IMG_2361
Blog powered by Typepad

« Chris Carter's latest | Main | »

Comments

zerdini,

You wrote,

||Independent direct voice mediumship is NOT trance.||

Yes, I know.


||Flint often joined in the conversations so he was hardly 'doing some funny voices'.||

Even if he produced an ectoplasm voice box and was talking to Frederic Chopin, the voice I heard of Frederic Chopin was indeed a "funny voice." Awful stuff.

||Forming a viewpoint based on a few tape recordings and, as Original Paul pointed out, 'then dismiss the entire body of evidence about the man without proper analysis is hardly rational.'||

First, I *have* formed a preliminary viewpoint based on the data that is currently available to me, and that is that there were almost certainly paranormal phenomena associated with Flint, he was never caught directly in a fraud, but that at least some of the phenomena associated with him (including a bunch of recordings available on YouTube) are not legitimate. That does not mean that they necessarily were fraudulent, although they could have been.

I haven't dismissed the entire body of evidence about him.

What's irrational about the above?

Matt,

I think you are too quick to dismiss the possibility that there is a merging to some degree between the two personalities to allow the communication to manifest.

You accept this notion with Jane Roberts and the Seth material, but dismiss this idea from Flint 'because it is direct vice and you expect to hear a direct voice'.

How do you know that there is not a related phenomena in play with Flint's form of direct voice mediumship?

It is clear from the evidence that Flint wasnt talking during the sessions, and so we can surmise that he was generating the voices using an ectoplasmic voicebox; Ectoplasm appears to be drawn from the body of the medium, so we must assume an ectoplasmic voicebox would be generated from his own voicebox, projected ectoplasmically.

If we imagine the vociebox as an instument, which a voicebox is in effect, then the discarnate entities are then asked to communicate via the vociebox. However, if the voicebox is fundamentally based on Flint's own voice patterns, projected ectoplasmically, then they are always going to sound like variations of Flint's own voice.

So I feel that the actual words, the content of the communication itself, is genuine, but as it is projected via Flint's ectoplasmic voicebox, formed by his own voice pattersn, they are always going to sound fake to our ears.

This is why Zerdini and others always focused on the content of the communications, not how they sound in recordings. Clearly, relatives of the deceased were in no doubt that the communications were genuine as they passed on deply personal, veridical information to the relatives concerned.

I think perhaps 'direct voice' is a slightly inaccurate term, becasue it can't be purely 'direct' voice, as some kind of 'transfer protocol' has to be put in place, and this involves some kind of mechanism.

If we really want to understand how these phenomena are generated, rather than continually going around in cicles arguing about how 'realistic' the voices are, then we really have to start trying to understand the mechanism.

Alexander1304, when psychical research evolved into parapsychology with scientists as Rhine, the question of the afterlife is generally considered unscientific, a taboo. Hence the emergence of ideas too complicated to interpret the evidence of the afterlife without admitting the afterlife: super-psi, the psychic factor, memory remains, and others.

The problem with this approach of modern parapsychology do not want to relate to the old psychic research is part of an error and is not impartial. The error is to assume that the question of the afterlife is not scientific: a priori we can not know what exist in the world, so that only empirical research can reveal to us if there are spirits of the dead. The bias is because is true that cases of poltergeists are usually not good evidence for the existence of spirits of the dead, but there are many phenomena that indicate that what survives death is not a simple memories field or mental residue, but a stable vehicle for consciousness of deceased human beings: the apparitions of the living and deceased, NDEs, the deathbed visions, experiments with astral projection, cross-correspondences, etc.

So why the opposition of modern parapsychology to the existence of the afterlife is irrational because it is based on a priori assumption that the idea of ​​the afterlife is unscientific, when only empirical research can decide what exist in the world.

And finally, Alexander1304, what's that book you wrote in another comment?

Well-put Douglas.

First, I *have* formed a preliminary viewpoint based on the data that is currently available to me, and that is that there were almost certainly paranormal phenomena associated with Flint, he was never caught directly in a fraud, but that at least some of the phenomena associated with him (including a bunch of recordings available on YouTube) are not legitimate. That does not mean that they necessarily were fraudulent, although they could have been.

Hi Matt

A preliminary opinion is of course perfectly reasonable - except of course you didn't say that initially. Your comments didn't sound provisional to me.

As far as the the information available to you; if it consists of the recordings you mention then it is incomplete indeed. There is a great deal of information available just online. Why limit your research to listening to recordings and then express a firm opinion?

What do you mean by recordings being 'not legitimate'? Do you mean 'not of any evidential value' - if so, why not say that?

What do you mean by 'not caught in direct fraud' - these are weasel words. The man was extensively tested. Either he was shown to be fraudulent or there is substantial evidence to suggest fraud - if you have that I would be interested to hear it.

If your implication is that the voices don't convince you they are real, therefore they are suggestive of fraud, this might be the only basis I can think of. If so, the drawback is that you would be ignoring the other questions raised above. On their own, if there was no other evidence than the recordings available online, I would agree that Flint's work was of little, if any, value. However there is much more to the man, including the opportunity to talk to someone who knew him well and attended many of his sittings.

@ Bruce and Matt, I am laughing about the "word" thing as I teach math to high school students. One came in recently and said

"Yo, Mrs. S, like my steeze? How's my flow, you?"

