As I have previously stated and I here restate, I have been reading this subject for many years. I have a professional background in several fields that require analytical thinking.
Prior to receiving a series of messages of apparently discarnate origin, I had reached the point of accepting that for at least some people in some places at some times, consciousness survives after physical death. I cannot say that this is so of all people because I have no evidence to support that.
Since I am still alive and have not yet become discarnate, it is clear that I cannot substantiate this opinion on the basis of personal experience.
I therefore base this opinion on a balance of probabilities, which in turn is based on my reading.
In assessing this balance of probabilities, much must be taken into account.
An important element of this is determining the probability of any specific report being entirely or partly the product of fraud, and this means the entirety of the report, not just a single example extracted from the report.
When such an assessment puts the possibility of the entire report being fraudulent reaches millions to one, it is reasonable to accept that the report is reliable.
I regard the messages that were forwarded to me as having a high probability of being authentic but I cannot regard them as unequivocally authentic. In any event, they were not pivotal but they contributed to my opinion that the consciousness survives physical death.
In summary, on the basis of reading, reasoning and analysis, it appears that consciousness survives physical death in at least some cases.
L, Wed 5 Dec, 09:58
I agree with the following point: “What is common wisdom today not infrequently ends up as egg-on-face tomorrow. The history of science is littered with not a few embarrassing examples!”
Many examples in science and other areas of life exist whereby the majority view turned out to be wrong.
For me, I have no idea whether there is life after death (I have not died yet). For me to be 100% convinced re life after death would require that I had some type of transformative personal experience.
I am wondering whether you would be convinced that there is life after death if you did not have your personal experiences (whether it be via evp, etc.)?
lee, Tue 4 Dec, 21:53
This could be discussed back and forth for a lifetime because there are so many aspects that need to be taken into consideration.
For the moment, I will just comment of perspective.
What we now call scientists have existed for just a few hundred years. Prior to that, the early days of what we now call science was the domain of people who had a natural curiosity for what they saw about them, people who thought long and hard about what caused what.
By a process of analysis and logic, they achieved progressive refinements of knowledge but it was not an overnight process and not a few of them spent a lot of time barking up the wrong trees.
What is common wisdom today not infrequently ends up as egg-on-face tomorrow. The history of science is littered with not a few embarrassing examples!
The essence of true science is being able to change one’s mind when new data shows that a strongly held previous opinion was lacking or invalid. (This is not an overnight process either!)
For a million years or so, humans knew that the earth was flat, that a bright hot disc appeared in the sky every day and a cold silver disc appeared in the sky at night. By the common wisdom of the time, these discs were regarded as deities, which made perfect sense.
It is difficult to draw inferences from times scales beyond recognizing that what is common wisdom today won’t necessarily be common wisdom tomorrow.
Some are reluctant to agree or disagree with a proposition until there is a clear majority one way or another. I do not follow this course. I will accept something on the basis of available evidence until such time it is demonstrated to be wrong, upon which I will discard my opinion or modify it accordingly.
But, note well, I need demonstration that the proposition is wrong, not just someone saying, “Nah, that can’t be right.”
L, Tue 4 Dec, 02:37
You raise a valid point; however, in the examples you give, the majority (if not all) scientists/experts already agreed to these claims as being scientific fact (there was no controversy once the evidence was in).
Most elite scientists state that they do not believe in anything outside of the material world (I actually just read where some survey found that a majority of scientists do not believe in God/supernatural, whereas most all “elite” scientists do not believe in any kind of God/supernatural).
I do not think one can compare the field of afterlife research with other fields of study. For one thing, afterlife research is probably not something that can/will ever be “proven” by science.
“What criteria does one apply in order to accept hypotheses that one has not personally experienced.
It comes down to assessing the credibility of those putting forward the hypotheses. If they are regarded as credible and have a track record of credibility, it is fairly safe to accept the hypotheses. “
To accept a hypothesis not personally experienced, I would go with the weight of scientific evidence. Having s solid track record in one field of study does not mean one will be correct in their hypothesis, posited in another field of study.
Just because some Nobel prize winner was brilliant in some field of science and correct in his/her assertions with respect to that field of science, it does not follow that because of this they will necessarily be correct in assertions they make in other areas of life/science. Pauling was a brilliant chemist and biochemist, but he was not correct about his high dose Vitamin C claims, especially regarding cancer.
lee, Sun 2 Dec, 17:09
Perhaps it is time to consider the validity of “reading” about something versus “experiencing” something.
Do you believe that Planet Earth rotates around the Sun?
If so, have you personally experienced this – which means have you established (by experiment and or demonstration) that this is the case and that there is no tenable alternative explanation – or have you only read this?
If you have only read this, on what basis do you accept that Planet Earth revolves around the sun?
