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One "problem" I have with mediumship, and I think it's long been a concern, is how do we know that mediums are communicating with the dead person they're trying to contact, and not with some malevolent spirit?

I've seen this brought up a lot in fictional stories about mediums back in the day when mediumship seemed much more popular (early 20th century). The Catholic Church goes against it for this reason, and there's the famous line in the Bible about not communicating with them.

I could go either way with whether mediums are really communicating with other spirits (good or bad ones). At one point, a very trustworthy and honest friend and I used a Quija board. It really seemed to be "working" - moving on its own. It seemed incredible. I know neither my friend nor were moving it on our own. However, everything it indicated that would supposedly happen turned out completely wrong!

Nice work, Michael!

Of course a "fair and balanced" journalist (is there ever such an animal?) would have investigated and noted what you just did.

Michael,

I was planning to submit a lengthy comment after I had time to think about your earlier post, but you said it all above better than I could have.

Thank you

My theory is that the Medium gets little bits and pieces of information and then stitches it together into what they think it means. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong. From watching John Edward's show "Crossing Over" I'm fairly certain that this is what was happening.

John Edward said that his guides would show him something that alerted him to something he knew or showed him pictures of something from his life and he used this information to tell a story about someone in his audience or who he was reading.

Some Mediums are just better at it than others. I have watched some clips of George Anderson doing readings and I thought he was amazing.

Because of the symbolism involved maybe it is easier for the Medium to read someone if they come from the same culture so the symbols mean the same thing. They see the same pictures in their mind when they say certain keywords. The names are the same names, the foods are the same, cars, etc. They can relate to each other.

'Of course a "fair and balanced" journalist (is there ever such an animal?) would have investigated and noted what you just did.'

But in fairness, Philpott did a very good job of confirming Conner's death, and he seemed to be quite open to psychical research. I think he was understandably put off by Hodgson's reluctance to deal with the facts Philpott had uncovered. (Hodgson even attacked Philpott in print, though later he apologized.)

Art, your description of how mediums work may apply to most contemporary mediums, but probably not to trance mediums like Mrs. Piper. She was very different from John Edward. She received long, coherent messages that she wrote down rapidly. In fact, she could write a different message with each hand while conversing with another sitter on another subject - in effect, carrying on three conversations (in three different personas) at once. This is not at all like John Edward's approach of picking up scraps of imagery or single words.

Yeah, I'm not a big Medium fan. I'm more of an NDE-death bed vision sort of guy. I'm not saying that Mediums aren't "real"; I'm just saying that I think they elaborate or embellish on the information they are given or receive.

I believe they get little snippets or glimpses of information and then weave coherent stories around those glimpses. They do it to fill up the whole 45 minute reading. Just like everything else in life, some of it's real and some of it's not.

"She received long, coherent messages that she wrote down rapidly. In fact, she could write a different message with each hand while conversing with another sitter on another subject "

That's amazing, Michael. Is that well-documented? I mean, doing those three things at the same time seems supernatural to me, even if she was simply making those messages up. Don't you think?

I have a hard time writing *one* message while conversing. But writing two? Even writing two things without conversing seems impossible to me.

I think Pearl Curran, the Patience Worth channeler, was supposed to be able to write out two poems at the same time.

Yes, Bruce, it's well documented. I recommend Mike Tymn's book for more info. It's an easy read, and a good one.

"But in fairness, Philpott did a very good job of confirming Conner's death, and he seemed to be quite open to psychical research. I think he was understandably put off by Hodgson's reluctance to deal with the facts Philpott had uncovered. (Hodgson even attacked Philpott in print, though later he apologized.) "


Good point. You're right. I guess it is always important to keep in mind though that there's probably more to the story.

Bruce;
RE: Patience Worth. Pearl Curran was able to write a letter to her friend Dotsie Smith at the same time that Patience Worth was dictating a poem and Pearl was relaying it to the stenographer. Dr. Walter Franklin Prince challenged Patience to write a poem and dialogue at the same time in different dialects. The pooem challenge was "The Folly of Atheism" and the dialogue was a converssation between a lout and a wench at a medieval fair. Pearl Curran easily met both challenges.

Bruce:
According to Dr. Prince in his book The Case of Patience Worth “about eight seconds elapsed between my announcement [challenge] of the subjects and the beginning of dictation, which proceeded uninterruptedly to the end, about as rapidly as it could be taken down.” In case there is a question about the quality of the result, here is the poem ‘The Folly of Atheism’:

Who doubts his God is but a lout;
Who piths his wisdom with egotry
Hath lost his mark. To doubt
Is but to cast thee as a stone
Unto the very heart of God.
Who doubts his God hath but announced
His own weak limitation;
Hath tied his hand and fettered of his foot.
To doubt thy God is but to stop
The everlasting flow of mercy,
To die of thirst and lose thee
In the chaos of thyself.

Michael,

On a previous blog post you wrote 100 people verified that George Pellew spoke through Mrs. Piper, in a more recent comment you changed that figure to 35 people. I have doubts about this. Since you have made this claim, can you list the 35 people? I have read this subject for years and never come across 35 people who knew Pellew.

