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As I recall the dream telepathy experiments that Krippner did decades ago were held by Irvin Child, the head of Yale's psych depth, as being worthy for further study.

I do think parapsychology needs to push for stronger and stronger results, and my understanding is this goal is being realized.

Of course problems of quality have struck many sciences (see issues in medicine & psychology), so it'll be interesting to see how other fields fare as demands for better science become known.

Another point that I probably should have brought up is the question of motive. In order for Miss Z to cheat, she would have had to smuggle a flashlight into the sleep lab, then wait for Tart to fall asleep (assuming she had any way of knowing when or if he was dozing in the screened-off area outside the sleeping bay), then shine the flashlight on the clock and try to make out the reflected number without dislodging the electrodes and without getting caught.

It's hard to see what would have driven her to do all this. She was not seeking publicity and has never allowed her name to be made public. The experiment came about only because of a chance conversation she had with Tart, who employed her as a babysitter. She moved away afterward and apparently had no interest in continuing to serve as a test subject.

Although it's always possible to dream up some neurotic affliction that would make a young woman lie about OBEs and then go to rather desperate lengths to fool a researcher, the simplest explanation (especially given how many people have reported OBEs) is that Miss Z actually believed she was having these experiences and was curious about them. But in that case she had no reason to cheat.

"Of course problems of quality have struck many sciences (see issues in medicine & psychology), so it'll be interesting to see how other fields fare as demands for better science become known".

I'm glad you mentioned this SPatel.

Apparently half of all psychology research is said to be unsupported. The European Society of Medical Oncology states that many cancer drugs are minimally effective as well, even though lab results suggest they are. So I don't feel 'parapsychology' as it is called, should be unduly targeted.

Scientists also agree that studying subjective consciousness is infinity harder- i.e. it's more difficult to determine its fundamental parts than the atom :) Lyn.

Nice, informative post. Our dear friend Bill seems to be enjoying the characteristic 早合点 of the Skeptics.

“Of course problems of quality have struck many sciences (see issues in medicine & psychology)”

“Apparently half of all psychology research is said to be unsupported.”

On this subject (and at the risk of sounding like a scratched record!), can I refer again to the recent discussion between Rupert Sheldrake & Mark Vernon (entitled ‘Beyond Physicalism’) I flagged up a couple of posts ago. This is because, in that discussion, Sheldrake speaks very interestingly on the recent revelations concerning the lack of reproducible results for a number of established & accepted experiments across various areas of mainstream science – even extending to, apparently, chemistry. He also discusses the implications of this for physicalism and parapsychology, and claims to have detected a fresh spirit of humility emerging in the scientific community.

It will be interesting to see whether Grant’s forthcoming book reflects properly these recent developments! For ease of reference, here again is the link:

http://www.markvernon.com/friendshiponline/dotclear/index.php?post/2015/09/12/Beyond-physicalism#comments

@Lynn: There was also commentary in Lancet that said, as far as I was able to understand the comment, 50% of biomedical studies may not pass replication:

http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2960696-1.pdf

We also have the multiverse fantasy, which skeptics have used to argue away intelligent design and fine tuning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/a-crisis-at-the-edge-of-physics.html?_r=2


Simon -- who is Grant?

There is a replication with Ingo Swann too, the chance is 1 in 40.000:
.
https://app.box.com/s/umtxmi65jt9q0is6es71fwci5xqth8yr

Matt asked, "Who is Grant?"

He's John Grant, who, according to Bill, "is a former paranormal believer turned skeptic ..." Bill wrote: "In October 2015, there will be a new skeptical book released on the afterlife. It is entitled 'Spooky Science: Debunking the Pseudoscience of the Afterlife' by John Grant, and published by a respectable publisher. I am not sure how much 'mainstream' recognition this book will get but it seems to come to the opposite conclusion to Cyrus Kirkpatrick and yourself on most of these subjects. The book concludes that mediums like Palladino, Dunglas Home, Leonora Piper etc were fraudulent and famous reincarnation cases can be explained by cryptomnesia or other psychological processes etc. He also has a chapter on debunking poltergeist cases or alleged "channelled" entities like Patience Worth. There seems to be less about NDE's but I see Raymond Moody cited in the Bibliography. The book is about 200-pages long."

I have to admit I find the "believer turned skeptic" label to be more a marketing tactic than necessarily anything worthy of note. People have wide-eyed beliefs unguided by philosophy, science, or even common sense and then act like skepticism is the only solution to not be taken in the way they were.

The way some pseudoskeptics treat materialism like a religion should give anyone thinking these people are the hallmark of rationality pause.

