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, 14:58
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, Wed 5 Dec, 02:53
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, 07:37
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, 22:09
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, 06:14
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, Sun 2 Dec, 01:50
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, Sun 2 Dec, 01:47
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, 19:09
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, 18:50
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, 07:29
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, Sat 1 Dec, 02:00
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, 20:27
Jon, Fri 30 Nov, 03:44
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, Fri 30 Nov, 02:49
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, 18:13
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, 18:09
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, 15:27
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, 11:58
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, 06:41
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, Thu 29 Nov, 00:55
Thank you for your comments. They are much appreicated and I fully agree with you.
I just happened to be reading something at another blog in which the writer was smirking and scoffing at the whole idea of ectoplasm, suggesting that it was all cheesecloth regurgitated by mediums. There were probably a few frauds who did such a thing, but what this skeptic didn’t address is what happens after the supposed ectoplasm appears. If it just ends with ectoplasm, so what? What is spiritual about that? It was what grew out of the ectoplasm that made it into something, partial and full materializations. It would be quite a trick to regurgitate cheesecloth and then have a materialization take form out of it, even for a Houdini. But the pseudo-skeptics are content to stop with the cheesecloth and overlook the fact that some very brilliant scientists examined physical mediums under strictly controlled conditions, even going so far as to require rectal examinations. As Sir Williams Crookes, one of the great scientists of that era, said, “I didn’t say it was possible. I said it happened.” Or words to that effect.
Michael Tymn, Wed 28 Nov, 13:19
As for your future reading, first of all, I would not tell the medium that you are trying to communicate with your father. I would not give her or him any hints at all as to why you are there, and then just see what comes through. If the meidum asks with whom you want to communicate, then I would be very suspicious.
I would put the odds at considerably greater than one million to one on all four of the evidential facts communicated from George. Add even the fact that he saw me in my office. That would be a 50/50 guess alone and at least 50% of the population does not work in an office.
As for my wife’s readings, what are the odds that her Uncle Geoge would say that people say she resembles him more than she does her father or that her grandmother would say she missed her mother’s birthday. Some skeptics might say that the medium was reading her mind, but those were things certainly not on her mind at the time, so it would really have to tap into Super-ESP, which is really a stretch.
As for the Scole experiements, I see nothing “fishy” about them not having cameras. That would be quite expensive to have the room set up with cameras and to my recollection the Scole experiments were not that high tech or high budget. In retrospect, it might seem like a good idea, but let’s not assume that all such small circle groups have that capability.
Michael Tymn, Wed 28 Nov, 07:24
In any field of research, there is a fundamental that cannot be avoided. Before anyone can begin to form opinions on any matter whatsoever, be it cancer research, particle physics, crop yield research, global warming, wildfire control, coastal erosion – anything you care to name – it is impossible to form any reliable opinions until ALL of the existing research has been read, absorbed and understood.
Without this, no starting point exists, there is no pool of existing knowledge to be analysed and considered, there is nothing on which to build different approaches to solving a problem; in effect, it is reinventing the wheel over and over and over.
This is no obstacle to many people. They are quite prepared, on the basis of hearsay or, far worse, on the basis of rants on the Internet, to form a definitive opinion.
A very good example of this is the ‘debate’ on climate change. On the one hand, we have about 1100 scientists whose life’s work had been studying climate, which represents a collective of something like 20,000 years of professional study. On the other hand, we have very noisy people screaming ‘Nah, it’s all made up. It just doesn’t exist.’
When asked how much of the research they have read, the answer is usually along the lines of ‘I don’t need to. I walked out to the local shop this morning and it was cold; the world is getting cooler, not warmer.’ This is usually delivered with a sneer.
To them, 20,000 years of study and research is just bullshit. The only opinion that matters is theirs.
It is no different with this field. Unless a person is prepared to spend years reading the existing literature, they simply have no knowledge base on which they can form any opinion.
This is not to say that all of the literature is reliable or informative. In this field, there is a lot of shaky supposition, unsupported claims and plain wishful thinking. Part of the process of building a knowledge base is to recognize and discard the unreliable examples.
This process takes years and it can be quite exhausting but it is utterly unavoidable. Without it, it is not possible to build a knowledge base on which to form reliable opinions.
One end result of not doing the reading is that many people ask questions about matters that have been extensively documented in the existing literature.
Another end result is endless rants on the Internet by people who do not realize that they are establishing beyond doubt that they are total dills because the have never attempted to gather a base of reliable knowledge, climate change being a good example.
You will note that I am not proselytising Scole or any other documented experience as proof of anything. I am simply saying that if there are alternative explanations to such documented experiences, I will take them into account once they have been demonstrated in full.
And when I say in full, I mean IN FULL, not piecemeal. To be convincing as an alternative explanation, the demonstration must be of ALL of the recorded events and in the same timeframe as the originally documented events.
I recently revealed that I received four messages from a communicating entity that shook me to the core. It is tempting to declare ‘Yea, this is proof positive of the survival of the consciousness after physical death’ but I cannot do so because there is a remote possibility that this information could have come from our here and now, not from an ‘afterlife’.
It would involve a series of absolutely astronomical improbabilities – ridiculous improbabilities, in fact – but this must be taken into account and I am thus prevented from saying ‘this is absolute’.
If this seems to be a longwinded response to a simple question, it is for a reason – understanding this field is a VERY longwinded business; there are no shortcuts. The answers to your questions already exist in the reliable literature. I could go to great lengths in answering them myself but this deprives me of precious time in continuing my research.
L, Wed 28 Nov, 06:27
You sound like you know a lot about the Scole experiments. I only read over some material in a superficial manner.
As I understand it numerous apports materialized (I have the link to the photos of these apports) during the various experiments. Do you know if cameras were set up to cover the rooms during the experiments? If they had been, one would be able to see the apports as they came into view (i.e. one second there is nothing on the floor and then there is something-the apport). IF no cameras were present, that sounds fishy to me.
Can you perhaps try to explain why cameras would not have been set up, assuming they were not, for the various experiments? Details like this make one really skeptical, assuming cameras were not used during the experiments.
lee, Wed 28 Nov, 02:22
Michael, very interesting re George.
I am sure skeptics would write this off as a coincidence (1 in a million offs of a medium simply guessing this scenario correctly), but at what point does one take all these “coincidences” and posit that perhaps something more is at play here?
Like you say, there could not have been a background check given that nobody knew you were to attend the reading.
If you have any ideas re specific questions I should have the medium ask when she tries to communicate with my dad, let me know.
Lee, Wed 28 Nov, 02:18
A couple of additional points to my “George” story related earlier today.
At the time I wondered why the clairvoyant simply didn’t give George’s last name or why she didn’t say leukemia instead of blood-related disease. I didn’t then understand the pictorgraphic means of communication and realize that getting through a surname that has no pictorgraphic image is difficult. I don’t know what the picture for “George” is, but I heard John Edward say that he sees a picture of St. George, as depicted in some art work, when someone named George is communicating. Likewise it is apparently easier for a communicating spirit to picture blood circulating through a body than to get the word leukemia through the medium’s mind.
Back to my recollection of diving into the Dead Sea and feeling that my eyes were burned out, I might visualize myself on the banks of the Dead Sea while rubbing my eyes in an attempt to get the memory through to my wife, but the medium might only recognize it as a beach and not understand what the eye rubbing was all about, perhaps saying, “He liked to go to the beach and swim,” which, of course, would not be very evidential
In the case of your father saying you were not at his deathbed, it may very well have been that he wanted to communicate his recollection that you were at his deathbed, but the medium misinterpreted the message to mean you were not at his deathbed.
Michael Tymn, Tue 27 Nov, 09:25
“I have never really experienced any significant grief, and it is possible that my lack of grief has contributed to the failures, as has been suggested in some schools of mediumship. In other words, the spirits’ ability to communicate depends to some degree on the need they perceive.”
That might be so in some cases but certainly was not a factor in the messages that I received, which suggests that such a claim is a cop-out on the part of a weak or fraudulent medium.
The messages that I received were the diametric opposite.
1. They did not come through a medium
2. I did not solicit the messages
3. They were addressed to me by name
4. They included the name of the communicating entity; this name was obscure and unknown to the small research group through which the messages came
5. The messages contained words unknown to the research group but of very clear meaning to me
6. They contained no equivocal information; everything was specific and correct.
I have never consulted a medium so any comparison that I make has to be based on the information such as that supplied by people like Lee. The field of comparison is with the known earlier mediums. As you observe, the gulf is considerable and one must wonder why.
This is a field in which it is extremely difficult to generate serious debate. The Internet is awash with sceptics screaming ‘fraud’ and claiming that all reports are ‘unscientific’.
I find this hugely amusing because the very same sceptics are committing every mortal sin in the world of scientific research:
• They have not read the original research
• They have not replicated the original research
• They have not demonstrated any alternative
• They have not published their research.
This is something that they can’t have both ways. If they have not followed the above established protocol, it is they who are being unscientific and anything they say cannot therefore be classed as anything more than unsupported opinion.
I mentioned Scole earlier, and with good reason. The observation and documentation was sufficiently sound to provide the necessary framework for the above protocol:
• publishing the results.
