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Oh, Lord.

I listened to a few mp3s on his site a few days back, notably "Sarah's reunion with Nick" which I found disturbing in the highest degree. I rather wonder what would have happened had she said something along the lines of, "Would you just remind me what your mother's name was?" or "What's our favourite song?".

You hardly ever encounter direct questioning like this at such seances. It's almost as though the sitters know that it would utterly disappoint them, so rather let's maintain the fantasy.

Darryn, that's a very good idea, someone should try that.

Also, the "Harry Houdini" materialization likewise comes across as very unconvincing to me.

>It's almost as though the sitters know that it would utterly disappoint them, so rather let's maintain the fantasy.

I think this may very well be the case. In the Houdini encounter, one of the sitters says he "would never try to catch spirit out," i.e., would never ask a question that might expose the spirit as an imposter. One has to wonder why not.

George Hansen deals with this issue in his book The Trickster and the Paranormal. In a discussion of an "alien abduction" case, he shows clearly that the people "investigating" it were not interested in anything that would discredit the abductee's story. They were acting out a shared fantasy that brought excitement and fun into their lives. Something similar may be going on here.

"You hardly ever encounter direct questioning like this at such seances. It's almost as though the sitters know that it would utterly disappoint them, so rather let's maintain the fantasy."

I have tried this intensively in a seance and the purported communicator responded correctly each time. However I'd need to be given information not known to anyone in the room at the time to be totally convinced that some external force was at work.

"You hardly ever encounter direct questioning like this at such seances. It's almost as though the sitters know that it would utterly disappoint them, so rather let's maintain the fantasy."

I have tried this intensively in a seance and the purported communicator responded correctly each time. However I'd need to be given information not known to anyone in the room at the time to be totally convinced that some external force was at work.

"You hardly ever encounter direct questioning like this at such seances. It's almost as though the sitters know that it would utterly disappoint them, so rather let's maintain the fantasy."

I have tried this intensively in a seance and the purported communicator responded correctly each time. However I'd need to be given information not known to anyone in the room at the time to be totally convinced that some external force was at work.

"You hardly ever encounter direct questioning like this at such seances. It's almost as though the sitters know that it would utterly disappoint them, so rather let's maintain the fantasy."

I have tried this intensively in a seance and the purported communicator responded correctly each time. However I'd need to be given information not known to anyone in the room at the time to be totally convinced that some external force was at work.

Hi MickeyD,

Well I'd be sufficiently impressed with that alone! Can you give us more details?

Just read the Houdini transcript again.
Apart from the absurd accent, are we really supposed to believe that Harry Houdini could make a statement like: "You know I don’t know too much about this Spiritualist camper"???

(Sorry for the quadruplicate posting - the anti-spambot kept freezing and I didn't realize anything got through)

"Well I'd be sufficiently impressed with that alone! Can you give us more details?"

I owned a shop in an Eighteenth Century building and things kept happening that were spooking the staff. I went to a trance (not actual materialization) medium and she told me it was actually a friend of mine who had recently passed away and stopped by to say hi, as you do. I tested her for cold reading by feeding her loads of false leads but she just banged out fact after fact. I kept a tape of it but I still have morning after skepticism!

MickeyD,
i think having that morning after skepticism is healthy. it shows to those 'skeptics' that we're not easily taken, as they would have us believed.

if only they would do the same! they should be as skeptical of their scientific 'facts' and not cling onto dogma.

why is that when we accept a certain belief we get labeled as 'gullible' and 'fool,' while they see their acceptance of their own belief as 'intelligent' and being a 'true scientist.'

I think the sitters need to ask more questions of the spirits. Victor is a lawyer and he has someting that he can add uniquely to the process: he should cross examine the spirits. When the spirits answer questions not directly related to their time on earth, like climate change for example, the sitters should ask the spirits how they get their information, how they know the source is reliable etc.

There are transcripts where the spirits warn about the dangerous consequences of human civilization on the environment. Victor also believes Silver Birch is an important source of spiritual knowledge. This is what Silver Birch says about the environment:

http://www.angelfire.com/ok/SilverBirch/science.html

Do you think scientists will destroy too many people and too much before they come to an awareness?