Was this theory proposed by member of your family or a known and trusted personal friend?
If not, if it was put forward by someone unknown to you, what criteria did you apply to lead to acceptance of this theory?
It is only very recently, in terms of human history, that everyone “knew” that the Sun rotated around Planet Earth, so “everyone knows” is a very unsafe answer.
Before 1929, just a few seconds ago in terms of human history, the stars seen in telescopes were thought to be the entire Universe. Then Hubble started looking at the smudges captured on photographic film that were assumed to be clouds of interstellar gas and found that they weren’t gas – they were all galaxies!!
Do you accept that Hubble was right? Did you personally travel to these distant galaxies to confirm that they exist? Did you replicate all of Hubble’s observations to ensure that there were no credible alternatives to his theory? Or did you accept Hubble’s claims?
So there is a fundamental question to be addressed.
What criteria does one apply in order to accept hypotheses that one has not personally experienced.
It comes down to assessing the credibility of those putting forward the hypotheses. If they are regarded as credible and have a track record of credibility, it is fairly safe to accept the hypotheses.
It is no different in this field. One must learn to distinguish between the credible reports and the stark barking mad reports. This can be done only by critical reading and extensive cross comparisons.
I had spent many years doing exactly that before I received a series of messages early this year. These messages helped to confirm some aspects of the conclusions that I had drawn from those many years of reading but did not alter any of those conclusions simply because I had had an “experience”.
L, Sun 2 Dec, 01:14
I read your book reviews on Amazon (you do a great job with your reviews) as they help me in choosing books to read.
If you have yet to read this book, perhaps of interest to you:
I just started reading it-very interesting.
lee, Sat 1 Dec, 20:50
Ray, I agree with you.
From my own (limited) secondary research, I know that Martin Garnder and other skeptics could care less about any evidence out there-they will never open their minds even one inch to anything to the possibility that there might be something out there that cannot be explained by the materialist world view.
A good case in point is Sam Harris, noted neuroscientist, who recently bashed claims made by Dr. Alexander re his NDE experience, even though he did not even read Alexander’s book. He came across as an arrogant, condescending know-it-all, even going so far as to claim that Alexander did not even understand the basics of neuroscience (even though Alexander is a brain surgeon and a professor at Harvard Univerity-so not a complete idiot). Harris also refused to debate Alexander re his NDE, arguing that there was nothing to learn from such experiences.
If one is completely closed minded (this also holds true for religious fundamentalists), it makes no difference what argument/evidence one is presented with. Talking to such people is a waste of time as they already “know” that they are right, regardless.
lee, Sat 1 Dec, 20:47
Your last post was excellent. I agree with all your points.
I especially agree with my needing to experience this first-hand. One can read books without end on this subject and it would make little difference (some researchers in this field are quacks, lots of claims are fraudulent, etc., so difficult to tell truth from fiction simply by reading). It is akin to reading books on UFOs- difficult to discern fact from fiction simply from reading about the experiences/claims of others. One really needs to see a UFO in order to truly experience a shift in one’s world view.
That said, I like engaging with people on this blog because at least here, unlike reading books, people on this blog can clarify and expand on their own first-hand experiences, as well as explain various experiments and claims made in books. Such engagement still helps expand the mind as people posting here seem credible and very knowledgeable (I don’t see why anyone here would lie as nothing to gain from such lies). This is why I was curious to know about your most “mind-blowing” experience (yes, it would not be my experience, but it would still have some weight as I believe that you and others posting here are being honest in your claims).
I appreciate your posts as well as those of others.
Lee, Sat 1 Dec, 14:09
That is my biggest problem with hardcore sceptics. They do not read the original material but yet dismiss the phenomena outright. A classic example of this is Martin Garnder’s inaccurate essay on debunking Leonora Piper (http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2007/08/how-martin-gard.html)
It was filled with so many half truths and outright fabrications that if one actually reads his essay and compares it to the primary sources it is an essay that would get a F at a local community college. Yet in an act of intellectual laziness a sceptic will refer to this essay and be satisfied that Mrs. Piper was fraudulent and be satisfied with this. There is no search for truth, just confirmation bias.
Ray, Sat 1 Dec, 13:50
Permit me to use an analogy from Dilbert. Dilbert has gone to the pointy haired boss with a project proposal.
The PHB doesn’t look at the project and asks what other people think about it.
Dilbert replies, “The intelligent ones read it, consider it and say it is a good proposal. The rest ask what other people think about it.”
In this area of interest/investigation/research, the same thing happens.
I have been researching this field for some time and the biggest timewaster is the question askers.
Why is it a waste of time?
Because they are endlessly asking questions, the answers to which ARE ALL IN THE ORIGINAL MATERIAL!
