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Good post, Michael! You make an important point.

Mediums have been on mind because I've been reading The Light Between Us by Laura Lynne Jackson, who's apparently a really gifted one. I'm impressed, among other things, by how thoroughly she's been tested by both the Forever Family Foundation, and Windbrige Institute.

Interesting blast from the past. I don't think it's at all silly to review it. It's striking how our thinking changes as our understanding develops isn't it?

Going off topic a little. Here is a psychic (Margaret Flavell) who was asked during World War Two to psychically find lost RAF pilots.

Later a friend asked her to channel her deceased father Reverend A.D. Mattson. This is his ( A.D. Mattson's) version of the afterlife.

And how I see it too.

Lyn x.

Mind you Michael you have probably debated her book (Witness from Beyond), already. Lyn x.

Opps sorry Margaret Flavell Tweddell. Forgot to add the last name. Lyn.

I used to really argue with the "skeptics" over the years but more and more I find it to be a useless endeavor . I have come to realize "skeptics" are motivated by the following views:

1.) It is impossible for either a deity or consciousness separate from the brain to exist.

2.) Belief in either of those views are harmful to individuals and societies.

Therefore, in conclusion such beliefs need to be opposed at all times; any thing appearing to be evidence for these claims is simply mistaken. People with such rigid views rarely change their minds.

The other end of this is the person who believes that a deity and souls existing is an obvious fact and that it is good for individuals and societies to promote these views.

Incidentally both extremes have committed great crimes against people by trying to impose their views. We have numerous examples of religious persecution and in former communist countries atheists have persecuted religious believers.

I suspect people on this forum could be described as taking the middle ground.

1.) It is possible for a deity and consciousness separate from the brain to exist.

2.) Such views can be beneficial if done within reason

Therefore, in conclusion such views need to be evaluated for and against the evidence available and people should be allowed to hold such views.

I know some "skeptics" read this blog and are fuming at my putting the word skeptic in parentheses. The reason I do that is because saying someone is a "skeptic" is meaningless as we all are skeptical of things. I am skeptical of claims that Leo Frank was innocent for example. I prefer to call them evangelical materialists as their views are clearly materialism and they are clearly outspoken.

One of the things I don't like about Edwards is that his style (e.g. "Did you....?") lends itself to allegations of fishing and cold reading.

Georgia O'Connor - at least in my sittings with her - would have simply said, "Your husband is here with us. He wants you to understand that it's really him. He's saying that you went to Niagara Falls recently and that your daughter found a feather and you told her that t was from her father. He wants you to know that it was, indeed, from him". Period. Full stop.

That's a far more convincing and powerful approach. I am now aware of another medium with the same approach and ability (I fear something has happened to Georgia). I don't like Edward's style. And I have seen him engage in what appears to be pure fishing. Not good. Although I agree that fishing doesn't appear to be operating in this anecdote.

What do people think of the Christian position on spirits? Christians would say that the mediums are communicating with familiar spirits ( demons imitating the deceased).

I remember skeptics belittling Edwards for being a former dance instructor, therefore he shouldn't be respected. What was he supposed to be, a nuclear physicist? If he was, they then would have commented on how could he believe that stuff, given his background. You just can't win.

@steven: Perhaps if he'd been a telephone they'd have been ok with it.

Interesting, and I have to say that in my own experience, I've done a very fair amount of hiking through wood-and-field, and bird feathers are actually pretty rare. I've probably seen more actual wildlife - snakes, deer, turkeys, and even a bear - than bird feathers.

Another interesting medium is George Anderson. I read one very interesting book about him, "We Don't Die," which I highly recommend.

I noted one comment about the book that was pretty sad. A woman paid his fee, and wished to communicate with her deceased son. Apparently he was totally off and his comments completely incorrect. And yet others reported much success.

On the one hand, you might say he's a fraud "like all mediums," that he does cold readings, research, etc. Then again, you have to consider that virtually any expert occasionally strikes out, from baseball players, to painters, to chefs and novelists. It happens to everyone. I'm not convinced either way, but I did find "We Don't Die" very intriguing.

I am not psychic by any means but sometimes when I close my eyes and intentionally focus my inner vision I sometimes see faces of people I don't know. They often are somewhat commonplace faces, not at all beautiful or otherwise refined, angelic or spiritual. These vague images only last for a split second or so and sometimes there are many and sometimes only one or two. Sometimes there are none at all. I suspect that tried and true mediums also have this experience of sometimes not seeing or hearing anything from the spirit world. If there are times when George Anderson and other mediums don't receive anything, I think that only makes them more credible for me. Often the old-time extraordinary mediums, e.g. Etta Wriedt, experienced failed sessions with clients when nothing was received.

