Dr. Tyler Kokjohn, Jeff Ritzmann and Jeremy Vaeni – Project Core

The most important connection we have to examining the paranormal are the witnesses. For too long, researchers have concentrated on how testimony can fit in to preconceived notions of anomalous abduction episodes, psychic occurrences, and ghost sightings. Fields of inquiry are neatly divided into UFOs, cryptozoology, paraspychology, and ghost hunting.

The aim of  Project Core is to do away with strict categorization and let witnesses tell their stories without filtering. People who experience apparent entity visitations often report psychic episodes, strange animals, poltergeist phenomena and many other weird events, and the project’s anonymous online reporting format allowed participants to report their experiences without fear of ridicule or censure. Three of the directors of Project Core are credentialed scientists with doctorates in their fields.

Jeremy Vaeni and Jeff Ritzmann both have a history of extraordinary paranormal encounters and Dr. Tyler Kokjohn is a biochemist with a keen interest in these areas not normally examined by science. They joined me for a discussion of what was found, and what it might mean for our understanding of these seemingly disparate subjects. This may be one of the first glimpses of future paranormal research.

Jeremy made a music request for “Stay Hungry” by Twisted Sister, so that’s at the end!

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14 Responses to Dr. Tyler Kokjohn, Jeff Ritzmann and Jeremy Vaeni – Project Core

  1. Chris Anderson says:

    Hi Greg,
    Big fan of your show here. I recently came across a study that really blew my mind and I’ve been wanting to share it with you. This show on Project Core was fantastic and could not be more tied-in. It’s titled ‘A grounded theory investigation into negative paranormal or spiritual experience, based on the ‘diabolical mysticism’ of William James.’ (http://www.psychicscience.org/Papers/HartleyDaniels08.pdf)
    I won’t try to summarize it here. I’ll just say that it very closely ties in with my own life experiences. Please take a look and keep up the great work with this show!

  2. Phil From Louisiana says:

    I’m so glad that Jeremy’s found something more productive to do than working on his Stephen Greer impersonation. One Stephen Greer is enough.

    • Jeremy Vaeni says:

      That’s totally out of line, sir. I’ve done a ton more productive things in ufology than just a Stephen Greer impression. I once did a Steve Bassett impression. And Nick Pope. AND my Paola Harris is simply dead on.

      Actually, I just thought of something weird: Stephen Greer abandoned playing doctor so he could become a figure in ufology. I’ve abandoned playing Stephen Greer to play doctor in ufology. This. Means. Something.

  3. Ofaebtas says:

    Thanks for posting this. Paratopia was always one of my favorite podcasts. (It actually led me here as well after the interview they did with you (Greg) back a few years back. How many? I’m scared to guess, time moves so damn fast these days).

    Loved the ‘Sister track! hahahah. I’m a fan 80% real and 20% sarcastically, but I f’ng love the second album (“You Can’t Stop Rock n Roll) and the third album (“Stay Hungry”).

    • Greg says:

      I guess the interview was 5 or 6 years back. I remember in the post-show discussion that Jeremy and Jeff had some nice comments about the interview.

      I was never a fan of TS, but I don’t dislike them, just indifferent. Guest privilege for music choice.

  4. fd says:

    Awesome show Greg! Thanks to all participants for the very interesting, thought-provoking conversation. And thank you Dr. Tyler, Jeff and Jeremy for your work.

  5. John Randall says:

    Excellent round table discussion Greg , Jeff ,Jer, and Dr. Kokjohn ( and to for Dr.’s Tarr and Cooper for their efforts . Great questions Greg and you have the gift for being an engaging moderator. Still reading and absorbing Project Core (for the 3rd time ). As you, I’m Looking forward to where the next stage the group is headed.

  6. Robert says:

    I’m consistently impressed with the quality of this show and Greg’s persistent engagement with the pantheon of the extraordinary & odd, and always from new and inventive angles. Your examination into the co-creative aspects of the phenomenon came through in this episode, as the thematic in the background of “experiencer as artist” keep resurfacing. Of course, across Radio Misterioso is the core sensibility of the outsider artist, the lurking social commentator & outlier who is simultaneously looking in and out. These artistic voices frequently frame the impossible in an often coherent and cogent manner.

    (Yes, Mr. Bishop, you need to get Jeffrey Kripal on the show – it all fits together quite nicely. In fact my most recent recipe for a good Radio Misterioso Stone Soup includes Newcomer, Duensing & the Project Core. If you season that with a little RPJ and Gulyas then you don’t need to eat another podcast for at least many a season, so dense and rich is this broth.)

