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A cosmic conspiracy seems more like a fantasy than an actual option. Why would we think that everything is an elaborate lie to trick us? We have no reason to do that.

We have evidence that supports the afterlife, but we have no evidence to support that a conspiracy behind the idea of an afterlife is taking place... we could invent any story about a cosmic conspiracy, either super-psi or a monstruous deity who feeds of our feelings of hope. But that's it, just a story, with no evidence to prove it or disprove it, and therefore no reason to believe it.

People who experienced cosmic consciousness tell us, with a deep feeling of peace, joy and warm love, that everything is well, everything is playing out as expected. And nothing more trustworthy, profound and reliable than being the Cosmos itself.

So maybe behind these conspiracy theories lies the insecurity of feeling (or fearing) that everything may be "too good to be true", but as we may think everything sounds just too perfect to be real, we have no reason to believe that the Universe is inherently bad either.

As english is not my native language, I apologize for the mistakes I may have made.

"Among these lines of evidence are near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, apparitions and hauntings, spontaneous after-death communications and induced after-death communications, mediumship, spontaneous memories of past lives reported by young children, alleged memories of past lives or of an existence between lives reported by hypnotized adults, and electronic voice phenomena. This is not a complete list. I'm sure I've left out a few things." - Michael Prescott
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Death bed visions! I love reading about them! I've also read some mystical or transcendental experiences that say things that sound very similar to the holographic universe theory. I don't know how one would might explain that? If these experiences aren't "real" then why do they often times say things that seem to parallel what Michael Talbot wrote about in his book The Holographic Universe? http://www.earthportals.com/hologram.html

This is what gives me a high degree of confidence that there is life after death; or at least something of who I am will survive the death of my physical body?

For example, from Carl Turner's mystical experience, "I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere. I knew that everything is perfect and happening according to some divine plan, regardless of all the things we see as wrong with the world." http://www.beyondreligion.com/su_personal/dreamsvisions-kundalini.htm

and from Roger Ebert's last moments with his wife, "the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn't visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can't even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once."
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/roger-ebert-final-moments

I concede that there is no way to definitively decide between these two alternatives.

An unbiased objective person can decide. It is only those who suffer from perceptual bias how have trouble.

The filter model of the brain explains more facts than the production model.

Chris Carter agrees and calls super-esp pseudo-science.

NDErs the most qualified experts on the phenomenon say NDEs are real. Other states where it is ESP and seems really out of body requires hypnosis or some sort of induction.

Mediums, the most qualified experts on their phenomenon can tell the difference between spirit contact and ESP. They live with the phenomenon every day and know all the little details that don't get published. They know they are communicating with spirits not using their own ESP.

No materialist explanation can explain NDEs not a lack of oxygen, a dying brain, hallucinations, religious expectations, cultural expectations, hearing about medical procedures after the fact, brain dysfunction, retinal dysfunction causing an image of a tunnel, brain chemicals such as ketamine, endogenous opioids, neurotransmitter imabalances, or hallucinogens including DMT, REM intrusions, epilepsy or seizures, psychopathology, unique personality traits, residual brain activity during unconsciousness, the experience occurring before or after brain activity stopped, evolutionary adaptation, depersonalization, memory of birth, medication, defense against dying, or partial anesthesia.

Dr Eben Alexander a neurosurgeon who had and NDE says that NED prove heaven exists. He says that because of the way the brain is wired it could not produce an NDE.

Joe McMoneagle, is highly respected by parapsychologists, he developed military remote viewing, participated in military remote viewing, and had an NDE and he believes NDEs show the afterlife is real, he says NDEs show that "..that consciousness continues, and you don't really cease to exist as an individual..."

Most of the main NDE reserachers say NDEs are evidence of the afterlife, Parnia, Morse, van Lommel.

Guy Lyon Playfair, William Roll, and Ian Stevenson all thought some poltergeist phenomenon were caused by spirits. They knew about PK but ruled it out in cases where the phenomenon did not rely on one person.

Mrs. Piper's mediumship demonstrated that characteristics of the communication depended on the spirit not the medium or the sitter.

ESP itself is not produced by the brain and it's existence itself is evidence that consciousness is not dependent on matter. The fliter model of the brain explains more facts than the production model including ESP and acquired savant syndrome. ESP is independent of time and distance and no mechanism by which the brain produces ESP has been shown to occur in the brain.

ESP due to an altered brain state, cannot explain veridical perceptions during NDEs because shortly before, during, and shortly after cardiac arrest when the brain is in an abnormal state that might produce ESP the brain is not capable of producing memories. At other times the brain is functioning normally and there is nothing to cause ESP.

Dear Michael

Your post is really thought provoking. I think that the idea of associating 'super-psi' to conspiracy theories is really innovative in the sense that nobody has put the thing in this terms before and you are right. I would add that 'Super-psi' is generally untestable while survival theories are much more amenable to scientific scrutiny. Therefore, from a epistemological standpoint, survival theories are obviously superior.

So I would like to ask your permission to translated your post into Portuguese and publish in my blog 'Era do Espírito'.
Can I do that?
Regards,
A. Xavier

I agree with you that the rejection of all the lines of evidence point to an afterlife imply accepting an absurdly complicated conspiracy to make us believe in something that is not, but I read a skeptical text about another alleged conspiracy that the afterlife proponents would have to accept:

1. If mediumship is possible, then we would be able to receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side.

2. We do not receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side.

3. Then mediumship is not possible or some unknown factor prevents the transmission of new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side, but this is a theory of conspiracy.

I reject this argument because it is based on ignorance: we do not know why mediums do not convey new scientific and technical knowledge, but this does not invalidate the existence of cases of ostensible communications where the simplest explanation is the postmortem communication. There can be many variables that hinder mediumship and impede the transmission of new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side; this is not conspiracy, is to admit ignorance. What do you think?

"So I would like to ask your permission to translated your post into Portuguese and publish in my blog 'Era do Espírito'. Can I do that?"

Feel free, Ademir. Thanks for asking. This is probably the first time anything I've written has been translated into Portuguese!

Interesting point, Juan. It's possible that spirits are not free to interfere with scientific progress on earth, or that mediums lack the scientific concepts necessary to convey new scientific theories. Both of these explanations are admittedly somewhat ad hoc.

Some writers have found material of scientific value in mediumship. The Seth material, for instance, is used in Norman Friedman's "Bridging Science and Spirit," which deals with quantum physics.

Spiricom, a machine intended to allow electronic communication with the other side, was purportedly designed with the aid of a discarnate engineer. Spiricom, however, seemed to work only when used by one particular operator, so its value was limited at best.

Michael, I think this is among your best posts. It could have been used, as written, as a forward to most of the books about parapsychological phenomena. I am precisely at the jumping off point where, to move forward I must take that leap of faith but I cannot because of one little thing---doubt! I think that faith is belief sans doubt and I don't know how to give up my doubt.

"I believe, but help thou mine unbelief!" Having had some experience with the human psychic, I think I will always have doubt about anything that comes to us through the human mind.