The common practice amongst sceptics is to seize on a single item which, by application of the most extreme improbability, might provide an alternative explanation to a specific observation. This is then accepted as sufficient ‘proof’ to dismiss years of research. Fortunately, this is not how science works.
To return to the older experiences and records, there is considerable value in reading full reports. Most of them involve mediums who never charged a penny for their work, which rules out the commercial profit factor. Similarly, most of those who spent years writing up observations did so out of intellectual interest. It was expected that any refutation would be accompanied by sound reasoning.
This was all pre-Internet, so we did not have anonymous trolls seeking their five seconds of fame by trying to rubbish everything with weak and unsupported argument.
I do not argue with demonstrably unscientific sceptics and never will until someone comes up with refutations based on the accepted scientific protocols, upon which I will follow the scientifically correct process of not opening my mouth until I have conducted a full reading of the material so presented.
Leslie Harris, Tue 27 Nov, 03:52
My one successful reading took place in 1999 at the Spritualist Association of Great Britain in London. I was one of about 20 people in a group. I paid 6 British Pounds and nobody knew I was coming. In fact, it was by chance that I was there as my wife and I were out for a walk from the hotel and came upon the SAGB in Belgrave Square. They had daily 3 and 6 p.m. clairvoyant sessions and it happened to be 2:30 p.m., so we stayed for the reading.
Everyone in the room, including my wife, seemed to get an evidential reading, except me. The medium said she was getting someone named George for me, but I could not think of anyone named George and she could not further identify him. Coincidentally, my wife’s Uncle George came through and the medium said that “everyone says you look like him.” That was something of a family joke that my wife looked more like her uncle than her father, and so it was very evidential to my wife. Also, her grandmother came through and said that my wife forgot her mother’s birthday, which was a few days before we left on the trip, and which my wife did forget.
I left that day feeling I was the only failure in the room. After driving around England, Wales, and Scotland, I returned about 10 days later. Another clairvoyant was on the platform this time and when she came to me she said that someone named George was there for me. I still could not think of anyone named George who might be communicating. She closed her eyes and said, “he’s telling me that he is a former colleague, that he passed into spirit about 20 years ago of a blood related disease, and that he has been around you in your office and glad that you now have a job you like. Still, I couldn’t place him and again left feeling disappointed. It wasn’t until I was on the underground returning to my hotel that the light went on and I remembered George. He was a fellow employee at a company I worked for from 1974-77. I had heard from soneone that he died about two years after I left the company, but I couldn’t remember what he died of. When I got home, I called someone who knew him and was told that it was leukemia, i.e., a blood related disease. Although George was not a close friend, we took coffee breaks together once or twice a week, and I often complained about the job and management. So everything fit: former colleague, blood-related disease, died about 20 years earlier, and happy that I had a job I now liked.
People I told this story to after arriving home said they must have done a background check on me, etc. As I said, however, they didn’t know I was going to be there. Moreover, nobody asked for my name, and what kind of background check can one do for US$10? That was before Google, but even that type of information cannot be found on a Google search of my name. Coincidence?
Michael Tlymn, Tue 27 Nov, 02:30
Thanks for your reply Michael.
The one reading where you said that you had with a medium-which was evidential for you- did the medium provide details that had low probability of simply being guessed correctly?
The medium that did my mom’s reading explained that her mind filters messages so it may be that at times her thoughts are mixed together with the communicator, which can result in seemingly incorrect messages.
So, based on my mom’s reading, while kind of impressive, it leaves me doubting because of the lack of very specific information. I will let you know how the next reading goes with me.
lee, Mon 26 Nov, 21:31
Thanks for taking the time to share that story and your concerns. I pretty much agree with your percentages. You may have even underestimated the number of men in uniform at that time. I’d put that at more like 50%.
Because I often write about mediumship, especially the more dynamic mediumship of old, some people think I am a big supporter of modern clairvoyant/clairaudient mediumship, which I am not. I have been to a half dozen or so out of curiosity and have had only one real evidential reading. Most of them resulted in very general stuff, as you experienced, and did not impress me. I walked away from them feeling that I had wasted my money. I certainly would never pay $200 for a reading, not even $50. $20 for curiosity purposes but no more than that. But, even though I have had loved ones pass over, I have never really experienced any significant grief, and it is possible that my lack of grief has contributed to the failures, as has been suggested in some schools of mediumship. In other words, the spirits’ ability to communicate depends to some degree on the need they perceive.
At the same time, I understand somewhat now—though I didn’t really at the time of the failed readings—how the pictograph process works and how so much is subect to interpreation by the medium. Moreover, I have asked myself at times if I were “dead” and wanted to communicate with my wife, providing her with very evidential facts, what I would give her or if I could, in a pictographic manner, to get those evidential facts through the medium’s brain. Without really dwelling on it for a long time, I think I would find it difficult to provide detailed evidential facts. Most of it would be very general. I might try to tell her about the the time I dove into the Dead Sea and experienced terrible burning in my eyes from the salt, but I don’t know what is involved in communicating such a message, or if the clairvoyant would interpret it properly. Of course, my wife knew about it and so the skeptic would discount it for that reason.
If my wife had lost a key, I don’t know that I would necesarily know where it is in order to inform her of its whereabouts. I know that there have been some evidential messages along that line, but that does not mean all communicating spirits are able to know about or convey the whereabouts of lost items.
The mediumship of old, especially the trance voice and the direct voice, seems to have been much more evidential than that of today. That brings up the question as to why we don’t have such mediumship today. I have discussed this in past blogs and in my books, and it is much too complex and detailed to go into here, but to make a long story short I think the advanced spirits behind it for the most part shut it down because it wasn’t being accepted as evidential and too many good people, i.e., the mediums, were being hurt by it, i.e. being defamed. Messages coming through Willliam Stainton Moses from the spirit called Imperator pretty much explained it that way. IIn reading the resarch with Leonora Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard, I find far too much to discount as chance guessing, cold reading, or fraud. Yes, there was a lot of “bosh” in the messages, as William James called it, but this was because of the difficulties in communicating and misinterpreations, etc. Filter out the bosh, and there is still far too much to discouont for any of the above reasons.
If you do have that future reading, I would appreciate knowing how it went.
Again, thanks for sharing.
Michael Tymn, Mon 26 Nov, 10:42
Hi again Michael,
My mom (same person who, with her brother, saw an apparition of what they thought looked like the Virgin Mary, many decades back) had a reading a week ago with a minister of a spiritualist church.
My dad passed away this year and I wanted to connect with some mediums to see if any could provide meaningful evidence of an afterlife. I contacted two (both charged around $200) and both got pretty much everything wrong. One of the mediums appeared on some A&E ghost hunter tv show, so I thought I would try her (I did not know anyone who could recommend someone so I just did searches on the internet).
Anyway, I thought this time I would try to find a medium who is a spiritualist because I figured that these ones would at least be ethical and actually believe that they have the ability to communicate with the deceased (assuming the last two were just frauds). Perhaps they would be just as wrong as the previous two mediums, but at least they would be honest. I am guessing the previous two are more in it for the money than anything as any random plumber could have given me similar reading results.
So i randomly found a minister of a spiritualist church (who only charged a modest amount) and asked if my mom would agree to try a reading with her. My mom is also somewhat skeptical about such things but agreed to try.
The medium told my mom only to say yes, no or maybe to anything she passed on to her (for example she would ask “is this meaningful to you?). There was no fishing (cold reading).
Prior to the reading I told the medium that a family member died about 8 months ago and that we were hoping she could connect-we knew that there was no guarantee as mediums claim one cannot command anyone to communicate, so we understood that perhaps other deceased loved ones could connect (assuming any of this is real).
My mom called this person who is located across the country, for a one hour call. The medium concentrated for a while and then told my mom she has someone who she thinks is my mom’s mom. She had a few pieces of info which my mom could not really corroborate as she did know her mom all that well. The medium then said she sees a man who she thinks is her father, standing next to who she thought was my mom’s mom. My mom’s dad died when my mom was around 2 during WWII so again she could not really corroborate much.
Anyway, the medium then said she sees a man in a military uniform. Right away my mom thought of my dad but did not say to the medium that this could be her husband. My dad served in the military from around 18-20 yrs of age (my parents would never have met if my dad had not done service, given that he was stationed in my mom’s town because of this military service-he grew up hundreds of miles from where they eventually met).
The medium then mentioned other things she was picking up from this man in military uniform (I made a list below of the things she said about this man (all correct) and odds of randomly guessing these things). During the reading the medium told my mom that this man in uniform has a message for me (the other 2 people the medium picked up in the reading, supposedly my mom’s parents, had no messages for my mom).
Below are a list of things the medium said about the man in military uniform and odds of guessing correctly by chance, which I estimated.
Obviously I had to make assumption on the odds of her getting each event/message correct by simply guessing (I was quite generous in some cases in terms of giving her high probabilities for guessing certain events when in reality they were probably lower odds).
1. military uniform 2/10 (I am assuming that 20% of the men in this world have done military service)-my dad served in the military in his late teens; he never would have met my mom if not for this service
2. medium said that the man in military uniform, my mom and I love being near water 6/7 (I am assuming most people do so this is kind of a general statement).
