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I'm about 97.75% convinced that something of who I am survives the death of my physical body. As I've stated numerous times in the past no one has ever been able to explain away to me the amazing parallels between NDE's and the holographic paradigm. Feelings of oneness and connectedness, 360 degree vision, the life review, feeling what others felt, all knowledge, telepathic thought, feeling like they were everywhere in the Universe at once, libraries made out of knowledge, etc. A large percentage of NDE'ers make statements that corroborate or parallel what Michael Talbot wrote about in The Holographic Universe. It's too amazing to be coincidental. The average person off the street doesn't have a clue about the holographic universe theory yet thousands of near death experiencers continue to make statements that sound amazingly holographic. Read the story below called "Riding The Dragon" and see if it doesn't sound totally holographic. Something very amazing is going on.

"I literally had the feeling that I was everywhere in the universe simultaneously." - mark horton's NDE,

Online essay about the holographic universe:

Emmanuel Swedenborg and holographic universe:

Riding the Dragon:

I say I am about 95 percent sure sometimes 100 percent based on the evidence of deathbed visions, accurate out of body perceptions, near death experiences, cross-correspodence, drop-in communicators, electronic voice phenomena. the ouija board and automatic writing and physical mediumship the best cases, apparitions, photographic evidence of ghosts,proxy sittings and poltergeist phenomena,direct-voice mediumship and much much more. Now what evidence i think near death experiences are good evidence for post-mortem survival but not full fledge survival i think the best evidence for that is the mental mediumship experiments being done by Professor Gary Schwartz, the cross-correspondence, electronic voice phenomena and instrumental transcommunication, apparitions, xenoglossy, poltergeists, reincarnation- past life regessions the best cases and some other areas of evidence as well.

i like to be 100% sure, but i'm nowhere close.

i'm the type of person that can only take that leap of faith only if i experience it myself. so far, my experiences were not convincing at all. but i rather not experience some of the stuff i read about: to have NDE, you have to be close to being dead; to be haunted by ghosts, or even worse, possession....

of course there are some good encounters, then i have yet really experience them to the point of being convinced.

from reading all the literature about postmortem survival, i can say that if everything those authors said to be true, then yes i would be 100% convinced, but honestly some of things they wrote about were too good to be true- and some of those authors are- how do i put it kindly? too gullible or too hippy or new age? either way, i find it hard to simply take their words for it.

i think marcel mentioned it once- how in one of his readings to a skeptic, the experience was moving and she was almost in tears, but after it was over, she remained skeptical and was not convinced by the experience at all. i think i'm sort of like that too. the experience itself may be meaningful, but after much contemplation, i would come to a conclusion that this could have happen purely by accident, coincidence, or psychological process..........

in the end, just because we dont know how it works, it doesnt mean it's not real. but hen i can also say that it doesnt mean that it's real either.

so at what point would i be convinced? probably have an experience myself that i can verified in the future (like having a spirit telling me something that would happen and does happen- something VERY specific). but who knows, maybe if i do experience such event, i would still be like..hmm........well, what a splendid coincidence it is...

also, i think in many cases, some of those religious frenetics really ruined it for me by how they act (example: in marcel's show about two guys- one atheist and one jesus freak). the religious guy really turned me off by his answer- using the bible as the proven facts...even though he was a medium and such. he claimed to talk to jesus, but was jesus really like that? was God really what he described? that's some crappy God to me.... if there is a God, i sure hope God is nothing like what he said.

with the atheist-turned would he know that the automatic writing was really from her? maybe the writing was all a product of his own mind- his fantasy, and his need to find meaning and to cope with the loss of his wife. how can he be so certain? he merely hopped from one extreme (being an atheist) to another...

i'm confused, that's my answer in the nutshell i guess

I think we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. After our physical bodies "die" our souls experience the Universe the way it really is, a holographic illusion.

"It really is harder to take a concept like an immortal soul seriously in an age of sophisticated neurological mapping and intricate brain surgery. It just seems more natural to assume that our thoughts and personalities arise from the network of neurons inside our skulls, rather than from any supernatural source."

I think this is where Kant's distinction between the noumenal and phenomenal self can be helpful. I'm not saying that there is an immortal soul but Kant indicated that the question is more complex and sophisticated than contemporary reductionists are aware of.

Personally, I'm not intimidated by the reductionist mafia because I understand their agenda. Their attempt to foundationalize everything on particle physics is just the latest effort of an institution trying to become the authority in political and cultural matters. You can see this on display in the Darwin debate. The theory is absolutely essential to the scientific community's hegemonic aspirations. The theory's flaws have been exposed time and time again with little effect. Note that I'm not an ID supporter and I think that it is a piece of evangelical pseudoscience being used by the Christian right for their own struggle for power.

With that said, I think Matt probably gave the most intelligent answer possible.

"Although there is a good deal of evidence to counteract this assumption -- exhaustively presented in the recent book Irreducible Mind -- it still remains difficult for many of us, steeped in modernity, to fully and unhesitatingly accept a view of the mind as something fundamentally nonphysical."

"Mind" doesn't have to be nonphysical to survive death of the brain. It could be some sort of really subtle "material" process.

I was convinced by: (1) personally experiencing OBE's(they happen at night, around 4 AM, and physically parallel what has been described by Robert Monroe...they started happening before I read anything about him); and (2) the rigorous scientific work done on reincarnation by Ian Stevenson and, most recently, by his colleague Dr. Jim Tucker at the U. of Virginia.

