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"It's quite expensive (about fifty bucks in either the hardcover or Kindle edition)."

Michael, I don't get it. Why put a price tag on it that makes it likely it will go largely unread? What kind of audience are they writing for?

Michael, it just occurred to me: maybe you should send the authors a copy of one your monthly reports for your ebooks, and introduce them to a whole different marketing philosophy. :)

I bought Irreducible Mind five years ago for thirty bucks, and it was worth every penny. I still pick it up and read selected chapters from time to time. If Beyond Physicalism is anything like Irreducible mind, I'm game for the fifty bucks.

It seems kinda odd that the Kindle version only costs two dollars less than the hardback edition, but then technically it's a college textbook, in which case the price point is on the low end of the scale.

BTW Michael, did you ever read James Carpenter's First Sight? And if so, what did you think of it?

Price notwithstanding, that is a "must buy." Thanks for the heads up! :)

Bruce: "What kind of audience are they writing for?"

An academic audience. College textbooks are typically priced at this level, or even higher.

Bruce: "... maybe you should send the authors a copy of one your monthly reports for your ebooks."

I'm sure it's the publisher, not the authors, who are responsible in this case. Publishers have been very reluctant to get on board the lower-price trend in ebooks.

Rabbitdawg: "Michael, did you ever read James Carpenter's First Sight?"

You know, I started it but didn't really get into it. Maybe I should give it another try.

"College textbooks are typically priced at this level, or even higher."

OK, that makes some sense. All I can say is that it would pain me to write a book with such an important message, and then price the Kindle version at a level where the average Joe (like me!) would have to think long and hard before buying it.

Rabbitdawg: "Michael, did you ever read James Carpenter's First Sight?"

MP: "You know, I started it but didn't really get into it. Maybe I should give it another try."

In my experience, the first chapter was absolutely eye-glazing. It's okay to skip through it and get the gist of the points Carpenter is trying to make, then come back to it later. As the book progresses, it gets much more engaging and convincing, hence, mote interesting.

"In my experience, the first chapter was absolutely eye-glazing."

Yes, I think that's where he lists about 8 million different categories of psi, tediously defining and describing each one. It goes on forever. I did not get through it. I guess I should have skipped ahead.

Maybe I'll give the book another try.

This is a bit off topic, but what do you think of this discursion I've had with a skeptic? My name is Haruhi in this page:

Regarding "First Sight," instead of wading through it from first page to last, I gave it a deep skim, and read reviews of it.

I consider it valuable to have in my e-book library for reference, especially when communicating with mainstream psychologists on the internet or elsewhere. When they assert that there is no coherent well-substantiated theory to accommodate psi events, I can mention that, in fact, a deeply-credentialed psychologist and academic has written an extensive and meticulous scholarly tome providing detailing just such a theory. The theory heavily references the research literature of mainstream psychology. If necessary, I can provide excerpts from the book.

For me, the takeaway from "First Sight" is that psi "inklings" (my word) inform our subsequent, more prosaic, decision making processes.

Dr. Piero Calvi-Parisetti, M.D. ("21 Days Into the Afterlife"), agrees that First Sight is a difficult-to-access book, but considers it to be "most remarkable." He calls for someone to boil it down for a wider readership.

In his book "Adventures in Psychical Research" Dr. Parisetti wrote:

"From the beginning of the controversy between proponents and skeptics of parapsychology, one of the major stumbling blocks has been the lack of a scientific theory which would account for the experimental data and would enable researchers to make predictions.

"With much less hype and visibility than it would have deserved, such a theory was proposed in 2012 by North Carolina University Professor James C. Carpenter in one of the most remarkable books I've ever read.

"First Sight is admittedly not an easy read. The professor is obviously incredibly learned and has put some stupendously sophisticated, solid and compelling thinking into it. However, communication is not necessarily his forte, and even the scientifically and philosophically minded reader has to put some effort into the more than 400 pages of heavy substance. I am just waiting for somebody to bring some of this brilliant thinking into the language and form of popular science.

"The basic tenets of the theory are that, whilst often seen as supernatural, unpredictable and possibly dangerous, psychic activities are actually happening all the time and help us make sense of everyday experiences."


Now, after having strayed off topic, it's time to delve into " Beyond Physicalism" :)

Maybe the book's price will be cut in a year or two, after the cream has been skimmed.