Props if you can understand that! You can ask me for a translation later if you want to know.

Hi Juan,the book is "Body,Mind and Death""by Frederick C Dommeyer,of 1965.I am on vocatioin since today.when I am back - I will upload it and we'll discuss.
Meanwhile what I find encouraging,that survivalists point that in each area suggesting survival ,there ARE the cases that CANNOT be explained by ESP.Scott Rogo made it nice,it is on Michael Tymn's blog.I think there are more many cases that CANNOT be explained by ESP.Also John Palmer discussed Stevenson's research and stated that at least SOME cases have no better explanation as reincarnation.I never took NDE seriously but maybe it is my mistake,I am very impressed by the article of David Rousseau.I'll be back in 3 weeks.Best regards to everyone!

Why are seances conducted in the dark?

Where is this substantial body of evidence that Flint was exhaustively tested? Who tested him?

"First, I *have* formed a preliminary viewpoint based on the data that is currently available to me, and that is that there were almost certainly paranormal phenomena associated with Flint, he was never caught directly in a fraud, but that at least some of the phenomena associated with him (including a bunch of recordings available on YouTube) are not legitimate. That does not mean that they necessarily were fraudulent, although they could have been."

I am going to chime in here in support of Matt's outlook. The recordings of Flint's "Chopin" etc sound bogus to me too. Of course, there aren't any of Chopin's relatives around to confirm the validity of what was communicated. No information about previously unknown symphonies hidden inside a wall.....nothing to validate these "communications" from famous deceased people. I have to say that these famous personality communications are the sort of performance that can make it occasionally embarassing to be on the survival acceptance side of the debate.

So maybe we can say, at best, Flint is a mixture of real mediumship and pure entertainment/showmanship - with the famous personalities being the pure entertainment aspect of Flint's gig.

....although I must add that I really liked what "Chopin" had to say about music.

@Dave R - if you are genuinely interested in the answers to those questions you will find out very quickly, even online, with a little effort. I am not your amanuensis.

Interestingly perhaps, in the case of Direct Voice, the evidence (if such there is) will be in the content, so it wouldn't really matter if the room was dark or not, and in the method of production if this can be observed (as it apparently was in the case of Flint).

Darkness was seemingly necessary, or was for Flint. One can make one's own mind up of course as to what the implications of that are, but personally I prefer to understand the full facts before rushing to a conclusion.

@no one: Precisely! - you do not know what Chopin sounded like. There is no one around who knew him who can comment - therefore the recordings of him are of no evidential value in themselves.

It is not wise to comment on Flint as a medium without researching him and certainly not based solely on a set of recordings which were never intended to be 'proof' (which the Wood-Green recordings were not). It is one thing to say the recordings are not evidential, it is another to suggest that Flint was in any way fraudulent.

The question is: what was the purpose of the Wood-Green recordings that you have listened to? They cannot have been intended to be veridical as they have no verifiable content except perhaps for someone who knew the communicator. Even if they sounded identical, how on Earth could they be viewed as evidence of survival? As far as I can see they are 'take em or leave em'. They need a context, hence the suggestion regarding researching Flint in some detail.

Paul, it is not up to me to do research on Flint in order to answer my questions. Of course, i could google it and in fact, i just did that and i cannot locate any robust investigation of him. I can see biased accounts. So if you would be so kind as to give a link to some website that shows the exhuastive investigation of him with scientific protocals, i would appreciate it.

His Wikipedia entry says "The Society for Psychical Research investigated Flint and concluded that the voices heard at his séances were auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis.[4]"

I think that says a hell of a lot more than the attempts to validate his mediumship that i have come across on this blog specifically for the last few days.

Of course it's up to you to research the subject under discussion! I dont think you're genuinely interested in the subject at all. I am not an apologist for Flint or a spiritualist and I am not interested in changing your opinion. If you're lucky Zerdini might provide some more info, frankly I don't blame him if he doesn't.

If the Wikipedia entry is he sum total of the effort you are prepared to make, you might at least look at the reports of the others mentioned in the Wikipedia article, rather than just picking the reference that's suits you. That says a lot too I think.

As an aside, I wonder how one records an auditory hallucination? Of course you may suggest he used a combination of auditory hallucination through hypnosis, mimicry and 'funny voices'. It is difficult to have a sensible discussion with someone who won't read the accounts of attendees, the mediums own description and the reports of those who investigated him.

The subject of Flint has been discussed at length in this forum in the past, not to mention in other places. If you have truly researched the man and don't like what you have read, fair enough. I don't think you have done much research at all (save for looking him up on Wikipedia and listening to a few recordings).

My own view is that I do not know whether Flint was genuine or not however I have not found a single account or report that was evidence of fraud, even the SPR report you cite doesn't accuse him of fraud. If there such a report or account, I would be interested to read it.

On the contrary, the SPR account i just cited does say that fraud was perpetrated through hypnosis. I don't really understand what you are getting at.

I asked you for a link to a reputable source so that i could save time searching google. Are you prepared to do that? If not, i will have to trawl through tens of websites just to find the info you claim exists ie robust, exhuastive scientifically conducted tests on Flint. Since i am not making the claims here, it is really up to you to provide the evidence because it seems to me that you are making these claims. That is just the way the logic goes.

