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Interesting, Michael.

I think perhaps that, 10 or 20 years ago, the two panelists would not have confessed their experiences at all. Today they feel they can.

I do believe some progress has been made.



Someone who has read a good many books is an atheist and a skeptic.

Someone who has read a lot of books is a deist and a champion of the esoteric.

According to materialists every human being is an inveterate liar. Not only is it a sad way to go through life (divorced from wonder as they are) but it is also patently false.

Even I have a hard time not scoffing at such experiences in a public setting. I was watching TV with my Dad the other day when a commercial came on for a new reality show about a medium. I made a joke about it. A not very nice joke, in fact.

I don't know why I felt compelled to react in a negative way. Privately, that isn't how I feel at all, but in front of most other people I quickly turn into a skeptic. I feel like one of those gay politicians who gets married to a woman, keeps being gay a deep dark secret and eventually gets caught in bed with another man just in time to lose an election.

I don't know if it applies to this show but I think there is some direct censorship of the major media over what is acceptable to say and what is not.

For example I've read that Fox news has been deterred from covering the Obama birth certificate social security fraud controversy. Whatever you may think of the legitimacy of the evidence, it would still be natural for them to cover it. But they don't. Some type of censorship seems likely to me.

I'd really like to know that that is done, if true. It would be as big a story as the one they're trying to censor.

E-Verify 'flags' Obama's Social Security Number
System crunches prez's data, determines 'likely fraudulent'

Sheriff Arpaio's posse to review Obama BC

MSNBC gets cold feet about eligibility questions
Cancels interview with driving force behind 'Where's the Real Birth Certificate?'

How does Obama's document stack up against genuine BC?
Volunteer produces Kapiolani form from same time period as president's

WND's complete archive of news reports on the issue

Orly Taitz, a lawyer who has been trying to get this tried in court has a web site here:

(I tried to post this with live links but even though the system said it was posted, it didn't appear, so maybe it's in the spam folder? Anyway this might be one reason people find their posts get lost, too many live links???)

"I'd really like to know that that is done"

Should have said: "I'd really like to know *how* that is done"

Also that lawyer comes across as a total crank (I hope I don't provoke a lawsuit for writing that) except on the legal topics which, as a lawyer, is their area of expertise.

"I tried to post this with live links but even though the system said it was posted, it didn't appear,"

That must be part of the censorship conspiracy too!

Sadly, this is, like you said, a common knee-jerk reaction. Instead of actually listening to a person's account and reviewing it respectfully, many people decide to just laugh at the so-called "misguided" for telling such "fairy tales."

As someone who is interested in this subject, I love hearing peoples accounts with ghost stories. It's probably why I find myself enjoying SyFy (I still can't believe that thought that was a better name than SciFi)'s new show Paranormal Witness. I find these stories fascinating, especially when people tell them without revealing their true identity, ruling out the whole "They're just doing this to get attention and to get rich" excuse.

Here's the clip, Michael:


Apologies, it seems only four of the ten are still available.

I know why this type of thing gets the response it does. It's because people hear this stuff constantly from people they know are either joking or idiots. When most of the input on a topic is bad, you learn to expect that and dismiss it immediately. It's a bit like discussing politics, where you learn to ignore certain people and ALL of their ideas, even though they might have a good one once in a while.

I tried to find a good spiritualism discussion board, but everyone I checked was filled with obviously deluded people who believe things are happening to them that aren't. Their BS filters were set so low that they really believed, for instance, that they had left their bodies, even though their whole description of the event was really wrong. I'm sure we've all seen ghosts that turn into bushes, or things outside our car that turn out to be reflections in the window of something inside when we look harder, but we don't run to spirit boards to report on them.

I think some of the people on the boards would believe their own hand was a disembodied hand if you put a piece of cardboard over their arms to block their view of the connection to their shoulder. With folks like that running around telling everyone what they've seen, is it any wonder that people have a hard time believing?

