IMG_0569
Blog powered by Typepad

« The will to disbelieve | Main | Flying saucers! »

Comments

Thanks for reposting this Michael. My own thoughts follow (with some copying from the previous thread):

a) It is significant that Gardner barely makes any mention of Richard Hodgson. Indeed, it is strange that an essay supposedly debunking Mrs Piper is specifically titled in regards to William James - the real investigators in this case were Hodgson, Hyslop, and the SPR.

b) Gardner ignores (suppresses) astonishing cases of highly specific information, unknown even to the sitters (so pretty hard for them to babble about it in the back room). Gardner has the gall to say that books about Mrs Piper by believers "seldom mention her information failures". This statement (quite untrue by the way) is perhaps more relevant when it comes to skeptics discussing her "information successes". It is this 'error of omission' that allows 'skeptics' to deceive their readers into thinking that it is all easily explainable via cold reading.

c) I found the two following statements interesting: "Did the hand require shouting because Mrs. Piper was getting deaf? On the contrary her hearing was extremely acute.", and then at the end of the essay, "Mrs. Piper died in 1950, at age ninety-one, and almost totally deaf." Perhaps she suddenly became deaf at the end of her life, but it certainly throws doubt on his earlier claim that her hearing was "extremely acute."

d) I must say I am weary of hearing how Alice James tricked her brother and dismissed Mrs Piper. What relevance does this anecdote have? Skeptics present it as though it caught Mrs Piper out, but (as far as I know) there is no record of what her conclusion was. For all we know she may have read this correctly? Amidst the copious amounts of data that were recorded, this is irrelevant (unless, perhaps, you're grasping at straws).

e) On the Hall/Tanner aspects: reposting from the previous thread, Hyslop's article (which Vitor kindly posted) has some worthwhile quotes about Hall and Tanner, which are highly significant to the following criticisms made by Gardner (indeed, they basically debunk the debunker):

* On 'full records' of seances never being recorded:

"Again says Dr. Tanner, referring to the manner of making the records:

'Notes were taken in long hand, but, as far as can be judged, until Hyslop's sittings no attempt was made to take down everything that was said, especially remarks considered foreign to the matter in hand, or remarks of one sitter to the other, when two or more were present.' (p, 45.)

There is not one word of truth in these statements, except that at some sittings used in the earlier Reports long hand notes were taken. The rest of it is pure fiction. It is the less excusable because the book pretends to show a knowledge of the various volumes published by the Society. Stenographic records were made by Dr. Hodgson long before I had any sittings "

* On Piper's use of 'fishing'/'cold reading':

"Contrary to their own insinuations and statements I applied fishing, guessing, "shrewd inference," and suggestion and found them wanting (Cf. Vol. XVI, pp. 12, 16-17, 247-248). They apply readily enough to certain isolated incidents having no synthetic complexity and this was admitted. But they do not apply to certain complicated facts and no one of any in¬telligence at all would assert their application without giving" evidence of it. But there is not one single concrete example of this application by the authors to any synthetic incident in my records. There is assertion, but not evidence. Besides with all their talk about guessing, fishing, and suggestion they give not a single experiment showing any such results as are found in the Piper and other records."

* On Hall and Tanner being open-minded scientists:

"what with their confession in an unguarded moment that they did not know how to work but were learning how; what with the pretence of honesty in their beliefs and perpetual intimation of a desire to test the supernormal and then in two passages to confess that they had no such object, while the language of contempt is exhausted in sneering at the phenomena before their experiments had hardly begun...what with their sneers and abuse of others and complaints that misrepresentation and stupidity are not tolerantly respected; what with the cant of certain orthodox phrases which are covered up in scientific insinuations of another kind (pp. XXX and 381), what with all these the calm critic can only say that the book either displays the grossest ignorance of the facts and the subject, or it is a colossal piece of constructive lying. The authors may take either horn of the dilemma they like."

I must say, having heard about Gardner's "demolition" of Piper quite a bit, I was very disappointed to see how weak this essay really is. It seems to have taken on somewhat of a 'mythical' presence in skeptical arguments...perhaps because it's not accessible freely?

Apart from that though - as strong as the Piper evidence is to me, it's still all a century away from us in time...and so I think I will always have my doubts that something slipped through the sharp eyes of these investigators. Martin Gardner has nothing to do with those doubts though...

Kind regards,
Greg

BTW Michael, if you think the NY Times review had its weak points, try the Skeptic's Dictionary review:

http://skepdic.com/refuge/blum.html

In which Mr Carroll manages to bluster through the whole thing without mentioning the actual evidence as presented by Mrs Piper and the SPR...

Kind regards,
Greg

<<<<"When [the deceased George] Pellew began coming through Mrs. Piper, Hodgson was so skeptical that he hired detectives to shadow Mrs. Piper and her husband for several weeks...>

As I recall, Hodgson came to the US in 1887 and his investigation of Piper began late that year or early 1888. I am almost certain it was during the first year or two of his investigation that he hired the detectives. Pellew did not die until February 1892.

"The skeptics and the exposed fakes (such as Madame Blavatsky) are given coverage in her book, but she offers very little skeptical criticism of the stories she repeats, preferring to let the reader assume there is no good rational explanation for at least some of the stories."

Carroll's mention of the expose' of Madame Blavatsky is highly ironic since it was achieved by none other than Richard Hodgson. Apparently Carroll would have us believe that Hodgson became an incompetent boob while investigating Mrs. Piper. Incredible!

>"Unlike other mediums of the time, she never produced physical phenomena."

I just would like to remember again that is not true, according to

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/mediums/piper.htm

"Mrs. Piper did not exhibit physical phenomena, except one single manifestation: she could withdraw the scent from flowers and make them wither in a short time."

> Carroll's mention of the expose' of Madame Blavatsky is highly ironic since it was achieved by none other than Richard Hodgson. Apparently Carroll would have us believe that Hodgson became an incompetent boob while investigating Mrs. Piper. Incredible!

***Just some informations about the case Blavatsky x Hodgson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodgson_Report

Harrison says about the Hodgson Report that "whereas Hodgson was prepared to use any evidence, however trivial or questionable, to implicate HPB, he ignored all evidence that could be used in her favor. His report is riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses, selection of evidence and downright falsity."

He concluded that Hodgson's case against Madame H. P. Blavatsky is not proven, and that there is no evidence that the Mahatma Letters were written by her.

I read the skeptics Dictionary Review.
This quote, from the Review sums it up for me
“….My hope was based on having read many of Blum's science articles when she wrote for The Sacramento Bee. She was an excellent science writer and seemed to approach her subjects with a critical and skeptical eye. After reading the opening ghost story in the book, however, I realized that this was not going to be the kind of book I'd hoped for. I then read the acknowledgements section in the back of the book. Blum is now a journalism instructor in Wisconsin. She claims that working on this book changed her. Instead of being skeptical of ghost stories, she says she is now less smug and less positive of her rightness about these stories being, well, stories….”

To me it reads:-
“… She used to be a reliable skeptic, but she’s researched the facts, and can no longer be relied on to support my armchair rhetoric…”

Or have I misread this?

Beliefs are powerful.

Paradigms are really powerful.

Paradigm paralysis makes it almost impossible to see outside our paralysis.