Your comments here are as good or better than those which have been delivered from many Christian pulpits on Sunday morning. Perhaps you have missed your calling.
-AOD

Hi Juan,

"1. If mediumship is possible, then we would be able to receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side."

This is an issue I have pondered long and hard in relation to the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), who, according to his own account, spent the last twenty-seven years of his life able to be fully conscious in the spiritual world at will.

Swedenborg was himself a brilliant scientist, who wrote books on a wide variety of scientific subjects from chemistry to anatomy to cosmology.

However, as the 20th century dawned, our scientific knowledge began to diverge more and more from the science of Swedenborg's day. And we find that the science in Swedenborg's later spiritual writings, in which he records conversations with angels and spirits, was no more advanced than in his earlier scientific and philosophical period. He even reports angels articulating scientific ideas that we now know to be incorrect, such as spontaneous generation and the existence of fully developed ecosystems, including intelligent, humanoid life, on all of the then-known planets in our solar system.

This posed a real challenge for the Swedenborgians, who were finding that they could no longer defend everything Swedenborg wrote. On scientific and cultural subjects, some of his statements were simply incorrect. For the skeptics, this also called into question his statements on spiritual subjects. If he was wrong on science, who's to say he wasn't wrong about the nature of God and the spiritual world, too?

Of course, it's possible he was wrong about everything he wrote on spiritual subjects. That's what a materialist would say--and the fact that his angels and spirits sometimes spouted scientific error would be considered proof of his general error.

However, I finally realized that there is a fairly simple explanation for why we do not receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side, and why the information we do receive from spiritual sources often turns out to be faulty.

The other side is a spiritual realm of reality, not a material one. And scientific and technical knowledge are about material reality. As such, scientific and technical knowledge must originate in the material world, not in the spiritual world.

Angels and spirits are no longer living in the material world. They are immersed in a world that is on a whole different level of reality, and operates by a whole different set of laws (though there are analogs, or "correspondences," in Swedenborg's terminology, connecting one set of laws to the other.) Therefore angels and spirits cannot study natural law because they are no longer immersed in it. They don't have direct access to the subject of study.

Swedenborg describes angels and spirits as being dependent upon new arrivals from earth for their knowledge of events in the material world. Since newcomers are always arriving (the death continually hovers around 100%), there is a steady supply of new scientific, technical, social, and historical information from earth.

In short, the scientific and technical knowledge that angels and spirits possess comes from people arriving from the material world, or from contact with people currently living in the material world. So they know no more about science and technology than we do.

That is why we do not receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side. We can't learn science and technology beyond our current knowledge of those subjects from angels and spirits, because they are learning it from us. All they can do is repeat back to us what they've heard from the material world.

Perhaps if they had talked to Tesla or some other non-mainstream scientist, they might have some non-mainstream science to report, which might sound "new" to those who hadn't heard of those scientists. But it would still in fact be derived from the material world, not from the spiritual world.

Hi Michael,

In stating these two options, are you simply not considering materialist options in this particular article? Or do you not think materialist options are viable and worthy of consideration?

"Ratiocination": exact thinking or logical reasoning.

Exact thinking and logical reasoning is in the realm of knowledge. Beyond exact thinking and logical reasoning is a realization.

William James “the will to believe” is also in the realm of knowledge that a seeker must have a right to believe until enough evidence is attained that his or her will to believe is verified as a reality.

Understanding comes to us by a revelation that leads to an instant realization. The difference between knowledge and a realization is like comparing a pond to the ocean.

Knowledge can be shared; a realization cannot be shared. A realization of a spiritual truth is as rare as a white crow.

Think of a realization as an awakening to reality process.

“We each have to take that leap, in one direction or the other, for ourselves.” If we have to take a leap, this is an example of knowledge attained.

If one does the research even with a hint of an open mind that leap to accept the overwhelming evidence for the survival of consciousness is a very short leap.

Hi Michael,

"It comes down to what William James called 'the will to believe,' meaning our willingness to take a leap of faith at a point when ratiocination can go no further. We each have to take that leap, in one direction or the other, for ourselves."

Fascinating stuff. I agree with your Jamesian conclusion, though I see it from a somewhat different perspective.

A "leap of faith," seems arbitrary and ultimately indefensible. At the point of leaping in one direction, we could just as well have leaped in the other direction, and the whole course of our mental evolution and our life would have been completely changed simply because we happened to jump one way rather than the other.

I think there is a deeper phenomenon in play here that determines which way we will leap. This phenomenon is non-arbitrary and is ultimately defensible, though not through logic and reason alone.

When James spoke of "the will to believe," I suspect he was influenced by Swedenborg's psychology. (James's father was an ardent, though idiosyncratic and non-institutional, Swedenborgian.) In its simplest form, Swedenborg's psychology posits that the human being consists of will, intellect, and action, and that our will flows through our intellect into our action. Though intellect can inform and influence the will, and is in fact designed to do so, it is the will that ultimately determines both what we will believe and what we will express in words and actions.

The will itself is primarily concerned, not with information, reason, or truth, but with what in abstract terms can be called "the good," or, in somewhat less abstract terms, by what it loves and therefore considers to be good. According to Swedenborg's psychology, the intellect, with its knowledge, logic, and reason, will ultimately follow the will, and support what the will loves and sees as good.

So what's happening in a "leap of faith" is not some intellectually arbitrary jump that could have gone either way because evidence, reason, and logic by themselves are insufficient to determine the result. Rather, it is a matter of the will (the heart, in common language) deciding what it loves and considers to be good, and arranging the intellect (the head) and the actions (the hands) in harmony with its decision.

This, I think, throws much light on why atheists become atheists, and theists and believers of various sorts become theists and believers of their particular sort.

Even for those who "leap" toward atheism, it is not due merely to reason and logic as they themselves will often claim, and probably believe. It is because given their own experience and the information at their disposal about what the world would be like with or without God, they have decided that there would be more good in the world without God than with God. Their mind then follows, marshaling more and more evidence to support the choice that their heart has made on the basis of what it loves and considers to be good.

In this analysis I'm talking about good-hearted atheists, of which there are plenty. The heart, or will, may also determine that what it loves and thinks is good is personal wealth, pleasure, and power, regardless of how the means of acquiring them may harm others. In this case, the atheist rejects God as an unwanted curb on behavior defined as evil by God, and the theist simply uses God and religion to achieve selfish ends.

Short version: Ultimately our beliefs are not determined by what our mind thinks is true, nor by an (arbitrary) leap of faith when ratiocination can go no further, but by what our heart loves and decides is good.

I do agree with you that this is something each of us must determine for ourselves.

http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_09_4_phillips.pdf

"Abstract - A century-old claim by two early leaders of the Theosophical Society to have used a form of ESP to observe subatomic particles is evaluated. Their observations are found to be consistent with facts of nuclear physics and with the quark model of particle physics provided that their assumption that they saw atoms is rejected. Their account of the force binding together the fundamental constituents of matter is shown to agree with the string model. Their description of these basic particles bears striking similarity to basic ideas of superstring theory. The implication of this remarkable correlation between ostensible paranormal observations of subatomic particles and facts of nuclear and particle physics is that quarks are neither fundamental nor hadronic states of superstrings, as many physicists currently assume, but, instead, are composed of three subquark states of a superstring."

