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It is always easier to criticize when removed 91 years from the event.

Think of the times, and think of the fact he'd lost his son in France...

Randi is pathetic, even if I do agree with him at times.

Cheers,
Gwyllm

Doyle may have allowed his objectivity to be compromised, but W.Y. Evans-Wentz did not. In his anthropological study http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/index.htm>The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries published in 1911, Evans-Wentz embarks on a discussion that remains pertinent today. One can almost hear Dean Radin making the following argument, to the dismay of the Randi's of the world:

Assertions similar to ours, that phenomena like these are incapable of being explained away by any known laws of orthodox science, have helped to bring about a marked division in the ranks of scientific workers. On one hand there are those scientists who deny the existence of anything not capable of being mathematically tested, weighed, dissected, or otherwise analysed in laboratories; on the other hand, there are their colleagues who, often in spite of previous bias toward materialism, have arrived at a personal conviction that an animistic view of man is more in harmony with their scientific experience than any other. Both schools include men eminent in all branches of biological sciences.

Midway between these contending schools are the psychophysicists who maintain that man is a twofold being composed of a psychical and physical part. Some of them are inclined to favour animism, others are unwilling to regard the psychical part of man as separable from the physical part. So the world of science is divided.

Under such chaotic conditions of science it is our right to accept one view or another, or to reject all views and use scientific data independently. There can be no final court of appeal in matters where opinion is thus divided, save the experience of coming generations. We are therefore content to state our own position and leave it to the future for rejection or acceptance, as the case may be. To attempt a critical examination of the thousand and one theories occupying the modern arena of scientific controversy about the essential nature of man is altogether beyond the scope of this work. We must, nevertheless, blaze a rough footpath through the jungle of scientific theories, and, at the outset, put on record our opposition to that school of scientific workers who deny to man a supersensuous constitution. Their theory, if carried out to its logical conclusion, is now essentially no different from Feuerbach's theory at a time when science was far less developed than it is to-day. He held that 'the object of sense, or the sensuous, alone is really true, and therefore truth, reality, and the sensible are one'. To say that we know reality through sensual perception is an error, as all schools of scientists must nowadays admit. Nature is for ever illuding the senses; she masquerades in disguise until science tears away her mask. We must always adjust the senses to the world itself: where there are only vibrations in ether, man sees light; and in atmospheric vibrations he hears sound. We only know things through the way in which our senses react upon them. We sum up the world-problem by saying: 'consciousness does not exhaust its object, the world.'' Perceptibility and reality thus not being coincident, man and the universe remain an unsolved problem, despite the noisy shoutings of the materialist in his hermetically sealed and light-excluding case called sensual perceptions. Science admits that all her explanations of the universe are mere products of human understanding and perceptions by the physical senses: the universe of science is wholly a universe of phenomena, and behind phenomena, as no scientist would dare deny, there must be the noumena, the ultimate causes of all things, as to which science as yet offers no comprehensive hypothesis, much less an answer. To consider the materialistic hypothesis as adequate to account for the residuum or x-quantity of the Fairy-Faith would not even be reasonable, and, incontestably, would not be scientific.

The above excerpt was taken from Chapter XI, which continues into a long discussion on the nature of consciousness itself, referencing the research of many names well known to those who have investigated the paranormal to any degree: James, Myers, Crookes, Lodge. Evan-Wentz's conclusion is on-target as well.

Therefore, since the residuum or x-quantity of the Fairy-Faith, the folk-religion of the Celtic peoples, cannot be explained away by any known scientific laws, it must for the present stand, and the Psychological Theory of the Nature and Origin of the Belief in Fairies in Celtic Countries is to be considered as hypothetically established in the eyes of Science. Hence we must cease to look upon the term fairy as being always a synonym for something fanciful, non-real, absurd. We must also cease to think of the Fairy-Faith as being no more than a fabric of groundless beliefs. In short, the ordinary non-Celtic mind must readjust itself to a new set of phenomena which through ignorance on its part it has been content to disregard, and to treat with ridicule and contempt as so much outworn 'superstition'.