    The anti-structure nature of these experiences do point back towards a more promising historical origin of the witness, that ancient cause celebre: the schizophrenic shaman, guider of the community and well versed in the high art of sublime paintings in the Cave of Forgotten Dreams. We once were led by offbeat thinking and creative paradigm shifts whenever things got boring, lazy or in danger of dissolution. We danced around fires, worshipped trees and shared wild tales and wicked laughs in the moonlight. Nowadays the UFO witness is mocked and spat upon, disposable tabloid fodder for fools. But, these stories do have value and it was great to hear this team honour and respect the witness and recognize the potential and the value of these stories. We ignore them at our own peril.

    This episode also looked at the torn edges of the holy trinity of sleep paralysis, liminality and dream narratives. Out of these images come the language of the artist, the occult scientist, the weaver of the tale, the spell and the formula, s/he who is adherent to sky signs and synchronicities. However, if I choose to believe that the language of my dreams is transcribing reality, and I’m not really a butterfly after all, then I might miss the point altogether: you make art to get in touch with other dimensions & sensibilities. It is still dangerous thinking imho to start blending these liminal moments into reality. That way lies the compensating schizophrenic who believes that aliens have taken over her body and have given the university seminar for her on her behalf – true story (Rutkowski).

    So I wanted a little more separation of what the internal and external is all about as I don’t think these things should be confused – they should be known. PTSD allows for a lot of confusion and when it comes to witnesses there needs to be a very professional hand at the tiller, especially those whose lives are in turmoil e.g. The Entity case. This show talked some science, statistics, and how our sensory apparatus creates a virtual reality in our head. Let’s keep going down that path and learning more about how the processing algorithms of our mind work to define reality. If we can better understand how exactly sensory processing & memory unfold then we can begin to understand how it responds to the UFO stimulus, or ghosts, bigfoot, but not Black Eyed Children – enough with that already, same with Slenderman.

    But this work by Kokjohn, Ritzmann and Vaeni is to be highly commended and it is definitely a new step in the right direction. If this threesome hires Duensing as a systems project manager then you’ve really got something powerful in terms of a new way to process witness experiences. Standing opposite this, or what we are seeing, is nothing less than all manner of phenomenon and stimuli that we still know absolutely nothing about. This witness study seemed more sociological and separated from external stimuli altogether – but perhaps it will work to explain some mechanisms and features of the witness.

    I’m not too sure how sentient It is vs. how much we imbue It with sentience, but I definitely think the more we investigate just how intimate and personal these experiences are we will simply come to write new narratives about it with a specific creative, unstable character newly defined at the centre of the story. Understanding how memory is encoded, how stress affects us physiologically, the power of cultural context, personal context & history, EMF fields’ effects on the brain and the potential & possibilities for unknown sky critter phenomena, such as weird things plasma can do, still need to be all wrapped up together into an interdisciplinary study of that great quartet: What Was There, What Was Experienced, What Was Seen and The Aftermath.

    I expect it all to reveal itself in good time here at Radio Misterioso. Thanks for yet another excellent show.

  7. Purrlie says:

    Good start and first pass at a serious investigation of paranormal experiencers.

    The blood type question would be far more appropriate as a follow up only for those claiming alien or other paranormal abduction, because blood type is of importance only to abduction believers (a diminishing percentage of the population, thankfully). People who see ghosts don’t attribute their experience to their blood type or a factor in their blood. The Rh-negative factor runs through our family (which led to a recent fetal blood exchange) but nobody has been abducted or believes they ever were. This grasping at Rh-negative straws to try to “prove” hybridization is downright silly. Why not focus on sickle cell or Tay-Sachs or Cooley’s anemia as indicators? These are as rare, too. Oops, but these occur in populations that are considered “non-white”. “Abductees” are mostly white. Sigh.

    • Greg says:

      Good points!

      In the early 1990s, I asked an abduction researcher why only (or mostly) white, and around-middle class people were the only ones abducted. He said that was not true. The problem was that the researchers were white and disinclined to seek out abductees in non-white and underprivileged areas. He had heard of some cases. No idea if this is actually true, but it made sense at the time.

      The blood type question is just one of many in a spectrum of possible issues. It may amount to nothing, but it may also reveal patterns in a meta-analysis.

      I forgot about that issue of some UFO fans who latch on to the RH negative issue. Some people tend to get involved in one aspect of the phenomenon and then try to fit all the evidence to match.

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