Look at this Michael Prescott I joined James Randi's education foundation on facebook just to see if i could change ones line of thinking to the paranormal was i so wrong

Joel Pelletier (Edmonton, AB) wrote
at 7:04pm
Sounds like a pretty typical woo wooers comments there buddy. The evidence for that stuff is soo crappy that its only the true believers that study it. They should already have thier conclusions and try to make thier "evidence" fit, that is not science. How many alternate explanations that for these phenomena do these people have for their pet woo? Usually none because they are so bent on finding something that they ignore other outcomes, apply occams razor to your beliefs and usually they fall away under the depth of speculation that supports these very unlikely ideas.
Message - Report

Andrew Waring (no network) wrote
at 7:04pm
Leo, "Just a few more things for i go and leave this group I am not a creatinist i am open-minded skeptic someone that does seem some credibility in the field of the paranormal and i think it's worth investigating and researching. Also James Randi's believes things like esp, telepathy etc are impossible not because there is no evidence for it it's because the implications are too much for him and the rest of his closed-minded collegues and also the people supporting him." = painfully incoherent.
Message - Report

Leo MacDonald wrote
at 4:00pm
Just a few more things for i go and leave this group I am not a creatinist i am open-minded skeptic someone that does seem some credibility in the field of the paranormal and i think it's worth investigating and researching. Also James Randi's believes things like esp, telepathy etc are impossible not because there is no evidence for it it's because the implications are too much for him and the rest of his closed-minded collegues and also the people supporting him.

Robin Côté (University of Ottawa) wrote
at 4:13am
Leo, what is your stance, what do you believe in? Are you a creationist, moon landing hoaxer, an astrologist, a psychic????
Message - Report

Joe K (Toronto, ON) wrote
at 6:26pm on July 11th, 2007
If you've seen it for yourself, show Randi, he'll give you money.
Message - Report

Leo MacDonald wrote
at 2:45pm on July 11th, 2007
I do believe in rationality and reason but i'm not going to explain everything by chance and delusion i'm not closed-minded. Unlike others who rather believe in what james randi says instead of going out there and see for yourselves.

Robin Côté (University of Ottawa) wrote
at 8:51am on July 11th, 2007
It's funny how you don't believe in reason and rationality. What do you believe in?
Message - Report

Leo MacDonald wrote
at 4:33pm on July 9th, 2007
It's so funny you guys like supporting James Randi and his foundation thinking that everyone who experiences something paranormal must be a idoit,fool,deceiving themselves or is a bible thumper. Well i got news for you i am not a bible thumper or am not a idoit,fool. I have had my own experiences.

Taken in part from comment by Neal:

"Mind" doesn't have to be nonphysical to survive death of the brain. It could be some sort of really subtle "material" process."

The brain may be built pretty redundantly. Even when most all of it is unable to work, a very small part of it may still be enough to keep it going...especially if information is encoded in the brain "holographically." Some brains may have evolved "better" than others in encoding information...evolution is continuing whatever it ultimately is about, if anything.

Granted this may not explain some of the better NDE stories but I think it is an idea to certianly consider

Keep in mind, that nature itself (even us as parts of it) is very redundant...look at the leaves on trees or the grass...also we have an organ or two that the body doesn't seem to need. We carry them uselessly and without purpose...for those who believe that we are about purpose.

Here is a link to a creature...tell me what its purpose is or where its soul has no mouth, no gut, no brain and no nerve cord:

Actually Neal, I misunderstood what you were saying since I read stuff fast. Getting back to what you said about the mind being a subtle material process...yes this is possible and I could not disagree with this.

Again, I am just a very cynical person when it comes to what the world is and what we are and are supposed purpose(s).

I suspect Neal may be right on. I've been wondering for a while if materialism is correct in the sense that the brain does create the mind. However, what I think might be happening is that the concept of "matter" itself is utterly different from what we've thought for centuries. Frontier physics is showing us that matter and energy are one and the same, all things in reality are entangled, and consciousness is essential to shaping reality in terms of turning probability into actuality.

So what I think may be going on is what I call "trans-materialism," that is, materialism of a completely, astonishingly different kind. The material is connected, holographic if you will, and Mind is intrinsic to that interconnectedness. That would explain the paranormal without resorting to pooh-poohing all the advances of brain science.

A recent, brilliant experiment by Dean Radin supports this kind of idea, in which meditators observing a closed quantum system only in their imaginations altered the system just as if they had been observing it with their physical senses. You can read some details about it on his blog, Entangled Minds. I guess it will be published in a journal later this year. But it supports with incredible significance that the Mind is a real force outside the body, especially if one is a trained meditator. Very exciting stuff.

"So what I think may be going on is what I call "trans-materialism," that is, materialism of a completely, astonishingly different kind. The material is connected, holographic if you will, and Mind is intrinsic to that interconnectedness. That would explain the paranormal without resorting to pooh-poohing all the advances of brain science."