Could this be why signification emotional events occur in our lives?

Without these events would we ever advance in love and intelligence?

From my point of view there is probably more evidence for the paranormal and life after death than Darwin’s theory of evolution which most scientists now call fact and one not dare challenge their fact or face censure and ridicule. This is a classic example of paradigm paralysis in action.

Interesting how a materialistic paradigm can create a fact out of data that has gaps the size of an aircraft carrier.

Personally I think Darwin’s theory is due to cold reading.

Great blog post Michael! I was following those posts in the last topic. :)

Michael, I'm currently reading through two excellent indepth books on the topic of Psychic Detectives. As you may well know, there is virtually no positive or balanced information on them online, merely numerous one-sided biased skeptic sources bashing them and making accusations unabated, without giving the full story or the full data.

I'm hoping to write several articles with the knowledge I attain from reading these two excellent books. These two books are not one-sided I've found, they give all sides of the issue in these perticular cases, like in David Fontana's "Is There An Afterlife?".

I'll let you know any interesting information I come across.

I'm currently reading The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime it's very interesting

The two books I'm reading through are (I think I've already mentioned them in another thread)...

"Witnesses to the Unsolved: Prominent Psychic Detectives and Mediums Explore Our Most Haunting Mysteries"

And...

"Psychic Detectives (Reader's Digest)"

I don't know if anyone has heard Marcel Cairo sister-in-law, Donna (age 41), suffered a massive heart attack due in part to complications from juvenile diabetes the prognosis is not good.

Michael I came across this review by keith Augustine on the book Whatever Happened to the soul? scientific and theological portraits of human nature

http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Happened-Scientific-Theological-Portraits/dp/0800631412

The Evidence From Neuroscience

As one would expect from its title--"Brain, Mind, and Behavior"--Chapter 4 is the most important chapter in the entire book. It begins with a brief historical account of the development of neuroscience to the present day and then illustrates the overwhelming evidence for the dependence of consciousness on the brain by considering localization studies of brain functions, split-brain surgery and hemispheric specialization, various mental deficiencies tied to brain lesions or brain damage, and the effects of brain damage on personality traits and social behavior. Malcolm Jeeves' historical overview of the development of neuroscience ends with a brief consideration of a very famous and dramatic example of mind-brain dependence:

In 1848, a 25-year old foreman, Phineas Gage ... accidentally prematurely exploded a charge which sent a tamping iron through Gage's left cheek, piercing his skull, traversing the front of his brain and exiting at high speed from the top of his head.... His employers described how, before the accident he was efficient and capable, but afterward his personality had clearly undergone a dramatic change. Not only was he feckless and irresponsible, his likes and dislikes, his aspirations, his ethics and morals, were altered. Such findings suggested that ... there may be systems in the human brain, which, if damaged, may alter the personal and social dimensions of normal life (77-78).

In Chapter 6, "Nonreductive Physicalism: Philosophical Issues," Nancey Murphy conceives of physicalism[4]--the position that only physical matter is needed to account for everything encountered in nature--as the "research program" of the neurosciences. For neuroscience, physicalism entails that mental phenomena can be accounted for in terms of brain function. In Imre Lakatos' philosophy of science, a research program is a model which explains known phenomena and (hopefully) predicts the occurrence of novel phenomena. Research programs which generate novel predictions are progressive programs, whereas those which fail to generate novel predictions are considered degenerating[5]. The ability of a program to generate predictions which are later confirmed is an important mark of scientific progress. Murphy writes: "Insofar as researchers ... make progress in explaining 'mental' phenomena, the program as a whole is making empirical progress and its core thesis [physicalism] is thereby corroborated" (140). Murphy continues: "I find brain localization studies to be some of the most impressive pieces of evidence for the physicalist program. Besides simply locating and modeling mental processes as previously understood, these studies sometimes improve our understanding of the mental processes themselves" (140). The enormous success of physicalism as a research program and the complete absence of a rival research program in psychology based on dualism illustrates the level of corroboration that physicalism has received from neuroscience. There is simply no ongoing research correlating mental states to the states of an immaterial spiritual substance. That this is so is no accident; rather, it is indicative that dualism is a degenerative research program--a scientific dead end as useless today as an Earth-centered model of the solar system.

The ability to localize mental traits to specific areas of the brain provides strong evidence that mental phenomena are generated by the brain itself, rather than by an immaterial soul which merely uses the brain to control the body. Nevertheless, Murphy concedes that such evidence does not constitute proof that dualism is false because mental traits could merely be correlated with certain areas of the brain. Why they would be so correlated must be a great mystery to dualists who think that the mind can exist almost completely intact in the absence of a brain, as if thinking, remembering, and perceiving would be unaffected by the disintegration of the brain and sense organs. Furthermore, certain types of well-established phenomena, such as the creation of two separate streams of consciousness operating simultaneously in one body in split-brain patients (who have had the corpus callosum connecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain severed), cannot be accounted for on dualism[6]. If the mind was an indivisible immaterial substance that could exist independently of the brain then we should not be able to create two minds simply by severing the corpus collosum. Nor should the mind be directly affected by any tampering with the brain. If Cartesian dualism were true the only affect that brain damage could have would be to incapacitate the ability of the mind (or soul) to control the body, but the mind itself would remain intact. We have an enormous amount of evidence that this is false--changes in the brain result in changes in mental states themselves. The specific evidence from neuroscience, as well as the general success of physicalism and the corresponding failure of dualism as research programs, provides sufficiently strong evidence--even if not irrefutable proof--to make physicalism by far the best explanation of the evidence at hand.

Beyerstein lists five main types of empirical evidence which support the dependence of consciousness on the brain. First, phylogenetic evidence refers to the evolutionary relationship between the complexity of the brain and a species' cognitive traits (Beyerstein 45). Corliss Lamont sums up this evidence: "We find that the greater the size of the brain and its cerebral cortex in relation to the animal body and the greater their complexity, the higher and more versatile the form of life" (Lamont 63). Second, the developmental evidence for mind-brain dependence is that mental abilities emerge with the development of the brain; failure in brain development prevents mental development (Beyerstein 45). Third, clinical evidence consists of cases of brain damage that result from accidents, toxins, diseases, and malnutrition that often result in irreversible losses of mental functioning (45). If the mind could exist independently of the brain, why couldn't the mind compensate for lost faculties when brain cells die after brain damage? (46). Fourth, the strongest empirical evidence for mind-brain dependence is derived from experiments in neuroscience. Mental states are correlated with brain states; electrical or chemical stimulation of the human brain invokes perceptions, memories, desires, and other mental states (45). Finally, the experiential evidence for mind-brain dependence consists of the effects of several different types of drugs which predictably affect mental states (45).

leo that is a long lonely road you are going down but it has to be walked.

been there done that.

keep up the reading and you will be able to explain many of the mysteries of the brain consciousness connection.

unless of course the materialistic paradigm has turned into paradigm paralysis. ie ultra skeptics

then all bets are off.

No i am a dualist I used to be a materialist until i had my experiences with the paranormal i have researched the evidence on life after death and psi. Just brought it up because this Dr.Warren Brown is a christian usually that would be someone you would not think to agree with the production hypothesis which also Keith Augustine's agree's with just wondering if anyone can rebut the chapter 4 evidence for neuroscience article above. I think I can but I want to see if anyone else can please!!!