I haven't seen anything in what you have said that contradicts anything i have said.

David - I don't have access to the SPR report (and I suspect you may not either - if you do I'd love to see it, SPR reports are often difficult to get at without a visit to London). Clearly this was the view of the people who produced the report - it may or may not have been correct or reasonable. Might it not be useful to hear the medium's own view of this situation? To get that of course you'd have to read his biography. Frankly, if you were really interested you'd do that anyway.

As an aside how do you record auditory hallucinations?

What about the reports of Louis Young, William Bennett, C Drayton Thomas (also an SPR member)? Are they of less value?

You see what I mean - you seem to accept what suits you and ignore what doesn't.

My objection is to your dismissal of Flint based on very little research. I am not saying you ought to accept Flint was genuine - how could you, you haven't done any real research on the man?

If the research by Thomas, Bennett and Young is not 'reputable' enough for you then you can simply accept what the SPR report concludes, without reading it, and move on. The problem comes when you assert that you know the truth of the matter when you clearly don't.


More about Leslie Flint

What is being told here about "auditory hallucinations" is nonsense. Because such hallucinations could not and cannot be recorded on tape! It seems very unlikely that SPR researchers would issue such silly explanations.

Not so long ago I had an email discussion with Ms Mary Rose Barrington, a prominent member of the SPR who attended many of Flint's sessions. She told me that at times she heard how Micky, Flint's "control", whispered in her ear or was right overhead. She is fairly certain that this was an example of a direct voice.

Another striking phenomenon are the at times truly beautiful feminine voices that were heard during such seances. Some reluctant SPR researchers alleged that even such voices were a result of clever ventriloquism. Absolute and total nonsense. To test this out Dutch investigators gagged the very best ventriloguist in the Netherlands and asked him to produce a truly feminine voice. The only sound he could produce was a "mmmmmmmmmmmm" (I have this on tape).
Mind you: during SPR tests Flint was also gagged, and his mouth was filled with (red-coloured) water. Yet, the voices kept coming, undistorted.

The ventriloguist was strongly insisting in explaining that no male ventriloguist is capable of producing such beautiful, life like female voices, let alone when gagged.

I have also a report, on tape, of an American engineer, who watched Flint performing, using infrared binoculars. He clearly saw ectoplasm forming a voicebox beside Flint's head, and the voices were coming from that ectoplastic voicebox.

Flint's physical and direct voice mediumship was genuine. Period.

Smithy

"The Society for Psychical Research investigated Flint and concluded that the voices heard at his séances were auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis.[4]"

I'm not familiar with that report, but if the investigators thought Flint was hypnotizing people against their will (or without their knowledge), and somehow hypnotizing an entire group of people all at once, I'd say that flies in the face of what we know about the methods and limits of hypnosis.

@Smithy - wow!

@Paul - thank you!

There is much more to say about Flint which suggests that his skills were genuine. I am turning in now, because it is bed time, here in the Netherlands. More to come perhaps next Monday - this weekend I am out.

Anyway, it is hard to get hold of SPR's report on Flint. It is not on line, and access is only allowed for SPR members, as I have been told.

In any case, the hypnosis explanation is not in the report, that's for sure. Simply because, as I said before, a hallucination whether it be visual or auditory cannot be recorded on tape. It is as sample as that.

Cheers - Smithy

Hi Smithy. I am very interested in Leslie. If you don't mind sending me ur email (via this link - don't post it!), I'd appreciate it. No problem if you'd rather not.

Zerdini and Paul,

Before I respond to specific points, let me try to explain where I am coming from with an example.

Consider the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun

When we're debating these things, it's easy to fall into the believer vs. skeptic template, but my filter doesn't work like a skeptic's. A skeptic would look at the Miracle of the Sun and say, "There's *no way* that happened." In contrast, I'm inclined to believe that, when 30-100k people see something, something really happened. Maybe it was an odd weather phenomenon, maybe it was something else, but I'm inclined to believe it was a paranormal event.

Now, this was a miracle "sponsored by" Catholicism, so to speak. Typically, proponents of religions/viewpoints would say, If this miracle/phenomenon associated with my religion/viewpoint is real, then my religion/viewpoint is the Truth."

Contrariwise, those not in favor of the religion/viewpoint will typically buy this reasoning and argue *against* the miracle or phenomenon. Moreover, those in favor of the religion/viewpoint will typically take an argument by a non-proponent against the miracle/phenomenon as an argument the entire religion/viewpoint.

I don't buy this reasoning, and it has led to many, *many* ills. To wit:

1. I have just performed a miracle in the name of my god(dess). That means my god(dess) is real and everything I say about him/her is the Truth. Submit!

2. I'm a psychic and have just provided some correct information to you that I could not have known without true psychic ability. That means everything else I say to you today is the Truth!

Not only do I not believe in Catholicism, I was raised Catholic and have rejected it thoroughly and on a very personal level. But I do not say that the Miracle of the Sun did not happen. Even if it happened, however, that only means that... the Miracle of the Sun happened. It doesn't mean that the Blessed Virgin Mary is a "real" entity or that Catholicism is the Truth.

So let's apply this to Flint. I don't doubt the positive things people say about him and his mediumship. My saying that I don't find that recordings I heard on YouTube legitimate is not intended to invalidate every claim about the man. I only intend to say that I find the recordings I heard to be not only not compelling but also to be fatuous.

