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My thoughts are that

1) Something like super psi-lite must exist because many of us here have experienced it in the form of premonitions, synchronicities and pre-cognitive dreams that involve material of little to no personal relevance.

2) If super psi can create such elaborate hoaxes such that we are led to believe that we are talking to spirits of the dead when we are actually not, then super psi must a) have intent and b) be somewhat evil. It would, in fact, resemble Descartes's evil genius. So I guess super psi could addressed the same way Descartes addressed his problem.

3) Super psi as the true explanation for contact with the deceased is an unprovable and unfalsifiable concept. What good does it do to discuss it?

4) Mediums who are fairly reliable at producing evidential communications with the deceased say that they are talking to spirits and that they know the difference between spirits and psi. I know. I asked one.

5) I suppose that super psi in all of its intricate cleverness could be fooling these mediums. In fact, it could be fooling all of us about everything we think we know(back to Descartes, again). Am I even really sitting here typing this right now? Maybe I am experiencing a super psi connection to some other guy whose making me think I'm typing when I'm actually a turtle sitting on a log in the pond.

6) Super psi is a really confounding tool for anti-survivalists/atheists to throw at survivalists; i.e. Psi may be real because the damn evidence forces us to relinquish that much, but your not getting your life after death. Psi is probably due to currently not understood brain wave functions that cease to exist upon death. Doubt your senses and listen to us instead. We know better than you.

Michael,

Yes. I don't find super-psi to be plausible. Here's another reason that occurred to me during the other thread, which I think is pretty potent:

If super-psi is the cause of after-death communications, then why is there such consistency in the results? Wouldn't we encounter chaos instead? Would Christians be telepathically producing an Afterlife that was straight from their religion? Wouldn't believers of any religion do this?

We just don't see such consistency in human affairs without there being a solid reason.

Besides which there isn't just one line of evidence for survival of the soul. It is the sum total of all the various forms of evidences that convinces us - not just one thing. It would be like picking up and looking at only one piece of a puzzle and trying to see the whole picture. We don't have to do that. We have a lot of different pieces and it paints a beautiful picture that this life has meaning and purpose.

NDEs, death bed visions, ADCs, EVP, some gifted Mediums, the connection with quantum physics and the holographic universe theory, some mystical and transcendental experiences, even some drug induced visions, etc. all work together to tell me that there is a very high probability that we are not just our physical bodies.

If I understand Michael Sudduth, and it's entirely possible I don't, his point is that the kinds of instances listed by Hodgson require "auxiliary assumptions" that are not proven. For instance, if communicators who recently died seem befuddled and weak, but gain clarity and strength over time, survivalists would say this is consistent with the idea that dying can be traumatic and that a period of adjustment is required. But a super-psi proponent could argue that we have no direct evidence that an adjustment period is ever necessary, so our explanation is purely ad hoc, and therefore no better than the super-psi explanation. This is, I think, what Michael Sudduth means by unproven auxiliary assumptions.

If I'm presenting his case correctly, then my response would be that we're not trying to prove a mathematical theorem; rather, we're drawing an inference to the best explanation. It's true that we can't prove by independent evidence that a period of postmortem adjustment is sometimes necessary, but the idea makes a certain amount of sense and is found in many different spiritual traditions and mediumistic communications. And it's consistent with the behavior of the purported communicators themselves. To my way of thinking, an inference to the best explanation would be that the communicators are in fact initially confused and weak, and improve over time.

The alternative, I suppose, is that the subconscious is wily enough to present psi-generated facsimiles of newly dead communicators (especially those who die traumatically) as confused and weak in order to make us think they are the real deal. This explanation can never be ruled out, but it doesn't strike me as the likeliest or best explanation. Still, there's no definitive way to prove it one way or the other, and some people clearly do find it more plausible or more palatable than the survivalist idea.

In any inference, there's a degree of subjectivity, since the rules of inductive reasoning have never been worked out with the same precision as the rules of deductive logic. To use a familiar example, if I see that my street is wet, "it rained" is usually the best explanation. But other explanations (broken water main, neighbor's garden hose, kids' water-pistol fight) can't be definitively ruled out by logical inference alone.

In the absence of decisive proof, we fall back on reasonable guesses and plausible inferences. The "auxiliary assumptions" with which Michael Sudduth finds fault strike me, for the most part, as reasonable and not particularly strained; I don't see the need to test them independently, nor do I see how this could be done. But if someone else does find them unreasonable and strained, there's not much that logical reasoning, as such, can say about it; it's simply a difference of opinion over which inference is most plausible.

"In the absence of decisive proof, we fall back on reasonable guesses and plausible inferences.....it's simply a difference of opinion over which inference is most plausible"

I think that really is just about the fairest most reasonable thing that can be said on this topic.

"NDEs, death bed visions, ADCs, EVP, some gifted Mediums....."

I agree, Art that death bed visions strain the super psi argument a little bit.