George Anderson is an experienced medium and was one of the mediums tested along with John Edward and others by Gary Schwartz in his attempts to obtain hard data validating the psychic experience. There are some YouTubes of Anderson and Edwards which are very convincing. I also find the videos of Canadian Christopher Stillar very impressive. Of course videos can be manipulated but I think that Anderson has a lot of credibility. He has stated that he doesn't know how he does what he does and is open to scientific investigation of his abilities. - AOD

Still, my sceptical side keeps pointing to things like this incident (not the same kind of paranormal, it's cryptid stuff, but you get the idea):

@regis the Theosophical Society also questions whether mediums are communicating with "other entities" that are mirroring the deceased. I have wondered about the source of the information, however there are many accounts where even the people receiving the messages (that were spot on) don't know how they "knew".

It's true that Edward, like many other mediums, sometimes seems to engage in fishing. And maybe that's what he's doing. But another possibility is that he's trying to interpret elusive flashes of information - partial impressions that need to be fleshed out.

If he gets the impression of a "bar" sound in connection with a name, he might say, "Is there a Bart ... Barb ... Barbie, Barbara ...?" In other words, he may be fishing for a way to make sense of a vague or incomplete impression.

It's also true that he talks fast, which reminds people of a con man's patter. But again, this could (arguably) be seen as an attempt to keep up with a rapid stream of nonverbal impressions. If images and symbols are coming at you very fast, you'll struggle to verbalize them as quickly as possible.

Investigators of Leonora Piper came to a similar conclusion about her. They found that while she was undoubtedly fishing at times, the fishing involved trying to elicit more or clearer information from the communicators on the other side, rather than from the sitters.

I agree with you Michael. I think that mediums like Edward, Anderson, Piper, and other credible mediums are not ‘fishing’ in the way skeptics may apply the term when debunking mediums. I think that most mediums need help in interpreting what they may be seeing and hearing. George Anderson has addressed this issue when he describes seeing symbols which he then has to interpret, often movie symbols which are meaningful to him and religious icons which have meaning to him. He can of course interpret these symbols in many ways but has to zone in on the meaning that is significant for the sitter in front of him. And as you say, often a medium may ‘hear’ something but they have a difficult time determining just what it was that they heard; names are especially difficult because they often have no image that can be attached to them unless one reaches out to common symbols in literature and in movie iconography. They need help and legitimately the best help in interpreting these vague images, symbols, and sounds in a meaningful way is the sitter! It is really not ‘fishing’ for information per se.

Edwards is not the only medium that talks fast when communicating information, especially when ‘performing’ before an audience. Mediums are being bombarded by so many images and in some cases internal sounds that they have to talk fast before it all disappears. Just think of the scene from Ghost when the Whoopie Goldberg character is conducting a séance. The room was filled with spirits all clambering to be heard.

It seems to be different in a one-to-one séance. There the medium talks more slowly. I am thinking about Christopher Stillar who is very relaxed during a session and even John Edward, when away from an audience slows down a bit in his delivery. - AOD

Thanks for putting John Edward "on repeat"!

Regarding info on names: Yes, Edward explicitly states that he seldom gets complete names but that he never gets the initial wrong. Or for example an "ell"-sound somewhere in the name like Nellie, Ellen and so on. I've also heard him say that certain very unusual names often gets through without him missing, one such example was Winifred.

Skeptics seem to see it like he is fishing to be sure to get at least a Bart or Bob or whatever connected to a huge audience, which certainly wouldn't be difficult. However, this information is (always?) followed by/connected to further validation from the spirit side to see to it that they get through as the right family member. Edward often declines "false" acknowledgements that the audience first answers to (in the hope that their loved ones have come through) as he gets bits and pieces of more info to help validate from the other side. Or he turns to someone else, not to "get away from unsuccessful hits" but because the info he gets takes him there, and as he gets more info the previous bits are often explained and resolved. He never seems to take the easy way out. And he's often very funny!

I think I've watched all clips with him on YouTube by now! And hope to have learned quite a bit.

