he know this? It was revealed to him in a dream. All of this is reported credulously in the Star Phoenix. There was no attempt to verify or even dig a little deeper into Patterson’s a.k.a. Harmony’s claims.

Alan Patterson has bought the Willow Bunch school and is planning on turning it into an Academy dedicated to teaching the public on how to decipher their dreams. Dream interpretation is a large and varied class of nonsense. A simple Google search can turn up many so-called dream dictionaries. The images found in dreams are supposed to have a hidden meaning, and by looking them up in the dictionary, the dream can be understood.

I am one of the lucky ones who can remember many of my dreams. I’ve tried looking up some of the images that appeared in my dreams, mainly musical notations. I was informed that a seeing either a sharp or flat makes a difference between a positive or negative outcome. I wonder if the authors of the dream dictionary are aware of enharmonic notes. In Western musical theory a D sharp is the equivalent (the same pitch) as an E Flat. As it happened, I was studying musical theory before going to sleep. Is that not a far more likely explanation for the appearance of musical notation in my dreams? Dreams are the swirling detritus floating around in our subconscious. The images and people that appear are very personal to the dreamer, and another person is not likely to have any more insight than a dreamer herself. That being said, having dreams that can be recalled is a lot of fun, and I consider myself lucky to remember the dreams that I do.

Alan Patterson is styling himself after Edgar Casey, the so-called Sleeping Prophet, who would descend into a trance and spew out prophecies. Edgar Casey was spectacularly wrong about many things. Within 10 years we will know if Alan Patterson is wrong about Vancouver falling into the ocean. I am not holding my breath. Patterson has made other prophecies which he did not share with the reporter. I am sure we will hear of them after the event takes place.

One of his other concerns, other than Vancouver falling into the ocean, is the possibility of asteroid or comet impact. His foundation does advocate taking steps to mitigate this possibility, which is admirable, but these steps are not spelled out. His concern about near Earth objects has less to do with the state of the scientific survey of the sky, and more to do with prophetic dreams. I too have had a dream about an asteroid impacting the earth, but I would hardly call this a prophetic dream unless predicting the sun will rise tomorrow is also considered a worthy prophecy.

Even stranger is a book entitled “Orwell’s 1984 revisited”; this book argues that this work of fiction contained a prophecy. One of his main lines of evidence for this is, and I quote, “The main province of Orwell’s Oceania had a population of 300 million. In October, 2006, The day United States of America reached that number: coincidence?”. Let me answer that. YES. In this case it is not even a very striking coincidence. Orwell’s fictional Oceana included the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Clearly the US is only part of the whole, and I might add, the story takes place in Great Britain. Patterson also claims that “1984” predicted the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. “1984” was published in back in 1949 and it would have been nice to know about the attack before the events of September 11. 2001. What was Alan Patterson doing when he could have saved countless lives? He had decades to warn people! By some strange coincidence I had recently reread “1984”, and I do not remember the part about hijacked planes flying into commercial buildings. “1984” does seem to anticipate the brutal repressive regime of North Korea, but then “1984” was meant to be a warning.

Patterson’s book advocates self defence without involving the authorities, and even names the enemy. Who is the enemy? I cannot tell you as I would have to spend $24 to buy the book.

I was browsing the Pacific Ways Foundations website when I found an even more disturbing article on research into possible treatments for HIV and diabetes. The Pacific Ways Foundation has allegedly funded a study treating AIDS and diabetes with a single herb. These two diseases do not resemble each other in either their causes or their treatments; it is highly unlikely that any substance would be found that would treat both of them. What is this miracle medicine? A West African herb that was seen in the dream by a man who cannot remember its name. I used the word “allegedly” because if this were truly happening it would be highly unethical and illegal. Before a researcher has the privilege and permission to experiment on human beings, he or she must first show results in a test tube and an animal model. No sane university will allow a study with human subjects based on a dream. Patterson anticipated that sceptics would be, well, sceptical. As proof he appeals to Edgar Casey’s terrible track record for predictions. Patterson, of course, describes Edgar Casey as being 100% accurate. What is extremely disturbing is that this “research” is directed at and for Africans. HIV is a serious problem in Africa, mainly due to lack of medication, and good health information. This continent does not need a useless treatment that somebody came up with while asleep. I am not sure why diabetes has also been singled out, but telling insulin-dependent diabetics that this dream therapy is better then insulin can get very fatal, very fast. Check out the brochure; it is an abomination. I hope that if this study is going on, it is not being conducted in the sloppy unethical manner described in the pamphlet.

