Life after Death: Keith Parsons reaches the masses!
Posted on 11 July 2016, 11:25
Imagine, if you will, more than 130,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear the pope speak. I don’t know if the pope has anything meaningful to say in that imaginary situation; I sort of doubt it. However, I’m sure that nearly all of the 130,000 people who have viewed Keith Parson’s (below) Youtube documentary on life after death will agree that it is very meaningful. Oh, there are the fundamentalists of both science and religion who don’t get it and probably never will, at least in this lifetime, but I know that those who do “get it” will agree with me that it is the best documentary on the subject ever produced.
“I was watching a TV documentary in 2008, here in England, that was being sceptical about psychic phenomena, as usual,” Parsons responded by email when I asked him what motivated him to produce the video. “After it was over, I stormed into the kitchen and declared to my partner something like: ‘They’ve done it again – rubbishing this subject!’ And she said, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’ And that was a challenge that set me to thinking … Having read around this topic for quite some time, I’d wondered about writing a book. But frankly, it would just have been yet another journalistic pot-boiler. There are other authors, far more qualified than I, to write on this topic. And in any case, I think the general public is turning increasingly to the TV and computer screen in their leisure time. Books are for the seriously interested, videos appeal to a general audience, so I went out, bought a camera, and hey, presto – two documentaries!”
In addition to that first documentary, titled “This Life, Next Life,” Parsons has recently produced a second video, “This Life, Past Life,” which deals with the subject of reincarnation. It should be of interest to many.
Parsons is a retired radio current affairs producer who spent many years with BBC World Service, London, often traveling the world while making documentaries on international politics and economics. I recently put some questions to him by email.
When and how did you become interested in the subject of life after death?
“As the years went by, my partner became more afraid of flying, so we discussed this and concluded it was not the ‘flying’ at issue, but the prospect of ‘dying’. So I googled ‘Scientific Proof of an Afterlife’, thinking if I could demonstrate that death is not final this might help her (not believing in this stuff myself, though). I found 29,000 websites popped up in a quarter second back in the 1990s. (I did this again today, and now there are 380,000 sites, which demonstrates the burgeoning interest in this topic). It turned out that this was my partner’s ‘gift’ to me since I became fascinated by the topic and did a lot of reading. Unfortunately, however, it has not helped her!
“One brilliant web site at the time, now archived, was called the International Survivalist Society. Subsequently, having done a lot of reading, I wrote a racy novel in 2004 – both humorous and serious – with evidence for the afterlife built into it as a way of introducing people to this amazing material. Entitled Lucky James? it languished in my desk drawer until this year, when finally, 12 years later, it was published and is available on Amazon both as a kindle and as a paperback for folks in U.K. It’s available in Kobo and iBook, too.”
Did you have any prior beliefs, religious or otherwise?
“I was brought up in the Swedenborgian New Church, but left by age 17. One day the minister said: ‘You know, you’ll never reason yourself into a belief in God, you’ll only reason yourself out it,’ and I thought: ‘Well that doesn’t say much for God!’ and that was it, goodbye Church.”
So, how would you summarize your current beliefs relative to survival and related topics?
“Based on my reading, like you, Mike, I’m 98 percent convinced of the survival of consciousness after death, but I allow 2 percent for continued doubt while I wait for the 100 percent proof that absolutely nobody could deny. If I lived in Brazil when the physical medium Carmine Mirabelli was alive, to witness his materialisations in front of large audiences in broad daylight, then maybe I’d be 100 percent convinced, but currently I am disappointed that materialisation mediums still require to work in the dark. A film of materialisations – where trick photography has been ruled out – is urgently needed, and would clinch the matter. For me ‘evidence’ is crucial, otherwise we can find ourselves accepting speculation as fact. So, although I find for example, the afterlife communications of Frederick Myers through Geraldine Cummins (The Road to Immortality) and the communications of Monsignor Hugh Benson through Anthony Borgia (Life in the World Unseen) to be really interesting (and there are many more such books), I’m not sure how much trust we can put in what they say, since they are not evidential. Is it possible to be authoritative without evidence? I’m trying to get away from belief based only on faith. As a result, I think we should be reserved about any statement beyond this: that there is most probably an afterlife dimension.”
What do you find to be the most convincing evidence?