Only very few people knew Pellew he was described as a "hermit". He wasn't American. He didn't know the American psychical researchers. He spent most of his life by himself. Only Hodgson knew him briefly and Pellew had one sitting with Mrs. Piper before he died.

Pellew had a very close brother and when he was shown the manuscripts that were attributed to his supposed spirit... His brother was "disgusted" (his word!). Surely his own family knew him the most??, but they denied the supposed spirit speaking through Piper sounded anything like him... so who are these 35 people? Why were his family not impressed?

I can only offer an opinion like everyone else as we are dealing with ancient matters here and we will truly never know the truth about this issue, I am not ruling out that spirits spoke through piper but from what I have seen there's no need to resort to telepathy or spirits in the case of Piper or anything supernatural or this "thought form" stuff. All her controls were entirely fictitious and there is not a single thing she said that could not have been picked up by normal means, or by sitters in her room by telepathy.

I end with a quote you may be interested in by SPR member Mrs. Sidgwick (who had some séances with Piper).

"To sum up very briefly my own conclusion about Mrs. Piper's trance, I think it is probably a state of self-induced hypnosis in which her hypnotic self personates different characters either consciously and
deliberately, or unconsciously and believing herself to be the person she represents, and sometimes probably in a state of consciousness intermediate between the two. In the trance state her normal powers transcend in some directions those of her ordinary waking self, as is often the case in hypnosis. And further-what makes her case of great importance-she can obtain, imperfectly and for the most part
fragmentarily, telepathic impressions. . . It seems to me impossible
at present to prove any theory on the subject."

one other thing I just found that Richard Hodgson was a medium himself and claimed to channel the same spirits as Mrs. Piper before he died... is this really a neutral/objective researcher?

I believe Sedgwick and Podmore were more objective. Both explained Pipers mediumship without the supernatural (for the most part) but were open for telepathy for a few cases. Here's the Podmore book:

http://archive.org/stream/newerspiritualis00podmrich#page/n5/mode/2up

There's also some scepticism of Piper on the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper#Tricks

"Piper stayed at the house of Oliver Lodge and his family for a fortnight. In a séance Piper's control mentioned to Lodge that a locket had been given to his wife by her father. Lodge believed that Piper had obtained this information supernaturally, however, Charles Arthur Mercier revealed that Piper could have easily examined the possessions of the Lodge family and seen the locket as she was staying with them and Lodge's wife had also sometimes worn it"

So she picked up things by natural means...

"On a previous blog post you wrote 100 people verified that George Pellew spoke through Mrs. Piper, in a more recent comment you changed that figure to 35 people."

I was wrong when I said it was 100 (I believe I qualified the statement by saying, "If I recall correctly"). The number was 31 people, 30 of whom the Pellew control identified. I can't list their names (which would mean nothing to me anyway), but this detail has been reported in many different accounts of Mrs. Piper's mediumship. The source I used in this case was Michael Tymn's book.

Here's a quote attributed to Hodgson:

“There are thirty cases of true recognition out of at least one hundred and fifty persons who have had sittings with Mrs. Piper since the first appearance of G.P. (George Pellew), and no case of false recognition. The continual manifestation of this personality – so different from Phinuit or other communicators – with its own reservoir of memories, with its swift appreciation of any reference to friends of G.P., with its ‘give and take’ in little incidental conversations with myself, has helped largely in producing a conviction of the actual presence of the G.P. personality, which it would be quite impossible to impart by any mere enumeration of the verifiable statements.”

http://www.aspsi.org/feat/life_after/a077mt-e-Hodgson_Conversion.php?print=1

Lucy wrote, "... from what I have seen there's no need to resort to telepathy or spirits in the case of Piper or anything supernatural or this "thought form" stuff. All her controls were entirely fictitious and there is not a single thing she said that could not have been picked up by normal means, or by sitters in her room by telepathy."

I'm not sure I follow the argument here, since it begins by saying that Piper could have picked up all the info without telepathy, but ends by saying she probably did use telepathy. In any case, Piper produced a great deal of info that is impossible to explain non-paranromally and difficult (at least) to explain by telepathy alone. Tymn's book is a good source for much information along these lines. Also see Chris Charter's book Science and the Afterlife Experience.

Podmore was an arch-skeptic with an ax to grind, and I don't believe he could have been convinced by any amount of evidence.

With regard to the idea that Piper was engaged in actual fraud (which seems to be implied by the quote from Wikipedia), I can only say that she was examined almost daily for twenty years and no one ever seriously claimed she was cheating or faking. Her trance state was tested in cruel ways by the application of painful stimuli, and she did not respond, so the trance was clearly genuine. Even the most skeptical researchers, like the very hostile Prof. Stanley Hall, admitted as much. Whether or not the spirit controls were actual personalities or manufactured personas or something else, I really don't know, but fraud is not a viable explanation.

Sorry mistake in my previous message, it seems Podmore actually believed Piper on occasion did practice some telepathy. But Podmore claimed telepathy was natural and not supernatural.

