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Sam Parnia's latest drops February 26th!

One more plug: Emily Williams Kelly's collection of the key papers of Ian Stevenson is now available for purchase.

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442221147

Something odd is happening re Julie Beischel's new book, Among Mediums ...: Amazon is not enabling its purchase. (I have been trying to buy it in the UK.)

Not released until 26 Feb Sophie.

Ouch! Thank you, Barbara.

Julie's book is currently available for purchase in the US. I bought it in a Kindle edition.

Aware study update: absolutely nothing new

http://horizonresearch.org/main_page.php?cat_id=279

I honestly don't see what the big deal is about the AWARE study. Veridical hits will be discounted by skeptics and if the the study shows nothing paranormal it doesn't negate all the other literature.

I am not a psychic but I can tell you what the conclusion will be... inconclusive. They will state in the conclusion that more research will be needed to better understand the phenomenon moving forward. This has been the case with this stuff since 150 years ago.

Just finished reading a book about mediumship and after death survival that I can highly recommend. The single reviewer on Amazon is Michael Tymn, who gave it 5 stars. Most of you have some idea where I stand with respect to this topic - ie mediums offer a view of reality, most particularly regarding survival, that deserves to be considered and has not been ruled out, but that super-PSI/ESP is an adequate and preferable explanation at the current time. It's an admittedly close call, however, and the most important thing is to have as open a mind about matters as possible. The book I'm referring to here, "Tell My Mother I'm Not Dead: A Case Study in Mediumship Research" exemplifies the kind of careful examination of both external and (most importantly) internal information that I admire. The author, Trevor Hamilton, became intensely interested in the subject upon the tragic loss of his son, and consulted a number of different mediums. He also had several personal experiences that he thought to be relevant.

Wow, we have a book bonanza going on here. I just downloaded Julie Beischel's book, and I'm likely to buy the book recommended by tsavo.

Sam Parnia's book looks like it will be interesting (thanks, Troy :-), and based on Pim van Lommel's review of it, we may be selling the AWARE study short, here's why:
Parnia's book is being published in advance of the release of the AWARE study results. Although I believe that Ray is right when he says the results will be inconclusive (it's a "preliminary" study), but in reviewing Erasing Death, Van Lommel says "Parnia gives convincing arguments that there is a continuation of consciousness after physical death and that we have to reconsider our current definition of death".

Of course, this may be an effort by a friend to help a friend sell a book, but based on this quote in Van Lommel's review, Parnia sounds like he might be singing a newer, more pro-continuation of consciousness song.

I guess we'll have to wait until February 26th to find out.

"I guess we'll have to wait until February 26th to find out."

Rabbitdawg, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this one. Any book that's heralded with words like these, sounds pretty old-school to me:

"Erasing Death is evidence that we are making previously unthinkable technological progress in our battle against death"

Battle against death? For me, the power of the NDE is that it eliminates the need for a mindset in which death is the enemy.

"Rabbitdawg, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this one."

Way-ull Bruce, truth be told, I'm really just holding half a breath.
:-)

Bruce,
Patience Worth had a lot to say about death in many poems. The last stanza of the most impressive one rather reflects my view of death also. After a lifetime of trying to know who or what had been following her all of her life,at its end, death is revealed and she states:

    "Aye, thou art the gift o' Him!
    The Key to There! The Love o' Earth!
    Aye, and hate hath made o' man to know thee not---
    Thou! Thou! O Death!"

"Aye, thou art the gift o' Him!"

Nice poetry, Amos. I read a couple of books on Patience Worth many years ago, and was impressed by the phenomenon itself, as well as the poems. Some are quite beautiful.

Just don't ask me to read her books. I tried!

I am reading Dr. Beischel's book and she has an interesting take on super-psi.

"Because super-psi is basically all-encompassing, it cannot be disproven and therefore, does not actually qualify as a scientific hypothesis. It is more of a philosophical tool for discussing alternatives to survival."

