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Free is Good!

Seriously - I also thought it was an excellent overview of a wide range of data that was presented in an objective fashion. I did grow weary of the conversational format, though (as if 'skeptics' actually considered evidence with an open mind!). All in all it's a clear, persuasive summary, and the numerous source references provides plenty of material for additional investigation for those so inclined.

One of the most interesting comments he made should be encouraging to those who do consider these things to have basis in fact. After discussing the full range of observed positive changes in values and behavior exhibited by NDE survivors, there is this exchange:

"Skeptic": . . . it would be nice to have one [an NDE]. All the psychological changes you mentioned seem very desirable.

Calvi-Parisetti: Yes, very, very good! They are indeed very desirable. Only, research shows that you don’t need to go near death and then come back to achieve such transformation. There is solid evidence that just learning about NDEs can bring about these changes. The more people get to know about this particular subject and study it, the more these psychological changes become apparent, without the need of having an actual NDE.

So . . . keep reading those NDE accounts, folks!


another great book is in this link: in

Best wishes,

Sorry, the link is:

Vitor - it's very interesting that the full text of Irreducible Mind is online and available for free download as a PDF file. I just wonder if this is an infringement on the authors' copyright. I wouldn't want one of my books being downloaded for free ...

I may contact the publisher to ask them about this.

Not to mention the fact that people should buy it to support further research.

I'm with Michael on this, as I spent nearly $90 on my copy of Irreducible Mind (which also included the CD-ROM of Frederick Myers' hard-to-find Human Personality). I don't regret a dime of the purchase price. However, if the online access to the book compels self-professed skeptics to actually READ the book, I can accept its availability. Furthermore, I agree with Michael H. when he notes Calvi-Parisetti's observations concerning people who only encounter information ABOUT NDEs. tell everyone you know to read, read, read...soon.

Myers' classic Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death is available at,M1>Google Books. It can be downloaded as a PDF from the link (23 MB).

"The author's other major example of materialization mediumship is David Thompson; longtime readers of this blog know I've had many doubts about his séances, especially pertaining to the method of restraint used to secure him to his chair."

David Thompson is NOT a materialisation medium and has admitted that he is not. It is Victor Zammit who keeps making this claim.

Neither Victor Zammit, David Thompson nor any members of his circle have ever seen a materialisation.

The same applies to the Scole phenomena and its circle members.

(as if 'skeptics' actually considered evidence with an open mind!)

Skeptic has become such a dirty word, unfortunately. A true skeptic would have an open mind, but also a need for good evidence.

But yeah, when we here the word, the Randi-esque types come to mind.

You're right, Tony. You may have noticed I almost always scare quote the term.

Genuine skepticism is the healthy application of reason, which is a very positive thing. Unfortunately, the 'skeptics' have hijacked the term to where it is now nothing but a means to defend reductionist scientism and promissory materialism. It's clever - anyone opposing the 'skeptic' is automatically branded as credulous, while the 'skeptic' arrogates 'reason' to himself.

Also he forgot to mention the newspaper tests and book tests, also afterdeath communications and induced afterdeath communications. But besides that is truly is a good book.

He forgot to mention too Xenoglossy, The Newspaper Tests and Book Tests and Induced afterdeath communications and afterdeath communications.


xenoglossy has not any strong evidence. Read this:

Best wishes.

Dear Michael, I find no words to thank you for the extraordinary review you have written about my very modest contribution to the popularisation of psychical research.

This came completely unexpected - I just noticed a dramatic increase in the number of downloads of my e-book, tried to find out what the reason might have been and landed on your almost embarrassing critique.

It is heartening to see how widespread the interest on these subjects is, and I am overjoyed with the public's interest for my work.

Thank you again and very warm regards.


"Unfortunately, the 'skeptics' have hijacked the term to where it is now nothing but a means to defend reductionist scientism and promissory materialism. It's clever - anyone opposing the 'skeptic' is automatically branded as credulous, while the 'skeptic' arrogates 'reason' to himself."

Good point Michael H, but I'm not sure what "promissory materialism" means?

The book is a very good introduction to the evidence but the skeptic in the book is an ignorat skeptic. Informed skeptics have much more difficult objections to overcome. Dealing with those issues is not appropriate for such an introductory book but the book may give someone a false sense of certainty and when they come up against some of the better arguments against the evidence they may have the belief shaken. I don't know how to deal with this in an introductory book except to warn the readers about the problem and suggest they be skeptical about skeptics, and always try to see what rebuttals may exist for new skeptical arguments that they may come across.

Actually, bailer, I wonder if anyone here has a list of ready-made rebuttals to typical skeptical argumuents. Now that would be useful. I know that skeptics often use the same arguments, and I suspect they copy and paste them from somewhere. I don't think just copying links to helpful sites is any good - people won't open a mass of links, and they don't have a ready impact. A list might save time in the long run...