Statement is very meaningful however because my mom, dad and I were born near the sea and we loved the ocean/sea; we would always try to vacation near the ocean and often talked about being near water; on the last vacation prior to my dad’s passing we rented a condo on a beach (I often recall my dad since his passing being near the ocean on our last vacation where he told me how much he loved it there, as we all did).
3. medium told my mom the man in military uniform has a few message for me- the messages was:
a) I am too impatient and need to be much more patient in life 1/2 (guessing this statement could apply to 50% of the population, if not more). This was extremely meaningful as numerous times in my life my mom and especially my dad would tell me I am too impatient with things.
b) I should not feel guilty about the death of the man in the uniform (this message was directed at me but no my mom). 2/3
The above statement could probably apply to most people who have lost a loved one as one probably feels guilty for not being around the person when they died, or not having a good relationship with them, etc., so probably quite a general statement; however, this was extremely meaningful (and again, addressed to me and not my mom) because since my dad’s passing I kept thinking that perhaps I caused his cancer, which caused his death, because of all the stress I caused him over the course of his life, and especially over the last few years prior to his death (my personal problems caused a lot of grief for my parents so I felt extremely guilty about this and any possible relation to the death of my dad). After my dad passed, I kept thinking over and over that maybe my he died because of me.
c) I should only do things that make me happy and not simply to make other people happy (1/1-applies to everyone). Very meaningful in my case though as I have felt for a long time I go to work (in a job I dislike very much) to provide security for others.This message was directed to me only.
d) I should travel and see the world (1/1-who would not want to travel if they could?). I often sit at work and wish I could travel the world to really experience life.
5. Medium noted seeing the man in uniform with a white flower and asked my mom if this was significant 1/10. Incredibly meaningful as about 1.5 months prior to my dad’s passing he asked me to drive him to a store to buy my mom what he said would be his last birthday present to her-my dad bought a beautiful white orchid. I asked him why he did not buy a purple or yellow one, which I thought was perhaps nicer looking. He replied that he thought the white one was the most beautiful of all… when he gave my mom the present for her birthday, he told us he wanted us to remember him every time that we looked at this flower.
6. medium said the man in military uniform loves birds 1/2 (guessing 50% of people love birds? other half probably doesn’t care or think about them in the least)- My dad would often talk about birds-his home sits on a beautiful park like setting where many wild birds come to feed off of the bird feeders.My dad prior to passing came to my place and brought new bird feeders for my yard and reminded me to fill them up with seeds he bought the birds, once he was gone.
7. medium said the man in uniform has large hands 1/2 (my dad was 6 ‘2” and had large hands)
8. medium said the man in uniform was very creative with hands 1/4 (my dad played piano and was a very good painter-guessing 25% of population is creative with their hands)
9. medium saw the man in uniform next to a red car 1/5. When my parents moved to this country they bought an old red car. Mind you my dad owned various colored cars over the course of his life so not great odds he owned a red one.
10. medium said the man in uniform was very neat and tidy 2/3. My dad was almost compulsively neat and tidy (exact opposite of me)
11. medium said the man in uniform loved gardening 1/4. My dad very much loved to spend time gardening.
Probability of simply guessing all these statements/messages correctly= 100 x 2/10x 6/7x 1/2x 2/3x1/10x1/2x1/2x1/4x1/5x2/3x1/4
Two statements/observations were quite unlikely: a man wearing a military uniform has a message for me (obviously this was my dad, if we believe there was communication) and the white flower. Other statements were quite general and could apply to many/most people (although some of these were extremely meaningful to me).
What to make of this? All statements were correct; if just blind guesses, regardless of how general the statements were, one would expect to have some not apply to my dad. Perhaps just lucky?
Did I calculate the probability correctly?
I am kind of impressed (especially with a couple of the statements/messages), however, I ask myself the following: If the medium really did communicate with my dad, why did she not pass on messages that were very specific to us (as opposed to so many general statements/messages), like: 1) he very much loves the new painting my mom bought recently
2) he thinks I did a great job remodeling the home after his passing
3) he thinks i need to wash the car more often (i rarely wash the car even though my dad was compulsive about washing the car frequently and he always told me I need to wash the car often)
4) the key we are desperately looking for can be found in the top drawer of the cupboard in the laundry room
5) he was happy that a certain person made it to his funeral
You get the point. IF there was real communication, why so few very specific details that would tell us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these messages are from him?
I will be doing a reading with this medium in a couple of months to see if there are more specific messages. Should I ask the medium to ask specific questions during the supposed communication process?
Appreciate any and all thoughts.
Lee, Sun 25 Nov, 22:06
I believe it was you and not Leslie that posted re the morse code story.
Yes, maybe all these stories are just exaggerations, misperceptions, wishful thinking, lies, etc., or perhaps only some are such…perhaps the author was grieving for her lost son and desperately wanted to believe in her new fantasy life (where she makes up the story about her son communicating with her… then repeating it over and over to herself so many times that she actually starts to believe in it), to help her deal with the grief.
Many people do many things for various known and unknown psychological reasons (the subconscious mind may make us think and do strange things that we cannot even fathom at the conscious level).
That said, you have spent many years researching in this field, beyond just reading about it, so based on other cases that you have investigated (be it first hand experiences with mediums, etc.), you probably have a good idea about what % of claims/stories cannot be accounted for by chance, lies/fraud, the subconscious, etc. This field is like the UFO field-most cases can be accounted for by logical/materialist explanations, but around 5% cannot.
I have yet to post re my mom’s reading but will do so today. I tried to do some simple statistical analysis of the odds of the medium being right on her statements-I will post the numbers and others can tell me if they agree with my calculations (it was so long ago that I took my stats course it could very well be that my calculated probability is all wrong).
Lee, Sun 25 Nov, 20:47
Yes, there is the possibility that the author made up the whole story and we can discount every story on that basis. There is even more of a possibility that she exaggerated it. And there is the possibility that she failed to grasp or register certain phenomena. There are those possibilities on every story. A friend and I were just discussing those possibilities on the story of the buried crosses involving Hamlin Garland. The only way to attack the story is to say that Garland made it all up and if such a theory satisfies the skeptic, so be it.
You said you were posting your mother’s recent experience. Where did you post it? I look forward to reading it.
Michael Tymn, Sun 25 Nov, 03:32
Leslie, thanks for that very interesting reply of yours. I went and downloaded the book and read it.
My mind just cannot grasp the fact that the book “Thy Son Liveth: Messages from a Soldier to his Mother” could have been based on true events, yet it is claimed to be so. Given your experience (which there is no reason for you to lie about), it really makes me wonder. I think for many of us it takes some experience to break through from wondering to believing.
I will post the results of my mom’s recent reading with a minister of a spiritualist church. I would appreciate comments from you and others as I do not know what to make of it.
Lee, Sat 24 Nov, 20:02
Probably few people who viewed the movie “Rumor of Angles,” which was released about 10 years ago and is still available at our local Blockbuster, realize that it was based on a true story, although it took place in World War I, not the Vietnam War, as depicted in the movie. The story, with many Hollywood modifications, came from the 1918 non-fiction book, “Thy Son Liveth: Messages from a Soldier to his Mother,” by Grace Duffie Boylan.
The soldier in the story was Bob Bennett, who grew up with his widowed mother in an old home on the Hudson below Tarrytown, New York. He went to Columbia University, where he studied electrical engineering, and was then commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army and sent off to fight in World War I. Well before he went to college, Bob developed an interest in telegraphy and set up a wireless in his home with a large mast on the roof. He persuaded his mother to learn Morse Code and they frequently experimented together. “We used to sit up here in this room and pick up diplomatic secrets which we could not, fortunately, decode, and international messages, which we could not, unfortunately, I believe now, decipher,” the mother related, going on to point out that Bob spent many of his leisure hours trying to simplify Marconi’s already simple apparatus.
To make a long story short, Bob began communicating with his mother via Morse Code after his battlefield death. The movie doesn’t do the book justice, but it is entertaining nevertheless.
Michael Tymn, Sat 24 Nov, 08:06
Leslie, thanks for sharing.
That is trul an amazing experience. You would obviously know the likelihood of fraud, especially if the research group you were with did not have previous knowledge of the person supposedly communicting with you.
Interesting that you note that the communication was via morse code as I have not heard of this before, in terms of spirit communication.
I wonder if other researchers are using morse code to try to communicate…
Have you had any other interesting experiences, with mediums, etc?
lee, Fri 23 Nov, 17:37
Can you describe the EVP you refer to? Were you trying to communicate with the deceased? Is the voice you hear that of a human voice (or does it sound electronic in nature) and is it easy to make out the message, etc?”
I did not solicit this contact nor have I previously solicited any contact.
I reveived four messages via a small research group in the UK. They were addressed to me by name and they were received in Morse Code; no direct speech was involved. Morse has an immeasurable advantage over speech in that it is unequivocal; no aural interpretation is required.
There are several deceased persons from whom I might have received contact and I would have been unsurprised. This one came out of the clear blue sky and shook me to the core! I would be hard put to think of a less likely entity to make contact!!!
The content of the messages was not only specific to me but involved words and names totally unknown to the UK group; they were, in fact, rather puzzled at the entire content.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the content and the person from whom they came. I would have to rate the probability of veracity as very high and the probability of fraud as extremely low. I have not before or since received any EVP messages.