I agree completely. You can either accept the evidence at face value in the hope the truth is what it seems, or you can assume the evidence is fundamentally misleading in the fear that the truth is not what it seems. In neither case is the decision to adopt on set of epistemic assumptions or the other a wholly rational decision--it's a "passional" one as James puts it. But he's probably right that the fear of being a "dupe" is a much less healthy psychological motive for making the decision than the hope of attaining as much true as possible.

Juan, I agree that this is not a conspiracy theory nor is there anything objectionably ad hoc about the possible explanations Michael offers. Those hypotheticals merely illustrate that there could be any number of good reasons why we don't see (more) scientific and technological messages from mediums. The analogy Beischel uses is that, in the search for great basketball players, it would be silly to conclude there aren't any at all simply because no player makes anywhere near 75% of their shots. That expectation is entirely unreasonable, and so may be the expectation for scientifically sophisticated messages. The only thing we need to know in order tell whether Jordan was a great basketball players is whether his shooting percentage stands out from the crowd. Similarly, the only proof we need that a medium is legitimate is accurate information acquired under conditions not explicable by cold reading or any other normal means. If no skilled cold reader can do as well, then it doesn't matter whether the medium can't also anticipate the next theory of general relativity.

"1. If mediumship is possible, then we would be able to receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side.
2. We do not receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side."

----------------------------

I have actually read quite a few stories about scientists who have dreamed or been "given" scientific knowledge. The Benzene ring idea came to a scientist in his sleep. I have also read that Albert Einstein got ideas from his dreams. Not to mention music, stories, etc. have come to people in transcendental states. I seem to recall one NDE'er that brought back a bunch of scientific ideas from the other side and even got some patents on some of his ideas.

You are making me think of what others have written about a difference between a really good trip vs. a really bad trip (in many cases, that is) on LSD, psilocybin, and drugs of that ilk. There's a fork in the road where, depending on which path is taken, the subject can wind up regarding him/herself as a cog in a vast, impersonal, malevolent machine; or, can end up seeing him/herself as a co-creator of all creation, working in concert with fantastically loving entities. One "tine" of the two-pronged fork in the road can lead to a hellish experience; and the other "tine" can lead to a heavenly experience.

John Lilly created a chart that is relevant to this subject.

"Therefore angels and spirits cannot study natural law because they are no longer immersed in it. They don't have direct access to the subject of study."

Excellent point, Leewolf. It fits perfectly with the notion that Spirit has designed the earth environment to learn/do/create what can only be learned/done/created in a material realm.

Why even bother venturing into the physical world if all solutions are known beforehand and there is no *truly* new adventure to be pursued here?

I haven't heard a convincing answer to that vexing question before, and now that you mention it, it seems so obvious.

At the same time, it nicely addresses the question of why Source might be willing to leave its pristine, trouble-free state and incarnate within a vast multitude of different worlds.

Good thinking!

It's a fact "Art", apparently not only most scientific discoveries, but formulas and creations have come by such means as sudden insight or dreams.

That was Mellon Thomas who came back with scientific knowledge after a near death experience, and now has a number of patents.

Perhaps science is hard to explain to the lay psychic. Some years ago when sitting in from of the TV with the sound inaudible, I looked up to see that it had displayed on the screen information about quantum physics and relativity. I had been concentrating on my knitting, and thought" I wonder what is the difference to reconcile quantum physics and relativity theory"?

Suddenly in my head came the word "entropy". And I thought "gosh I haven't heard that word in a while, doesn't that mean the breaking down of things or something. Anyway it bugged me all day so I typed it into the computer and it came up with the second thermodynamic theory of the universe. Now at the time, I didn't know this, so I was somewhat intrigued.

I find the theory quite complicated, it is to do with with disorder and the breaking down of matter, and the production of heat and energy among other things. I think it is calculated by the mass of an object, or though refers to gases not just solids. I know there is a formula and time is a factor, as it is one of the ways science determined we can go forward in time and not back.

So yea, why don't we don't see big things come to bits but little (quantum ) things do? Were they trying to tell me that big things take more energy to break down ( have more entropy) than little things? Or as the scientist I love says who is now in his 80's - Roger Penrose. Gravity plays a part, often forgotten when toting theories on the universe. He says it everywhere and acts on everything. Big things stick together as they attract more gravity and quantum matter has less and so they come apart easier.


Its a theory but how do you apply it. Perhaps that's the psychics problem.

Lyn x.

The other problem being - Psychic says theory on... Yea I can see that going down well.

I meant to post this as well. A new theory based on thermodynamic theory which may explain the evolution of life put forward by a young physicist.

http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

Lyn x.

"I have actually read quite a few stories about scientists who have dreamed or been "given" scientific knowledge. The Benzene ring idea came to a scientist in his sleep. I have also read that Albert Einstein got ideas from his dreams. " - Art

I think William James might regard that phenomenon as a form of subconscious incubation.

In short, the scientific and technical knowledge that angels and spirits possess comes from people arriving from the material world, or from contact with people currently living in the material world. So they know no more about science and technology than we do.

I agree . We have no reason to believe that the spirits of the deceased can continue exploring truths about the material world. But if the spirits of the deceased only know the material world what living beings known, are not they will be constructs of living beings, such as super psi hypothesis states? I do not think so because it remains true that for some cases the simplest interpretation is the postmortem communication, Also we note that the strongest cases of psi phenomena occur precisely in contexts survivalists, so it is reasonable that these are cases other than cases of psi between living, that is, psi between living and deceased.

Another question. What happens with mathematical truths? Are mediums who claim to have contact with spirits of deceased mathematicians and provide new mathematics truths? Mathematics apparently does not require an empirical contact with the material world, so maybe would serve to test some mediums.

David, but you realize that psi between living is a possibility that we must discard, do not you think?

iI have actually read quite a few stories about scientists who have dreamed or been "given" scientific knowledge. The Benzene ring idea came to a scientist in his sleep. I have also read that Albert Einstein got ideas from his dreams. Not to mention music, stories, etc. have come to people in transcendental states. I seem to recall one NDE'er that brought back a bunch of scientific ideas from the other side and even got some patents on some of his ideas.

Yes, but we do not know the source of this knowledge.

Great post!

Few things to talk about:

1. I think it's untrue that mediums and channelers cannot/do not reveal useful scientific information. But who would be in a position to reveal such things? Not really departed humans, since they have only experienced the technology that already exists. Some departed humans can and do study new things over there, but the degree to which they have been accessed via mediums is low.

The ones best to inform us are departed ETs. I have channeled higher-dimensional ETs and asked about scientific matters. The trouble is that the concepts they discuss are largely above my head. I need to work on it more. I have been shown some things about physics and a possible source of unlimited energy. It would probably greatly help to work on this with a sympathetic physicist.

