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Fantastic post, Michael!

Also, I agree with your view on people being where they ought to be - and leaving them arrive to their various destinations in their own good time. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

I echo wholeheartedly the sentiment of Philemon. A wonderful read.

Word.

"I think if you step back from the ego-driven conflicts of everyday life, you get a sense that everybody is where he or she ought to be at any given time. Nobody is doing it "wrong." Even our so-called mistakes serve a purpose, and contribute to the rich mosaic of earthly life. So why try to change anybody? Not only is it useless and rather arrogant, but it may even be counterproductive in the grand scheme of things."

Excellent post, Michael, and I particularly like this quote. You sound like you're talking here about more than whether or not one believes in the afterlife. It's not the kind of statement I would expect to hear from someone who's politically a conservative. :o)

As to your main point, I was thinking about this recently, trying to decide if I was certain about survival. On the one hand, I know that I HAVE been 100% positive about it during my deepest experiences in altered states.

But that accounts for only a tiny percentage of my waking hours. And the truth is, the rest of the time, I can NOT claim to be absolutely certain of the afterlife, though I would be willing to place a hefty wager on it.

Yet even in my worst moments, I am sure of this: there is a genuine mystery there. Anyone who claims otherwise isn't open to, or aware of, the evidence.

And surprisingly, that certain knowledge of mystery is in itself enough to make me feel reasonably comfortable about "dying". After all, when my body calls it a day, either there will be absolute nothingness, which by definition can't be bothersome, or a new and possibly ecstatic adventure will begin to unfold.

And I'm not just saying that mystery is a nice consolation prize. Actually, I think it may be what we want and need above all: a cosmic scheme that keeps us turning the page to see what happens next.

Matt said:

"Word."

Matt, is this a complete comment? Is there a contemporary meaning for "word" that I'm not aware of? Is it short for, "this is the last word on this subject" or something like that?

Help! :o)

I absorbed every word of this post. Brilliant.

Great post! Welcome aboard, Michael.

I have been 100% convinced for some time now. But there's still a lot of mystery. What's it all about? What's it really like? What does it mean for our lives here and now? etc, etc

Bruce,

"Word" is slang for, "I agree with you," with the nuance of, "I celebrate what you just said," and/or, "You said something that really need to be said."

Carter observes that there are 3 categories of convincing evidence:

1. proof beyond all doubt

2. proof beyond all reasonable doubt

3. preponderance of the evidence


Actually, law recognizes a 4th standard, in between #2 & #3:
2.5: clear and convincing evidence.

The %ages for each standard would then be 100%, 95%, 75%, and 51%.

“Capital-S Skeptics” and “card-carrying skeptics” are also neutral terms. You can use them for variety's sake.

"Word" is hipsters' version of "ditto."

As far as the standard of evidence goes, I think:

That the world is not what atheists/materialists say it is--proved beyond *any* doubt.

That we survive death: proved by a preponderance of the evidence.

To me, this is not about a *lack* of evidence; it's about consistency and what we can *do* with the evidence.

For example, I'm far from happy with the consistency and controlability of consciousness in *this* life. E.g., having to sleep every day, mood swings, Autism, mental illness of all types, Alzheimer's, you name it.

What if, beyond the veil, it's not really what we want it to be? What if we end up asking, per the Fixx song, "Are we ourselves and do we really know?"

As a kid, I believed that there was a God who was all-powerful and would just make things right. I don't see such rightness and organization in the Afterlife evidence. I see a lot of disorder, actually.

I'll say this, however: I also, on a deep gut level, believe in the rightness of the Universe, that everything somehow turns out OK. But I don't know if this OKness will be found in the Afterlife or elsewhere.

Thanks, Matt and Roger, for keeping me up to date on this language I thought I knew. :o)

While I would agree that 'proof beyond all reasonable doubt', based on the evidence, is the most logical step to take ... nevertheless if I hadn't received personal evidence, over a period of more than fifty years, I might still be sitting on the fence.

There is no doubt in my mind that direct voice mediumship through mediums like Leslie Flint, Etta Wriedt, Emily French, Mona van der Watt etc provide the best evidence of the continuity of life.

P.S. I was delighted to read 'An end to hedging'. Well done, Michael.

"I'll say this, however: I also, on a deep gut level, believe in the rightness of the Universe, that everything somehow turns out OK. "

Same here, Matt. And I think, when you come down to it, this is what we ALL want to be assured of. As evidenced by the fact that many people who are 100% convinced of the afterlife wish there weren't one.

