I just started to read the lectures of W.T. Stead linked in the sidebar of this blog. They apparently were published by Dr. Samuel Toman as received from Stead through medium W. B. Murphy. But, I had to stop when Stead supposedly started talking about the Tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden in the second lecture.
“[O]ur forefathers were driven out of the Garden of Eden, of which, was said, of disobedience because they tasted of the tree of knowledge. Even according to the Biblical statement—we will take the Bible statement to verify the truth of this assertion—“He tasted of the tree of knowledge.””
Anyone who knows his or her Bible will know that it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is a completely different thing. There is a huge philosophical gulf between partaking of knowledge and what is implied by “knowledge of good and evil” It is only man that has knowledge of good and evil. That concept is not shared (probably) by other living creatures. But other living creatures from the highest to the lowest have knowledge—-knowledge that pertains to their experience of reality. God does not forbid his creatures from having knowledge but it is the committing of evil when one has knowledge of what is good and what is evil that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden. What doomed man was not knowledge but knowing the difference between good and evil and choosing to commit evil by disobedience to God. Anyone with the intelligence and worldliness that Stead supposedly had would know that.
Little things like that supposedly coming from an intelligent spirit of Stead’s standing in the afterlife tend to dissuade me from belief in the medium and for that matter, belief in the honest intentions of the person who publishes a book of dictations from the spirit world. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 22 Oct, 15:52
Your positive feedback is much appreciated. There are times when I wonder if it is all worthwhile, but comments like yours keep me at it.
I know that physical mediumship is frowned upon by many, but I tend to agree with Professor C. J. Ducasse of Brown University, who said: “The prima facie most impressive evidence there could be of the survival of a deceased friend or relative would be to see and touch his materialized, recognizable bodily form, which then speaks in his or her characteristic manner. This is what appeared to occur in my presence on an occasion three or four years ago, when during some two hours and in very good red light throughout, some eighteen fully material forms - some male, some female, some tall, some short, and sometimes two together - came out of and returned to the curtained cabinet I had inspected beforehand, in which a medium sat, and to which I had found no avenue of surreptitious access.”
Of course, many materializations are partial or deformed and do not speak, leaving much to be desired, but I don’t know what else we could ask for beyond that mentioned by Ducasse.
To what end? I think it provides considerable peace of mind, especially in one’s declining years, to know that he/she is not facing total extinction or obliteration. All well and good for people who say they can live in the moment and not think about what’s ahead, but I suspect that such a mindset is mostly bravado that does not extend to the deathbed or even close to it.
Michael Tymn, Fri 16 Oct, 21:52
I’m grateful that this evocative and provocative blog prompted me to read “An Extraordinary Journey,” which in turn led to me read additional books about physical mediumship. At this point, I have little doubt that “signs and wonders” come via mediumship in all of its forms. But what are we to make of these “signs and wonders” in terms of the actual living of our lives? Do they, standing alone, offer a sufficiently solid basis upon which to build a lifetime of spiritual experience and ethical engagement with the world? Perhaps for some they do, and bless them for finding in these accounts what I cannot find. But I did find in all this medium material in which I’ve immersed myself, especially in Michael’s series of books, something of immense value to keep and cherish in my few remaining years on this side of the veil. The final chapter of FHW Meyer’s “Human Personality,” in which a mind of the first order explores what the results of psychical research mean, what they imply, what they point to—where Meyers ties the results of psychical research together with the great religious traditions of East and West and shows how the doctrines of both require modification and expansion—has enriched my non-orthodox devotion to the person and teaching of Jesus. So I again thank Michael for writing the books that started me on this trail leading me to this destination, where I could acquire additional wisdom about ultimate things. Such wisdom, of course, must always remain partial and imperfect—probably flat wrong in certain respects—until we reach that place in a higher level of existence where “nothing concealed will not be disclosed, nothing hidden will not be made known.”
Newton Finn, Fri 16 Oct, 14:14
Thanks for the clarification and kind words. It does sound like that “medium” was a fraud, but, as I have said there are three sides to these mediums—genuine, fraudulent, and unconscious fraud, i.e., reacting to the negative thoughts of the sitters while under trance, movements made by the control, not the medium, taken to be fraud, etc. J. B. Rhine, the founder of parapsychology, is said to have walked out of a sitting with Mina Crandon, aka “Margery” because he saw movement on her part that suggested cheating. However, those more experienced with physical mediumship saw it as Walter, her deceased brother and spirit control, attempting to carry out some phenomenon while Margery was in trance, apparently not considering that it would appear as cheating on her part. Eusapia Palladino’s comments in this regard seem to explain it. In the case you mentioned, if the ties weren’t even secure in the first place, that certainly seems to point to conscious fraud.