The extreme skeptics of the paranormal have a tendency to refute the least credible of paranormal examples; they seldom try to take on the best evidence and if they do they do not give very credible alternative explanations. To do the former, is easy, the latter, near impossible. They also unfairly (and unscientifically I might add) tend to group all of the paranormal together and reject it all. Its not all or nothing and the same applies to the various evidence types for life after death. For instance, mediums communicating with the dead could be true but this has no relation with astrology being true or not - the two are independent of one another but this gets lost on some of the extreme skeptics in their overall outlook.
In fact, with the paranormal as it relates to life after death, there clearly are many cases of both deliberate deception (as we would expect due to the nature of the subject) and where there are alternative explanations. But these are not the cases we need to be scrutinizing to determine if they constitute evidence for life after death - although this is unfortunately what some skeptics do to present their conclusions against the paranormal. The cases that have no other plausible conventional explanation are the ones that need to be held to the test.
We also have to be careful with paranormal phenomena in that, even if the particular phenomena or, more commonly the case, elements of it can be induced, it does not necessarily mean or follow that this is the cause of the paranormal phenomena and the explanation for it. A non-paranormal analogy being, for example, certain drugs can induce euphoria in a person but when one normally is experiencing euphoria, it is real and occurs naturally without the effect of any drugs. Therefore, drug intake is not the explanation for euphoria normally experienced even though drugs can induce it.
It should be noted that the various aspects to the best paranormal phenomena cases have thus far been very difficult to account for collectively using natural scientific models.
Some people will believe paranormal activity at face value with even the weakest of evidence. On the other hand, there are skeptics who are very closed-minded and biased and will not even allow for the possibility, no matter how convincing the evidence (and thus, maybe to an extent, possess irrational mindsets). A good example showing the mindset of a certain group of ultra-skeptical individuals who refuse to accept any paranormal explanation is the following quote from an August 27, 2001 article in the online magazine interview with Michael Shermer editor-in-chief of Skeptic Magazine:
"If we asked, what would it take for me to believe in ESP? Would it take a single experiment? How about 10 statistically significant experiments in which the guy picked the right playing card? That still wouldn't quite do it because there's no way to understand how this could possibly happen in the brain. We understand how neurons and brain centers work but we don't know how something would transmit through space out of your skull into somebody else's skull. So those guys need to come up with some mechanism to explain it."
So even if the best explanation is a paranormal one, ultra-skeptics will not accept it because they do not understand the underlying mechanism for it.
Ultra-skeptical scientists start with the assumption that something which contravenes the laws of science (as they are currently understood), cannot occur. They are not open to the possibility of non-material mechanisms explaining the data. Their lack of belief is a form of belief in itself.
In science, a new scientific statement is only accepted if it either agrees with established scientific laws or replaces rival statements with superior evidence and theory. Psychic phenomena clearly don't fit the first and haven't succeeded so far in the second. Not to make excuses for it, but due to it's nature, what is needed is a new framework to examine the claims for the various psychic phenomena rather than the existing limiting experimental science we have. Of course, ultra-skeptical scientists would rather not do anything that might accommodate anything to do with the paranormal and would therefore reject any such suggestions.
The logic of scientific inquiry must always allow for the possibility that the existing scientific laws are incomplete or even wrong.
Science is what we always need to use as the basis to start with, and if it fails to explain the phenomena, only then should we go outside of mainstream science and look at the possibility of paranormal explanations.
Much of the paranormal evidence types for survival of consciousness can be explained by normal means, some of it is not possible to determine, and some is very likely to be evidence for survival. It is as if, on the surface at least, one can interpret however one wants - almost as if it is supposed to be this way.
Near Death Experience
In fact the NDE is actually against evolutionary survival - it is a state which is highly pleasurable (in most cases) from which one would not necessarily want to escape from. If there were no NDE for the dying person, then they would fight death as much as possible instead of succumbing to it. And in fighting it, would be more likely to survive.
Interestingly, the cause of near death or clinical death (heart attack, head injury, etc.) nor other factors such as drugs in the system or oxygen and/or carbon dioxide levels in the blood does not seem to impact the NDE experienced. This makes the case for the NDE being real as experienced stronger.
The longer the clinical death, the more expansive and prolonged the NDE. Again, this gives more strength to the argument it is in fact consciousness separating from the body. If it were just in the brain, then the opposite would be expected.
In the NDE going through a dark tunnel may be explained by the cut-off of blood to the occipital lobes at the back of the brain. Entering a world of darkness makes sense for a dying brain to which sensory input has been stopped. But what explains the brilliant light and emotions filled with such bliss after the darkness? Hardly what you would expect a dying brain to produce.
The dying brain hypothesis breaks down when the brain is clinically dead. Since there is no break in consciousness and it is continuous, then the dying brain hypothesis cannot account for the NDE as occurring just around death and/or resuscitation.
It could be possible that God may have made our brains so that they allow us to experience the NDE so that we can make a smoother transition from this life to the next.
One explanation given by scientists is that the NDE is a universal recall of the birth experience - travel down the birth canal (dark tunnel) and ending up in bright light at the moment of delivery. The problems with this theory are patients born of caesarian section are reported to have this NDE and the bright light upon entering the world is hardly a wonderful experience (that's why the baby cries so much). Also, a babies eyes are closed during birth and it is not known what the baby experiences. And why would humans undergo a repeat of the experience when dying?
One problem with trying to understand the NDE being real as experienced is that there is some variability among different cultures in one or more of its components. For example, a tunnel is common in the west but not in Japan. Existing religious knowledge or beliefs can also influence any religious figure one may encounter on the other side. Nevertheless, the experience could be real and tailored such that the transition to the other side is easier.
Not all people who reach clinical death recall a NDE (the reported range is only 10-18%). The possible explanations are: (1) Everyone does have an NDE at this stage but the brain 'filters' the NDE memory out for some people when revived or the NDE is not always 'recorded' onto the brain (ie. 'access' is either given to the memory or its not), and/or (2) There is a lag time before many of us would experience consciousness again after physical death (even after consciousness has left the body), and/or (3) Consciousness does not always separate from the body right away, or (4) Only some of us survive physical death but this would be completely irrational as we would expect all to do so or none. My guess is that the most likely explanations are one or more of (1), (2), and (3).
Expanding on (3) further, people who experience NDEs and OBEs are more likely to leave the body quickly at or near death or even possibly under other circumstances. Thus NDErs stay trapped in the body for lesser time after it has stopped functioning and this is probably determined by a biological predisposition somehow (at least to a certain extent). For the rest, they had not been dead long enough and an insufficient amount of time had elapsed for them to have an NDE.
The explanation of particular chemicals being in the brain at death as being the reason for the positive NDE doesn't explain why some people experience a hellish (or negative) NDE (the range for reported NDE cases is 1-2% as the lower estimate and 10-15% as the upper estimate). If the NDE were 'hard-wired' into our brains, we would expect them all (except for the odd anomaly) to be of the same type.
When elements of the NDE are induced in people in experiments (note: all aspects of the NDE have never been induced collectively to the best of my knowledge), the resulting experiences are not well remembered. The actual NDE is of great clarity and vividly recalled well into the future which is the opposite of what one would expect if it were just a dying or impaired brain.
There is commonly a spiritual transformation in the person who has experienced the NDE which has not been explained in any other way nor repeated in laboratory experiments. This profound transformation simply cannot be replicated in a drug-induced state and this suggests it is likely more than just brain chemistry at work.
For someone experiencing an NDE, the whole universe typically opens up more to them - which is the opposite of what one would expect considering the brain is closing down or has closed down. The NDE in fact seems to be more real than life itself. Our brains may in fact be limiters of our consciousness. Not all NDEs are necessarily consciousness separating from the body. Some might be hallucinations triggered by drug induced states, some could be vivid dreams (although NDE experiencers overwhelmingly deny this to be the case) triggered by a trauma, and some may be non-NDE transcendental experiences.
The explanation that the NDE is caused by carbon dioxide overload or oxygen starvation, even if it were possible, is inadequate because many NDEs occur without either of these conditions present.
It may even be that the hellish NDE is experienced only because the person is to return to this life and may need this experience for the remaining life to be lived here. It could even be that hellish experiences do not happen if the soul is not to return (actual death takes place and the soul is not to return back to the physical body but to move onto the spiritual realm and not just have a NDE). Or alternatively, if the soul is not to return, are less frequent relative to the positive experience right after leaving the body (ie. compared to NDEs).
NDErs experience the actual negative and positive feelings they inflicted upon or gave others throughout their lives during the life review in a 'full' NDE and as its happens. This is truly amazing and I hardly can see any biological reason or explanation for this; and only a spiritual one is (by far) what would make sense.
There has not been a plausible alternative explanation for the out of body experience (OBE) that often occurs with NDEs. This is probably the single most convincing component of the NDE to suggest the NDE is exactly what people who experience it claim it to be - a round trip to the 'other side'. Though the weakest NDE with OBE cases, which do not have the clarity or the narrative quality about them and are paranoid in nature, are likely just hallucinations and therefore not NDEs.
A sensation that one is leaving or has left ones body has been induced under laboratory conditions without such actually taking place (without undergoing an OBE) - as have certain other elements of the OBE but never collectively to replicate an OBE anywhere even close to the full expansiveness of it. In fact, some OBEs (the weakest cases) are probably just a form of disorientation of spatial self. The latest research from two separate sets of experiments published in the August 24, 2007 magazine/journal Science showed that by using virtual reality technology, researchers were able to trick the subjects sensory system by creating a very convincing illusion so that they were perceiving their bodies from a new perspective which was outside of their actual physical bodies. The experiments only provided subjects with an image of disembodiment which was believable to them. Only a touch sensation (not an OBE) was induced which fooled the subjects. The subjects understood it to be just an illusion whereas people who have an OBE consider it to be a real experience. Something like this type of illusionary experience could account for some or even all of the OBEs some people occasionally report when experiencing sleep paralysis and even in certain medical conditions.
Having an OBE and obtaining information otherwise not attainable (eg. from another room) has not been replicated under laboratory inducement. And there is no reason to believe it can be without it actually taking place as a real OBE. Further rationale for the OBE that occurs with the NDE being real as experienced is that the NDEr often is looking back at their body they have just left behind and not just 'floating up'.
With OBEs, some do occur when the person is not near death. Persons have reported leaving their bodies and going to some other place (sometimes distant) that is out of range of their normal senses and observed and later reported on events (such as a conversation between two people) that they could not have learned about by normal means. In a small number of cases, the person experiencing the OBE may be 'seen' by another person at the place where the experiencer had claimed they had been (these cases are referred to as "reciprocal").
Even better evidence for life after death is the veridical NDE in which the person undergoing it acquires information not known to them prior that could not have been obtained by normal means and is later verified to be correct. The experiencer may see events at some other location (for example, another room in the hospital they are in). Or the person might meet a deceased loved one who communicates information unknown previously to the person undergoing the NDE which is later verified to be correct. A more common example being they report encountering people whom they did not know were dead but who were later confirmed to have been at the time they had the NDE.