Juan - || This is a bit off topic, but what do you think of this discursion I've had with a skeptic? My name is Haruhi in this page: ||

This debate is with a long term sceptic "neutral monist" poster who is fond of impenetrable pedantic prose. For a start, as a premise, he basically rejects any and all empirical evidence for the veridical reality of psi, mediumship, apparitions, NDEs, reincarnation and the like as unverifiable anecdotes, just "stories told around the campfire". He assumes that not one such apparently paranormal event could have actually happened in space-time, and that survival of physical death is ridiculous. According to him these reports are human psychological phenomena related to deep imagination and the subconscious. He has a pet hypothesis about NDEs - that they are somehow a deep psychoneurological mechanism created by evolution to enhance individual and species survival. Debate with this individual is useless and a waste of time.

Juan, why do you waste your time arguing with skeptics?

Skeptics, why do you waste your time arguing with believers? What difference will it make?

This type of discussions read like 20 year old boys trying to sound more intelligent than the other. I'm not trying to insult anyone, but it's just what I think, even though I do believe in life after death.

I just don't think it can be proven in any scientific way. Maybe Nature and the universe are beyond us mere humans and our ways to understand the world.

I'm not trying to sound rude, but I think these type of discussions are frustrating, the skeptics always will *seem* to be right because they only repeat what *real* scientists have discovered and proven, they're not trying to think outside of mainstream science (they don't have to), therefore they sound more logical and obvious.

@Juan: If you engage on Skeptiko then you surely deserve everything that you get.

Doubter, you are thinking about "Kai". He's been floating around the NDE community for years now, and he is fairly adamant he is not a materialist skeptic despite the fact his arguments come off that way to the uninitiated with him. He's claims to have written for the IANDS journal in the past and was much more open to LAD in the past. I don't think he has actually outright said he thinks survival of physical death is ridiculous, but that he is less convinced these days.

Kai has been basically chased off of most of the forums he has been on in the past, including NDERF,, and likely more I suspect. True to his "I'm not a skeptic" claim, he has refused to participate in forums like JREF, SGU, or other skeptic related forums because he is fairly certain he is not one. Rather, he seems to want to end up on "proponent" forums, I had hopes that him finding Skeptiko would be better than other NDE related forums. On those boards, people seem more caught up with the bliss of NDEs, or come off a little "new-agey" to really discuss the meta of phenomenon so he basically ended up talking to a wall on those places, unfortunately against my expectations he seems to have gotten everyone mad on Skeptiko, too.

A big part of it has to do with Kai's theory of how NDEs, etc. work - if you really probe him he will claim he is not suggesting a materialist explanation (back to what I said about his staunch defense of not being a skeptic) but it's hard for a lot of people not to come to that conclusion. Kai's explanation of his beliefs are so complex I suspect only he really understands them, because over the years he has tried to explain it to other people only for them to yell, "Skeptic!" and him to say, "no, that's not what I mean at all". From what I take (and given how no one other than him seems to get his beliefs I could be likely wrong), it seems Kai's theory seems to be very loosely (emphasis on "loosely") based on Super-PSI. As I've said, accuse or probe him for being a skeptic and that is when you will see him back track a little.

Haven't really found too many other similar forums on which to engage, Julie Baxter.

Luciano wrote,

||the skeptics always will *seem* to be right because they only repeat what *real* scientists have discovered and proven, they're not trying to think outside of mainstream science (they don't have to), therefore they sound more logical and obvious.||

Yes, and it's asymmetrical warefare, since the skeptics only have to deny and negate without supporting a positive position of their own (they just default, as Luciano says, "to whatever real science says," which they assume is always on their side).


I agree, but your comment does not help to show that sometimes the anecdotes are evidence, or which is the most plausible interpretation of NDEs.


To be closer to truths about these topics, because in this blog rarely have discussed some questions such for example: how can we remain the same after biological death?

@Julie Baxter:

You write this as if I had done something bad, but I just try to answer some questions on these topics.

I have the book, the hardback version. It was £38 which I think is reasonable given the number of pages and the material.

Half way through the first chapter.

"You write this as if I had done something bad, but I just try to answer some questions on these topics."

Read M. Scott Peck's 'In Heaven As on Earth: A Vision of the Afterlife' (Hyperion, 1996) ISBN 978-0-7868-8921-1) if you want to understand the futility of engaging in such company. But I would have thought it self-evident anyway.

Doubter, I think I've run into Kai myself, he/she is totally exasperating, don't bother. There's nothing that can explain apparitions. I have observed them, as has a very close and trusted friend of mine. So it's not "campfire stories." There are thousands of accounts of them. You could argue that the mind is "tricking itself" to create them when a loved one dies in order to provide solace to itself, but there are many other accounts where no grief is present. I personally believe apparitions are the strongest evidence of an afterlife, based on my own experience. They're not always going to happen - I observed the apparition of a stranger, but no sign from a loved who died, even though I dearly wanted such a thing.