“No there is a limitation to what scientists can do. They cannot destroy the whole of your world. The natural laws will ensure the damage that can be done in your world is not so fearful as some people think. Besides, the law of the Great Spirit in the ultimate must prevail. There are no men in your world who can thwart it. They can delay, they can hinder, but they cannot override the Great Spirit.

Those of us who have some insight into the mechanics and the operation of natural law remain confident that, come what may, however foolish people in your world may be, the Great Spirit will prevail. And the Great Spirit’s laws will ensure that more and more love, compassion, charity and service will be exercised in your world.

Science is not infallible. Scientists are only human beings who can make mistakes. I do not worship the god of science. The world will not come to an end, as they say, it will continue. Are you familiar with scientists’ pronouncements that have been wrong?”

The sitters should confront the spirits and insist on an explanation of the apparant contradictions. There may be a good explanation and it can only bring good consequences to ask the spirits about this.


Proving identity as a means of proving life after death has been tried many many times in the past and it doesn't have much effect on society at large. How can you prove identity anyway? Since we don't know the limits of spirit technology how can we be sure there is no fraud.

I think a better approach would be to ask the spirits to try to provide information that would not normally be available to people but could be verified. This would force skeptics to explain how that information was obtained. A great example would be for the spirits to suggest an experiment that a scientist could do that would lead to the "discovery" of the spiritual energies or dimensions of the universe.

Tom I think skepticism should always be the default mode when approaching these things. I am pretty sure some people do have these abilities but they can't switch them on and off at will. I know two people who have been to one of the mediums tested by Gary Schwartz and neither got a single hit. Problem with the skeptics is they say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof but sometimes this proof is crystal clear and they just go into denial.

I think an informational approach is a much better than the phenomenal approach to gaining wide acceptance of psychic phenomena. Information transfer via direct voice or trance by the same medium is much more efficient than materializations. They could provide a huge amount of information in the same time that they are spending on physical phenomena. They could let an accomplished communicator like William do all the talking but let him act as an intermediary to all the other spirits and just pass information. Information previously unknown but verifiable is unassailable proof that something unexplained is going on.

Producing questionable transcripts, despite the best intentions of the sitters and spirits does not help them achieve their goals. It just leads to more controversy.

Victor's book is a good summary of the scientific evidence of the after life. The parts that describe emperical observation are extremely compelling, but he weakens his argument and credibility when he includes speculative/theoretical chapters like chapter 9.

http://www.victorzammit.com/book/4thedition/chapter09.html

The vortex is the actual swirling of the atoms and molecules. Ash and Hewitt argue from Einstein's equation that since matter and light share a common movement, the actual speed of the swirling of the vortex, must be the speed of light.

This seems to imply that atoms and molicules are moving at the speed of light which is hard to understand since relativistic effects would cause the mass to increase hugely. Maybe I misunderstand the physics but I'm afraid including material like this will not help him convince scientists on the contrary it will make them less open to believe the truth of the emperical observations.

We needn't pussyfoot around the truth.

I mean, contrast the above escapade with this piece about the direct voice medium Elizabeth Blake, who I only learned of recently. She impressed Hyslop, and perhaps more significantly, David Abbott, conjuror and author of one of the famous debunking books of the time "behind the scenes with the mediums". Look how he challenges the voice, and bear in mind that Blake worked in broad daylight, with the trumpet either placed over her ear or in her hand!

None of this vapid platitudinous bosh that marks the seances Zammit attends, and yet which manages to so impress him and his cohorts.

Sorry, I demand better.

Gateway of Understanding by Carl Wickland at
http://www.spiritwritings.com/library.html has a trance mediumship conversation with Houdini where he confesses to being the fraud himself when he accused true mediums of fraud.


http://www.spiritwritings.com/GatewayOfUnderstanding.pdf

I had denied facts which I knew in my heart were true. I wanted to be original and have everybody think I was scientific so I denied facts and criticised others. "When you have the truth, acknowledge it. Now I have acknowledged my mistakes and I want to ask forgiveness of the ones I tried to harm." "I thank you for publishing that article and letting the public know that I came back. I am glad it was given out to the world that I confessed. I wanted to ruin that little medium, Margery, (Mrs. Crandon) who lives only for the truth and sacrifices her life to demonstrate her work." "I tried trickery with her but Walter (Mrs. Crandon's spirit brother) found me out before hand." "God bless the Crandons and God bless you! I am so glad that article was given out to show that poor Mrs. Crandon was persecuted. That is now known."