2. The super-psi hypothesis to me appears to be another version of Descartes' evil demon that can completely control one's reality. Another version of this is the speculation that we're actually in a computer simulation run by beings (possibly humans) with advanced technology.

What unites all of these things is the notion of being completely at the mercy of something/one that has the power to control one's perceptions and "fool" one.

Since they are all in essence the same thing, I think one argument can take care of them all. First we can acknowledge two things that the speculations get right: First, we are at the mercy of *something,* whether it be God, the physical universe, etc. We can only control our environment to a limited extent. Second, we have limited knowledge and information about what is going on. These are truths that we by nature, I would say, find uncomfortable.

The problem with the speculations is that they project that they make this natural powerless of ours the fault of thing(s)/person(s) for which no evidence in particular is offered. In other words, that which fools us or imprisons us has no properties and nothing to distinguish it from the world that we naively experience. Thus:

•In Descartes' thought experiment, the demon controls thing, but the demon itself is not seen, heard, or experienced in any other direct or indirect way.

•Though we are supposedly in a computer simulation, no way is proposed to distinguish our "simulated" world from a "real" world.

•Though super-psi is fooling us into thinking there is an Afterlife, no differences are proposed between the "fake" phenomena we supposedly experience and what "real" phenomena would be like.

All three speculations are not falsifiable, but, beyond that, they simply don't propose any differences between what we experience and what reality ought to be. Since, in each case, the controlling authority has no differentiating properties, it may be concluded that it has no properties at all. And that which has no properties does not exist. Therefore, the controlling authorities do not exist.

3. I've said this before about super-psi in other comments: The super-psi hypothesis proposes that there can be information about and from a person without that person existing any longer. I.e., Uncle Jimmy can talk to you about his youthful adventures and current state of existence without really existed. It's simply that information is being pulled from various places to reconstruct Uncle Jimmy, God rest his nonexistent soul.

Yet this speculation actually provides insight into the nature of Reality: to wit, that Uncle Jimmy *is now* and *was then* information pulled from various places. Information *is* the stuff of which the Universe is made, and thus the error of the super-psi hypothesis lies in its supposing that "existing as information" is different from "real existence." Once we see that they are the same thing, the problem disappears.

The fundamental flaw in super-psi theories is the assumption that ESP is produced by the brain. ESP cannot be produced by the brain because no physical process including quantum entanglement is capable of producing ESP. Any form of ESP shows that mind is non-physical and this undercuts the entire foundation of super-psi i.e. disbelief in non-physical consciousness. If anyone is going to assert ESP is an explanation of anything, they have already admitted that consciousness is non-physical.

Michael,

I loved this post. I wonder what Stephen Braude would have to say about it?

Leewoof,

I appreciate what you have to say about spiritual beings no longer having access to the material realm and therefore being dependent on the recently deceased for the most up-to-date scientific info... however... why wouldn't spiritual beings have access to the *spiritual* knowledge that they can't possibly weigh in correctly on things material?-that they are mixing and mistaking levels, so to speak? You'd think they'd know that. What is stopping them from becoming aware that they're dunces in terms of how physicality works? Seems like they ought to be capable of coming to the awareness that they're severely handicapped there.

Leewoof wrote, "In stating these two options, are you simply not considering materialist options in this particular article? Or do you not think materialist options are viable and worthy of consideration?"

I'm starting with the premise that materialist explanations are inadequate. It's an "if-then" argument. As I wrote:

"What it comes down to is this. Assuming that we find the overall evidence for postmortem survival to be reasonably convincing, and not capable of being entirely explained away as mistaken observation, hoaxes, flimflam, urban legends, wishful thinking, etc., then we face a basic choice."

On the other hand, if we think the evidence is not convincing and can be explained by some combination of ordinary causes, then the "two options" issue doesn't come up.

“I meant to post this as well. A new theory based on thermodynamic theory which may explain the evolution of life put forward by a young physicist.” Lynn

Nikola Tesla's warning, "The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena (*the paranormal), it will make more progress in one decade than in all previous centuries of its existence.”

Juan, I think your point is well taken, that it is suspicious that there is virtually no new scientific or technical knowledge communicated from the spiritual world or whatever is the source of mediumistic communications. So many ostensible spiritual beings communicating through mediumship or channeling make grandiose claims of having universal knowledge of the physical world, and then deliver nonsense usually tinged with current human ideas about the topics. As has been pointed out, Swedenborg is a major example.

If they really have no superior knowledge of the physical world (one possible explanation that has been pointed out), why couldn't they just explain that? Or they could explain that they are just not allowed to interfere with the human learning process, no matter how much suffering it would alleviate. Or that they are simply not interested in studying the physical world.

But of course this is complicated, in that the wide range of veridical psychical phenomena seems to still point to an afterlife of some kind. Unless, as Michael pointed out, it is all a grand deception of some sort, a sort of thinking that has no limit and can lead to paranoia.

I can think of no evolutionary reason for humans to have death bed visions. There is now way it can increase the fitness of an individual. People do not reproduce after they are dead and death bed visions normally happen around the time of death. Death bed visions are ubiquitous around the world and and they cause the people who have them and those attending them great comfort.

"Advocates of super-psi (or super ESP) are basically saying that unknown powers of the subconscious mind are deceiving us in order to allay our fears about our own mortality."

A similar, but much more plausible hypothesis, one which I hold, is that a known (but not very well understood)capability of the mind provides a strong alternative explanation to the residue of observations that cannot be explained by better understood mechanisms are considered.

It is a further, reasonable hypothesis, that in some cases a the need to allay our fears about our own mortality. But that is a further hypothesis, and one that I find unlikely to apply more than occasionally.

There is no more conspiracy involved than there is a conspiracy to arrange for every bit of matter to attract every other proportionally to the product of their masses and inverse proportionally to the square of their distance.

Given the well demonstrated characteristics of psi (ESP and PK, not just the former), and the range of different reasons that the observed phenomena could in various circumstances be supportive to the people involved (not necessarily the ones who experience the phenomena) we would expect that phenomena very similar to what we are talking about would occur purely by psi.

In fact, if these did not occur we would have to take it as evidence against our current understanding of psi's characteristics.

Of course, most of the evidence requires psi on the part of carnate or disincarnate entities for it to be taken to be evidence for survival.

Its important to recognize that my judgement that the body of survival evidence does not provide particularly strong evidence for survival because the phenomena are well within the range of phenomena that psi would be expected to produce does not mean that I dismiss the possibility that some of it is produced through the agency of postmortem survival. If I wake up and find that the ground is wet I don't conclude that it is impossible that there was someone to have come around during the night with a large amount of water and hosed the neighborhood down. But a known phenomenon (rain) having the same expected results means that we cannot accept the wet ground as evidence that something unknown (the guy with the tanker truck of water) exists.

I understand the frustration that is produced by the unquestionable fact that we all respond to motivations that we are not consciously aware of, and the what should be unquestionable fact that psi has been shown to be responsive to them. Do I need to point out that your own intense interest (regardless of whether or not your interpretation of it is correct) demonstrates that there are motivations for psi to produce these phenomena?

