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Does what he's talking about only apply to Mediumship or is he also including things like near death experiences, death bed visions, after death communications, electronic voice phenomena, some mystical and transcendental experiences, kundalini experiences, and some drug experiences like peyote and mushrooms? I prefer to look at the big picture.

Whoa, this is really hard to understand.

And I looked at two of the three blog posts to which he linked, and they are hard to understand as well.

My impression is that Sudduth's very academic arguments amount to epistemological overkill, in which he asserts that, fundamentally, nothing in domain can be proven at all. He does not really advance the super-psi hypothesis so much as aver that neither it nor the survival hypothesis can be proven.

But that is a judgment call and comes down to what one considers to be a reasonable standard of proof.

I think the big hole in his argument comes from NDEs. NDEs are not just "data" coming from mediums; they are the actual experiences of *living people* who tell us what they *experienced.* In such a case, isn't a reasonable standard of proof something similar to what other people have experienced?

If I have never been bungee jumping and were curious about what it was like, I would ask people who had been through it. Although their experiences would differ in some degree, there would be commonalities. I would be able to say after a bit of research, "This is what bungee jumping is like on average."

NDErs tell us what happens after we die with remarkable consistency. Do I have a reason to doubt their version of events? Then there is the fact that their version of events dovetails nicely with all of the other "data."

Another point: I think the situation with survival evidence is very similar to that of evidence for evolution, and the same criticism about "auxiliary hypotheses" can also apply. I think the fossil record demolishes any hypothesis such that "God" simply created all animals ex nihilo. But it *does not* demolish a range of hypotheses analogous to the ones Sudduth lines up in his blog post as competitors to the survival hypothesis (http://michaelsudduth.com/getting-sober-about-survival-part-2-of-3/).

For example, maybe aliens assisted in evolution. Maybe a Platonic demiurge was involved. To say that the standard version of evolution trumps these requires multiple untestable *auxiliary hypotheses* about evolution would work.

I think it's the exact same situation. And it arises from the same place: our ability to recognize patterns and put together narratives. That is what evolutionary theory is: our connecting the dots of the fossil record in a way that makes sense to us. Only in this case, we have nothing equivalent to NDErs to contribute their direct experience of the matter.

Ultimately, Sudduth is not *wrong.* When it comes to the death and the Afterlife, we are in an unempowered position: ultimately, these are things that happen to us, and no one claims to have full information at this point. I think the phenomena prove that materialism is wrong, but they cannot prove a narrow hypothesis absolutely right. Nevertheless, as in many *many* things in life, it makes more *human* sense to construct a narrative one way or another. I think Sudduth is holding survival to a standard of proof that is unreasonable and amounts to special pleading of a negative sort.

A couple of other things:

To be fair, Sudduth says several things I agree with in his blog posts. He's obviously a really smart guy and has thought about these matters a lot.

One thing that troubles me, or irks me, is the detached *stance* of his writing (though I have not seen much yet). Since he doesn't state his own beliefs, he comes across more as an atheist debunker (though a highly skilled and intelligent one) instead of a truth-seeker. It comes across as a "too cool for school" attitude, in which he's above all this survival crap, but he's going to tell us what's what. I don't find it very friendly or "spiritual," for that matter. So I wonder what he really believes as a professor of religion.

Finally, I think most of the regular commenters on here (and our host Michael, of course) *are* truth-seekers who wish to integrate the "data points" of survival evidence with our own experiences. And I think we share a very important thing: the evidence for survival dovetails with what we ourselves have experienced.

So I wonder, again, what experiences Sudduth has had, and how does he see the evidence in light of them?

Here is a key passage from Sudduth's third post in the series (http://michaelsudduth.com/getting-sober-about-survival-part-3-of-3/). It's actually the final paragraph:

||Empirical survivalists have largely ignored rather than squarely faced the pivot of their whole project: what changes, if any, are likely to happen to consciousness if it should survive death? The inability to locate an empirically grounded answer to this question, for a single person or an indefinite number of them, floats on a larger sea of ignorance—our ignorance about the nature of consciousness itself. The real question here is not whether we will survive death, but “what is the nature of consciousness itself?” When the latter question has been answered, the question concerning postmortem survival will probably no longer be asked.||

I find the last two sentences amusing in that, before reading them, I had thought, "What Sudduth is actually demanding here is that we explain the totally of Reality itself before we can say anything about survival." OK, not Reality then, but just consciousness!

I think there are really two types of survival evidence, each with its own implications.

The first is physically observable evidence: table-tipping, ectoplasm, and so on. Does this type of evidence invalidate materialism? I think it definitely does. I'm not sure what Sudduth believes (it's not even clear from his blog posts that he's not an atheist).

The second is informational evidence: information that the medium, NDEr, etc., presents. Does a subset of the informational evidence invalidate materialism by matching known facts and being impossible for the person presenting it to have outside of "paranormal" means? Again, I think it does.

Once materialism is invalidated, it's perfectly fair to try to put together a picture of Reality that is *not* materialism. Again, this comes down to pattern recognition and our ability/need to construct narratives/stories. Sudduth seems a bit unsympathetic to this project, but he is correct in many of the points he makes about it.