Reincarnation got a bad rep for similar reasons, when too many people revealed they were Cleopatra in a past life (or some other famous person). By the time the third Cleopatra or John the Baptist rolls around the whole idea gets discredited.

Ghosts have exactly the same problem, especially since people have grown up on ghost stories told around the campfire, and so you really can't blame people for chalking off ghost-seers as deluded.

"Reincarnation got a bad rep for similar reasons, when too many people revealed they were Cleopatra in a past life"

That's a common skeptical trope, but I'm not sure it really happened. The plague of Cleopatras and other famous people seems to be an urban legend. As I recall, studies of past-life regressions indicate that the overwhelming majority of people recall ordinary lives, and almost no one remembers life as a famous historical figure. Helen Wambach regressed more than 10,000 subjects and found that nearly all of them recalled mundane lives:

"I'm sure we've all seen ghosts that turn into bushes"

I don't think I've ever seen anything I thought was a ghost, but the stories told by people like Beckel involve sightings of clearly visible human figures in appropriate historical dress. It's not just a case of a vague cloudy shape in the shadows.

I will admit, though, that Beckel is often the target of jibes from the other panelists, so maybe their reaction was, in part, just a matter of habit. But I think there's more to it than that.

I recall reading this in a National Geographic magazine. A guide in the Egyption Valley of the Kings: today I met the 450th lady claiming to be the reincarnation of Queen Nefertete.

Right, but they weren't making the claim on the basis of past-life regression studies, were they?

I don't remember the original question being if people had legitimate reasons for rejecting these phenomena, only why they do.

If you don't care about the subject, and are negatively inclined against it, you don't need much of a reason, and it doesn't have to be a good one. Urban legends and multiple Nefertetes are sufficient.

People aren't highly discriminatory: look at all of the weak-minded "skeptics" who accept Randi's logic that if it is possible to fake something it must therefore have been faked.

One thing I've noticed is that if the evening news covers a UFO story, it has to be done with a wink and a chuckle. I'm in England, and the government here just released a big pile of formerly classified UFO files. When it was covered on the news, they had a whacky graphic in the background and cracked a joke about it before moving on to the next story.

This brings to mind what Arizona Governor Fife Symington did in response to the Phoenix lights in 1997 (when I lived in Arizona). Symington said that in the days and weeks following the mass sightings, public hysteria was building, to the point where he felt he needed to defuse it and calm the situation. So he held a press conference and trotted out a six-foot alien, saying, "This just goes to show that you are altogether too serious."

But now, years later, Symington has come out and said that he personally witnessed the same huge boomerang-shaped craft that so many others did, and then did his best to get to the bottom of it, but was stonewalled by the government and military.

This reminds me of Sandy's story above. It's as if, regardless of our private beliefs, something pulls us, almost against our will and for different stated reasons, toward laughing this stuff off in public. Weird.

I think the something that pulls us is the gravity of consensus consciousness.

Michael had a post awhile back asking, "Do I really believe any of this?"

I think we do believe it, but we can't underestimate the effect of 7 billion or so people molding consciousness with their beliefs.

Most people in the world *do* believe in the paranormal, but here in the US (and in the UK too, I believe), the consensus reality is split mostly between Christians and atheists, neither of which wants to have anything to do with ghosts.

The argument from skeptics is that none of these experiences people have is ever verifiable I don't think that is true. But that is what the skeptics say. All they can be is debunked over and over again and that they don't want to be a party pooper when they say sorry sir or lady but you won't see your loved ones again. This is the type of response you get from skeptics.

For example physicist Robert Park makes this type of response.

Below is what MP said about my comment re the guide in the Valley of the Kings:

Right, but they weren't making the claim on the basis of past-life regression studies, were they?

As far as I can understand it was meant as a joke. And I think it is when so many people believe that they are a reincarnation of one special famous person in the past, and then ancient Egypt in particular.

Personally I have all reason to think that there is truth in the whole concept of reincarnation. People like Ian Stevenson, Jim Tucker and many others have shown us the way.

"I don't remember the original question being if people had legitimate reasons for rejecting these phenomena, only why they do."