A keeping a dream diary writing down your dreams is harmless fun, but if you start to take it seriously, dreadful consequences can occur. Imagine the stress if you truly believed the Vancouver would be destroyed with all its inhabitants. Or image the damage that could be done if invented medicines were offered for deadly conditions. I think the Star Phoenix did a terrible job of reporting this story. What happened to the investigation part of journalism?

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6 Responses to “The Sleeping Prophet of Willow Bunch”

  1. You appear to worship the gods of your own opinion, not truth or facts. Your article has very few facts, and it really lacks credibility (plus your grammar and spelling are less than first class).

    In case you didn’t know the man you impugn has publicly provided the means to silence him in his third video on epiphanies.blip.tv … obviously you lack the contacts, resources and intelligence to do that. (Reporters cannot usually get those kind of funds or time either so it has to be left to the likes of skeptics.) So if you can only offer potshots from the sidelines realize that you have already lost. He got press. You wouldn’t with such weak editorializing and journalism. Maybe you can get press by successfully proving that no objects exist 20 years out at the end of the Big Dipper that threaten our world… that would really silence him far better than your opinions.

    Maybe you can learn to check your facts too. Are we to believe that references to Edgar Casey are actually to Edgar Cayce? You make allegations that he has failed or misrepresented facts. Yet you have zero facts to support your opinions. So when can we expect skeptics to adhere to the same stringent rules of producing facts instead of opinion?

    Seeing you know so little about the subject you think is beneath you maybe you can explain the dream-based sequences of Deep Impact, Star Wars and Armageddon (he didn’t write those and people who did used their dreams). Do let us know.

    Are you aiming to be the Einstein of skepticism making yourself look like a semi-literate halfwit in the meantime or is he the Einstein of practical dream use? Proof of any one of his foreseen events will leave you to grovel and snivel for as long as your trashy opinions stay posted. So be an adult, prove your case with facts, prove that skeptics do credible investigation and offer more than inane opinionated diatribes.

    • koinosuke Says:

      The resources i had to go on has the writings of Alan Harmony the man himself. If evidence to his claims is to be found this is where it will be. I didn’t find anything that approached well documented proof. Produce the evidence, because he own web site is lacking.

      I am a little confused about your remark on proving that no astronomical objects could threaten us. I never made that claim. An asteroid impacting the earth is an absolute certainty it is bound to happen. Since the event is going to happen no matter what, how is that a prophecy?

      I should have made this point more clear I will change the text/

      I didn’t know the movies Deep Impact, Armageddon, and Star Wars were inspired by dreams. I am not surprised; lots of artistic and scientific endeavors were. My point is that this is a far cry from predicting the future via dreams.

      So Edgar Casey who is described as a prophet and an healer is not the same man as Edgar Cayce an alleged prophet and healer? OK I’ll look in to it. In my defense that was an easy mistake to make.

    • dglas26 Says:

      DavidMabus? Is that you? 😀

    • dglas26 Says:

      The Meaninglessness of Bluster
      That’s quite an impressive barrage of bluster. Sadly amongst none of it is there any evidence to support the extraordinary claim made by Mr. Patterson that he has some reliable means to prognosticate with any accuracy any specific future events. You exhibit a spectacular inability to remain on-topic. The reference you make to “epiphanies.blip.tv” provides no material specific to Mr. Patterson or his “foundation.” Perhaps you would be willing to provide a more specific link that will actually provide some information which could be examined by the general public, including skeptics.

      Extraordinary Claims
      Given that the man is attempting to gain the confidence and hard-earned money of people with his extraordinary claims, it is perfectly reasonable to ask if the quality of the product is worth spending money on. It is perfectly reasonable to ask if he can do what he claims he can do. The public should have some verification that the man’s methods, if there are any, will provide information reliable enough to warrant spending significant personal or societal resources in responding to it. The burden of proof lies with Mr. Patterson to prove his claimed ability. Claims of links to supernatural powers and resources are many and various, all of which require evidence before we invest, let alone heavily invest, in it. Why should we spend money on this unverified claim?

      Kick the tires before buying the used car.