Einstein had it right when he said: “The most important question a person can ask is, "Is the Universe a friendly place?”

It blows my mind that the most revered scientist of the last hundred years would say that.

"There is no doubt in my mind that direct voice mediumship through mediums like Leslie Flint, Etta Wriedt, Emily French, Mona van der Watt etc provide the best evidence of the continuity of life."

I think one's own powerful NDE or other mystical experience would be just as compelling, if not more so.

The prosecution handed OJ the acquittal. They played the defense's game. They turned an easy case into a muddy watered mess. They complicated it for the jury. They became defensive about everything and tried to respond to everything. It wasn't much of a feat for 6 defense attorneys after that.

Cochran and company brought Darden and Clark into their zone, their world, their case. It caused 12 people to set free a clearly guilty man.

In the end, we know what the evidence has shown us. When the debunkers prey on our fault - lines, we embrace them, we don't explain them away. There's no reason for it.
Regardless of the kinks, the overwhelming cumulative evidence clearly points in only one direction.

"I think one's own powerful NDE or other mystical experience would be just as compelling, if not more so."

A 'Near Death Experience' is not as compelling as a 'Death Experience'.

"Though I didn't read further, from the book's packaging I gather that Carter concludes that number 2–proof beyond all reasonable doubt–is the most reasonable position with regard to postmortem survival."

Michael,I'd like to share Your confidence,but...just today I've read dome book "Expanding Consciousness: toward Metapsychology" by C.W.Colliver(1932),where he denies spirit communication and claims that all that can be explain by psychology.But it was not the end of the story(I really had a bad day today).I've read about some psychologist,Theodore Flournoy,who made impressie(so I've read) suggestion that all mediumship has nothing to do with communication with the dead.I feel finished....The only counter-argument I can think is that many other serious researchers made complete opposite conclusions...Any thoughts?


"A 'Near Death Experience' is not as compelling as a 'Death Experience'.

Two things about that:

Having studied scores of NDE's, I can tell you that many NDErs say that what they went through was, in fact, a "death experience". They can be quite insistent on the point, saying that NEAR-death doesn't accurately describe their state.

They say simply: "I was dead."

Are they right? Well, since neither you nor I have had an NDE, we might do well not to argue with those who have.

Secondly, no matter how convinced you've been by your first-hand witnessing of direct voice mediumship--and I myself am impressed by what I've read about some such encounters--to say that you had a "death experience" doesn't seem accurate.

You yourself did not have the experience of being what society commonly calls "dead". You merely witnessed compelling evidence.

Thanks for the great post, this blog was a great discovery for me, it's hard to find a balanced view on these topics. 90% of the times it's all black and white. I needed way more shades of grey and I found them here :)

By now, however, I can honestly say I'm not concerned about converting other people to my point of view. First, I don't think people can be converted by argument; they have to choose to investigate the subject for themselves, in their own good time

Exactly! You didn't convert me, I was already very interested in the subject but certainly your articulate way of approaching these themes has helped me finding the right balance between "fatih" and reason. What we might call evidence-based faith?

Also many of your readers have a remarkable knwoledge in this field and I usually end up buying almost all books that are recommended in this comment section :D

Thanks for your endeavor and keep up the good work :)
Marco

Absolutely *brilliant* summary of the status quo! Well done, our Michael. 8)

Cheers,
Julie

What I have noticed missing from these comments on legal issues are any comments regarding the possibility of scientific modeling, hypothetical or theoretical explanations of afterlife. They are possible. I know this because I've done it. Many scientists say it is impossible simply because they judge the possibility a priori wrong, but if more scientists had open minds the afterlife could not only explained but experimentally verified rendering any legal questions irrelevant.

Sorry I mistyped my email address it's actually jebco1st not jenco1st.

Great post! Finding that 'sweet spot' balance between rational openmindedness and skepticism is something ive been striving for a long time.

This blog helped me find it. Something else that hit the nail on the head for me was Rubenstein's book 'Consulting Spirit', in it he describes a perfect way of looking at the world and paranormal phenomena that hits just the right notes imv. He also describes how easy it is to go off on a tangent with this stuff, reminding us that its important to remain grounded, while always keeping an open mind and accepting what the evidence is telling you: that beyond all reasonable doubt, these phenomena are real.

"to say that you had a "death experience" doesn't seem accurate.

"You yourself did not have the experience of being what society commonly calls "dead". You merely witnessed compelling evidence."