But there is another aspect to the informational evidence that Sudduth simply does not address: that the information is telling us what to believe about the nature of reality! And one must infer from his silence on this aspect of the information that Sudduth simply doesn't trust the information.

Now, at this point, the problem really *does* reduce to Descartes' Evil Demon problem insofar as the information presented by the various sources is consistent to a high degree (Sudduth never says that it isn't, and one may again infer from his silence that he believes it is).

If the information were highly inconsistent, even if it did contain veridical bits now and then, it would be reasonable to conclude that it could not be trusted. After all, if 100 people gave you 100 different accounts of an event, you would have no reason to believe one over another. On the other hand, if 100 people gave you consistent accounts of an event, even if they were imperfectly consistent, you would have no reason to disbelieve them all.

Sudduth simply never addresses or answers this question: If the survival evidence is consistent in terms of content, then should we trust or believe that content?

IF we have a good reason to say yes, then I think the issue of auxiliary hypotheses is irrelevant.

I would not say that this is an easy matter to judge, however. A rather crude line of reasoning would go, "The message content of many mediumistic sessions is associated with veridical information and phenomena like table tippings. Since that stuff is really amazing, then the content of the messages has to be true."

No, that won't do. I think the only way to solve the great mystery is to look at it and ponder it in a holistic manner. I think that Michael and most commenters here have concluded that the message content is *basically true* but, nevertheless, Reality remains an exceedingly complex and mysterious thing. The answer, ultimately, is not simple and not easy.

Final note for tonight!

From this post:

http://michaelsudduth.com/may-10-contemplations/

I infer that Sudduth takes a Buddhist perspective on things.

This could greatly inform his view of survival and his *apparent* desire to see it as not really true.

I was wrong, not final.

I'm learning a lot in this interview:

http://michaelsudduth.com/interview-on-postmortem-survival/

Key paragraph, split up by my comments:

||Unlike many other philosophers, I don’t object to the survival hypothesis itself, nor do I deny that people can be epistemically justified in believing in survival.||

So far, so good. But if people can be justified, why not just start are by stating the circumstances under which they can be justified? Not doing so seems like spoiling for a fight.

||I’ve already stated that I subscribe to the eastern philosophical and spiritual tradition of Vedanta. So I don’t believe that what I essentially am shares in the limits or destiny of my body or individual mind. I am a survivalist.||

OK, great!

||I also don’t deny that empirical evidence can add to the justification of belief in survival, for instance, by adding to the evidential probability of the survival hypothesis. And I think there’s much to be said for how the survival hypothesis may draw support from multiple grounds, for example, empirical, philosophical, and religious or spiritual.||

I don't think that, in essence, that is very different than what we say here on this blog.

||But this requires a very different approach than has been traditionally taken by the majority of empirical survivalists. My present project is, therefore, concerned with the critique and dismantling of the existing and deeply entrenched tradition of classical empirical arguments for survival.||

Aha! It turns out that Sudduth is indeed too cool *for* school. Professors gotta publish! So this is indeed his fight, his paper, his book.

||Hopefully it paves the way for new and fruitful approaches to empirical arguments for survival.||

Reading his blog, there is a very smart, spiritual guy here, but I think that that is being subverted for the sake of the gig. Instead of looking for common ground at the outset and working *with* the people that more or less share his spiritual perspective, he's looking for conflict because that serves his academic interest.

That may sound rather harsh, but Sudduth comes across as quite unfriendly in some of his writings, and I think he should rethink his approach.

To me, the human awareness is a valid and indispensable tool for detecting certain aspects of creation.

There are many explorations of creation where the human awareness is the only known tool that can do the exploring. For example, the taste of an orange can only be fully apprehended by the human awareness. Other attempts to capture the taste of an orange fall very short. For example, a numerically-expressed level of tartness in the taste of an orange can only vaguely allude to the actual experience of tasting the orange. Rule out the use of the human awareness as a primary tool the scientist’s toolbox, and large chunks of creation will remain hidden.

Once human awareness is seen and accepted for what it is – an indispensable and mandatory tool in the creation investigator's toolbox – then doors open.

For example, once the human awareness is accepted as a valid tool for scientific investigation, we can take seriously the consistent assertions by mediums that they know what telepathy feels like, and that they know what communicating with disincarnates feels like, and that they are two separate and distinct feelings. We can take seriously their confident assumptions and declarations that what they are communicating with are disincarnates, not incarnates via telepathy. (I am talking about mediums whose skills have been rigorously verified, such as the Windbridge Mediums, not charlatans and quacks.) The mediums' "measurements," gathered by adeptly using the tool of human awareness in a disciplined way, strongly suggest that the super-psi hypothesis doesn’t fit the facts of their experiences nearly as well as the survivalist hypothesis.

The super-psi hypothesis, per my understanding so far (I am a layman), is a dry cerebral construct lacking little if any objective repeatable corroboration. (In that respect, it iappears similar to string theory.) The survivalist hypothesis, on the other hand, has many objective repeatable corroborations. For example, deathbed visions are consistently corroborated by events in the physical world, such as cases where the death of a loved one coincides with a deathbed vision of the loved one “on the other side.” Also, as mentioned, mediums consistently report identical findings, which is that disincarnates are real and conscious and can communicate on the physical plane

In short, it seems to me that the survivalist hypothesis is well-supported by multiple threads of evidence, whereas the super-psi hypothesis is not.