True. I sort of wandered astray in my answers. Your original point is a good one.

The Fife Symington story is very interesting. Personally I think the Phoenix lights were adequately explained by the military, but the large craft allegedly witnessed by Symington and others (which happened earlier that evening) is a lot harder to dismiss.

It irks me that I was actually in Phoenix that night but never saw any of this. I was unaware it was happening until it was all over.

The one place I've found it "safe" to discuss unusual experiences is in the company of other women. But only when there are no men around.

The last time I was at a dinner party with my husband, the guys all gravitated towards the TV set with the hockey game on in one room, while most of the women hung out in a different room. As soon as the men were out of the picture, the conversation took a very different turn. One woman mentioned a ghost that had been seen by a number of witnesses in the house she had lived in for the past 20 years. No one made fun of her. Everyone seemed to have a story to share.

I was actually the one person who didn't share any stories, although I did agree to read tea leaves for the other women. (I don't put a lot of faith in tea leaves, but I will read them for fun.) It was like this guilty pleasure the women were all sharing, talking about forbidden a subject when the guys weren't looking.

I've heard that woman mention the ghost in her house in front of her husband once before, when my husband and I were at their house for dinner. Her husband's level of discomfort was pretty high. Even my husband started squirming at the mention of ghosts. The men were quick to make jokes and change the subject.

The thing is, I don't think that men are any more likely to be skeptics or believers than women are. But I do think that when it comes to socializing, women have some special dispensation to talk about ghosts that men don't share with us. Kind of a throwback to when women had their own separate social circles. The origins of "old wives tales", I guess. But once we get into modern mixed social groups, we start to act like the men do.

In response to Sandy:

In 2005 I was at a conference of the Scientific and Medical Network in Britain. This network consists of scientists, of both genders, who basically reject the monistic materialistic paradigm and are willing to seriously consider everything that is considered an anomaly.

It was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had. Why? One could without fear discuss all sorts of anomalistic phenomena, be they parapsychology, reincarnation, OBE's, NDE's, whatever. If there had been someone around who wanted to relate his/her experiences with ghosts, s(h)e could have done so without the fear of being ridiculed.

There were even quite a few people around with mediumistic qualities. They were taken one hundred percent seriously. (Although this does not imply that these people are completely uncritical, far from it!)

I came home elated! And next threw out all the copies of the Skeptical Inquirer I had gathered over the past twenty years or so. I had thus learned that skepticism CSIcop-style is nothing but sheer rubbish. They are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Since then I have been a member of that marvellous group that was once formed by such illustrious scientists like David Bohm.

In response to Sandy:

The only two people at my workplace who discuss ghosts are men. (I don't like ghosts - I see them as elementals left over from the human animal)

Rudolf, I know there are men who have more open points of view. I've talked to parapsychologists who are fairly open minded while still being critical thinkers. I've discussed ghosts with William Roll over breakfast when we were visiting Laurentian University in April 2010. Certainly the researchers I've worked with at Laurentian are open to various possibilities.

So I have discussed ghosts with men, but not in a more general public setting. It's only happened in situations where everyone involved knew that we were all up for that discussion.

I'm not saying that my experience in groups of women applies to every woman, Barbara. I will say that many women are open to the subject without feeling the need to vet everyone in the group prior to the discussion taking place. You certainly involve yourself in this discussion forum where the possibility of survival is discussed, so you aren't completely unwilling to discuss such things, at least in anonymity.


Have you heard of Nanci L. Danison? Your comment about the "human animal" sounded just like her.



"I don't like ghosts - I see them as elementals left over from the human animal"

The next time you see one, why not ask them their opinion on the subject?

Relax folks, everything's gonna be okay. Don't forget - one funeral at a time. Problem is, I'm afraid there won't be any major shifts in mainstream scientific opinion until after my funeral :-)

jsh, why are ghosts supposed to know everything about themselves? We don't know everything about ourselves. If aliens asked us a question regarding what human consciousness is, we'd be at a loss to explain it.