I did not say that I had a 'death experience'.

I was simply quoting those who did have one and returned through direct voice mediumship to tell us of their experiences.

Neither did I say that I witnessed compelling evidence - I heard compelling evidence.

Well.... that's just cool then. I remember the ah ha! moment when Id seen a ghost, been given verifiable information by the dead, and had one jump in my body.

The first thought was- "oh god, I've joined that group of people that are considered crazy". We all want to be taken seriously I guess, myself included.

The next - " But I like problem solving"- only to realize they don't give me all the answers.Funny what you think!

The last - "How have we come this far with so many gains in technology and science, yet they still fail to understand there is life after death" I think I was seriously depressed for a week about that one, not that I am still not.

Then you realize its just human nature - to be a creature of habit or of upbringing, and to be more close minded than open minded ( frankly I find it depressing to read internet comments!).

And scientists are no different- stuck on dogma along with a good dose of human ego, often seen in companies where it it difficult getting an idea past the "top".

So.., my favorite saying lately is "Its unintelligent to think otherwise".

I agree its a process for people to come to an understanding, and they are where they need to be. But really it is! There's a preponderance of evidence out there, and quite frankly I think it is intelligent to be open- minded. Cheers Lyn.

Wonderful post, Michael. Thank you.

Michael, this entire post was inspiring to me, because sometimes I find myself being far too timid than the evidence warrants. But these lines jumped out at me as absolute poetry:

"Like the defense team in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, they subject each drop of blood to endless analysis and speculation, creating a climate of doubt and a fog of confusion, without troubling to notice that there is a trail of blood leading directly from the murder victims to the suspect's car and from the suspect's car to his house. They pick apart each leaf on the branch of a particular tree, but never acknowledge the forest.

Razor sharp, profound, yet even a child could understand it. I'll try to remember to credit you when I quote it in the future, as in "This best-selling crime/suspense novelist named Michael Prescott, who also writes a serious paranormal/spiritual blog I follow said..."

Now that is my kind of post. Very well said, Michael. It's the 'king with no clothes' scenario now...the evidence is in, we survive.

BTW - I really hope that the end to hedging doesn't signal the end of this blog.

Like I said, there's still so much to discover and discuss concerning the nature of the thing once one has accepted its reality.

Hi Jim Beichler, ya I agree with you experimental evidence is the best evidence you can get for an afterlife. There is of course plenty of it already in support of an afterlife.

Thanks very much for all the kind and supportive comments! I'm glad to know that this blog, over the years, has helped some people in their personal search for answers about this topic.

I've recommended Jim Beichler's book To Die For in the past. He puts together a very interesting, physics-based argument for how consciousness could survive death. Not being a physicist, I can't assess it in detail, but I found it provocative and fascinating. (Use the Google search box on the left side of this page to search for the keyword "Beichler," and my posts about the book should come up.)

No, I'm not discontinuing this blog, though I admit I'm a little less consumed by this subject in recent years. I recently started The Totally Normal Blog to deal with non-paranormal topics like politics and movies. I think it has approximately three readers!

Zerdini, I agree that direct voice mediumship must be highly convincing evidence for those who experience it directly, but when it's described in books or articles, it's less compelling, at least to me. If I weren't already convinced by other mediums like Piper, Leonard, Garrett, and Cummins, I doubt that reading about direct voice, or even hearing the Leslie Flint recordings, would persuade me. On the other hand, the best cases of direct voice are supported by very credible witnesses, so perhaps I'm just overly skeptical in this area. Etta Wriedt and Emily French are two direct voice mediums whose abilities really do seem impossible to explain in terms of fraud or error.

Great post Michael. You have pushed me to the
edge of the skeptcal ledge, where I now hang by my fingertips.

I too hope this does not mark the end of this blog.

Greg L.

I've come across this site a few times. So, Micheal, off the top of your head what evidence has made the case for an afterlife compelling?

I thought you would have saved your revelation for 12/21 Michael.

(different Paul above )

This is pretty much my position. I am 100% certain that the materialist model doesn't account for everything we observe...even if there is no afterlife, I'm certain that psi is real.

It seems to me VERY LIKELY that consciousness continues in some form after death. I don't think we'll ever get absolute proof that convinces everyone. Well never get beyond the strong hint stage...because that would spoil whatever the purposes of being here is.

That said, even believing in a higher purpose as I do, I still think there is entirely too much suffering in the Universe. The problem of evil remains a problem for me, even though I think there is likely an afterlife.