To me, these poor recordings discredit him in the way that a bad album discredits a band. A bad album doesn't mean that other albums are necessarily bad, but it is a data point that increases the likelihood that they are. Flint's bad recordings suggest that there are other poor phenomena associated with him that I have not yet been presented. This is simply inductive reasoning, nothing more.

By "illegitimate," I mean that the phenomena in the recordings are not, prima facie, what they purport to be. The silly- but Flint-sounding voices and banal content suggest to me that they are *not* the voices of Gandhi, Chopin, et al. and do *not* reflect the mental/spiritual content of those persons. That said, those voices still could have been coming from an ectoplasmic voice box, and they could have been sincerely delivered by Flint. The voices could very well have been paranormal in origin yet nevertheless not reflect well on Flint due to the poor level of content delivered thereby.

I hope this clears up my overall perspective on this a bit. Now I'll respond to your individual points.

Sorry, meant to address the above to Douglas too.

Douglas, you wrote:

||You accept this notion with Jane Roberts and the Seth material, but dismiss this idea from Flint 'because it is direct vice and you expect to hear a direct voice'.

How do you know that there is not a related phenomena in play with Flint's form of direct voice mediumship?||

Exactly what was going on with Roberts is a black box to me. I don't know if Seth was "real," was a functional entity, or was simply Roberts tapping into her unconscious/universal truth/something else. I don't know if it really matters, since channelers' material has to stand on its own. Saying material is from So-and-So, even God Himself, doesn't make it good material if it is not. And I have found the Seth material to be pretty good. Also, I find her performances, if you will, to be pretty cool. There is nothing there I don't like, based on what I've heard thus far.

In the case of the Flint recordings, it is said these are the voices of famous people, but the voices sound ridiculous (and not like the famous people would have sounded; or, in the case of Gandhi, did in fact sound), and the content is banal. (To be fair, I also listened to the Charles Marshall recording, and the content was pretty good; but the voice sounded like all the others.)

So, prima facie, we have a bad performance and bad content. There is not a lot to get behind here. So I don't know if the merger theory is really pertinent in the first place. I mean is the reasoning, "Hey, he was just merging, so that's why that stuff isn't that great!"

||It is clear from the evidence that Flint wasnt talking during the sessions, and so we can surmise that he was generating the voices using an ectoplasmic voicebox;||

I would hesitate to draw this conclusion. Flint may have produced real phenomena on some occasions and fake phenomena on others. I'm not saying the poor quality of phenomena in the recordings means that they were fake; but it wouldn't surprise me if they were.


||Ectoplasm appears to be drawn from the body of the medium, so we must assume an ectoplasmic voicebox would be generated from his own voicebox, projected ectoplasmically.||

I don't see why the ectoplasmic voicebox has to come from his voice box, mirror his voice box, or even be based on the structure of the human voice box. It would have to come from somewhere in his body, presumably, but beyond that, it could, and perhaps *should* function as the *medium* of spirit voices. I don't really even see why there needs to be a merging between Flint and the persons Over There.

If Flint really had to process the voices coming from the Other Side with his own mind and pattern them after his own voice, then I really don't see the advantage over mental mediumship. In fact, I would say that mental mediumship would be preferable in such a case, as the medium can consciously convey the essence of what's being said with as little adulteration as possible.

||If we imagine the vociebox as an instument, which a voicebox is in effect, then the discarnate entities are then asked to communicate via the vociebox. However, if the voicebox is fundamentally based on Flint's own voice patterns, projected ectoplasmically, then they are always going to sound like variations of Flint's own voice.||

To me this sounds like post hoc theorizing about a phenomenon that would be pretty disappointing, even it is in fact paranormal in origin.

||So I feel that the actual words, the content of the communication itself, is genuine, but as it is projected via Flint's ectoplasmic voicebox, formed by his own voice pattersn, they are always going to sound fake to our ears.||

This too sounds like post hoc excuse-making. What about David Thompson's voices, which all sound like the product of a 40-something Brit doing bad impersonations. And he's not even direct voice but is supposed to be a materialization medium! IOW, the *actual people* are supposed to be walking around the room, talking and touching people. But in this case, are their voice boxes also forced to be more or less like Thompson's, thus explaining their fake-o voices?

I know you haven't set out to defend Thompson, but the "end product" of both mediums is the same: fake-sounding voices, poor content.

||This is why Zerdini and others always focused on the content of the communications, not how they sound in recordings. Clearly, relatives of the deceased were in no doubt that the communications were genuine as they passed on deply personal, veridical information to the relatives concerned.||

No argument here. Flint could have done that in his own voice and simply have been a very good mental medium. Further, he could have produced an ectoplasmic voice box that produced voices that sounded more or less like his own, and the sitters may have been unaware of this and just assumed he was a mental medium. (I'm not positing that this was the case; I'm merely pointing this out as a logical possibility.)

My point here is, Is the fact that he was a direct voice medium a "value-add" or not? If the voices produced didn't really sound different from Flint's own, then it probably wasn't, except for the fact that using an ectoplasmic voice box is itself an amazing phenomenon.