Michael Tymn, Thu 15 Oct, 21:11
Thank you, Mike and Amos.
Mike, I apologize for even remotely insinuating that you may have been selectively moderating posts.
Amos, to answer some of your questions: Yes, I get emotional - and I tend to be verbose in conversations I think are important. (My emails or posts are rarely short…) But I’ll keep this one much shorter.
Yes, I was being somewhat vague - mostly because this particular “medium” has a network of people ready to threaten lawsuits if they see any negative press about said “medium”. And even though I couldn’t care less about being sued by someone in another country because I said his medium friend is a fraud (I’m laughing at the idea!), and even though I’m semi-anonymous here, I figured I wouldn’t cause Mike a headache. But you can all figure out who I’m talking about…
The super-short story of how this “medium” pulls off his trick is simply this: He’s not bound at all.
The medium-length version: He can easily and instantly slip both his hands out of the bogus “restraints” around his wrists. His legs aren’t even bound - they’re held to the chair with rubber friction buckles. Once the lights are off it takes him 3 seconds to slips his wrists out, pull on the buckles on his ankles, and get the gag out of his mouth. After that, it’s just the same show he always gives, walking around the room (presumably with night vision googles), talking in the same silly voices, slapping people with the same rubber hand, and twirling around the room with a trumpet in his hand. When he’s done he reverses his oversized loose sweater, straps his ankles back in, slips his wrists back into the loose cat collars holding his wrists to the chair, and then rock-walks the chair (while bound) to the center of the room and falls backward with a loud thud. When the lights come on he pretends that he was levitated to the center of the room. But it’s so comical as to be insulting - you literally hear the creaking of the chair as he rocks and walks it to the center.
Enough about him…
To answer your other questions: My direct experience with mediums is somewhat limited. Besides this “physical medium”, who also did a horrible “trance” demonstration, I’ve been to 4 demonstrations involving a large room of people. The medium was the same in those 4 cases; she’s a well-known celebrity medium. I found her completely underwhelming and the whole thing a giant cliche. I once paid $300 to have a one-on-one with a somewhat well-known Boston-based medium. After an hour or so of her not getting a single thing right, she said she had a stomach ache or something and we agreed to leave it at that. I didn’t put up a stink to get my money back. My final one-on-one was with a friend of mine and NDEr. She doesn’t charge anything. She just does this once in a while for close friends. I love her to death but was still skeptical of what she would or could actually do. (I love her to death, but she tends to be far more accepting of “claims of woo” than myself.) And she blew me away. I know she’s a friend, and therefore knows some stuff about me that a random person on the street wouldn’t know, but she said a couple of things and described a couple of super-specific things that made it pretty darn clear to me that my dad was trying to make his presence known… The skeptic in me still rebels - but man… It was that specific and *perfect*.
Ok, enough rambling. Have a great day.
p.s. Mike, I loved your “From Treasure to Trash” entry. I too struggle with getting rid of stuff. I’m not quite a hoarder yet (despite my wife calling me that…) but I have a hard time letting go of books, photos, magazine, and papers I’ve printed. I think about doing a “death decluttering” all the time so I don’t leave my young kids a mess if I ever kicked the bucket before I’m 80…
RC, Thu 15 Oct, 15:01
I don’t know which “medium” you are referring to, but I’m sure there have been many charlatans. At the same time, there is what has been called “unconscious fraud,” in which the medium is in trance and the spirit controlling his or her body carries out certain activities that make it look like he or she is cheating. Coincidentally, Keith Parsons’s latest you-tube deals with this. You can view it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lL5zL39eM0&list=PLLB-82YMhiPFPKSm2Ke69aK0DKTftpvo0&index=36&ab_channel=MetascienceFoundation
Michael Tymn, Thu 15 Oct, 00:54
You may have a valid complaint but you are so vague about details and circuitous in your complaints that I have a difficult time getting past all the emotion. Who, What, When, Where and Why and sometimes How are always good places to start with in a complaint. I might have a tendency to agree with you if I knew more of the details of the mediumistic sessions you attended.
How may mediums have you sat with? Is this the only one that you experienced? I have no personal experience with mediums—-well, maybe one indirectly through my wife who provided a tidbit of validating information but I too have suspicions about mediums who produce physical manifestations.
Mental mediums are another thing for me and I think that there are at least a few very good honest mental mediums who are as perplexed by what they do as everyone else.