Anyway, that guy/gal wore me out from just sheer repetitiveness- saying over and over "there is no afterlife" doesn't advance the conversation.

Typically for a book like this from a fairly prestigious academic publisher, they will start out with a print run of the hardcover version. If sales are good, demonstrating the existence of a broader reading public, then a cheaper paperback version will follow. Look for BP to be printed that way in a year or two and go for 30-ish bucks.

"Anyway, that guy/gal wore me out from just sheer repetitiveness- saying over and over "there is no afterlife" doesn't advance the conversation." - Kathleen

No, but it keeps the game going. ;)

I think you're right about Kai. If we consider his motivation is genuine, to me it looks like what he is doing is excluding evidence which has any suggestion of doubt. We had a short exchange about the body of evidence for survival and, I think because it isn't easily replicable and he can't simoly go and witness it, he rejects it.

This seems to be a very unproductive strategy on his part and is a simplistic view of the world. In essence, he is being very selective about what he considers to be evidence and risks coming to the wrong conclusion. Rejecting the personal testimony of thousands of people is a somewhat arrogant position to take. Even if one cannot accept it as conclusive.

Enjoyed their first book, Irreducible Minds, and look forward to reading this. Those who are looking for an alternative to physicalism may be interested in this new website:

Tom Davies

Been a huge reduction in the price of the ebook version on UK Amazon. Was £36 a couple of days ago now only £27.

Aftrbrnr - ||.... it seems Kai's theory seems to be very loosely (emphasis on "loosely") based on Super-PSI.||

Yes, though his obfuscatory philosophical/academicese prose makes it hard to tell if he really thinks psi phenomena are ever real. In his belief system, all phenomena apparently indicative of survival are attempts to "game the system" by some sort of collective unconscious, which is strongly motivated by fear of annihilation and desire by this entity to reduce this fear by deception. Because it is really ourselves, it supposedly never can produce unequivocal evidence of survival or of any existence outside the body, or any truly new information from supposedly surviving souls in an afterlife. A sort of collective unconscious conspiracy theory.

"A sort of collective unconscious conspiracy theory."

Yep, basically takes the words out of my mouth. It's like he is trying to explain non-survival but without going into materialism, his my analogy for "Super-PSI".

A recent post of his on Skeptiko I feel summarizes what I mean about him not wanting to be pegged a materialist skeptic no matter what:

"I don't think there is any satisfactory evidence for nonphysical happenings. I am a physicalist, but not a materialist. You need to nuance the difference."

I've actually nudged Kai over the years on what he is trying to accomplish by explaining his theory, obviously proponents aren't going to be very supportive of it while the few materialists that have come across his writings seem very indifferent or apathetic towards them. I think he is looking for one person to merely agree with him. However, in that process I think he has become an unintentional Internet troll of sorts, I think he means well and doesn't mean any trouble or malice but his behavior in getting his message out (i.e. constant insistence) has alienated him.

What would be considered the best book on the scientific evidence for the afterlife and NDE's that skeptics would have a hard time dealing with? What is the best book dealing with the evidence of ghosts and demons? I ask this as a skeptic myself who is willing to explore the possibility that these things may be real. However, I don't convince too easily and that's why I ask for the best book that will have the best chance of making me see things in a different perspective.

"What would be considered the best book on the scientific evidence for the afterlife and NDE's that skeptics would have a hard time dealing with?"

That's a good question, Luis. Here are a few suggestions:

Stop Worrying: There Probably Is an Afterlife, by Greg Taylor - well-written in a non-confrontational style, with a lot of good evidence. Some people find it too introductory and prefer something more technical.

Science and the Near-Death Experience; and Science and the Afterlife Experience, both by Chris Carter - the Oxford-trained philosopher makes a compelling case for the reality of NDEs and an afterlife. Carter has been criticized for being a little too in-your-face and not always taking his opponents' arguments seriously enough. I don't agree with those criticisms myself. I liked both books very much, even if I had a few small caveats.

Immortal Remains, by Stephen E. Braude - a detailed and quite technical look at afterlife evidence. Braude is somewhat dismissive of evidence that I find compelling (including NDEs), but he still ends up saying that the weight of the evidence suggests at least temporary postmortem survival.