Leo,

Nobody doubts that certain mind functions are tightly coupled to the brain. Anybody who has been to a bar can attest to this; you don't need an fMRI machine. By the way, you don't have to be a dualist to accept the existence of psychic phenomena.

I concur with Alex. This skeptic's approach to brain-as-mind, aside from ignoring the vast body of paranormal and psi evidence, is really a straw man argument. The skeptics insist that believers in a nonlocal mind are actually believers in an immaterial soul and that the brain has nothing to do with the manifestation of the mind. Now, I can't speak for the soul part, but is there any intelligent, well-read psi supporter who doesn't think the brain plays a major role in consciousness? Of course it does. But the dogmatic materialists would rather paint supporters of the nonlocal mind concept or dualists as "woo-woo" quasi-religious types who believe the brain is just there to fill space in our skulls, then proceed to tear our "arguments" apart.

As for Carroll's comment about Blum, I've experienced the phenomenon of being a skeptical apostate myself recently. I'm doing some early research on a possible book on energy healing methods and I posted a question about the subject on a forum, saying I was approaching the material from a necessarily skeptical point of view (meaning, as we all know, open minded but insisting on evidence). The resident skeptic immediately insisted that all energy healing was bunk (untrue, based on many reliable peer-reviewed studies), and when I questioned his possible bias, he wrote that he was disappointed that my skeptical credentials were not genuine. Meaning, of course, that I was supposed to be HIS version of a skeptic: to blindly denounce the field based on his say-so.

And then to top it off, he threw the JAMA study on the failed Therapeutic Touch practitioners, the one conducted by a 9-year-old girl but that still somehow passed peer review, in my face as evidence that all energy healing is bunk. I of course asked him what the skeptical community would say if a nine-year-old published a conclusive telepathy experiment and the pro-psi community pointed to it as proof (answer: we would be scorned to the heavens, even moreso than we are now), but he never responded to the question.

Biases are indeed powerful.

Leo: here is how most research works. Those that have a materialist paradigm usually find or do research that supports their cherished beliefs in spite of the data. Scientists that worked for cigarette companies and studied the dangers of smoking are a classic proof of this phenomena.

Those that believe in the paranormal or the soul or that consciousness can survive outside the brain usually find that their research supports their paranormal paradigm.

Please note I said usually. This is why we humans are so special once in a while granted only in a great while a person can somehow someway break out of their paradigm or cherished belief and make a paradigm shift in their thinking.

Joel barker would be proud I used the term paradigm in every paragraph. Sorry but paradigms explain so much about our human behavior at least to me.

william: It's the logical fallacy known as "confirmation bias" where they will only read and trust and interpret things from sources that already confirm their pre-conceived beliefs on the matter.

Still, it would be nice to see those materialist neurological arguments refuted.
They are still my biggest hurdle. Yes, I know that there is substantial evidence for non local mind, but, this is by no means a proof of individual survival. Personality changes brought about by brain injury, argue directly against personal survival. Unless, the whole personality cannot manifest thru a damaged brain.
Can anyone rise to Leo's challenge?

based on theory in buddhism, and discussions michael had in his much earlier post about 'what survives death' (i dont know when and where), the idea is that it is the awareness that survives.......some called it the 'observer.' hence, personality, mood, intellect, and memories do not survive.

so with brain damage and Alzheimer patients and people who are mentally handicapped- they are still self-aware- but it's just that given by their experience and brain chemistry, their personalities were the product of those.

if the antenna/receiver theory is correct, then that awareness is the signal in the air...meanwhile, depending on the type and the make of the tv, what you see may differ from what others see.

now i think about it.....maybe the whole universe is really just one conscious energy, and that every sentient being is part of that consciousness- it's just that based on the form the sentient being possess, the global consciousness is able to express itself in a unique form- creating an illusion of individual awareness.

(somehow i get the feeling that art will jump onto this with his holographic view, although i still think that view is incomplete)

Transmission Theory of Consciousness explains this very easily. To quote Michael Prescott regarding this Theory of Consciousness (I believe he told me this in email awhile back, and I loved his simple explaination)...

"I think these arguments can be addressed by the transmission theory of consciousness. As a simple analogy, the shows that appear on your TV do not originate inside the TV set. They originate as a signal broadcast through space. The TV picks up this signal and decodes it, translating it into pictures and sound. Now, if the TV is damaged, it may no longer produce a sharp picture or clear sound - but the signal will remain undamaged. Brain damage, etc., certainly affects the way we think and act, but if the transmission theory is true, it affects us because our "receiver" has been damaged.

In this case, the signal is undamaged, but when it is received by the brain and decoded, the reception/decoding is distorted or incomplete. In our earthly lives, our thoughts are mediated by our brains, so brain damage will affect our thoughts. But this does not tell us the ultimate source of consciousness. Remember, a damaged TV may display a blurry picture and produce garbled sound, even though the signal is as clear as ever. Bad TV reception does not equal a bad TV signal. Turn off the TV and the signal continues. The particular pattern of light and sound, as decoded by the receiver, is gone, but all the information that comprises the pattern is still in existence in the signal itself.

Of course, if psi phenomena are not genuine, then the "production theory" of consciousness must be preferred. But if psi phenomena are genuine, then the "transmission theory" fits the facts much more neatly. So it comes down to an evaluation of the empirical evidence." (Michael Prescott)

Links:

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/articles/carter/consciousness.htm - Does Consciousness depend on the Brain?

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/articles/hart/consciousness.htm - Can Consciousness Survive Destruction of the Brain?

http://www.esalenctr.org/display/confpage.cfm?confid=9&pageid=86&pgtype=1 - Transmission Theory of Consciousness

Thankyou Eteponge I just don't get the materialists sometimes I mean yes they want to protect their cherish beliefs but i mean it likes there so certain that they are right and that everyone else is wrong.

This is the most ming boggling case I have ever saw on tv.I like to report about a haunted house case i saw back on television it was on the Discovery Channel the show is called A Haunting it's based on real life encounters with the paranormal this was about a year ago it was about a business man called Edward he had maids in a house now he used to abuse them. This was back in World War 2 now a family moved in to the place. At first the young girl started seeing a guy with a black suit and black hair then the older girl started seeing the apparition too then finally the mother. The family decided to call in some paranormal investigators. The investigators dug up some history about the house that's when they found out a man called Edward and a couple of housemaids used to live in the house as well. They showed a picture of what Edward looked like both the girls and mother both confirmed it was Edward. Now next they decided to take a blank tape and tape recorded into the house they decided to press play and record and live the house to see if anything could be picked up next day they rewind the tape and what they heard shock them first was the sound of them leaving the door shutting then Edwards voice was heard he said ''you didn't tell them did you did you". His voice came on by the way very clear.

Check out B. Alan Wallace's interview in Salon:

Advanced contemplatives in the Buddhist tradition have talked about tapping into something called the "substrate consciousness." What is that?