For me, mediums are only one of many sources of information that suggests survival. I would place physical mediumship at the bottom of my list of reliable sources of good evidence, but I allow that some of them might be honest. Etta Wreidt, D.D. Home, The Bangs Sisters, are examples of physical mediums that are difficult to prove fraudulent. I know there are others. Mental mediums are too many to mention; Pearl Curran is my favorite although she would not want to be considered a medium. Geraldine Cummins also was a very impressive mental medium as was of course Leonora Piper and others.
I am impressed by the reports from people who have experienced a near death experience. I think they provide very interesting information about what one might experience when one is dying or almost dead but they provide little information about living a spirit life for longer than a few minutes or hours. Some have been in a coma for days and report afterlife experiences but they have no sense of time so it is difficult to really know how long they were in an afterlife.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 14 Oct, 23:38
Few people would condone taking advantage of grieving people, financially and emotionally and “mediums” that do that should be run out of town or jailed. But I am not at the point yet where I judge every person who exhibits physical mediumship as a cheat. - AOD
Well, I guess my response was either too long or too provocative. And unfortunately I did not save a copy of it for myself for future reference.
The short of it is that I was a checker - not merely a sitter - for a well-known “physical medium” and saw firsthand how he pulls off his trick. At that precise time I decided not to make a stink or blow the whistle because I wanted to see the performance through to the end.
Afterward, there more than a few furious people who had attended and couldn’t believe the hokum and chicanery we had just been witness to.
And I met several grieving women who felt absolutely *violated*, like they had been completely taken advantage of emotionally. They are the reason why I sought out the keynote speaker (we were all at a conference) the next day, himself a very well-known afterlife researcher who you all know, and gave him an hour long, on camera interview detailing what I’d witnessed.
This was five years ago. What he does with the video and information, if anything, is his decision.
RC, Tue 13 Oct, 23:49
I like Leslie Saunders’ view:
> I affirm the philosophy and stay out of so called evidence.
... even though I can’t help but continue to think about how we could objectively prove - with accepted science and technology - the reality of the soul, that consciousness continues - in some form or fashion - after physical death.
That said, I was a checker - not merely a sitter, but a checker - who got to put my hands on and examine one of the aforementioned well-known mediums at a well-attended afterlife conference.
And I saw immediately how simple - how embarrassingly simple - he pulled off his charade. If a camera were pointed at me, you would’ve seen 2-3 seconds of absolute stunned embarrassment - for myself and everyone in the room - as I debated whether to expose him right there and then, or raise a red flag about my concerns about the “restraints” (which would’ve gotten the whole exhibition shut down due to my “negativity” or something), or just swallow my pride and see if he did what I thought he was going to do.
I went with the last option, and he proceeded to do exactly as I expected.
Afterward, after speaking with a number of absolutely furious people who attended the same performance - some who themselves are well-known afterlife researchers and mediums, and some who were grieving women who felt utterly *violated* by the BS they’d just witnessed - I decided I had to speak up.
So I sought out one of the keynote speakers, who himself is one of the top afterlife researchers whose name everyone knows. He wasn’t able to attend the performance the night before but his wife had, and she had problems with it as well. I gave this researcher an hour of on-camera testimony. As far as I know, he has never done anything with the video. But he did - and this is now about 5 years ago - issue a formal, non-controversial proposal for how this “medium” could be tested, etc.
The challenge was never accepted, and as far as I know, this well-known “psychic medium” really hasn’t done much the past 5 years. I think he’s performed at the same conference again. And he probably still does his circle thing in his home country. I don’t know.
I had read numerous glowing online reviews of his “mediumship” and how the events would unfold during a seance. And these reviews themselves already made the whole thing sound beyond hokey and raised more than a few red flags if you thought about any of it critically.
But I still went because I needed to witness it for myself, and because - despite my nagging suspicions - I was *completely* open to the possibility that “one white crow” could slip into the room that night and blow me away.
But what I witnessed that night was utter garbage. And it went down *exactly* as described in those reviews. The same hokey voices. The same rubber hand slapping you on the forehead. The same trumpet with glow-in-the-dark tape on the end clearly being whirled around by a guy dressed in black. And worst of all, no specific messages of any kind from deceased loved ones, just a bunch of vague platitudes ...
... platitudes and one crumpled piece of paper for the keynote speaker (not in attendance), supposedly from a deceased well-known scientist (and the voice this “medium” used sounded NOTHING like the very distinctive voice of that scientist), containing a nonsensical drawing of a doodad purported to be a technical device that would facilitate spirit communication.