I found ghosts and afterlife as absurd until I had serious poltergeist activity from a ouija board experience gone wrong. At the time,I was a borderline atheist and still have a Michael Shermer type skeptism towards the paranormal. But, as a skeptic I can say I rationally got to TRY to debunk the situation as it occurred. The evidence far outweighed rational explanations of the phenomena. Being in the Marine Corps at the time I tried telling my story to get help but only got laughed at. A wiccan practitioner quietly pulled me aside and told me what to do to stop the activities. Now a decade removed from the situation my roomate at the time has come forward telling me he just wanted to ignore what had happened and he also didnt tell me about his own experiences until recently.

I think many people want to laugh it away due to their personal discomfort with the paranormal or they fear ridicule. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence but without scientific scrutiny or personal experience many will just write it off as delusions. I still have a hard time listening to peoples' stories and not immediately discounting them but I realize I need to put myself into their shoes and be open about others experiences.

'Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence'

I don't think they do. They just need the standard evidence required for any claim.

The 'Extraordinary claims' phrase indicates a subjective bias towards a commonly held consensus of how the world is, but just because it's commonly accepted doesnt mean it's true.

Your experience sounds like a classic case of the unknown real world gatecrashing uninvited on your neatly worked out world-view where everythnig is nice an explainable and ordered.

I think quite a few of us here can relate to that. Michael's blog attracts a few former hard-nosed skeptics for the same reasons.

It's all very well being a skeptic until an undeniable experience comes along and bites you in the ass - and doesnt let go!

New science explains NDEs in a non-paranormal context:

We are just living in the wrong place:

Hi SBU. The article you link to has already been doing the rounds. Contrary to the hype about it 'eplaining NDEs' it actually contains no new research of any value; it simply rehashes all the usual arguments. It also ignores veridical accounts as they don't fit in with the standard explanation.

"jsh, why are ghosts supposed to know everything about themselves? We don't know everything about ourselves. If aliens asked us a question regarding what human consciousness is, we'd be at a loss to explain it."

Hi Sandy,

I agree with you 100%. One of my favorite sayings is, "just because they're dead doesn't mean they're smart."

Some spirits don't even recognize they're out of their earth body.

You've talked to ghosts, do you think they are elementals left over from the human animal?

New science explains NDEs in a non-paranormal context:

'Walking corpse syndrome'

Brilliant, a perfect match... and so simple how did all the other researchers miss it ? :D

"It also ignores veridical accounts as they don't fit in with the standard explanation.

It also ignores the connection between NDE's and the holographic and quantum nature of the Universe.

My most recent connection between them was after I'd read an article in New Scientist online magazine where Dr. Craig Hogan talked about there being a certain inherent blurriness in a holographic projection. It was like a lightbulb lit up in my head because it explained to me how the other side (the original holographic film) could be "more real" or "more consciousness than normal" than the holographic projection we live in now.

I see connections between NDE's and the holographic universe theory and quantum physics all the time. It's obvious to me. It's like a puzzle framed by quantum physics and the holographic universe theory with the inside pieces made up of near death experiences, death bed visions, mystical and transcendental experiences, etc. And when I step back and look at it I see something very amazing.

We are spiritual beings having a physical experience and everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff.

Why do people who have NDE's say things that parallel or corroborate the holographic and quantum nature of the universe? How is this possible? How does a housewife from Kansas or a truck driver with a third grade education come back and say things that sound very holographic?

Read this online essay The Universe as a Hologram and then read Mark Horton's NDE. The congruence between them is startling. Mark had his experience back in the early 90's before Talbot's book even became popular. He says in his experience "I know this sounds like gibberish" (it doesn't to me because it sounds exactly like what someone would expect if we do indeed live in a holographic universe) but what he describes sounds like hundreds of other NDE's that say things that parallel the holographic nature of the universe.