That is exactly what Bohm was trying to do. Most people on both sides of this debate fall into the trap of thinking that there is only one kind of "materialism:" 19th century mechanistic materialism. Bohm's type of "materialism" was radically different. It's a tragedy that his thinking on QM was ignored but I guess it was predictable in this age of positivism. It could have provided the foundation to get rid of the pointless idealism/mechanistic materialism debate. I recommend reading this page:

"Materialism and Idealism

A corollary of this view is that the philosophical distinction between materialism and idealism disappears (in Weber 1986): "The question is whether matter is rather crude and mechanical or whether it gets more and more subtle and becomes indistinguishable from what people have called mind. . . [In] idealism form is primary. One suggestion is that the form enters into an energy which gives rise to a determinate activity and eventually to a determinate structure of matter. . . I'll extend Gregory Bateson's definition of information to say that it's a difference of form that makes a difference of content and meaning. This form is carried out as meaning and energy. If you read a printed page, which is a form, the meaning gives rise to an energy from which you act. Therefore we could say that the distinction of materialism and idealism is eroded, it gradually dissolves. . . "Pure idealism would reduce matter to an aspect of mind. Hegel was an example of that. Pure materialism would reduce mind to an aspect of matter, and of course that's what we see in a great deal of modern science. My view does not attempt to reduce one to the other any more than one would attempt to reduce form to content. . . Every content is a form and every form is at the same time a content." (pp. 150-51)"

Also, here is a page comparing Bohm's and Schopenhauer's thought. This isn't the best source but it's still useful:

"Kant restricted knowledge to appearances only and denied the existence of [knowledge of? any "thing in itself," but Bohm believed that theories in science are "forms of insight that arise in our attempts to obtain a perception of a deeper nature of reality as a whole" (Bohm & Hiley, 1993, p. 323). Thus for Bohm the thing in itself is the whole of existence, conceived of not as a collection of parts but as an undivided movement. In this view Bohm is closer to Kant's critic, Arthur Schopenhauer,[citation needed] who identified the thing in itself with the will, an inner metaphysical reality that grounds all outer phenomena. Schopenhauer's will plays a role analogous to that of the implicate order; for example, it is objectified (Bohm might say it is "made explicate") to form physical matter. And Bohm's concept that consciousness and matter share a common ground resembles Schopenhauer's claim that even inanimate objects possess an inward noumenal nature. In The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer (1819/1995) described this ground thus:
When I consider the vastness of the world, the most important factor is that this existence-in-itself, of which the world is the manifestation, cannot, whatever it may be, have its true self spread out and dispersed in this fashion in boundless space, but that this endless extension belongs only to its manifestation, while existence-in-itself, on the contrary, is present entire and undivided in everything in nature and in everything that lives. (p. 60)"

Also, it should be pointed out that modern science makes use of all sorts of "nonphysical" concepts. As David Berlinski has pointed out:

"The fundamental laws of physics were to provide a scheme of things at once materialistic, complete, and simple. By now we know, or at least suspect, that materialism will not make it. And not simply because symbols have been given a say-so in the generation of the universe. Entre nous soit dit, physics is simply riddled with nonmaterial entities: functions, forces, fields, abstract objects of every stripe and kind, waves of probability, the quantum vacuum, entropy, and energies."

In physics, they consider concepts "physical" if they are described by some mathematical formalism. The great irony is that mathematics is produced from pure thought.

"Again, I am just a very cynical person when it comes to what the world is and what we are and are supposed purpose(s)."

I never implied that it had a purpose. Personally, I'm influenced by Indian religion and Schopenhauer. Both generally posit that the universe is just a meaningless psycho-physical process.

Here is a link to a creature...tell me what its purpose is or where its soul has no mouth, no gut, no brain and no nerve cord: - rich
It's a type of parasite that experiences it's world. Everything experiences the Universe and imprints or encodes information on the soul. Even bacteria. Bacteria live in every environment on Earth. As the live and breath they are making memories/information (like computer code) that is imprinted on the "Akashic Records" (for lack of a better term) that I believe will one day be used by the soul to "re-create" a reality after we cross over. We see ourselves as separate individuals when in actuality that's not the way the Universe really is. For one thing even our bodies are an ecosystem of organisms. Small mites live in the pores of eyelids, nematodes and bacteria and protzoans cover our bodies, and even after we've scrubbed ourselves with soap and water there remains a residual of bacteria whose job (I believe) is to encode information of our bodies. Life's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and we learn holistically what it is we are supposed to learn. I think that this applies to everything, perhaps even non-living things. Everything is connected to everything else and our separation is an illusion. Michelle M in her description of her NDE says,

" 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."'s_nde.htm

After we die we experience the Universe as it really is. A vast gigantic holomovement. - Art

Why? Because there is so much about life that can't be understood without actually experiencing it. For instance, one can't say they really understand what it is to make love to someone if they've never had sex. You can read a million books about making love, or even watch a hundred DVD's about sex, but until you've actually done it, you really don't understand it. The same applies with a myriad of things in life. Things that have to be experienced to be truly understood. How does one write a description of what an olive tastes like? How does one capture that essential "oliveness?" Or what it feels like to ride a bike real fast over a small hill in the road? Or go body surfing, or fly in an airplane, or what a big plateful of really delicious lasagna tastes like? Life has to be experienced to be truly understood. Then, I believe, after we die, all these memories can and will be shared. We will be able to know what it's like to be a blue whale in the antartic, or an eagle soaring through the skys, or a dolphin racing on the ocean waves. And every single portion of the earth has been mapped and re-mapped by some living creature, even if it's only been bacteria. Maybe every beam of light is alive and is encoding information that is being stored somewhere, retrieveable for us to one day review on the other side, a place where time and space don't exist so that we'll be able to go backwards and forewards in time at will just by thinking about it.

