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I did buy it, and I enjoyed it. I hope she will write another book that contains some of the transcripts, noting some of the hits (and misses, too, for balance).

Michael,

Another thing I found rather shocking was how few readings had been collected and analyzed - what was it - like 23 or so? I don't have my kindle at hand to see. I found that as disappointing as anything else.

I'm currently reading (finally!) George P. Hansen's "The Trickster and the Paranormal" and he discusses how this situation would be exactly what we should expect - a very "liminal" woman like Beischel (with all her very liminal, anti-structural, personal characteristics) eeking her way through life (having to sell her own few precious family heirlooms to buy groceries with) and doing her research with scant funding from interested parties.

The whole thing is sad! I nearly cried when I read how Beischel had to sell the "haunted dresser" that belonged to her family just so she could eat. Hansen is really on to something with his thesis about the anti-structural properties of the paranormal and anyone involved in it.

Part 1
I digressed a bit from my planned reading schedule to take a look at Julie Beischel's book and I'm glad I did. It' a perfect follow-up to Trevor Hamilton's book which I mentioned in a previous post. Hamilton's book is a personal quest for answers about mediumship and lists the actual transcripts of his sittings with nine different mediums over a period of several years. Beischel's book summarizes the results (without transcripts) of controlled, blinded sittings carried out by a team of investigators also over a number of years.

Since the blog topic specifically relates to Beischel's book, I'll only comment further on it. First let me say that I think the work she is doing is superb and it's a crying shame there isn't more money available to her and to others willing to do similar research. It's a brave thing to put your entire life and career on the line against current establishment thinking. Bully for her!

As to the question of survival evidentiality, Beischel's comment toward the end of Chapter 5 is telling: "Whatever is going on (though I'm leaning toward survival), it is interesting and worthy of further investigation." Note the words "leaning toward". This seems to always be where anyone that carefully examines the matter from the outside ends up. The mediums themselves obviously feel differently, but they have the benefit of direct personal experience.

Part 2
The weakest part of her book is clearly the section dealing with the use of phenomenology to try and resolve the survival vs super-ESP/PSI impasse (Chapter 5: Operation Research Program). It is very soft ground in terms of evidentiality. While she seems well on the way toward showing that there are likely to be different paths to the information reservoir (wherever it is) - ie whether the medium "receiving" or "retrieving", it all ends up being, as the terms themselves are, interpretive and subjective. For example, Beischel focuses strongly on the idea of lower volitional control during a mediumship reading as indicating that the information is "coming in" rather than "being retrieved". Another interpretation might well be that the loss of volitional control primarily reflects a loss of *conscious* control, in deference to *subconscious* control. In other words, the medium simply "goes deeper" to get the information and it feels like less overt control. It would therefore properly be viewed as two different pathways for "retrieval". Beischel addresses this concern (ie subconscious involvement) later by citing early age onset of mediumistic experience, but IMO, early onset does nothing to resolve things.

Something I really both liked and disliked was her treatment of rater bias. The basic concept of choosing between real and decoy medium responses is great, but I feel she's totally off base by intentionally using discarnates/sitters that are as dissimilar as possible. Yes, "...if both of those readings described, say, young men in their 20's [etc]...it would be nearly impossible for a sitter to distinguish which reading was for his son". But that's precisely the degree of rigor which provides the greatest evidentiality -something that's UNIQUELY identifying! If it's necessary to make the discarnates/sitters extremely dissimilar in the first place in order to generate statistically acceptable results in terms of rater bias removal, it weakens the case.

Philemon,

'Hansen is really on to something with his thesis about the anti-structural properties of the paranormal and anyone involved in it.'

Superb spotting of a very wise insight! (You picked your nick aptly.)

"Another thing I found rather shocking was how few readings had been collected and analyzed - what was it - like 23 or so?"

Philemon, I've been reading the book and I feel exactly the same way. The actual number, by the way, is 21, not 23.

On the one hand, I'm greatly impressed by the multi-layered blinding she uses.

But why so few readings? She has 20 certified mediums and the research has been going for years, hasn't it? So why so little data?

16 of the 21 sitters were able to correctly identify which reading was theirs. That's an impressive percentage. And if that figure continued to hold over a larger number of readings, then--given her extremely clean protocol--it seems to me she'd have, at the very least, strong evidence for psi.

But 21 readings is not all that much to go by.

Also: Like Michael, I was struck by the fact that she doesn't mention Gary Schwartz by name. She mentions working in his VERITAS program. She refers to meeting "the psychologist who had worked with John Edward." That has to be Schwartz, right?

So why not give his name? I'd like to hear the story behind that. :o)

Another plus for Among Mediums: A Scientist's Quest For Answers is the humor. I never burst out laughing 'til I cried, but I definitely felt better after reading it than I felt before. It took just a few hours to read, but for $4.99, it's a good deal.


I enjoyed the book and her sharing her personal history with us. the time will come Julie and others like her will be considered pioneers.

Slightly off topic - however for all those interested in David Thompson, I noticed that there some zip tie escape videos on youtube. There is also a zip-tie escape magic trick on sale at this site: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S12252

Perhaps learning to escape from zip-ties is easier than we suppose.

Just a thought but are the mediums already in a form of trance when they are doing their work. We go into a trance like state naturally many times a day so how can you tell that they aren't already in hypnosis?

You're right, Herb - zip-ties can be defeated by any competent escape artist. This was one of the points I raised in my criticism of the controls used in Thompson's seances. As far as I know, the people investigating Thompson never altered their protocol to take account of this criticism.

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