I find it interesting that these spirits are so "normal". Like Skeptics say they seldom brings through any "revolutionary" info, but at least for Edward's communications more everyday bits to validate who they are. In fact, they often seem quite unaware that younger family members are not always in the know e.g. regarding exactly what diseases relatives passed from, when everybody's birthdays or anniversaries are, or that someone lost a leg working on the railroad some generations back. If they were particularly humorous or stubborn or energetic in life, they often come through as this, but are they still exactly the same or is it to validate who they are that they give Edward this feeling? They do seem to have buried all grudges and wish for people still in the flesh to do the same. So it's a bit confusing whether they are exactly the same or to what extent they are different from when they were alive.

That's all they get, brief glimpses of the other side, not a clear two-way telephone conversation with someone's deceased loved one. They get what they get and from that they have to try and come up with a 45 to 50 minute reading?

I'm not saying I don't believe it's real - I've heard some amazing things come out of different Mediums mouths - it's like Frederick Myers said "

Quote from an online article about Frederick Myers trying to communicate from the other side,

""Oh, if I could only leave you the proof that I continue. Yet another attempt to run the blockade - to strive to get a message through. How can I make your hand docile enough - how can I convince them? I am trying, amid unspeakable difficulties. It is impossible for me to know how much of what I send reaches you. I feel as if I had presented my credentials - reiterated the proofs of my identity in a wearisomely repetitive manner. The nearest simile I can find to express the difficulty of sending a message is that I appear to be standing behind a sheet of frosted glass, which blurs sight and deadens sound, dicatating feebly to a reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretary. A feeling of terrible impotence burdens me. Oh it is a dark road."

I'm telling you that with Georgia O'Connor - at least in my sittings w/ her - it was exactly like being on a telephone call with the deceased. I am now aware that there is at least one more medium of that caliber operating, albeit in relative obscurity (which is what that medium desires).

This is a bit off-topic, but it's a realization I had recently. Mediums, psychics, etc may be inept at getting a good look into their own situations and futures.

My wife and I have become a pretty good remote viewing team. We practice, verify results, adjust and work on continuous quality improvement. We are getting better - sometimes uncannily so. However, we are not good at all (barely above chance) when it comes to personal matters. Normal rational processes are much better for us when it is our own future on the line. I think it is as they say about lawyers who handle their personal matters in court....the wisdom is that they have fools for clients; even if they are top notch lawyers.

IMO, there is too much bias and confusion to sort through. The psychic is just too close to their own situation to be objective.

I mention that b/c sometimes one hears of a medium or psychic that has bad things happen to them and the critique is, "If they're psychic, why didn't they see it coming?"

Great post, Michael! Thank you.

Art, the ironic thing about that Myers quote (or at least a quote purportedly channeled from him) is that it doesn't sound like a brief, tantalizing glimpse. It sounds like a long, coherent, articulate statement presumably received in full.

There are different kinds of mediums. Full-trance mediums were fairly common around the turn of the century, but are exceedingly rare now. Automatic writers, who typically go into a trance, were also much more common back then. It takes time and patience to develop this kind of skill, and most moderns don't seem to bother.

Today's mediums typically go into a very light trance - a slightly altered state of consciousness similar to guided meditation. This approach seems less conducive to getting verbatim testimony and more likely to result in glimpses that require interpretation.

Of course, even the full-trance mediums produced their share of "bosh," as William James called it. But their hits-to-misses ratio was often quite high.

The automatic writers tended to focus on metaphysical topics that aren't susceptible of proof. But I suspect a fair percentage of their writings was drawn from their own subconscious.

Nice post, Michael! As I said in my recent guest post, no big hit, no single paranormal event no matter how many people witnessed it, will ever convince Skeptics.

In particular, anything conceivably produced by chance, no matter how obviously unlikely, will simply be called "lucky." There simply isn't a statistical model for such things, so one is required to use inductive reasoning and common sense to see that the event transcends the standard understanding of things.

Re Edward, I do believe that he is a legitimate medium and one who means well. But I do think he's worthy of criticism on the "fishing" issue.

I don't think it's so much fishing as in insincerely guessing based on no information but rather forcing himself to use very minor impressions and offering those up to the audience in the hopes of turning them into something more. It's not a practice I can condone.

Any psychic who puts him/herself in the position of having to deliver for each and every client or having to put on a big show for an audience is taking the risk of coming up empty or nearly so, and the temptation will be to make the most out of any material that comes along. The more ethical thing to do would be to admit that not a whole is coming through and give what one can, zero if need be.

Saying to a large audience something like "I'm getting a B-name" is just crap mediumship and makes mediums look bad.

This is Atwater's article from Fate magazine on NDE for adults and children. Whether his statistics are verifiable who knows. But I can imagine a child who had simplistic views of life before a NDE, is likely to have more sophisticated ones after.

