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"That's bullshit. Garrett had doubts about the source of her psi abilities, and she did not know what happened during her sessions but that is not the same as believing that there is no afterlife."

You have not read her autobiography.

She also told Peter Underwood she did not believe in an afterlife. "I do not believe in individual survival after death" (Garrett's own words). From Underwood's "No Common Task: The Autobiography of a Ghost-Hunter, 1983".

"Garrett's case is evidence that auras exist."

You are not thinking very critically. So Garrett claimed to see auras and you believe her just like that? I have just seen some fairies in my garden? Do you believe me?

It is not reliable to just believe something blindly without empirical evidence.

Fact has it that all scientific experiments to date have failed to show the existence of an aura (even a big believer like Alan Gauld admits this).

Garrett was not scientifically tested in that regard. So there is no reason to believe she has demonstrated the existence of auras because no solid evidence from controlled experiments exists.

"I find your certainty in all matters tiresome. Since Garrett’s book is called "Many Voices: The Autobiography of a Medium," her views were obviously more nuanced than you care to admit."

I have the book in front of me now "Many Voices: The Autobiography of a Medium", she stated she believed her psychic ability to be the result of a magnetic field, she did not believe in an afterlife. Like Juan stated she was a believer in auras. But she did not believe in life after death or spirits this is a common misconception amongst believers.

As for her psychic abilities, they were actually non-existent. She failed all her tests when Samuel Soal put controls in place. She could only perform well when there were loose controls.

As for the R101 séances they also turned out to be a hoax. I know a skeptic named John Booth embarrassed himself by claiming she used a secret accomplice (covered elsewhere on Prescott's blog) but what Michael does not cite is the research of Melvin Harris conducted a few years after Booth which closed the case as fabrication from John G. Fuller. The original scripts from those séances contain no secret information about the R101. There are a number of experts that testified to this, check out Harris's "Investigating the Unexplained, 2003". Regards.

""Bill", forgive me for going against you in the following manner, but the idea that the scole experiment is fraud does not come from the people and the evidence that witnessed it but from second, third or fourth hand internet debunkers, so I cannot take your conclusion seriously enough."

It is not from internet debunkers David, it is from psychical researchers from the SPR such as Donald West and Alan Gauld who visited the séances.

https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4179

I know you want to believe in demons and aliens, but what you are citing is not reliable evidence. There is no scientific evidence for aliens but one of the better cases was the Robert Taylor incident. It turned out to be a case of temporal lobe epilepsy but the case caused a sensation at the time.

"Definitely not the final authority by any means given their bigotry and clinging to religious faith in materialism, which in fact outruns what we can know via scientific empiricism."

This is not entirely correct because the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry has many fellows and members and not all of them are materialists. Susan Blackmore is a neutral monist, Kenneth R. Miller is a devout Catholic, Antony Flew was a deist, John Booth was a Unitarian Universalist minister, Martin Gardner held some theist views etc.

But the main point is The Committee has nothing to do with a belief or disbelief in materialism, what it does is investigate paranormal claims and oppose pseudoscience. Just because they debunk pseudoscience or paranormal claims does not outright make them by default materialists.

David R,

I have been watching some videos by imams on YouTube. These are great public speakers who quote an incredible amount of verses from al-Quran as well as Hadith from memory. And there are videos specifically on paranormal phenomena. Do you know who gets all the blame in Islam? The jinn. And it is better hypothesis than "demons," since the jinn are created beings with specific abilities, and like humans they can choose to be good or evil. Blaming the jinn *to some degree* averts the question of why God would allow evil beings to torment humans constantly, and how does he regulate the level of torment (the question still remains why evil jinn don't fill our heads with chatter 24/7). It can also explain why some paranormal phenomena are of a positive nature, since good jinn can seek to help humans.

Of course, I don't believe that any more than I do that demons are behind it all. In either case, it's a useful catch-all for anything we don't understand on the surface that at the same time supports the ideology (Christianity, Islam). At the end of the day, however, it has no more explanatory power than saying, "The gods did it."