I honestly don’t care how many people claim the guy is “legit”. Maybe one time, at some seance, he said something sort of maybe interesting once… (think Whoopi Goldberg in GHOST.) Whatever. I’ve attended enough demonstrations and seen enough to know that grieving and/or gullible people will BELIEVE ANYTHING. It’s understandable, I guess, but still very frustrating.
So I am not swayed by glowing praise and incredulous reviews. This “physical mediumship” was garbage, and indeed it all sounds like garbage. Until these guys start allowing themselves to be tested under night vision or infrared conditions they shouldn’t be taken seriously from a scientific perspective.
I say this with all love and affection, but “afterlife research” is populated by all kinds of frauds and fruitcakes - on both the presenter/researcher and receiver/consumer sides. Only a well-concerted, NO B.S. effort to weed out the chaff will ever move along this research.
Thank for allowing me to vent. I don’t care to get into a back and forth.
Again, the reason I got so upset was when I saw women legitimately *injured* by this con man. I didn’t care that I’d wasted $200—I knew the risks; the money meant nothing. But when I saw grieving people hurt… That’s what got me pissed.
RC, Tue 13 Oct, 14:23
Very interesting Michael—-I was not familiar with Alexander.
The ongoing problem with many such cases, at least in the minds of most determined sceptics, is the normally prevalent occurrence of them in darkened rooms. All of which makes the performances of the almost legendary D.D. Home—-even after nearly a century and a half—-so difficult to argue against, as they frequently occurred in at least partial, and on at least several occasions, in full daylight.If others have had this ability since then, I’m not aware of them—-
Don Porteous, Tue 13 Oct, 14:11
Thank you Michael,its true that Roy dixon Smith found great Evidence of Bettys survival,this book is worth a read in its own being it happened in my grandmothers house, through Helen Duncan.
louie Paterson, Tue 13 Oct, 13:47
I’m delighted that this book will be published once again. Physical mediumship and for that matter mental mediumship are neither fraudulent nor embarrassments, although like anything else in human life there have been frauds and embarrassments attached to them. And Stewart Alexander is correct. The reality of spirits and survival can never be proven to those with closed minds on the subject. Some believe in the afterlife on faith, some are open to evidence, and some will simply not accept the evidence, even if it’s stacked as high as Mount Everest.
James McArthur, Mon 12 Oct, 19:52
The Roy Dixon Smith case mentioned by Louie Paterson was summarized in my blog post of September 10, 2010 and can be found in the archives at left. It is definitely one of the more impressive cases.
Michael Tymn, Mon 12 Oct, 19:21
I perfectly understand his wanting to just have private sittings!
Yvonne Limoges, Mon 12 Oct, 19:12
I am a champion for legitimate physical mediumship as it can be uplifting and enlightening. I have sat several times with Stewart Alexander and David Thompson, another of the world’s great materialization mediums. Both were as real as can be and those experiences helped to change my life.
It is not everyone’s cup of tea but don’t paint everyone with the brush of fraud. Especially if you have not sat with those you are criticizing.
Tom Newman, Mon 12 Oct, 18:39
Spiritualism’s philosophy of eternal progression, spiritual inclusion and Equality among all persons, is the absolute truth.
Leslie Saunders, Mon 12 Oct, 18:16
The dark underbelly is the so called proof of survival. Fraught with fraud and human politics, it is a spiritual minefield, and stays alive I only through the court of human opinion.
I affirm the philosophy and stay out of so called evidence.
When I saw the Medium, Rev DeRay of Jackson, Michigan, three people, two of whom I knew in life (my father and my paternal grandfather) and my sister, Betty, who died 3 years before I was born. The voices of the first two were the SAME as in life. And the same as HOW they spoke as I knew them. And my sister referred to our situation referring to our parents in common. No room for doubt at all!
Richard VanDerVoort, Mon 12 Oct, 17:27
Thankfully we don’t hear much about “physical mediumship” these days. It is the embarrassing afterlife equivalent of channeling Ramtha. The quicker it quietly goes away the better.
Having witnessed firsthand the harmful effects of this kind of fraudulent “mediumship”, I have nothing but ill feelings for these people.
True, the same could be said for fraudulent psychic mediumship. And mediumship in general is, as you know, highly problematic for being the subject of any kind of scientific investigation, but I digress.
RC, Mon 12 Oct, 16:27
louie Paterson, Mon 12 Oct, 15:30
Reading the book, light on survival by Roy Dixon smith.will enlight the truth on physical through the grat Helen Duncan.
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