Now this is a bold statement (sort of) and dismisses super-psi as a mere academic exorcise and takes casts it purely in the realm of philosophical metaphysics. I love how she simplifies this "problem" of survival vs. super-psi and basically asked the question, "Why don't we just ask the mediums where they get their information." She reported in her book that they unanimously agree that they can distinguish the difference between psi and and speaking with a spirit. Or in the words of Gordon Bombay from the Mighty Ducks movie when asked how he knows if the ice on a pond is safe enough to skate on, "I just know."

How do you quantify that in scientific terms? I guess that is the challenge.

Ray, Thanks for sharing Dr. Beischel's take on super-psi (I haven't purchased the book yet, though planning to).

The explanation seems simple enough and, to my simple mind, makes all the sense it needs to. Of course the counter argument is that the mediums are deceiving themselves. These kinds of arguments seem to have no end.

Ray,
You hit exactly what I've been thinking a lot recently about deadlock of survival vs ESP. And in few blogs( Jeffery Marks,Julia Asante,Dean Radin) I found that - why not to ask mediums themselves?
Is anybody familiar with Charles Emmons's book? He also discuss there survival vs super-psi. His wife,Penelope,is medium. To my e-mail he replied: "I don't see any way of
completely proving that there is evidence of survival (vs. ESP), but I
think that subjective evidence is very important (which we discuss in
"Science and Spirit"). For example, I think it's important that many
mediums (like Penelope) feel confident that in certain cases they are
contacting a spirit."

I think medium Marce Cairo,frequent visitor of this blog, expressed the same

There is no way of completely disproving solipsisim. Though a good kick in the shins will shut them up.

Sudduth makes another take on the cases when mediums demonstrate unusual skills,that supposedly belong to deceased persons(piano-playing, languages). He talks NOT about (Super)ESP,but about "abnormal psychology", "dissotiation".
This,however,seems unconvincing to me, and raises the numbe of questions. I wonder if Julie talks about "abnormal psychology" and "dissotiation" in her new book

Something for those who are interested in the Dr Lloyd Rudy post it note case :

If you go over to the video you will see that Dr Roberto Cattaneo has posted an affirmation that the facts of the case as stated by Dr Rudy are absolutely correct. This is the actual surgeon who was standing in the doorway with his arms folded etc etc.

I have contacted a friend already about this to see if the case can now be investigated. Of course Dr Catteneo may not want to speak about in more depth but at least it cannot be dismissed (Woerlee style)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL1oDuvQR08

Ray,

'Now this is a bold statement (sort of) and dismisses super-psi as a mere academic exorcise and takes casts it purely in the realm of philosophical metaphysics. I love how she simplifies this "problem" of survival vs. super-psi ...'

I have just finished reading Dr Beischel's book. You know, I cannot see that she is guilty in the least of the simplifications you claim she makes. She says that the super-psi proposal is not falsifiable and not testable, so it does not even amount to a hypothesis in scientific terms. In this she is absolutely right. There is nothing wrong at all with pointing out the argumentative weakness of the super-psi proposal. (Far too many people seem to have missed this fact.)

Dr Beischel opines that it was high time to ask the mediums (as she asked the mediums who participated in her research) if they know whether they are communing with spirits or using their psi powers. Your send-up of this falls very flat. She at no time claims that having asked them proves anything. She simply notes that she thinks it interesting that that mediums claim that they can distinguish between their spirits and psi experiences. And she points out that this claim of mediums is not verifiable in a laboratory setting. And that is an obvious fact.

Hi Sophie. Perhaps you misunderstood me, I was agreeing with her. The reason I said it was a bold statement is because most experts in the field do not dismiss super-psi outright like she does but I think her logic makes sense.

Ray,

Ah, thanks! I'm much relieved. :)

Beischel: "Because super-psi is basically all-encompassing, it cannot be disproven and therefore, does not actually qualify as a scientific hypothesis. It is more of a philosophical tool for discussing alternatives to survival."

This may be true, but Michael Suddoth argues that the survival hypothesis as an explanation for psychical phenomena is just as unfalsifiable and unscientific. Because, he claims, just as high a degree of super-psi would be required by a combination of discarnates and mediums to exhibit the phenomena. If that is the case then absolutely any mediumistic or other psychical phenomena could be explained by it, not just what is observed. He admits that the survival hypothesis is still rational. And Popper's criterion of falsifiability is not absolutely required for something to be true, just for it to be "scientific".