If I correctly understand what Michael Sudduth is saying, it is that survivalists and proponents of living agent psi arbitrarily choose supporting premises (auxiliaries) while ignoring others to make it look as if their favored explanation fits our background knowledge. And that this is not an objective way to determine which explanation fits better with our background knowledge.

However there is one epistemological premise that was touched in the earlier post The 2 Choices that cannot be ignored if one is to be consistent. One has to either accept the premise or accept an alternative premise.

It is that while there are occurrences of misperception and deception such as people hallucinating and optical illusions, and there are occurrences of widespread misperception such as ancient people believing that the earth was flat, the occurrence of misperception and deception is not considered unless there is reason to.
If proponents of living agent psi accept this premise and want to be consistent then they need to give plausible reasons for accepting the existence of large scale psychic deception.

An alternative premise is that the occurrence of misperception and deception can be considered and that reasons are not required to consider such an occurrence. If this premise is accepted then anything can be doubted and we cannot be sure about anything.

If proponents of living agent psi accept this premise then living agent psi would not fit with our background knowledge; it would be in profound conflict with it.

There is another alternative premise that while generally the occurrence of misperception and deception is not considered unless there reason to do so, an exception can be made in the case of survival.

If proponents of living agent psi accept this premise then it will need to explained why an exception should be made in the case of survival.

I does seem that survivalist explanation fits better with our background knowledge unless;

we have plausible reasons for accepting the existence of large scale psychic deception

or

an adequate explanation of why we need reasons to consider the occurrence of misperception and deception generally but not in the case of survival.

What about NDErs...? Sometimes they experience the "afterlife" when they're flatlined, with no blood flowing to the brain. Are we supposed to think that someone who is unconscious, with a brain that (apparently) no longer works, can perceive and interpret information from a collective subconscious?

Are we supposed to believe that the clinically dead can perceive and understand super-psi?

What Matt has written. Sudduth not ask a mathematical proof for the survival hypothesis, but he keeps putting the epistemological bar too high because he considers the survival hypothesis as a hypothesis of the physico-chemical sciences, deductive and predictive, when it is a hypothesis of the biological and social sciences: abductive and almost no predictive power.

The question is not how the world must be to the survival hypothesis or super psi hypothesis be true or false, it is true that the world might be indiscernible in both cases, but the question we have to ask is which is the simplest and homogeneous hypothesis that achieves relate a set of seemingly unrelated phenomena. It is the survival hypothesis for those treated phenomena, because as Sudduth says, there is no single super-psi hypothesis, but this makes the super psi hypothesis less plausible because we have to explain appearances with the fewest possible hypotheses. It is also true that there are several survival hypothesis, but all the psychic phenomena points to a very specific survival hypothesis: the claim that there is a vehicle for the mind that can detach from the body in life, which persists after biological death, that may appear to witnesses, who may possess certain individuals, who can reincarnate and can remember their previous incarnations.

Does anyone know if Chris Carter will answer Michael Sudduth?

"....you could have selected very different auxiliary hypotheses about the nature of postmortem consciousness, and these would have been equally compatible with our background knowledge. Had you selected a different subset, the survival hypothesis would not have had predictive success because, relative to these alternate hypotheses, we would not expect survivors to have strong psychological continuity with their ante-mortem lives. Why privilege your subset then?"

Sorry, but this statement - and some others like it - in Sudduth's response seem to be silly obfuscations wrapped in fancy philosopher lingo.

The subset wasn't privileged and, quite frankly, wasn't even a subset with the connotation Sudduth uses.

Sudduth refuses to acknowledge that people like Michael, Chris Carter and some folks commenting on this blog could sort through the data in a scholarly way over the course of many years and arrive at a holistic theory of what is happening. That's not cherry picking a subset of survival hypotheses. That's keeping the hypothesis that makes sense and discarding the ones that don't.

Sudduth is acting as if all survival hypotheses are of equal value. I don't think anyone here would agree to that and I don't see it Sudduth's stance as being productive or honest (sorry again, calling it as I see it).

It's pretty clear from the evidence that the survival hypothesis put forth in, say, the Bible, is not accurate. So why not reject it in favor of the one we assemble? Why does the presence of that rejected hypothesis damage *our* argument for survival, or make our argument somehow arbitrary?

I don't get it.

Bring on chris carter.

Yes, it would be great to hear Carter's response.

Just to make one thing really clear: Sudduth does not actually support a super-psi or living agent psi hypothesis. This is very clear from his blog posts, and he comes right out and says it.

Rather, he is in effect saying, "The survivalists' arguments and logic are so bad that, if we apply the same arguments and logic to living agent psi, then living agent psi is just as plausible."

It's a self-aggrandizing approach, inasmuch as he sees himself as the one who will show survivalists what's what (in his upcoming book, etc. etc.) and perhaps eventually will provide *real* arguments for survival (in his book yet to be written, etc. etc.).

The more I've had time to digest his blog posts, the less I like his approach. He purposely obfuscates his true position (he believes in survival) to the extent that people believe he actually supports living agent psi. To me, it's a species of trolling, albeit done with a lot of difficult logic.