There are aspects to the phenomena that seem to be outside what we would expect strictly on the basis of laboratory findings of psi. But of course, we do not understand psi, so we would expect for that to be the case. I certainly hope that some of it tells us more about psi than we have discovered in the lab -- possibly in addition to finding that some fraction of the evidence can only be accounted for by postmortem survival.

The issue is not whether or not survival evidence is produced by psi -- you really would have to explain why, unlike every other area studied -- psi does not operate. The issue is to show that there is more evidence or some part of the evidence that is beyond what could plausibly be produced by psi. Then we would have evidence of survival.

But saying, its ridiculous to consider that psi could behave that way (even though it has been shown to do so) or that it is unfair to ask that you exclude the possibility of something as pervasive, protein and powerful as psi when you claim evidence, so you should just be allowed to pretend psi doesn't exist (note that this is precisely what the pseudo-skeptics have claimed for years), just does not transform weak evidence for survival into a valid case.

Michael Prescott :

"...there is a fairly simple explanation for why we do not receive new scientific and technical knowledge from the other side...

Ms. Curie would disagree. :)

"the great woman scientist joins in to say she did not know then that she was being used and inspired by those from the other side of life..."

http://www.leslieflint.com/recordings2.html

I was watching TV one time, a long time ago, and this famous female writer (whose name I can't remember) in Georgia said that all the stories she wrote about came to her in dreams. She said in her dreams that an old black woman would appear in her dream and say to her, "now girl you'd better listen up to what I'm fixing to tell you!"

She said the dreams were very vivid and in the dream the woman would appear walking out of an old house in Georgia. I've often wondered if this woman was one of her spirit guides and was like sharing with her stories from her life.

I'm really sorry I can't remember the name of the writer. At the time I wasn't into this stuff so I didn't pay it much attention - but I remember her talking about how her stories came to her.

Waller, the comment you're quoting was made by Leewoof, not me.

Topher wrote, "There is no more conspiracy involved than there is a conspiracy to arrange for every bit of matter to attract every other proportionally to the product of their masses and inverse proportionally to the square of their distance."

I don't see how this analogy applies to the convergence of various lines of evidence regarding survival. There doesn't seem to be any a priori reason for super-psi to generate reasonably consistent evidence for an afterlife, unless indeed our subconscious is trying to deceive us, presumably to allay fear of our own mortality. Super-psi could theoretically provide us with almost any kind of experience or knowledge, yet the range of experiences reported by mediums, deathbed patients, and NDErs is fairly limited and points generally toward survival.

I also disagree that anything like super-psi is known to exist or has been demonstrated in the laboratory. The best evidence for psi is probably the ganzfeld tests, which show that psi, in most people, is measurable but weak.

Yet this speculation actually provides insight into the nature of Reality: to wit, that Uncle Jimmy *is now* and *was then* information pulled from various places. Information *is* the stuff of which the Universe is made, and thus the error of the super-psi hypothesis lies in its supposing that "existing as information" is different from "real existence." Once we see that they are the same thing, the problem disappears.

But there is a difference between the afterlife hypothesis and the super psi hypothesis: according to the afterlife hypothesis, the information is living, still doing things after the mediumistic session and is conscious regardless of medium; however, according to the super psi hypothesis, the information is dead, only exists during mediumistic session.

Under some reasons I consider that some cases of apparitions and mediumship indicate that this is living information about deceased beings, ie, spirits of deceased beings.

Given the well demonstrated characteristics of psi (ESP and PK, not just the former), and the range of different reasons that the observed phenomena could in various circumstances be supportive to the people involved (not necessarily the ones who experience the phenomena) we would expect that phenomena very similar to what we are talking about would occur purely by psi.

The most robust psi cases occur precisely in survivalists contexts, which indicates that they are a type of psi is no mere between living, ie, psi between living and deceased.

Let me expand a little on the "conspiracy" aspect of super-psi. One argument for survival is that mediumistic communicators behave in ways consistent with the idea that they are adjusting to a postmortem existence. That is, initial communications are muddled and feeble, but later communications are more lucid and robust - just as we might expect if the person must recover from the trauma of dying and learn to communicate. It has also been noticed that some communicators seem to be more gifted than others; they are consistently better at getting messages across. Finally, there seems to be a natural timeline to a communicator's career; eventually he or she "moves on" and is rarely heard from again.

Now, all of this could be explained via super-psi (anything can be explained by super-psi, since it posits an unlimited, open-ended psi faculty), but only if we assume that we are, in some fashion, being tricked. After all, if the purported communications are generated by our own subconscious (or by the collective subconscious, etc.), there is no reason why the communicators should behave this way - unless our subconscious is making them do so in order to create the most realistic illusion possible.

Juan, "according to the afterlife hypothesis, the information is living, still doing things after the mediumistic session and is conscious regardless of medium; however, according to the super psi hypothesis, the information is dead, only exists during mediumistic session. "

Right. This is a good point - one that bothers me about Matt's information theory and it's ability to cover all of the bases. It seems to me that a living spirit is, well, living. It has intent. Whereas pure information, IMO, does not have intent. I could be missing an important nuance of the concept, though.


"Let me expand a little on the "conspiracy" aspect of super-psi. One argument for survival is that mediumistic communicators behave in ways consistent with the idea that they are adjusting to a postmortem existence........"

I think these are all good points too, Michael. In my own experience with the recently deceased (my father) and what I considered to be a highly veridical session with a medium (written about ad nauseam elsewhere in comments on this blog)There was a sense of urgency on the deceased's part to communicate some observations, warnings and, generally, the message that the spirit lives on. Other than some true statements given by the spirit to confirm its identity, what was communicated wasn't at all what I was expecting or thinking about or wanted to hear. Ditto a couple of other spirits that came through during the session. I feel that if I were to go back to the medium now, the spirit wouldn't come through at all because all that needed to be said, was said. True, I haven't tested this idea by actually having another sitting. It's just what I feel.

If spirits are just raw information tapped by super psi, then it seems that a "spirit" could be conjured up any time and would communicate robust veridical information. That doesn't seem to be the case, though.

Arguing about super-psi is definitely odd. Who believes this to be true? It's almost like a sort of levee that atheists have created to hold back the flood of belief if their main materialist philosophy fails to contain it.

Juan,

||But there is a difference between the afterlife hypothesis and the super psi hypothesis: according to the afterlife hypothesis, the information is living, still doing things after the mediumistic session and is conscious regardless of medium; however, according to the super psi hypothesis, the information is dead, only exists during mediumistic session.||


So the proponents of super-psi (whoever these mysterious people may be) get to characterize everything in existence based on their theory? It would seem to me that the burden of proof is on *them* to demonstrate that the information is "dead" or whatever property they might ascribe to it. It seems in every respect an ad hoc manner of thinking.

Michael,

||After all, if the purported communications are generated by our own subconscious (or by the collective subconscious, etc.), there is no reason why the communicators should behave this way - unless our subconscious is making them do so in order to create the most realistic illusion possible.||

Exactly. Is such consistency on the part of communicators what we would expect *if* there was absolutely no foundation behind said communications?