Another logical possibility--which Zerdini can assess--is that Flint produced perfect voices when he was working with ordinary sitters because the actual spirits were coming through; but when he attempted to serve as a medium for famous persons, he failed, and thus the voices produced sounded like his own, since he was simply drawing on his own mind for content. Again, not saying this was the case.

||I think perhaps 'direct voice' is a slightly inaccurate term, becasue it can't be purely 'direct' voice, as some kind of 'transfer protocol' has to be put in place, and this involves some kind of mechanism.||

I don't buy this. My mobile phone serves as a very good "medium" for my friends' voices. I don't see why the ectoplasmic voice box (or transmitter) could not serve in a similar capacity.

||If we really want to understand how these phenomena are generated, rather than continually going around in cicles arguing about how 'realistic' the voices are, then we really have to start trying to understand the mechanism.||

I do agree with this.

||A preliminary opinion is of course perfectly reasonable - except of course you didn't say that initially. Your comments didn't sound provisional to me.||

Well, they were definite about the *specifics* I was talking about, but my opinion about Flint on the whole is provisional.

||As far as the the information available to you; if it consists of the recordings you mention then it is incomplete indeed. There is a great deal of information available just online. Why limit your research to listening to recordings and then express a firm opinion?||

I think you guys' reasoning is wrong here, and it was also wrong as applied to David R. Direct voice was what Flint was all about, it was his main skill so to speak, yet all the recordings that are available are not very compelling, and no one here is defending him. But you say to go read up on him so I can see that he was nevertheless a wonderful medium on the whole.

This is arguing beside the point. I am arguing that, from data are available to me, the product of Flint's direct voice mediumship, i.e., the voices, were problematic (though not necessarily fraudulent) in the area of performance (or execution) and content. I'm not arguing that he had no skill as a medium or was on the whole a fraudulent medium.

||What do you mean by recordings being 'not legitimate'? Do you mean 'not of any evidential value' - if so, why not say that?||

I explained this above; and yes, I think they have no evidential value *qua* voice recordings (if they have veridical points that were verified, then that would serve as evidence of his mental mediumship. If it is known and proven that particular recordings were done with an ectoplasmic voice box, then that would be evidence of Flint's ability to produce and use and ectoplasmic voice box.).

||What do you mean by 'not caught in direct fraud' - these are weasel words. The man was extensively tested. Either he was shown to be fraudulent or there is substantial evidence to suggest fraud - if you have that I would be interested to hear it.||

Not weasel words. I was acknowledging that he had never been caught in a fraud, which is a good an important thing, as many mediums of genuine ability have been so caught. But I also don't conclude from this fact that he *never* committed fraud.

||If your implication is that the voices don't convince you they are real, therefore they are suggestive of fraud, this might be the only basis I can think of. If so, the drawback is that you would be ignoring the other questions raised above. On their own, if there was no other evidence than the recordings available online, I would agree that Flint's work was of little, if any, value.||

Well, that is too bad! Why couldn't he also produce great, compelling recordings?

||However there is much more to the man, including the opportunity to talk to someone who knew him well and attended many of his sittings.||

I don't doubt it. But if he is "branded" as a direct voice medium, then it is a letdown if recordings of his main skill all are poor in quality. It's like saying a man is a great pastry chef, but when you taste his cakes they are awful. But then you say, "Oh no no no! Admittedly, those cakes are awful, but he was a great chef on the whole, as many people attest!" It is not surprising that people would be nonplussed by the whole thing.

Smithy, you wrote,

||Flint's physical and direct voice mediumship was genuine. Period.||

Always? The Gandhi and Chopin sessions were also "genuine"?

He may well have been using an ectoplasmic voice box for those sessions, but the content he produced does not seem *genuine.* Just because content has a paranormal cause (among multiple causes) does not mean that it is accurate or truthful. If that were the case, then psychics would be infallible.

@Matt - In a quarter of an hour I will be gone, so just a brief response.

The "voices" from great people like Ghandi and Chopin are indeed problematic, as are his male voices on the whole. That is something I am glad to discuss later.

As for the content of the messages, that is problematic, too, but not in all cases.

But again, that does not take away the fact that he DID produce direct voices, even when he was talking himself with the audience.

More to say on Monday, I hope.

@Paul - you are welcome to contact me:

rhs at rudolfhsmit.nl

Regards to all.

Smithy

@ Matt Rouge - I'm off on a tangent as usual, but I wanted to put this past you now that the thread is coming to a conclusion.......I read your concept of survival - or what survives - as "information" (up thread). You've offered this up in past dicussions as well.

At the same time, you also have indicated i the past that you see the surviving entity as being able to progress or develop in the afterlife realms (an idea that I agree with, BTW).

I am wondering if you can reconcile your perspectives. When I think of pure "information" I don't necessarily think of "life". I see something more like a data dump from a computer's hard drive to, say, an internet storage; a static set of data compiled while the computer was being used, but still available now that the computer is "dead".

When I think of learning, developing, advancing, etc, I think of a living entity that is interacting with other living entities and environments and making choices and actively processing information and, perhaps most importantly, exercising intent.

In other words, your idea of the surviving entity as "information" seems, to me, to lack "life".

You probably didn't mean it that way, but it kind of sounded like it to me. I am interested in your thoughts.

Thanks!