I have tried remote viewing Eric too, although haven't for a year now. I tried it for a crime and found police came up with what I saw as evidence later, so I was intrigued. I find it takes a long time to get the picture( an hour it is said), and I found that. Some days I just wasn't in the mood either, and couldn't do it. Personally I think anyone can do it, the more practice, the easier it becomes. Lyn x.

@ Carmella. Apparently, these familiars are around everyone all the time-somehow. That's how they know.

Spirit communications should not be trusted even if we deeply feel that we are in contact with someone who has passed, On Biblical authority, we are told to stay away from mediums. I think that's good advice, regardless of whether you believe in the Bible or not. We just have no way of knowing what we are in contact with.

That's a really useful link thanks Michael. It gives quite a clear summary of the cross correspondences - I've always found them a bit difficult to get my head around.

"No matter what kind of hits are obtained, no matter how specific they are or how unlikely or how meaningful to the sitter, they can still be rationalized away by a determined doubter."

But if the evidence is weak, then that is more easy. Instead strong evidence of the style of Robert Thouless's experiment: a safe code declared
by a deceased through a medium, would be evidence that most would have to admit.

\\"Of course, even the full-trance mediums produced their share of "bosh," as William James called it." - Michael Prescott//

LOL! "Bosh"... I'll have to remember that word and use it often. I used to watch "Crossing Over" religiously on TV. There is something about John Edward that is likable and charismatic. We have some good friends from Tallahassee, Florida that like John Edward so much they went to see him in New York. They bought a couple of his novels and got him to sign them and gave them to me as presents.

I also used to watch George Anderson on TV every once in a while on that show "Beyond Chance" and enjoyed him a lot too. Both Edward and George Anderson seem to just zone out and get in a groove when they are doing a reading - which I can relate to. I was always very impressed with George Anderson's readings.

We used to live way out in the country on ten acres of woods on the side of a ridge in East Tennessee and when I was doing dishes I'd stare out the window over the sink and sort of think about nothing and sometimes I had some amazing things happen to me. One time I heard a voice tell me that my wife was fixing to come in the kitchen and say to me "Thanks for going with me" and not much more than a minute later my wife came in the kitchen and said "thanks for going with me." It was amazing! (I guess you had to be there.)

Anyway, that is one of the reasons I know it can happen and it is possible to make contact with something or someone from someplace else other than here. For me it has something to do with zoning out, maybe letting go of this world, and allowing myself to be open to information from someplace else. It doesn't happen too often and when it does I don't have any control over it. I can't make it happen on command I'll tell you that. I like it when it happens though, it's pretty cool.

\\"This is Atwater's article from Fate magazine on NDE for adults and children. Whether his statistics are verifiable who knows." - Lynn//

First off Atwater is a woman. Secondly I've read a couple of her books and she comes across to me as being a little bit on the kooky side. P.M.H. Atwater is not my favorite NDE writer or researcher. She is very "new agey" and subscribes to a lot of new age beliefs. If memory serves me correctly she claims to have had 5 NDEs? She also has this thesis about "Indigo Children" that children nowadays are something special because a bunch of them have had NDEs? Personally I don't agree with that idea.

My personal opinion is that what we learn is universal in both time and space meaning we are all here to learn the same exact same thing which is... that which can not be learned on the other side due to the physics of "heaven" being very different from the physics we experience here. We simply learn here that which can not be learned there. That is "why we are here". All we have to do is live, it's as simple as that.

Anyway, if you enjoy reading her stuff more power to you, I tried reading two of her books and that was enough for me. Not my cup of tea.

Kris wrote:

I know some "skeptics" read this blog and are fuming at my putting the word skeptic in parentheses. The reason I do that is because saying someone is a "skeptic" is meaningless as we all are skeptical of things.

An evolving standard, and one followed here by many "regulars," is to refer to militant, card-carrying skeptics as "Skeptics." The capitalization identifies them without the use of sneer-quotes or derogatory terms like "pseudo-skeptic." It's practially self-explanatory too.

I think there are plenty of ways to identify these pseudo-skeptics but for me the best description of them is simply evangelical materialists. It describes their views and behavior perfectly.

Kris said, "for me the best description of them is simply evangelical materialists. "

Buy when we don't want to describe them but only identify them without provoking them, or without seeming too militant to fence-sitters, "Skeptic" is the mot juste. (It does suggest "capital-S skeptic," or an excessive skeptic, so it's not 100% neutral.)