Just for a clarification of terms, I've demarcated three whole dimensions of consciousness. There's the psyche. It's the human mind -- the functioning of memory, attention, emotions and so forth. The psyche is contingent upon the brain, the nervous system, and our various sensory faculties. It starts sometime at or following conception, certainly during gestation, and it ends at death. So the psyche has pretty clear bookends. This is what cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists study. They don't study anything more. And they quite reasonably assume that that's all there is to it. But as long as you study the mind only by way of brain states and behavior, you're never going to know whether there's any other dimension because of the limitations of your own methodologies. So here's a hypothesis: The psyche does not emerge from the brain. Mental phenomena do not actually emerge from neuronal configurations. Nobody's ever seen that they do.

So your hypothesis is just the reverse from what all the neuroscientists think.

Precisely. The psyche is not emerging from the brain, conditioned by the environment. The human psyche is in fact emerging from an individual continuum of consciousness that is conjoined with the brain during the development of the fetus. It can be very hampered if the brain malfunctions or becomes damaged.

But you're saying there are also two other aspects of consciousness?

Yeah. All I'm presenting here is the Buddhist hypothesis. There's another dimension of consciousness, which is called the substrate consciousness. This is not mystical. It's not transcendent in the sense of being divine. The human psyche is emerging from an ongoing continuum of consciousness -- the substrate consciousness -- which kind of looks like a soul. But in the Buddhist view, it is more like an ongoing vacuum state of consciousness. Or here's a good metaphor: Just as we speak of a stem cell, which is not differentiated until it comes into the liver and becomes a liver cell, or into bone marrow and becomes a bone marrow cell, the substrate consciousness is stem consciousness. And at death, the human psyche dissolves back into this continuum.

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/11/27/wallace/index2.html

>And at death, the human psyche dissolves back into this continuum.

The problem with this is that it leaves unaddressed the evidence for personal survival: messages via mediums, spontaneous after-death communications, deathbed visions of deceased relatives, children's memories of past lives, NDEs, etc.

I see no reason to assume that personal identity dissolves away upon death. Maybe it gradually dissolves over a long period of postmortem existence, but the evidence indicates that personal identity persists for some time in the next life.

william: It's the logical fallacy known as "confirmation bias" where they will only read and trust and interpret things from sources that already confirm their pre-conceived beliefs on the matter.

Posted by: Eteponge

eteponge

Showing Joel barker’s video the business of paradigms at my seminars has had an impact on my view of the term paradigms and has helped me to understand very often the rigidity of human behavior.

Interesting to me is with all of Joel barker's expertise on paradigms my communication with him through emails appeared to reveal to me that he has some interesting paradigms of his own.

It is so much easier to see other’s paradigms in action but our own “confirmation bias” is almost impossible to see.

It is much easier to talk and know about a subject then to have some kind of knowing beyond knowing that removes all doubt. One might say that religious people that have great faith have removed all doubt but nothing could be farther from the truth. Defensive behavior is doubt in action and gives them away.

This same defensive and sometimes even hostile behavior can be seen in atheists and ultra skeptics when anyone challenges their beliefs. Of course many even claim to hold no beliefs and this may be delusion in the highest form.

My point in all of this is even when we discuss the paranormal subjects on this blog most of us can see others bias getting in the way of their ability to approach this subject with an completely open mind. Open mind is probably an oxymoron.

I see no reason to assume that personal identity dissolves away upon death. Maybe it gradually dissolves over a long period of postmortem existence, but the evidence indicates that personal identity persists for some time in the next life.

Posted by: Michael Prescott

Michael what about reincarnation? There appears to be a lot of evidence for it. This suggests that traits from that personal identity continue on.

Oh I think you are stating the difference between personal identify and the continuation of consciousness. A person can be a Joe in this life and a sally in the next. Is that what you mean by the personal identity gradually dissolving?

Children talking a foreign language and remembering past lives highly suggests reincarnation. My granddaughter sure come into this life with a unique personality and some interesting personal interests all her own. And she appears to know things that she did not learn in her present incarnation.

personal identity persists for some time in the next life.

I see no particular reason to believe that time is real. Even in this life, we are never in the past or future, we are always experiencing right here right now. And precognitive experiences also cast doubt on

Physics and mysticism both suggest that time is an emerging phenomenon of the macroscopic world of objects and also the psychological world. I suspect when the body is gone that consciousness is no longer bound to linear time.

Sorry for the mangled comment. It should read:

Precognitive experiences also cast doubt on the standard interpretations of time.

dont we suffer our own 'confirmation bias' too? every time when i read any materialist's argument about consciousness survival, the first thing i do is to google for its rebuttal. it's great that people on this blog would do the research so i dont have to look too far. :)

even though we called ourselves open-minded, but nonetheless we always look for contrary evidence against materialist's argument. we really dont look for more research supporting the materialist's paradigm, do we? we always look for the opposite.

the only thing that differs though, is the fact that we're willing to look at other paranormal phonemena and point out its weakness or flaw (perfect example of this would be dave thompson and victor zammit)

but in the end, i'm afraid that our confirmation bias is what keeps us fighting back against the materialist's paradigm.

having experience of my own with children with terminal brain tumors and illnesses, autisms, and mental retardation, i find it very difficult to disagree with the materialist's view of consciousness- even though i really want to believe that there is an afterlife and that they have souls so that their sufferings would be a path to something great and divine rather than just hurting pointlessly and into the eternal void.

TomC wrote: "Every time when I read any materialist's argument about consciousness survival, the first thing I do is to google for it's rebuttal."

That's not confirmation bias, that's researching all sides of the argument, and going back and forth to get a sharper view on things, regardless of which side you are on. That's what I do.

A confirmation bias driven believer person would probably not even bother to even look at the Skeptics' Arguments at all, and even if they did, they would probably auto-dismiss them all out of hand as nothing worth investigating further, and probably wouldn't take them seriously enough to even bother looking for an answer. Why? "Because it's all 100% true and proven beyond all doubt in my mind, and nothing you say can ever change that! I don't care what you silly Skeptics say, I already know it's all true, I feel it within me, and theres too much there to deny it, and it makes total sense to me! You're just a bunch of angry souless killjoys with nothing better to do than to turn people away from the truth and keep everyone in darkness and fear!"

Confirmation bias from a Skeptic would be one that only reads and trusts James Randi's material, CSICOP's material, Keith Augustine's material, etc, and keeps their discernment solely in that mindset and worldview, and REFUSES to honestly examine the other side of the argument. Why? "Because it's all already been 100% end-all debunked as complete BS you ignorant uneducated child-like thinking, wish-fulfillment seeking, primitive dim pseudo-scientific woo woos! We are the brave guard dogs who defend SCIENCE against your 100% completely debunked ridiculous fairy tale woo woo claims!"

I'm on the "believers" side because the greater weight of the overall evidence and overall data GREATLY swings in it's favor, when compared from all sides overall. I do read up on arguments from both sides, constantly. I seek and prefer "both sided" sources if avalible.

The Veridical Evidence in these paranormal fields, especially the many dazzleshots, in many paranormal cases do hold up, and to me are the blows that knocks this stuff over to the "believer" side's advantage for me. The Skeptics' Arguments in most cases are very easily answered and countered when viewing the overall facts and overall data.

>I suspect when the body is gone that consciousness is no longer bound to linear time.