NDE's and time:
The light replied, "Let us go back in time, as far back as possible, and tell me how far back we should go". I was thinking for some time. Eventually I blurted out, "Stone Age?" I did not have much time to think about all this, because, all of a sudden, I saw human beings back on Earth. I was looking down on a group of people, men and women, who were dressed in furs, sitting around a campfire. (Guenter Wagner)

from Randy Gehling's NDE:
"That was really cool! I kind of felt as though my body exploded - in a nice way - and became a million different atoms - and each single atom could think its own thoughts and have its own feelings. All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby."

from The Holographic Universe:
"At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously."

I just had one other quick thought then I'll quit. I promise. You know how when you eat a really hot pepper and it burns the inside of your mouth? I think that burning sensation is imprinting or encoding information on the soul of the parameters of the inside of your mouth and lips. And in fact, when you run your tongue over your teeth, or get a tootache, or go to the Dentist it's imprinting (like computer code) the parameters of what "teeth" feel like. Okay, I'll stiffle myself now.

Maybe instead of thinking about what are the odds of life after death we might think about what are the probabilities of no life after death.

When we look at the evidence much of it defies explanation so the likelihood that some of these paranormal phenomena not being what they claim or appear to be has to be astronomical.

For me I see spiritual principles at work in this world everyday of my life. Can we attribute these principles to random mutation or natural selection?

Of course this validation only works for me as others may assume I am deluded, religious, lying, or whatever.

Well I haven't seen a white crow in our yard but a couple of weeks ago I did see a white Robin in our yard. No lie. It was in with a group of Robins. It was out there picking around in the yard with the other birds.

If brain does create the mind then maybe we should ask how the below incidences are possible???

"The student in question was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate. When he was examined by CAT-scan, however, Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all."

A continuing tip of the hat to Michael for this blog and the participants who add such stimulating exchanges on the various topics presented. Life After Death, the continuation of personal identity post mortem, consciousness ad infinitum, one of the Big Questions (perhaps the Biggest, given the implications we can conceive of, let alone those we CAN'T); it strikes me that multi-part dialogues such as the ones stimulated by this blog have the potential of producing new insights and intellectual approaches (in a manner similar to Einstein's "thought experiments") by presenting readers with perspectives which differ (to whatever degree) significantly enough as to advance understanding in a subject, which is at once general and personal. Is it possible to employ the scientific method (as it is now used) to produce comrehension of mental phenomena which are, in true essence, subjective in nature? Can the scientific method be augmented or adjusted in some way as to allow for this subjectivity and still produce "objective" results? Is it possible that we will ultimately have to discard the distinctions of "subjective" and "objective" in order to obtain any cognitve progress? These are some of the difficult adjunct questions which will not easily be addressed. But, if it were easy, it would have been done a long time ago.

Kevin, it won't be done at all, except by a tiny minority of scientists and gifted amateurs, as long as skeptics and mainstream researchers continue to conflate these areas with religion and superstition. We know that survival and psi have zero to do with religion. However, the visceral reaction of our modern age to any area of study that even hints at a return to mystical thinking shows that we're still trapped in a "If it's not explainable by the model we have today, it must be the territory of religious freaks or New Age dunces." Never mind that relativity and quantum mechanics were complete revisions of the conventional wisdom at the time; we seem to have forgotten that science has always been changing. As Matthew Cromer says, it's a method. That's all.

I believe that until we can enlighten people enough to separate the paranormal and religion in their minds, psi and survival and other related subjects will remain ghettoized. That's one hell of a task.

(Way too early in the morning thinking)

Michael and all you bloggers, what a great post and comment thread to boot.

However, there's something very depressing about all of this. I feel like I am riding on a carousel that never stops.

Are we getting anywhere?

Is there something we can do to go beyond the vast sea of speculation, philosophical ambiguities and scientific theories? I mean, can we break this down bit by bit and map out some basic questions to move forward?

Correct me if I am wrong (do I really need to invite you to do this?), but at the very basic level, we are simply talking about the creation, storage, transfer and reception of information, right?

So far, I believe that both Scientist and PSIentists can agree that the human brain is the central processing center for physical and non-physical information that is associated with cognitive thought, emotions, consciousness, etc.

Great. We have a starting point.

What happens, though, when we go beyond the word "processing" and add the word "living" to the equation? What happens when we ask,"Is the living brain the sole manufacturer and transmitter of information associated with what we call the human mind?"

This is the question that brews all kinds of trouble. This is the mine field that usually kills friendships, scholarship and decency.

For some to suggest that one's cognitive personality exists beyond the "living brain" is like insulting their mother. Watch out!

So then, is there any real chance that the "entists", SCI and PSI, can move to the next lrvrl of understanding together?


Ooops... the "lrvrl" word should be "level".

"Are we getting anywhere?"

Marcel, If you do the interview that I suggested on your show ;-) I guarantee that you will get a good answer to this, and some excellent insights and perspectives on new “levels of understanding.”

Maybe we are not meant to ever really know, or be convinced.

I had an experience a while back. My brother was killed in a construction accident. A few years after his death I had a lucid dream. In this dream he came to me and said he wanted to take me on a tour of heaven. So he pulled me into the classic "tunnel" towards a bright light. About half way up I gained my lucidity and stopped. "This is a dream" I said. "Tell me something that I don't already know." He responded that my mother was already there. I knew she was alive and well at the time, and I instantly woke up.
I wrote it off to "just a dream". A week later we were visiting my mother. During dinner she said she wanted to tell me about the strangest dream that she had. In it my brother had come to take her on a tour of heaven.

So I did learn something from him that was not possible to know.