Leslie Harris, Fri 23 Nov, 07:31
Can you describe the EVP you refer to? Were you trying to communicate with the deceased? Is the voice you hear that of a human voice (or does it sound electronic in nature) and is it easy to make out the message, etc., ?
I have heard a fair number of EVPs (online and from someone I met) and i found most of them to be extremely difficult to make out (but I suppose just like looking at clouds, the brain can try to make sense out of what otherwise are just random patterns/sounds). Some I listened to online were very clear so made me wonder if they were fraud (I come back to the possibility of fraud because my mind does not know how else to process such phenomena-I am sure I would think differently if I were the one to experience something “paranormal” myself).
Lee, Mon 12 Nov, 19:59
Steve and others here,
Have you had readings with mediums who provided you with very detailed and evidential information from deceased loved ones/friends, that you knew could not have been guessed at by the medium?
I connected with a couple of mediums (one who appeared on some A&E ghost show) and found them both to be laughable in terms of their claimed abilities (with me, anyway). I am open minded to the possibility of their being really accurate mediums out there today, but guessing that it could be like looking for needles in a haystack trying to find them.
Lee, Mon 12 Nov, 18:45
Leslie, you had mentioned the Scole experiments.
I was hoping you knew whether they had cameras rolling during all their experiments. I ask because they claim that the following apports materialized:
Claim made re one of the apports: “It was dropped on the floor in front of us as a ‘gift’ (having materialised from nowhere) on behalf of our longtime spirit friend Winston Churchill (who was present at the seance), and we were told it had originally been brought back from India by one of his secretaries during his lifetime.”
Had cameras been rolling one would be able to validate the claim of apports. If there were no cameras rolling, then all very suspicious to me.
Thoughts (from anyone) on this point?
Lee, Mon 12 Nov, 18:35
Oh dear, I will have to improve my proof reading skills!!
“I had a startling EVP based experience about a year ago and I am still coming to terms with it. In particular, I must allow for the possibility that it was not as it directly appeared. Despite the overwhelmong odds that it was NOT fraudulently created, it will probably be some time yet before I come to a final position on it.”
Leslie Harris, Mon 12 Nov, 18:31
Leslie, my recent comments should have been directed at Steve so again, my apologies for confusing your posts with his.
Lee, Mon 12 Nov, 18:29
Leslie, my apologies. It seems that Steve suggested I view this video clip:
Lee, Mon 12 Nov, 18:26
I incorrectly directed some of my comments to you-sorry for the miscommunication on my part.
To Lee - Suggest how we present on chatlines can be improved. Know for certain that everyone needs to be skeptic to survive in a greedy capitalist society we have to resist the thousands of efforts via advertisments per hour to get money out of our pockets. Thus we are all resistive rebels, skeptics by necessity.
Steve Trueblue, Mon 12 Nov, 16:52
Thus its pointless to introduce oneself as a skeptic. It would be better to say you are undecided. Only 80% convinced, say. Still learning. (We all are ) Word skeptic has been hijacked by a political organisation of online headkickers called PSYCHE OP. CSICOP they write it, but PSYCHE OP they mean. They introduce themselves as skeptics, which they use to justify headkicking everyone they meet, as long they are posing as scientists, preaching the scientific method. Everyone knows the scientific method. Science is subject in everybody’s school and Uni, right? So nobody needs patronising instruction on the scientific method. “Fraud may have ocurred there” ? That goes without saying, everywhere) In parapsychology we cant ever have exact repeatability and all the controls we might like. Because we are not dealing with inanimate matter. We are often dealing with spirits who can be whimsical, wayward, uncooperative, playful teasing. Incompetent. Just like US. So we have to take “evidence” in the way the whimsical universe presents it to us. And be thankful for what we are shown. Complaining of evidence standards makes no difference, to whimsical spirits and things. 130 yrs of Afterlife research is a lot to study and arguing on chatlines with others is pointless. And its quite OK, on this work, to be WRONG. We all just carry on. So what ? Its excessive fear of being wrong that causes one to constantly go on about fraud. Its OK to be wrong occasionally It happens to everybody. And we don’t hate ourselves—End sermon
You can’t threaten my world view because I do not have a world view. In my life, every day brings new information; every piece of information will in some way, big or small, alter my knowledge.
I haven’t sent anyone a video link.
I do not argue. I present information for consideration. I cannot present anything as a fait accompli because, in my world, most things are open to re-evaluation on the basis of new information. Moreover, I feel no need to convince anyone of anything.
I had a startling EVP based experience about a year ago and I am still coming to terms with it. In particular, I must allow for the possibility that it was not as it directly appeared. Despite the overwhelmong odds that it was fraudulently created, it will probably be some time yet before I come to a final position on it.
Leslie Harris, Mon 12 Nov, 16:22
I am skeptical but open minded to the idea of life after death. However, I don’t think one necessarily need take their brain out when examining this field of study. That said, I am not contending that there is no afterlife just because science cannot substantiate many claims being made by proponents of consciousness survival.
I posted on this blog because:
1) I have read two of Micael Tymn’s books and I thought they were quite thought provoking. I respect Michael as a researcher (which is not to say I blindly agree with everything he nor anyone else may say/conclude). I wanted to hear from Michael re some of my specific comments (e.g. re the apparition my mom and uncle saw, question re death bed visions, etc).
2)I wanted to engage with others that know more than me about this field of study. I have read numerous books (e.g. by William James, Crookes, Moody), but reading is not the same as discussing issues with others (some of whom may- hopefully- have had direct experiences in the areas of NDEs, apparitions, mediums, EVPs, etc).
I did not come here to argue, as you suggest. Just because I have questions and do not blindly agree with everything you say does not mean I am closed minded or clinging to science as the only true path to enlightenment. I realize the scientific method cannot answer some of life’s questions, but it sure can weed out some of the crazies (in all fields).
Michael started a post/thread entitled:
Paid Debunkers: How the Public Is Misinformed by the Media and Academia About Psychic Phenomena, where I commented that one of the noted researchers he was referring to (specific to the area of ectoplasm) was fooled by a Polish fraudster, which to me suggests that PERHAPS other very intelligent researchers could also have been fooled by tricksters. This field is like a mine field, as everyone knows- full of charlatans and those that think they have supernatural abilities (however well meaning they may be) when they really do not. One would be crazy not to be a little skeptical and ask questions to try and flesh out for themselves what the “truth” may be.
As for the Scole experiments, I simply pointed out that there were no rigorous scientific controls being employed during the experiments so fraud MAY have been possible. I did not say it was all based on fraud, as I have no idea.
As for the video link you sent me. I commented on what I watched-I did not realize there were more videos specific to the wife, elsewhere (you only suggested I view the video you sent me a link for). I commented, that based on this one video (which you suggested I watch), I could not conclude that there was an afterlife (perhaps other explanations could be made for why the medium was able to correctly “see” the death scene at the conference).
I do not think it is fair to say that I have no interest to research anything when in fact I have done a fair bit of research (perhaps not as much as yourself, however).
As I noted previously, I am a member of the Windbridge Institute (the woman in the video (which you sent), behind the medium, is Julie Beischel,founder of the Windbridge Institute). Recently, via twitter, I began to contact random hospice nurses to ask them questions about their experiences with death bed visions. If I was as closed minded as you presume, I would not have wasted my time engaging with anyone on this subject matter.
Finally, I would not waste my time by posting on this blog if I knew the answers to all of life’s mysteries. I have no idea whether there is life after death; however, I am interested in learning more, so I thought that I would try and engage with others here. Hopefully others here won’t be as dogmatic as you seem to be.
I apologize if my questions and/or comments threatened your world view.
Lee, Sun 11 Nov, 20:55
Many decades ago, I knew a scientist (physicist) who decided that he was wasting too much time reading papers. His solution was to read abstracts only. The end result was that he found himself making some rather embarrassing mistakes because he was making decisions based on abstracts, not a comparative, critical analysis based on the fine detail, which can be obtained only by a full reading.
Leslie Harris, Sun 11 Nov, 08:39
In the field of EVP, something very similar has applied for a very long time. Don’t bother reading the detail; it is sufficient to suggest a remote possibility, no matter how improbable, as an alternative to observed phenomena. Sceptics will seize on it as adequate refutation, and so it goes on. (A truly great example of this is the Nixon Tapes. Was the proffered explanation possible? Yes. Was it probable? ~~~!!!)
My position is that I will neither agree nor disagree with a hypothesis until I have read the detail, making notes as I go; in some cases, I will read the detail several times over, making further notes as I go. When it is possible, I will forward the full annotated document to other researchers for comment, a process which not infrequently reveals something that I had not thought of.
Nothing will ever persuade me to change this analytical approach in favour of snap decisions based on the un-researched opinions of the abstract readers. I will read the original material, re-read it again and again if necessary. For me, there is no other way of being analytical.
The Internet is an entirely different animal. Anyone can print anything. No research is required, no peer review is necessary, no credentials need be offered.
I have yet to read a serious refutation of a specific set of observations which were made and recorded by credible people. By serious, I mean one which addresses the observations, item by item, with specific detail, offers alternative explanations for each detail and is accompanied by demonstration of each alternative explanation such that degrees of probability can be established.