As J.B Hare writes in his introduction, "We come away from this study with a multi-dimensional view of the fairies, who, much like the grey aliens of UFO belief, inhabit a narrative which seems too consistent to be the product of insanity, yet too bizarre for conventional explanation."

The entire text can be downloaded as a zipped text file from the above link.

Don't forget, Randi is very smart. He picks the low-hanging fruit to ridicule, such as ridiculous inventions, obviously delusion people who think they are psychics, and absurd, unproven medical claims (though he does have an obsession with homeopathy, which does have some experimental support). Then his reputation (his "brand", to cite my longtime marketing experience) automatically ties those sad examples to more established paranormal phenomena and conflates them. Thus, in the eyes of the eager, angry pseudo-skeptics, the baldly fake fairies equal all fringe phenomena, even well-documented ones like psi and mediumship, being phony as well.

Smart. Dishonest, self-aggrandizing and ugly, but smart.

“Don't forget, Randi is very smart. He picks the low-hanging fruit to ridicule”

This is an excellent point also what these ultra skeptics often do is just debunk one aspect of paranormal phenomena and do not try to explain some aspects of the paranormal that are difficult to explain.

Just saw a TV special on UFO’s and the pilot in the Peru air force followed a UFO for 22 minutes and even shot at it. Of course it just played with the pilot and went vertical in an instant and stopped in an instant, which our laws of gravity say is impossible.

Many ultra skeptics claim if there were UFO’s why don’t they land on the white house lawn. Two things suspect with that claim.

One why do we Americans think a UFO should land on our lawn and if you were inside a UFO would you land on the white house lawn considering they would shoot at you.

I recently got this reply from Keith Augustine

Me to user Now you can lead me to Keith Augustine's article on hallucinatory near death experiences but the ones he mentions are not cases of people who have been flatlined. Also it's possible that some ndes are hallunicating however taking things out of context makes me skeptical.
Sigh... I am so sick of hearing this tired objection, Leo. I assume you are claiming that I quote near-death researchers out of context or something, right? Or that the NDE cases I quote are out of context, right?

I would appreciate it if survivalists like yourself and "ETESponge" would actually support your assertions with evidence instead of just inventing them out of thin air. All of the NDE cases I cite occur in books or articles you can check for yourself, if only you would make so minimal an effort when attempting to rebut someone. I went out of my way to quote rather than paraphrase NDE cases precisely because I anticipated that otherwise die-hard survivalists would claim that I had distorted the cases somehow. Evidently whenever someone disagrees with your favorite position, he must be using a trick or committing a fallacy. Might it be that the evidence itself is open to interpretations other than yours, or is that pushing things too far?

As anyone can see, citing actual near-death experiences as NDErs reported them, in their words, was not enough to preempt such false charges.

So please, feel free to show the actual context that the cases were supposedly taken out of, so that all here can see the original context and how I allegedly distorted it. Can you do it, or not? Can you back up your accusation by showing what, specifically, I took out of these sources that was not in context, or are you just full of hot air?

If you had actually checked those sources instead of throwing out your knee-jerk "he's a skeptic, I wonder what fallacy he committed today" reaction, you would see that I did not quote anyone out of context. How foolish would I have to be to quote near-death researchers out of context (i.e., to change the meaning of their words by selectively quoting them) and then give them to opportunity to point out exactly where I quoted them out of context in the Journal of Near-Death Studies?

Let's see how some of them actually responded.

From a letter to the editor from Raymond Moody, who essentially founded near-death studies: "Can veridical perception experiments prove or disprove the reality of out-of-body experiences? Keith Augustine seemed to think so, in his excellent, critical paper on the subject and his subsequent response to the accompanying commentaries. So let me say first how much I admire his fine contribution. I especially appreciate his incisive analyses of stock tales like 'Maria’s Shoe' and 'Pam Reynolds’s Story.' Overall, however, I do not think his skeptical probing went deep enough."

In a commentary on my third and last lead paper, Allan Kellehear wrote: "Keith Augustine's arguments in favor of physiological explanations of the near-death experience (NDE) are a strong, critical, and welcome addition to the ongoing debate about how to explain NDEs.... I welcomed several of his arguments and insights: for example, his rejection of the continually recycled sociological myth that children somehow escape from cultural conditioning and so represent socially 'uncontaminated' NDEs."