Hi Matt
Thanks for replying. I understand that you don't like the Chopin etc voices. I get that. For what my opinion is worth, I think that's a perfectly reasonable view to hold.

To use your analogy - you don't like the cakes :), however to suggest therefore that the cakes were not made in the way the chef claims or worse, that they were not real cakes at all is a different line of argument.

As I said to David R - my point is not that you should accept Leslie Flint and all his works as genuine, but rather that you don't have enough information to form such a definite conclusion, i.e. that he was a fraud in any sense. This is because, despite the fact that you don't like the recordings, that doesn't mean they aren't what they are claimed to be. Rather than write him off as a fraud, or any of his work – whether you like it or not, my suggestion would be to reserve judgement until you know more about him. That's all I am saying.

I used the term weasel-words for the expression ‘not caught in direct fraud’ because it is susceptible to misunderstanding. Perhaps I inferred an intention that was not there. To me, the word ‘direct’ used here potentially carries the implication that there was other fraud he was involved in or that you know occurred but hasn't been discovered. That’s why I queried it. I appreciate your explanation that this is not what you intended to imply.

I agree also that just because a person has not been caught in fraud, doesn’t mean they are not dishonest. This though is true of every person on the planet in one form or another isn’t it? If I were to say to you that ‘you have not been caught directly in any form of fraud’ – would you take that as a compliment - I don’t I think would. :)

Well, that is too bad! Why couldn't he also produce great, compelling recordings?
Good question – and some would answer that he did for many hundreds, if not thousands who claim to have been reunited with their loved one. Even some of the recordings on the website are impressive - if genuine (I liked the Ellen Terry one for example amongst others) – though I agree not evidential because I don’t know the ostensible communicators, and also their quality is something of a subjective opinion.

If he is "branded" as a direct voice medium, then it is a letdown if recordings of his main skill all are poor in quality.
That’s true. But is all his work poor quality? There is only one way to determine this for oneself and that is to research the man. That cannot be done simply by hearing a couple of recordings one doesn't like and then dismissing the whole.This is the point I was trying to make.

I don’t think Leslie Flint had much choice about which recordings were made available; some are, to me, very interesting and of good quality. Some are not. I don’t think it would be fair if I expected everything he produced to be of top or even good quality. In addition, I don’t know how reliable the method is or what determined the quality of communication (assuming it was genuine).

Incidentally, sometimes nothing at all happened at Flint's seances.

Paul,

You have many good points. Skeptics typically commit what I call the "fallacy of the glancing blow": find one thing to attack and pretend that that invalidates the whole. I don't like that reasoning and have not been attempting to use it here.

I would say, however, that some of the "bad cakes" are *not* what they are purported to be. E.g., I don't think the voice of Chopin was actually Chopin, or at least much of him.

In such a case, I would say it's likely it is *not* fraud but just some type of situation in which Flint wasn't doing a very good job. There are many possibilities. For example, he could have been in actual contact with Chopin as a mental medium but producing a flawed communication. Or he could simply have been making the whole thing up unintentionally. Whether he was using ectoplasm for the voice seems to me to be beside the point.

On the WUWT site I just found this comment about the entry for "debunk" on Wikipedia:


Mike McMillan says:
September 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm
Amazing how some things slip into Wikipedia. Try this on for gall.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debunker

It's a recent addition, based on the attention it gives to a recent book by Lewandowski & Cook. It's entirely in favor of debunkers; it cites, at the end, as examples of debunking, 13 (IIRC) instances, a dozen of them by CSICOPpers.

There is no realization that the term has acquired the connotation of shallow dismissiveness, explaining away, knee-jerk scoffing, etc., to the point where some debunkers are now shying away from the characterization. Or, as MP put it, "the word debunker suggests [i.e., has a connotation of] an agenda; it suggests that the person is actively seeking to invalidate a certain claim. And this is true of most of the so-called skeptics most of the time."

Matt Rouge wrote:


"Skeptics typically commit what I call the "fallacy of the glancing blow": find one thing to attack and pretend that that invalidates the whole."

I don't know what the official term for that sort of tactic is, but it's been known for a long time:

“Should your opponent be in the right, but, luckily for your contention, choose a faulty proof, you can easily manage to refute it, and then claim that you have thus refuted his whole position.”
—Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Controversy XXXVII

Thanks Matt - let's hope Chopin isn't rolling in his grave :)

@Roger - great quote :)

Roger,

Yes, not sure the precise reasons, but Wikipedia is very much ruled by the skeptics.

Also not sure why there is an official name for the fallacy, but I think "fallacy of the glancing blow" is a good one (please give me credit in Wikipedia for that!). Thanks for the quote!

OK, I've found the official name for the fallacy: "refuting the example." It's in a 2006 collections-of-fallacies book by Madsen Pirie, How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic, pages 138-39:


"When attention is focused on showing the example to be a false one, but leaving the central thesis unchallenged, the fallacy is known as 'refuting the example.'"
.................................
"There is a fine distinction between the quite legitimate activity of casting doubt on an opponent's evidence, and concentrating criticism on the example instead of the thesis which it supports."

A related fallacy is described on page 120:

"The fallacy of one-sided assessment is is fallen into when only one side of the case is taken into consideration."