Even after this, even after all of the great books and cases that I have read, I remain at best 60% convinced of a life after death. The "reductionist mafia" is strong, but maybe we are not meant to believe completely in this lifetime. Non belief does have a physical survival benefit. Perhaps we are constructed to doubt.

I'm convinced beyond a doubt that psychic functioning occurs (as well as synchronicity and precognition). I'll say 99.9999%, after all there is a small chance that I am dreaming my whole physical existence, and my name is not really Bill. But I no longer express any more doubt in psychic phenomena than that. I would say that after years of reviewing all the evidence and excellent discussions like the ones that go on here, I was about 90% convinced. What moved me beyond that was:

1. Personally witnessing repeated demonstrations of psychic phenomena by several individuals that I have met over the years in the course of my investigations. Anyone can visit a medium once, be "impressed," then walk away and start to rationalize the experience away as lucky guesses. When it happens again and again, and you see it for yourself, it is no longer reasonable to do this.

2. Anecdotal evidence. There was an excellent discussion on this blog (I think in a comment thread) on the importance of anecdotal evidence. Personally witnessing the phenomena slightly changed my view of the anecdotal evidence. If you have not witnessed it yourself, there will always be room for small doubts. What if the person was mistaken or lying? What if they left out some important details? There is no doubt that coincidences, mistakes, and fraud do account for some cases, however, if you have the validity of your own experiences to trust, you realize that it is not possible that all of the other anecdotal evidence can be explained by these things, as "skeptics" always try to persuade us.

3. The integrity of others. Again, in the course of my investigations, I have personally come to know and become friends with people (both psychics and investigators) who have shared their personal experiences. When this information comes from people you get to know, and you trust their integrity, reasoning skills, etc., you can begin to accept their testimony just as you accept your own experiences. This is different from reading anecdotal cases from third party sources.

Even if the reality and validity of psychic phenomena is accepted, there are still questions about "survival" and what that means. Obviously that's one I wont be able to personally witness until I die. My view of what it is that survives has certainly changed, for the better I think. I believe the best evidence for survival is the evidence of reincarnation, and that evidence is very good. As the author of the website "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America," who has studied it for over twenty years put it:

"While Dr. Stevenson cautiously adopts the phrase, "suggestive of reincarnation", in my humble opinion, I have less proof that my backside is currently pressed against the seat of my chair (not being able to see either directly), than he has of reincarnation. Don't take anyone else's word for it, read the original studies yourself, because most of the skeptical criticisms consist of ill-informed sophistry.

>So then, is there any real chance that the "entists", SCI and PSI, can move to the next level of understanding together?

George Hansen, author of The Trickster and the Paranormal, has a new blog, and in his first post he addresses this question. He is not optimistic. And, for the reasons he gives, neither am I.

"He is not optimistic. And, for the reasons he gives, neither am I."

Right, Hansen is not optimistic about the study of parapsychology and scientific investigations leading to widespread acceptance, and his book (which is not an easy read) discusses this in great detail. But Hansen, himself a professional parapsychologist and someone who has helped to found a skeptic organization, and who has “debunked” cases himself, recognizes that the phenomena itself is real.

"The critics are partly right; psi is irrational, but it is also real."--Hansen

Here is a good quote that sums up the situation in the academic establishment:

"I might also add that the way that whole academic system is set up is not conducive to the production of interesting and original research. And this applies to all fields, not just theoretical physics. The tone is set by burned-out old men who have long since lost any real interest in research and seem to do very little other than teaching and politicking. Since they make the decisions about who succeeds them, the few of the next generation who are prepared to abase themselves to the required degree to stay in the system have to stick to mainstream, normally uninteresting research to attain the necessary credentials. To some it comes naturally, I have to admit. But to the ones who actually have something interesting to say, it definitely does not. Nor should it. Questioning is very often an upsetting, anarchic thing to do. This mismanagement probably reflects our society's lack of interest. You will note, of course, that whenever society, or rather the governments that represent it really wants results, something much more akin to a meritocracy emerges: witness the wartime research efforts to develop radar or atomic weapons. No reference was made here to status or sycophantic tendencies. The brightest and best were employed simply because they were the brightest and best. Would that our society would feel the same about peacetime research. In case there are any academics reading this: you are all guilty. Either by things that you have done, or things that you have failed to do. I can hardly think of a single situation of my own or any of my colleagues where boldness and originality have been rewarded."

what gnawed me the most about 'rebuttal' of skeptics on anecdotal evidence is not only that it's not scientific and empirical, but they like to use the attack the straw man method, where they not only imply, but accused people involved as gullible and delusional. are they suppose to say that all these testimonies came from nothing but delusional brain?

to make a comparison, it's like saying that criminals are evil and that's why they did what they did...some people are simply satisfied with this explanation and cast these people out as a lesser group than them. but if you look closer, you'll see how the social environment, economic status, and parental influences have such impacts, and that some of them were actually decent people who had no other ways but to commit crime.

same thing with those witnesses of anecdotal experiences- it's much easier to simply say they're delusional or gullible and end it at that, but if you look closer, those people are composed from all fabric of society- where social, cultural, economic, and parental influences did not matter at all. so to simply say that they're delusional or hallucinating is simply unfounded.

it's funny that those atheists call the theists delusional and illogical, while they call themselves as the true pillars of the society, the last hope of mankind's survival.

who's delusional here? (both metaphorically, and asking people on this blog)

Hey Neal you said in part: "I never implied that it had a purpose. Personally, I'm influenced by Indian religion and Schopenhauer. Both generally posit that the universe is just a meaningless psycho-physical process."