On my supposed quotation of near-death researchers out of context, what does Mark Fox say? He writes:

Quote:
Keith Augustine has done a fine job of drawing together a large amount of existing material in pursuit of his thesis that near-death experiences (NDEs) are essentially hallucinatory in nature. I am delighted that he has made use of extracts from my own work to further his case and with one possible exception--a point at which he appears to misunderstand what I was trying to argue--he has reproduced what I wrote fairly and accurately.

...

Apart from that one small gripe, I feel that Augustine has used my work fairly and accurately.
These are not members of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry, Leo. They are near-death researchers. (Though I suppose I could have still managed to quote them out of context above!) It would be nice if you and your survivalist brethren would acknowledge once in awhile that it is possible to be skeptical of survival or the paranormal without being a member of the Flat Earth Society--just as it is possible to believe in such things without such a membership. Can we move away from the childish rhetoric implying that whoever agrees with one's own point of view is a careful researcher, and whoever disagrees with it is a dogmatist? Maybe things aren't that black and white because the evidence isn't as strong as you take it to be. If you only read one side of the issue, of course you'll come away with the impression that survival after death is a virtual scientific fact (which seems to be your position given your earlier comments here).

Your "those are not flatlined NDEs" objection is also made up out of thin air because in the vast majority of NDE cases there is no documentation that NDErs have or have not flatlined, and for those that have flat EEGs we have no evidence that the NDE occurred during the period of flatline. We could have such evidence--the Pam Reynolds case is often claimed to be such evidence but demonstrably is not--but it does not exist.

At the end of the day, these issues can be resolved by evidence, but I seriously doubt that 150 years from now our psychology textbooks will have chapters on how souls work, how they interact with the brain, or on what happens to souls once the body dies. And the reason that I doubt this is because I suspect that the evidence favoring survival will never be more than ambiguous. It could be, in principle, but previous direct tests of the survival hypothesis (like Robert Thouless' and Ian Stevenson's experiments with cryptographic or combination lock keys to be opened after their deaths once they gave the "passwords" to unlock them to mediums after their deaths) have failed to yield such clear evidence.

If survival were a reality, then there is no reason why there couldn't be unambiguous evidence that it happens--just like there is no reason why alien spaceships couldn't crash and be recovered, land on the White House lawn, or leave behind extraterrestrial artifacts--but the evidence is never that good. And the fact that when it comes to UFOs or survival after death, there is always room for doubt, severely undermines the idea that there is something to the ambiguous evidence that does remain. Maybe there is something to it, but a betting man wouldn't put any money on it. A betting man would ask why it is that the evidence always seems incapable of crossing that "clear evidence" threshold that other things that really exist are able to cross. Believers often like to point out that skeptics of meteors falling from the sky were proven wrong, but of course in time they were proven wrong. This hasn't happened with survival, and I doubt it ever will--though I would love to be proven wrong since I have no love affair with being permanently annihilated upon my own death. But not liking the alternative to survival doesn't make survival real. It either happens or it doesn't, regardless of what you or I or anyone else believes, and our job is to figure out which. As it stands, the best evidence seems to indicate that we do not survive death. That's simply where the evidence stands, and if current evidence reflects the reality of the situation, there will never be clear-cut evidence that survival occurs. We might not wish it to be so, but reality is what it is.
kaugust is offline Reply With Quote
Now you can lead me to Keith Augustine's article on hallucinatory near death experiences but the ones he mentions are not cases of people who have been flatlined. Also it's possible that some ndes are hallunicating however taking things out of context makes me skeptical.
Keith Augustine- Sigh... I am so sick of hearing this tired objection, Leo. I assume you are claiming that I quote near-death researchers out of context or something, right? Or that the NDE cases I quote are out of context, right?