September 27, 2012

Still more on Leslie Flint

This is the result of some e-mail exchanges between me, Paul and Zerdini

------------------

Like many people who have studied Flint’s endeavours, I maintain that he was a genuine medium, who was never caught in cheating. From what I have learnt from his autobiography and also from other sources (such as the book “Is there an afterlife” by the late Professor David Fontana and the Dutch filmmaker and author Michael Rogge) he was a too simple and honest man to be able to dream up and carry out nasty tricks. On top of that, he was prepared to be the subject of the rather harsh tests conducted on him by the SPR (harsh and insulting, I would say – more about that later).

It seems that at the time the policies of the SPR had a definite skeptical flavour: above all, it seems they wanted to catch cheating mediums red-handed, rather than trying to find out the truth. So the tests they did on Flint were, to my mind, ridiculously severe:

Bound in a chair (legs and arms), red-coloured water in his mouth (precisely measured so as to make sure that the volume of water that was spewed out, would be virtually the same as what he had been administered), and gagged with a broad sticking plaster over his mouth. Most probably an insincere person would not let himself be subjected to such kind of torture!

Yet, after the session, which produced loud, independent voices, they found that the sticking plaster had moved a millimetre or thereabout. So the test was declared invalid, because it was not sure that Flint had not cheated. Rather than accepting that Flint had moved his mouth strenuously because the plaster caused itching, the possibility of cheating was not ruled out...
How on earth he could have cheated under such conditions is beyond me! Sometimes the assumptions of skeptics are more ridiculous than the phenomenon itself, would not you agree?
This is what SPR prominent Mary Rose Barrington told me:

"To answer your main question quickly, the SPR test was inconclusive, because Dr West, who fixed a tape over Flint's mouth to ensure that he did not use his own voice, said that the tape did not line up with his marks, and therefore indicated that it had been moved. The SPR did not publish an adverse report, firstly to spare Flint, and secondly because no one could be certain that the tape had been removed. The outcome was unsatisfactory for everyone concerned. It may have been a rigorous experiment, but unfortunately it can't be said to have confirmed the direct voice. So that was not a success. But I did attend many sittings with Flint, and on one occasion I had the Mickey voice whisper straight into my ear, and I am fairly sure that this was direct voice, not Flint himself."

Anyway, heavily insulted and disappointed as he was, Flint then walked out, never to return to the SPR. I can hardly blame him.

As for honesty, indeed, as Paul pointed out on this blog, it did happen now and then that sitters, who came from all over the UK and beyond, had attended seances in vain because nothing happened, which was quite embarrassing for Flint. At such occasions his "customers" did not have to pay him.

[Zerdini adds: This is true. The first two seances I attended at Flint's home in 1972 - nothing happened. All I heard the second time was Mickey whispering ‘No power with old flinty today’]

Which does not at all imply that the voices he produced were at all times ‘direct voices’. As Mary Rose Barrington told me:

"Much later, when Flint was in his sixties, an experiment was done using infra-red and a monitor screen where one could observe directly or close up on the screen, it was clear that he was articulating, and his own voice was recorded through a throat microphone.”

[Paul: This is very interesting. As far as I am concerned this would be fraud unless the medium was in trance, in which case it could have been, at best, unconscious fraud unless the communicators were valid. There is no need for darkness if he is a trance medium so I would view this report very negatively. Do you agree?]

[My response: Sorry, I do not agree, although I appreciate your feelings.The point is that at all times direct voices could come through which is why the sessions had to be in the dark. Besides, it is known that entities can take hold of one's bodies, and thus express themselves through those bodies, in this case the normal voice box. That should not be considered fraud as far as I am concerned.]

[Paul disagrees].

[My response continued: besides, it is known that, certainly at the beginning of his career as a medium, he did go into trance, so there is a serious possibility that even many years later he would go into trance now and then].

[Zerdini: In his autobiography Flint says that the SPR members tested him before his sixtieth birthday so they couldn't have tested him when he was in his sixties. As you are no doubt aware the SPR does not express a corporate opinion. All opinions expressed are by individual members.] (more on that later – Smithy)

[At this point I said:] So, one can safely conclude that Flint could not at all times perform at his highest level, i.e. producing direct voices, independent from his own voice box. [But now I am less sure!]

[Zerdini: I disagree. Having spent more than ten years on a regular basis sitting in his seances I can assure you the voices did not come from his voice box no matter what Barrington claims.]

An aside! This is interesting, because in another mail to me Ms Barrington remains pretty certain that the voices did emanate from Flint’s natural voice box. Yet, another highly prominent SPR member, one-time SPR president David Fontana, seems not to concur with Ms Barrington’s views. See later..

Now, those voices that might have come direct from his throat may have been those male voices that had so much resemblance with Flints own voice. A fact that certainly annoyed me. For example, the supposed voice of Oscar Wilde, did not give me the impression of the flamboyant person he apparently was. And, I agree with Matt, the voice of the supposed Chopin was very English indeed, although I did note a very slight Polish accent. Besides, Chopin lived in France for quite a number of years, and then one would expect an audible French accent, wouldn’t it?

As for the supposed voice of Ghandi, it also did resemble Flint’s own low pitched voice, whereas the live Ghandi's own voice had the typical high pitch so common for males from India. However, when people in India got the opportunity to listen to the Flint-voice of the supposed Ghandi, they did recognize that voice as from Ghandi himself...