To see how desperate the materialist cults can be one only has to look at the idea that consciousness is a certain as-yet-unknown computer program. To me that smells too much like the fantasy of finding a particular magic spell that can accomplish some quest/goal.

Good thought Patel. Since the book is inexpensive I will buy one for the two pages on Patience Worth but after reading the Amazon sample it seems that there may not be anything in the book that hasn't been cut and pasted many times in the many other similar books churned out by the pseudo-skeptics. Any book that has 'spooky', 'debunking' and 'pseudoscience' in the title looses credibility with me up front. I think it may be a good book just in time for Halloween. - AOD

I just noticed that I called her Miss Zee, rather than Miss Z, in the title. I've corrected it (though the URL will have to remain as is). Brain fart!

I had to Google Matt's Japanese phrase. It means "jump to conclusions, make hurried judgments, quickly reach a conclusion with little deliberation."

@Amos Oliver Doyle: My guess is the materialist cults are getting jumpy after Parnia's study, not to mention the growing number of scientists suggesting consciousness isn't compatible with materialism.

None of this proves an afterlife, or even that materialism is false, but it does open a door the pseudoskeptics want to seal shut.

OT: I had no time to do further research but I found this article interesting: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bobby-azarian/post_10079_b_8160914.html
I wonder if it is taken seriously or the author is already considered a crank by his peers

"Renzo" as the article mentions, there are a number of physicists that advocate conscious as a panpsychism.

To me everything is science i.e. you can't be in this universe and not be affected by it or make an effect. So any phenomena is ultimately explainable in terms of the material or consciousness. And once we understand consciousness better, I think we will come to see it is both- that consciousness forms the material.

This is evidenced by the double split experiments, or diseases like Alzheimer's which is partly genetic, but also due to the influence of diet, exercise etc, on the brain. Even playing the piano, each finger is imprinted on the motor cortex. I think the brain merely imprints each and every experience upon it and vice versa. :).

I read the Azarian article. It's interesting to see scientists moving, however hesitantly, in this direction, but the theory that's described really doesn't solve the "hard problem" of consciousness or account for qualia and subjective awareness. It skirts the issue by saying that consciousness is fundamental and thus does not require an explanation. The rest of it seems to amount to saying that the more complex a system is, the more likely it is to (somehow) manifest consciousness. This forces the conclusion that thermostats, smart phones, and the Internet have some degree of consciousness. I'm skeptical of this claim, but at least some scientists are trying to take consciousness seriously.

What I find astonishing is the fact that such theory is taken seriously by a larger than usual number of scientists. Years ago it would have been utterly unthinkable, don't you agree? It is as if
slowly, very slowly, the scientific consensus is moving away from strict materialism. If such theory ever became mainstream it would become much easier to accept psychic phenomena and then propose even bolder theories

"OT: I had no time to do further research but I found this article interesting: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bobby-azarian/post_10079_b_8160914.html
I wonder if it is taken seriously or the author is already considered a crank by his peers"

That theory does not seem to explain NDEs, apparitions of the living and dead, mediumship...

Thanks for all the commentary on this. Unfortunately I remain unconvinced about any paranormal explanation because I think the controls are far weaker than they should have been.

I am not so sure about a "continuous monitoring of Miss Z throughout the experiment." The reason I say this is because Charles Tart admitted to falling asleep during the experiment at times. The problem he does not say when and for how long?

Tart writes in his own words "occasionally I dozed during the night beside the equipment." How long is occasionally? Is this professional?

Why was there no second-observer during the experiment? No independent observers? Can we really have an experiment with a single observer? Apparently in parapsychology experiments we can...

Now Arthur Hastings is mentioned by Charles Tart in his book "The End of Materialism" on page 204 as being a visiting colleague who checked out the room after the experiment had occurred? Firstly checking after the experiment had taken place is not a very good thing! This does not really prove anything.

And as far as I know there is no evidence he spent the night with Tart observing Miss Z. (By the way this isn't Arthur Hastings from Agatha Christie's novels it is a convinced paranormal believer (he authored a book on channelling). I also find no evidence Hastings was an amateur magician like Tart implies (on page 204) to try and make his experiment sound more 'reliable'.

But back to the main point, I do not think this is very good thing to be doing during a supposed scientific experiment. This is the sort of embarrassing thing that happens in parapsychological experiments, can you imagine this in a biology or physics experiment?

Sleeping during an experiment, no independent observer to check the results, calling someone in to check the controls after the experiment took place? Is this not why most scientists dismiss parapsychology as a pseudoscience?