"If super-psi is the cause of after-death communications, then why is there such consistency in the results? Wouldn't we encounter chaos instead? Would Christians be telepathically producing an Afterlife that was straight from their religion? Wouldn't believers of any religion do this?"

Matt, I think that is the most powerful argument against super psi.

MP: I'm bored with the global warming debate on the last thread, so here's an attempt to change the subject . . . .
I am too--but I can't let the Other Side have the last word. (It's best for you to never mention the topic--here is not the place to discuss it, as I said a year or so ago, the last time we went off on this tangent.)

Like most empirical survivalists, Carter overlooks how the survival hypothesis, if useful as a testable, explanatory hypothesis, requires supplementation with various auxiliary hypotheses that render it vulnerable to the same criticism he raises against the super-psi hypothesis, namely lack of independent support.

It is true that the survivalist hypothesis does not predict anything, it does not predict whether there will be people who are perceived out of the body to the brink of death, it does not predict whether there will be people remember their past lives , etc. These points are auxiliary hypotheses that can be added to the survivalist hypothesis for this hypothesis has predictive power, but there is no independent evidence for these auxiliary hypotheses? Sudduth is wrong to claim that there is no independent evidence for such auxiliary hypothesis, because there is independent evidence that there are people who are perceived out the body to the brink of death, that there are people who remember their past lives, etc.

Sure, all that are not predictions, but observations, but the Sudduth main error is to treat survivalist hypothesis as a deductive hypothesis, when it is an abductive hypothesis, that is, not about formulating a hypothesis, deduce its consequences and observe if the consequences are realized, but to observe a series of seemingly unrelated phenomena and infer the most plausible hypothesis that relates to everyone.

Show me how the favored hypothesis leads us to expect the relevant data, what else must assumed for this predictive consequence to obtain, and whether the required auxiliary assumptions are independently testable. This is my challenge to survivalists.

Error, is not that the survival hypothesis leads us to expect the data to find, for example, people who see their bodies from outside to the brick of death, people who have memories of other lives, but rather to relate all data with the simplest hypothesis and that hypothesis is a hypothesis of survival. That is, the most simplest hypothesis linking a series of seemingly unrelated phenomena, ie, OBEs, NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and children who seem to remember previous lives, is the hypothesis that there is a vehicle for the mind that remains after the organic death, which can perceive the environment, appear several witnesses, possess certain living beings, re-incarnated in an embryo and can remember their previous incarnations.

Like most empirical survivalists, Carter overlooks how the survival hypothesis, if useful as a testable, explanatory hypothesis, requires supplementation with various auxiliary hypotheses that render it vulnerable to the same criticism he raises against the super-psi hypothesis, namely lack of independent support.

It is true that the survivalist hypothesis does not predict anything, it does not predict whether there will be people who are perceived out of the body to the brink of death, it does not predict whether there will be people remember their past lives , etc. These points are auxiliary hypotheses that can be added to the survivalist hypothesis for this hypothesis has predictive power, but there is no independent evidence for these auxiliary hypotheses? Sudduth is wrong to claim that there is no independent evidence for such auxiliary hypothesis, because there is independent evidence that there are people who are perceived out the body to the brink of death, that there are people who remember their past lives, etc.

Sure, all that are not predictions, but observations, but the Sudduth main error is to treat survivalist hypothesis as a deductive hypothesis, when it is an abductive hypothesis, that is, not about formulating a hypothesis, deduce its consequences and observe if the consequences are true, but to observe a series of seemingly unrelated phenomena and infer the most plausible hypothesis that relates to everyone.

Show me how the favored hypothesis leads us to expect the relevant data, what else must assumed for this predictive consequence to obtain, and whether the required auxiliary assumptions are independently testable. This is my challenge to survivalists.

Error, is not that the survival hypothesis leads us to expect the data to find, for example, people who see their bodies from outside to the brink of death, people who have memories of other lives, but rather to relate all data with the simplest hypothesis and that hypothesis is a hypothesis of survival. That is, the most simplest hypothesis linking a series of seemingly unrelated phenomena, ie, OBEs, NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and children who seem to remember previous lives, is the hypothesis that there is a vehicle for the mind that remains after the organic death, which can perceive the environment, appear several witnesses, possess certain living beings, re-incarnated in an embryo and can remember their previous incarnations.

Not for posting, off topic. Sorry to post this here but I cannot locate a contact link. The subscribe link leads to pages of computer language and no actual subscription link. It seems I recall experiencing this the last time I tried to subscribe. Would you kindly place my contact info on your email lists :)

Hi Kathy,

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to do. If you want to be added to my mailing list, I can do that, but it won't mean you've subscribed to this blog. It just means you get occasional emails announcing a new book of mine. (I write thrillers.)

If you want to subscribe to this blog, the "Subscribe to this blog's feed" link ought to do it. It's located at the bottom of the list of recent posts on the left-hand side of the page. Or just use this link:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/atom.xml

When I click this, it takes me to a page where I can subscribe via several methods, using a dropdown menu. The method I tried is Live Bookmarks; it seems to work.