“In my first documentary, I go very strongly in favour of the Scole Experiments and the mediumship of Leonora Piper. And in the second one, which was launched only on 30th June this year, I go strongly in favour of a couple of evidential hypnosis past life cases: that of Ray Bryant remembering the 19th century life of Reuben Stafford, a soldier in the Crimean War; and that of L.D., remembering the life of Antonia, an innkeeper in Spain in the 16th century (Under the Inquisition by Linda Tarazi, published by Hampton Roads). I also find Professor Ian Stevenson’s photographic birthmark evidence in the remembered lives of children to be as fascinating as it is mystifying.
“The one other case I wish I had included in my documentaries is that of the Kluski wax hand moulds that I understand can be seen at the Institut Metapsychique International, in Paris. These moulds were taken at a séance from a materialised spirit who dipped his/her hands into a bucket of wax, which then solidified. The only way for these fragile moulds to remain intact was for the hands to subsequently de-materialise. The interesting thing is that the wax was mixed with a dye that would have got onto the skin of any live human interloper trying to cheat in the dark. I confess, however, that I have yet to visit Paris to see these moulds for myself. Incidentally, I was also very interested in the mediumship of Daniel Dunglas Home.”
If you had to pick three most convincing cases from the annals of psychical research and parapsychology relative to survival, which ones would you pick? Why?
“It crosses my mind that the English researcher Sir William Crookes (below) has been criticised far more than he deserves and that his scientific approach to his investigations made them most convincing. It is notable that he never retracted his view that his findings were legitimate, despite being denigrated by professional colleagues. As mentioned above, I also think that the Scole Experiments are also top-notch, and they are so well known there is no need to go into them here. I am also aware of the importance of EVP and ITC, but have some difficulty getting my head round why statements coming from the other side using these techniques should be so incredibly short instead of conversational. However, I wouldn’t be amazed if, in due course, the final proof we seek comes from this direction.”
If you could go back in time and meet three psychical researchers, spending a day with each one, who would you choose?
“Sir William Crookes, Richard Hodgson, and (he’s still alive) Professor Gary Schwartz.”
If you could go back in time and observe a medium at his or her best, who would it be?
“I’m spoilt for choice! Daniel Dunglas Home, Stainton Moses, Mirabelli, Chico Xavier……Just one? I can’t.”
Do you see today’s research as good as that of yesteryear? If not, why do you think that is?
“In the old days folk used to hold séances as a way of spending a pleasant time with friends, as well as looking for afterlife evidence. So there were a lot of sitters, more mediums and a lot was achieved in terms of evidence. Today, there are far more distractions through the media, and popular interest in spiritual investigation is often ridiculed and has been overwhelmed by materialism. So fewer people are inclined to devote the time and attention needed to get results. Having said that, the work of Gary Schwartz with his double blind investigation of mediums was valuable since it adopted scientific protocols, and others such as Dr Beischel’s Veritas programme continue to do careful work. Another point made by some commentators, and I don’t know if it is true, is that the technological world of today is now more penetrated by electro-magnetic emanations, making contact with the other side more difficult.”
What are your thoughts as to why the research is not better known or better accepted?
“In my recent Youtube documentary This Life, Past Life, I refer to a BBC Wales TV programme examining the research of Professor Stevenson on children’s past life memories. It was made in 1992 – that is to say, 24 years ago. I can’t imagine such an open-minded programme being made today. It seems to me that now the media – both radio and TV – are dominated by materialist scientists with a disproportionate influence on programme making decisions, so psychical research never gets onto the agenda.”
What feedback have you received from your videos (both positive and negative)?
“The hundreds of comments on Youtube reflect the variety of opinions that exist in the world. To begin with – plenty of praise for an interesting job well done, amateur though it is. But I detect positive attitudes are now tailing off even though the number of viewings is not – 130,000 views in the first year with about 2,500 more each month. Perhaps more religious perspectives are being expressed that don’t appreciate my rational approach to the subject.
Thanks, Keith. I believe you have done a great service.
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
Thank you for your comment. However,I didn’t say that the pope isn’t capable of saying something meaningful, only that in that imaginary situation he probably didn’t have anything meaningful to say—as you said, probably because of the audience. In effect, we agree.