The evidence is showing that the NDE is occurring during 'flat line' (no brain activity which happens within 11 seconds of the heart stopping) since (1) The NDE is continuous and there are no blackouts or cutoffs; (2) Cannot happen only while brain activity dying out or coming back periods only due to continuity issue; and (3) Aside from the continuity problem, the NDE would not make sense to be happening in the dying or recovery periods due to insufficient oxygen in the blood in and to the brain and lack of brain activity for such a vivid experience for a materialistic explanation. If consciousness is solely a product of the brain, then I do not see how the NDE could occur during either of these periods. But if consciousness is separate from or can exist outside of the brain, then the NDE can occur during these periods.
If the NDE is occurring only before brain function ceases, there would after this be no consciousness and would hit a blank state and then when resuscitated would regain consciousness. The cases reported would be that a NDE occurred, followed by death and ceasing to exist, and then life again. In other words, if one had ceased to exist, then one would remember the NDE, then no recall, and then would awake to find oneself in their body and would have had a discontinuity of consciousness which is not found in the reported NDEs. Unless this abrupt change shows up as the 'snap back' into the body (and as expected the blank state will not be recalled). But our understanding of the brain shows if consciousness is part of the brain, then consciousness slowly comes back when a person is resuscitated and not all of a sudden. And the 'snap back' cannot be explained like this as it is too abrupt and sudden.
If the NDE is occurring after the person is resuscitated, then the NDEr would say it occurred after recovery as they know they have recovered (and the discontinuity of consciousness would still be there also). With B) and C) (but not A)), would have periods of firstly decreasing and secondly increasing consciousness (as well as a discontinuity in between) which is not what we find to be the case.
I wanted to outline some thoughts on a study by Dr. K. Nelson published in April 2006 (Nelson, K., et al, Neurology, 66, 1003-1009) which tried to establish a link between NDEs and REM intrusion (rapid eye movement dreams while the person is typically actively dreaming while half awake and just falling asleep or waking up). It received a lot of sensationalistic mainstream media coverage at the time from ‘journalists’ who did not really understand the study. Many of the worlds leading NDE researchers were not happy with the misinformation in the media that resulted (nor with the poor quality and what appears to be a study setup to try to get, or come close as possible, to a predetermined outcome) and pointed out the flaws in it and why REM intrusion is not an explanation for the NDE as follows.
[Note: If you are not familiar with this study, then my recommendation is to waste little or none of your valuable time on this, at best, mediocre ‘research’ as the only things possibly learned are that REM intrusion could only be an explanation for the weakest NDEs (which really are not NDEs at all) and after experiencing an NDE a person may be more predisposed to REM intrusion]
NDEs occur in various circumstances and sometimes in conjunction with REM intrusion but the two are fundamentally different. 40% of NDErs do not report to have experienced any aspect of REM intrusion. Therefore, REM intrusion by itself could not explain all NDEs and at best only some. It appears that the researchers thought they were getting some responses about REM intrusion which were not actually REM intrusion and this is more so with the NDE group and therefore skewed the results in favour of a correlation between NDEs and REM intrusion. The NDE is very different from REM intrusion in that there are unknown aspects to it that may have meaning later and is experienced as being real, coherent, of great clarity, meaningful, and remembered in detail for life. Unlike REM intrusion, the NDE has a consistent fundamental structure that is basically the same across differing age and cultural groups. REM intrusion is based on a known environment, one realizes it is hallucinatory and not reality, and it is unrealistic typically. The NDE has profound life changing effects while REM intrusion never does. Nelson, et al. talked about the fight-or-flight response due to the nerve pathways in the brain which are also associated with REM intrusion. He then suggested that there could be a possible association between NDEs and REM intrusion. But this could never account for REM intrusion underlying the NDE occurring where there is no chance beforehand to assess danger such as an unanticipated blow to the head resulting in immediate unconsciousness leading to an NDE. Or in cases where the person was not aware they were in an immediate life threatening danger such as surgery or illness from which an NDE resulted. The hypothesized link between NDEs and REM intrusion does not seem plausible.
NDEs commonly occur eventhough the person undergoing the NDE is under the influence of medication known to suppress REM.
People born blind from birth who have never seen anything (not even blackness) have reported NDEs. Their dreams have no sense of sight and have been shown to have no REM while they dream. Moreover, NDEs experienced by these people often include sight.
People have reported NDEs while under general anesthesia for which the brain functioning necessary for REM intrusion to occur would not be expected.
In REM intrusion, the person often feels terrifyingly trapped in ones body whereas with NDEs people do not and it is commonly reported by NDErs that their consciousness was no longer associated with their physical body. NDE researchers do not report of anyone feeling frantically trapped in ones body while undergoing an NDE.
REM intrusion experiences do fit the profile of hallucinations based upon the visual and auditory data whereas the vast majority of NDEs do not. NDErs rarely report anything (other than a subsequent NDE) reproducing any part of their NDE and this further suggests that NDEs and REM intrusion are different experiences.
Only about 10-18% of people who clinically die report NDEs but maybe all experience them but not all remember them. This may be due to the fact the NDErs brain allowing them to do so. Thus possibly some peoples brains allow them to experience REM intrusion. The NDE alters the brain and may sometimes reduce the ‘filter’ on consciousness. This may partly explain reported greater psychic abilities after an NDE and/or REM intrusion being more likely to occur. People who remember their NDE are more likely to recall REM intrusion as happening to them.
REM intrusion could not account for most NDEs and certainly not the best ones. REM intrusion could never account for veridical perception.
For the strongest NDE cases, a skeptic would have a lot to try to explain away which cannot in all likelihood be done without invoking the paranormal. Aspects of the best NDEs which I think an alternative explanation is very hard to see forthcoming include: (1) No measurable brain activity while the NDE occurred and the person was clinically dead, (2) No discontinuity of consciousness of the experiencer (even though they were clinically dead and had no measured brain activity), (3) OBE with a 'birds eye' perspective looking back at ones own body, (4) A life review often with feeling the effects one had on others at specific times in their lives, (5) Coming across beings one knows who have pre-deceased them who are likely in their 'prime' in terms of the earthly existence they had, (6) A reluctance to return (and there seems to be a point of no return which if crossed the soul could not come back into the body) which is also against what evolution would predict. (7) Encountering a 'Being of Light' with whom there is a communication by direct exchange of thoughts, (8) Life changing, and (9) Veridical nature.
Entities (ghosts, spirits, angels, etc.)
Entities are reported in all cultures and parts of the world and have been throughout the ages independently (for the most part) of the knowledge that they have been observed elsewhere. This makes their existence, that much more probable.
Though ghosts do seem to be connected to an individual who previously died in the same physical location. Also, sensing smell and touch as well as sight and sound from entities is very strong evidence that these are not just apparitions.
If in fact magnetic fields were the generators, then we would expect to see many more apparitions with the electrics in buildings of more recent times producing electromagnetic fields (unless of course there is some inherent difference between the magnetic fields generated from electromagnetism vs. geomagnetism which should be not the case). And in industrial settings where we have large magnetic fields generated from things such as electric motors, transformers, industrial magnets, and various machinery we should see apparitions as a result, which we do not.
Some ghost sightings can be explained away as being hallucinations. However, many cannot. For example, where there has been more than one person seeing the ghost at the same time or when someone else reports a similar or exactly the same sighting at a later time (especially when they have no prior knowledge of the previous sighting so there is no expectation that one will experience such and therefore they are not simply hallucinating what someone else has already seen). The same applies to paranormal activity in general. It seems that more than one explanation would have to account for the observations.
There could be a 5th or another dimension (beyond the 3 dimensions of space and 1 of time; note that string theory predicts 10 or 11 dimensions depending on the version) or other dimensions that could contain the spirit world. Entities may be able to travel back and forth from the other side (or this other dimension). They may not be trapped here as is often assumed about ghosts and only 'visit' us in order to convey a message(s) - the major theme possibly being that there is a continuation of the spirit after physical death.
There are many cases of people reporting to have seen a life like apparition of a relative or friend right before, when, or just after they die in cases where the living person does not receive news of the death (or even have any prior knowledge the person is in poor health or danger) until sometime after the sighting. This is known as a crisis apparition. This appears to be more common when the two persons (the one seeing the apparition and the just deceased) are physically far apart (eg. on different continents) - as if it is more imperative to let the loved one know that they have passed on otherwise they may not find out until too much time has elapsed.
People have reported contact with angels who have come to guide them.
Assuming reincarnation happens, from what I have read and tried to rationalize, it seems the soul has a choice whether or not and when to reincarnate (to some extent at least) and typically does not do so right away after death.
Mediums in the west who are claiming to be able to communicate with the dead are in conflict with the predominant Judeo-Christian beliefs of the societies they are in (for example, no belief in reincarnation in the dominant religions in the west). Further, they generally tell us there is a lag time typically of several decades where people connected to one another 'reunite' in the spirit world prior to their next incarnation which is not necessarily even taught in the major eastern religions. Because they are not just trying to go along with what most people already want or expect to hear, I think it gives them a bit more credibility. Unless, they are being forced to 'tow the line' laid down by psychic mediums historically so as not to be in disagreement with it.
Communications with the Dead
Mind reading (telepathy). Mediums are reading the minds or 'picking up' the thoughts of the people who they are 'connecting' with their loved ones. If this were the case, the medium would most likely just be reading what is on the person's mind at the time but this is not often the case. In addition, the medium relays information which the person could not and does not know at the time and later finds out to be true.
We can effectively rule out mind reading as the sole explanation because of the research done by Dr. Gary Schwartz (presented in his book "The Afterlife Experiments"). He tested mediums and found them to give information about the subjects being read not known to the subjects and later found to be true.
(7) Pool of consciousness (super ESP or super psi). Another highly improbable, but worth considering, possibility is that mediums are somehow 'tapping into' the collective pool of consciousness that may exist in the universe (or even just picking up thoughts 'floating' around connected to the person being read). But how would super ESP account for relaying information of events in the future? A reason they may not be doing this is that the departed souls give us information in readings that is from both before and after their passing. This would only make sense if there is a survival of consciousness; otherwise by what mechanism would thoughts associated with a person when they were alive be combined with that since their death?
Dr. Gary Schwartz, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, has conducted a series of experiments on communications with the dead. His results thus far are that mediums are in fact communicating with departed souls and further experiments are to be done in the future.
The ultra-skeptics will argue that there is no evidence to support communication with the dead and all information received can be accounted for by (1), (2), and (3). The ultra-skeptics are atheists (though some will claim to be agnostic) and follow a very orthodox approach to science who instead of saying the evidence is not strong enough to support the claims the mediums are making, just dismiss it all as fraud. This is despite the fact they have not been able to make the case for fraud. It is good to be a skeptic and all should be encouraged to engage in healthy skepticism but to be so stubborn and narrow-minded so that you dismiss anything which does not fit your particular view of the world as simply being fraud is ignorant and self-defeating.
There is no adequate scientific explanation for the vast array of psychic phenomena. It has not been quantified by science, but demands some sort of explanation. But psychic phenomena which has a spiritual realm to it cannot simply be refuted just because it does not fit science's existing artificially limited scope.
The evidence from hospice medical personnel is that many (maybe even all) people who are dying and can talk and are not in a drug induced and altered mental state report receiving death bed visitations from spiritual beings. This is found throughout the world and the experiences are very similar.