Hmm. If there is no time, how can anything ever happen? Wouldn't there be permanent, immutable stasis? For something to happen, one thing has to change in relation to another thing ... and that's pretty much what we mean by "time." Time and change are closely interwoven. No time would mean no change ... right?

If communications from mediums can be trusted, it seems as if the communicators do have some sense of time. Perhaps they aren't as tightly bound to it as we are. Maybe they can see a little bit ahead in ways that we usually can't. But I can't conceive of how they could be outside of time altogether, and still be thinking, feeling, communicating, functioning (processes which, like all processes, require sequential changes, i.e., time).

Of course I could be wrong. Some people say that reality is just a series of moments, each of which is permanent and eternal, and the only progression is that of consciousness as it switches attention from one moment to the next. It seems to me that in this case consciousness, at least, exists "in time," even if the moments exist outside of time. This point of view also seems to assume that there is no free will, and that everything (including the future) has already happened, since every moment already exists.

Is a puzzlement, as the King of Siam would say.

Hmm. If there is no time, how can anything ever happen? Wouldn't there be permanent, immutable stasis? For something to happen, one thing has to change in relation to another thing ... and that's pretty much what we mean by "time." Time and change are closely interwoven. No time would mean no change ... right?

The nondual position, which I am substantially in favor of, states pretty clearly that nothing ever really does change in essence.

From that place of completeness, wholeness, timelessness and no-THING-ness, a dream of transience, duality, and change began. We are the content of that dream, and the one who is dreaming as well.

But the underlying reality never changed. The changes are in appearance, only.


If communications from mediums can be trusted, it seems as if the communicators do have some sense of time. Perhaps they aren't as tightly bound to it as we are.
Maybe they can see a little bit ahead in ways that we usually can't.

There is still an assumption there of an entity "Michael" with a body on the one hand and an entity "William James" with no body on the other.

Much of the NDE literature, as well as mystical experiences, suggest that we and they are actually the same being dreaming dreams of separation, and that that "optical delusion of consciousnes" (as Einstein put it) can be and is seen through to varying degrees.

But I can't conceive of how they could be outside of time altogether, and still be thinking, feeling, communicating, functioning (processes which, like all processes, require sequential changes, i.e., time).

Being the role of "someone" probably requires following a timeline.

Being everyone / no-one / "God" probably does not.

The "life review" from near-death experiences provides an example of non-linearity of time -- an entire lifetime perceived and relived in an instant.

Looking deeply at the nature of the present moment and its relationship to past and future tends to point out the non-dual, ineffable nature of time.

But Matthew don’t appearances change on the other side? It appears that they do from the feedback we get from those that are able to come through a medium and tell us about the other side or other worlds.

But they also tell us that time is different over there. Most to my recollection don’t really say there is no time but they don’t really obsess with time like we do. Maybe because they are living in a more mental eternal mode this makes time of little relevance/significance in their world. Not seeing the death of trees and others, etc would give one an impression that time does not exist.

I know when I got a complete life review there appeared to be no time involved if there was it appeared to be so short, that time was not a factor. Can’t explain it wish I could.

As far as reality never changing that has to be a given because reality is infinite and infinite does not change. If “it” “that” “is” changed it would not be infinite. It just is has always been is and will always be is. Now what that is “is”; is open for discussion. That which changes is perceived and temporal.

One has to admit that this “play” is one really fantastic, realistic, and majestic movie with lots of drama. The intelligence behind this play is beyond our concepts, words, and probably our imagination at this time.

The master that I trust the most in my research states that there is an underlying reality that is well hidden from our view but what connects us to other entities in other worlds is consciousness. This is not a direct quote but a paraphrase of one of his teachings. If this underlying reality were not well hidden would we humans participate to the level that we do and have the opportunity to learn these life lessons? One has to admit we humans really get caught up in this drama called life.

"I see no reason to assume that personal identity dissolves away upon death. Maybe it gradually dissolves over a long period of postmortem existence, but the evidence indicates that personal identity persists for some time in the next life."

What is personal identity? Can you even pin down a static entity in the present life? When you think about, our thoughts, memories, emotions, etc. are in constant flux.

"The problem with this is that it leaves unaddressed the evidence for personal survival: messages via mediums, spontaneous after-death communications, deathbed visions of deceased relatives, children's memories of past lives, NDEs, etc."

Actually, these don't conflict with Wallace's account. Later, he mentions the "substrate consciousness -- this storehouse of memories from past lives, if it in fact exists."

Very nicely said, Alex.

I read one of Wallace's books a while back and couldn't make much sense of it. (I discussed it here.)

I'm a simpleminded soul, I admit. I like things to make some kind of rational sense. This does not seem to be a priority for Buddhism. Maybe the Buddhists are right, and reality ultimately doesn't make much sense in rational terms. But I can't seem to bend my mind to that way of thinking.

To me, if the world is a dream, then someone is dreaming it. If that Someone is God, then the dream is part of God's consciousness. And since the dream involves change, God's consciousness must exist in time (since change cannot exist outside of time).

Or if the dream is being dreamed by someone other than God, then reality is not one, but two (or more). There's God, and then there's whoever is dreaming. God may exist outside of time, but the dreamer exists within time - otherwise he couldn't be undergoing the process of dreaming. But then how did the dreamer arise? If he is an offshoot of God, then God has undergone change - which means God is not outside of time, after all.

So the mystical view that God is dreaming the world, and God exists outside of time, doesn't add up. At least, not for me. Your mileage may vary. As I said, I am a simple soul.

>What is personal identity? Can you even pin down a static entity in the present life? When you think about, our thoughts, memories, emotions, etc. are in constant flux.

Yes, this is what I call the ego-persona. Still, it has to have some reality. In order for something to undergo changes, it first has to exist. If it didn't exist, it wouldn't be capable of change. It wouldn't be capable of anything, because it wouldn't be anything.

>Later, he mentions the "substrate consciousness -- this storehouse of memories from past lives, if it in fact exists."

But communications from the deceased often give the impression of an ongoing purpose - not just a storehouse of memories, but a personality with an active interest in the communications.

Sometimes I think we make things more complicated than they need to be.

I should have post this a long time ago...