WONDERFUL!!
I've found out an old article written by Mike Tymn (Dec.2008)on skeptics and pseudoskeptics,unluckily it's not yet online. He mentioned the book "The dark lore". I have it on my files, but it's too long for putting it here.If you're interested on this article I will be happy to send it to you by e-mail
Love, light and serenity,
Claudio

A most excellent post indeed. I've followed your blog silently for a while now, Michael, and greatly enjoy listening to your thoughts and those of your commenters.

As a scientist, I know I will never be able to commit 100% to a belief in an afterlife without personally experiencing it. That would be faith. However, something many people don't adequately appreciate, or at least take to heart, is that there's nothing wrong with a compartmentalized worldview. Scientific research is always compartmentalized in the sense that one never has all the facts cemented together into the "final" big picture. There's always more waiting to be discovered, understood, and incorporated. How about being 99% certain there's an afterlife? 90% 50%? 10%? 1%? Any degree of certainty/uncertainty is an acceptable point of view for a particular individual given his/her point in space time. "Nobody is doing it wrong", as you say, and we all have our destiny. The important thing is to possess a personal worldview sufficiently expansive to include a place (even a tiny one) for things that we don't currently know or understand, and perhaps can't ever know or understand.

It's tiresome to me argue endlessly about anything. I see the evidence for life after death sort of like a puzzle with lots of pieces and when I step back and look at the puzzle after I've seen it all put together it paints an amazing and beautiful picture. This life is not all there is. We are more than our physical bodies.

"Zerdini, I agree that direct voice mediumship must be highly convincing evidence for those who experience it directly, but when it's described in books or articles, it's less compelling, at least to me. "

It certainly is highly convincing, Michael.

It is equally convincing, if not more so, than reading books about the mediumship of Piper, Leonard, Garrett, and Cummins etc.

I realise how difficult it must be to try and imagine conversations with those whom the world calls 'dead'.

Apart from those I mentioned in my post there is, of course, Estelle Roberts, whose direct voice mediumship is featured on my website.

The article is called "When You Hear the 'Dead' Speak".

I shall be publishing soon an article about the mediumship of Etta Wriedt.

@tsavo as a scientist, aren't most of your conclusions probabilities anyway? :)

Great post Michael! Thank you so much, not only for this excellent post, but also for all your work during this 15 years.

Indeed I'm one of those helped by your blog. During the last 10 years I'm been going through a similar personal transformation, from a total skeptic to share the same ideas that you have expressed several times so wonderfully, and your blog has been an invaluable source of information and a great support since I discovered it several years ago.

I am really thankful to you, and also to the people posting comments, for guiding me through it.

"It is equally convincing, if not more so, than reading books about the mediumship of Piper, Leonard, Garrett, and Cummins etc."

I haven't felt that way. What makes the best mental mediums convincing to me is the specificity of some of their communications. With direct voice mediums, there may be the same level of specificity, but unfortunately we rarely get enough details to judge for ourselves. All too often we read something like, "The spirit of Mrs. Jones' grandmother was heard, and for ten minutes she and Mrs. Jones had an intimate conversation." With few, if any, details offered about the conversation, and with no stenographic record, I'm left wondering whether the conversation consisted of specifics or banalities. If anyone knows of a source that includes actual stenographic records of direct voice sessions, I'd be interested in knowing about it.

"If anyone knows of a source that includes actual stenographic records of direct voice sessions, I'd be interested in knowing about it."

That's an easy one, Michael :)

Edward Randall had a stenographer record the communications from Emily French.

Arthur Findlay had a stenographer record the communications from John Sloan.

Maurice Barbanell stenographically recorded the direct voice communications from Estelle Roberts.

Thanks, Zerdini. I'd forgotten about Findlay's book, though I've read it. I'll have to track down the other two.

Q: "@tsavo as a scientist, aren't most of your conclusions probabilities anyway? :)"

A: Yes of course, though formally, they're called working hypotheses, and some work better than others, even to the point of being considered "laws". But a law only pertain to a defined set of circumstances. If circumstances change, usually by paradigm shift, the law is then seen as applicable only to a previously narrower view of how things work.

Michael,
I can't let this post go by without adding my praise for the efforts you have put into this site. I am a long-time lurker, mainly because I feel so overwhelmed by the intellect shown on this site not only by you but by those who comment. This is company I want to keep.

Thanks Tsavo :)

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