Sorry I confused you/anyone...I never meant to imply that "you" said it all had a purpose.

As a matter of fact I whole heartedly agree with what I copied here from one of your comments.

This is basically what I was trying to get other people to realize.

Even if we were to say it has a purpose (for the sake of argument), it doesn't mean "you" meet "your" loved ones or even stay intact "when you die."

The world is more than we can imagine or give meaning to because it probably isn't in any which way, shape or form about us.


(just a friendly reminder to enjoy our meaningless lives)

"The world is more than we can imagine or give meaning to because it probably isn't in any which way, shape or form about us."

I don't want to speak for Matt Cromer, but I think this is the point he was trying to get across. He said something to the effect that our popular conceptions about life, personality, etc. are probably too small minded.

And so with this, everything we are and do is not the result of us. And should I say in a technical free will.

A bit off topic here but...

I just finished watching "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List." On this episode, her Dad died. And she says, "I'll never be able to speak with him again."

I'd love to call her and say, "Find a direct voice medium and see what happens." And imagine hearing your deceased relative's voice at a seance?

I actually have a friend who works on her show so hey, maybe I'll pass on some info. to him and hope it gets to her.

My cousin's wife's funeral is coming up. I'd love to share everything I have learned about this topic with him but obviously, it's not the time for that. And for most people, that time will never come. They just aren't open or some are just scared of it.

I asked a close relative of mind if they would like a chance to speak to or see their deceased child who died many years ago. And the response was, "I think it would be too emotional. I'd rather not." I understood this response and so would you since there are more details I am not sharing. Too personal.

The "reductionist mafia" is strong, but maybe we are not meant to believe completely in this lifetime. Non belief does have a physical survival benefit. Perhaps we are constructed to doubt. - greg

I think it's that way on purpose. I believe life is a school and the death of someone we love is the ultimate lesson in separation. Nothing teaches our soul what it means to be separate, alone, individual like losing someone you love. Life is an endless lesson in separation. If we knew absolutely for certain that one day we were going to be reunited with out loved ones deaath would cease to be the powerful and emotional lesson that it is. Death would lose some of it's sting. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. Nothing is as emotionally traumatic as losing someone you love.

Even if we were to say it has a purpose (for the sake of argument), it doesn't mean "you" meet "your" loved ones or even stay intact "when you die." - Rich

That's what near death experiences would seem to imply. Many NDE's mention actually meeting and talking to their deceased loved ones.

from Pam Reynold's NDE:
"At some point very early in the tunnel vortex I became aware of my grandmother calling me. But I didn't hear her call me with my ears ... It was a clearer hearing than with my ears. I trust that sense more than I trust my own ears.

The feeling was that she wanted me to come to her, so I continued with no fear down the shaft. It's a dark shaft that I went through, and at the very end there was this very little tiny pinpoint of light that kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

The light was incredibly bright, like sitting in the middle of a light bulb. It was so bright that I put my hands in front of my face fully expecting to see them and I could not. But I knew they were there. Not from a sense of touch. Again, it's terribly hard to explain, but I knew they were there ...

I noticed that as I began to discern different figures in the light - and they were all covered with light, they were light, and had light permeating all around them - they began to form shapes I could recognize and understand. I could see that one of them was my grandmother. I don't know if it was reality or a projection, but I would know my grandmother, the sound of her, anytime, anywhere.

Everyone I saw, looking back on it, fit perfectly into my understanding of what that person looked like at their best during their lives.

I recognized a lot of people. My uncle Gene was there. So was my great-great-Aunt Maggie, who was really a cousin. On Papa's side of the family, my grandfather was there ... They were specifically taking care of me, looking after me."

"And so with this, everything we are and do is not the result of us. And should I say in a technical free will."

It's too simplistic to say there is free will or there isn't free will. Take a look at Kant's system. His thought is difficult to comprehend and easily misunderstood, but he indicates that this issue is too complex for simple answers. I'm not saying his system is right, but you have to take it into consideration.

It's too simplistic to say there is free will or there isn't free will. Take a look at Kant's system. - Neal
This is from an online article about Emmanuel Swedenborg that I think sort of addresses the question of "free will." If this physical reality is constructed of "wave substance" (the intersection of two waves) perhaps what we experience is a mixture of the two?

"Dole who holds degrees from Yale, Oxford, and Harvard, notes that one of the most basic tenets of Swedenborg's thinking is that our universe is constantly created and sustained by two wavelike flows, one from heaven and one coming from our own soul or spirit. "If we put these images together, the resemblance to the hologram is striking" says Dole.

"We are constituted by the intersection of two flows—one direct, from the divine, and one indirect, from the divine via our environment. We can view ourselves as interference patterns, because the inflow is a wave phenomenon, and we are where the waves meet."

Marcel, I think we can move past the pure speculation into some more empirical form of knowledge. What's needed are enough well-trained people with the open-mindedness to look at the existing body of evidence for survival and brain/mind duality and design new experiments to explore aspects of both, as well as perhaps new protocols for dealing with anecdotal evidence, a la Kenneth Ring for NDEs. I'm not one to categorically dismiss narrative evidence, as Raymond Moody calls it. After all, our criminal justice system is based on narrative evidence that's judged according to its ability to be corroborated and the credibility of the witness.