[Paul: In cases where no one present was close to the ostensible communicator, I think it is vital that we can be sure that the method of communication was via the Direct Independent Voice. If it wasn’t but was presented as such – that is fraud in my book.]

[Me: I have already given my thoughts on that.]

[Zerdini: Anyone who has studied the direct voice phenomenon knows that some aspect of the medium's mind must come into it but in Flint's case that was a rarity. In addition, the sitters minds also have an effect on communication.]

As for the female voices, Mary Rose Barrington believes that they also originated from Flint's own throat

[Paul: (I think it would be useful to know why she thought that].

I did ask her but she never responded. Anyway, I think it is highly unlikely that those voices originated from Flint’s throat, considering the views of the ventriloguist I already told about in an earlier post on this blog. Besides, when I played the supposed Dame Ellen Terry voice for a group of highly skeptical people, and asked them: what kind of voice is this? they all answered unequivocally: yes, a female voice, and a beautiful one at that! (When I told them that it was a voice from a supposed disembodied entity, they were flabbergasted, did not know what to say, but some were very cross at me nevertheless).

I already pointed out that another prominent SPR member, David Fontana, had slightly different ideas about Flint than Ms Barrington. In his book he tells of the experiment undertaken by the American professor Bennett from Columbia university.

Fontana: “This time, in addition to the usual taping and trussing, Flint was fastened to a throat microphone wired to an amplifier that would detect even the slightest attempt to use his voice, his hands were held by investigators, and an infrared viewer that detects movements even in the dark was trained upon him throughout. Once again independent voices were heard, though more faintly than usual, and professor Bennett was able to confirm that Flint’s vocal chords were not involved in their production. Very near the end of the sitting the infrared viewer failed, and immediately the voice heard speaking at the time increased in volume. Flint tells us that Brigadier Firebrace confirmed these facts in writing to him, and testified that the medium could have had no knowledge that the viewer had failed, yet the independent voice ‘immediately doubled in volume.” Firebrace concluded from this that infrared may weaken mediumship in some way.”

This is all very interesting: it confirms Flint’s direct voices, which would only perform well in full darkness. It also confirms that he was in no way fraudulent.

Now as for the veracity of the messages that were brought by the voices.

As already pointed out by Zerdini, those during the sessions wherein voices of deceased relatives of the sitters came through, the statements were often quite verifiable and to the point, i.e. relating matters that were only known to the sitters involved.

A case in point: Here in the Netherlands there was a well known author, Godfried Bomans, who had died. A radio-team went to Flint and took with him Jan Bomans, a brother of Godfried (BTW - Jan is Dutch for John, so do not confuse it with the female name Jan(ice)). They hoped that Godfried would come through via Flint. And if so, it would even be better that it would be in Dutch. Well, that did not happen.

Godfried himself did not come through but he used the Micky character as his go-between. Brother Jan asked questions and Godfried responded via Micky. It was truly astonishing. At a certain moment Micky's loud (boy’s) voice did not answer questions but issued blunt statements about Godfried's and Jan's mutual childhood: "You had this...", "You had such and such in your home..." and so on. Of the twenty statements sixteen were entirely correct, and of the remaining four brother Jan did not remember whether they were correct or not.

I do have that session on tape, by the way.

Remains the fact that in particular most of the male voices seemed alike. There is no conclusive explanation for that. Given the overall picture, I do rule out fraud caused by the medium, but of course some of the entities may be doubtful.

But the female voices, in particular the beautiful and elegant voice of the supposed Shakespeare actress Ellen Terry, could in no way have originated from Flint’s own throat – here I strongly disagree with Ms Barrington.
One thing about Ellen Terry: At the beginning of one of the Ellen Terry’s recordings, George Woods, the recording person, says that an old friend of Ellen Terry had listened to the tape and confirmed that the voice was definitely hers. Woods also says that an old gramophone record of the live Ellen Terry had been found. The voices, i.e. the Flint recording, and the one of the gramophone disk were compared and found to be ... identical. You can check this out via:

http://survivalebooks.org/Flint/LF%20Ellen%20Terry.wma

The quality of Wood’s voice is poor and hard to hear, but with some effort it can be listened to.

Thanks to all for reading this. Smithy.

Hello, Michael:
You said:
After fifteen years I'm prepared to say not just that life after death is supported by a preponderance of the evidence, but that it is a fact established beyond reasonable doubt.
Would you have a short list of what you consider to be the most convincing evidence?
Thank you: Patrice

Patrice, that's a hard question to answer briefly. I think many of the cases on the Survival Top 40 site are very good:

http://www.aeces.info/Top40/top40-main.shtml

I like the R-101 case:

http://www.michaelprescott.net/r-101.html

I also like Robert Crookall's books, such as Intimations of Immortality. Crookall was a geologist who compiled various reports from different sources that painted a fairly consistent picture of the dying process.

Michael Tymn's blog is another good source:

http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/

Michael Tymn has also written some good, readable books on the subject, such as The Articulate Dead.

If you're asking what categories of evidence are the strongest (for me), I would say mental mediumship, near-death experiences, and children's memories of past lives, in that order (first is best).

Not sure how helpful this is, since it's not really a "short list," but there it is.

The comments to this entry are closed.