Michael Tymn, Thu 22 Sep, 19:53
For the record the Popes have classically said a lot of very deep and vital things about economic justice in criticism of both capitalism and socialism. It’s just that they are speaking to an audience of potato brains. I’m not religious and in fact I think their brilliant ideas are wasted on the ears of the religious who by definition are…well you know.
Mac, Thu 22 Sep, 15:06
But I’m just saying maybe you should check in and see if popes ever have said anything meaningful before you suggest they are just silly religious icons. Perhaps you will find they do say meaningful things and it is the audience that is the meaningless religious icon.
Michael, I enjoy your blog, and this is the first time I’ve commented, so I apologize in advance that it has to be a criticism.
But I wish you could have refrained from criticizing the Pope in the very first paragraph! I love Pope Francis, and I think he would have a lot of very meaningful things to a crowd of 130,000 or more, and in fact, he has said many meaningful things in his public talks already!
Okay, that’s it - I’ll go back to reading and enjoying your blog! Thanks!
Christine Lehman, Fri 29 Jul, 15:40
For those who think that exuding ectoplasm is weird I suggest reading The Gold-Leaf Lady by Professor Stephen Braude, Ph.D. In this book Braude documents a woman who could exude a gold foil material from her skin (body). The book is easy to read but a little bit tedious at times, however Braude provides an example of someone who could generate something seemingly a lot more difficult to produce than vaporous ectoplasm. - AOD
Amos Olilver Doyle, Mon 18 Jul, 21:15
Thank you for your comment. Obviously, however, you did not read my blogs of February 11 and February 25, 2013, which can be found in the archives at the left of this screen. I think they answer your questions. I would add, however, that the Crawford ectoplasm looks very liquid to me and nothing like cheesecloth.
A recent issue of the SPR Journal was deveoted to Hamilton and his research. There is absolutely no question as to the integrity of Hamilton, or for that matter Crawford, Richet, or others. It is clear from their reports that they applied strict scientific controls, locking the room, even going so far as to check the medium’s rectum for hidden material. As I stated in one of those earlier blogs, the very weirdness of some of the phenomena is opposed to fraud. What trickster would think such hokey manifestations would convince people of their reality in the first place? The researchers came to understand that the odd manifestations were due to the inability of the spirits to use the ectoplasm, or there wasn’t sufficient ectoplasm. As suggested in one of those earlier posts it is like me trying to show you what I look like by drawing a picture of myself. Not having any artistic ability, I would likely look more like Mickey Mouse. Or I might not remember what I looked like and visualize a photo of myself from 50 years ago, as Doyle may have done in that manifestation you referred to. Also, keep in mind that if people lived before around 1860, before portrait photography, they probably did not have a good idea what they looked like. If I didn’t have photos of myself at a younger age, I doubt that I would know what I looked like as a boy or even a young adult. It’s all very complicated and that is one reason why science hasn’t been able to come to grips with it. At least that is the way I see it.
Michael Tymn, Mon 18 Jul, 06:19
If you search up any images on an internet search engine for Thomas Glendenning Hamilton and the ectoplasm pictures he took they all look like cheesecloth, gauze or newspaper cut-outs. For example there is a famous photograph he took of a medium with tissue coming out of her mouth with a tiny newspaper cut-out of Arthur Conan Doyle’s head and a skeleton on it.
Are you really claiming that such photographs are genuine evidence for spirit communication? Do you know of any ectoplasm photographs that do not look like cheesecloth? All such photographs look very silly such as the Helen Duncan photographs of dolls made from papier-mâché masks. This sort of thing has damaged psychical research.
For example William Jackson Crawford’s photographs of Kathleen Goligher that you mention also look like gauze or muslin. You can easily find all these photographs on the internet. I am afraid I am not convinced by this type of mediumship.
Andrew, Sun 17 Jul, 10:56
Correction on my last comment. It will not be discussed in my next blog. Also, I don’t think ectoplasm really ties into this post, but I refer you to my blog post of February 11, 2013, which can be found in the archives at the left. Is anybody really qualified to tell all those esteemed scientists of yesteryear that they were duped over and over again in spite of their many controls?