*****************************************
PART III.
BY PROFESSOR WILLIAM JAMES.
DEAR MR. MYERS,
You ask for a record of my own experiences with Mrs. Piper, to be incorporated in the account of her to be published in your Proceedings. I regret to be unable to furnish you with any direct notes of sittings beyond those which Mr. Hodgson will have already supplied. I admit that in not having taken more notes I was most derelict, and can only cry peccavi. The excuse (if it be one) for my negligence was that I wished primarily to satisfy myself about Mrs. Piper; and feeling that as evidence for others no notes but steno¬graphic notes would have value, and not being able to get these, I seldom took any. I still think that as far as influencing public opinion goes, the bare fact that So-and-so and So-and-so have been convinced by their personal experience that " there is something in mediumship " is the essential thing. Public opinion follows leaders much more than it follows evidence. Professor Huxley's bare " endorsement " of Mrs Piper, e.g., would be more effective than volumes of notes by such as I Practically, however, I ought to have taken them, and the sight of your more scientific methods makes me doubly rue my sins.
Under the circumstances, the only thing I can do is to give you my present state of belief as to Mrs. Piper's powers, with a simple account from memory of the steps which have led me to it.
I made Mrs. Piper's acquaintance in the autumn of 1885. My wife's mother, Mrs. Gibbens, had been told of her by a friend, during the previous summer, and never having seen a medium before, had paid her a visit out of curiosity. She returned with the statement that Mrs. P. had given her a long string of names of members of the family, mostly Christian names, together with facts about the persons mentioned and their relations to each other, the knowledge of which on her part was incomprehensible without supernormal powers. My sister-in-law went the next day, with still better results, as she related them. Amongst other things, the medium had accurately described the circumstances of the writer of a letter which she held against her forehead, after Miss G. had given it to her. The letter was in Italian, and its writer was known to but two persons in this country.
[I may add that on a later occasion my wife and I took another letter from this same person to Mrs. P., who went on to speak of him in a way which identified him unmistakably again. On a third occasion, two years later, my sister-in-law and I being again with Mrs. P., she reverted in her trance to these letters, and then gave us the writer's name, which she said she had not been able to get on the former occasion.]
But to revert to the beginning. I remember playing the esprit fort on that occasion before my feminine relatives, and seeking to explain, by simple considerations the marvellous character of the facts which they brought back. This did not, however, prevent me from going myself a few days later, in company with my wife, to get a direct personal impression. The names of none of us up to this meeting had been announced to Mrs. P., and Mrs. J. and I were, of course, careful to make no reference to our relatives who had preceded. The medium, however, when entranced, repeated most of the names of " spirits" whom she had announced on the two former occasions and added others. The names came with difficulty, and were only gradually made perfect. My wife's father's name of Gibbens was announced first as Niblin, then as Giblin. A child Herman (whom we had lost the previous year) had his name spelt out as Herrin. I think that in no case were both Christian and surnames given on this visit. But the facts predicated of the persons named made it in many instances impossible not to recognise the particular individuals who were talked about. We took particular pains on this occasion to give the Phinuit control no help over his difficulties and to ask no leading questions. In the light of subsequent experience I believe this not to be the best policy. For it often happens, if you give this trance-personage a name or some small fact for the lack of which he is brought to a standstill, that he will then start off with a copious flow of additional talk, containing in itself an abundance of " tests."
My impression after this first visit was, that Mrs. P. was either possessed of supernormal powers, or knew the members of my wife's family by sight and had by some lucky coincidence become acquainted with such a multitude of their domestic circumstances as to produce the startling impression which she did. My later knowledge of her sittings and personal acquaintance with her has led me absolutely to reject the latter explanation, and to believe that she has supernormal powers.
I visited her a dozen times that winter, sometimes alone, sometimes with my wife, once in company with the Rev. M. J. Savage. I sent a large number of persons to her, wishing to get the results of as many first sittings as possible. I made appointments myself for most of these people, whose names were in no instance announced to the medium. In the spring of 1886 I published a brief "Report of the Committee on Mediumistic Phenomena " in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, of which the following is an extract:—
"I have myself witnessed a dozen of her trances, and have testimony at first hand from 25 sitters, all but one of whom were virtually introduced to Mrs. P. by myself.[1]

[1] I tried then, and have tried since, to get written accounts from these sitters, in
most cases in vain. The few written statements which I have got are in Mr.
Hodgson's hands, and will doubtless be sent you with the rest of the material which
he will submit.