I would appreciate it if survivalists like yourself and "ETESponge" would actually support your assertions with evidence instead of just inventing them out of thin air. All of the NDE cases I cite occur in books or articles you can check for yourself, if only you would make so minimal an effort when attempting to rebut someone. I went out of my way to quote rather than paraphrase NDE cases precisely because I anticipated that otherwise die-hard survivalists would claim that I had distorted the cases somehow. Evidently whenever someone disagrees with your favorite position, he must be using a trick or committing a fallacy. Might it be that the evidence itself is open to interpretations other than yours, or is that pushing things too far?

As anyone can see, citing actual near-death experiences as NDErs reported them, in their words, was not enough to preempt such false charges.

So please, feel free to show the actual context that the cases were supposedly taken out of, so that all here can see the original context and how I allegedly distorted it. Can you do it, or not? Can you back up your accusation by showing what, specifically, I took out of these sources that was not in context, or are you just full of hot air?

If you had actually checked those sources instead of throwing out your knee-jerk "he's a skeptic, I wonder what fallacy he committed today" reaction, you would see that I did not quote anyone out of context. How foolish would I have to be to quote near-death researchers out of context (i.e., to change the meaning of their words by selectively quoting them) and then give them to opportunity to point out exactly where I quoted them out of context in the Journal of Near-Death Studies?

Let's see how some of them actually responded.

From a letter to the editor from Raymond Moody, who essentially founded near-death studies: "Can veridical perception experiments prove or disprove the reality of out-of-body experiences? Keith Augustine seemed to think so, in his excellent, critical paper on the subject and his subsequent response to the accompanying commentaries. So let me say first how much I admire his fine contribution. I especially appreciate his incisive analyses of stock tales like 'Maria’s Shoe' and 'Pam Reynolds’s Story.' Overall, however, I do not think his skeptical probing went deep enough."

In a commentary on my third and last lead paper, Allan Kellehear wrote: "Keith Augustine's arguments in favor of physiological explanations of the near-death experience (NDE) are a strong, critical, and welcome addition to the ongoing debate about how to explain NDEs.... I welcomed several of his arguments and insights: for example, his rejection of the continually recycled sociological myth that children somehow escape from cultural conditioning and so represent socially 'uncontaminated' NDEs."

On my supposed quotation of near-death researchers out of context, what does Mark Fox say? He writes:

Quote:
Keith Augustine has done a fine job of drawing together a large amount of existing material in pursuit of his thesis that near-death experiences (NDEs) are essentially hallucinatory in nature. I am delighted that he has made use of extracts from my own work to further his case and with one possible exception--a point at which he appears to misunderstand what I was trying to argue--he has reproduced what I wrote fairly and accurately.

...

Apart from that one small gripe, I feel that Augustine has used my work fairly and accurately.
These are not members of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry, Leo. They are near-death researchers. (Though I suppose I could have still managed to quote them out of context above!) It would be nice if you and your survivalist brethren would acknowledge once in awhile that it is possible to be skeptical of survival or the paranormal without being a member of the Flat Earth Society--just as it is possible to believe in such things without such a membership. Can we move away from the childish rhetoric implying that whoever agrees with one's own point of view is a careful researcher, and whoever disagrees with it is a dogmatist? Maybe things aren't that black and white because the evidence isn't as strong as you take it to be. If you only read one side of the issue, of course you'll come away with the impression that survival after death is a virtual scientific fact (which seems to be your position given your earlier comments here).

Your "those are not flatlined NDEs" objection is also made up out of thin air because in the vast majority of NDE cases there is no documentation that NDErs have or have not flatlined, and for those that have flat EEGs we have no evidence that the NDE occurred during the period of flatline. We could have such evidence--the Pam Reynolds case is often claimed to be such evidence but demonstrably is not--but it does not exist.

At the end of the day, these issues can be resolved by evidence, but I seriously doubt that 150 years from now our psychology textbooks will have chapters on how souls work, how they interact with the brain, or on what happens to souls once the body dies. And the reason that I doubt this is because I suspect that the evidence favoring survival will never be more than ambiguous. It could be, in principle, but previous direct tests of the survival hypothesis (like Robert Thouless' and Ian Stevenson's experiments with cryptographic or combination lock keys to be opened after their deaths once they gave the "passwords" to unlock them to mediums after their deaths) have failed to yield such clear evidence.

