Posted by: Ticktock | October 29, 2010

PWR Podcast Ep. 33: Ben Radford

On the latest episode of Parenting Within Reason, we interviewed paranormal investigator and Skeptical Inquirer editor Ben Radford. If you’re a fan of mystery shows you may have seen him featured once or twice. Here are a few clips…

Ben spoke to us about the myth of razor blades in apples, and the statistical unlikelihood of sex offenders molesting little children on Halloween night.

For some reason, we’ve decided that Halloween is particularly dangerous when it’s actually relatively safe. The crossing guard at my daughter’s school encouraged me to come to the school-sponsored “Trunk or Treat”, which she described as a “safe” Halloween experience. I do think it’s well-intentioned and nice for our school to offer this service, but please don’t do it in the name of “safety”. Aren’t there more accurate reasons, like building community or having fun?

Also during the podcast, we were joined by our guest co-host, Blake Smith, co-host of Monster Talk, to discuss his paranormal experiences and monster expertise.  Blake mentioned a time when he was deployed overseas and experienced what he believed, at the time, to be a haunting. The most chilling event that occurred during this haunting was waking up to the sensation of someone sitting upon his chest only to turn on the light and discover that nobody was there. Many years later, Blake realized that he was actually experiencing hypnagogic “sleep paralysis”, which is a natural phenomenon that combines the hallucination of lucid dreaming with the paralysis of REM sleep. It feels very real and very intense. Here’s a little video about it…

I’ve actually experienced hypnagogic sleep paralysis on a few occasions. I usually wake up with a feeling of absolute helplessness because I can’t move my body, and then I imagine an intruder entering my room to murder me and my wife. On the few occasions that this has happened, I’ve been woken up by my wife who is annoyed that I’m mumbling like a jackass. Little did she know that a murderer was about to kill her and that I was powerless to stop it, or at least that’s what I believed during the hypnagogic episode. It’s very unpleasant.

I’ve also had an instance in college where I woke up with the sensation of floating above my own body. At the time, I attributed the experience as a metaphysical out-of-body-experience. The truth is that my semisomnambulant mind was acting according to natural neurological stimuli. Nothing supernatural at all, but try telling that to the hippie college version of me.

In the spirit of being honest about our “true believer” pasts, I’m wondering if any of you ever experienced mysterious phenomena that you couldn’t explain at the time. Please, do tell. Very interested to hear your stories.


  1. Hi
    I’ve had a couple of visions of “supernatural” entities – on one occasion an angelic figure slowly moving in the sky (seen by two other people at the same time) and on the other occasion I saw a dark figure on the neighbour’s garage roof, humanoid but inhuman looking. The latter occasion fit the hypnogogic experience quite well as my dog ‘woke’ me from sleep and I went outside and saw the figure. Quite possible I was half-dreaming. The other occasion is harder to explain, but suggestibility can be contagious under the right circumstances, so who knows? Alternatively there’s Michael Persinger’s idea of electromagnetic influences on human brains – perhaps my friends and I experience an intense localised electrical field which produced the anomaly.

    Or not. The Universe is a big place.

  2. Great podcast! I am presently catching up on MonsterTalk.

    I just had a sleep paralysis experience a few days ago. Even though I know about it, it is still really creepy.

    The weirdest one I remember was when I was eight and I finally kind of woke up from a very serious two week bout of flu. I literally felt a hand on my face to get me up… for years I thought it was the hand of God bringing me back from death (it was not a good time, my parent’s really worried… and the worst part was my beautiful long hair was a nasty knot on the back of my head and I had to get a short haircut!).

    I’m from a family of sleepwalkers, so some our growing up scares have to do with either being awakened while not in bed or finding a child wandering into your room.

    My brother has a story of dreaming where he saw a row of garbage cans and then heard a scream, and woke up to find himself standing at the far edge of our parent’s bed. My mother was sleeping, heard a sound, woke to see a shadow at the end of her bed, and screamed… it was my brother.

  3. I’ve experienced sleep paralysis but it doesn’t happen often anymore and not to the degree of the people in the video. I usually just awaken and can’t move. Then I try to wiggle my fingers and toes until the rest of my body catches up.

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