Regarding trickery, magician Milbourne Christopher writes:

"Could the subject have known when the parapsychologist was napping? Yes — the room in which he sat was lit, and she could see, as he himself did, through the partially open slats of the venetian blind on the window between the two rooms. It should be noted that Dr. Tart wrote the target digits about two inches high "with a black marking pen." The large size would make it easier for the subject to see them — if trickery was used. Another possibility for cheating... was that the number might have been reflected by the glass face of the wall clock above the shelf." From Milbourne Christopher's book "Search For The Soul".

This is from a very famous professional magician, So you see it would have been fairly easy for Miss Z to have cheated; in the above book Christopher also points out Miss Z was not personally searched before the experiment (note: I don't believe she cheated this way, but it is interesting to see how weak this experiment was).

Parapsychologist Susan Blackmore in her autobiography "The Adventures of a Parapsychologist" writes

"If Miss Z had tried to climb up, the brain-wave record would have showed a pattern of interference. And that was exactly what it did show."

I am not saying it is for sure known the subject cheated but that is a likely possibility that cannot be ruled out and more 'likely' than a paranormal explanation, just like the clock explanation. So with a fraudulent and natural explanation on the table I am afraid I will not be invoking a miracle that this lady somehow left her body.

The Miss Z study was never replicated with the same subject and we heard nothing of her in about 50 years. There is no evidence the women even existed. Miss Z is said to have been Tart's personal baby sitter, but we are not given her full name or any details about her. (Relax I don't think it was all made up like Robert Todd Carroll does), lol. Just another weakness.

So yes I do consider this experiment to be discredited for the above reasons at minimum. It was not a scientific experiment. And contrary to what Amos Oliver Doyle says, it is not a 'pseudoskeptic' to point these faults out. It is pseudoskeptic to dismiss it without looking at it but I have not done this...

As for 'round 2' I would be happy to discuss at some point Stuart "Blue" Harary's psychic OBE experiment with Dr. Robert Morris involving a kitten (I don't think this has been cited on your blog Michael). This is another 'famous' OBE experiment that I also believe was faulted for a number of reasons.

Ok this is new to me, I'm not sure if others have seen it. This guy has had over one hundred near death experiences induced by what medical condition, they really don't know. There's a fair bit of gobble de gook, or physics, one of the two, I'm not sure which.

What I tend to agree with, and similar to Rich Kelly's near death experience and perhaps 'Seth's" ideology is..

1) We are in paradise now ii.e. we don't go anywhere 'to a heaven", but merely expand our consciousness.

2) There are no emotions other than love- I think Rich alluded to this.

3) We are individuals for all eternity.

4) If some one knows something on the 'other side', we all do.

%) There is no here or there, we just observe this domain, and it appears real.

https://angelicview.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/as-infinite-beings-we-only-exist-in-the-breath-of-god-there-is-nothing-else/

Cheers Lyn.

IIT is taken very seriously. Christof Koch is one of the most well-respected neuroscientists in the world, and spent a lot of time working with Francis Crick. I'm personally not a fan of IIT - it seems to be retaining far, far too many materialist assumptions. However, I do see it as a positive sign and a necessary step in the right direction.

Michael said:

"but the theory that's described really doesn't solve the "hard problem" of consciousness or account for qualia and subjective awareness. It skirts the issue by saying that consciousness is fundamental and thus does not require an explanation."

I don't think "skirts the issue" is quite to the point. Consciousness is only a hard problem for those who think it is, for those who see it as a product of something else.

If, instead, we understand it as the basic stuff of the universe—and therefore what you and I simply *are*—then it's no longer a hard problem. Since we experience consciousness every moment of every day, even while dreaming and after "dying," it's precisely what we *do* know, and in fact, all we can ever know.

As I see it, consciousness is a hard problem for those who forget that there is no stepping outside of it, and that everything we know comes to us by way of it.

Hey Bill,
Of course one is not necessarily a 'pseudo-skeptic' simply because one might point out weaknesses (faults) in various studies or experiments concerning a non-physical reality. However when one says as you did that "There would be nothing new you could show me because I have been reading the parapsychology pro/con literature since 1998." how can one think other than you don't have an open mind on the subject, that is, you are not willing to consider anyone else's thoughts on the matter because you already know it all? I think you misinterpret what I said.

After reading many reports of various phenomena suggesting a non-physical reality I would have to say that I could probably opine weaknesses in all of them It is like picking walnut meat out of the shell, one has to carefully sort through what's edible (credible) and what is not but to crack one or two nuts and find them bitter is no reason to not look for sweet meat in others.