...

Whenever I was going to do something spectacular, if I did not hear a voice telling me to go ahead I did not dare go on. Many times I did not perform my tricks because I did not hear the voice. When I heard it I knew that everything was all right. I cannot tell you exactly how I did my tricks because I do not know myself. I was in a semi trance when all that took place.

...

When I was in the tank of water I could hear the voices talking but I could not hear what was said. Up to a certain point I was myself, but not after that. From the time I was tied and locked up until I was free I did not know what took place. But I could not have told that. People would have wondered what was the matter with me and that is the reason I did not dare say anything. I wanted them to think I was doing the tricks myself, but the spirits were the ones who acted through me.

In his two books Carl Wickland publishes other confessions by the founders of Christian Science and Theosophy.

Oh boy. *holds head*

I'm afraid I found these "spirit voices" very unconvincing .I don't know if anyone else has noticed this but the "spirits" all seem to have the same speech impediment -ie an inability to pronounce 'th' correctly. They all say 'v' instead.For example "vat" instead of "that" . This is a remarkable coincidence unless the voices were all coming from the same person.

I am very open to this sort of thing. I do believe there are very good mediums who can produce genuine communication and I would love to be convinced by these seances.However they just don't ring true . I think Victor himself is genuine but he is being fooled by one or more persons . ( I think it would take more than one person to do this.)

One of the circle actually boasts in one of the interviews that he is a very good mimic - Mmmm!

I went to a Gary Swartz presentation, I was impressed with his insights so during break I talked to him about a new book he was working on and told him of my research into the origins of suffering and ignorance and its relationship to innocence that may be of interest to him. He gave me his card and stated, “Get in touch with me” but I found he does not answer his emails.

Well, he had a medium with him to read the audience like a John Edwards but to say I was not impressed is an understatement. With one person he stated “you have lower back problems” when the person replied "no" then he said “is it knee problems” the person being read stated "no" then I think he said “is it shoulder problems”? I think you get my point. This appeared to be a fishing expedition not a reading.

Then after it was over I asked another person that was present "what did you think of the medium"? She responded “wasn’t he great”?

Now with all the research I have done I think there have been some really great mediums but I also suspect some of us want to believe so bad we see what we want to see. This phenomenon appears to apply to believers and nonbelievers alike. I suspect mediums have degrees of paranormal skills.

This is why the ultra skeptics have a field day with this stuff. Victor will pay a price with this announcement. Should get real interesting on Victor’s website.

It is shocking that he takes manifestations at face value. Not only should he be more vigilant against human fraud, both conscious and unconscious, he needs to keep in mind 'spirit fraud'.

There are many traditions that talk about lower spirits or entities that like to play tricks. There could absolutely be a spirit manifesting at that seance. It could absolutely be claiming to be Houdini. And it could be absolutely lying.

But without a modicum of restraint, he gives us Houdini, borrowing vocal chords from Louis Armstrong. Sigh is right...

Good point Tony about other mischievous spirits coming though and claiming to be someone else. Originally Victor was stating that he knew there were manifestations but would not claim that they were who they said they were. Now he appears to not be using that logic with Houdini.

Once we become a believer we seem to lose our ability to use most of our logic and analytical abilities. Of course once we become a nonbeliever we make the same mistakes. It appears to me that we must find that middle path between believer and nonbeliever. We must be skeptical but unfortunately the nonbelievers have destroyed the meaning of the word skeptic.

To be fair to Victor Zammit, he does put the name Houdini in quotes the first time he uses it, and he refers to the apparition as "an entity calling himself HOUDINI." So he may not be asserting that it actually is Houdini.

Also, from what I can tell, Zammit was not present at this seance, which took place in New Zealand. (Zammit lives in Australia.)

Nevertheless, his tortured rationalization of Houdini's Southern accent is incredibly lame. A more obvious explanation might be that for a British person, like David Thompson, a Southern accent is typically the easiest American accent to fake. (That's why Vivian Leigh had no trouble playing Scarlett O'Hara.)

In today's society there is so much false information being thrown around that it is necessary to have a skeptical mind. I agree, Zammit sometimes has his points, but when he goes off the deep end like some crazed fundamentalist who takes everything at face value, he only hurts his cause. Michael, I am constantly impressed with your logic concerning these matters, and one of the reasons why I believe you are so successful at spreading the truth of the matter is that you actually expose the fakes along with the spreading the truth about the real deals.