Nowadays, I rarely read the rants of the screaming sceptics. I have no need of trying to convince them; they are welcome to their unsubstantiated opinions. I am researching this field to satisfy my own intellectual curiosity. I apply a rigour that the screaming sceptics deem unnecessary to support their claims. They are free to pursue their methods. I will stay with mine.
In respect of conclusion-jumpers, it is quite remarkable how many of them have never read the original material!!!
Sorry that I haven’t been able to reply to several comments, but I am traveling right now and will respond after I return home next Friday.
However, to quickly answer the question about why renowned researchers, such as David Fontana, have not communicated since their death, the fact is that many of the great researchers, including William James, Frederich Myers, Richard Hodgson, Oliver Lodge, and James Hyslop, have all communicated through mediums after their deaths, providing a wealth of informatin. I don’t know about Fontana. Perhaps he has not been gone long enough or possibly he has communicated but it has not yet been made public.
Michael Tymn, Sun 11 Nov, 07:25
“Researcher Montague Keen communicates regularly on Sundays. He has a website. Good to visit.”
You missed this bit in my first note by taking issue with the single teaser incident I provided for brevity.
You are a pseudoskeptic meaning you value argument/conflict with other interlocutors over research and study. I did not advise you to jump to any instant conclusion. (Your False claim)
“Had the SPR member told the medium, for example, that his wife could find her missing ring in some old box, hidden in a desk in the garage, and the
Steve Trueblue, Sun 11 Nov, 06:52
wife was then able to do so, this to me would be more evidential than what is presented in the video. “
Similar events are described by his wife Veronica in a 25min(last 10 mins )video at Montague Keens website. He communicates every Sunday. You have no interest in the subject of afterlife or you would have gone there immediately to get more information from that particularly rich website.
Instead you chose to shoot the messenger while denying you were doing that ! Typical pseudoskeptic.
If you want afterlife evidential things like the ring in the garage, you can get a ton of that weekly FREE by subscribing to Victor Zammit’s email. After a few years the penny will drop.The weight of evidence just grows and grows.
To imply that everybody here needs instruction in the scientific method is absurd. You are preaching scientism, which implies that only you understand science. Guess what! Everybody here on this chatline went to school and university learned science.Everybody on the NET knows science. Except skeptics who can’t evaluate evidence, insisting that we are all deluded. So go to Montague Keens site for more info, go to Victor Zammit’ site and subscribe. That’s far more productive than tearing strips of interlocutors.( Shooting the messenger) Which is your true interest here.You can type every question into google, there is no need to converse with anyone during your online studies.
To those posting re the Scole experiments:
There were no scientific controls so one cannot rule out fraud/other non paranormal conclusions.
I know there are opinions on both sides. I just point out that these “experiments” were not based on any scientifically rigorous protocols, so one should be wary of jumping to conclusions.
Lee, Sat 10 Nov, 18:50
Thanks for your input. I did not mean to imply you were some new age looney by posting that link. You are an engineer so know all about the scientific method.
As you are aware, many who know little or nothing about physics tend to use quantum physics to support any and all claims.
As for the video on the medium discussing the death of that SPR member. How is this evidence for the afterlife? The video narrator notes that that most of her messages were very general (so pretty much meaningless), however, she did “see” his death and interpreted it correctly (ie. man falling, everyone else standing up, etc.)-but could this just be some “evidence” to support the notion of “vestiges of the past”?
Why should one look at that video and jump to the conclusion that there is an afterlife? The deceased SPR member never seemed to provide any information to the medium which could discount other theories. Again, the narrator commented that most of the messages were very general, so not evidential of anything.
Had the SPR member told the medium, for example, that his wife could find her missing ring in some old box, hidden in a desk in the garage, and the wife was then able to do so, this to me would be more evidential than what is presented in the video.
BTW, the female researcher behind the medium in the video is scientist Julie Beischel PhD (I am a member of her Windbridge Institute).
Hope to hear from you shortly,
Lee, Sat 10 Nov, 18:14
To Leslie Harris As an engineer you can enjoy learning Electric Universe which explains things with far more evidence that can be duplicated in a lab. EU has no need for magic tricks like dark matter, dark energy black holes, to explain mysteries. In fact 96% of the universe is Plasma. Charming intro video explains this
Big Bang was a catholic theory, based on genesis, sold to Einstein in 1928. Georges Lemaitre. Falsely based on the red shift, which does not indicate movement. Einstein could never calculate the cosmological constant as it required faster than light expansion. BB was discarded in the 80s. EU explains things as they are quite simply requiring no magic dark this or that.
You will enjoy the video. Regards
Steve Trueblue, Sat 10 Nov, 14:07
Leslie Harris, Sat 10 Nov, 05:51
I understand what you are saying but that is NOT what I am saying.
I am an old engineer with a life-long interest in cause and effect, not just in my professional field but in many diverse fields. To understand any phenomena, the initial net must be cast far and wide; gather as much information as possible, then begin the very long process of evaluation, piece by piece by piece.
Inevitably, most will be discarded along the way but the wide net approach can have many benefits. Juxtaposition, for no immediately apparent reason, frequently leads one into unexpected paths. Most will lead nowhere but some are goldmines.
In respect of the missing 96% f the Universe, this realization came via the cooperation of three disciplines – particle physics, astronomy and cosmology – which had hitherto been regarded as entirely separate from each other. That was a very wide net indeed!
Nowhere in my previous post did I make any absolute statements or even suggest absolute connections. Everything that I put up for consideration was in terms of possible connections.
If you need a distillation, I am saying that we do not know what we do not know and we should always cast the wide net when trying to understand anything.
Quantum this and quantum that, astral this and astral that are very handy catchall terms widely used to suggest erudition when in fact they more usually indicate the opposite. I am very, very wary of attributing airy fairy connections between observations.
On the deathbed visions, I would recommend reading the book Deathbed Visions by William Barrett:
http://astrovault.com/azseamonkey/ebooks/ (eBook) 20Death-Bed%%% 236084AE.pdf 20Vi
On why the researchers who have died not manifest through mediums, I can say two things: the first is that the mediumistic communication is not as easy as assumed by the pseudo-skeptics, and the second is that there have been cases of deceased researchers have established communication through mediums, as with the cross correspondences and the Scole project.
And about dark matter, that if we do not know what it’s made for 96% of the universe, I would be cautious, for two reasons: first, although we do not know what it’s made for 96% of the universe, is fallacious infer that it is related to the afterlife, because it is resorting to ignorance. No, the best way for now to investigate the afterlife is parapsychology. And second, the existence of dark matter is an inference from the observation of the motion of galaxies and the gravitational equations, but may not exist the dark matter and these anomalous movements would be caused by another force, electromagnetism, and comes in the book The Electric Sky by Donald Scott:
Then it is not clear that there is dark matter.
Juan, Sat 10 Nov, 00:53
I agree with some of your points but perhaps some others are best addressed by this link:
Lee, Fri 9 Nov, 21:21
To Lee’s question-
“If there really is an afterlife, why have people like David Fontana and other researchers who believed in the afterlife not come back to communicate that there really is life after death? “
One answer is researchers do just that.
Short Video made for this
Researcher Montague Keen communicates regularly on Sundays. He has a website. Good to visit.
Steve Trueblue, Fri 9 Nov, 16:05
Hi again Michael and others.
If there really is an afterlife, why have people like David Fontana and other researchers who believed in the afterlife not come back to communicate that there really is life after death? Why are mediums not picking up messages from such men/women to confirm what they and some others believed to be true while alive?
Thanks for your thoughts.
Lee, Fri 9 Nov, 04:27
Leslie Harris, Fri 9 Nov, 03:58
In all of science, there are many complexities governing our ability to analyse observed phenomena. After the observation comes the analysis and this is where the human race has consistently made idiots of themselves throughout all of recorded history. Humans have conclusively shown that they aren’t capable of learning from history.
The human race has been consistently blessed by people who are completely convinced that they know everything there is to be known about everything there is to be known. The history of science is littered with the names of august people who have got things massively wrong. Based on limited knowledge and even more limited understanding, they have confidently proclaimed that things are so, things are not so or that things are impossible – and were subsequently proved horribly wrong.
It is worth noting that many propositions are accepted in science (and in Law) on the basis of the balance of probabilities. When all known factors are taken into account, it is reasonable to say that one conclusion is the most probable, whilst the alternative conclusions fail on the basis of improbability.
When I first became interested in the proposition that the human consciousness survives physical death, I spent a long time sweating the small stuff and looking for strings of absolutes. Somewhere along the way, after having read millions upon millions of words and hundreds and hundreds of reports on the matter, it eventually dawned on me that this was a balance of probabilities matter, in which the probability of it being true was high and the probability of it being false was extremely low.
My turning point originated from particle physics, in which it was observed that particles can appear and disappear for no known reason, prompting the leading thinkers in the field to conclude that there must be other dimensions, not yet evident to us, into which they disappear.
Then came the observation that we can’t account for 96% of the known Universe. On the one hand, we have particles that go somewhere unknown to us and on the other, we realize that what we can see around us is just 4% of what is calculated to exist in the Universe. It doesn’t need much brain power to realize that there is a high probability that the two observations are intimately connected.
It is a fairly short step to the further realization that the energy spectrum known to us could well be only part of an energy spectrum, possibly an infinite spectrum, that extends into the rather embarrassing 96% of the Universe of which we know absolutely nothing.