The Universe as a Hologram

Mark Horton's NDE:

Near Death Experience: A Holographic Explanation Oswald G. Harding Ph.D

How the New Physics is Validating NDE Concepts by C.D. Rollins:

No, jsh, I don't think they are elementals left over from the human animal.

They talk about seeing more colors than normal which makes sense because we only see a very small fraction of the light spectrum and after the soul leaves the physical body it might be able to see a much larger piece the entire light spectrum.

NDE'ers talk about buildings made out of knowledge or thoughts becoming things - which sounds similar to something I read about it taking consciousness to collapse the quantum wave into a particle. In Dr. Fred Alan Wolf's book The Spiritual Universe he talks about matter being an epiphenomena of consciousness.

Mark Horton's NDE sounds like a holographic journey extraordinaire. From the holographic universe angle it makes perfect sense. Mark says "I know it sounds like gibberish" but if you'd read and studied popular physics books and the holographic universe theory mark h's nde experience makes perfect sense.

Hi Art,

I know you are a big fan of this theory. My personal hunch is that the holographic theory is certainly closer to what's going on than previous thoeries. However, I'm reluctant to say any one theory is 100% accurate as one thing that does appear clear from NDEers' experiences is that the nature of reality is ridiculously simple from the perspective of expanded awareness, but as soon as you arrive back here with bog-standard human awareness, it all becomes mind-boggingly complex.

This is evidenced by the fact that time and time again, NDEers struggle to put into human language the nature of their experience. The holographic idea seems to be the closest translation for many NDEers today but surely it is just that - a translation.

"I know you are a big fan of this theory." - douglas

It's not "one theory" but two things which support or corroborate one another. It's thousands of near death experiencers describing their experience in terms which can only be called "holographic." It matches exactly with what Michael Talbot wrote about in his book "The Holographic Universe." It's like going to a jury trial and all the witnesses telling the same story.

For instance when they talk about information being downloaded as a "bolus" or all at once that is a "holographic" statement. We normally get information linearly - one fact after another - but if information is downloaded instantly as a bolus - like seeing your entire life at once - that is a reference to the holographic nature of the Universe.

excerpt from Chamisa's NDE:
"Everything in a hologram. The ability to see and know everything at once. Seeing through walls. Knowing the past, present and future of people in surgery and seeing family members and what they were doing."

In a hologram all the information is spread throughout the entire hologram. Each piece contains the whole. Everything is interconnected and everything interpenetrates everything.

Excerpt from Carl Turner's experience:
"I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere."

Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE:
"I literally had the feeling that I was everywhere in the universe simultaneously."

I could go on and on with this giving examples. About every third NDE that I read makes some statement that to me the connection with the holographic universe theory is obvious.

@ Cody, I have been watching Paranormal Witness. Unless they are getting a bunch of people to lie, even the police, I have to assume some of these stories are legit.

Rob said:

"Being in the Marine Corps at the time I tried telling my story to get help but only got laughed at."

Hey, Rob, you won't get laughter here. You want to tell us your story?

On a separate note, would anybody here say that the first words that come to mind when you think of Richard Dawkins is that he's got "a knack for bashing orthodoxy"?

I didn't think so. I guess we can all forget about writing for the New York TImes. :o)


I'm kindof with Douglas on the holographic Universe thing. On the one hand, I think it's got something to it. On the other, there is not a big "ah hah" for me.

I think a good theory should, in one go, make things easier to think about. Agreeing that Universe is holographic would be just that: agreeing and choosing another label for things. It doesn't suddenly help a lot of pieces come together.

Even better than making it easier to think about things is when a theory allows one to make predictions that come true. I don't see that factor at work here either.

So I get it about the holographic Universe and experiencing separation and whatnot, but I'm not feeling the big payoff.



I'd be happy to share my experience for other's sake. I'm used to the "b.s." expression in peoples' eyes or questions after I tell it. Experience included disembodied growling, evp, physical manipulations, haywire electronics, moving furniture, alleged angry spirit, basically the works. If it wasn't in a barracks I would have contacted someone for an investigation.

Interesting, Rob! My first impression of you is that you're a credible observer.