By not reading the original material and replacing the only intellectually sound process with endless questions, almost invariably asked of people who themselves have not read the original material, they are doing themselves a multiple disservice.
By getting answers from people who have not read the original material, they are operating on interpretations of interpretations of interpretations of interpretations, ad infinitum. They are in fact operating on hearsay!
No wonder they ask endless questions!!!!!!
Note that I am not saying that questions should not be asked - far from it – because questioning is the process of refinement that applies to all progress in all science.
The difference is between the asking of questions for which answers already exist and the asking of questions aimed at clarifying the EXISTING ANSWERS IN THE ORIGINAL MATERIAL.
The former is a waste of everyone’s time whilst latter is accepted scientific method in any and every field of enquiry. There is no substitute for reading all of the documentation.
People who are seriously interested in any field read everything that there is to be read before they formulate an opinion. Those who aren’t just ask endless questions whose answers invariably lie in the existing original material.
L, Sat 1 Dec, 02:29
I don’t think anything I say to you is going to change what you think. I only say this because, in the past people could have talked to me until I was blue in the face and it wouldn’t have made any difference. It was only when I had certain experiences again and again, that my old worldview caved in.
That’s not to say one can’t have faith in other people words and stories; people who have religion have faith, but I wasn’t one those of those people.
You are obviously interested in the subject but it sounds like you are still sceptical and it might be that nothing will eliminate that doubt except maybe a personal experience. In order to have the best personal experience, it’s better that you KNOW the person you are sitting with knows NOTHING about what they are saying to you, and that’s why the less you say on the internet, the better.
For instance, lets say you comment on this blog that your uncle died in a train crash and his name was Jessie James. In a months time you go to see a medium and he/she says ‘I’ve got your uncle here and he says his name is Jesse James and he died in a train crash. You will come out of that sitting with a feeling you haven’t felt before…. You’ve had a communication, it’s a good start; but then, doubt creeps into your mind, “Could the medium have seen my comment on the net - who else knows about the train crash?”
Do you see what I mean?
If and when you have one of these spiritually transformational experiences, then other people experiences become more meaningful, because whenever a sceptic, or anyone rubbishes someone’s experience, you KNOW it can and does happen, and nothing can shake that. For me there is no doubt, I’d bet the house on it!
Most of my friends and family know me and they know I don’t lie or make stuff up, so when I tell them what happened to me, they don’t try and shoot me down, but it doesn’t have the same effect on them, and why should it? Most of us have deeply entrenched belief systems, whether it’s a religious belief or a belief in nothing; after all, it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.
In my limited experience our beliefs rarely change, unless we get hit with something, an illness, the death of someone close, something like that; then maybe some go looking. But only a few.
So if you really want to know, Seek and you shall find!
Good luck my friend.
Jon, Fri 30 Nov, 21:00
Here is your lawyer contact: http://www.thescoleexperiment.com/s_files_14.htm
Lots about him on the net.
Would you say you are no longer a materialist because of sittings with mediums, or other reasons? Can you share your most compelling experience, which points towards there existing life after death? I would be grateful to hear about this. You are lucky that you have had personal experiences which caused you to view the world a different way.
Lee, Fri 30 Nov, 15:27
Jon, Thu 29 Nov, 22:44
I’ve had many fantastic (and I don’t use the word lightly) experiences with mental mediums, but I haven’t got time to go into them here, and as with most personal experiences, they won’t mean as much to you as they did to me.
Prior to that, I was an atheist/materialist/sceptic for 43 years, but eventually my materialist position became untenable.
That is very fascinating and it something I did not know about Scole despite countless hours studying the report, interviews etc. I know the phenomena was replicated in California as well and was inspired some NASA scientist to form their own circle.
Ray, Thu 29 Nov, 21:49
I agree with all your points. To be fair, the Scole group was not run by scientists, for scientific purposes, so it is not fair now to attack if on scientific grounds.
I will have to do some reading on Etta Wriedt. Thanks for bringing her up.
Lee, Thu 29 Nov, 13:13
Thanks for your fascinating post.
You raise valid points-this was an informal circle that later went on to invite scientists and others to observe, so you are correct when saying it was never intended to be a scientitic experiment.
That is amazing that you know someone who attended the “experiments” and even witnessed the phenomena in his own home. Again, skeptics would question whether he is part of the fraud, or was simply deceived by good fraudsters in his own home, but at some point attacks like these grow old (when one cannot think of anything else to say one can alwasy just cry fraud).