The main book to read on the topic is this one Spiritism, hypnotism and telepathy as involved in the case of Mrs. Leonora E. Piper and the Society of psychical research (1902)

http://archive.org/details/spiritismhypnoti00bell

as you can see the book is split into many sections with most psi researchers supporting the telepathy hypothesis.

my own view is that she picked things up naturally, maybe even cheated, but maybe some telepathy thrown in as well, I'm not sure, half of me thinks the supernatural and Piper is wishful thinking, there's sceptical books which say Piper's mediumship can be explained without the supernatural, but these books are usually ignored by the spiritualists, but the dogmatic skeptics usually ignore the "believer" material so both sides are just as bad as each other. Theres no book which covers both sides. I'm skeptical about 30 odd people knowing Pellew, I would be interested what the source for that claim is. Pellew's family were not happy about it and strictly denied that Pellew had communicated through Piper.

Before Richard Hodgson died he wrote a test letter and said that if he was to come back through Piper he would read it... he failed to read the letter. There's no spirits involved in my view. The question comes down to telepathy or not. I don't have time right now to do it, but if you spend hours going through all the SPR material, what if there is a naturalistic explanation for all of Piper's mediumship? Are people getting too carried away when putting supernatural in the gap? What if no telepathy and no spirits was involved? Are we just looking at standard psychology here? Hall and Tanner both wrote Piper had no supernatural abilities at all... are we to ignore them? Or did they have some sort of bias?

Hodgson was a medium himself?, was he really reliable? Too many questions. Only Piper herself really knew. You say about the pain tests, what if she took painkillers/morphine?? What if Piper has fooled us all? The main question is why are we talking about this 100 years after it happened? There's no new Mrs Pipers. People worship this lady like a God, it's all I ever see in psychical journals. Where's the new Mrs. Piper?

Thanks, Michael and Amos. It seems that even apart from the matter of whether or not Piper and Curran were talking to the Other Side, what they were able to do can't be explained conventionally.

"my own view is that she picked things up naturally, maybe even cheated, but maybe some telepathy thrown in as well,"

But can this explain her ability to write two different messages at once while conversing on yet another subject, all while in a trance?

"What if no telepathy and no spirits was involved?"

Then you'd have to explain the cases detailed in Tymn's book, among many others. Or even the info that came out in the Conner case - since it included accurate descriptions of places Piper had never been.

"You say about the pain tests, what if she took painkillers/morphine??"

I doubt those drugs would affect her response to smelling salts, which were also tried. Besides, the tests were sprung on her after she entered her trance, without warning.

"Where's the new Mrs. Piper?"

Unfortunately, full-trance mediums are almost nonexistent these days. Most of today's mediums do not go into more than a light trance. I suspect this has to do with a modern resistance to losing control. It may also have to do with the faster pace of the modern world; people may just be too impatient to learn trance mediumship.

"it's all I ever see in psychical journals."

It seems to me that most psychical journals deal with more recent research, like the ganzfeld tests. The main focus of parapsychology since the 1940s has been ESP research, not afterlife studies. It's only in the last decade or so that there has been a small revival of interest in testing mediums.

When we look at older cases, Piper is not the only medium to be carefully studied. Two others who come to mind are Gladys Osborne Leonard and Eileen Garrett.

Another strong body of evidence for life after death is the cross correspondences, in which Piper was peripherally involved. Chris Carter's book provides a very good discussion.

"But Podmore claimed telepathy was natural and not supernatural." - Lucy
------------------

What does that mean? We get so hung up on words and meanings but the truth is that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. We just assign meaning to words like our definitions are the be all and end all of things but spoken and written language are limited at best.

Swedenborg said that the angels communicate by thought and there was no misunderstanding possible with their communication. And we all know that misunderstanding is built into our spoken and written language and how difficult it is to communicate ideas especially when we don't fully understand them.

So my point is that I don't believe that "natural" and "supernatural" are really that separate and with the advent of quantum physics perhaps everything at it's very heart is "supernatural" - and what we call natural now is just our very limited understanding of how the Universe really operates.

"claimed telepathy was natural and not supernatural"

A minor point, maybe, but I think you're consistently misusing the word "supernatural". To my knowledge, virtually all of the early SPR researchers thought that the phenomena they studied, including life after death, were natural phenomena that were simply not well understood. So they used terms like "supernormal" instead.

You seem to have read a lot of "sceptical" literature, so maybe that's why you're using the term "supernatural". They like to misuse the term, even now over 100 years later, because they think it makes it sound like psychical researchers are really just a bunch of religous crazies whose ideas and evidence don't have to be taken seriously.

"Theres no book which covers both sides"

Try "Ghost Hunters" by Deborah Blum. You'll never find a fairer, more unbiased account of the early years of the SPR than that book.

"Only Piper herself really knew"

Actually, she didn't. Piper said on several occasions that she herself had no idea what was really happening during her trances.

Good responses by Michael and Bruce to Lucy.