From a blog post on Eileen Garrett by a Fortean writer:

"For all that a number of men introduced her to these new ways of thinking, used her to access parts of the universe otherwise hidden from them, and tried to explain what her actions meant, Garrett never accepted their propositions. Theosophy seemed wrong to her, although she respected Rudolf Steiner and his derivative Anthroposophy, thinking his intuitive methods for arriving at truths was akin to her own sensitivities. She doubted anything like a conventional afterlife and didn’t accept that she was speaking to discarnate spirits. She knew that her sanity was in question, and had been for all her life, and suggested that she was not schizophrenic but tapping into her unconscious, giving that tangled orectic monster different voices. She was sensitive to others, empathetic, and from that could suss out truths hidden to others. Poltergeists, she said, most often reflected repressed emotional tempests—domestic situations not unlike the one in which she grew up—and when the tension was released, so ended the poltergeist activity.

"Still, even as she suggested that these were the most possible explanations for what she did, and what she saw, she never completely ruled out the possibility of life-after-death, of ghosts, and clairvoyance. She was always tricky that way, unsatisfied with any answer given. Her life was a search for meaning that was never fulfilled, a Faustian quest."

http://www.joshuablubuhs.com/blog/eileen-j-garrett-as-a-fortean

As I noted in a recent post psychoanalyzing skepticism, hardcore skeptics tend to be uncomfortable with ambiguity and eager to jump to black-and-white, all-or-nothing conclusions. Most proponents of the paranormal are more comfortable with ambiguity and can live with a considerable degree of doubt - even, in Garrett's case, self-doubt.

Regarding the alleged debunking of the R-101 case, I vaguely remember reading it. It's the same old stuff. People at the time, who had been part of the R-101 project, were convinced that the transcripts contained genuine information. Garrett was even approached by the police, who were concerned about the government secrets she seemingly had access to.

The seances produced material not only of a technical nature but also pertinent to the personalities involved. For instance, one of the deceased R101 technicians had a favorite catch phrase: "Use your damned intelligence!" When a sitter asked this communicator if he could establish his identity, the entranced Garrett replied, "Use your damned intelligence!" And it was reported that various communicators reproduced their characteristic mannerisms, tone of voice, style of speech, etc.

The entranced Garrett also engaged in lengthy conversations with a technically knowledgeable sitter, in which specific problems with the dirigible's design and construction were discussed, along with the behind-the-scenes politics that had compromised and rushed the project. None of this was public knowledge, and Garrett had no knowledge of mechanics or aircraft design. She never even learned to drive a car.

One communicator said he had kept a secret diary recounting his doubts about the project. The existence of this diary was not proven until decades later, when his widow discovered it. It was just as described.

It's never seemed important to me to ask whether Jesus (as described) actually existed. I've always thought of the bible as a latter day self help book. The parables contained within the testaments are profound, timeless and particularly illustrative to children. The historical accuracy, or lack of, has never seemed particularly significant.

"Just because they debunk pseudoscience or paranormal claims does not outright make them by default materialists. "

Ok, I'm not sure you're right about Blackmore but basically you're saying pseudoskpetics don't have to be materialists to have prejudice against the paranormal? As I recall Psi-cop even proved astrology was true at one point ->

http://www.psicounsel.com/starbaby.html

As the former & IIRC founding member of Psi-cop said about that scandal:

"I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs CSICOP was created to debunk. But I have changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism. I now believe that if a flying saucer landed in the backyard of a leading anti-UFO spokesman, he might hide the incident from the public (for the public's own good, of course). He might swiftly convince himself that the landing was a hoax, a delusion or an "unfortunate" interpretation of mundane phenomena that could be explained away with "further research."

Really the cultish bigotry of the pseudokeptical groups have toward the paranormal means it's best to take them with a grain of salt. Some people are less interested in the truth than they are in spreading their particular gospel about all paranormal claims being false. It's one thing to demand better controls, but it's odd when such demands are limited to attacking parapsychology.