Atheism has no more logical foundation for it than religion and in fact, less so. It has its own belief system - that of science and materialism (only the material world exists). Atheists have turned disbelief (of a Creator or God) into a belief system in itself. Science has become a religion on to its self as it is practiced by its followers who accept nothing else unless it adheres to conventional science as we know it today and materialism. Having said that, atheism challenges religion and faith based systems and can be a positive influence in the enquiry of what may or may not be true.
People will typically adopt an atheist belief system due to the following factors: they have a greater than normal 'block' on awareness of a spiritual existence and implications of ceasing to exist thoughts; they acquire a belief in or are taught to believe in materialism; they develop a distaste or even hatred for religion; and they have a suspect or somewhat deficient rationalizing ability (I'm not referring to intelligence or IQ here but giving too much weight to lesser factors and not enough to bigger and more important factors). For the only rational positions to take are either to be agnostic or to believe there is sufficient evidence present that shows we possess souls that survive physical death.
It is only rational to be an atheist (note that some atheists are actually agnostic eventhough they may incorrectly label themselves as atheist) if one has some type of special knowledge (if it were to even exist which seems extremely improbable) that would completely refute every single one of the evidence types for survival of consciousness. And I do not see how anyone on earth would have such special knowledge.
A fundamentalist religious approach on evidence of life after death is asking what does my religion say about this and then explaining the evidence within that context which fits that religion. Atheists do the same with life after death evidence - they look at it and say what does materialism say about this and then fit their interpretations to suit their materialistic belief system. If there is no materialistic explanation possible, the evidence is still rejected and no real plausible alternative is put forth. Both are wrong in their approach as they are not at all objective and 'make' the evidence fit what they already believe.
For those of us who want there to be an afterlife (there's something wrong with your thought process if you don't), we should take strong comfort in the fact that there actually is such strong and varied evidence for it (if needed, please refer to the "Life After Death Top 11" in this section for a quick summary). Although not one of these types of evidence by itself would constitute absolute proof, the sum total of all the evidence is so much more than what we should expect if there were no survival of consciousness. Maybe we would not have any of this evidence whatsoever if there were no survival of consciousness (ie. why is all this varied and diverse evidence present at all in the first place?).
It is interesting to observe that people who are atheists and are normal intelligent people seem to have no more fear than people with spiritual beliefs that they will cease to exist when they die. And often do care about what are really insignificant things in life which have no bearing on them or their survival and also they may have no impact over. It is quite possible that the soul which might fear that while on earth it may not have peace of mind without the knowledge of an afterlife, chooses prior to birth to have belief in life after death while a mortal being. The soul which is not amenable to these fears while on earth might choose to have no belief in an afterlife in order to make a greater improvement in empathy for other living things. So in other words, just maybe we are 'fixed up' to be comfortable with our knowledge of our mortality or immortality. And if our thoughts on this change during our life here on earth so that we are no longer comfortable, we can still be accommodated by, for example, by finding God through religion. From what I have observed, almost everyone who is anxious for a time (say more than a few days) about whether there is life after death is somehow 'rescued' and finds comfort through religion or spiritual beliefs. The odd time someone doesn't, the anxiety is only in the short term and over the long term is bearable and either at a low level or only sporadic.
I personally am leaning towards the belief that no single type of evidence for life after death by itself will convince everyone among us. If looked at objectively, every one of the evidence types is, to varying degrees, incomplete or inconclusive and some of it is even ambiguous - almost as if it is all supposed to be this way. Some will believe in life after death based on a single or few pieces of favourable evidence (as already mentioned, this may have been chosen in the spiritual realm prior to coming here). Some will not believe no matter how strong and varied the evidence for life after death if it is not 100% conclusive according to the scientific method. Instead, most of us will have to weigh the sum total of the different types of evidence as I have attempted to do on this site. This is because if there is life after death, why have we not been shown it to be the case without any doubt whatsoever to the satisfaction of all? It would probably have to be due to the reasoning previously discussed in this section.
A very far-fetched hypothesis is that aliens (if there is other intelligent life in the universe or elsewhere able to access our world say from another dimension) not God created life on earth. They brought life from elsewhere in the universe to earth and allowed evolution (or some other mechanism) to run its course or created it all right here including new species (including man) which replaced ones gone extinct (naturally or from the aliens doing). They then gave us evidence for life after death such as sending messages through Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, etc.; producing entities; having us experience NDEs; communications with the so called dead (so we were led to believe), etc. The reason they would do this would be hard to fathom. However, this would still not explain out of body experiences (OBEs) during the NDE for which such a mechanism of fraud would seem to be so improbable (though still a possibility that cannot be ruled out). Aliens would have to be simulating demonic possession (if there is such a thing as possession) and upon exorcism putting an end to it (usually). It would be very difficult to account for some of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ such as raising a man from the dead or giving the blind sight. But you would think that whichever (or all of) the various types of evidence for life after death they are manipulating would come across more 'clear cut'. And ultimately what answer would there be for the question, who created the aliens? Although aliens could have come about through random chance in their world and either created us or stepped in to the picture to do their manipulations on us after we became a species. Nor would it explain the origins of matter and energy or the reason for the Big Bang and what was before it.
Our gut instincts may be coming directly from our souls.
Maybe it is no coincidence that the common occurrence of NDEs in the past couple of decades and mediums like John Edward on television are giving us evidence for life after death. It could be because the pendulum had swung too much to that of less belief in much of the world in an afterlife or God because mainly due to advancements in science (and thus materialism being more plausible to many). Possibly this new evidence for mass consumption is presented to return man to a more balanced view (or the pendulum is always being kept in balance).
There is too much similarity between the four major races of humans (and no personality differences). This is also the case in terms of values, fundamentals of language, etc. between the various cultures of the world. Evolution would predict that there should be more variation. Thus, this would give more support to the Biblical version of man's divine origins.
Just to let the reader know, when I am away from this subject for an extended time period, I get some doubt (more so when I hear or read arguments against life after death), but when I examine the collective evidence again, it always sways me back to where I was when I am immersed in the subject.