"just as high a degree of super-psi would be required by a combination of discarnates and mediums to exhibit the phenomena"

I haven't read his paper, but this doesn't make sense to me. The point of super-psi is that the medium can unconsciously access a) the thoughts of the sitters, b) the thoughts of people who are not in the room, and c) facts unknown to anyone living, e.g., written information or the location of a lost item. Furthermore, super-psi allows the medium unconsciously to d) collect all these data instantaneously and as needed, e) assemble the data into a coherent messages, f) impersonate the deceased by reproducing his personality, mannerisms, gestures, habitual turns of phrase, etc., and g) act out the deceased's emotions with convincing realism.

Moreover, the super-psi idea requires the medium's unconscious, on occasion, to h) obtain information about someone unknown to any of the sitters (drop-in communicators), i) simulate the progress of a recently deceased person from tentative and confused early communications to more assured and cogent communications later on, and j) withhold some information that ought to be easy to get (e.g., the deceased's name).

Finally, super-psi would require the unconscious to k) fool the medium's conscious mind into believing that the information really does come from the deceased.

In contrast, the survival hypothesis only requires the medium to a) have the ability to tune in to the communicating spirit and b) transmit the spirit's messages to a sitter.

Michael said: In contrast, the survival hypothesis only requires the medium to a) have the ability to tune in to the communicating spirit and b) transmit the spirit's messages to a sitter.

Right, I'm reading Julie's book right now and got to the section of the book which deals with this last night. She adds that the mediums are frequently surprised by the discarnate showing up, or sometimes even frightened by them (perhaps by their emotionality?) in regard to the messages that they want to come through. This is in Julie's section that touches on the phenomenological aspects of mediumship.

I hear what the proponents of super-psi and psychic reservoir are saying on these matters, but really, if the mediums are crapping their pants because a discarnate comes in the middle of the night and starts freaking out on them, I think that just doesn't add up seeking out the info in some psychic computer bank.

Julie also adds that many of these mediums started having contact with discarnates at a very young age - long before they would have any incentive to pretend they were something more than "mere" psychics. Their experience of their mediumistic abilities has been - lifelong - that they are interacting with discrete, conscious entities - not psychic reservoirs and not the minds of the living.

In contrast, the survival hypothesis only requires the medium to a) have the ability to tune in to the communicating spirit and b) transmit the spirit's messages to a sitter.

Suddoth's argument seems to be that the survival hypothesis requires powerful super-psi on the part of the discarnates in order to account for the many features of mediumistic phenomena that exist beyond the knowledge that the discarnates would presumably have concerning their own former lives. These other features are led by physical phenomena like direct voice, disembodied voices, raps and knocks, ectoplasm, levitating tables, materializations, apports, etc. These seem to require a highly developed pk and other abilities on the part of the surviving spirit.

Aside from this, Sudduth points out that a lot of mediumistic communications send through knowledge of persons present at the sittings, persons not present at the sittings, what sitters say during the sittings, current events, and events that have taken place on earth since their death (essentially your items a-e). In particular, "details about particular places, the location of certain objects, and what certain people were doing at particular times", all postmortem. He gives a number of examples in his 2009 paper in JSSE ( http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_23_2_sudduth.pdf (p. 175, 176)). In some cases, Sudduth claims, they even exhibit apparent precognition.

Obtaining all this information, integrating it and sending it into the mind of the medium, and also producing the physical phenomena would seem to require some powerful sort of super-psi by the spirits on the same order as that required for it to be a performance of the medium, so Sudduth claims.

I would disagree that it is of the same order, however, since the super-psi hypothesis also requires the medium to impersonate the spirit's personality, mannerisms, and sometimes actual skills, languages, etc. That seems to be a higher order of super.

Just got a facebook message about the AWARE study. Results due out in the fall.

http://iands.org/news/news/front-page-news/908-aware-study-preliminary-results-due-in-the-fall.html

doubter - "... since the super-psi hypothesis also requires the medium to impersonate the spirit's personality, mannerisms, and sometimes actual skills, languages, etc. That seems to be a higher order of super."