Eusapia Palladino is another medium who was studied extensively by objective observers with scientific backgrounds and impeccable reputations (IOW, scientists were studying her). In her seances, "impossible" things happened in broad daylight. Period. Tables were levitated, curtains were blown, etc. They were looking right at her in a room with daylight pouring in and actually had their hands on her hands and legs. No trickery was possible. The paranormal was proved, as it has been many other times.

Lucy, you sound like someone who hasn't experienced the paranormal yourself. I have some psychic ability and serve as a medium from time to time. I know what it's like. I've gotten some big hits as psychic and medium. I know it's real from personal experience.

Some more notes on your comments:


||But Podmore claimed telepathy was natural and not supernatural.||

We don't use the term "supernatural." Instead, we use the term "paranormal," which means that the phenomena in question are outside normal experience (to some/most people) but are no less "natural" than anything else.


||there's sceptical books which say Piper's mediumship can be explained without the supernatural, but these books are usually ignored by the spiritualists, but the dogmatic skeptics usually ignore the "believer" material so both sides are just as bad as each other.||

The two "sides" are not symmetrical at all. The skeptics are in a position of simply denying facts.

Bruce is right about Piper's ability to write two messages with two hands while talking to someone. What person on planet Earth could do that right now, even just as a "trick"? I read that President Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with another, but I doubt that he could carry on a conversation while doing so.

||There's no spirits involved in my view.||

Why not?

||I don't have time right now to do it, but if you spend hours going through all the SPR material, what if there is a naturalistic explanation for all of Piper's mediumship?||

Lol. To go through "all" the material would be a big project. Since you haven't done so, from where do you get your confidence in your conclusion? "Naturalistic"? I think unless you claim that everything attested to by reliable observes was actually a lie, then you are left with the conclusion that materialism has been proven incorrect.

||The main question is why are we talking about this 100 years after it happened?||

So if enough time passes, then events simply become irrelevant? That's an interesting approach to truth.

||Where's the new Mrs. Piper?||

There are plenty of psychics and mediums today of all varieties. Mediums at Piper's level were never common in the first place, and since spiritualism went out of style in the early 20th century, those few people who could have risen to her level probably never got the training and practice they needed to do so. As Michael noted, mental mediums are the main type practicing these days, and there are some very good ones.

Some good points, Matt.

"I read that President Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with another."

Now that got my attention. Here's what wikipedia has to say:

"James A. Garfield knew both Latin and Greek. As the first ambidextrous president, Garfield entertained his friends by having them ask him questions, and then writing the answer in Latin with one hand while simultaneously answering in Greek with the other. However, this story has now been found to be mostly apocryphal."

"Apocryphal" sounds right to me. I can imagine practicing, and learning, to form separate letters with each hand simultaneously. But to actually carry on two separate streams of thought and write them down? Not so likely.

Update: I just wrote "Matt" with my left hand while writing "Bruce" with my right. It was easier than I thought, actually, though I did it VERY slowly.

But two separate, simultaneous streams of thought? (Not to mention writing them down. ) The closest I can come to that is quickly alternating between two separate thoughts.

Sorry, I can't respond to all your points. I have replied to some Michaels and Matts comments.

Your comment: Bruce is right about Piper's ability to write two messages with two hands while talking to someone. What person on planet Earth could do that right now, even just as a "trick".

My response: You need to check out Hodgson's original handwriting whilst he was alive, and compare it to the handwriting that was attributed to the Hodgson spirit control. They look nothing alike.

As far as I know, this is the only book which contains an actual image of the Piper Hodgson control handwriting. Please see page 140. Online here, in the book Spiritism and Psychology by Dr. Theodore Flournoy:

http://archive.org/stream/spiritismpsychol00flou#page/n163/mode/2up

The handwriting, is nothing like the real Hodgson's (you need to dig up old SPR accounts to see his real handwriting). Writing with two hands and speaking at the same time, is not that impressive. Anyone with some training could perform the feat. Mrs. Piper has years of experience.

Your comment: The two "sides" are not symmetrical at all. The skeptics are in a position of simply denying facts.

My response: The believers never read the skeptical material. And the skeptics never read the believer material. Being open minded, should surely read both?

Your comment "Another strong body of evidence for life after death is the cross correspondences, in which Piper was peripherally involved. Chris Carter's book provides a very good discussion."

This evidence is not strong. It's been debunked by a sceptical books from the 1920s. There's no point in me citing it, because nobody here will read it, but in brief Hodgson, Myers, Lodge and others all before they died left test letters with codes and messages, not a single medium from the cross correspondences revealed the letters. The mediums who claimed to channel Myers also took three or months to read Greek or Latin, this was unlike the real Myers who was a classicist scholar.

Your comment: Eusapia Palladino is another medium who was studied extensively by objective observers with scientific backgrounds and impeccable reputations (IOW, scientists were studying her). In her seances, "impossible" things happened in broad daylight. Period. Tables were levitated, curtains were blown, etc. They were looking right at her in a room with daylight pouring in and actually had their hands on her hands and legs. No trickery was possible. The paranormal was proved, as it has been many other times.