Probability of Life After Death
We start with zero probability of life after death and then see what evidence for it is before us.

The above illustration shows us that for us to make the conclusion that there is life after death, only one type of evidence for it has to be true. To conclude that there is no life after death, every one of the different types of evidence have to be false (this makes it even more important to evaluate each of the different types of evidence independently of each other and without bias); and yet we still would not be able to absolutely make the conclusion since there may be another type(s) of evidence we do not know about or that evidence does not necessarily have to be revealed to us for there to be life after death.
Taking the illustration, one step further, we can ask statistically, what are the odds that there is life after death (LAD)?
Probability (as a decimal fraction) there is LAD = 1 - (Probability there is no LAD)
= 1 - (a x b x c x d x e,...etc.)
Where a,b,c,d,e,etc. are independent of each other and represent as fractions the likelihood that each of the various types of evidence for LAD are NOT TRUE. And (a x b x c x d x e,...etc.) are the fractional probabilities multiplied by each other. Let us do a calculation using the LAD Top 11 from above:
"1." = a = 1-0.95 = 0.025
"2." = b = 1-0.95 = 0.05
"3." = c = 1-0.95 = 0.05
"11." = k = 1-0.10 = 0.90

Probability of No LAD = 0.025 x 0.05 x 0.05 x 0.10 x 0.15 x 0.50 x 0.80 x 0.80 x 0.80 x 0.90 x 0.90
= 1.9 x 10-7
= 2 in 10 million
= 1 in 5 million

Probability of LAD = 1 - 1.9 x 10-7
= 0.9999998 = 99.99998 %
Note: I have used values that I personally believe to be representative; though liberal, in my opinion, in favour of no LAD (ie. erring on the side of no LAD). Most of the people who would be considered the worlds leading researchers and scholars in any of these areas would, in private and 'off the record' at least, give a higher probability for their (chosen) area being evidence for survival of consciousness than I have. Therefore, if we were to take a representative sample for each of the 11 evidence types from 11 separate groups of these experts and then do the preceding calculation with the values each group would assign, I would expect the probability of life after death would come out higher than 99.99998%. You, the reader may substitute any numbers from 0 to 1 in the calculation based upon your personal evaluations (to try to ensure independence, input parameter values as if have no knowledge of other types of evidence) and any number of evidence types you believe to be relevant. If I had used more than the eleven types of evidence I did in the calculation, then the odds in favour of LAD would be a bit higher (though not so much that they would be increased by an order of magnitude).
We need to be aware that if there is alien or inter-dimensional being manipulation (no matter how improbable this being the case might be) of the evidence (in whole or in part unless it was for only one evidence type manipulated or fabricated) for an afterlife, then these evidence types would no longer be independent of one another and this probability calculation would no longer hold up.
For curiosity (although it does not tell us the probability of life after death), let us estimate the probability that all of the 11 different evidence types mentioned above are all true:
Probability they are all true = 0.975 x 0.95 x 0.95 x 0.90 x 0.85 x 0.50 x 0.20 x 0.20 x 0.20 x 0.10 x 0.10
= 2.7 x 10-5
= 1 in about 40,000
= Which works out to a very low probability even though with the very same inputs the probability of life after death is extremely high - this is because throughout we have treated each evidence type as being independent of one another.
Anyone who inputs "1" above for any of the evidence types (ie. 100% probability that particular evidence type shows there is life after death) is either bringing some faith into it and/or has some special knowledge in the area which some may potentially have. The same applies even more so for someone entering zero (ie. 0% probability that particular evidence type shows there is life after death) - as it cannot be done scientifically and rationally and would require some sort of special knowledge to do so (I do not see how anyone could be in possession of such for most if not all the evidence types). Entering zero might also be improperly done by individuals who even know nothing or virtually nothing about that particular type of evidence.
Not knowing of this analysis, atheists would simply answer zero for all the evidence types but that is where their irrational bias would be clearly exposed for to do so would require a special knowledge and understanding of these evidence types which no one I can see on earth possessing in the negative. Mere mortals, no matter how dismissive they are of the particular evidences, would still have to input numbers greater than zero (such as 0.01, 0.005, 0.02, etc.; though the odd zero could still be rationally inputed). They may end up with say a 5 to 10% chance of life after death but their atheist belief system would be no longer (mathematically and logically at least).
However if they had read this analysis prior and understood how it worked, one would have to get them to answer to each of these evidence types separately to get their honest opinions (though this probably would not still work) otherwise they would probably be clever (but not honest and objective) and input very small numbers close to zero and some zeros to get their probability of life after death estimate as low as possible and yet rationally still plausible - so as to be as close as possible to zero probability of life after death as they can get away with.