Personally after having considered many reports of phenomena suggesting non-physical reality I have to say that the one having the least amount of taint is the Case of Patience Worth and I say this because there is first-hand evidence in the form of her extant writings, that anyone can read, that provide historical information and language that Pearl Curran in her present lifetime could not have known. Whether or not this provides evidence of disembodied spirits or evidence of reincarnation remains to be determined but this case cannot be trashed simply because of someone's opinion of what Pearl Curran might have known or could have known. The evidence strongly suggests that that information came from some mind other than the mind, subconscious or otherwise, of Pearl Curran. - AOD

Bruce wrote, "Consciousness is only a hard problem for those who think it is, for those who see it as a product of something else. If, instead, we understand it as the basic stuff of the universe—and therefore what you and I simply *are*—then it's no longer a hard problem."

I think it's still a hard problem, because we would need to understand how consciousness interacts with physical things - how it is mediated by the nervous system, for instance. Even if we say consciousness is everywhere (panpsychism), which is what the linked article ends up saying, we would still have to explain the mechanism by which it operates in our physical world. The only way the hard problem disappears is if we say that there is only consciousness and nothing else (idealism); but this viewpoint creates problems of its own.

Bill wrote, "I am not so sure about a 'continuous monitoring of Miss Z throughout the experiment.' The reason I say this is because Charles Tart admitted to falling asleep during the experiment at times."

But the EEG and other equipment were continuously monitoring Miss Z and would have restricted her mobility. So there was continuous technological monitoring, at least.

"If Miss Z had tried to climb up, the brain-wave record would have showed a pattern of interference. And that was exactly what it did show."

Tart doesn't seem to think the EEG showed an interference pattern of that type. Not being an EEG expert, I can't say. Tart says he showed the EEG to the leading expert in the field of sleep research, who had never seen anything like it.

"There is no evidence the woman even existed." I know you walked this back immediately, but you still seem semi-serious about it, even including it as "another weakness." I'd suggest that if you're open to doubt about even the existence of Miss Z, then it would appear that nothing could really satisfy you. Even if Tart had claimed flawless protocols and multiple replications, you could say the whole thing was made up.

"Relax I don't think it was all made up like Robert Todd Carroll does."

Hasn't it occurred to Carroll that if Tart had invented the experiment out of whole cloth, he would have made it far stronger?

As the founder of the SPR said in his inaugural address in 1887, "We have done all that we can when the critic has nothing left to allege except that the investigator is in [on] the trick. But when he has nothing else left he will allege that."

BTW, I'd be interested to know why Miss Z would have been motivated to cheat, given that she did not stand to gain publicity, money, or other apparent benefit. I suppose one could say she was a pathological liar.

Overall, I agree that the controls were not perfect and the experiment is not conclusive, but I think that, as a single piece of evidence, it's fairly strong and at least suggestive.

Re the kitten experiment, I've never thought too highly of it. But some of Ingo Swann's and Pat Price's remote viewing tests are interesting.

Lyn

You are talking about William Joseph Bray. He wrote a real interesting book “ Quantum Physics, Near Death Experience and Eternal Consciousness…” The first half of which was a tour de force of the Copenhagen view of quantum physics taken to its extreme logical conclusions. Bray boiled down his view of physics’ to the simple statement that we “paint the universe into being” via our conscious observation. His thoughts are in line with Von Neumann, Neils Bohr, Henry Stapp etc, but he really pushes the envelope.

He presented a few simple equations which, he thought, were close to a mathematical proof of eternal existence. His first premise was, as the observer in quantum physics, we (consciousness) can only be sure of one thing, our own existence. He then presents the equation of, infinity/n equals infinity. His conclusion, if you exist, and by quantum observer definition, we are certain we exist, then we exist for infinity.

I had a few interesting email exchanges with him, and he was pretty much lambasted on the “Skeptiko” forum for not presenting his resume. He did tell me, however, that he used a pen name to write his book.

This first half of the book is a rollicking good read on the history of QM. The second half gets bogged down in psychic healing and other topics. Sorry to hear he passed away, and to go off topic.

GregL

Michael said:

"The only way the hard problem disappears is if we say that there is only consciousness and nothing else (idealism)"

This is indeed my understanding, Michael. I'm with Lynn on this. I think of matter as a stepped-down form of consciousness, a sort of frozen version of it.

Which is why I like one of the main assumptions of that article: all things are conscious in their own way.

"but this viewpoint creates problems of its own"

What's the biggest deal-breaker for you?

"I think it's still a hard problem," - I agree Michael.

Discovering the atom and determining its fundamental parts was simple, subjective consciousness is so much harder, as one physicist explained. Which is why scientist avoid it like the plague. "Its just there", "there is no problem", etc. And go back to their cause and effect experiments making them a good living and accolades- thank you very much.

