Blog powered by Typepad

« Windbridge | Main | Spiritualism and the early Christian Church »


"...since names are often the most difficult facts to receive..."
This seems to be a relatively recent problem. Back in the "old days" when ouija boards were used there were few problems getting a name spelt out.
It seems somewhat peculiar that the more "advanced" mediums woul not revert to using this method to obtain a name.
Perhaps this has been discussed before and you could refer me to the article(s).

I don't know of any articles to refer you to, but possibly mediums are reluctant to use a ouija board becase the boards are said to attract "low level" or "earthbound" spirits, who can be deceitful and malicious.

I should add that mediums in an earlier era often were trance mediums, while mediums today usually do not learn how to go into trance. Trance mediumship can produce more evidential results, especially when combined with automatic writing. But considerable training is required to become a trance medium, and mediums nowadays seem to lack the patience. Michael Tymn's forthcoming book The Articulate Dead addresses this issue in detail, I believe.

There's risks involved with trance mediumship that deter many mediums training in this area.

Firstly the most obvious being attachment of malicious spirits, which can not only present a mental torment aspect but can add to the difficulty of everyday living (poltergiest type activity and harrassment to friends/family).

The other being a physical danger to the mediums health, most trance mediums of the past died relatively young often somehow related to their psychic work in one way or another. ( A malicious spirit can instigate forces to warrant accidents/tragedies).

As I see it it can become a sacrifice of life for science, pretty much like being a guinea pig.

Since some corners of science and religion is still quite hostile to psychic phemonena, most mediums are subject to ridicule and harrassment from the "unbelievers", so there seems alot of things that can deter one from developing this ability.

Most mediums just want to live a simple life and not subject their families to ridicule and intimidation from the skeptics by becoming a "recognised trance medium".

In the book “no living person could have known” by Neech a dead German officer in full uniform with shoulder holster and pistol comes back from the grave in Poland and dictated a letter to a polish woman to send to his wife in Germany that it was ok for her to remarry. (p96)

In the letter the German officer stated he had been killed and where he was buried. The officer’s grave was exhumed at the request of his wife and sure enough that was the grave of the German officer. His wife who traveled from Germany to witness the exhumation and also the ministry of war and the ministry of foreign affairs witnessed this exhumation.

The German officer was buried in full uniform with a shoulder pistol exactly as the polish woman had seen him when he knocked on her door and demanded she send the letter he dictated to her.

The widow was then able to remarry after seeing that her husband had indeed died and was buried exactly where he said he was buried in the letter.

As a side note to this story when an ultra skeptic asked me what proof I had of life after death I stated he may want to read the book “no living person could have known” for some evidence that suggests that life after death may exist. Once he saw the name of the publisher of the book “the psychic book club” he stated some scornful remarks and refused to even consider reading the book.

Oh the power of beliefs that often leads to prejudice and bias. (I.e. closed mind) The book was written from a series of articles in an English newspaper in response to skeptics such as Kenneth Walker that stated “no message of any value to humanity has ever been delivered at a séance.”

The R 101 airship story is also in the this book which many consider the best evidence for life after death.

Why this obsession with evidence from mediums? Surely you believe by now. If your intention is to convince skeptics, then your wasting your time.

keith Augustine calls out the dualists

I would like to ask the robust dualists posting here some questions, if they can answer them:

If the mind is something independent of the brain, and is something that is so complex that the brain must "filter" it in some vague sense, then why does performance of complex mental tasks--like doing a math problem, or lying (since lying requires knowing the truth, inventing a lie, and then covering up any evidence of the truth to be consistent with the lie)--require more brain activity than when individuals are not engaged in such tasks? This can be measured with MRIs--in fact, they are being appealed to as lie detectors (currently being reviewed in a particular court case) for their very ability to measure the increased activity of lying.

If mental tasks are something that the immaterial mind can do best when "unconstrained" by the brain, wouldn't complex mental tasks be correlated with less or at least the same amount of brain activity as when such tasks are not being done? In other words, if it is my immaterial mind that does math and lies, why would increasing brain activity assist it? Wouldn't it do better without the brain's "interference" or filtering or "transmission"--i.e., less brain activity? Wouldn't more brain activity constrain it further?

It seems to me that the fact that the more complex the mental task, the more brain activity required, is pretty good evidence that the brain is what does the thinking, and not some immaterial mind. Why does the brain require more glucose or oxygen to burn it the more complex the mental task, unless that processing is being done by the brain itself, and not by the independent mind?

Perhaps a dualist might hold that when the mental task becomes more complicated, the "radio/television" of the brain has to extend its antenna a little more since it can't boost the mind's signal itself, and the increased activity is the tuner trying to get a better picture. Maybe the extra energy the mind puts into answering the math question means it has to lower its normally 50000-watt-signal and so sends a weaker signal to the brain--and the brain must adjust by fine-tuning its receiver, and that fine tuning requires extra brain activity.

But then why the localization--why does this area of the brain light up in mathematical problems, another area light up during creative writing, and so on? And why do more intelligent animals have much more complicated brains than simpler ones? The simpler the brain, the less resources that brain has to "limit" or "filter" or "constrain" the mind--so shouldn't simpler brains be more intelligent, and the most complex brains correlated with lower IQs, since brains merely "suppress" an otherwise unlimited mind?