You said you were in a sceance in the UK, when you met Hans. Have you ever experienced anything paranormal in sceances (or individual readings with mediums)? Would be interested to hear you account if you came across anything interesting yourself.
lee, Thu 29 Nov, 13:09
Michael & Lee,
As far as I know, the Scole experiment was just a bunch of people experimenting to see what would happen, and when things did happen and over a long period of time, periodically they invited people, some from the SPR, to witness the phenomena for themselves, in order that they might obtain validation of what was going on there.
I was at a séance in the UK and I met a guy called Hans. Hans is a retired Swiss Lawyer. Hans had been a regular sitter at Scole and I asked him what he thought about it.
He said he managed to get an invitation to sit at Scole and after witnessing the phenomena at on a number of occasions he would go back to Switzerland and tell his friends (many of them lawyers) about the voices, movement of objects, clairvoyance, etc. His friends would naturally challenge him coming up with theories of hidden microphones, trap doors, and so on.
Hans was torn; he knew what he had witnessed but it took place in a basement in England and he wanted to be sure he had not been set up. He decided to test the Scole circle and he invited them to come to his home and replicate the phenomena, figuring if they declined, he would have reason to be suspicious. Much to his delight and surprise, the sitters didn’t decline and agreed to his proposal.
Hans’s home in this case was his holiday home, an old farmhouse on the island of Ibiza, off the coast of Spain. With its thick stonewalls and floors; it was somewhere he knew nothing could be easily hidden or prearranged.
The sitters all flew to Ibiza and the phenomena continued just as it had in England, and Hans has been a truth seeker ever since.
Jon, Thu 29 Nov, 10:27
Of course personal experience always trumps third party testimony, as mine always has, but hearing witness’s like Hans giving first hand accounts is yet another pointer on the roadmap to truth.
After posting my earlier e-mail, I got to wondering if, in the rush of things, I made the point I was trying to make. Let me restate it.
You apparently assume that the Scole Group was trying to educate the world and thus should have adopted more convincing methods. You seem to assume that the SPR was running the show. I don’t have the time to go back and read the books on the Scole experiments, and I might very well be wrong., but I don’t think that converting the world was their goal. It was simply a small circle of friends who got together for their own personal search and experimentation. And, as I mentioned before, I don’t think the SPR members controlled things. The fact that a couple of books were later published and circulated worldwide does not mean that scientific research was their primary objective in the first place.
As I indicated in an earlier blog post, I believe that Etta Wriedt was possible the greatest medium ever, at least the greatest that we have a record of. But, while Etta was observed by a number of distinguished researchers, she refused to be gagged and tied, etc. for the benefit of researchers, as it stifled the harmony of her mediumship somewhat, and she was more concerned with helping people who sat with her than helping science continue to reinvent the wheel over and over again.
Does that make sense?
Michael Tymn, Thu 29 Nov, 06:58
It has been some years since I read the Scole reports and so I don’t recall all the details, but as I remember, it took place in a very small basement in a private home and that it was primarily for the benefit of the small group of friends who regularly took part,though the SPR was invited in at some point. Whether they were doing it for themselves or for the world to know about, I don’t recall, but I don’t think the SPR was controlling things. They were just observing. If they were doing it for their own benefit, I can understand that they would not have wanted cameramen and the media to invade their small basement, even if there was room for others, which I don’t think was the case.
If their intent was to show the world what spirit was demonstrating to them, then, yes, perhaps they could have arranged to have it someplace else and to have cameras set up, but that is a big assumption. My guess is that they were doing it for themselves, not for the world, and the SPR members were simply guests. The fact that something big would be made out of it later may not have realized by the circle members, or they may have considered it before the spirits told them that they had to put a stop to it.
The other thing to keep in mind is that there usually has to be a certain harmony in the group and by inviting in cameramen, newspaper reporters, etc. that harmony may have been compromised and the phenomena defeated. I realize that the pseudoskeptics laugh at such an explanation, but such seems to have been the case with many other mediums. Once you bring negative energy into the room with doubters and non-believers, the phenomena usually fail.
Michael Tymn, Thu 29 Nov, 01:41
I have to disagree re your take on the Scole experiments. They started in 1993 and ran for 5 years. “Senior members of the prestigious Society for Psychical Research asked to observe, test and record what took place.”
What kind of researchers would not think to set up even hand held cameras around the room. These are not so expensive. It is precisely holes like this in control procedures which open this up to charges of fraud. How convenient that nobody thought to carry cameras or could not afford some of these.
If I was witnessing the claimed miraculous of 1993, I would by 1997-1998 have figured out how to get my hands on some cameras. Any news agency would have been more than happy to lend their best equipment if indeed such amazing supernatural activities were found to have been taking place in 1993 and 1992. I can see why many would look at all this a just bunk.
I wonder if some of these researchers were the same ones who determined that Sai Baba also had the ability to apport objects (check out Youtube for all his scams).
Lee, Wed 28 Nov, 19:55
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