And skepticism against all conscious studies I think is just poor thinking. Its like saying materialist theories are all good and consciousness theories are all bad. Which is clearly silly.

Yes, there is research into consciousness that is poorly done, but according to recent understanding, all the material sciences have research protocol problems as well. So I could pick a number of materially based science papers and similarly say- see they are all bad.

Not only that, physicists are very good at attributing an effect with regard to material ideas, and flouting conscious ones. String theory for example has no experimental evidence. Therefore it is not even a theory, although touted as one.

Just saying. The world has material and consciousness matter, whatever we find out, its all science and can only increase understanding about our world. So there is no reason not to research and support both :).

One of the problems with panpsychism is the ‘binding problem’ i.e. how can it explain the emergence of complex entities such as ourselves who still manage to experience a single, unified consciousness.

The philosopher Christian De Quincey, for me, always has something of interest to say on issues of this kind (including life after death). Here’s a link to a couple of his articles on the ‘binding problem’ (which draw heavily on A N Whitehead’s process philosophy):

http://www.christiandequincey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/The-Binding-Problem.pdf

Bruce wrote, "What's the biggest deal-breaker for you?"

Philosophical idealism tends to segue into solipsism pretty easily. If everything is a construction of consciousness, and the only consciousness we know directly is our own, then how do we know that we aren't inventing the illusion of other sentient beings, just as we invent the illusion of a spacetime cosmos?

That's one problem I have with the idea. There are others.

Amos I am just saying I have read about all these old cases that were meant to have demonstrated life after death or a 'non-physical reality' as you put it, but there is major faults and problems with every single one. You mention to me Patience Worth but that has been debunked in the literature for years.

"I have to say that the one having the least amount of taint is the Case of Patience Worth and I say this because there is first-hand evidence in the form of her extant writings, that anyone can read, that provide historical information and language that Pearl Curran in her present lifetime could not have known."

I consider the "Patience Worth" case to be completely discredited. Even parapsychologists like Alan Gauld, Stephen E. Braude, Tony Cornell who are sympathetic to your cause did not cite this case for evidence as life after death in their books.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman covers a section on Patience Worth in his book "Paranormality":

"Unfortunately for Spiritualism, Curran’s writings failed to provide convincing evidence of life after death. Try as they might, researchers were unable to find any evidence that Patience Worth actually existed, and linguistic analysis of the texts revealed that the language was not consistent with other works from the period. The case for authenticity was not helped by Patience writing a novel set in the Victorian times, some 200 years after her own death. Eventually even the most ardent believer was forced to conclude that Pearl Curran’s remarkable outpourings were more likely to have a natural, not supernatural, explanation."

So

1. There is not a shred of empirical evidence that the "Patience Worth" of Curran ever existed.

2. The language was pretty much bogus and not consistent. Psychologist Leonard Zusne put it this way "English experts testified that it did not belong to any particular historical period but was a mixture of contemporary English, poetic terms, some dialect expressions, including some misused and misunderstood would-be Scottish words, and even some of her own invention." (Anomalistic Psychology, 1989)

I do not see this case as evidence for a 'non-physical' reality. I doubt many people would.

Your own statement "The evidence strongly suggests that information came from some mind other than the mind, subconscious or otherwise, of Pearl Curran" does not stand up to scrutiny in my opinion.

Michael,

I agree with you about Miss Z existing. It is highly unlikely it was all made up. What is suspicious is why the subject real name was not used and we heard nothing about this person in recent years. I can find no other parapsychology paper that discusses this subject?

Why did Tart not want to repeat the experiment in front of neutral scientists present? Repeatability is very important in science.

If she really did magically leave her body then would she not choose to become a millionaire utilizing this miraculous feat to her advantage and demonstrate it to the world? Except we hear nothing about this person.

My other problem is that this subject was alleged to be Tart's personal babysitter. This person therefore may have had a highly partial involvement with the experiment. Tart basically performed this experiment alone with the subject. It is unreliable. Like I said needed independent observers.

If you open up a biology or physics textbook that describe experiments that have been well documented we do not get any of these sort of problems... but it happens in parapsychology all too often.

My issue with idealism, or in this case monism based on consciousness, is that it tends to view consciousness as a substance instead of a relation. I think it is, as can be observed via introspection, a relationship. Ultimately, all "things" are relationships, but this is itself not monism, inasmuch as a relationship is not a "thing."

Further, I think we can "plug in" "relationship" into Leibniz's concept of "simple substance" or Monad and gain his insights, per my recent post here.

We can even see consciousness as the "master relationship," the one that illuminates all others. After all, only through consciousness can those relationships be recognized.