I'd like to know why it's only male spirits who drop by. The recordings on David Thompson's site are a case in point. However almost all the transcripts i've read have featured male visitors.
It's very rare that the channelled entity is female.
Yet women seem to comprise the majority of channelers/mediums. Males and often very pompous and opinionated males seem to be in the definite majority.
Why is this? Has anyone got a clue?


>I'd like to know why it's only male spirits who drop by.

In the case of the Thompson sittings, could it be because Thompson himself is male (and presumably has a recognizably male voice)?

A little while ago there was a woman inside my head who was somewhat upset with me for the comments I left here yesterday. Her message was that many people need materialization seances. Even if they are not at a seance, learning about them helps people to believe in life after death and helps them with grief. Mental mediumship can do this but not every one has access to such demonstrations, and Victor's web site makes the fact of communication much more real to people than would just reading about mental mediumship.

It is easy for people like us to theorize and second guess what is happening but the fact is, many people are learning about the phenomena for the first time beause of the circle of the silver cord and this is very important for those people. Long time believers forget the impact that first realization of the truth of life after death had on their lives. Furthermore if the work they are doing leads to individuals communicating with departed loved ones through this circle or circles that might be inspired by this work, that is also important for the people involved irrespective of the scientific proof obtained. There is another angle to this than the scientific one, that is the personal effects it has on individuals and we should not lose sight of that.

>A little while ago there was a woman inside my head who was somewhat upset with me for the comments I left here yesterday.

There was a woman inside your head?

Spot on FunGanger:

"I agree, Zammit sometimes has his points, but when he goes off the deep end like some crazed fundamentalist who takes everything at face value, he only hurts his cause."

The skeptical chat rooms etc. use this to imply that he has a kangaroo loose in his top paddock, to borrow an Aussie metaphor. I wish he would use DT's alleged talent for serious research rather than getting Louis Armstrong to sing Hello Dolly, though it's good that help is being offered to the bereaved too.

Michael:

You are right that Zammitt does somewhat qualify the identification of the spirit as Houdini, I am reminded of the old, non-PC (and slightly paraphrased) expression, "His lips are saying, 'no' but his eyes are saying 'yes'."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20070406/sc_livescience/beliefinreincarnationtiedtomemoryerrors

has anyone read this article?

the article itself sounded bias to begin with, but its implication is clear- people who believe they had past lives were more likely to 'misremember' names (items).

although i have to say that it's one thing to remember the name of the person that you heard from today and it's another thing to remember a specific event that is not familiar to you in your life as well as its emotional components.......

but yeah, the article seemed to say that people who claimed to remember past-life have defective mechanism for memory

One interesting possible physical manifestation I just finished reading about is in a very short book entitled "no living person could have known" and in that book a German officer came back from the dead in full uniform (apparently without a need for that ectoplasm that is adverse to light) and told this government official’s wife the exact location where he was buried so his widowed wife could remarry.

They dug up the grave at the exact location he said where he was buried and low and behold there he was buried in full uniform and looked exactly the same as when he appeared at the front door of this government official’s wife with one exception; he was now lying dead in this grave.

The recommendation for this book may have come from this blog.

I hope someday this German officer appears at the front door of the amazing Randi and asks for his one million dollars. Does the other side take euro’s or dollars?

This comment appeared on a different thread, but I'm pretty sure it was supposed to go here. - MP

---

I am the wife of Montague Keen, contrary to what I read on your website, Monty materialised many times walked around chatted to several people, shook hands , he talked in his own voice. I would be happy to share this with you should you ever come to London. He gives scientific information etc. look at our website, www.montaguekeen.com I feel you would find it interesting. All the best, Veronica Keen

Posted by: Veronica Keen | April 07, 2007 at 02:40 AM

Veronica Keen! I feel like our little blog has been visited by research royalty! Thanks

Veronica, should you read this, I hope you know that this isn't a site for chortling "debunkers". We're generally very sympathetic to all kinds of psychical research, but many of us clearly regard this particular materialization of Houdini as very questionable.