So, having had such a compelling first-hand experience, how do you reconcile what you now know is possible with your statement that you "still have a Michael Shermer type skeptism towards the paranormal"?

I don't want to put you on the spot, but it's always interesting to me how we have these amazing things happen to us (me included), yet somehow remain at least partial skeptics.

Well, what do you expect? It is Fox news afterall, who'd expect the right-wing propaganda machine to actually have a mature conversation about the paranormal?

"I think a good theory should, in one go, make things easier to think about. Agreeing that Universe is holographic would be just that: agreeing and choosing another label for things. It doesn't suddenly help a lot of pieces come together." - Matt

On these message boards there is a constant banter about "is it real?" Pages and pages of dialogue arguing about "is it real?" The connection between NDE's and the holographic universe theory validates the realness of the experience. Don't you ever wonder how it is that so many near death experiencers, just common normal everyday people, come back after their experience and say things that sound so "holographic" or are similar to things that some physicists have written in popular physics books? When a near death experiencer says that he went into a library or hall of learning and it seemed the building itself was "made of knowledge" or information doesn't the connection between that and when Fred Alan Wolf says that in some quantum physics experiments it seems the particles interact with the investigators? Doesn't that pique your interest? How can a policeman or a housewife come up with this stuff?

Just recently I read an article in New Scientist magazine where Craig Hogan, the director Fermilab made the statement that in a holographic projection there is a certain inherent blurriness - and many many NDE'ers say that on the other side it seems even more clear or more real or more consciousness than here? Especially since these same physicists say that experiments point in the direction that we are living in a holographic projection? Don't you see the connection? When the soul leaves the body it goes to the original holographic film where the blurriness doesn't exist?

360 degree vision, boluses of information, connectedness and oneness, overwhelming love, telepathy, holographic life reviews, feeling the emotions and hearing the thoughts of the people you interacted with, more real than real, thoughts turning into things, more color than normal (referring to seeing the entire light spectrum), etc. These are all things that validate NDE's. They connect NDEs to quantum physics and the holographic universe theory.

So, does anyone know where I can can get Ducasse's books? I am in china, currently, so ordering is a bit tricky. Maybe someone knows if they are online? "nature, mind and death" and "a critical examination of the belief in life after death"

oh, maybe C.D. Broad's books too? I know some of them were hosted in, but the site's been down forever.

Mike said:

"Well, what do you expect? It is Fox news afterall, who'd expect the right-wing propaganda machine to actually have a mature conversation about the paranormal?"

On the other hand (as I mentioned in an earlier comment today), the New York Times, hardly known for their right-wing propaganda, considers Richard Dawkins to be an intellectual trail-blazer and reliable source for metaphysical insights.

Maybe this isn't so much about right vs left.

"My Michael Shermer type skepticism" more or less means I weigh the probability of coincidences against possible explanations. At one time I ate up all the Art Bell, Alex Jones and Jim Marrs type conspiracies and theories. I believed NWO plots, freemason/trilateral/cfr/bildeburg conspiracies, the Dulce files, MJ12 and all sorts of stuff. Through the years of reading though, I realized how easy it is to get sucked into questionable theories and evidence. Being in my teens and 20's Occam's razor never really hit me. Sensational theories built around questionable evidence is the norm in most cases. Hidden identities and "top secret" documents with black marker obscuring passages became a common pattern I observed. I guess it's more the conspiracies than paranormal that statement about my skepticism was directed at.

Even with my experiences with the paranormal I am highly skeptical of the conclusions often assumed. I prefer to be a reverse-role skeptic and rule out the probability of conventional materialistic explanations.

"I prefer to be a reverse-role skeptic and rule out the probability of conventional materialistic explanations."

I think that's generally the most sensible course. A lot of supposedly paranormal stuff can be explained in terms of coincidence, imagination, unreliable witnesses, fraud, wishful thinking, or seeing patterns that aren't really there. The strongest evidence can't be explained this way, but run-of-the-mill cases often can be.

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