If survival were a reality, then there is no reason why there couldn't be unambiguous evidence that it happens--just like there is no reason why alien spaceships couldn't crash and be recovered, land on the White House lawn, or leave behind extraterrestrial artifacts--but the evidence is never that good. And the fact that when it comes to UFOs or survival after death, there is always room for doubt, severely undermines the idea that there is something to the ambiguous evidence that does remain. Maybe there is something to it, but a betting man wouldn't put any money on it. A betting man would ask why it is that the evidence always seems incapable of crossing that "clear evidence" threshold that other things that really exist are able to cross. Believers often like to point out that skeptics of meteors falling from the sky were proven wrong, but of course in time they were proven wrong. This hasn't happened with survival, and I doubt it ever will--though I would love to be proven wrong since I have no love affair with being permanently annihilated upon my own death. But not liking the alternative to survival doesn't make survival real. It either happens or it doesn't, regardless of what you or I or anyone else believes, and our job is to figure out which. As it stands, the best evidence seems to indicate that we do not survive death. That's simply where the evidence stands, and if current evidence reflects the reality of the situation, there will never be clear-cut evidence that survival occurs. We might not wish it to be so, but reality is what it is.
kaugust is offline Reply With Quote

If survival were a reality, then there is no reason why there couldn't be unambiguous evidence that it happens...
--------------------------------------------

We may never be allowed to know absolutely 100% for certain that there is life after death because the death of a loved one is the most emotional and powerful lesson in separation that we have to experience while living in the physical universe. Separation teaches the soul what it means and how it feels to be a separate, unique, individual, something that may be impossible while living in the Spiritual Universe due to those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness that so many near death experiencers comment on.

"Keith Augustine's arguments in favor of physiological explanations of the near-death experience (NDE) are a strong, critical, and welcome addition to the ongoing debate about how to explain NDEs.."

Back in the early nineties I studied near death experiences for several years. They did not convince me of a high probability of live after death but they did leave me with questions that could not be explained very well by the skeptics.

Some people who have NDE's come back with information that cannot be explained unless they were able to leave their bodies. With all the evidence for consciousness being able to survive outside its physical body, this evidence taken together and if one uses this evidence to calculate the probability of there being no life after death then there appears to be a very high likelihood of life after death?

My biggest surprise from doing my research was that most atheists and those that refer to themselves as skeptics are as entrenched in their beliefs as a fundamentalist religious person.

What is fascinating to me is that these skeptics think they are the only ones with a rational mind. If we look close most skeptics only attack irrational religious beliefs and not many really seek deeply into the evidence for life after death.

“The more one thinks about the plot of life, the more that plot thickens.” John Polkinghorne a physicist who became an Anglican priest.


I thought this post was about fairies did I miss something here.

Don't worry about Leo, William. He has this tendancy to just blow in to the comments with whatever the hell he pleases.

“We may never be allowed to know absolutely 100% for certain that there is life after death because the death of a loved one is the most emotional and powerful lesson in separation that we have to experience while living in the physical universe.” – Art.

Just a thought – do you consider it likely that we will at some point evolve beyond this particular lesson?

Say Hrvoje, will your website ever be something other than a parked page? :)

Just a thought – do you consider it likely that we will at some point evolve beyond this particular lesson? - Hrvoje Butkovic
--------------------------------------------

I had to copy and paste your name to the above quote. No way could I remember how to spell that! Sounds Croatian or Bosnian?

No, I don't. I think duality and separation are inherent and inescapable properties of the Physical Universe like gravity or the strong and weak nuclear forces of the atom. I also believe that "separation" probably has everything to do with "why we are here"; imprinting on the soul what it means and how it feels to be a separate, unique, individual. Imprinting a sense of "self" on the soul. From everything I've read "heaven" or the Spiritual Universe seems to be a place where time and space do not exist and where the feelings of oneness and connectedness are overwhelming due to it's holographic nature. Heaven also seems to be a place where thoughts are things and consciousness creates reality.

The soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and the soul learns holistically what it's supposed to learn whether we want it to or not. The soul uses the body to learn about the physical universe, imprinting the parameters of the body, acquiring information, and then after the body dies casting it off with about as much emotion as we might reserve for a pair of worn out tennis shoes. The soul doesn't seem to care how much suffering the body does just as long as it it imprinted with the information it needs.

“The soul doesn't seem to care how much suffering the body does just as long as it is imprinted with the information it needs.”

Not sure this is true Art or else all souls would pick very difficult lives with lots of suffering to give them greater opportunities to optimize their progress. Maybe souls do indeed give thought to how much suffering the can endure.

Older souls appear to pick lives that they feel they need to advance in love, compassion, and divine intelligence, where I suspect newer souls just kind of come crashing onto the scene. Or maybe souls that have intense desires such as sensual desires may incarnate to try and satisfy that desire.

The three main sources that come to my mind at this time for this “view” are Newton’s books on life between lives and the spirits book and the intelligence that came through George Wright.

“Say Hrvoje, will your website ever be something other than a parked page? :)”

I have every intention of activating it this year. :)
It has been developed to coincide with the publishing of my book, but the publishing has been delayed, so I’ve procrastinated with the finalisation of the website.

“I had to copy and paste your name to the above quote. No way could I remember how to spell that! Sounds Croatian or Bosnian?” – Art

Croatian. Impressive guessing, assuming you are not familiar with the region or the language.

I basically agree with what you are saying, but here’s my dilemma: my understanding is that the soul evolves through its many endeavours in the physical and spiritual universe. This tells me that, at some point, the soul will evolve beyond the need/desire for this particular lesson and on to other, more advanced lessons. If it doesn’t do so, then it can only evolve so far before stagnating. I don’t see of what value this would be. When I look at the lives of people like Buddha or Jesus, their expression in the physical universe was enhanced rather than diminished by their conviction that death is not the end.

PS: How do you use italics in TypePad?

Hi, Hrvoje. I love reading your posts around the web; you're very insightful. :)

As for using italics, you have to use < and > (as opposed to [i] [/i]).

“This tells me that, at some point, the soul will evolve beyond the need/desire for this particular lesson and on to other, more advanced lessons. If it doesn’t do so, then it can only evolve so far before stagnating. I don’t see of what value this would be.”

Where does it end? No end in sight? Or does the soul become that that is? It appears to me at this time that as more advanced lessons are learned we become more aware of our reality and the soul continues to advance in love and divine intelligence.

An anonymous thank you :)

I don’t know whether the soul’s potential is limited. There is definitely no end in sight from my current perspective. I’m partial to the idea that the potential is enormous but finite, and that the soul restarts the growth cycle once it is reached.

"I’m partial to the idea that the potential is enormous but finite, and that the soul restarts the growth cycle once it is reached."

That is where I am at today in my thoughts but hopefully willing to change those thoughts if I find they are invalid. Much easier stated than done.

Even the advanced spirits that purport to come thru in the spirits book claim that the soul is forever capable of individuality. These were Christian spirits but I lean more towards the Hindu way of thinking about souls becoming that that is.

The soul’s on-going gradual continuous improvement in love, intelligence, and awareness would I suspect in finite time become the infinite that that is. Perfect awareness? Of course the soul’s true home I suspect was always the infinite. Got to love those paradoxes.

Applying reason, rationalization, logic, and intellectual analysis to the infinite may be the very definition of delusional.

"I don’t know whether the soul’s potential is limited. There is definitely no end in sight from my current perspective. I’m partial to the idea that the potential is enormous but finite, and that the soul restarts the growth cycle once it is reached."

Meta-reincarnation?

What is meta-reincarnation?

”Even the advanced spirits that purport to come thru in the spirits book claim that the soul is forever capable of individuality. These were Christian spirits but I lean more towards the Hindu way of thinking about souls becoming that that is.” - william

I hold both views. I see the unity of existence as the ultimate reality, but one that cannot be experienced without resorting to the illusion of individuality. This makes the individual mode of existence useful as long as existence itself endures.

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