Mediumship and Survival, by Alan Gauld - though out of print, this book continues to be cited as one of the most serious and detailed examinations of mediumship and of alternate explanations, including "super-psi."

Those are some of my ideas. I'm sure commenters have some ideas of their own.

I don't know if ya'll have seen this article yet? It's on the BBC website and is dated March 3,2015

The seven ways to have a near-death experience

"Seeing a light and a tunnel may be the popular perception of death, but as Rachel Nuwer discovers, reports are emerging of many other strange experiences."

Yes, I've read that article, Art, and would like to know if there were differences between the NDE experiencers in terms of mental health.

Stephen E. Braude's book Immortal Remains is the only book I have read so far that reports a few organ transplant cases. Very interesting! - AOD

Not surprised Braude is a bit dismissive, after all the guy is basically the father of the modern Super-PSI theory. From what I've read up though, a lot of the 18th-19th Century investigators actually came to this conclusion with regards to mediums.

I try not to be too critical of Prof. Braude but I agree that he can be somewhat dismissive of evidence that I also find compelling; of course I am in no position to argue with him.

I am interested in the Patience Worth case and have considered it for many years. Braude does give a good account of the case in Immortal Remains but he compares the case with others and then bases his assessment of Patience Worth on these four or five other weak cases,which he reports in the middle of the Patience Worth chapter. It is as if she is guilty by association with the other cases he reports. He expects that a Puritan girl in the 1600s would have left a treasure trove so to speak of her writings for us to find and that no evidence of her physical existence has been found therefore she must be a secondary personality of Pearl Curran. He concludes by quoting F.C.S. Schiller in that it is "safer" to conclude that Patience Worth was a secondary personality of Curran, but he failed to give the Schiller quote in its entirety, cherry picking the part that supported his views. - AOD

In addition, if I recall correctly, Stephen Braude believes that NDEs can be explained entirely in terms of psi and that they provide no evidence of life after death. I think this is giving way too much scope to psi.

Though it's a minor thing, I also disagreed with Braude's assessment of the Neville Whymant-George Valiantine case. The case is discussed by Michael Tymn here:

Again, if I recall correctly (it's been a few years since I read Immortal Remains), Braude dismisses this case by speculating that Whymant merely thought he heard the medium speaking fluent Chinese, when actually the medium was mumbling. I find this most unlikely.

I had some problems with Chris Carter's books, too. At one point he writes that medium Arthur Ford was never discredited in his lifetime. This may be technically true, but Ford was at least partially discredited after his death, when papers were found among his personal effects indicating that he had researched some of his clients.

Bottom line: I'm never going to agree 100% with any book, but I do think the ones I listed have merits that far outweigh any defects.

Incidentally, the book that provided me with the best philosophical outlook on psi and the afterlife is Arthur Ellison's Science and the Paranormal. The more I think about these things, the closer to his viewpoint I seem to get.

I don't think Kai is a strong advocate for Psi at all, rather AFAICTell he supports a dual aspect monism - what Strawson and Goff would perhaps call Panpsychism. Basically reality is both mental and physical, and the perception of systems from first person or third person is what accounts for qualia.

About the book - I think Beyond Physicalism is worth a read. As it isn't a book about evidence it won't convince people in that way, but I'm enjoying the variety of models of reality presented.

A person seeking truths to live by, which I separate from the search for a consensus truth, would IMO find it enjoyable. I hope Michael reviews it at some point.

"The Witch of Napoli," a fictionalized account of Palladino's career, is only $1 for a Kindle version, here:

It's a good read.

Luis asked:

"What would be considered the best book on the scientific evidence for the afterlife and NDE's that skeptics would have a hard time dealing with?"

Micheal gave some suggestions, one of which was "Mediumship and Survival". As Michael mentioned, that book is out of print. However, I discovered some good news: there is a Kindle Edition of that book, for $7.99.

Even better news: the book is available for free on the Esalen website...

How does psychology explain multiple witnesses to poltergeist activity?Did they all imagine the same hallucinations?And what about veridical apparitions.

That's a very good question Ian. The Cardiff Poltergeist investigated by David Fontana was a good example. Also the Enfield Poltergeist documented by Guy Lyon Playfair and Maurice Grosse.

Lengthy (and positive) review of the book here:

Hi folks:

I thought I'd just drop by and invite you to post comments on my Amazon review of "Beyond physicalism"

For anyone not sure, I'd agree with the first poster - don't worry about the money, it's definitely worth purchasing. Fantastic book - should help break through the old paradigm.

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