Another good example of that prejudice is Grof's encounter with Sagan:

http://anti-matters.org/articles/115/public/115-150-1-PB.pdf

@david

http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.com/2015/09/sanatana-dharma-hinduism-exhumed-and.html

"You have not read her autobiography."

And you have not read the link above I placed.

"She also told Peter Underwood she did not believe in an afterlife."

Well then what? Although this is true, Garrett is still evidence that there is an afterlife, like many other mediums.

"You are not thinking very critically. So Garrett claimed to see auras and you believe her just like that? I have just seen some fairies in my garden? Do you believe me?"

No, but many other people with similar abilities to those of Garrett claimed to perceive the aura.

"It is not reliable to just believe something blindly without empirical evidence."

And I do not believe it blindly.

Bill, Just as I thought - "skeptoid" website you cite. Second, third hand debunking material.

As for the SPR, there have been "skeptics" in that society since the beginning. So it appears to me you are ignoring the people in the SPR that give a positive take on some phenomena, like the scole experiment, and favouring a couple of dudes from the SPR that gave a negative take. Perhaps you can broaden your horizons?

As for me believing in aliens or demons, is that a problem to you? You can claim until the cows come home that such things do not exist because YOU have no evidence for them, but that would be like ignoring thousands of years of human experience to the contrary.

Cheers.

"The entranced Garrett also engaged in lengthy conversations with a technically knowledgeable sitter, in which specific problems with the dirigible's design and construction were discussed, along with the behind-the-scenes politics that had compromised and rushed the project. None of this was public knowledge, and Garrett had no knowledge of mechanics or aircraft design. She never even learned to drive a car."

I believe this is all wrong based on the Harris source. I am sorry that I can't type it all out but it is covered by Melvin Harris. There was no 'secret' information or knowledge given by Garrett that she could have not know by natural means.

Melvin Harris was the only researcher to cover this, before I read his book like yourself I was also impressed by the case. If anyone wants to know about the R101 hoax you will have to read "Investigating the Unexplained", 2003 by Harris he covers all the scripts.

Last month I was going to type it all out and put his chapter online but it was too much text. Tricia Robertson in her book "Things You Can Do When You're Dead" was lead with false information and does not cite Harris. It is very easy to be lead astray when you have incomplete sources.

"The name of her book, "Many Voices: The Autobiography of a Medium," is all you need to know to realize that the quote you included tells only part of the story.

Why do you come here with tidbits like that when anyone even slightly familiar with the territory should suspect it's hopelessly one-sided?"

Bruce I understand what your saying but I believe you are being unfair because it is likely I am the only person on this blog to have actually bothered to read her autobiography (don't suddenly pretend you have it, lol). Secondly a title can sometimes be misleading. Read the book, not just the title. She claimed to have psychic powers yes, but her trance controls she did not believe were spirits and she did not believe in life after death. That is proven.

As for the claim of dissociative identity disorder, Garrett herself admitted to suffering from dissociation and hallucinations as a child but it was actually a believer who claimed she had dissociative identity disorder, this was the psychologist Jan Ehrenwald who was known for endorsing the fraudulent tricks of Ted Serios. So It is not us evil skeptics saying this stuff, it comes from the believers themselves.

Again the claims of dissociation were actually demonstrated by a psychical researcher named Whately Carington not a skeptic. He used word-association tests on Garrett when she was in trance which demonstrated her controls were not independent entities but products of her own subconscious.

It is unlikely anyone has read that old paper here (maybe Steve Hume has as he is an SPR member), but here it is:

"The Quantitative Study of Trance Personalities. Part 1. Preliminary Studies. Mrs. Garrett, Rudi Schneider, Mrs. Leonard. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 42, 173–240.

You can also read Samuel Soal's paper in the SPR which was completely negative about Garrett, she failed tests with him which had proper controls.