Why doesn't damage to the visual cortex improve visual processing (assuming the eyes are left in tact), if the brain merely limits the soul's unlimited visual abilities? (As implied if we take out-of-body and near-death experiences at face value.) Why does damage to a specific area of the left hemisphere result in aphasia, a mental deficit, instead of improving an individual's understanding of language? Is it not true that on the transmissive hypothesis, the less brain activity, the better the mental processing? Mental processing, after all, is held to be something that an immaterial soul does, not something a brain does--else it wouldn't be mental processing on dualism. But in fact the opposite has been found to be true. Doesn't all of this make much more sense on the notion that the brain is doing the mental processing--i.e., that mind/consciousness/self/personality/what-have-you are simply simplifying words for specific brain processes?

So I leave it to you: Which is it? Does the brain cause our mental activity or does it merely "suppress" it, as implied by the "transmissive hypothesis"? Ask yourself which seems more likely given the neurophysiological data, putting your presuppositions either for or against dualism aside. If you answer honestly you'll see my point. Answering "But what about out-of-body experiences?" and so on does not answer the question--it simply aims to defuse the evidence by appealing to different evidence. Ignoring such other evidence for the moment, can you honestly say that dualism is just as good an explanation of what we know about mind-brain correlations than the position that mental processes are brain processes?

Incidentally, since it has come up in this thread and Irreducible Mind, I would like to know how robust dualism itself explains supposed instances of Alzheimer's patients regaining their cognitive faculties just before dying. After all, a dying patient still has that pesky brain "constraining" its unlimited abilities. If someone is dying and can still talk, obviously the brain is still "constraining" the mind at that point. It is the other body organs that are failing--the liver, say--at that point. It is only when brain activity ceases or is at least diminished to the point of causing unconsciousness that the "filter" of the brain is no longer holding back the mind--but then the patient cannot move or talk or do any physical activity normally allowed by the brain. (Since the brain is the instrument which allows the soul to control bodily movements, like moving one's lips to talk.) If a dying patient can raise his arm and hold a conversation, clearly the brain is still "filtering" things, is it not?

That's all for now--I just wanted to throw that out for you all to chew on.

I don't think Augustine implies exactly what's going on. It's not that the brain is a pure constraining device for the mind, but rather, the mind sort of goes in to it like a video cassette goes in to a VCR. Because the mind has taken up residence in the brain, brain damage WILL still cause problems in the personality. It's not like there's a direct relationship between brain state and mind functioning; not in the slightest. Even the very first thing William James said was very much acknowledging the very information that Augustine is trying to use to debunk, but trying to work the theory around this fact. All he has done is introduced an extremely simplistic view of dualism, one that no honest dualist (which I am not even one of) could consider tenable.

Augustine puts up yet another straw man.

As for his Alzheimer's remark... I'd honestly like to see HIS side explain that one. We'd expect a deteriorating brain affected by Alzheimer's/meningitis to certainly not recover as it has (especially since his side takes the position that the memory has been DESTROYED); and it can be more parsimoniously explained as the brain's constraint on the mind weakening.

As an aside, I wonder what he thinks of Orch-OR. Orch-OR allows for both the brain to be the cause of personality and the subsequent damage to the personality but yet still very well allows for survival. He'd probably dislike it simply for the latter.

It's really not as black and white as dualism versus monism.

>Why this obsession with evidence from mediums?

Everybody needs a good obsession. It's what keeps us young.

>Surely you believe by now.

I don't believe in the sense of being 100% convinced. I am pretty much 100% convinced of some psi phenomena - ESP, for instance. Life after death is not as much of a sure thing to me. I think the evidence points to that conclusion, but I still have doubts.

>If your intention is to convince skeptics, then your wasting your time.

No, I gave up trying to persuade militant skeptics awhile ago. Besides, the case cited here has the weaknesses I noted, which means it would not be very convincing anyway.

If we knew absolutely for sure that there was some kind of life after death (and God) we wouldn't mourn the loss of loved ones quite near as much, and death would lose a lot of it's power as a lesson in separation. If we knew that one day we were going to be reunited with our loved ones death would lose some of its' sting. We are here to experience separation, and death of a loved one is the ultimate lesson in separation.

“Why this obsession with evidence from mediums? Surely you believe by now. If your intention is to convince skeptics, then you’re wasting your time.”

This statement fails to understand the human mind. Obsession? This has been the most fascinating research I have ever done. Yes it started out as a search to see if life after death exists but research into spiritualism and the evidence they bring forth is to me little known evidence by the masses of the world.

And some of these advanced spirits that come through with intelligence that challenges our existing view of reality. My entire life my mind has been like a sponge and loves to discover new information.

“Surely you believe by now.” Even Harlow with all of the evidence he collected in his life and all the experiences he had even “apparently?” his deceased sister breaking a glass ink well perfectly in half when he mentioned her name to a student and hearing her voice say “is that clear cut evidence” from an agreement they had made to one another that the first one that dies tries to come back and leave “clear cut evidence.”

And Harlow in the final chapter in his book “life after death” stated some doubt. What honestly.

One must in time learn the difference between realization and discovery due to research. One is intellectual and one is a knowing beyond knowing and removes “all” doubt. World of difference in how these two different experiences “remove” doubt.

As far as skeptics I seldom now if ever discuss such things with them as they think they already know (positive ignorance) but once in a while I do as I am fascinated by our (yes mine also) human mind and how it perceives experiences and data that does not agree with its existing and often conditioned paradigms.

This was an old story that happened several years ago that I wanted to share as further evidence how we humans tend not to read anything that does not agree with our existing beliefs. Politics and religion are great examples of this majestic and divine but I suspect necessary phenomenon for personal perceived identities to exist and interrelate.

How else could oneness express itself without this positive and negative ignorance?

The comments to this entry are closed.