Of five of the sittings we have verbatim steno¬graphic reports. Twelve of the sitters, who in most cases sat singly, got no¬thing from the medium but unknown names or trivial talk. Four of these were members of the Society, and of their sittings verbatim reports were taken. Fifteen of the sitters were surprised at the communications they received, names and facts being mentioned at the first interview which it seemed improbable should have been known to the medium in a normal way. The probability that she possessed no clue as to the sitter's identity was, I believe, in each and all of these 15 cases, sufficient. But of only one of them is there a stenographic report; so that, unfortunately for the medium, the evidence in her favour is, although more abundant, less exact in quality than some of that which will be counted against her. Of these 15 sitters, five, all ladies, were blood relatives, and two (I myself being one) were men connected by marriage with the family to which they belonged. Two other connections of this family are included in the 12 who got nothing. The medium showed a most startling intimacy with this family's affairs, talking of many matters known to no one outside, and which gossip could not possibly have conveyed to her ears. The details would prove nothing to the reader, unless printed in extenso, with full notes by the sitters. It reverts, after all, to personal conviction. My own conviction is not evidence, but it seems fitting to record it. I am persuaded of the medium's honesty, and of the genuineness of her trance ; and although at first disposed to think that the ' hits ' she made were either lucky coinci¬dences, or the result of knowledge on her part of who the sitter was and of his or her family affairs, I now believe her to be in possession of a power as yet unexplained."
I also made during this winter an. attempt to see whether Mrs.
Piper's medium-trance had any community of nature with ordinary-
hypnotic trance. I wrote in the report:—
" My first two attempts to hypnotise her were unsuccessful. Between the second time and the third, I suggested to her ' control' in the medium-trance that he should make her a mesmeric subject for me. He agreed. (A suggestion of this sort made by the operator in one hypnotic trance would probably have some effect on the next.) She became partially hypnotised on the third trial; but the effect was so slight that I ascribe it rather to the effect of repetition than to the suggestion made. By the fifth trial she had become a pretty good hypnotic subject, as far as muscular phenomena and automatic imitations of speech and gesture go ; but I could not affect her consciousness, or otherwise get her beyond this point. Her condition in this semi-hypnosis is very different from her medium-trance. The latter is characterised by great muscular unrest, even her ears moving vigorously in a way impossible to her in her waking state. But in hypnosis her muscular relaxation and weakness are extreme. She often makes several efforts to speak are her voice becomes audible; and to get a strong contraction of the hand, for example, express manipulation and suggestion must be practised. The automatic imitations I spoke of are in the first instance very weak, and only become strong after repetition. Her pupils contract in the medium-trance. Suggestions to the ' control' that he should make her recollect after the medium-trance what she had been saying were accepted, but had no result. In the hypnotic-trance such a suggestion will often make the patient remember all that has happened.
" No sign of thought-transference—as tested by card and diagram guess¬ing—has been found in her, either in the hypnotic condition just described, or immediately after it ; although her ' control' in the medium-trance has said that he would bring them about. So far as tried (only twice), no right guessing of cards in the medium-trance. No clear signs of thought-transfer¬ence, as tested by the naming of cards, during the waking state. Trials of the 'willing game,' and attempts at automatic writing, gave similarly negative results. So far as the evidence goes, then, her medium-trance seems an isolated feature in her psychology. This would of itself be an im¬portant result if it could be established and generalised, but the record is obviously too imperfect for confident conclusions to be drawn from it in any direction."
Here I dropped my inquiries into Mrs. Piper's mediumship for a period of about two years, having satisfied myself that there was a genuine mystery there, but being over-freighted with time-consuming duties, and feeling that any adequate circumnavigation of the phenomena would be too protracted a task for me to aspire just then to undertake. I saw her once, half-accidentally, however, during that interval, and in the spring of 1889 saw her four times again. In the fall of 1889 she paid us a visit of a week at our country house in New Hampshire, and I then learned to know her personally better than ever before, and had confirmed in me the belief that she is an absolutely simple and genuine person. No one, when challenged, can give " evidence " to others for such beliefs as this. Yet we all live by them from day to day, and practically I should be willing now to stake as much money on Mrs. Piper's honesty as on that of anyone I know, and am quite satisfied to leave my reputation for wisdom or folly, so far as human nature is concerned, to stand or fall by this declaration.
As for the explanation of her trance-phenomena, I have none to offer. The prima facie theory, which is that of spirit-control, is hard to reconcile with the extreme triviality of most of the communications. What real spirit, at last able to revisit his wife on this earth, but would find something better to say than that she had changed the place of his photograph? And yet that is the sort of remark to which the spirits introduced by the mysterious Phinuit are apt to confine them¬selves. I must admit, however, that Phinuit has other moods. He has several times, when my wife and myself were sitting together with him, suddenly started off on long lectures to us about our inward defects
and outward shortcomings, which were very earnest, as well as subtile morally and psychologically, and impressive in a high degree. These discourses, though given in Phinuit's own parson, were very different in style from his more usual talk, and probably superior to anything that the medium could produce in the same line in her natural state. Phinuit himself, however, bears every appearance of being a fictitious being. His French, so far as he has been able to display it to me, has been limited to a few phrasos of salutation, which may easily have had their rise in the medium's " unconscious " memory; he has never been able to understand my French; and the crumbs of information which he gives about his earthly career are, as you know, so few, vague, and unlikely sounding, as to suggest the romancing of one whose stock of materials for invention is excessively reduced. He is, however, as he actually shows himself, a definite human individual, with immense tact and patience, and great desire to please and be regarded as infallible. With respect to the rough and slangy style which he so often affects, it should be said that the Spiritualistic tradition here in America is all in favour of the "spirit-control" being a grotesque and somewhat saucy personage. The Zeitgeist has always much to do with shaping trance-phenomena, so that a "control" of that temperament is what one would naturally expect. Mr. Hodgson will already have informed you of the similarity between Phinuit's name and that of the " control " of the medium at whose house Mrs. Piper was first entranced. The most remarkable thing about the Phinuit personality seems to me the extra¬ordinary tenacity and minuteness of his memory. The medium has been visited by many hundreds of sitters, half of them, perhaps, being strangers who have come but once. To each Phinuit gives an hour-ful of disconnected fragments of talk about persons living, dead, or imaginaiy, and events past, future, or unreal. What normal waking memory could keep this chaotic mass of stuff together ? Yet Phinuit •does so; for the chances seem to be, that if a sitter should go back after years of interval, the medium, when once entranced, would recall the minutest incidents of the earlier interview, and begin by recapitulating much of what had then been said. So far as I can discover, Mrs. Piper's waking memory is not remarkable, and the whole constitution •of her trance-memory is something which I am at a loss to understand. But I will say nothing more of Phinuit, because, aided by our friends in France, you are already systematically seeking to establish or disprove him as a former native of this world.
Phinuit is generally the medium of communication between other spirits and the sitter. But two other soi-disant spirits have, in my pre¬sence, assumed direct "control" of Mrs. Piper. One purported to be the late Mr. E. The other was an aunt of mine who died last year in York. I have already sent you the only account I can give of my earliest experiences with the " E. control." The first messages came through Phinuit, about a year ago, when after two years of non-intercourse with Mrs. Piper, she lunched one day at our house and gave my wife and myself a sitting afterwards. It was bad enough ; and I confess that the human being in me was so much stronger than the man of science that I was too disgusted with Phinuit's tiresome twaddle even to note it down. When later the phenomenon developed into pretended direct speech from E. himself I regretted this, for a complete record would have been useful. I can now merely say that neither then, nor at any other time, was there to my mind the slightest inner verisimilitude in the personation. But the failure to produce a more plausible E. speaks directly in favour of the non-participation of the medium's conscious mind in the performance. She could so easily have coached herself to be more effective.
Her trance-talk about my own family shows the same innocence. The sceptical theory of her successes is that she keeps a sort of detec¬tive bureau open upon the world at large, so that whoever may call is pretty sure to find her prepared with facts about his life. Few things could have been easier, in Boston, than for Mrs. Piper to collect facts about my own father's family for use in my sittings with her. But although my father, my mother, and a deceased brother were repeatedly announced as present, nothing but their bare names ever came out, except a hearty message of thanks from my father that I had " pub¬lished the book." I had published his Literary Remains; but when Phinuit was asked " what book ?" all he could do was to spell the latters L, I, and say no more. If it be suggested that all this was but a refinement of cunning, for that such skilfully distributed reticences are what bring most credit in to a medium, I must deny the proposition in toto. I have seen and heard enough of sittings to be sure that a medium's trump cards are promptitude and completeness in her revelations. It is a mistake in general (however it may occasionally, as now, be cited in her favour) to keep back anything she knows. Phinuit's stumbling, spelling, and otherwise imperfect ways of bringing' out his facts is a great drawback with most sitters, and yet it is habitual with him.
The aunt who purported to " take control" directly was a much better personation, having a good deal of the cheery strenuousness of speech of the original. She spoke, by the way, on this occasion, of the condition of health of two members of the family in New York, of which we knew nothing at the time, and which was afterwards cor¬roborated by letter. We have repeatedly heard from Mrs. Piper in trance things of which we were not at the moment aware. If the supernormal element in the phenomenon be thought-transference it is certainly not that of the sitter's conscious thought. It is rather the
reservoir of his potential knowledge which is tapped ; and not always that, but the knowledge of some distant living person, as in the incident last quoted. It has sometimes even seemed to me that too much intentness on the sitter's part to have Phinuit say a certain thing acts as a hindrance.
Mrs. Blodgett, of Holyoke, Mass., and her sister, devised, before the latter died, what would have been a good test of actual spirit-return. The sister, Miss H. W., wrote upon her deathbed a letter, sealed it, and gave it to Mrs. B. After her death no one living knew what words it contained. Mrs. B. not then knowing Mrs. Piper, entrusted to me the sealed letter, and asked me to give Mrs. Piper some articles of the deceased sister's personal apparel, to help her to get at its contents. This commission I performed. Mrs. P. gave correctly the full name (which even I did not know) of the writer, and finally, after a delay and ceremony which occupied several weeks on Phinuit's part, dictated what purported to be a copy of the letter. This I compared with the original (of which Mrs. B. permitted me to break the seal); but the two letters had nothing in common, nor were any of the numerous domestic facts alluded to in the medium's letter acknowledged by Mrs. Blodgett to be correct. Mrs. Piper was equally unsuccessful in two later attempts which she made to reproduce the contents of this document, although both times the revelation purported to come direct from its deceased writer. It would be hard to devise a better test than this would have been, had it immediately succeeded, for the exclusion of thought-transference from living minds.
My mother-in-law, on her return from Europe, spent a morning vainly seeking for her bank-book. Mrs. Piper, on being shortly after¬wards asked where this book was, described the place so exactly that it was instantly found. I was told by her that the spirit of a boy named Robert F. was the companion of my lost infant. The F.'s were cousins of my wife living in a distant city. On my return home I mentioned the incident to my wife, saying, " Your cousin did lose a baby, didn't she ? but Mrs. Piper was wrong about its sex, name, and age." I then learned that Mrs. Piper had been quite right in all those particulars, and that mine was the wrong impression. But, obviously, for the source of revelations such as these, one need not go behind the sitter's own storehouse of forgotten or unnoticed experi¬ences. Miss X.'s experiments in crystal-gazing prove how strangely these survive. If thought-transference be the clue to be followed in interpreting Mrs. Piper's trance-utterances (and that, as far as my experience goes, is what, far more than any supramundane instillations, the phenomena seem on their face to be) we must admit that the " transference " need not be of the conscious or even the unconscious thought of the sitter, but must often be of the thought of some far away. Thus, on my mother-in-law's second visit to the medium she was told that one of her daughters was suffering from a severe pain in her back on that day. This altogether unusual occurrence, unknown to the sitter, proved to be true. The announcement to my wife and brother of my aunt's death in New York before we had received the telegram (Mr. Hodgson has, I believe, sent you an account of this) may, on the other hand, have been occasioned by the sitters' conscious apprehension of the event. This particular incident is a " test" of the sort which one readily quotes ; but to my mind it was far less convincing than the innumerable small domestic matters of which Mrs. Piper incessantly talked in her sittings with members of my family. With the affairs of my wife's maternal kinsfolk in particular her acquaintance in trance was most intimate. Some of them were dead, some in California, some in the State of Maine. She characterised them all, living as well as deceased, spoke of their relations to each other, of their likes and dislikes, of their as yet unpublished practical plans, and hardly ever made a mistake, though, as usual, there was very little system or continuity in anything that came out. A normal person, unacquainted with the family, could not possibly have said as much; one acquainted with it could hardly have avoided saying more.
The most convincing things said about my own immediate house¬hold were either very intimate or very trivial. Unfortunately the former things cannot well be published. Of the trivial things, I have forgotten the greater number, but the following, rarce nantes, may serve as samples of their class: She said that we had lost recently a rug, and I a waistcoat. [She wrongly accused a person of stealing the rug, which was afterwards found in the house.] She told of my killing a. grey-and-white cat, with ether, and described how it had " spun round and round" before dying. She told how my New York aunt had written a letter to my wife, warning her against all mediums, and then went off on a most amusing criticism, full of traits vifs, of the excellent woman's character. [Of course no one but my wife and I knew the existence of the letter in question.] She was strong on the events in our nursery, and gave striking advice during our first visit to her about the way to deal with certain "tantrums" of our second child, "little Billy-boy," as. she called him, reproducing his nursery name. She told how the crib creaked at night, how a certain rocking-chair creaked mysteriously, how my wife had heard footsteps on the stairs, &c, &c. Insignificant as these things sound when read, the accumulation of a large number of them has an irresistible effect. And I repeat again what I said before, that, taking everything that I know of Mrs. P. into account, the result is to make me feel as absolutely certain as I am of any personal fact in. the world tliat she knows things in her trances which she cannot possibly have heard in her waking state, and that the definitive philosophy of her trances is yet to be found. The limitations of her trance-informa¬tion, its discontinuity and fitfulness, and its apparent inability to develop beyond a certain point, although they end by rousing one's moral and human impatience with the phenomenon, yet are, from a scientific point of view, amongst its most interesting peculiarities, since where there are limits there are conditions, and the discovery of these is always the beginning of explanation.
This is all that I can tell you of Mrs. Piper. I wish it were more "scientific." But, valeat quantum! it is the best I can do.