Here is an interesting excerpt from a book 'Leaves from a Psychist's Case-Book' by Harry Price of his séance with Eileen Garrett on October 7, 1930 when she contacted flight-lieutenant H.C. Irwin and the crash of the R101 was discussed. It might be useful for reference. -AOD

http://www.harrypricewebsite.co.uk/Seance/Garrett/leaves-r101.htm

The whole issue of whether or not Eileen Garrett believed in life after death is just an aside to the conversation about proof of survival of the human consciousness. Her opinion is her opinion---granted that she was closer to the phenomenon of trance mediumship than most of us. however a medium does not become omniscient as a result of her gift of mediumship.

Many mediums, including modern-day ones comment that they do not remember much if anything about what they said or did while in a trance or how they did it. That is not surprising since many mediums seem to be under the control of some other entity (Ulvani in the case of Garrett) and it is the Control who does the speaking and has the knowledge, not the medium. It is equally not surprising that the medium would question the source of the information and fall back on a mainstream explanation e.g., her subconscious mind. That most mediums themselves cannot provide proof that the human spirit survives death is to be expected. If one looks to a medium for his or her opinion about survival, one probably will be disappointed because they really don't know any more about it than you or I do. - AOD

On the subject of Anthony Flew (who was mentioned here earlier) I met him at a conference in the mid 1990s - before he renounced hos atheism and found his belief in God. I felt that the time that he hadn't really understood the caliber of research that was being conducted into psi phenomena, but he did come across as considerably more fine-minded than his contemporary debunkers.

In his talk he attempted to ridicule psi research with some rather clumsy and low-brow jokes. He missed the mark by a mile. For one thing, it was a highly intelligent audience - unlikely to be influenced easily in any direction. And, for another, most of the audience had no commitment either way with regard to the subject matter and were, therefore, easily able to spot a below-the-belt punch.

As he left the podium, I could see from the expression on his face that he was perplexed by the very neutrality that he had encountered. I could also deduce that he was an unusually sensitive for a debunker. Flew was a genuine thinker and *far* superior in character to the likes of Randi et. al.

@Matt Rouge: I agree. It's funny that jinn couldn't write the Koran, demons couldn't write the Bible, asuras couldn't write the Gita, and so on.

In fact, if we look at the history of human suffering and how religion has been used to justify it, we see a more horrible and also larger pattern than the examples David R tried and failed to show as signs of demons trying to distort Biblical teachings.

@Michael: Ah, I figured Bill was giving us an incomplete story. For pseudoskeptics "pseudoscience" seems to just be a word pinned onto investigations they don't like since I don't see them going after things like Dennet's subversion of actual cogsci research for his anti-religion book Breaking the Spell:

http://therevealer.org/archives/20416

'Geertz’s response was entitled “How Not to Do the Cognitive Science of Religion Today.” He blasted Dennett not only for his careless treatment of religion—what he called “an inelegant, polemical attack”—but for his brittle depiction of brain-mind science, which he identified as “a catastrophe” and “a disservice to the entire neuroscientific community.”'

They also don't seem to have a problem with Susan Blackmore's own poor research:

http://archived.parapsych.org/psiexplorer/blackmore_critique.htm

"Overall, it is concluded that Blackmore’s claims that her database shows no evidence of psi are unfounded, because the vast majority of her studies were carelessly designed, executed, and reported, and, in Blackmore’s own assessment, individually flawed. As such, no conclusions should be drawn from this database."

Even a Nobel prize winning physicist, Brian Josephson, has noted the dishonesty of pseudoskeptics:

http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/propaganda/

"This web page is intended to draw the attention of scientists, the media, and the public to a problem that, while being very familiar to some, is probably unknown to the majority of visitors to this web page. Propagandising of the kind described in the following bypasses the normal carefully considered processes of science, and may well create a distorted impression in the mind of the unsuspecting reader or viewer."

As it turns out, I was mistaken about having read Melvin Harris. I was thinking of a different writer. So I've just purchased the Kindle edition of Harris's book, which is available for about $12 US at the link below. The R101 case has interested me for years, and I'm curious to see if Harris can actually shed new light on it.

http://is.gd/v58uGa

Incidentally, in searching the web for info on Harris, I came across the Michael Prescott page on RationalWiki. It has been improved somewhat since the last time I looked. Though it's still hostile, some of the errors have been corrected. For instance, previously the page claimed that I endorsed all Victorian mediums; now it says I only endorse "many" of them. Actually I would endorse only a few of them; still, progress has been made!