I am not sure why my name for them would provoke them as they are materialists and they do try to evangelize everyone to the doctrine of materialism. I think they would be the first to admit they want to convert the multitudes to materialism.

Art, I think what you're describing is something Eckhart Tolle has described, a gap in our constant thinking that allows true consciousness to manifest. It's the mind's constant thinking, our constant stream of thoughts, that prevents this. His books are extremely interesting, especially his first book. I don't think I'll ever forget the beginning of his first book, in which he writes (I paraphrase) "that he could no longer stand himself...but what part of 'him' is it that can't stand himself?" Well worth checking out.

Thanks for that 'Art'. Sorry tend to fire stuff off. No I wasn't saying 'her' statistics were correct, but I feel children would be much changed by a near death experience. Having had spiritual experiences later in life I'm glad of that, I wouldn't have liked to have them while young. But a NDE for a younger person I think would likely have a profound affect on their future lives. Lyn

Kris said,

||I am not sure why my name for them would provoke them as they are materialists and they do try to evangelize everyone to the doctrine of materialism.||

Because the way that groups think of themselves and portray themselves is different than how they really are. Skeptics have a really neat trick to how they do this. They portray themselves as being totally open to all the evidence--all of it! They only *happen* to be atheists/materialists/reductionists because that's where the evidence leads them. They would *love* to believe in all manner of magical, wonderful things but--*weary sigh*--there simply is no evidence. Zero.

From the outside, it's easy to see that they are exactly what you say they are: people who begin with materialism as a first principle and argue backward from that to reject the evidence. But they would vehemently oppose such an observation, since it strikes at the heart of their identity.

||I think they would be the first to admit they want to convert the multitudes to materialism.||

No ma'am, they merely want the rubes to understand Science!!!

What 'Atwater does say also is the affect of a NDE, and she is right about that. I would go on to say that for some, it was done (the NDE) for a reason, and that was to alter their lives. Having read of several who became ministers etc., most change their lives in some way or have major change in thinking.

My awareness also of spirit came after seeing a spiritualist. I remember back, having first walked in the room, and she told me a man was standing quietly in the corner. It wasn't till later, she told me that in a reading the mothers side of the family go to the right, and fathers side go to the left. But the man stood in the middle. She told me she had never seen this before, and he never spoke, but she felt he was overseeing what was spoken. So I fell for me, it was important to my life to develop, and yes, it has changed my outlook on life in big ways. Lyn.

"Zoning out" must be related to those trances that Mediums used to go into to connect with the other side? Also I think it's sort of like meditation? It has happened very few times in my life and I can't make myself get to that point - but it is very cool when it does happen. It's like all of a sudden I am someplace else and information just comes streaming in. Wish I had more control over it.

\\""But a NDE for a younger person I think would likely have a profound affect on their future lives. - Lyn//

Yes I agree, for the individual child there is no doubt that having an NDE would change them profoundly. It has to but what I think Atwater and a lot of other "new agey" types claim is that their is some kind of great spiritual awakening that is happening because of the large number of children who have NDEs.

That just doesn't fit with what I believe, and I don't believe it is happening. There is no great spiritual awakening happening. People are just as selfish and things that are happening now are pretty much the same as they have always been.

I believe the reason we are here is universal in both time and space - meaning that it applies to everyone at every time in history and everywhere in the world and it isn't that profound and it has nothing to do with morality or religion. I believe we are here simply to learn the things that can't be learned in the place we call heaven and it has more to do with the difference between the physics we experience here and the physics of the place we call heaven.

It has to do with experiencing duality and separation, time and space, being in a body and controlling that body and the parameters of the body, and making memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe. Everyone experiences these things and we are here simply to live. We don't have to be some kind of great spiritual guru to learn them. They happen automatically because this Universe is designed or made to where we experience them whether we want to or not.

The soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted on the soul regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe. All we have to do is live. You can be the most hardcore atheist materialist skeptic and you will still experience separation, time and space, being in a body, and make memories of living in this 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

I'll try and stifle myself now... blame it on my aspergers... {grin}

@ Matt

I know that is what evangelical materialists claim about themselves but in the end they should acknowledge that they think their "snicker" rational minds have lead them to the only possible conclusion of materialism and that is what we the great unwashed multitudes need to understand. They will be glad of course to help us to this path of um hum reason.

As it is I don't care if they don't like being called pseudo-skeptics and evangelical materialists. If the shoe fits wear it I say.

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