So, when I hear the outraged screams of “no, that’s impossible” emanating from the all-seeing all-knowing sceptics, I just quietly speculate on those particles, the 96% and the energy spectrum.
Returning to the mindless response of “no, it’s all fraud” for a moment, there is an opposite to the balance of probabilities. This is the balance of improbabilities.
Even the most meticulously reported events are inevitably treated to endless explanations of how fraud might have been employed to produce the observed events. This is quite legitimate until one considers the probability aspect. For the fraud explanations to be true of many reliable reports of complex and extensive phenomena, one must multiply improbability by improbability by improbability until they reach absolutely astronomical proportions.
You are concerned that the major examples of phenomena seem to have ceased a hundred years ago. Not so!! You have a lot of reading to do. Start with The Scole Report. When you get to the end of it, start assessing the probabilities versus improbabilities. Prepare to be amazed!!
Michael, I believe you have sat with mediums that provided you with very specific evidence from loved ones, correct? Have any mediums been able to pass on information that you did not know at the time of sitting but were able to validate later?
Have others here been to mediums who were able to provide extremely specific info that they simply could not have guessed (cold read, etc)?
Also, I was wondering if anyone here, especially Michael, were aware of whether during death bed visions, the dying ONLY “saw/talked to” those that have already passed, as well as perhaps beings of light, etc? OR are there cases where dying have visions of people who are alive, or perhaps visions of nonsensical images such as huge clowns, pink elephants, etc. (as examples)?
I ask because if death bed visions are more than just hallucinations (or some form of internal projection), I would expect that those having death bed visions would not see/talk to living people who are supposed to be elsewhere at the time, nor have visions of nonsensical things. If there were cases where dying saw the latter types of visions, I would conclude that there is nothing to this beyond simple mind tricks brought on by the dying process or drugs administered during the dying process.
However, if it turns out that those dying having death bed visions only see or speak to those already deceased, then that would be quite suggestive.
Hoping someone can weigh in on this issue and also perhaps let me know whether any researchers have looked into the question that I raise.
Lee, Fri 9 Nov, 00:39
Is there scientific evidence for the afterlife? Depends on what you mean by “scientific”, because there is not scientific evidence of the afterlife in the sense of natural sciences, but there is scientific evidence of the afterlife in the sense of the human sciences, as shown by the near death experiences, deathbed visions, apparitions of the living and deceased, mental and physical mediumship and apparent memories of past lives. Each type of these phenomena can be questioned in different ways and does not provide evidence as rigorously as the natural sciences, but using the abduction, they all provide converging evidence on a form of afterlife.
Juan, Thu 8 Nov, 18:36
Reading over your posts, I realize that there is something I should have added, but did not.
My mom’s cousin claimed to have seen this very same apparition many years later in the same home, when she was living there alone (my mom and uncle were no longer living in this home). The reason why I did not add this information was because I was not sure whether my mom’s cousin was just pulling my mom’s leg about her sighting when she told my mom she saw it AFTER my mom told her about it when they were both older. If my mom’s cousin really did see the same apparition (also no claim of communication), then this could very well have been a vestige of the past, if there really is such a phenomenon.
If there is an afterlife, why is there really no scientific evidence to support this claim? Perhaps Michael and others can weigh in on this question. I am open minded but skeptical because I read about these mediums doing all these amazing things 100yrs ago but mediums with such capablities do not seem to be around today, unless I am misinformed.
Could it be that many people simply want to believe so badly in the afterlife (because of loss of loved ones, or what have you), that they are willing to jump to conclusions (without real evidence), where otherwise they would not have, in other areas of life?
Thanks for your thoughts,
Lee, Thu 8 Nov, 17:44
“It is time to start making a scientific examination of the [“Leslie Harris”] out of hand rejection usually applied to these matters.”
Leslie Harris, Thu 8 Nov, 16:03
I have no idea what happened there!!!
The insertion of my name into the middle of a sentence makes nonsense of the sentence!
I think the interactivity of an apparition is essential to find out if this is the spirit of a deceased or not, because if the apparition interacts with the witness and show intelligent behavior, then we can infer that it is a disembodied spirit, but if the apparition not interact with anyone and does not show intelligent behavior, then we cannot infer that it is a spirit. It is true that if an apparition not interact with anyone, then it could be anyway the apparition of a spirit, but we simply cannot know. Keep in mind also that if the apparition does not interact with anyone, it could be a vestige of the past, but you’re right in that the vestige hypothesis indicates that the apparition will be seen again and again in the place, something that did not happen in the case discussed by Lee. So we cannot really know what happened in that case of apparition.
Juan, Thu 8 Nov, 15:04
I don’t understand Juan’s comment “the apparition did not interact with your mother or your uncle, so we need not suppose that was the apparition of the spirit of a deceased.” I don’t see that whether an apparition interacts with the experiencer or not has anything to do with whether or not it represents the spirit of a deceased person. The concept of a vestige or “recording” of a past event left in the environment is quite plausible, although since the apparition was only seen once, it seems less likely in this case; such phenomena tend to be seen over and over in the same location. At any rate, interaction with witnesses does not seem like a crucial characteristic of a manifestation of a deceased person. Likely, but not necessary.
Elene, Thu 8 Nov, 09:27
For some obscure reason, I have just received three update notices but all date back many months.
Leslie Harris, Thu 8 Nov, 06:57
Recently, I have been reading comments from mindless sceptics, all of which come into the same category as “of course the earth is flat, just look out the window” and of course the sun revolves around the earth, just look up”.
I just love pouring petrol on the sceptics’ fires, so I will add part of what I have just written to a fellow researcher.
It is time to start making a scientific examination of the Leslie Harrisout of hand rejection usually applied to these matters.
All “explanations” involve armies of invisible assistants concealed throughout the room, all so cunningly concealed as to be totally invisible to normal people, all possessed of arms ten feet long that can reach from one side of the room to the other, all possessed of the ability of having full vision in a totally black room, all possessed of superhuman strength that allows heavy objects to be moved with ease, etc, etc, etc.
In science, for one concept to replace an existing concept, the new concept has to be fully demonstrated. It is not acceptable science to state “This (existing) concept is just rubbish, therefore my concept must be accepted.” This isn’t the way science works!!!!
When it comes to the demand of ‘scientific’ validation, one must be even handed.
Take the widely accepted claim that we can account for only 4% of the known Universe. This concept was arrived at by calculation and not direct observation in someone’s laboratory; dark matter and dark energy has not been observed by anyone.
To be consistent, we must reject this concept on the basis that fraud might have been involved. It is not necessary to explain how it might have been fraud and it is certainly not necessary to demonstrate the fraud. It is sufficient only to make the claim that a possibility might exist for the entire concept to be rejected, notwithstanding any supporting evidence from particle physicists, astronomers and cosmologists. It is further acceptable to brand such people as terminally deluded.
When the day comes that every mortal phenomena of the Scole Experiment is full replicated in an identical environment, I will allow that fraud might have been involved – which is still, of course, not the same as proving that all of Scole was fraudulent.
Thank you for sharing that interesting story about your mother’s apparition. It is difficult to refute such an apparation when seen by three different people, but it is still an anecdotal story with no real scientific validity. The fact that it has remained vivid in her mind seems to suggest that it was more than a hallucination, but it might just as well have been an apparition of someone else looking like the Virgin Mary. One way or the other my guess is that it was a true apparation, but evidential only to the three people witnessing it, as was a UFO that I clearly saw around 1952, though witnessed by nobody else that I knew. Sorry I can’t offer more than that.
Michael Tlymn, Wed 7 Nov, 23:05
I read your story and I think what your mother and your uncle probably perceived was not a hallucination, because it was something perceived by the two and they were not suggestible to see something similar. So I think what they perceived was a vestige of the past, that is, there is enough evidence that certain events that occurred may become receivable by any person in the place where these events occurred. A vestige of the past does not interact with anyone, so it fits with the fact that the appearance had no communication with your mother or your uncle.
Is this a rational explanation? I think so, because reason can not exclude a priori that such things exist or do not exist, only experience can tell us, but not a conventional explanation, because the idea that events leave a vestige in the place where they occurred, a trace that can cause certain perceptions in the future people pass by this place, it is an idea that is not accepted by official science.
Does this case is evidence of the afterlife? No, because as you have written, the apparition did not interact with your mother or your uncle, so we need not suppose that was the apparition of the spirit of a deceased. As I wrote, the more likely it is that the apparition was a vestige of the past, but there are other cases of apparitions that do interact with the witness and are evidence of the afterlife.
Juan, Wed 7 Nov, 22:56
Sorry if I had previously posted my story about the apparition-I am pretty sure I had not posted it on your blog before, but If I did, apologies.
Hoping to get a response to the story of the apparition seen by mom mom and uncle-specifically if you think it could be explained away by via some rational means.
Lee, Wed 7 Nov, 18:14
First, let me say I loved your book The Articulate Dead.
I do not know much about mediums and such, but want to pass on the experience of my mom and her brother, which has no rational explanation.
When my mom was around 10 and her brother 13, they both witnessed an apparition, which they thought looked like the Virgin Mary. This was about 10 yrs after WWII, in Eastern Europe, in a town that had been devastated by the war.