The glorious resurrection of plants and vegetation year after year has shown us definitively that there is life after death. What is the responsibility of all humans in light of this? How we live our life in the present will determine the "quality" of life after death. In Genesis 2:7 God breathed life into newly created man. In Ezekiel 37:5, God promised to breathe life into the lifeless bones in the valley. It is God who is the author of life, present and future. It is the imperative of all humans to give their lives to Him.

Winston Wu has a long article on "debunking the skeptics," which has been posted on Victor Zammit's site. It can be found here.

I appreciate Piero Calvi-Parisetti's comment, and I'm very glad that downloads of the book have increased since it was reviewed here. The real credit, however, goes to commenter Småfornå, who brought the book to my attention.

Winston Wu's arguments are certainly worth consideration.

Xenoglossis DOES have some strong evidence - for example the voices who spoke through the mediumship of Etta Wriedt had no linguistic limitation - Dutch, French, Spanish, Norwegian and Arabic were often heard.

Judhe Edmonds daughter, Laura, was the first medium in modern Spiritualism with the gift of tongues.

Foreign sitters could converse through her with spirits in their native language whether it was Greece or Poland.

Dr Whymant's book "Psychic Adventures in New York" is a most convincing record of the gift of tongues includinf Archaic Chinese spoken by "Confucius" through the mediumship of George Valiantine.

"Winston Wu has a long article on "debunking the skeptics," which has been posted on Victor Zammit's site"

The article of Winston Wu have been updated (in 2007). His new website is:

It includes a section of reader's responses. Some of the reader's comments are very good.

"Actually, bailer, I wonder if anyone here has a list of ready-made rebuttals to typical skeptical argumuents. Now that would be useful. I know that skeptics often use the same arguments, and I suspect they copy and paste them from somewhere. I don't think just copying links to helpful sites is any good - people won't open a mass of links, and they don't have a ready impact. A list might save time in the long run..."

Hi Teri, maybe you have interest in the following article where the author rebuts the most common skeptical arguments against NDEs:

It seems to be an adaptation of Winston's arguments to NDEs debunking. But the author has his own original ideas.

Also, Chris Carter has in his website two articles dealing with the typical skeptic's philosophical objections to afterlife:

NDErs experience the actual negative and positive feelings they inflicted upon or gave others throughout their lives during the life review in a 'full' NDE and as its happens. This is truly amazing and I hardly can see any biological reason or explanation for this; and only a spiritual one is (by far) what would make sense."
All that and no mention of the holographic universe? In Dr. Kenneth Ring's course on near death experiences at the University of Connecticut he required his students to read Michael Talbot's book The Holographic Universe. An explanation of NDE's is incomplete without at least some mention of the holographic universe. Dr. Oswald Harding in his book Near Death Experiences: A Holographic Explanation calls the Life Review a holographic experience par excellance. The answers to some of life's most perplexing questions can best be answered by some understanding of the implications of quantum physics and the holographic paradigm. One can't truly begin to understand near death experiences without first understanding The Holographic Universe and to do that you have to read the book. In a hologram each piece contains the whole and everything is infinitely connected to everything else. Our separation is an illusion. If you don't have time to read the book one should at least read the online essay about the holographic universe. I reiterate, if you want to understand near death experiences you should understand the implications of the holographoic universe. 360 degree vision, being everywhere in the universe at once, feeling others emotions and hearing their thoughts, all knowledge, seeing colors they've never seen before and hearing sounds they didn't know existed, overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness, are easily understood when one understands the holographic paradigm.

Good point Michael H, but I'm not sure what "promissory materialism" means?

I can't recall who coined the term, but it essentially encapsulates the extreme faith that goes along with accepting the metaphysics of materialism as absolute. The materialist will make the argument that since materialism has led to so many positive advancements in science, technology and lifestyles that we have to assume that any and all phenomena that contradicts materialism will eventually be explained in the future.

It's a matter of continually issuing 'promissory notes' which are backed by an absolute faith in materialist philosophy. These promissory notes will be satisfied at an unknown future date by the methodology inherent to scientism, "objective science", which will eventually prove that everything can be understood through the reductionist approach. Promissory materialism is founded on the assumption that materialism must be true. Charles Eisenstein explores how this premise has infected society in the first few chapters of his excellent The Ascent of Humanity. (The full text is available at the link).

It seems to me that it is pointless to engage a 'skeptic' while granting their basic premise that objective science is beyond reproach. All 'skeptical' arguments are based on that core assumption. I think it's necessary to bring that assumption into play, and to point out that in matters of anomalous phenomena relating to consciousness itself, objective science has failed to a spectacular degree, and that anyone who looks at the data with any sort of genuinely open mind must assume that the metaphysics of materialism has already been falsified. Further, despite all of the technological advances that have accompanied the rise of the scientific theocracy, consciousness itself remains completely beyond its reach. We now have a tremendous amount of knowledge about the physical cosmos and its workings as a result of the last few centuries of investigation. Yet, we know almost nothing about the capacity of consciousness that has been doing all of the investigating.

Of course, if this is pointed out to the ‘skeptic’, he will immediately issue a promissory note telling us that we’ll understand it soon enough, and “by the way . . . speaking of consciousness . . . did we hear that Ray Kurzweil thinks we might eventually be able to download our consciousness into a computer in order to achieve immortality?” Today’s skepticism has no more relation to reason than Islamic fundamentalism, and those who adopt materialism as absolute will defend it with the same emotional vigor, though thankfully don’t generally share the proclivity to violence – with the exception of occasional school shooting sprees.

I’ve personally reached the point with materialists that I no longer have any qualms about pointing out that they have absolutely no understanding of >how their own minds work. The ‘skeptical’ defense of materialism plays a critical role in supporting the unspoken acceptance of nihilism that infects large segments of Western population today, which manifests all around us: rampant depression, contempt for education, drug and alcohol abuse, brutal crime, moral relativism and the general pointlessness that too damn many accept as absolute. Propping up materialism as philosophically beyond reproach goes well beyond denying supernormal phenomena: it literally provides the foundation for the absolute worst aspects of contemporary society.

At the same time, those who interpret these phenomena as supportive of dualism unwittingly provide philosophical support for religious extremism. To that end, the most important chapters of Calvi-Parisetti's book are the last two.