Some work is being done in this area with regard to the mind and brain being at least partially independent systems. In another post I referenced a brilliant experiment by Dr. Dean Radin (abstract available on his blog, here)

In it, he and his team had experienced meditators (and some with no experience) imagine a sealed quantum system in which a laser was operating. They could not see the laser chamber or have any sensory contact with it in any way; they could only meditate and "see" it in their minds. In theory, because of the property of quantum mechanics in which a conscious observer changes the observed particle, if the mind is non-local, the act of the experienced meditators "seeing" the laser in their minds would change the environment at the quantum level just as if they had looked into the chamber with their eyes. That is exactly what happened at a level against chance of something like nine million to one.

That's hugely exciting. It's the first experiment to show that thought and the mind are real things in the world outside the boundaries of the cranium. Take that and the intention experiments being done by Dr. Gary Schwartz and Lynne McTaggart and there is a little science being done to prove beyond doubt that the mind can and does reach beyond the brain to influence the world.

If this work can be replicated and built upon in othe r ways, then yes, I think we can move into a place where can infer beyond reasonable doubt the survival of consciousness. Because of the nature of the phenomenon, we may never be able to empirically, observationally prove survival to open-minded skeptics, but then again, we can't directly prove black holes exist, either. We have to infer them from other evidence. I expect we'll be at that point with survival someday.

As far as enjoying existence, right there with you. My wife's expecting our second child any moment now, so life's good.


Art wrote:

"If we knew absolutely for certain that one day we were going to be reunited with out loved ones deaath would cease to be the powerful and emotional lesson that it is."

* * * * *

There are cultures out there who don't see death as a bad thing. So what lesson do they get from it? One of the main reasons it is so powerful and emotional in the west is because we sweep the topic under the rug until it's time to deal with it.

I think we are meant to find out about death and it doesn't need to be such a negative experience. Especially if you can talk to and see your loved one after they have died.

Art, you have failed to address that point and I have made it several times. There seem to be plenty of people who have seen their loved ones after they have passed on. Some have supposedly talked to them and hugged them. So how come those people didn't need the lesson of death? They know for a fact that their loved ones are fine. And so can anybody else who have that experience.

I feel the "we are not meant to know," is a cop out. I used to think like that but the evidence doesn't fit that theory.

If everything is so "great on the other side" why don't every single "dead" person come back to tell us? Why is it so random? Why only "special people" can see the dead?
What about your pets? Don't they bother looking for you? What happened to the dinosaurs? Did they go to "their own special place?" What about birds? What about worms? Is it all just about us? If it is just about us, does the other side "build" what you want to see and believe? If so, why can't it do the same here and stop the crap...and I am being very nice here.

The world is predatory and full of deception and I wouldn't believe a thing it presents until it stops torturing/killing through whatever means it uses and "brings the other side here."

Then I will believe it all. Until then, I approach the world, experiments, etc like a carrot on a stick. Full of crap, through and through. And don't tell me it is a school and/or it is "my choice" to know that we exist after we die. My choice is what I wrote in the preceding paragraph. Given your should be the same as mine.

Then again, the world is "full of choices" and free will and some of us like to see others or themselves tortured/suffering/dying. It is a good thing that this happens... after all, it is just a "process" like processing cattle and pigs into food. "All just a process."

Wow, I am a process...makes me know how special I am and the all the rest of life along with me.

Art, you have failed to address that point and I have made it several times. There seem to be plenty of people who have seen their loved ones after they have passed on. Some have supposedly talked to them and hugged them. So how come those people didn't need the lesson of death? - JoeMB

For every piece of anectdotal evidence that we have pointing in the direction of life after death there are several skeptics ready to dismiss it as a hallucination. If a person who had an ADC (after death communication) were to openly admit in a party that they had seen one of their dead relatives most people at that party would shy away from them think they were either drunk or insane. When we say we believe in life after death, there is always a hint of doubt in our answer. As to People who claim that they KNOW that there is life after death because of some mystical or transcendental experience? I don't have a good answer for that, but I still think it's obvious that this life is about separation and the other side is about oneness and connectedness - and that the soul is here to experience duality and separation so it can become a separate, unique, individual - with it's own sense of "self."

Think!!! (not what you read, experiments, etc however useful they may be to us at "present/future"):

The world takes us and "beats us to a pulp" and then when we die we go live happily ever after...? Would you have kids knowing that your kid was gonna be "beaten to a pulp" or born with a disease or whatever else the "creative world" can come up with?

A lot of us wouldn't accept this type of "shoddiness" from a manufacturer (to be extremely nice in describing this place) ....yet the extrememly strange part is that a lot of us do accept it from the world.

Guess what? It gladly gives it to us!

We are exactly like "beaten women." We watch our loved ones, ourselves, and other animals and lives suffer and/or die in the extremes and go and make excuses for this place...."oh surely it does love and care about me/us."

Guess what? It gladly gives us the excuses! The experiments, will hand any old crap to keep this all going and a great deal of us sit here and eat it up like a turkey, cow, or pig.

If any kid, friend, wife, dog, all life, has a 80% chance of a "good life" than this makes everything all right?? Are you, your loved ones, people and life, etc like the weather?? Do you see yourself as a weather forecast???????????????????

Oh, and I have "my own sense of self" (the irony being as programmed) and don't need some other whatever telling me what that is or gonna be or where I should go. It created me (not the other way around) and should provide a stable place to live, learn, etc and not a horror show to say the very least.

It is as simple as what I say here people. It is as simple as what I say here.