I also reject his use of probabilities as a foundational element of his argument. The existence of survival and the Afterlife is, if it is true, one of the fundamental truths of Reality. I think in such a case probabilities and likelihoods are meaningless.

First, I'm sorry for the difficulty posting comments or even accessing this blog. Typepad was hit with another denial of service attack that took most or all of its sites offline for the whole day.

Regarding Dr. Sudduth's religious position, he converted from Christianity to Gaudiya Vaishnavism in 2012.

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2012/01/michael-sudduth-converts-to-vaishnava-vedanta.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaudiya_Vaishnavism

I broadly agree with the counterpoints raised by the earlier commenters. Here let me address just one issue.

Dr. Sudduth writes:

"But these alternate robust survival hypotheses do not lead us to expect the data adduced as evidence for survival. For example, they would not lead us to expect the persistence of ante-mortem autobiographical memories, intentions and purposes, skills, or the personality traits/profiles of relatively unified selves ..."

I would argue that any version of the transmission theory is compatible with the persistence of memory, intentions, skills, and personality, and that the transmission theory in some form is by far the most likely model of the mind-brain relationship.

Now, Dr. Sudduth might reply that the transmission theory is merely another untested, retrofitted auxiliary assumption. But I would disagree. As I see it, there's a lot of non-survival evidence that's extremely hard to explain without the transmission theory (see "Irreducible Mind," by Kelly et al., or the early chapters of F.W.H. Myers' "Human Personality"). In my view, the transmission theory is not an ad hoc invention; it's a core assumption necessary to make sense of a wide range of phenomena that go far beyond postmortem survival. The fact that it also makes sense of survival is, of course, a nice bonus.

When I said earlier that the auxiliary hypotheses could not be tested independently, I was thinking of specific claims such as the need for rest and recuperation after passing over. I still see no way to independently test such a statement. But the transmission theory is more than an alleged fact; it's a proposed model of reality, and as such it's applicable to various types of non-survival phenomena and, in that sense, independently testable. And again, "Irreducible Mind" offers a range of non-survival examples that tend to support the transmission theory and cast doubt on (or even falsify) alternative models.

http://www.amazon.com/Irreducible-Mind-Toward-Psychology-Century/dp/1442202068

On the basis of the transmission theory, certain afterlife-related outcomes would be predicted to occur - not invariably, given the individual variations that are natural in any study of human consciousness, but at least in some cases. We would expect some dying patients to show heightened lucidity as consciousness begins to slough off the damaged brain - and there are cases of "terminal lucidity," vivid and veridical deathbed visions, and NDEs in which thought and perception are heightened far beyond ordinary experience. We would expect mental confusion attributable to a damaged brain to clear up in a postmortem state, and mediumistic communications provide support for this. We would expect the deceased to retain their memories and even to experience them more vividly, and again this is consistent with mediumship, past-life studies, and NDEs (the life review).

So I would suggest that, while testable predictions in this area are inevitably less certain than those in (say) chemistry or physics, the transmission theory does provide us with some predictions, and these predictions have tended to pan out.

Now, it could be argued that some other theoretical model would provide a whole different set of predictions. No doubt. But so what? The issue is not whether other predictions are possible, but whether other predictions have been validated.

For instance, if we adopted a model of postmortem consciousness based on the idea that consciousness is produced by the brain and later achieves a kind of independent reality, then a logical prediction would be that dementia patients would remain perpetually confused after passing over; but this is not what we find in mediumship, so the prediction fails. Similarly, if we adopted a model that assumes the extinction of personal identity immediately upon dying, then it would be logical to predict that individual personalities would not come through mediums, be remembered as past lives, be seen in deathbed visions, or be experienced in NDEs. But many such cases have been documented, so again, the predictions generated by this model fail.

In my opinion, then, the transmission theory (not necessarily in its simplest form, but in some form) does yield testable predictions, and these predictions have been broadly validated. I don't see the transmission theory as an untested ad hoc hypothesis, but rather as a pretty well tested and well verified foundation necessary for understanding many different aspects of psi and survival.

This doesn't mean the transmission theory is fully satisfactory (for one thing, it lacks a clear mechanism) or that the theory has been "proven." Karl Popper showed that theories cannot be conclusively proven, though they can be conclusively disproven (falsified). It seems to me that the alternative models have been largely falsified, leaving the transmission theory (or its close counterpart, the filter theory) as the only model left standing, at least for now. It could still be wrong, but the same could be said about any model in any scientific field.

Excellent points, Michael!

The veil between the physical worlds and the astral worlds is very thick. The human species is not even close to being ready if ever for that veil to be removed.

No better conditions exist for the evolution of the soul than the physical world. Removing that veil at this time would lead to chaos and hamper the evolution of awareness of most souls.

Often it takes a significant emotional event before one becomes a sincere seeker into these mysteries of life. My experience is that very few read or study or do research outside their already existing beliefs and hidden paradigms.

As I watch the religious leaders give their views on survival on TV it is evident they know little about survival. Most just repress their fears of what they view as the unknown or unknowable.

They are content with their ancient books and are fearful of any data that threatens their existing knowledge. Even with their ancient books they have to cherry pick to overcome the inconsistencies and contradictions in their books.