I think this all ties in nicely with quantum mechanics, the Buddhist concepts of sunyata and sankhara, and Plato's forms.

Also, I think consciousness monism is in direct contradiction to the view of Grof (whether he would agree or not, I'm not sure). Since the principle of "forgetting" is so important in that way of viewing, "forgetting" would seem to be a kind of anti-consciousness, or the freedom *not* to be. Otherwise, wouldn't all be a plenum, a single neutron star of consciousness?

A masterful dissection, Mr. Prescott! Thank you very much for the post.

Michael said:

"Philosophical idealism tends to segue into solipsism pretty easily. If everything is a construction of consciousness, and the only consciousness we know directly is our own, then how do we know that we aren't inventing the illusion of other sentient beings, just as we invent the illusion of a spacetime cosmos?"

OK—here's how I see it.

We *are* inventing the illusion of other beings! Or more precisely, Source is inventing that illusion—but Source is us, collectively.

We either experience ourselves as individual beings, or we know ourselves as Source, the ecstatic, longed-for state of consciousness in which the illusion melts into oneness.

Illusion is a tricky word, though, because it suggests some sort of mistaken impression. As if we're not quite seeing things correctly.

But the fact is, all of reality—except for that ultimate oneness—is constructed from illusion, metaphor, fiction, or whatever you wish to call it.

So illusion (in that sense) is beautiful. It's Source's device for creating the manifest universe, Source's alternate mode of being that provides interest, variety, and a respite from being perfect.

Bill wrote,

||Amos I am just saying I have read about all these old cases that were meant to have demonstrated life after death or a 'non-physical reality' as you put it, but there is major faults and problems with every single one.||

It has long seemed to me that skeptics fail to use inductive logic, either on purpose as a crude and ultimately ineffective weapon against their opponents, or not on purpose simply because they are poor at it.

It *may* be that every single paranormal case has issues with it, but they cannot be denied, in my opinion, in the aggregate. Moreover, in the aggregate, they not only disprove materialism but also paint a consistent, albeit yet incomplete, picture of Reality.

Skeptics regularly use what I call the "fallacy of the glancing blow": find some teeny-tiny thing wrong with a case and, voilà, it's debunked! Worthless! Nothing to see here, folks, move along. This is, quite frankly, a *despicable* approach to the truth.

||You mention to me Patience Worth but that has been debunked in the literature for years.||

I'm in agreement with a lot about what you say about Patience Worth. I'm a poet, have read a lot of poetry from various time periods, and I find her poetry neither good nor seemingly authentic.

That said, what *is* remarkable about the case of Patience Worth is Pearl Curran coming up with all of the content and the way she channeled it. Even if one says it's not paranormal, truly acknowledging it (i.e., not blowing it off as no biggie) would require a change in the mainstream view of how the mind works.

Patience Worth seems to me to be a "functional entity," not a real person. I don't know much about the content in detail. I would be interested in learning more about the information that Pearl Curran could not have known. That would provide more weight to claims of a paranormal nature.

Bill, Thanks for your comments about Patience Worth.

It is apparent that you have read a lot of opinions of people who have commented about Patience Worth and who provided a 'debunking'. I am wondering though, have you read any of the writing of Patience Worth? Have you read Dr. Walter Franklin Prince's extensive study of this case? I think it might be informative if you would read her work and Dr. Prince's study, that is, get your information directly from the horse's mouth so to speak rather than from erstwhile experts who offered their opinion about Patience and Pearl, in most cases many years after Pearl Curran died. Dr. Prince actually studied Pearl Curran while she was alive and attended many of her sessions with Patience Worth.

I am not impressed that Alan Gauld, Stephen Braude, Tony Cornell and Richard Wiseman commented about Patience Worth. Comments and opinions about this case are a dime a dozen and those men hold no corner on expertise about Patience Worth. It is a tired old criticism that no evidence that Pearl Curran's Patience Worth ever lived (I have found evidence that at least 3 or 4 women named Patience Worth who lived during the 17th and 18th centuries in England and the Colonies. ( See http://www.patienceworth.com for detailed information) or that how could she write a novel about a time 200 years after the death of Patience Worth. These arguments are made by people who are not thinking widely or in depth about the subject. Even Stephen Braude says that it probably would not make any difference if evidence was found that Patience Worth lived. And, if one considers that Pearl Curran may have been the reincarnation of Patience Worth and other personalities, it is not far fetched to think that Hope Trueblood was written from past life experience of the entity manifesting as Patience Worth, Pearl Curran and many other incarnations one of which may have lived during the early Victorian period.