Now since I'm probably the only poster here who lives in central London, perhaps Michael would be interested in deputising an observer? ;)

>Nevertheless, his tortured rationalization of Houdini's Southern accent is incredibly lame.<
Maybe Hank Jr's right and Heaven really is a lot like Dixie, heh.

Zammit is a hindrance, not a help, to this field of research. Yes, his site and book are decent catalogs of survival evidence. But as has already been noted, his utterly credulous, overzealous defense of ANY afterlife claim (especially seances, for which he seems to have a special soft spot) completely undermines his usefulness.

Witness the typical strategy of the contemptuous pseudo-skeptic: Victor Zammit is an uncritical evangelist who believes in anything. Ergo, so are all the "woo-woos" who believe in this survival stuff, therefore, it's garbage. Classic skeptic approach: find a handful (or one) example of fraud, delusion or failed experiment, then commit the logical fallacy of extrapolating that since THIS one was untrue, all claims of survival/psi/distant intention/etc. must therefore be untrue.

Zammit just fuels the fire. I think it would be better for the serious field of survival research if everyone stopped linking to his material. He makes us all look like ectoplasm-spewing goofballs.

The Thompson seances remain an enigma to me. Veronica's comment illustrates the point that there is still some kind of credibility, especially how when Monty was alive he carefully investigated Thompson-- and failed to produce evidence of fraud.

Also, there's been female voices, Coral Polge was one of them, and Victor told me of others which have appeared privately and never made it to the recordings.

The voices have also appeared while David's been out of trance, and he was conversing with them simultaneously.

Sitters have also checked David's gag while the voices were still manifesting.

For this to be a fraud, it would require collaboration with the sitters, and some advanced magician trickery. Why would seemingly honest people go through such effort, together, to spread deception?

I am more inclined to believe there is really something supernatural going on; but the identities might not be genuine. There may be a strange mental deletion occuring within the circle, with sitters so enchanted by the phenomenon that they don't even want to question it anymore.

>Now since I'm probably the only poster here who lives in central London, perhaps Michael would be interested in deputising an observer? ;)

Darryn, if you go to the Web site mentioned in Veronica Keen's comment, you'll find a page with contact info, including an email address. Maybe if you get in touch that way, you can ask about observing some of these phenomena first-hand.

Michael, Victor Zammit updated his website with a new appearance by Houdini, who appeared with Victor present, and he essentially confirmed what Victor Zammit had stated regarding his Southern Accent, but he also added a few other clarifications. There is an MP3 file (11 minutes) of the event.

So, you might want to check that out.

I just heard the new recording of Harry. Victor did a good job explaining the skeptical sentiments, and Harry said he was going to give us some sort of evidence as soon as he's ready. I'm anxious to see.

Should it really be so difficult for a spirit to prove what's going on? Imagine if a skeptic locked a white urn with pink flowers in a room, the spirit went to that room, and then returned to tell the circle "He has a white urn with pink flowers"... A simple experiment like that would be powerful evidence for all of us who sit on the fence with physical mediumship. If what's going on is real, then it's their responsibility to do some tests like this. Otherwise, this will never be taken with the seriousness that they say they want.

Cyrus I wonder if a white urn with pink flowers would convince anyone sitting on a fence of a spirit's validity. As far as Keen materializing I seem to remember reading on that website that something big will happen that will shake the world up in February of 2007 and it is now mid-April and I don’t think anything has happened in psychical phenomena that has shook up the world. Hopefully if Keen’s wife reads this blog she can elaborate on this.

Again, I was referred to Michael's website to make some corrections. First, I do not automatically accept that those who come through are who they claim to be - including Houdini. Even when we do voice correlations that is only one factor that is taken into consideration. We present what comes through - but leave it to the listener and the reader to make up his/her mind. Content analysis of the entity claiming to be Houdini shows that he is still arrogant, abrasive and supercilious as when he was on earth. That was consistent with his personality. At each materialization session, because of the restriction on time, I may get to ask one, maybe two questions to each materialized visitor.I have been repeatedly asking William, the afterlife convener of the meeting, for more time for cross-examination to validate the identity of the guests. He keeps telling me to be patient and in time that will come. To be fair, the group is in its early stages- we've only been together as a group for 10 months- we are not regarded as a fully developed cicrle yet. However I have personally seen more than 20 people reunited with relatives who claim they were clearly identified. I repeat, these are world shattering experiences!

Victor Zammit

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