Several mediums have provided overwhelming evidence with documentation and repeatability that qualifies as qualitative evidence for survival of consciousness. The study of mediumship is not for the faint of heart.

My research revealed that religions know the least other than materialists about survival and conditions in the afterlife. Dr. Sudduth is still trying to find answers to his questions within the framework of organized religions.

If it is just super psi and only that then the question becomes "why?" Why does it exist and for what reason? A joke? A game? To trick us? I can see no reason for it to exist without the addition of life after death?

What reason for Akashic records or whatever if there is no life after death to go along with it? If there is super psi doesn't that become another piece of the puzzle for us to throw in the matrix or mandela of information we are allowed glimpses of? Another piece of the puzzle to ponder and wonder "why" does it exist and what does it mean? There are so many pieces off the puzzle that we have and when we stand back and see the big picture the answer seems to be very clear.

By the way a new book, another piece to the puzzle, is coming out and it looks interesting,

"At the gates of heaven: A new book, drawing on the stories of dying patients and doctors, will transform the way you think about your final days. By Patricia Pearson

"In 2007, Dr Scott Haig wrote an account of his patient, David, who had lung cancer that had spread to the brain. First, David’s speech had become slurred and then he’d lost the ability to speak or even move. A brain scan done by his oncologist showed that there was scarcely any brain left.For days, said Haig, his patient had ‘no expression, no response to anything we did to him’. Then, when the doctor made his evening rounds one Friday, he noticed that David had lapsed into the laboured breathing that often presages death. But an hour before he died, he woke up, and talked calmly and coherently to his wife and three children, smiling and patting their hands. As Haig noted: ‘It wasn’t David’s brain that woke him up to say goodbye that Friday. ‘His brain had already been destroyed.’"

full article can be read @:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2630927/At-gates-heaven-A-new-book-drawing-stories-dying-patients-doctors-transform-way-think-final-days.html

"Typepad was hit with another denial of service attack that took most or all of its sites offline . . . Regarding Dr. Sudduth's religious position, he converted from Christianity to Gaudiya Vaishnavism in 2102."

Geez -- you were offline for longer than I thought!

"Excellent points, Michael!"

I second that. Really a top notch response, MP.

Art: || Does what he's talking about only apply to Mediumship or is he also including things like near death experiences, death bed visions, after death communications, electronic voice phenomena, some mystical and transcendental experiences, kundalini experiences, and some drug experiences like peyote and mushrooms? I prefer to look at the big picture. ||

This dense academicese gives the impression of being written for other philosophers - deliberately abstruse, abstract, convoluted and hard to follow. For instance Dr. Suddoth makes a big deal over there being other auxiliary hypotheses than those used to support survival of the personality, but he never describes any examples of these alternatives. He always uses generic terminology rather than tying down his argument to specific explanatory concepts. For instance ".....there are lots of different auxiliary hypotheses that may be used to generate robust living-agent psi hypotheses that account for the data in a way consistent with our background knowledge. Here I'll refer only to Braude's well-developed living-agent psi hypothesis." It would be helpful to actually give us some of these so we can judge for ourselves, rather than just referring to them generically.

In other writings* Dr. Suddoth has extended his argument for Living Agent (super)Psi from just mediumship to cover virtually all empirical evidence for survival in psychical research including mediumship, apparitions, NDEs and reincarnation memories and birthmarks. Presumably death-bed visions, shared-death experiences, and all other such phenomena would be included by implication, since any one of these being genuine afterlife evidence would invalidate his hypothesis. *See his article "A Critical Response to David Lund’s Argument for Postmortem Survival" published in JSE in 2013, at http://michaelsudduth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/JSE-272-SUDDUTH-COMMENTARY-Proof.pdf ).

According to Suddoth reasoning by afterlife proponents from all the available evidence is fatally flawed. If we accept this, it seems unlikely that any other kind of reasoning from the actual empirical evidence would be valid. The problem is, if he truly is a believer in Vedanta and therefore survival, then he seems to be advocating a total reliance on faith.

Bernardo Kastrup's latest book "Why Materialism is Baloney" addresses the Mind-Brain problem quite coherently.
This is from the book description:
It lays out a coherent framework upon which one can interpret and make sense of every natural phenomenon and physical law, as well as the modalities of human consciousness, without materialist assumptions. According to this framework, the brain is merely the image of a self-localization process of mind, analogously to how a whirlpool is the image of a self-localization process of water. The brain doesn’t generate mind in the same way that a whirlpool doesn’t generate water. It is the brain that is in mind, not mind in the brain. Physical death is merely a de-clenching of awareness. The book closes with a series of educated speculations regarding the afterlife, psychic phenomena, and other related subjects."

Take a look at the Amazon page. Bernardo is one of the up and coming scientifically minded Idealists who has presented at the Science and Nonduality Conference in the Netherlands in 2012.
http://www.amazon.com/Why-Materialism-Baloney-Skeptics-Everything-ebook/dp/B00IXUXDE4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400623490&sr=1-1&keywords=why+materialism+is+baloney

Sharp eye, Bruce! I fixed the date. It was 2012, of course.


"My research revealed that religions know the least other than materialists about survival and conditions in the afterlife."

Update: my research revealed that religions and philosophers know the least other than materialists about survival and conditions in the afterlife.