Patience Worth said many times that her default language did not reflect language from any one location in England but that she picked and chose words to meet her fancy. She wrote in a language of the common people, not of the aristocratic intelligencia. Of course you know that not all of her works are written in this default archaic language. (Please read about the development of the English language over time.) Hope Trueblood, The Sorry Tale and The Elizabethan Mask each has its own unique language and style. The Sorry Tale clearly is written in a language constructed by Patience Worth (which makes it all the more impressive). Patience Worth said that her mother was Scottish so why wouldn't Patience use some words of Scotch derivation?

When you say that the language is "pretty much bogus" I have to think that you haven't read any of it. Who are the "English experts" that "testified". Obviously your opinion is borrowed from the opinion of others about the case of Patience Worth. I only think it is fair to suggest that you read all of the actual writing of Patience Worth and Dr. Prince's study of the case. and take a look at http://www.patienceworth.com, then perhaps you might be knowledgeable enough to have an educated opinion of your own about it. Clearly you don't have to agree with me or the many others who thought that his case was unprecedented in the psychic literature. When you say that "I consider the 'Patience Worth' case to be completely discredited" It think you are basing your learned opinion on very weak so-called 'evidence' opined by others, which is actually no evidence at all! - AOD

I love this story on the White Crow website about John Adams dying words being misunderstood. They were friends and I believe Thomas Jefferson came to John Adams while he was dying and was there to help Adams across to the other side. This is a great uplifting and comforting story.

http://whitecrowbooks.com/staffordbetty/entry/john_adams_dying_report_of_thomas_jefferson_misunderstood/

Bill,
Here might be a better link that works.

http://www.patienceworth.com/patience-in-england/

- AOD

Matt,
Judgments regarding the language and poetic quality of the writing of Patience Worth are idiosyncratic and reflect the knowledge, tastes and preferences of the reader. Consideration of whether or not the writings provide evidence of a non-physical reality is arguably the more important issue. - AOD

From what I've gleaned from reading about the work of most Mediums some of the personality of the Medium always mixes in with the information being shared by the spirit that is communication. In fact I remember watching an episode of Crossing Over with John Edward and he made the statement that his spirit guides used John Edward's own memories to share what they were trying to say. So the actual message is actually a mixture of the Medium's mind and the consciousness of the spirit communicator.

It's not like picking up a telephone and talking to the spirits on the other side. Not like that at all. It's more like a mixing of consciousness and memories and the Medium being shown images and from those images the Medium tries to interpret what the Spirit is trying to share. The Medium sort of zones out and images appear on his brain and he puts those images together to paint a picture or story.

I've watched videos of George Anderson going into a "trance" like state (looks more like he is zoning out to me) and also watched a plethora of Crossing over episodes. It's not all one or the other but a mixture of the two. The two becoming "one minded", which makes sense if you've read enough NDE accounts. In this life we see everything as being separate but that's not really the way things work. Our separation is an illusion.

Excerpt from Michelle M's NDE description,
"I remember understanding the others here.. as if the others here were a part of me too. As if all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was .. gosh this is so hard to explain.. it was as if we were all the same. As if consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be like all things are all different parts of the same body."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/michelle_m%27s_nde.htm

AOD,

||Judgments regarding the language and poetic quality of the writing of Patience Worth are idiosyncratic and reflect the knowledge, tastes and preferences of the reader. Consideration of whether or not the writings provide evidence of a non-physical reality is arguably the more important issue.||

Well, first let me say that what Pearl Curran did is, in my view, representative prima facie of a paranormal ability, or at least a very rare savant-like ability, so I find the case interesting. But the poetry and writing overall does seem to me, on the whole, as fake archaic language. It doesn't pull me in and doesn't inspire me to read me on the merits of the writing alone. I know you like it and I would rather not disparage something someone likes here, but I also feel the need to be frank.

Do you have a few highlights from her writing that seem paranormal in origin? I am not skeptic in this regard; I am genuinely curious. Thanks!

It happens that pseudo-skeptics tend to look at details of each case and cast doubts, but they forget to have a panoramic view and observe the general patterns of phenomena such as OBEs, NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and people that remember past lives.

Hi Matt,
I'm not sure what you are asking for when you want highlights from the writing of Patience Worth that seem paranormal in origin as I don't think that a specific example of the writing per se provides clear evidence of the paranormal. Just exactly would that be? I can of course provide examples of her writing if you wish and I have done that on http://www.patienceworth.com/ and in one or two posts on this site

The writing is only part of the total evidence provided in this case that suggests something unusual, outside of the 'normal' writing abilities of most people although there have been other people who wrote extensively from some source either thought to be their subconscious mind or smething like a 'muse' or spiritual entity not part of their normal awareness. The case of Patience Worth must be considered in its entirety.