My mom and brother were home alone in their tiny home doing homework when my mom needed to get some ink from the kitchen. She opened the kitchen door and saw a woman, with veil on and hands in preying position, floating slowly across the kitchen wall. My mom says she looked like a painting (not a 3 D person)-it would be akin to someone standing a few feet from the Mona Lisa, or some other painting-this is how clear the view was. The apparition was seen from waste up and it was not translucent, nor transparent.
Seeing this, my mom immediately called her brother who ran into the kitchen and they proceeded to watch for about 5 seconds as this apparition floated to the end of the wall and disappeared-there was no communication. My uncle saw the exact same thing as my mom did.
My mom and her uncle did not grow up in an especially religious home, did not go to church and there were no paintings/pictures of the Virgin Mary in their home. They only say the apparition looked like the Virgin Mary based on pictures they had seen in homes of other people.
The kitchen had one small window which was heavily boarded up so that people from the street outside could not look in. There was no light source from outside which could have projected an image of this apparition. Nothing from the adjoining room could have projected this image into the kitchen.
Both my mom and uncle are now in their 70s and recall the experience as if it were yesterday. They did not become especially religious due to this experience and both still do not really know if they believe in a God. They just know that they saw an apparition that has absolutely no rational explanation.
If only my mom had seen this apparition, I would guess it to have simply been the imagination of a young girl. When two people see the same thing, then I wonder because this is not some joint-hallucination. The kids only told their mom about what they saw (their father had passed away during the war) and then some family members, such as myself, when they got older. They did not lie, or exaggerate about this sighting as they had absolutely nothing to gain. My mom is a very honest person by nature so I know she saw what she says she saw.
I do not know if such sightings provide any evidence of an afterlife, but it really does make one think about whether there is perhaps more to this world than just the material aspect.
Perhaps of interest…
Lee, Wed 7 Nov, 02:21
This is an excellent and erudite discussion! I’ve written quite a bit myself on some of the issues mentioned here, so I’d like to direct you to the relevant posts, some of which refer back to Mike’s work.
Regarding how one might recognize spirit impostors:
On Leslie Flint, and why I accept the Flint Chopin voice with Mike’s “98.8%” certainty as the genuine article: http://elenedom.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/hearing-voices-part-iiiâ€“-chopin/
(By the way, although Flint’s Chopin never speaks Polish, and that is a major issue, he does in fact speak a little French, and his accent in English is a fascinating combination of Gallic and Slavic elements which I think would be exceedingly difficult to fake. My French is pretty good and I know enough Polish to recognize what I’m hearing.)
Elene Gusch, Wed 5 Sep, 02:04
I am currently finishing up writing a book about the mediumship of Leonora Piper. As I have stated in the Preface, my objective is to filter out what William James referred to as the “bosh” material and more closely examine what appears to be genuine material. It took me about three or four reads to begin to understand Mrs. Piper’s mediumship and really appreciate it, and as I write the book and read some of the SPR transcripts and other references for a fourth and fifth time it becomes increasingly clear that many of the conditions are simply beyond human comprehension. That sounds like a cop-out to the skeptic, but the “non-bosh” material is convincing enough to me. Even though Leslie Flint’s mediumship was not the same as Mrs. Piper’s, I suspect that the same thing applies. I think it was Frederic Myers who said that it was “pure vanity” to think that we can understand the conditions under which the spirits attempt to communicate.
Incidentally, my next blog, which will appear September 6, a few days later than usual, will be an interview with Dr. R. Craig Hogan, one of Leslie Flint’s biggest supporters.
Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Aug, 01:52
I am of the opinion that some of Leslie Flints speakers are so deep and sincere for example Dr Cosmo Lang that it is hard to equate such philosophy with a sprite although not entirely out of the question. I would concur that sprites play a large part in the séances by David Thompson and Warren Caylor, one can tell by the impish voices. I believe Leslie Flint was generally channeling spirits of a slightly higher order. What we may be experiencing with Leslie Flint are not necessarily spirits who are who they say they are but spirits closer to the earth acting in an intermediary capacity, a bit like a medium on the lower astral planes if you like maybe trying to make amends for some wrong doing during his or her last incarnation. Another idea may be, as expressed by so many of the speakers is that it is very hard to remember a lot of their earthly life on the other side, or maybe we are communicating with the shell of a soul but this last point is hard to equate with intelligent real time two way conversation.
Gavin Doyle, Tue 28 Aug, 15:20
On the business of possible perfect impersonations by mischievous elementals of loved ones in seances.There seems to be distinct benefit to most sitters. A positive outcome nearly everytime.
steve trueblue, Sat 25 Aug, 18:12
And secondly, as every person has the same divine spark, all connected, why couldnt the agency responsible for knowing intimate details of the sitter, be that famous Mr G character disguising himself as a loved one? Because I always wonder why the “spirits” are never surprised at being contacted, by sitters. Even the murder victims contacted on Sensing Murder in NZ never express surprise- like after all these years? Suddenly? Why bother now? And why must I do it twice? (That’s the show format) I’m kimbo99 on youtube
I agree Gavin, i’ve sat in a physical seance before where a voice came from somewhere in the room singing a famous song. Afterwards i was told it was the original singer singing the song and later the seance was written up as such. In my mind there was no evidence of any kind that the person singing the song was the original singer, it was just a voice in a room and not even a clear voice.
Jon, Fri 24 Aug, 18:58
I think Gavn’s comments have been taken out of context. While it is not mine or anybody else’s place to suggest Leslie Flint or any other of a whole number of mediums lack or lacked integrity there still remains the fundamental question regarding corresponces in relation to identity. I, as I am sure a number of you have, have been to consult mediums who were able to give me all kinds of information in relation to myself and my dead relatives that they could not possibly have otherwise known. Whilst on the one hand I can take this as firstly good evidence of survival and in particular survival of my dead relatives, the question remains, was that really my aunt or my grandmother? Whilst we have all heard of sprites and genies in the lamps would it be too Blavatskyish to suggest that there are spiritual imposters out there? Imposters who do and can impersonate the dead because by virtue of their own nature and development (or lack of) can pick up information from the akashik records? Is it really great aunt Edna (as serendipity would have it) walking out from behind the curtain or speakisng on the tape? Or is it merely an elementalist or for that matter any other person that has died and is disposed to playing to people’s possible expectations simply because they can?
Richard, Fri 24 Aug, 17:58
Just to clarify, there is no way I would refer to Leslie Flint per se as an imposter. I am in no doubt that he was a man of very high integrity, his conscientious objection during the war just exemplifies this point. What I am saying is the spirits channelled through him were impersonating the rich and famous. Why does Chopin never speak French or Polish, maybe play a master piece as requested during so many sittings? Just as an example. We have to be very critical of the speakers, we have a duty to ourselves to be analytical in these matters. We cannot just ignore what does not fit.
Gavin Doyle, Fri 24 Aug, 15:45
What I dislike about physical mediums is their scarcity today. Why mediumship has evolved from trance and materialization mediumship to the current psychic mediumship that does not resort to trance? Also as mentioned above, is suspicious that physical mediumship sessions are not recorded on video. It is considered that light is an impediment to manifest this phenomenology, but could record with infrared light to enable materializations.
Also what interests me are the direct voice mediumship: in the past we found very robust cases direct voice mediumship as John Sloan, but now I think there is none. What is due? In the book “At the Edge of the Etheric” Arthur Findlay explores the medium John Sloan and he writes to express the voices of the dead requires a complex operation which requires a “chemical” on the other side and a medium on this side. Something that is susceptible to progressive research, but now we do not find anywhere. What I mean is that this lack of progress in mediumship is one of his greatest failures to address the phenomena in a scientific way.
Juan, Fri 24 Aug, 13:49
A few thoughts on the most recent comments:
I read Leslie Flint’s autobiography about 10 years ago and have listened to some of the tapes, which were difficult to understand, but I have never read any SPR or other research records on him. If there are such records, I’d like to find them.
It is my understanding that the “cabinet,” which is not always a cabinet but sometimes just a curtained off corner of the room is primarily to to allow the ectoplasm to condense as well as to give the materializing spirits some privacy. Don’t ask me why they need privacy.
As for electricity, I recall reading a number of reports that lightning storms prevented any kind of phenomena as did just stormy conditions. Most of the best materializations seem to have taken place before widespread electricity useage,and I have sometimes wondered if the decline in physical mediumship is partly related to that. Of course, the skeptic would say that lightning flashes might expose the fraudulent medium and the electric light easier to turn on than candles to expose the fraudulent medium, etc., etc.
I agree that the Kluski hands were among the very best evidence of spirit or something related to spirit, but the “spirits” were unknown to any of the sitters and so I would not put them in the same category as the materializations mentioned above.
Michael Tymn, Fri 24 Aug, 13:24
There is no evidence that Leslie Flint was an imposter, and I’m told most of the communicators were personal to the sitters and ‘not’ famous people, and apparently the sitters were generally convinced (in the case of the one I met) that the personal communicators were who they said they were.
Leslie Flint was the channel, a messenger if you like, and of course a communicator could be an imposter, and I have no idea whether Chopin was Chopin but that doesn’t take away flint’s integrity as a genuine medium.