On rebuttals, check out 'Zen... and the Art of Debunkery' at

It's kind of UFO-centric, but much of it applies here too.

Thank you Zerdini and Zetetic Chick for the anti-skepticism arguments. I’m going to save some of them…

Your arguments too are strong Michael H but I wonder if sometimes we don’t go too far. The 2 ideas below are prompted by reading this very interesting recent NDE:

1. If everything is “perfect in its imperfection” as William has said, then skepticism is part of the divine plan. If we are here to experience negative stuff we can’t get any of it in the afterlife then maybe live and let live is the answer. On the other hand, doubtless the likes of us battling the materialist paradigm is also part of the plan. So I suppose what I’m saying is… you should keep up the good work, but don’t get too worked up about it?

2. Dualism must actually be true, up to a point. If we retain our identities after death, as both mediums and NDEs suggest, there’s a long soul existence before you get to ultimate spirit (assuming you ever do). And presumably, that’s all part of the plan too, in that only a finite soul can choose to undergo experience, because it doesn’t already automatically know everything?

Prescott, about materialization, give a look at this site:

Zerdini, about xenoglossy, is very interesting what you said, but I think Valiantaine's mediumship very controversial:

The term “promissory materialism” was coined by philosopher of science Karl Popper during his collaboration with physiologist John Eccles on the principle of dualism applied to the mind-body problem.

"David Thompson is NOT a materialisation medium and has admitted that he is not. It is Victor Zammit who keeps making this claim"

Hi Zerdini,

Regardless of our opinion about David Thompson (I think some of Michael P. criticism about him are correct and pertinent), I can't see how DT isn't a materialisation medium, if Zammit "shaked hands" with Conan Doyle.

I mean, if DT said he isn't a materialisation medium, how could he explain the materialised hand of Doyle?

The point here isn't if the materialisation was real or fraudulent. The point is that the séances of Thompson have provided "materialisation phenomena" (real or fake), not only mental mediumship.

It seems that if DT claimed not be a materialisation medium, he's contradicting himself when he produces materialised hands and other objects...

"I think it's necessary to bring that assumption into play, and to point out that in matters of anomalous phenomena relating to consciousness itself, objective science has failed to a spectacular degree, and that anyone who looks at the data with any sort of genuinely open mind must assume that the metaphysics of materialism has already been falsified"

It's correct, Michael H. I also think materialism have been refuted by empirical evidence (of afterlife and psi).

But materialism is weak even in their philosophical assumptions and grunds. Also, many materialists rely on a mechanistic worldview, a view falsified by quantum mechanics. It explains why they can't explain consciousness:

It's interesting to see how many materialists even deny the existence of consciousness. It's like arguing that we're not arguing...

Thank you too, Kevin S for that funny link and Ulysses for where "promissory materialism" originates.

Don't overlook my point about the reality of dualism, boys and girls. Don't be too dismissive of it. Dualism might not be the basis of the Ultimate Unmanifest, but it's the basis of everything else we're likely to experience in the forseeable future. You need to think about that one...

I meant Tony S, sorry!

Dualism must actually be true, up to a point.

The qualifier "up to a point" negates dualism as absolute, Teri. What is true is the appearance of dualism, which is the same problem the materialist is faced with: they are blinded by the appearance of materialism, just as the dualist is blinded by the appearance of dualism.

While full realization of the One may take a long time, it can also happen for anyone in a heartbeat. It's simply what remains when one looks beyond all appearances to the contrary. Also, the argument that everything is part of a divine plan carries an implicit suggestion of an 'planner' external to creation, which in itself supports dualism.

Higher-level NDE accounts as well as volumes of mystical testimony make it clear that the idea of an external planner is a human concept. Two examples of the former, keeping in mind Henry W's comment that "Our life is just a thought providing circumstances for this existence", especially while reading Anita's:'s_nde.htm

What gets tricky is that even accepting "All is One" conceptually can prevent us from actually seeing it, though there are certainly worse concepts to accept as true. This all ties in with Matt Chait's discussion of concept vs. context in understanding the Self. I'd also suggest that accepting the idea that dualism is "the basis of everything else we're likely to experience in the foreseeable future" will almost certainly become self-fulfilling. It's one thing to recognize that we are experiencing dualism at the moment, it's quite another to conclude that we must do so indefinitely.

By the way - thanks for the source Ulysses. I think it was in writings of Eccles that I first encountered the term.

Teri, I think dualism is true. But I don't know if, ultimately, we'll retain our individuality forever, or we'll integrate us in a cosmic whole. So, I don't know if the ultimate substance(s) is dualist or monist in their essence.

By the way, one of the aspect of Ken Wilber's views that I don't understand yet is that, in his theory of holons, each new holon has emergent properties not reducible to the inferior holons. But superior holons CAN'T exist if inferior holons are destroyed, because they depends on them for their permanence.

In that view, mind is a holon emerging from material holons (e.g brain). But if it's true, mind can't exist after the material brain is destroyed.

So, afterlife doesn't seem to fit very well in Wilber's theory. (Maybe I'm wrong, and he's has some way to integrate afterlife evidence in his integral theory, but I fin it very hard)

So, Wilber's holonic theory seems to be contrary to the dualism implicit in afterlife research.

Well, two good answers, so you pays your money and you takes your choice, Teri. I might as well add my two cents worth –(that was a challenge you issued wasn’t it? Any prizes for the best answer?)

Stretching a point into a line means it now has two ends. Duality is accomplished by polarising what was once a Unity. But something seems to be missing here….

Aha! For a Subject to experience and Object, there must also be Relation (or space between). Could that be the answer – a trinity?

Brahma, Siva, Vishnu;
Father Son & Holy Ghost;

No -not quite….

Because the Experiencer, the thing being experienced and the experience -or the Cognizer, the Cognized and the Cognition- are still part of, and an expression of, the original underlying unity.

So there are four – the tetraktys, which is the primeval Triad (or Triangle) merged in the divine Monad. . . . this leads on to the mystic Decad, the resultant of the Tetraktys, or the 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 – the 10 dimensions of the Cosmic Manifestation as proposed by superstring or M theory (with the 11th as underlying unifier).

See how you can link theosophy, Kabbalism and Physics if you try?
I don’t reckon those Skeptics would buy it though ;-)

Tricky, tricky, tricky.

Funny, but sorry Ben, you don't win. Your arithmetic is wrong. You added one twice to get eleven. That's cheating.

And anyway, the others didn't ask for a prize ;-)

Competition not yet closed.

It's interesting to see how many materialists even deny the existence of consciousness. It's like arguing that we're not arguing...

LOL!!! - I've thought the same thing.

Dennett publishes entire books arguing that the aspect of himself that wrote the damn books is illusory. And Susan Blackmore actually considers his to be the best analysis of consciousness yet articulated!

What's scary, is that these are two highly intelligent people.

Michael, you say “For instance, in Calvi-Parisetti's brief examination of Florence Cook's mediumship, he does not mention the fact that Cook was unquestionably caught cheating later in her career. (In one of her séances, the "materialized spirit" was seized by a sitter and turned out to be Florence in disguise.)”