Quite to the contrary, one would expect the communicators to validate the belief system of whoever was sitting at the time. So if fundamentalist Christians were involved, we would expect to hear about Jesus and Heaven, and so on. We would expect communications to be all over the place.

In that sense, it is indeed like a conspiracy. Why would there be a convergence upon a particular myth across many years and cultures?

I once heard it suggested that the reason why there are so many stories of ghosts playing with lights, TVs, radios, etc., is that many of them died well before this technology was invented. They're just checking out the new stuff, so don't be alarmed when your TV or lights turn on and off by themselves.

"Arguing about super-psi is definitely odd. Who believes this to be true?"

If I understood his comment earlier on this thread, Topher Cooper is a proponent of super-psi.

Stephen Braude also takes super-psi quite seriously, though he comes down on the side of survival.

Alan Gauld's Mediumship and Survival examines super-psi arguments in detail and treats them as important.

In short, the idea - as unlikely as it may seem to some of us, including me - has had quite a few defenders, some of them prominent.

"Arguing about super-psi is definitely odd. Who believes this to be true?"

Dean Radin does.

I was invited to write an article on this topic for Missouri Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Missouri State Medical Association. You can read the journal online here: http://www.omagdigital.com/publication?i=177483. See the Sept/Oct issue for the beginning of a series of articles on NDEs.

My article was published in a 2014 issue, so it isn't available online yet. The bottom line of my argument was that the primary anomalies associated with NDEs are reports of veridical perceptions that could not have been known or inferred from the perspective of the patient.

For someone who is not familiar with clairvoyance, this type of report could be taken as evidence that the mind has literally separated from the body (i.e., gone OBE). The literal interpretation is consistent with survival of consciousness. But veridical reports of distant events is virtually the same as what we know as clairvoyance-in-the-living. So the OBE aspects of NDEs do not necessarily imply an actual separation from the body, and hence NDEs can be interpreted as a particularly vivid form of clairvoyance in brains that are not operating normally.

My reply is on my blog:

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/04/near-death-experiences-and-afterlife.html
Three intellectual errors:

Anyone who thinks veridical perceptions are the primary anomaly of a phenomenon where dead people are conscious doesn't fully understand the phenomenon.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/04/anomalous-characteristics-of-near-death.html

No perceptions veridical, psychic, or otherwise can be explained as being produced by the brain at the onset, duration, or ending of cardiac arrest because the brain is not capable of memories or consciousness at those times. At other times the brain is not in an abnormal state that might produce psi.

ESP is not produced by the brain it is a function of non-physical consciousness.


Three social errors:

Muddying the waters for real NDE resarchers. Radin doesn't like it when pseudo-skeptics publish nonsense about psi that he has to rebut over and over. So why does he sow confusion for people like Parnia, and van Lommel?

Publishing misinformation in medical journals is harmful to experiencers like NDErs and people experiencing spirit contact who might go to a psychiatrist to see if they are hallucinating.

He is trying to gain greater acceptance of psi by showing how much it explains at the expense of discrediting afterlife research.

So the proponents of super-psi (whoever these mysterious people may be) get to characterize everything in existence based on their theory? It would seem to me that the burden of proof is on *them* to demonstrate that the information is "dead" or whatever property they might ascribe to it. It seems in every respect an ad hoc manner of thinking.

I was not argued for super psi, but I was arguing that communication with spirits of deceased and super psi can not be seen as the same thing, as No one has written. I have presented some reasons for accepting the afterlife hypothesis against super psi hypothesis.

NCU9NC- that's a mouthful. I have a great interest in all the sciences, including parapsychology, so for me it's easy to reconcile both.

And totally agree with your statement

"Nikola Tesla's warning, "The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena (*the paranormal), it will make more progress in one decade than in all previous centuries of its existence.”

Love the progression of science in all forms. Notice Lamarckism has more backing now with progress in understandings about epi-genetics and that humans show inherited traits of previous generations, including being influenced by the foods they ate.

So I don't have any trouble with evolution, as I tend to tweek the theory and see it as all part of God's master plan.

Some years ago I watched a program by tow scientists of sorts- I have your problem 'Art" on remembering who. And they stated that the likely hood of mammals developing into an intelligent species in the form we have, is extremely unlikely statistically. But more likely for insects. They then showed that as insects had hard exoskeletons, that they would develop upwards rather than outwards, with larger heads and compound eyes - much like aliens. Hmm curious, who knows perhaps what people purport aliens look like might have it right. And we find that if more advanced species are found in the universe, they developed from insects and look like that. Interesting theory anyway. Ha Ha. Lyn x.

"There doesn't seem to be any a priori reason for super-psi to generate reasonably consistent evidence for an afterlife, unless indeed our subconscious is trying to deceive us"

The subconscious takes various sources of information and organizes it into a coherent, reasonably consistent story for our conscious. That is not just in regard to ESP derived information, but to all perception, memory, feelings, low level thoughts etc. -- pretty much all cognitive phenomena. That's pretty much what people mean when they speak of the subconscious and unconscious. All we are conscious of are illusions created by our subconscious, and conditioned by reality, and therefore generally corresponding to that reality in a useful way. That is pretty much the basis of all cognitive psych -- the subject of which is the details of these conditionings and correspondences -- as well as an important component of pretty much all other areas of psychology.

Its not trying to deceive us but to create a model (a more specific term than "story") that makes sense of the world in a useful way. That "useful way" means consistent with our previously developed understanding, with our expectations, with some hard-wired cognitive processes and which minimizes what is taken to be harmful cognitive disruption.

"...presumably to allay fear of our own mortality."

Why would you presume such a thing. A factor in some cases, but I strenuously doubt that any single, simplistic, psychological "motivation" could touch on this, and this one, in particular is likely to be far from central. This echos rather closely the arguments of pseudo-skeptical militant atheists who attribute a variety of easily disparaged motivations -- but especially precisely this one -- to why the "weak minded" believe in God/gods/religion/spirituality.

Its about making sense of the world and I don't think that fear -- including fear of "our own mortality" -- is all that important for most people.

"Super-psi could theoretically provide us with almost any kind of experience or knowledge,"

Yup. So if this unknown, totally unbounded thing were to be proposed by someone not just arguing (generally unknowingly, I believe) against a straw-man, I would dismiss it as worthless. Something that can explain anything explains nothing.

I'm talking about psi, which is clearly limited although the precise shape of those limits is what psi research is concerned with.

" yet the range of experiences reported by mediums, deathbed patients, and NDErs is fairly limited and points generally toward survival."

I'm afraid that I must disagree here. There is a huge range of phenomena here, that is very contradictory. Consistency is generally achieved only by cherry-picking, and by leaps of sometimes convoluted interpretation that finds identity in what is more simply interpreted as contradiction.

NDE's, past-lives memories and mediumship mixes apparent conventionally inexplicable knowledge (in a small set of instances) with the unambiguously fallacious. These errors generally follow the pattern of fears, desires, expectations, needs and speculation that is the hallmark of the subconscious doing it job. The veridical clearly comes from somewhere where it is warped and fitted into place by the subconscious doing precisely what the subconscious does.