“This dense academicese gives the impression of being written for other philosophers - deliberately abstruse, abstract, convoluted and hard to follow.” doubter it is called pile it high and deep to get published.

Does what he's talking about only apply to Mediumship or is he also including things like near death experiences, death bed visions, after death communications, electronic voice phenomena, some mystical and transcendental experiences, kundalini experiences, and some drug experiences like peyote and mushrooms?

Initially the super psi or living agent psi hypothesis was conceived only as a possibility for mediumship, but after some writers have spread to all the phenomena of the survivalist context, ie, the final super psi hypothesis is the hypothesis that accepts the existence of psi but rejects that exists empirical phenomena of an afterlife because it interprets all psi phenomena as psi only between living. Sure, maybe some examples of apparent mediumship are psi only between living, but adding to this combination the NDEs, the deathbed visions, apparitions, etc. makes super psi hypothesis is even more unlikely and the
survival hypothesis most likely.

great comments by no one, william, and doubter (and others, of course, but those particularly resonated).

Yeah, I find Sudduth's approach to spirituality to be a bit pre-modern, aka Old School. Putting out a press release that he's converted?! Who cares!

I can understand taking on a brand to make things easier to put in linguistic boxes. I call myself a New Ager. Of course, that's a very flexible box to begin with. Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) also works.

Sudduth's entire approach seems very much tied to selling himself in an academic context. Not to be too negative toward the guy, but he comes across as antagonistic in this whole debate, and I find myself pushing back...

Sudduth: ||  ....this is really the crucial issue, while there's no doubt that the survival-friendly auxiliaries you cite fit with our background knowledge in precisely the ways you've suggested, there are dozens of other auxiliary hypotheses that are (i) consistent with the survival hypothesis, (ii) fit with our background knowledge, but (iii) generate very different predictive consequences of varying degrees of specificity. Broad, Price, and Ducasse each outlined a range of different robust survival hypotheses, each of which has analogues with our current experience (e.g., dream consciousness, dementia, dissociative identity disorder, psychogenic amnesia).... ||

I thought it would be interesting to look a little into what these men actually proposed, to see if their schemes really have the virtues Sudduth suggests. Neither Broad's nor Price's hypotheses seem to measure up. I haven't looked at Ducasse.

C. D. Broad's concept seems to be the most well-known one. He proposed what he called the "compound" theory of mind, where the mind is supposed to be a combination of two entities or factors, neither of which separately actually has sentience or consciousness. One is the bodily part, and the other is a psychic or psi part. After death of the body the psychic part can persist for a time, floating around as a sort of detached psychic structure containing memory and personality information, that has no consciousness of its own. Sort of a piece of psychic flotsam or jetsam. It can temporarily attach to the mind of a living medium during an altered state, whose unconscious mind can then personify the information. Multiple personality disorder and childhood reincarnation memories are supposedly other ways these floating psychic information bundles can manifest in living minds. C. D. Broad, Mind and Its Place in Nature, 1925 Chapter 12 (http://www.ditext.com/broad/mpn/mpn12.html).

This is an attempt to propose some sort of minimum hypothesis needed to explain at least some of the psychical research evidence while avoiding actual survival of personal consciousness. I think it runs into some of the same problems as have been found for super-psi and doesn't account for the full range of evidence as well as the afterlife hypothesis. Like drop-in communicators such as the case of Runki's Leg, where the entity seems to have purpose and motivation.

H. H. Price apparently proposed that the afterlife may be a dream-like state, which is not real survival of the waking personality and memories, but perhaps something similar to what is described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead (the Bardo Thodol). Each person has a personal dream world creatively formed by the conscious and unconscious minds fuelled by memories of physical life, apparently not in contact with any other person's dream world. Price also proposed a "psychic ether" consisting of memory images and ideas from physical life, that manifest in the physical world as hauntings, clairvoyant impressions, mediumistic communications and other paranormal manifestations. This set of ideas seems nowhere near as viable as the afterlife hypothesis.

C. D. Broad's concept seems to be the most well-known one. He proposed what he called the "compound" theory of mind, where the mind is supposed to be a combination of two entities or factors, neither of which separately actually has sentience or consciousness. One is the bodily part, and the other is a psychic or psi part.

C. D. Broad's hypothesis also predicts that the apparent spirits of the deseased through mediums never talk about what they do when not in the mediumistic session, because they are not independent intelligences according this hypothesis, a wrong prediction because we have cases where spirits speak of what they do when not in the mediumistic session and converging into a coherent picture of an afterlife.

H. H. Price apparently proposed that the afterlife may be a dream-like state, which is not real survival of the waking personality and memories, but perhaps something similar to what is described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead (the Bardo Thodol). Each person has a personal dream world creatively formed by the conscious and unconscious minds fuelled by memories of physical life, apparently not in contact with any other person's dream world.

The Price's hypothesis not rejects the real survival of the waking personality and memories and it is compatible with people to share their dream worlds through telepathy.

The Price's hypothesis not rejects the real survival of the waking personality and memories and it is compatible with people to share their dream worlds through telepathy.