Michael master Eckhart talked about the Godhead and god. The Godhead was like a barren desert and god did the creating.

Maybe this Godhead is this infinite pure awareness and outside of time, as we know it and the god or gods are the “ones” doing all of this creating and manifestations.

Maybe this Godhead provides the source of the vitality needed to create what we see as a universe full of life.

If we were to continually advance in intelligence would we not become as gods?

The level or plane before becoming/returning to that that is may be what we now perceive as thee God with a capital G.

Just a thought.

Alex and Matthew
I noticed you both signed your names as Alex and Matthew does this mean you are a personal entity with an identity.

If one of you were walking down the street and I called out your name what are the odds you would respond to your names that you signed here.

A personal identity can be dynamic and still maintain a perceived personal identity and that person with a perception of an individual self will continue to sign their names Alex and Matthew or William.

Now as we advance in our levels or planes of consciousness we lose more and more of our personal self-identity until we reach a level of cosmic or super consciousness then I suspect at some “point” we lose all consciousness and awaken to our true realty, which is pure awareness.

>Now as we advance in our levels or planes of consciousness we lose more and more of our personal self-identity until we reach a level of cosmic or super consciousness then I suspect at some “point” we lose all consciousness and awaken to our true realty, which is pure awareness.

That's the way I look at it, too. At least this is what channeled writings like The Road to Immortality say.

To me, if the world is a dream, then someone is dreaming it.

I think the terminologies are just passing each other.

Consider a six month old infant. Clearly conscious, awake, and aware. But not a "self" yet.

So without a self, to whom are the experiences happening? No one. "Self" is an idea, a conceptual object, floating in the same awareness that has existed since we were born and even before. Because obviously concepts and ideas are built on top of the awareness that preceeded them.

The self, the "me", is an idea that exists within consciousness. And that idea gets mistaken for reality. Instead of experience, it gets labelled as "my experience". Instead of love, we get "I love", instead of contraction and pain we get "my miserable life". All based on what Einstein called an "optical delusion of consciousness" -- in other words, attributing all these properties of awareness to the "me" idea.

Thanks for the clarification, Matthew. The relationship of the self to consciousness is a fascinating subject. My opinion about it seems to shift from day to day - in other words, I don't really know what to think.

I occurred to me that I should thank Vitor Moura for transcribing the William James essay above. I should also mention that this essay does not represent James' final thinking on Mrs. Piper. He investigated her more thoroughly some time after Myers' death, and, as I recall, became less enamored of the super-psi hypothesis and more persuaded (though not fully persuaded) of postmortem survival.

"I'm a simpleminded soul, I admit. I like things to make some kind of rational sense. This does not seem to be a priority for Buddhism. Maybe the Buddhists are right, and reality ultimately doesn't make much sense in rational terms. But I can't seem to bend my mind to that way of thinking."

I'm not sure what you mean by "rational." I think the reason why Buddhism seems so alien is because it doesn't personalize things and attribute agency to processes like the Judeo-Christian tradition (a sobering point for anyone who thinks that Buddhism would support Intelligent Design).

"I noticed you both signed your names as Alex and Matthew does this mean you are a personal entity with an identity."

I'm not denying that there is a sort of functional "identity." Matthew and I are simply making the point that the sense of "self" is simply a conceptual construct.

Consider a six month old infant. Clearly conscious, awake, and aware. But not a "self" yet. So without a self, to whom are the experiences happening? No one. "Self" is an idea, a conceptual object, floating in the same awareness that has existed since we were born and even before. - matthew C
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This has everything to do with "why we are here." The soul is here to "become" a separate, unique, individual and the way it does that is by experiencing duality and separation. Duality and separation imprint on the soul what it means and how it feels to be separate. Because of those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness in the Spiritual Universe the only way to become a separate, unique, individual is by first spending some time in the Physical Universe where duality and separation seem to be inherent and inescapable properties.

The comments to this entry are closed.