I find that as I respond here that I have to write far too much for this blog and in fact others have addressed the possibly paranormal issues surrounding the Patience Worth case far better than I can. (See The Case of Patience Worth by Dr. Walter Franklin Prince which includes a detailed investigation of Pearl Curran and a discussion of the archaic language of Patience Worth by Casper Yost.)

I don't want to be self-serving here but I have addressed many of these issues in my web site http://www.patienceworth.com/ If you are inclined to read all of the posts on that site perhaps I have addressed your question more thoroughly there than would be appropriate here. - AOD

I didn't realize you had created an entire site devoted to Patience Worth, Amos. It's impressive. There's a large amount of material on there. You could probably get a book out of it if you were so inclined.

With regard to the overall pattern presented by various lines of investigation, I think one of the most interesting things is that the description of what it's like to die, as given by mediums a hundred years ago or more, often matches up very closely with NDEs, which were not common or popularized before 1975. In his book "Stop Worrying: There Probably Is an Afterlife," Greg Taylor quotes from just such a mediumistic communication, which could easily be mistaken for a contemporary NDE account.

He recounts a narrative attributed to Dr. Horace Ackley, who, after an illness, found himself rising from his body, separating from it, then looking down on it from above. He experienced a life review ("the scenes of my whole life seemed to move before me like a panorama") and then was taken by two "guardian spirits" to meet departed loved ones. This account was written by a medium, Samuel Paist, and published in 1861.

Greg also discusses the work of Robert Crookall, who compared first-person accounts (NDEs) with mediumistic accounts. All these reports came from the 1960s or earlier, well before NDEs had been popularized or even named.

Thank you Michael. You can't know how much your comment means to me. - AOD

Sorry, I was totally out of the loop (and it involves my own book, to think!. I have a good reason, though. I've been in weird parts of Greece and Macedonia with limited WiFi.

There's a lot of information to comb over here. Bill pointed out the Miss Z data, and that's OK, there's two sides to that story (Michael pointed out the favorable one). It's still, however, just one study out of many other interesting subjects. Experiments can always be better and improved upon. However, I don't commit to the "Skeptic" assertion that because an experiment wasn't perfect beyond reason, that it should be thrown out.

As I discuss later on in the book, with my own experiments with veridical OBEs, I am now convinced it's possible to obtain external information, just like Miss Z, simply by conducting my own experiments. Since I know this phenomenon is real, the problem is just a lack of experiments and researchers taking the subject seriously enough to get involved.

Remote viewing however is a bit more predictable and easier to obtain information through, without the sometimes complex conditions required to go OBE. This is why governments are more interested in using direct mental projection to obtain informatio like thin, which is far more useful and reliable.

Also, the OBE is part of the NDE, and the veridical aspects of that have now been heavily documented.

@Amos

A few things:

I too am fascinated by the Jefferson-Adams synchronicity. I brought up the subject here years back and we discussed it briefly.

I was also really into Patience Worth many years ago. It was one of my first parapsychological interests.

Congratulations on your site. How cool to have your own online resource devoted to such a rich subject.

Since I'm often starting my own websites, I found it interesting that you managed to get the PatienceWorth.com domain name. In fact, it got me thinking. Since I'm now writing a book on precognitive dreams, I wondered if there might be a similarly fundamental and to-the-point name still available.

I am now the proud owner of precognitivedream.com

My pleasure is somewhat lessened by the fact that the plural, which would probably have been better, was already taken.

I have to smile, though. I've often gobbled up domain names in the past, only to later realize that they might be less useful to my various careers than I imagined.

Case in point: TheNakedMusician.com

No kidding. I really owned that for a few years. And believe it or not, there was a good rationale behind it. :)

Bruce,
I had to wait for several years to get the dot com domain as the boy band "Patience Worth" had it for a while. When they gave it up I was able to get it. I started with the dot org domain which I still have at http://www.patienceworth.org/

That site contains many short poems and old photographs of many people in my family. I lost the where-with-all to change the site so it has remained unchanged for many years.

'Naked Musician' huh? Were you planning on including any photographs? :^) - AOD

AOD said:

"I had to wait for several years to get the dot com domain as the boy band "Patience Worth" had it for a while."

Did you have to buy it from them, or did they just abandon it?

"'Naked Musician' huh? Were you planning on including any photographs?"

Hey good thought! Do you think there's a market for 67-year-old-classical-piano-player-based porn?

Bruce,
The domain was abandoned. Porn always works Bruce. - AOD

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