My response: No offense but this is absolute nonsense. Palladino was caught cheating by other twenty different scientists. She never conducted her séances in daylight. She was caught "levitating" the table by countless scientists, and even by the magician Joseph Rinn. She moved objects by a rubber bulb she hid in her hand. Her tricks are well known. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusapia_Palladino

Richard Hodgson said that Palladino was one of the most fraudulent mediums he had ever witnessed.

Your comment: Lucy, you sound like someone who hasn't experienced the paranormal yourself. I have some psychic ability and serve as a medium from time to time. I know what it's like. I've gotten some big hits as psychic and medium. I know it's real from personal experience.

My response: If spirits exist like mediums say, then when walking down the street in broad day light, why aren't they coming down? Where are they? Why do they not show themselves in the middle of shopping centre or supermarket for people to see? Or on the TV? When I'm working in my office everyday 5 days a week where are they? Do you not think it's rather strange that they only occur in little known dark rooms in séances? And that only "select" mediums can contact them. Never in the light, and never on camera. Sorry but it is suspect. I am not fooled by this.

Your comment: Mediums at Piper's level were never common in the first place, and since spiritualism went out of style in the early 20th century, those few people who could have risen to her level probably never got the training and practice they needed to do so. As Michael noted, mental mediums are the main type practicing these days, and there are some very good ones.

My response: And that is one of the main reasons I am skeptical of mediumship. Back in the 1860's the "mediums" used to claim to contact spirits by tapping tables, or table "rapping", then 10 and 20 years later it changed to slate writing, and then to "ectoplasm" all these were revealed as fraudulent so then it suddenly changed to mental only. Again is this not suspect? Your need to think about this deeply.

Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use “mental mediumship” tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading).

So the tambourines, slates and tables have gone, and now the new fad is "mental mediumship", the only reason is because it is safe. The other methods risk exposure.

I won't be commenting on this blog anymore. As I said in a previous post, I am not sure what to make of Mrs. Piper. You may not want to hear this, but what if there is no supernatural or paranormal, what if we just live in a material universe? What if all this spirits is just magical thinking? We are all going to die one day, what if there's nothing there? Maybe we have all been fooled by all this paranormal stuff. Not a nice thing, but it's natural to doubt your beliefs. I am having serious doubts. I wish it was all true, but most of this paranormal stuff seems to be so far removed from everyday reality. I do an office job and busy all week and nothing paranormal is going on. I read about all these magical stories but in reality it seems to be going on. Of course I hope I am wrong... but what is the truth? I don't know what the truth is. Take care.

Oh c'mon this is the same guy who was posting here before. His tone has now changed, and I don't think "he" is a woman at all. Ach, trolls.

And not a very skilled concern troll at all.

Lucy, "My response: The believers never read the skeptical material. And the skeptics never read the believer material. Being open minded, should surely read both?"

You're making some unfair and incorrect assumptions. Most of the regular commenters here have read the skeptics - the best of the skeptics and the worst. It's just that we are not convinced by skeptical arguments. If you search through past post and comments on this blog you will see why.

Personally, what I see in skeptical analysis is that it tends to be very selective, picking out isolated points and never addressing the entire case as a whole. Worse yet, a lot of skeptical arguments are "could have been this or could have been that" type assertions with nothing to support that it was this or that. A lot of the this or that's are highly improbable and highly complex and, again, usually don't fit the facts of the case.

James Randi, for example, is famous for saying that he has figured out how something allegedly paranormal was done my normal means, but then fails to go on to demonstrate that he can actually reproduce the effects.

Just because a skeptic says he can imagine how the thing was done doesn't mean that is how it was done or even that it could be done that way. Skeptics, IMO, are big on making definitive statements without much, if anything, to back them up.

"No offense but this is absolute nonsense. Palladino was caught cheating by other twenty different scientists"

Yes. We know that. The is accepted as having occurred and has been discussed here several times. However, it has also been discussed that, despite proven fraud on some occasions, Palladino did exhibit valid abilities on others. Skeptics like to play a gotcha game wherein, if caught faking it once, then all effects are deemed to be fraudulent. I think that this is not a reasonable position to take. It seems reasonable to me that under a pressure to perform a medium might fake it once in a while when the real ability is not functioning for some reason. The cheating is most unfortunate. However, if a student cheats on one exam does that mean that the student never legitimately earned the grade received?

"My response: If spirits exist like mediums say, then when walking down the street in broad day light, why aren't they coming down? Where are they? Why do they not show themselves in the middle of shopping centre or supermarket for people to see?"

Ah, but they do, sometimes and for some people. I can tell you that I have had a highly evidential sitting with a medium who could not have gained the detailed information through any normal means. I can also tell you that I have sat with some really lousy mediums who, IMO, were not in contact with anything paranormal and who trying to cold read, fish, etc and who delivered non-specific information. I think John Edwards and his ilk are at best low grade mediums and probably frauds. I am not easily impressed. I have also had spirits contact me and have seen objects move around, had loud raps and bangs occur, etc. I know this stuff is real. I think you will find that most people here are like me. They have had some undeniable experiences, yet are open minded about any individual case being explainable through normal means.....Or these are not the droids you're looking for.....