Those arguing for definitive evidence of survival generally accept the subconscious distortion, but exclude the possibility that survival, clearly reflecting culturally sanctioned versions of what that means could be part of the "filling-in" rather than an unverifiable part of the core truth.

Again, note that I am not claiming that some of this phenomena is not a result of some form or forms of post-mortem survival. I'm just saying that that needs to be demonstrated. In particular, given a reasonable correspondence to what I would predict that psi on the basis of culturally supported beliefs, psychological motivations, would produce, I would want some explanation for why it has not done so if more than a small amount of the body of evidence is due to survival.

Hi Philemon,

"why wouldn't spiritual beings have access to the *spiritual* knowledge that they can't possibly weigh in correctly on things material?-that they are mixing and mistaking levels, so to speak? You'd think they'd know that. What is stopping them from becoming aware that they're dunces in terms of how physicality works? Seems like they ought to be capable of coming to the awareness that they're severely handicapped there."

The whole matter of humans in the material world thinking about spiritual things and spirits (which I see as humans who have moved on) in the spiritual world thinking about material things is very complicated. I was simplifying things for the purpose of clarity. But as I understand it there is a further problem with transferring information from the spiritual level of reality to the material and vice versa.

That problem is that the mind works in a fundamentally different way while here on earth than it does once fully in the spiritual world. Or at least, some part of it does.

One of the primary modes of thought in which this is true is the idea of time and space.

We now know that time and space are properties of the material world, not some sort of superstructure in which the material world exists. This is based on modern physics. And in confirmation of this, people who have visited the spiritual world report that time and space as we know it here does not exist in that realm.

Now, scientific and technical thinking is so intimately connected with time and space that it probably wouldn't be overstating it to say that all scientific and technological thought is fully tied to thinking in terms of time and space. The very act of measuring something, which is fundamental to science, is a case of thinking and working in terms of time and space.

However, in the spiritual world, the material mind that we had regular, conscious access to here in the material world goes quiescent. This means that the very capability of thinking in terms of time and space is not present for spirits, angels, and demons.

How do you think and talk about science and technology if the concepts of time and space do not exist for you?

I do think that angels, spirits, and demons can have some idea that there are these things called time and space in the material world. However, for them, anything that to us is temporal or spatial gets seamlessly and unconsciously translated into analogs that do exist in the spiritual world--which have to do with changes of psychological and emotional state (happy to sad, loving to cold-hearted etc.), progress in learning new things vs. what was known previously, and other non-material states of being.

So the problem is not only that spiritual beings don't have direct access to the field of study, as I stated previously. It is also that their thinking minds operate on a whole different plane of reality, where time and space as we know it do not exist. Therefore for them to even be able to get a concept of scientific and technical things, it must be translated into analogous, or "corresponding" (to use Swedenborg's term) spiritual things.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how this works, and how spirits can even say anything at all to humans on earth about temporal and spatial things when time and space have no meaning to them. I think there must be an automatic translation going on in the very act of a spirit speaking to a human who is still engaged in the material, earth-centered levels of the mind. So in essence, the spirit is talking spiritually, but the human hears it materially.

However, this translation process depends on the material knowledge and comprehension abilities already present in the mind of the human being who is the recipient of the communication. This doesn't mean new information could never be delivered. But it does mean that the human being would have to have sufficient prior knowledge and experience to be able to translate the spiritual analogs into something material that makes sense to that person's mind. If there are no concepts in the mind of the recipient that could be suitable translations, there will be a mistranslation that does not properly represent in material terms what the spirit or angel was communicating in spiritual terms. Or the recipient simply won't understand it at all.

The short version is that any human being still living in the material body could not receive any information about the material world that was not already at least latent in some way in that person's mind, because the very process of communicating ideas from the spiritual world to the material world requires the use of the contents of recipient's material mind in order to translate it into terms that are understandable to material modes of thinking.

This may also throw light on the question of why spirits don't necessarily know what's going on, or why they're "severely handicapped" when it comes to material-world knowledge such as science and technology.

Spirits are just departed humans. They're not necessarily any smarter than you or me. And the bulk of them probably have not studied the finer points of spiritual reality, material reality, and the way the two interface. How many people on this earth have any real, comprehensive understanding of these things? We're still trying to figure it out ourselves.

Now imagine these ordinary Joes and Janes going into the spiritual world, totally unprepared, and trying to figure things out. Their minds and their lives have gone through a radical change that they don't understand at all. Many of them even think they're still in the material world, because the idea of being in another world just doesn't compute for them. I think that for the most part, they're just as confused as we are, if not more so.

That's especially so since the ones we're most likely to be in contact with are the ones who have recently departed this world, and are still fairly tied to their experiences in this world. Once they get their bearings in that realm and move on, they have little interest in continued communication with this world because they are now fully engaged in the other world--which is far more advanced, and much more fun, than this world. How many of us would prefer to be back in our mother's womb, with all its darkness and constraints, after we've been born and can move around freely, at will, in the wider, brighter world outside the womb?

Hi Michael,

"I'm starting with the premise that materialist explanations are inadequate."

Okay, thanks. I was just a little confused.

Most people think super-psi is not credible. Those who do take it seriously have some type of unconscious motivation to discredit the evidence for the afterlife. There can be as many motivations as there are super-psists. In some cases it is the desire to appear to be a serious philosopher so they can write books and papers. In some cases it is to inflate the powers of psi so they can justify their interest in studying it. In some cases it is fear of punishment in the afterlife. In depressed individuals it may be caused by the desire for the end of suffering that will come with extinction at death. In some parapsychologists it is due to fear of attacks by pseudo-skeptics. Or they may be misanthropes who hate the fact that knowledge of the afterlife eases the grief of parents who have lost a child and so they try to discredit the phenomenon of mediumship because they want those parents to suffer mental anguish.

But in all cases, the unconscious mind alters their ability to make an objective assessment of the facts and causes them to suspend logic in order to allow them to maintain belief that the brain produces consciousness and ESP. The result is that they believe absurd things. For example that quantum entanglement can be established between two human brains separated by miles in order to produce telepathy. And that the neuronal patterns in one human brain, the result of a lifetime of varied and unique experiences constantly changing due to neuroplasticity can have meaning to the consciousness of another person. Or that subjective experience which can never be measured objectively can be the product of fundamentally different objective phenomenon such as neuronal activity through some unexplainable means. Or that during an NDE when dead people have lucid conscious experiences that seem realer than real and which produce memories that are more detailed than normal memories it is caused by barely measurable or absent electrical activity in the brain when by all theories of brain function the brain should not be able to sustain consciousness or produce memories. Or that poltergeist phenomenon that does not depend on the presence of any one individual is caused by some unknown pk master who could be located anywhere and anytime in the universe. Or when poltergeist phenomenon that cause multiple successive tenants to flee a home and it is stopped by the intercession of a psychic medium, that the medium used her pk abilities to produce the phenomenon even before she consciously knew the house was haunted. Or that fetuses have unconscious pk that enables them to who be born with birthmarks at the sites of injuries sustained by some random person they will later impersonate the reincarnation of. Etc, etc, If you believe in super-psi, there are many therapists who specialize in people who are having spiritual problems, please do yourself and the rest of us a favor and see one.