Those researchers did not observe ectoplasm on just one or two occasions. We’re talking hundreds of observations between them all. And at least with Drs. Crawford and Hamilton it was frequently photographed. Are you suggesting that they were all part of some giant conspiracy to get people to believe in ectoplasm? Keep in mind that ectoplasm is just an intermediate step in the materialization process. The fake “mediums” had no real reason to include that step. They could have just brought their “dummies” into the dark room without and “cheesecloth” connection. But believe as you will.
Michael Tymn, Fri 15 Jul, 08:14
Thanks for your comment. I guess I have more faith in the ability of a number of scientists of old. For example: Dr. Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine. To quote Richet:
“This ectoplasmic formation at the expense of the physiological organism of the medium is now beyond all dispute. It is prodigiously strange, prodigiously unusual, and it would seem so unlikely as to be incredible; but we must give in to the facts.” – Charles Richet, M.D., Ph.D.
But see my next blog for more on the subject.
Michael Tymn, Thu 14 Jul, 23:50
Yvonne Limoges , Thu 14 Jul, 20:05
Excellent material on reincarnation. Thanks for sharing.
Over the years, there seems to be more acceptance of reincarnation,in general.
Even among Spiritualists in the NSAC there has been a movement towards trying to include reincarnation as one of their principles (unsuccessful so far)especially because some of their mediums have received spontaneous spirit communications bringing up information on this topic. There also have been pro and con articles in their official newsletter.
As professor Jon Aizpurua states in his book Fundamentals of Spiritism:
“Reincarnation is the most significant principle of the Spiritist doctrine, as in some other spiritualist schools of thought. Although it is obvious that it was not discovered by Spiritism, it is within Spiritist studies and confirmations, obtained through mediumship where the concept of reincarnation has been placed within a rationalist and scientific context, free of any dogmatic notions as well as any mythical, magical or superstitious ideas arising mostly from religious or esoteric doctrines. The plurality of existences is the principle upon which the anthropologic vision of Spiritism is based: the soul incarnates, disincarnates, and reincarnates to fulfill its individual unfolding within a general history. Thus, forging a new consciousness among humanity, a new spiritual and historical understanding, where the present, past, and future are interconnected by an eternal being, that is born, dies, and is reborn without end.
The arguments that substantiate the reality of reincarnation and give reason to declare it as a principle law of life and of evolution can be found in these three categories:
Scientific: The favorable evidence that has been accumulating as a result of worldwide research, give it a solid base which is in complete harmony with natural laws and does not contradict any established scientific principles.
Philosophical: The concept of reincarnation can respond with great consistency in answering the numerous questions humans have asked throughout eternity. Who are we? Why, and what are we here for? Where do we come from? Where are we going to? How does freewill and responsibility reconcile with each other? Are we free or is life predetermined? These are questions of serious importance and of great interest, and of which this doctrine can explain with clarity, simplicity, and objectivity.
Moral: The unhappiness, pain, suffering, injustices, inequalities, and all the evils that afflict humanity, in general, can be reconciled within the moral aspects of reincarnation. It provides an explanation that allows an understanding as to why these afflictions occur, and it also encourages a dynamic attitude to overcome them. When there is true comprehension of the implications and consequences of the law of cause and effect, humans feel compelled to make a tremendous effort in their intimate and personal reform, which will in turn provide for the social transformation that humanity requires in order to achieve a more complete, just, and dignified life.”
I don’t believe the dark conditions required for materialization have anything to do with trickery, maybe like attracts like and these entities originate from a dark place. I am not particularly into orthodox religion but after years of studying this phenomenon I would be lying to myself if I merely glossed over all the contradictions involved in any mediumship. Once again I don’t believe these inter-dimensionals are who they pertain to be, anything else would be wishful thinking.
Gavin Doyle, Thu 14 Jul, 10:27
Paul Hauser, Tue 12 Jul, 15:34
Thoughtful comments from Keith Parsons. I too have wondered why, for the most part, psychical research has degenerated into “ghost hunting” and tales of the weird among the public and parapsychology as an academic career path.
I’m afraid the main reason is that technology—which could be immensely helpful if used in the spirit (pun intended) of 19th century and early 20th century research—has turned much of mankind into ranking the TimeWaster 4.6.2 app above the search for more elevated levels of truth. Add to that the dominance of economics in today’s world, and it doesn’t leave much time or interest for serious pursuit of knowledge about things like survival or the nature of the afterlife. It’s sad.
Rick Darby, Tue 12 Jul, 14:24
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