Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM076: Griff's Speech

As a baby, Griff Eldridge was quieter than most.  But he slept well.  He fed.  He played with his big brother Ira. And he smiled easily.  For a long time, his parents Luke and Davinia didn’t worry, because he was so happy and healthy.

When Griff became a toddler, Luke and Davinia started to compare his speech to the speech of  other children and to the standards laid out in the Personal Child Health Record, a book issued to new parents by the UK government.  

Griff was on track when he started to babble around 12 months old.  But, unlike other children, the babble never evolved to understandable sentences.

Luke and Davinia began to track Griff’s speech in a notebook and test his hearing. They took him to several doctors, none of whom agree on a single diagnosis.  They learned of “Verbal Dyspraxia” and “Phonological Disorder”.  He’d see a speech therapist.

Griff is nearly four years old, about to start primary school, and still he’s never spoken a fully coherent sentence.  They have 18 months to get him up to speed.  Recently, Davinia’s been teaching Griff the signing language Makaton (see below).

Makaton is a signing language meant to supplement spoken words.  

Nursery rhymes performed in Makaton.

In this episode, producer Luke Eldridge (Griff’s father) shares scenes from their home as his family works together to help Griff learn to talk.  Bethany Denton edited this episode, along with help from Jeff Emtman. Additional editing help from Nick White at KCRW.

Music:  The Black Spot   |||   Flowers

Hello NYC!  Jeff and Bethany are speaking at The Unplugged Soul at Columbia University’s Heyman Center on April 14th and 15th.  It’s free.  Register here.

HBM075: The Weight of Science

Anita Woodley went to the Rhine Research Center for scientific confirmation.  Since childhood, she’d dreamt the future, able to predict imminent murders in her neighborhood.  She prayed away her abilities for a period of her early adulthood, but they returned unexpectedly after the birth of her first child.  Her psychic abilities troubled her.  Going to the Rhine Center was her doctor’s suggestion.  Her doctor said she wasn’t alone, that there were others with her gift.  

The Rhine Research Center is America’s oldest parapsychology lab.  It started in 1935 as the Duke Parapsychology Lab under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine.  Dr. Rhine, a botanist with a growing fascination of psychics, turned his attention from plants and towards ESP.  He devoted the rest of his life to legitimizing its study as a science.

Duke University severed its affiliation with the Rhine Center in 1965 when Dr. Rhine reached retirement age.  The lab moved off campus and operates today as an independent non-profit.

John G Kruth, the Rhine Center’s Executive Director, breaks ESP down into five categories: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and survival studies (persistence of self outside of the body).

While living, Dr. Rhine believed he found evidence for ESP.  Other academics were skeptical.  What’s not up for debate is that Anita Woodley and others like her feel validated to have the weight of science confirming their abilities.  

Anita was given a test similar to a Ganzfeld Experiment.  Also, she was tested for remote viewing abilities.  She says that she scored highly.  Due to the Rhine’s policy of not releasing records, we couldn’t confirm this.    

Conduct your own Ganzfeld Experiment from the comfort of your home.

Find images in the static from the comfort of your own home.

We produced this episode in conjunction with Hi-Phi Nation, a story-driven philosophy podcast hosted by Barry Lam.  This episode serves as the introduction to his series called Hackademics which looks into modern overreliance on statistical significance.  Listen to Part OneListen to Part Two.

Barry Lam is a professor of philosophy at Vassar College and a visiting fellow at Duke University’s Story Lab.

Jeff Emtman edited this episode with help from Bethany Denton.

Music: The Black Spot | | | Serocell | | | Phantom Fauna

HBM074: Benedict Arnold Makes People Nervous (Rumble Strip)

There is an unusual piece of carved grey stone in the hills of upstate New York.  It depicts the boot of a notorious American villain who was shot in the leg during the Battle of Saratoga.  Major General Benedict Arnold’s name is nowhere to be found on the inscription.  Instead, it refers only to the "most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army”.  The rest is implied.

Steve Sheinkin thinks that we can’t—and don’t—talk about Benedict Arnold’s actual history because it serves Americans an unpalatable contradiction.  Benedict Arnold won crucial battles for American independence, but he was also a turncoat.  

Steve was often asked to sterilize history during his career as a textbook writer.   Certain characters of the American Revolution enjoyed near godlike status.  Giving counterevidence to their omniciencense or foresight was practically blasphemy.  But that counterevidence exists, found in letters and personal journals of George Washington, Paul Revere and others.  And these records paint much more conflicted, funny, perverse and sometimes bumbling portraits of the country’s forefathers.  

But Steve’s bosses found it an issue of money.  His editors were especially risk-averse for fear of offending a seemingly all-powerful Texas State Board of Education, who, according to Steve, had no patience for course material that questioned manifest destiny, Protestant Christianity, or the free market. 

And that, Steve says, is why textbooks are boring.

Author Steve Sheinkin.
Image courtesy Erica Heilman/Rumblestrip

Steve Sheinkin is now the author of many children’s history books that tell the stories left on the cutting room floor of his former employer.   Recent releases are about the history of the atomic bomb, the permanently undefeated Carlisle Indian School football team, and, of course, Benedict Arnold.

We adapted this episode of Here Be Monsters from a brilliant piece by Erica Heilman that she made for her own podcast, Rumble Strip.  Rumble Strip is great, listen to it.  It’s part of The Heard.  Jeff Emtman re-edited this piece with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

Music: Swamp Dog | | | The Black Spot

HBM073: A Trial Ghost Hunt

Ken Arnold and his wife Donna have opposite work schedules, but they are lucky to share a hobby. For the last nine years they have operated an all-volunteer group called the Puget Sound Ghost Hunters. They spend nearly every weekend together, along with a handful of other volunteers investigating paranormal activity in residential homes and notoriously haunted buildings all across western Washington. They don’t get paid for the work they do and over the years they have invested their own money into building a robust toolbox of paranormal detectors.

Puget Sound Ghost Hunters have seen some turnover recently, and Ken and Donna are in need of new team members. They put an ad up on their website and on their Facebook group inviting would-be ghost hunters to join their team of volunteers.

After a series of interviews, they narrowed it down to two candidates: Scott Harris and Tanya Routt, two people who seem to have what it takes to investigate reported paranormal activity with rigor and compassion.

But before Ken and Donna offer membership to Scott and Tanya, they arranged a trial ghost hunt to see how they behave in the field. The four of them meet at the Walker Ames House in Port Gamble, Washington. HBM producer Bethany Denton was invited to come along and record the night’s activity.

HBM072: Ant God [Explicit]

As far as gods go, Jacob Lemanski is more tepid than most.  Despite his omniscience, he feels unequipped to deal with the ethical decisions required of him.

Jacob is the owner of AntLife, a company that makes large ant farms.  In one of his prototype farms, he was experimenting with different soil types.  One of his formulations caused a problem: tunnel collapse.  And during a cave-in, one of his ants became trapped in a small underground cavern, just inches from the surface.

Jacobs ants live in an environment lit by programmable LEDs

Jacob’s newest ant farms have photos of nebulae as their backdrop.

In this episode, Jacob recalls his personal history with both passivity and intervention, and tries to figure out what’s best for his ants.  

Please Note: this episode contains a description of a violent assault.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

Music: The Black Spot