"all these were revealed as fraudulent so then it suddenly changed to mental only. Again is this not suspect?"

ALL!!?? Every last one? Really. Says who?

"Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines "

Going back to an earlier point(s) - just because Joe Nickell says something doesn't make it true. I am as skeptical of Joe Nickell as I am of Jame Van Praagh. See? That is true skepticism.

I think you will find, when you read past posts, that most folks here, like myself, do not see much evidence in flying trumpets and all of that vaudeville stuff. Evidence is detailed information that could not be obtained through normal means.

"I do an office job and busy all week and nothing paranormal is going on."

Me too. Office jobs really suck. I find it healthy to engage in a variety of interests outside of the office; to expand my mind as much as possible to ward off the effects of office-it is.

"You may not want to hear this, but what if there is no supernatural or paranormal, what if we just live in a material universe? What if all this spirits is just magical thinking? We are all going to die one day, what if there's nothing there?"

Well Lucy, that alternative is discussed here as well as the reasons we dismiss it. Hopefully you'll decide to stick around and participate after all.

Good responses, no one, though I think your answers will be for sincere lurkers and not the original troll.

I love the assertion that writing with two hands while talking is a feat that anyone could learn. That's rich.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/238305-scientists-a-step-closer-to-understanding-near-death-experiences/
This looks interesting.

I freely admit that I'm tired of discussing or arguing about "is it real?" Many years ago I decided that I have a high degree of confidence in life after death, that something of me survives. I don't want to read the skeptical literature because why would I want to change my mind about something so beautiful that lifts me up so much?

Thinking about Heaven and seeing my mom again makes me feel good. Why would I want to try and ruin that? I am 60 years old and I have many loved ones on the other side. Why would I want to research and read about stuff that might ruin that?

For me the connection between quantum physics, holographic universe theory, near death experiences, death bed visions, whatever we get from Mediums, after death communications, dreams, and mystical and transcendental experiences is like a beautiful puzzle with many pieces and when I step back it paints a picture that there is something miraculous and wonderful about our Universe.

excerpt from Carl Turner's mystical experience, " I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere. I knew that everything is perfect and happening according to some divine plan, regardless of all the things we see as wrong with the world."
http://www.beyondreligion.com/su_personal/dreamsvisions-kundalini.htm

This is beautiful. It puts a smile on my face when I think about it.

"Thinking about Heaven and seeing my mom again makes me feel good. Why would I want to try and ruin that?"

A possible answer is that unless you address skeptical objections, you may continue to have doubts of your own. At least that would be true for some people.

I'm inclined to agree with Matt that "Lucy" is probably Forests under a new name. The style of argument is very similar, as is the vow not to post here again (something Forests said many times).

It seems to me that someone who's going to comment so authoritatively about what's been discussed on this blog probably should have taken the time to read the blog first, or at least some of it. We've had lengthy discussions of skeptical literature.

Anyway, I don't think "Lucy" will contribute much to the conversation, so I'll probably forebear from responding in the (likely) event that he/she comments again.

Right, Forests.

I find humorous the shift in tone from "I'm not sure about this and that" to the aggressive, confident debunking.

He needs to step up his game. Lulz.

For the lurkers, I will say this:

A lot of us "believers" were at one point atheists and are very well versed in that mode of thinking as well as the arguments they use.

Regardless of our origins, the vast majority of people who comment here or in similar forums are very aware of the arguments currently used by skeptics against our position. Why would we not be?

I think the notion that we don't care about such things is propaganda generated for the consumption of *skeptics* to boost their morale, since their groupthink is founded on the ridicule of those not participating in their orthodoxy.

Hi someone. Parnia says that electrical activity typically ceases after around 10 seconds of arrest.

Mind you, that's humans. Rat physiology may operate differently in these cases. A surge in electrical activity is interesting, although it doesnt explain NDEs that occur when there is zero electrical activity in the brain.

"It seems to me that someone who's going to comment so authoritatively about what's been discussed on this blog probably should have taken the time to read the blog first, or at least some of it. We've had lengthy discussions of skeptical literature."

I have never been on this blog before, I admit I have not read through it so I have done wrong there, sorry, but I honestly am knew to this blog and found it through a forum link. I am not this "forests" person, I could easily prove my identity through facebook. The reason I said I am not commenting anymore is because I type huge things out and nobody reads it, I don't think you guys welcome skeptics. Suddenly Frank Podmore is an "arch-skeptic" and not worth reading, Hodgson's failed test letter ignored and not even commented on and as Matt wrote he doesn't read skeptical material. Nothing I write will be good enough. It's always easy to dismiss someone's comments by calling them a troll, or accusing them of being someone they are not. I see it happening all over the place. So Cyas.

I'm violating my own rule by responding to this, but ...

"I type huge things out and nobody reads it"

People have replied in detail to your comments.

"Suddenly Frank Podmore is an 'arch-skeptic'"

Not suddenly. He was always known as the SPR's house skeptic. See "Ghost Hunters" by Deborah Blum (a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer whose coverage of the SPR's investigation of mediums is very balanced).