      Edgar Cayce or Edgar Casey (What does the Pacific Foundation refer to?)
      A simple Google search reveals that references to Edgar Cayce, in that spelling, are explicitly made in the Pacific Way Foundation’s online material. It would seem a reasonable conclusion that this is the person the Foundation refers to, since he it is who the “foundation” claims to refer to. Are we to assume the Pacific Way Foundation is not even aware of its own references? So, if your claim is that the Pacific Way is not referring to Edgar Cayce, then the evidence begs to differ. That, in case you didn’t notice, is a polite way of saying you are lying through your teeth. You are clutching rather embarrassingly at straws here, sir, and it is hardly even sporting to display your failure. Given the choice between your poorly written bluster and the evidence, I think I shall go with the evidence.

      The Google-Fu is, apparently, NOT strong in this one.

      Spectacularly Uninteresting Predictions
      To predict that there will be seismic activity along a known fault line with a history of seismic activity is hardly an impressive example of prophetic revelation. In fact, it is laughably absurd to claim special supernatural access on the basis of that. I would not attempt to get the public to give me significant amounts of money for predicting it will snow sometime in Saskatoon in the remote future. In this regard I, and other skeptics, are adhering to our own stringent rules – by not making outrageous claims to special divine access without some evidence to back them up – by not claiming to have prophetic supernatural vision until there is actually some solid, verifiable reason for believing we do. Bluster and delusions of grandeur do not evidence make.

      The probability of Mr. Patterson winning the grand prize in the lotto-649 with one ticket each in each of the next, say, three consecutive drawings are so spectacularly low that I would be willing to accept his doing so as evidence of some ability that warrants consideration. Dare to dream, Mr. Patterson. Dare to dream. For that matter, the James Randi Education Foundation provides a one million dollar prize for exhibiting an extraordinary ability under scientific controls. I look forward to Mr. Patterson taking up the million dollar challenge, if he has sufficient confidence in his special ability to do so. If he does have this ability, the JREF has indicated an intense interest in verifying it and it would certainly be worth a mere million dollars to do so.

      Vague predictions with vague time-lines and vague means of determining their accuracy are not interesting. That’s the stuff of horoscopes. We need specific predictions with specific, near future, deadlines with specific means of determining whether the predictions have come true. No “interpretations” permitted; otherwise one is relying on confirmation bias to make people piece interpretations together the way you want them to. We need precise, reproducible evidence prior to investing a staggering amount of society’s resources, like moving the entire population of the west coast inland for example.

      This man wishes us to believe he can predict important events, just as so many other miscellaneous, anonymous charlatans do, but the embarrassing questions still remain. Where was he prior to 9/11 with his prognostication? Where was he prior to Columbine? Why hasn’t he cleaned up on the stock market? Accurately predicting the future can be an extremely profitable business without any need for selling any books making claims with no evidence. If he must sell books, then a few precise and verified predictions will do wonders for sales.

      Fiction as a Basis of Foundation of Profound Access to Knowledge
      You are demanding that we explain the dream-based sequences in Deep Impact, Star Wars and Armageddon? I think it would be wise to clarify to what you refer. You are speaking of works of fiction, right? You are referring to the movies with the titles “Deep Impact,” “Star Wars” and “Armageddon”, right? You are suggesting that perhaps the plot contrivances of works of fiction are evidence of some profound real life connection to supernatural revelation? Perhaps in the realms of fiction they are fictional evidence, sir. In the real world, they indicate writers of fiction working at word processors using plot devices to create works of fiction. These are works of entertainment. It is depressingly astonishing that anyone needs to be told this. There is a reason we call it fiction, sir.

      Practical Dream Use (for Predictive Power)
      Show us; don’t tell us. It will take more than one correct prediction to override mere chance. Even Sylvia Browne chanced to get some things right, but only enough to delude the credulous. We should hope at the very least that he can do better than a dog pissing randomly on a Ouija board.

      Should you choose to respond, remember this: if you wish to be treated with respect and courtesy, treat others with respect and courtesy. Is that clear enough that even you understand it?

  2. koinosuke Says:

    Blimey dglas! I think that’s everything that needs to be said, and then some.

    I did check out epiphanies.blip.tv: not impressed. A volcano somewhere will erupt at some point in the future? Astonishing. How specific.

    What I found truly appalling was the forth video in the series where Patterson/Harmony has the audacity to blame the victims of the tsunami for failing to leave the area ahead of time.

    I stand by my criticisms of this man.

  3. I usually scan your blog admin try to discover it quite fascinating. Thought it had been about time i show you , Sustain the extremely fantastic work

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