Can you clarify what's not working for you?

I hope I'm understanding super-PSI proponents correctly, but it appears that the theory is based on a "fact" that everyone is afraid of dying, and so the mind creates "supernatural" events in order to trick people into thinking that they'll survive death.

First, I really don't think most people are that afraid of dying, though a few are, and are even terrified of it. But most people aren't, and approach a peaceful death, preferably late in life, with calmness. I don't think 99 percent of people lie awake at night worried about death. Now, and throughout history, 99 percent of people worry about jobs, money, food, the crops, children, etc. Life is hard for the vast majority of people on the planet. If they did have super-PSI powers, they'd be materializing winning lottery numbers, or getting rid of the backstabber at work. Just my opinion, but I don't see how it adds up.

I am becoming more and more convinced the whole Universe is a figment of my imagination. This afternoon I was watching the show "Louie" on demand and the number on the subway train he and his daughters were riding on was 1953 which is the year I was born. Coincidence? I don't think so!

I hope I'm understanding super-PSI proponents correctly, but it appears that the theory is based on a "fact" that everyone is afraid of dying, and so the mind creates "supernatural" events in order to trick people into thinking that they'll survive death.

Not necessarily, because the super psi proponents may accept other motivations to create this farce. Besides Sudduth is not a super psi proponent, but he asserts that the empirical defense of the survival hypothesis is not sufficient to rule out the super psi hypothesis.

Yes, I want to subscribe to this blog but so far I have not been able to. When I click on the link this is a small sample of what opens:

Michael Prescott's Blog


tag:typepad.com,2003:weblog-134349
2014-05-13T08:51:51-07:00
Occasional thoughts on matters of life and death
TypePad

AI, DOA?

I see, from what I just posted, that it translates to the words "Michael Prescott Blog" but what appears on my end are lots of pages of computer language.

I sent you an email that contains the result of my attempting to sign up for your blog. Thanks for any assistance... :)

Kathleen: First, I really don't think most people are that afraid of dying, though a few are, and are even terrified of it. But most people aren't, and approach a peaceful death, preferably late in life, with calmness.

I disagree. I think the fear of death is buried deep in most people and is a strong psychological motivator. Modern medicine with its predilection to keep people alive artificially as long as possible is a symptom of this, and is fuelled by people's fear. Death of the body is instinctively dreaded by both the animal part of us and by the thinking mind, as the ultimate annihilation. The vast majority of us don't have any sort of "inner knowing" that we survive the death of the body. I think Ernest Becker was right that most everything we humans do is at least in part to blot out the understanding that we die. Most people very much don't want to think about it, and immerse themselves in the everyday doings of life (especially those needed to survive in a difficult world) - anything to forget the inevitable ending of their existence.

The subconscious mind does have a strong motivation to fabricate anything and everything it can to alleviate this fear. But the problem is that the unconscious mind would have to be exceedingly, preposterously ingenious, clever, devious and psychically powerful in order to produce all the evidence for the afterlife accumulated from psychical research.

Kathy, it's probably a browser issue. The page displays correctly for me, using Firefox on a Mac. On your system it appears not to display correctly.

I don't know how to fix this. Maybe try a different browser?

I just rent this space from TypePad, so I don't have control over the services they provide, such as the subscription service.

Sorry ... :-(

What possible evolutionary reason could there be for all the psychic stuff we experience? If there is no god and no afterlife that means our brains are just the products of evolution - and if that is true then there has to be an explanation on how these things increase the evolutionary fitness of the individual? I don't think there is an answer. I believe the simplest answer is the best - they are exactly what they purport to be - little glimpses of heaven.

There is research showing evolutionarily advantageous ESP and psychokinetic behavior in animals. Psi looks like it could be useful and evolutionarily advantageous to help one hunt and avoid prey. These abilities could be influenced by natural selection.

A paper was published a few years ago in the Journal of the SSE showing anticipitory alarm behavior in finches. The birds reacted to a video clip of a crawling snake at least 9 seconds before it was presented to them. This is a precognitive phenomenon with animals, and implies that human unconscious precognition could be an old evolutionary mechanism which obviously confers a survival advantage.

The observed small amount of psi ability may be the limit possible with the vertebrate brain. Alternatively, psi may be an interference to the neural modeling of the world necessary for survival, and up to a point is filtered out by brain evolution. So the outcome of evolution would be a weak psi effect (in most individuals), or very uncommonly a stronger conscious effect (if the brain filtering is disrupted).

The critique of the belief in survival that it doesn't make testable predictions leaves out a rather big problem for that, it would depend on, among other things, the choice of the departed to communicate, on cue, fully and accurately and that the medium would be able to pick up on those as well. It isn't a physical phenomenon about which the factors, conditions and boundaries can be assumed to happen according to chance due to the presumed presence of personal choice and differences in volition and ability. You can't predict the outcome of a phenomenon that, far more than having those indeterminate factors as a feature but as an actual basis for the phenomenon.

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