Actually, Price's dream world concept might fit certain otherwise puzzling aspects of mediumistic and "channelled" communications. For instance, the failure of discarnates to send through any appreciable new scientific or technical information would be expected, since the discarnates communicating through mediums would know no more than us, and their speculation would be based on imagination, current ideas and memory images from past Earth life. There would be no higher spheres of existence allowing a panoramic view of reality and the physical world. The apparent absurdity of so many mediumistic descriptions of the spiritual "spheres" would be expected.

"I thought it would be interesting to look a little into what these men actually proposed, to see if their schemes really have the virtues Sudduth suggests. Neither Broad's nor Price's hypotheses seem to measure up....."

Nice work, Doubter. I agree.

I think one of Sudduth's philosophical problems - and it's typical - is that he approaches the topic from the stance that we are physical entities that have, perhaps temporarily, a mind as a byproduct of something or another. I think this is wrong and I think that most of us (here) would agree that we actually are minds that somehow have a physical body, temporarily. That is what the aggregated evidence, from various sources and of various types, points over and over again to the extent where that conclusion must be drawn.

As Matt says, NDEs really are the most fatal evidence to the super-psi hypothesis because you have real live people telling you that they experienced extraordinary perceptions while the physical organs of perception were shut down.

Once again it seems that the an "expert" has inexplicably shown a lack of familiarity with the body of evidence, at least from a qualitative perspective.

These other hypotheses, like Broad's, just aren't the same, aren't up to par and shouldn't be treated as if they are.

Michael Sudduth said;

My argument is a straightforward parity argument: Carter demands “x” of super-psi arguments, but survival arguments don’t satisfy “x.”

I don’t agree with this argument.

Living agent psi is based on the assertion that things are not what they seem to be.

If an assertion is made that things are not what they seem to be, then the onus is on those who make such an assertion to make a case for it.

If we start accepting that things are not what they seem to be, or might not be what they seem to be without proper reason then we can doubt pretty much anything:

It seems that today is a sunny day, but things might not be what they seem to be.

There seems to be such as thing as the sun, but things might not be what they seem to be.

It seems to me that I am writing this post , but things might not be what they seem to be.

I would like to add to what I have already posted about Michael Sudduth’s parity argument.

He tries to give the impression of being even handed: Proponents of living agent psi haven’t made their case? Neither have the survivalists.

However the true nature of this argument is that if proponents of living agent psi need to make a case that things may not being what they seem to be – deception, survivalists need to make a case to rule out deception.

He doesn’t say this directly but makes this argument by writing about the predictions and auxiliary hypothesis. The predictions he is demanding from survivalists are those which can rule out deception.

It has to be kept in mind that if the other side resorts to an unlimited appeal to deception then such predictions are not possible.

He says that with favorable auxiliary hypothesis proponents of living agent psi can show that living agent psi can fit with the data.

Of course they can........ with an unlimited appeal to deception.

The main problem with the parity argument is that we need to maintain a natural disparity when claims are made that things are not what they seem to be. The onus needs to be on those who make such a claim.

Otherwise we can doubt pretty much everything.

This is grounded in our experience and when I say this I really don’t think I am taking a privileged subset but a feature that relates to pretty much all the experiences of pretty much all people.

I would also like to add that I agree with Chris Carter’s demand for independent evidence for living agent psi. It is a straightforward demand for non question begging examples of the occurrence of the things claimed by living agent psi.

Is there any such example?

C. J. Ducasse is the last writer of the three cited by Dr. Sudduth as producing "different robust survival hypotheses" that "do not lead us to expect the data adduced as evidence for survival". I wonder why he included Ducasse, since Ducasse examined all the evidence then existing from psychical research, and decided that

"The conclusion about survival which at present appears warranted (is that): ....the balance of the evidence so far obtained is on the side of the reality of survival and, in the best cases, of survival not merely of memories of the life on earth, but of survival also of the most significant capacities of the human mind, and of continuing exercise of these."

("A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death" 1961, Chapter 19 Section 6; http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/books/ducasse/critical/19.htm ) . Chris Carter references Ducasse several times in Science and the Afterlife Experience.

Faisal, IMO you make some really good points.

Unfortunately, I do think that some small subset of the survival evidence is tainted by a little bit of living agent psi. It's in the old literature as well as the new stuff. I don't think it is at all fatal to our position. If we are first and foremost minds that communicate via psi then of course both agents both with and without physical bodies will be in constant communication. The brain and focus on the five physical senses usually filters out most of it, being tuned to physical perceptions.

I repeat that it is a philosophical error - an unexamined bias (maybe even an auxiliary assumption) - to even employ the term "living agent". It implies that living means having a body and it is decidedly opposed to that other misguided term, "survival".

Indeed the whole argument hinges more on the idea of deception by subconscious psi to make us believe that we are talking to agents without a body and/or a total mistrust of our own logic and perceptions. I also repeat that Sudduth is re-making a version of Descartes evil demon rap.

Nice points, Faisal!

Great posts, Faisal -thanks.

Thank you for your kind words.

I believe everybody here in their own way has made very good points.

I agree that the claims (of psychic deception) being made in the name of living agent psi share some similarities with global conspiracy theories and Descartes evil demon.

Like a global conspiracy theory, any evidence one tries to present against it becomes part of the deception.

Like Descartes evil demon, deception is not used as a support for the idea but as the foundation.

And all of these make claims of potentially unlimited deception.