"Hodgson's failed test letter ignored"

Tests like that usually fail. The only one I know of that may possibly have succeeded is Houdini's test, which Arthur Ford *may* have solved. But there are many questions about that incident and about Ford's mediumship in general. It's true that the case for mediumship would be greatly strengthened if such tests succeeded (though they could be still be "explained" in terms of super-psi). I don't know why they fail, but in any event, there is way too much evidential material in Mrs. Piper's mediumship for any single failure to be a deal-breaker - IMO, anyway.

Incidentally, Lucy also made the point that the Hodgson control's handwriting didn't match the handwriting of the living Hodgson. I don't think it was expected to. The hand was used as a means of communicating, not as a means of duplicating the communicator's penmanship. Communicators said they were unaware if they were communicating by speech or written words; it's not as if they themselves were actually writing the words. The writings were rapidly scrawled, as if a stream of consciousness was being converted instantly to written form by some process that is not presently understood.

hmmm......p Lucy = Forests > .99.


I don't remember saying I don't read skeptical material, lol.

I think we would "welcome" in some sense or another skeptics who posted under their own names and were polite and reasonable.

The name Lucy makes me think of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown ... :-)

I agree Matt - I find *genuine* scepticism promotes debate.

Excuse me! I am not so familiar with the American scene... So who is this Forest? I saw this name mentioned a few times, but it does not ring a bell with me.

Nevertheless, I saw this "Lucy" mention the name Joe Nickle, and that made my hair stood on end. Whenever I see something by this debunker, I know from what direction the wind will blow.

I have been reading this blog for some months now. I live in Fiji and have been researching the paranormal and the afterlife for sometime. Basically I have tried to make sense of my life and neither religion nor atheism made any sense to me. Anyway I am now a believer. Their is just too many inexplicable things that I have seen and read about for me to remain a skeptic. For those who don't know. Their is a tribe in Fiji who have power over fire. These guys will walk into fire and hot burning coals and stroll around in the fire pit like they were walking on normal grass. I know we have all seen the running on Hot coals done by Life Coaches etc. This is different. No running but strolling and relaxing on the burning coals. They perform for tourists in Fiji. Legend has it that the gift was given to them by an ancestral spirit. I have seen serious burns heal without scars when touched by selected members of this tribe. I have read somewhere that the great skeptic James Randi was shown this and he had no explanation for it. I guess the point is that skeptics can find every reason in the world not to believe. If you have an open mind the evidence is mounting day by day that forces beyond our logic is at work in our daily lives which we neither understand fully nor can comprehend at least for now.

The problem is that most (pseudo-)skeptics think that skepticism is the same as thoughtless debunking and plain denialism.

Genuine skeptics continuously evaluate their own opinions against new and existing facts, are self-reflective, and willing to change their minds.

The current world of skepticism is overpopulated with pseudos.

Perhaps the answers lays just in front of our eyes, but we don't see them. Today I watched a baby sitting on the lawn. Its body still so difficult to control, but its eyes wide open. The small hands trying to grasp the reality around it, but they couldn't.

Just by being, the baby changes the world around her. People will nurse here and do many things for here. And when the baby grows, her own abilities will make her more and more capable of physically changing her environment. This might sound like an obvious parallel to the spirit's arrival in a new world. I don't think obvious is the word, but perhaps we should start here, in our own histories to understand the afterlife story.

Wild thoughts: It looks as if the spiritual world, according to people believing they have experienced it, is like a mix of fragmented mirror images of human conceptions and fantasies. These images (spiritual realms that I believe to some extent exist outside the observer) might succesively change in a complex interaction with spirits – and with universe itself. Since free spirits have no RL sensory input stabilising their location, self-awareness and structure, they might be dependent of these structured spiritual worlds to maintain themselves - at least in the beginning (complex unions, oversouls, with earth-bound spirits is perhaps the next option) - unless they stay Earth-bound. The more a spirit hovers above the structures, the more diffuse and unreachable might it be (and less dependent of time). At the top level there exist no time and nothing happens there. Not the end destination I would recommend to a spirit. On the other hand, she might look at it differently.

A question that bothers me, is whether spirits decay (or rises, if you prefer that version) unless they are fed with stuff from our world (e.g. being earth bound, being thought of or getting stuff from new arrivals)? If a long contact with the spiritual environment otherwise absorbs them and diffuse them so that they will lose anything resembling personality, intentions, activity and awareness (their 'memory banks' might still be accessible, letting other spirits play their roles)? Is there a life supporting food chain for the spirits permeating the spiritual structures?

Some nice (best I've seen) levitation photos (not the ectoplasms) by the Danish photographer Sven Türck from the 40's, copied from his book ”Jeg Var Dus Med Aanderne”: http://mariondampier-jeans.com/dansk/bibliotek/billeder/andebilleder/ . Türck used three cameras at different positions in the half-dark room. They were loaded with infrared film. The white bands on the furniture were put there to reduce the risk of fraud. The negatives are said to have been examined by expertise, revealing no signs of manipulation. He seems to have been a serious guy.