Sudduth is spot on in terms of postulating that discarnates, as a class, would need to be using something very close to super-ESP/PSI to account for all the observed phenomena attributable to them. As to whether a higher order super would have to be invoked to display personas, skills, etc, well, probably not by much. Certain people are born mimics, for example, and there's undoubtedly a continuum of this ability in the population. There's also such a thing as acquired savant syndrome, usually associated with organic brain damage, where skills spontaneously arise. It's hard to avoid the feeling that our understanding of the powers attributable to super-ESP/PSI among the living has lots of room for expansion.

OT, but I saw snorkler's post looking for recommendations on books on the Afterlife on another of Michael's posts. I'd highly recommend Michael Sabom's books, as well of course Raymond Moody's first book, the granddaddy of them all, "Life after Life." Chris Carter's "Science and the Afterlife Experience" is also excellent. The chapter on quantum physics is a bit of tough-going, but there's lots there. Dr. Sabom also set up nderf.org, which contains hundreds of accounts of NDEs from people all over the world. These resources totally changed my mind about NDEs. I also read opposing views just to keep myself honest. But the evidence as presented in these resources is very compelling.

I really liked Ken Ring's books, especially "Life At Death" which is sort of like a college textbook - but has a lot of really interesting NDE's in it. I also really liked Melvin Morse's Closer To The Light about the near death experiences of children.

A rather obscure book that I have read - but that is very good - is "The Journey Home" by Phillip Berman and Death's Door by Jean Ritchie.

I have read many more books about NDE's, some good, some not so good. I suppose everybody has their favorites and what appeals to me may not appeal to others. I know a lot of people really liked Betty Eadie's book but I found it a difficult read - and not really my cup of tea.

One other book that is not an NDE book but I thought was interesting was "Hello From Heaven" by Bill and Judy Guggenheim. It's about ADCs but is still an interesting read.

One thing to remember is that it doesn't all have to be true. Some of it can be true and some of it can be "not true". As William James said, "it only takes one white crow to prove not all crows are black." That is what we are looking for, one white crow.

This may be true, but Michael Suddoth argues that the survival hypothesis as an explanation for psychical phenomena is just as unfalsifiable and unscientific.

The situation is not completely symmetrical, because if the afterlife hypothesis and are super-psi hypothesis are unfalsifiable in the sense that some physical theories are falsifiable, the super-psi hypothesis is just a set of unconnected hypotheses to try to explain some phenomena with only motivation is to reject the existence of a form of afterlife, while the afterlife hypothesis is a set of connected hypotheses that consider the most plausible explanation for these phenomena is the existence of a form of afterlife, as the evolution is the most plausible explanation to a set of seemingly unrelated phenomena.

Because, he claims, just as high a degree of super-psi would be required by a combination of discarnates and mediums to exhibit the phenomena.

No, the spirits of the deceased only require psi, not super-psi. For example: if the medium presents information about a deceased what are not in an unique earthly source, but in several extended by the planet, the hypothesis that the medium recreates the deceased needs to resort to super-psi, because it needs to postulate that the medium scans the planet through clairvoyance or whatever we want and collect relevant information and then bring them together to make a coherent dialogue with the sitter. By contrast, the hypothesis that the medium is in contact with the deceased only requires that the deceased exist, to remember his life and can control the medium, because all this information are in a single source: the same deceased.

Certain people are born mimics, for example, and there's undoubtedly a continuum of this ability in the population. There's also such a thing as acquired savant syndrome, usually associated with organic brain damage, where skills spontaneously arise.

Although in some cases we are dealing with unconscious imitation, in other cases of mediumship the claim that the medium contact with the deceased fits much better with the entire life of the medium, for example, the fact perceive auras and luminous beings that only the medium could see from childhood, etc. And the new skills not just appear without a antecedent, but in some cases appear in a context that points to the afterlife, as in the case of children who seem to remember past lives and showing new skills that match the skills of the deceased.

I wrote a small review of a review of Sudduth in the following link:

http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/4666-review-book-persons-death-souls.html

To see what you think.

Dr. Sabom also set up nderf.org,

Hi, Kathleen...it wasn't Sabom it was of course Jeff and Jody Long.