Firstly this event did not happen under the controlled experiments conducted by Sir Williams Crookes. Secondly how on earth do you know that she “was unquestionably caught cheating later in her career”? We know for a fact, because of Crookes work, that she did go under a trance and we do know that some mediums walk around in a trance. I have even read of people on the other side being able to dematerialize their medium out of the room! The allegation that Florence Cook was caught cheating was just that and allegation, and does nothing to dent the work and study of Sir William Crookes one bit. Even if she did engage in fraud latter in her career, that is neither here nor there.

"In one of her séances, the "materialized spirit" was seized by a sitter and turned out to be Florence in disguise"

I'm familiar with the testimony of Mr.Volckmann, who grabbed Florence's arm in a seance and "exposed her".

But that testimony is rebutted by Zammit in his article defending Crooks. Specially, his points 3, 4 and 8 are pertinent:

Point 3: "There was NO evidence during the incident that the materialized person was not Katie King. Volckann did not ever claim that he ever saw the face of the materialized person (that of Katie King) or Florence Cook during the scuffle"

Point 4: "Barrister Henry Dumphy, stated inter alia, that Katie King "glided " out of Volckmann's grip, leaving no trace of corporal existence or surroundings in the shape of clothing"

Point 8: "Critically relevant: Volckmann married rival medium, Mrs Guppy, who was according to Inglis "paranoically jealous" of Florence Cook's success, immediately after this incident"

If the above points are true, it seems that Volckmann's testimony isn't very realible.

how on earth do you know that she “was unquestionably caught cheating later in her career”?

She was found to be impersonating the spirit. That's cheating, in my book. You might argue that a mischievous spirit made her cheat. But it's still cheating, even if (and it's a big "if") it was involuntary.

I'm familiar with the testimony of Mr.Volckmann, who grabbed Florence's arm in a seance and "exposed her".

I'm not talking about Volckman. That incident occurred before Florence was tested by Crookes. The definitive exposure came some years later. Here's an excerpt from an online article:

"At a séance in 1880, Sir George Sitwell noticed that Marie’s spirit robes covered corset stays, so he reached out and grabbed hold of her. He held on tightly to her and when he pulled aside Florrie's curtain, he found that the medium's chair was empty. He was not surprised to discover that he was holding onto Florence, clad only in her underwear."

And yes, I know that Florence Marryat sat with Florence Cook in the cabinet the next night, and testified that Cook was the real deal. But I have doubts about Marryat's credibility.

Michael, you will forgive me if I take the account of Sir William Crookes (whose articles I have) over your “beliefs” and “doubts”. Sir Williams Crookes studies stand a fact, your views are just views and doubt.

Thanks for the clarification, Michael P.

Reading the article of Zammit, he also comments about Sir George Sitwell's account, in the following points:

"1. It is also well known that newspapers are in the business of shock, drama, exaggeration and taking things out of context AND are the least reliable sources! Further, that the reports in the newspapers were written by the skeptic Sitwell himself who stood to be a judge in his own cause. Sitwell's account was rebutted by contemporaneous other writers including the editor of The Spiritualist.

2. As a result of Sitwell's action Florence Cook insisted that someone was to stay with her in the cabinet and thereafter Mrs Marryat was tied to Florence Cook in the cabinet throughout her séances in which successful materializations continued.

3. Further, in 1899, Florence Cook was invited to Berlin by the Sphinx Society to undertake séances under test conditions. The materialisations from these séances were most successful (Fodor 1966:63).

4. One has to see the Cook sittings in their respective longitudinal perspective - as long term credibility is more acceptable than an allegation of a one-off subjectively reported fraudulent claim.

5. In 1900 a number of sitters testified in writing that they has seen Florence Cook and 'Marie' at the same time and that "Before this seance, Florence dressed in the garments provided, was not left a moment alone. She was most securely bound to her chair, which was fastened to an iron ring in the floor and each hand was tied to an arm of the chair...everything was found intact afterwards' Cit. Medhurst and Goldney (1964) pp 84-85.

6. Gambier Bolton in his documented Ghosts in Solid Form (Bolton 1919) provides primary evidence that he himself repeatedly tested Florence Cook (then Mrs Corner) when she was in her forties. He states that her materialisations were genuine, proved and repeatedly witnessed by highly critical sitters in the light, NOT in darkness.

7. Bolton applied the same stringent controls on to Florence Cook as Crookes did himself: the séances took place in the homes of himself or a friend which was searched prior to the sitting by an architect; the medium herself was searched in her clothes and body by a doctor before the sitting; the medium was dressed totally in black (even underwear); the medium was bound with all knots sealed; the medium was seated on a self-registering weighing machine to which an electrical alarm was secretly hidden"

It would be of help if Zammit could give the exact reference of the rebutting of Sitwell's testimony by The Spiritualist. In my opinion, Cook could have cheated in some cases; but it seems so many positive testimonies and controlled tests exist as to compensate the negative cases of cheating.

Of course, contradictory evidence makes the case for Cook as non-conclusive. And many people (not only hard-nosed skeptics) will think of Cook as a fradulent medium.

On Florence Cook's real or fake powers, I can only say... I DON'T KNOW.

Michael, you will forgive me if I take the account of Sir William Crookes (whose articles I have) over your “beliefs” and “doubts”.

Sure, I forgive you! :-)

Zetetic Chick said: Regardless of our opinion about David Thompson (I think some of Michael P. criticism about him are correct and pertinent), I can't see how DT isn't a materialisation medium, if Zammit "shaked hands" with Conan Doyle.

I hope you don't believe everything Zammit says.

Materialisations have to be seen - David Thompson sits in darkness. How on earth would Zammit know he wasn't shaking the hand of an earthly person? Because a voice claimed to be Conan Doyle minus his Scottish accent?

You're pulling my leg - right!

There are so many discrepancies and anomalies in Thompson's mediumship which have all been enumerated on various Spiritualist websites that it's beyond a joke.

“he does not mention the fact that Cook was unquestionably caught cheating later in her career.”

It appears that integrity is not always a condition for being a medium. Being caught cheating does not necessarily mean all paranormal phenomena the medium manifested was fraud. Especially later in a mediums career as it appears they can lose their abilities.

I lean in the direction that she was one of the great mediums of human history because so many others of high integrity besides Crooke’s witnessed her manifested phenomena.

What I find most interesting many of Crookes peers refused to attend these séances even though they lived close to where these séances were taking place. Belief and non-belief can be powerful filters. Finding that middle path between belief and non-belief may be a Buddha challenge.


Do you know if "Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death" is available on 4shared? "Human Personality..." was on the CD with Irreducible Mind but it is in the public domain (the copyright has expired). The version on Google books is a one volume abridged version not the original two volume book.

Hi Zerdini,

In fact I don't believe everything Zammit (or anybody) says.

I only saw a contradiction in DT when he claims about don't be a materialisation medium and at the same time "materialising" hands and other objects in his séances.

I'm not sure that materialisation have to be seen, I suppose materialised objects can be touched too (because, as material objects, they have extension and occupy space, and in principle they can affect our sense of touch).

Also, many mediums work in darkness (including John Sloan), but it isn't a sufficient reason to see them as a fraud. (However, I agree that in cases of materialisation, the use of infra-red glasses and other means to avoid fraud or trickery should se allowed)

It's truth that in DT's seances there are many problems. This is why I agree with many of Michael P. (and others) criticism of them.>Human Personality And Its Survival Of Bodily Death Vol I (1903)>Human Personality And Its Survival Of Bodily Death Vol II (1903)

(to download, click on the "PDF" link on the left hand side of those pages)

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