While we cannot have evidence to rule out claims of potentially unlimited deception we can ask why such claims should be seriously.

And how can a non question begging case be made for such a claim.

About the need for a case for claims of potentially unlimited psychic deception (Living agent psi).....

Proponents of such claims argue that there is self deception and there is psi, and if self deception and psi work together in a certain way then the kind of deception that is claimed would occur.

I agree up to this point.

However we need to ask how we can know that self deception and psi can work together this way.

Put another way; if self deception and psi are the basic elements for the case of unlimited psychic deception (Living agent psi), then we need to know if they can be combined in the way that is claimed.

The case for claims of potentially unlimited psychic deception (Living agent psi) needs to answer this.

Faisal said,

||Put another way; if self deception and psi are the basic elements for the case of unlimited psychic deception (Living agent psi), then we need to know if they can be combined in the way that is claimed.||

Good point! And I think the answer is that those elements *cannot* be combined to create living agent psi/super-psi, inasmuch as a further element is needed: something that makes all of the accounts more or less consistent.

Since there is nothing to account for this consistency, I consider living agent psi to be disproved as an explanation for the phenomena in question.

Note that one can still argue that the narrative derived from the phenomena is inconsistent. Indeed, materialists will generally refuse to see any consistency or acknowledge the existence of any paranormal phenomena in the first place. But living agent psi/super-psi proponents *agree* with us survival proponents that there is enough consistency to warrant some type of explanation.

What does everyone think of this recent blog post by Dr.Steven Novella just wondering. I have been debating with skeptics on there for awhile now and have recently decided not too anymore.

http://theness.com/neurologicablog/?s=afterlife+debate

I'd certainly like to read MP thoughts on "The brain is not a receiver" (http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-brain-is-not-a-receiver/) issue of Novella's blog!

Leo & Luciano, I think Harp - http://jcer.com/index.php/jcj/article/viewFile/269/301 - does a pretty good job in support of the receiver model.

Hey Michael, this is off topic but I found this and wanted to share this post of someone who takes issue with and debunks a few claims made by Jime at Subversive Thinking regarding the historical Jesus.

http://nomoretrinity.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-critique-of-jimes-critique-of-marcus.html

The blog itself is quite good too if you are interested in biblical theology

Thanks No One for the link. I found the abstract very interesting and easy to understand, quite in contrast to Sudduth's exposition.

I think a better term for describing the brain is transceiver; the relationship between the brain and consciousness is two way.

The brain could also be described as a filter; like a transceiver that tunes into a certain frequency and filters out the others.

The production hypothesis that Novella supports is based on correlations between brain states and consciousness.

Bernardo Kastrup has a nice article giving examples where this correlation breaks down.

http://paranthropologyjournal.weebly.com/uploads/7/7/5/3/7753171/paranthropology_vol_3_no_3.pdf

Hence falsification of the production hypothesis and the need for an alternative like the transceiver or filter hypothesis.

Luciano, I couldn't get the Novella link to open, but in any case I doubt there's anything I can say about the transmission theory that I haven't already said. The Google search box on the left side of this page allows you to search the blog's archives. A search for "transmission theory" or for "brain + receiver" should bring up a lot of hits, since this ground has been plowed many times. Thanks for wanting my opinion. :-)

Thanks also to Kyle for the link about the historical Jesus - always an interesting topic.

"The production hypothesis that Novella supports is based on correlations between brain states and consciousness."

That's what I figured. Correlation is not causality. There's a close correlation between the inner workings of a TV set and the picture and sound it produces, but the TV shows do not originate inside the set.

"Bernardo Kastrup has a nice article giving examples where this correlation breaks down."

I'm reading Kastrup's book "Why Materialism Is Baloney" right now. Interesting, highly readable book. I think I'm still more inclined to go with a Kantian-type neutral monism than with Kastrup's idealism, but he does make a provocative case. Recommended for those who are interested in this stuff. And he writes very clearly - no academic jargon.

http://tinyurl.com/lbcdhx8

No One: Thanks for the article, but skeptics in Novella's post found it "magical" somehow...

Faisal: Thanks for that page, it comes with the bibliography, wich is absent in Novella's artice - http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-brain-is-not-a-receiver/ - (Sorry, the previous link was wrong!) Novella finds that even the radio/TV analogy is wrong... well it can't be completely good, it's an analogy... I think skeptics aren't wrong in their point of view, it's by far the most rational and acceptable to their worldview.. but there seems to be evidence that contradicts the materialist definition of consciousness: say veridical NDEs (Dr. Parnia investigations seems very promising), PSI, mediumistic accuracy, and so forth...

I remember reading a quote somewhere one time that said something to the effect of "all metaphors will eventually fall apart if taken too far." Or something to that effect.

Perhaps we are discussing and talking about something that is so different in kind from our normal everyday experience that any analogy or metaphor that we try and use to describe what is happening here will eventually fall apart if we take it too far?

A main reason for accepting the transceiver hypothesis is that this model explains how it is possible that the psyche depends on the nervous system as closely as evidenced by neuroscientists and it can persist after brain death as pointing some psychic phenomena: NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and people who remember their past lives, but the problem is that most neuroscientists not accept the existence of these phenomena and they are not familiar with the relevant literature, so the discursion is absurd.

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