Yet, we will have people reading, some "experiencing" kooky things (like the world), etc, etc and basically taking it all in...hook, line and sinker. 99% sure, 99.99995% sure....just like the weather forecast.

Gee, I wonder does that make you/the world perhaps some sort of adaptable program of some sort (using statistics perhaps to justify itself)? I have alluded to this before. Maybe whoever may have read it thought I was crazy?

Here is a newsflash: We are all wackos.

We as mere humans, try to give a chance to all here in America and some other places....yet this world (as or becoming "the great soul") doesn't want to look at its "lowest creation" for an example of how it should be or should have been.

Think about it all (not just what you might have experienced in your toy bubble)!

Art, the above was not directed at you or anyone in specific.

While I may disagree with your theory (hook, line and sinker)...actually if you create sort of like a "feedback loop" in your theory, then in a horribly, horribly, horribly sick way your theory has some ground. In other words, like information (a program???) being recycled and replayed, around and around, over and over, with very small changes being made so as not to "upset the greater balance."

I am a pessimist though and don't accept things hook, line and sinker. I expect excellence most especially when it comes to life...and looking back I don't see it.

Life deserved better and does deserve better.

Gee Rich, I would never have guessed that you were a pessimist.

Your points would be taken more seriously if your style was not so browbeating. Please take a moment to dial back your rhetoric and address the rest of us with a little more respect.

Over the span of a rather lengthy life I have fretted away countless hours over the problem of survival. In my youth the needle on the afterlife gauge was down in the annihilationist zone, always below 10% I would say. Gradually it has risen and stands at about the same level as that of Michael P's. Of course our friends in the Mafia would have a ready explanation for this change: it is the result of the approach of my own certain demise. But the needle doesn't seem to want to budge beyond a certain point. I think Mr. Prescott is asking us why this is the case. Why is there always this residual doubt?
In my ruminations I have come up with three main obstacles to a 100% rating on the survival meter. Two of them are ever-present, but have been masked in the past by the strength of established religion in earlier centuries. The third is more characteristic of the so-called modern age.
Firstly, we have difficulty believing in the tales we are told of the afterlife and the accounts of journeys thereto because nothing of the sort happens in our daily lives. Our experiences are for the most part routine, humdrum, dull and boring. Therefore the accounts presented to us take on the aura of fairy tales. We have nothing in our own verifiable experience to which we can link them. We feel silly accepting them as real life accounts and are somewhat embarrassed if we speak of them as factual. Imagine nerving yourself up to tell a room full of sophisticated acquaintances that you believe that full body materializations actually take place. Most of us do not see apparitions or have apports fall on our dining room table.
Secondly, the end-result is too favorable to human wishes. The end of life as described in afterlife documents calls up the saying, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." No matter what official religion says, our experience tells us that this universe is indifferent to human hopes and desires. For some reason, or no reason at all, we have been tossed into a meat grinder, a world where merciless predation rules. How, then, are we to believe the descriptions of the wonderful life that lies before us in "Summerland?" It is all easily written off as wishful thinking.
Third, (and I think Michael's post centers on this) there is the powerful effect of the mechanistic world view that emerged in the 17th century, reached its crest in the late 19th, and, although senescent, is still hanging around. The most pertinent aspect of this world view for the present discussion is its intellectual authority. Like all prevailing world views, it has the mandate of heaven. It is official. How dare we question it when it has the endorsement of so many scientific luminaries? As long as we have to dissent as outsiders we will never achieve the gut level certitude necessary to erase the last vestiges of doubt.
I think the foregoing factors, more psychological than logical, are prominent among the reasons why it is so difficult to get our meters to read above 90%. Of course, this is all just one man's opinion.

Hey Tim...don't pick on what I say, take things out of context, and thinks its disrespectful.

I mentioned no one specific...meaning I wasn't specifically talking about you....meaning I meant in general...meaning not necessarily most people that visit/ leave comments on this blog.

I am for you (however I may agree or disagree with you) and not against you. We are all different, with different styles of language and different backgrounds...just like the world with different styles of doing whatever it is that it is doing...if anything.

By the way, I have experienced a couple of "paranormal" phenomena myself...and in one of them seen a possible dead women (acting out a scenario it seemed) right before my very eyes. A woman (blondish hair, tall and looked mad) was leaving a into her 70s style car....this was in the mid to late 80s and drove off....something blocked my view momentarily and then when I got past the blocked view, I saw an ambulance, cones and I think flares, and perhaps her car and in a dream world but very real....I was watching this in the middle of a road....I heard a car honk its horn in the back of me...and yes turned back was all gone.

Does this mean I should think the woman is still alive?

The brain/the world works in stranger ways than we can imagine....does this mean I should feel good? How about whatever "giving the manual" to how this place/us works...rather than letting us guess/imagine/think what we see is what is.

This would really be helpful.

Rich, you keep coming back to the idea that we are promoting some kind of personal quality to existence——that the cosmos is a fundamentally benign place and that there is meaning behind it all. No one here is suggesting that. I think there may be some who believe in a fundamentally benign purpose to reality, but it's obvious that the event of the world don't bear that out. Clearly, the many atrocities and misfortunes of the world indicate it is indifferent to human hopes. We get the world we create.

Feel how you want to feel. Explore in whatever way you wish to explore. There are no right or wrong ways to seek answers to these questions. Just don't expect simplistic or obvious answers. I don't think anyone on this blog does. The cosmos is infinitely complex and we are just beginning to grasp it. What matters is the asking, not the answers.

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