Thanks for the correction. Jeff Long also wrote "Evidence of the Afterlife," which is also very good and highly recommended.

@philemon - a very interesting observation. Makes sense to me.

Juan - No, the spirits of the deceased only require psi, not super-psi
.........................
By contrast, the hypothesis that the medium is in contact with the deceased only requires that the deceased exist, to remember his life and can control the medium, because all this information are in a single source: the same deceased.

A pretty high order of psi is required on the part of the spirit for the communications alone (not even including physical phenomena). In addition to remembering the recent life, it also requires the discarnate to be able to tap into the present time-of-seance physical world in multiple ways to get information about people's actions, locations of objects, people's thoughts, etc. etc. Also sometimes into the past and future, according to Sudduth. This is all information not known to the deceased prior to death.

There are then the physical phenomena such as exhibited by D. D. Home, Eusapia Palladino and later mediums, such as levitating tables, raps and knocks, materializations, playing accordions, disembodied or direct voice, etc. This would seem to be just as powerful a psi whether manifested by the spirit or by the medium.

However, your point still seems to be well taken, that even though a powerful psi ability is required of the spirit to do these things, it is of a lower order than the incredible feat required of the medium to reach out and obtain all the information required, then integrate it to impersonate the personality, memories, mannerisms and sometimes even the voice, of the deceased. Suddoth claims that multiple personality disorder, savants and other dissociative psychological disorders show that such things are within the scope of known abnormal psychology. I think both Suddoth and Braude underestimate the magnitude of this feat.

Unfortunately there were never any challenges to Suddoth's 2009 paper in JSSE, at least any that I could find.

To me, it would seem plausible that consciousness liberated from the physical body would have a greater range of psi abilities. The problem with super-psi, as applied to mediums, is that we never see super-psi phenomena in other settings, e.g., laboratory tests, where psi is usually pretty weak. This suggests to me that, among the living, psi is almost always a marginal talent, with a few exceptions in the form of psychic prodigies like D.D. Home.

On the other hand, among discarnates, psi seems to be not marginal but integral to their existence; we are consistently told that they communicate with each other via telepathy, that their world is a shared thought-form built from collective memories, that they can fashion their clothes and even their bodies by sheer willpower, etc.

This suggests to me that, among the living, psi is almost always a marginal talent, with a few exceptions in the form of psychic prodigies.

I don't know but personally for me the PSI theory has limits, as in many cases the sitter is unaware of the knowledge that has been passed on till it has been verified later.

I know for me, I often just talk to the deceased, without a sitter as such. And I don't key in much so find I get out of practice. And thus tend to trust fully that information that I don't know, or which goes against my common sense.

Recently having my little chats with God (who knows?, but the answers are intelligent ones). I asked if there was a Jesus that came to earth ( I have my doubts about all of that). "IT" replied yes he was an "Avatar". And I thought for a minute, now what actually is an Avatar? I can't remember, excuse my ignorance.

Wiki answer "In Hinduism, an avatar /ˈævətɑr/ (Hindustani: [əʋt̪aːr], from Sanskrit अवतार avatāra "descent") is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being (i.e., Vishnu for Vaishnavites), and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation", but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation".[1][2].

Cool. Lyn x.

It may be helpful in some cases to look at the motivation for certain theories. Clearly so-called "creation science" would never have been proposed absent the need to believe in biblical inerrancy.

The Strong Anthropic Principle, which argues that the universe is designed for life based on the number of physical constants that must be precisely what they are in order for life to exist, was followed immediately by the Weak AP, which says it is all still just chance because there are a more or less infinite number of universes in which life is impossible. Seems to me the WAP was primarily a way to make the scary (for materialists) implications of the SAP go away.

In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” category, science seems terrified of consciousness, without which science would be impossible. Go figure.

One physicist I read argues that many of the seeming impossible complexities of quantum physics arise from physicists trying to keep consciousness from rearing its ugly head and upsetting the materialists. Hugh Everett’s many worlds (multiple universes) interpretation may be just such a beast.

Seriously, would we even be discussing super-psi absent the need to make the idea survival go away?

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