Here's a shaman levitating video I spotted at the same place: http://www.youtube.com/v/tW6pVFOpE6Q&hl=da_DK&fs=1&

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23672150

Would you mind sharing your ideas on this article?
A BBC article claims new discovery of a heighten brain activity at the time the brain is dying after a cardiac arrest.

It's interesting, Allen, but I don't see how it explains veridical observations or many other features of NDEs.

Yes, I don't really get why skeptics think others will share their big "aha!" when they point out the latest discovery of the brain doing this and that before, during, or after cardiac arrest or some other typical event associated with dying.

It is rather like the old canard, "Love is just chemicals in the brain." Whether accurate or not, it's a superficial point.

Nor does it explain the many veridical nde cases which take place when there is zero brain activity on an eeg

Allen, based on my admittedly limited layman's understanding, the article is misleading. My understanding is that a fair % of NDEs are reported from people in the ICU who have brain wave monitors attached - monitors that measure electrical activity - and the NDE occurs when there is no measured electrical activity. Sam Parnia is quite clear about this.

It may be that humans, like rats, experience an electrical surge as they go into cardiac arrest. However, once cardiac arrest is complete, once the heart is stopped, the electrical activity diminishes rapidly and then ceases. Parnia and peers have tried to make this fact clear over and over.

The work of Parnia and others is important not so much for the possibility of the patient seeing a randomly generated number on a shelf, but because it demonstrates the timing of the NDE. The work is showing that the NDE often occurs *after* cardiac arrest and when the brain's electric activity has ceased. This is what is convincing Parnia and others that there is something beyond a physiological explanation. The random number viewing is just some icing on the cake (if it happens).

People can have NDE's/OBE's when not close to death, end of. There is no evidence that rats are conscious in the way humans are and the surge in electrical activity may be the calcium surge that occurs in dying brains. Rat brained nonsense IMHO....oh and there's all the veridical OBE's evidence to explain away too as Michael states.

Back to the drawing board for the boffins.

"It's interesting, Allen, but I don't see how it explains veridical observations or many other features of NDEs."

Alex Tsakiris criticizes the dying brain explanation for a different reason today: how about all those people who have near-death-like experiences without suffering a medical emergency?

Entropy, often and erroneously substituted with disorder, stands for a fundamental property that is always increasing in a closed system. It's like a driving 'force', establishing the direction a physical process or a system, e.g. the universe will evolve. Entropy makes irreversible processes go forward, not backward in time (well, it can be discussed). Without it, a complex universe would hardly exist. Entropy makes space in the infinite? future nothing but low energy photons, like the background radiation we still can observe from the creation of universe, plus cold matter (unless nuclei decay – not yet observed – or something like a Big Rip will happen). It's only with the help of energy coming from stars, increasing the entropy, that life can evolve.

I consider the material universe and the spiritual universe being complementary parts. If entropy rules our part, the first assumption should be that it also rules the other: the spiritual worlds and of course the spirits themselves. Other alternatives are possible, but Occam's razor is what I prefer to shave the beard with. (One such alternative could be that we have a 'divine' universe, with God as creator of ours and many other universe. Between them we have the intermediate spiritual zone where God is scraping the surface for … our spirits maybe.) But until I see stronger arguments against my idea, from a scientific view, I'll consider the psi world just a very natural complement to the universe that we observe around us, developing together with it, sharing the same destiny.

As far as I know, energy is needed to drive a process to build something complex, a star, a mind, a spirit. When the energy feed ceases, 'entropy driven' quantum processes make our works decay. We all know that. One cleaning won't suffice. It's a life long effort, one of mankinds most important tasks.

Ok, so here comes my Wild Thoughts II: If spirits depend on getting new energy, they have it great when bond to a body, I guess. They might also harvest fresh vitality from astral energy fields supported by the Earth. Another possibility is that they harvest if from recently deceased spirits. I'm not particularly thinking of the parasites some OBE'rs occasionally report about. No, I'm thinking of the other spirits, the old ones (in the psi world), the great ones, the gods. It's easy to imagine a demon like spirit sucking the energy from its poor victims, but just the same could be true also for the nice guy. Yes, they might send you love and compassion, but they might also get something from you. Their power might have been collected from many spirits worshipping or being attracted to them. If you are unhealthy it might be just a pure giving from an 'angle' to you, with the best of feelings, possibly healing you – even your body, if you have one. But that energy comes from somewhere. If we consider the source to be God in the divine universe (my presently rejected scenario), ok, there's no problem. But if not. Perhaps many spirits become attached to and absorbed by strong spiritual entities, in a loving union but at the expense of the spirits individual opportunities, personality and energy. They might end up like in Alien, but in a much nicer arrangement. They might also like it. ”Slowly 'dying' in a cloud of comforting love”. I don't say that I think it's like that. But...I haven't the arguments to dismiss this alternative. From where comes the spiritual energy?

If the spirits somehow can keep themselves attached to the Earth plane, this might prolong their free lives. That could be part of an explanation for things like reincarnation (if real) and attachments (spiritual guides etc). Very speculative, of course.

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