Sitters could pay a modest sum for a tape of the sitting, and the sitter I met has a cupboard full of tapes, but I guess it’s the ‘famous’ communicator’ tapes that since Flint’s death have made their way onto the internet, and famous communications are generally controversial, and for me, the least interesting.
Jon, Fri 24 Aug, 12:06
Les Harris, Fri 24 Aug, 11:59
Re your comment of 20 August, I have always been suspicious of any prohibition of electronic devices until I read ‘The Scole Experiment’, in which the communicating entities said specifically that the electromagnetic spectrum of such devices interfered with their communication process.
Given the meticulous documentation of these experiments and the critical observation to which they were subjected, I would acept this explanation as having a high probability of being valid.
(And thanks to Wendy Zammit for picking up on this report and linking it to her weekly newsletter.)
Firstly, I would take issue with Gavin’s assertion that Leslie Flint was an impersonator, having listened to the Annie Nanji tapes (although his ‘guide’s supposed little boy’s voice sounds decidedly fake).
As to the physical mediums, why is there always some curtained cabinet? Bit Victorian isn’t it? Although agree would take an awful lot of work setting up impostors. And Michael Prescott’s revelation (to me anyway) that the spirits don’t allow video sounds odd also, considering those who research ITC/EVP where electronic equipment is used and faces have been found to appear on tv/computer screens, even when they’re turned off.
Which leads me to David Rountree. I’m no fan of EVP, but his views on the spiritual and quantum mechanics are very interesting.
tamsin, Fri 24 Aug, 07:44
Mike, your comparison between sugar and salt recalled in my mind an example made by Bruce Moen about his “Partnered Exploration” tecnique. He wrote in one of his book (or on his MB) that if two or more persons see a “car”, no matter if it’s a SUV, a Jeep or a cabriolet, red, yellow or green, the conceit is correct: it’s a locomotion tool in any case, so a “white powder” seen by the medium in my Mom’s recipe could be sugar, salt or cocaine (!!) but the message the medium is giving is correct, in any case. Only skeptics are able to say that this one is not a good goal!
Claudio Pisani, Fri 24 Aug, 00:42
LOL!! BTW I was kidding about polpettone! But I’d be curious to ask her about the recipe and even to make her materialization to cook it!!
Claudio, Thu 23 Aug, 23:33
I assume your comment about your mother’s recipe for meatball was tongue-in-cheek, but it did bring to mind two problems in spirit communication. The communicating spirit might have to mentally give the recipe by thought transference, i.e., picture the ingredients, in which case the control or the medium might not receive the pictures in the way intended, or might misinterpret the thought images. Thus, if the medium got sugar instead of salt, for example, you might say it couldn’t be your mother.
And there is the possibility that your mother made it so automatically that she didn’t really have the recipe in mind. I recall a sitting in which a Lusitania sinking victim was asked his cabin number. He didn’t know and so the medium was judged a fake. However, from personal experience, I know that many times I do not know my hotel room or ship cabin number. I know where the room is and just go to it without memorizing the number. This happened on a recent trip. I knew I had to go to the third door on the second floor, but when the desk clerk asked me my room number I couldn’t think of it.
Michael Tymn, Thu 23 Aug, 22:11
Claudio Pisani, Thu 23 Aug, 15:19
Mike Prescott’s thoughtson the same topic. Very interesting, too
Mike, if I’d happened to embrace my Mom, I would ask her secret recipe of “Polpettone” (big-meatball), because nor I or my wife are able to make it taste the same. BTW,if her suggestions were correct, I’d be 100% convinced!
Claudio Pisani, Thu 23 Aug, 14:41
This kind of phenomena always makes me wonder are these apparitions actually who they purport to be. Any one who has listened to Leslie Flint would or should in all honesty say that it is mostly impersonation, I don’t actually believe I am listening to Chopin, in fact the main protagonist Dr Charles Marshall has been caught out and recorded trying to impersonate a Chinese character, his explanation being that he had slipped back into an earlier incarnation. I personally don’t believe his explanation. Having read Joe Fisher, Siren call of hungry ghosts which is a very good read, I believe through what the entities have indicated, that it damages ones karma if we return to the earth plain as ones self. I certainly don’t take Fishers stance that we are communicating with demons as I don’t actually think they exist. I would recommend anyone curious about this whole phenomenon reads Fishers work as it is very evidential, of particular note is where a spirit predicts its future birth back on the earth plain.
Gavin Doyle, Wed 22 Aug, 14:55
Michael and Michael,
What about the Kluski hand molds? Both of you wrote great articles on the topic. Here we have alleged materializations that were captured in molds in a laboratory setting and repeated, just as science has demanded. 2 Italian scientists tried to replicate the molds but could not do it under the same conditions. It is a pity that these hand molds are not more well known amongst the general populace.
Ray, Wed 22 Aug, 00:16
Wendy, thank you for your comment.
Thank you for yours as well. I agree with you to some extent. When it comes to secondhand reports, the creditibility of the observers has to be considered and perhaps no single case can stand on its own if the person asked to believe hasn’t witnessed it for himself. However, as Sir Oliver Lodge, pointed out more than one time, it is the cumulative evidence that leads to conviction. In the case of Joseph Jonson, Admiral W. Usborne Moore also observed similar materializations and he was not grieving the loss of a loved one at the time. Npr were Harrison, Ducasse and Garland grieving at the time, and the light in some cases was better than dim. Garland was of the William James school, not wanting to believe in such “tomfoolery,” and I know of no more objective reporter than Garland. If anything, he was biased toward non-belief when he began his investigation of mediiums, and, like James, pretty much remained on the fence to his dying day. But it wasn’t the phenomena that he doubted, it was whether it suggested spirits and survival.
On the other hand, Heward Carrington judged Jonson a fraud, but if you read Carrington’s SPR report, which was early in his career as a psychical researcher, you can see that he didn’t have the slightest understanding of physical mediumship at the time and was out to debunk Jonson.
Of course there are many other accounts of such materializations and they all add up enough to convince me that they are real, even if there were some fakes. At the same time, I think, as researcher William Crawford pointed out, that the number of frauds has been greatly exaggerated over time. Somehow a “few” frauds grew into “many” frauds and it has been perpetuated over time. As with Eusapia, there were things going on that were taken to be tricks on her part but were unconscious movements apparently prompted by possessing spirits. That is not to say that Eusapia wasn’t guilty of an occasional trick now and then when her powers failed her and she felt a need to make the observers happy, but her “tricks” resulted in very minor phenomena.
Also, I don’t see it as that “easy” to assume that the researchers were incompetent or in cahoots with the medium. That sounds like a debunker’s argument. Throw in Richet, Geley, Lodge,Schrenck-Notzing, Crookes, Crawford, and other reputable scientists who reported observing materializations, and the cumulative credibility far exceeds any reasonable standard. If we can’t believe their cumulative testimony—testimony based on dozens, even hundreds, of observations when combined—what can we believe?
I understand your points and appreciate your comment.
Michael Tymn, Tue 21 Aug, 13:23
Personally I have had fantastic evidence from mental mediums and this more than anything has convinced me that my old materialist worldview was wrong.
Added to that, the research on NDE’S, remote viewing, deathbed visions, telepathy, precognition, and ESP, etc., point to consciousness (us) being non-local and not bound by time and space.
As far as the people that Michael are writing about are concerned; often they came to their conclusions after sitting regularly with mediums, in some cases for many years. Edward Randall, the New York lawyer claims he sat more than 700 times with the direct voice medium, Emily French. She was an elderly lady who took no money for her time, and I’m sure if any of us did what Randall did, we would have an unshakable view of that particular medium and of the survival of consciousness.
A few months ago I had lunch with a well-known human rights lawyer from London. This man is a very grounded individual, and as he told me, he has spent his professional life defending the great and the not so great. I would call him a reliable witness.
In 1978 his twenty-one year old son died, and sometime later he was introduced to Leslie Flint. As a result of this introduction they became friends and he went on to sit with Flint every month for 14 years, and spoke at Flint’s funeral in 1994.
I only mention his because I haven’t met too many people in my lifetime who spent this much time with one medium, which the likes of Lodge, Crookes, and James did.
Jon, Tue 21 Aug, 13:03
An absolutely brilliant summary of some of the best evidence Michael.
Wendy Zammit, Tue 21 Aug, 02:04
I agree that if I witnessed such a materialization, I’d regard it as pretty amazing. But when it comes to secondhand reports, I find this type of mediumship to be among the least convincing lines of evidence. The reason is that it’s so easy to dismiss eyewitness accounts or to assume that the researchers were incompetent or in cahoots with the medium. The long history of fraud in physical and materialization mediumship further complicates the issue.
With NDEs, there is normally no reason to doubt the experiencer’s veracity. With mental mediumship there’s often a verbatim transcript or audio or video record. With spontaneous recall of a past life, there are ways of verifying the person’s detailed claims. But when it comes to a materialization in a dimly lit room, where there is no video because (perhaps suspiciously) the spirits don’t allow it, we’re stuck with having to trust the judgment of people we don’t know, whose objectivity may be compromised by grief or preconceived expectations.
I’m not saying such phenomena never happen, but as ammunition to persuade open-minded skeptics, materializations don’t pack much of a punch, IMO.
Michael Prescott, Tue 21 Aug, 01:20
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