Okay this post is not very friendly, however let me just say to the super-psists, it is also not very friendly for arrogant intellectual bigots like you to assume mediums, NDErs and other afterlife experiencers are foolish dupes who can't tell reality from fantasy. They are real people who know the phenomena infinitely better than you do. By spreading your philosophical creed you risk harming real people and making it harder for them to get accurate information that can make sense out of their experiences. For you this is an academic question but there are real people going through real experiences and having real problems. People take immense comfort from mediumship. People who experience spirit contact can go through real trauma, they may be ostracized at school or their family may think they are demonic or crazy and send them to a psychiatric facility. NDErs may keep their experiences to themselves if the are told the experiences are not real and it is much healthier for them if they feel they can talk about their experiences to others. So please if you believe in super-psi, please get help before your intellectual arrogance and ivory tower ignorance hurts someone.

Thanks

Sorry off topic here again. I don't normally tab people on this site, but had a look at your site NCU9NC and so I understand your angle on things. And think its a great site by the way.

I just want to say, the page on becoming psychic is helpful. Being an expat when I began to have experiences, I felt really overwhelmed and isolated. I worried about not being able to turn it off, and your advice to try music is a good one. I concentrated on the outside world for a few days, house work, getting out etc, and that seemed to work. You also feel like you don't have control either and it took me a couple of years to learn that I could take control. Also reaching out to others, particularly those on blog sites, who are psychic. You also mention to ask for help - I found a guy and his advice was the most helpful, he suggested to ask protection from any diety that you believe in. This I found also gave a means to control Lyn x.

Topher,

||There is a huge range of phenomena here, that is very contradictory. Consistency is generally achieved only by cherry-picking, and by leaps of sometimes convoluted interpretation that finds identity in what is more simply interpreted as contradiction.||

This is a judgment call, and I think you've got the judgment wrong. I don't see a "huge" range of phenomena, and Michael's list seems fairly complete.

I see some but not a lot of contradiction. Let's assume that your theory is correct, that psi is working in tandem with the subconscious. If that were the case, then I think we would see no coherent narrative at all. I also think we would see, in NDEs and other phenomena, much *much* more validation of people's current worldviews instead of what we *do* see, which is a conversion upon a very but not perfectly consistent narrative. Let me ask you these questions:

1. Why do atheists have NDEs that change their worldviews? Why don't they just come back and say they had intense dreams?

2. Why do Christians regularly have NDEs that do not fulfill their vision of the Christian heaven? (Sometimes the Being of Light is labeled God or Christ, but it is not necessarily different in character from others experience.)

3. How would you explain drop-ins in sessions which mediums, in which people appear who are not in any of the minds of those present?


||NDE's, past-lives memories and mediumship mixes apparent conventionally inexplicable knowledge (in a small set of instances) with the unambiguously fallacious.||

I'm not sure what force this has as an argument, as certainly one can easily find bad mediums. I think what's interesting is that the narrative of NDEs fits what mediums say fits past-life memories. What's also interesting is that a variety of "sects" (i.e., grossly different ways of viewing things) have *not* formed surrounding this phenomena, which is what usually happens in human affairs.

||These errors generally follow the pattern of fears, desires, expectations, needs and speculation that is the hallmark of the subconscious doing it job. The veridical clearly comes from somewhere where it is warped and fitted into place by the subconscious doing precisely what the subconscious does.||

You are talking about the subconscious as though it's a known quantity. As thought it's operation is known in detail. I would say that that is not the case at all, and thus what you say above has no explanatory power. On some level, we can introspect and understand things like wish fulfillment. We can sometimes understand where our dreams came from ("I was worried about that and it showed up in my dream.") Beyond a certain level, however, we just don't know what's going on there. Saying "the subconscious" did it ultimately says nothing.

Further, I'm uncomfortable with your way of describing things for a couple reasons. One, it's a downer, and it seems purposely downer, as though you want to characterize these things in the worst way possible. Two, you make yourself and your philosophy mysterious instead of just laying it on the line. What do you believe--what's your philosophy?

ncu9nc, you make some very good points, but I think you undercut them by imputing a bad motive to your opponent. In my opinion it's best to assume good motives all around.

Matt, I agree with many of your arguments, but when Topher Cooper says that mediumship is a mixture of valid info and fallacious material, he's not talking about fraud; he is (I believe) talking about the inevitable "misses" that go along with the "hits." William James called this stuff "bosh." It's the material that is plainly wrong, or too vague to be meaningful, or just bizarre and nonsensical.

For instance, Swedenborg channeled a lot of material that dovetails with later mediumistic communications, and he reportedly was capable of producing very specific information on occasion (e.g., the exact location of a lost item). On the other hand, he also channeled the information that all the planets in the solar system are inhabited. This was easy to believe in the 1700s, but not so credible now.

A little while ago we looked at a case in which Leonora Piper gave detailed information on the location of a kidnapping victim in Mexico, which turned out to be all wrong. There is also the famous "Bessie Beals" case in which Piper (or her spirit control, Phinuit) was fooled into thinking that Bessie was an actual deceased person, when she had in fact been invented by the investigator. And there have always been many questions about whether Phinuit and the other controls were actual discarnates or fictitious creations of Mrs. Piper's subconscious.

I don't know of any medium whose work is untainted by "bosh," which at least leaves open the possibility that mediumship is ultimately just psi mediated by the subconscious. However, I do think there are some awfully strong cases that point toward survival: drop-in communicators (which Matt mentioned), the cross correspondences, proxy sittings, and instances in which information unknown to any living person is presented in a seance and later verified by new investigations. (The "Chaffin will" case has this feature, although it did not involve mediumship per se.)

Alan Gauld's "Mediumship and Survival" and Stephen Braude's "Immortal Remains" are probably the two most thorough explorations of super-psi as a possible explanation of mediumship. (Both books do come down in favor of survival, though.) Chris Carter also devotes much of "Science and the Afterlife Experience" to debunking super-psi; his approach is more combative than Gauld's or Braude's. Michael Tymn's recent bio, "Resurrecting Leonora Piper," offers many of Piper's strongest cases in a deliberate attempt to separate the good evidence from the bosh.

Wow, great comments by ncu9nc!

I think ncu9nc and other here have the motivations behind super-psi nailed. I think there are two types espouse super-psi, not that they necessarily *believe* it:

1. Guys like Dean Radin. Sorry to see the cite by him; he should know better. Give him credit for challenging the materialist paradigm as much as he does. But yeah, it's as though he wants to go "atheism lite" so as to get at least a little respect from the scientific establishment. That's probably a losing game.

2. Atheist concern trolls. Sorry, I don't trust anyone online until I see some evidence of his/her actual belief system via consistent commenting over time, etc. I suspect that a lot of people espousing super-psi don't really believe in psi at all but just take this position in order to demoralize believers.

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