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Prescott

NB: "I've always thought of the bible as a latter day self help book."

By which I meant (if anyone here didn't get my meaning) that I regard the bible as a precursor of the modern psychology self-help book. Apologies. I tend to write very quickly and don't always stop to check that I've made my points clearly.

"I am sorry that I can't type it all out but it is covered by Melvin Harris."

The R101 case occurred in 1930. Harris's book
is from 1987. I will not accept the opinion of Harris before the testimonies of those who lived that situation.


"As for the claim of dissociative identity disorder, Garrett herself admitted to suffering from dissociation and hallucinations as a child but it was actually a believer who claimed she had dissociative identity disorder, this was the psychologist Jan Ehrenwald who was known for endorsing the fraudulent tricks of Ted Serios. So It is not us evil skeptics saying this stuff, it comes from the believers themselves."

Maybe what is called dissociative identity disorder is possession, that schizophrenia is uncontrolled telepathy...

Bill said:

“Bruce I understand what your saying but I believe you are being unfair because it is likely I am the only person on this blog to have actually bothered to read her autobiography

Hi Bill. I’m impressed by your reply, and my opinion of you softens. I particularly appreciate your lack of sarcasm. That’s refreshing.

“don't suddenly pretend you have it, lol.”

I won’t. But now that I think about it, I *did* read a book by Garrett many years ago, and it may well have been her autobiography. I also seem to remember that I was surprised by her conclusions., which, as you say, were not pro-survival, though to what degree that’s true, I can’t remember.

I also can’t remember how strongly and confidently she expressed her conclusions. In any case, I’d like to make a few points.

Without making an in-depth study of her opinion over the years, my guess is that her granddaughter, as quoted by Charles Tart, is probably telling us what we most need to know:

“As her granddaughter once explained to me, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, she felt the psychologists who had studied her were right, her "spirit guides" were aspects of her own unconscious, impersonating the deceased, but showing psychic abilities. On Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays she felt the spiritualists were right, she really did contact the spirits of the dead. On Sundays she tried not to think about it….”

Maybe she wrote the autobiography at a point in her life when she felt especially doubtful.

“As for the claim of dissociative identity disorder, Garrett herself admitted to suffering from dissociation and hallucinations as a child”

The craziness argument doesn’t work with me. I know, without question, that emotional challenges of ALL kinds are precisely the sort of influence that can bring us in contact with fundamental truths we might otherwise miss.

Finally, no one can doubt that, when it comes to the paranormal, Garrett was a proponent. And whether she herself would agree with me, I’m convinced that no universe in which psi (in all its forms) exists can be a place where death is real.

Bill said:

"As for her psychic abilities, they were actually non-existent. She failed all her tests when Samuel Soal put controls in place. She could only perform well when there were loose controls."

After my last comment, I see this, and it represents exactly the sort of thing you keep doing that lessens your credibility. You look for ammunition rather than trying to get at the truth.

Be honest: if one of us used Soal to defend our viewpoint, wouldn't you point out that he was a liar?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Soal

I just took a look at the relevant chapter in Melvin Harris's book. The material is interesting, though it relies heavily on the work of Archie Jarman, who is the researcher I'd been thinking of earlier.

I was disappointed to find almost no specific citations and no footnotes or endnotes. After complaining that we have to take the word of John Fuller and others on certain points, Harris proceeds to make factual claims that we must take his word for.

What comes across quite clearly is that different people have made different assessments of the transcripts (Jarman had already established this). Some, who are said to be proponents of spiritualism, have found the transcripts technically accurate for the most part, while others, who seem to be opposed to spiritualism, have found the transcripts worthless from a scientific or engineering standpoint.

Although Harris makes much of the alleged fact that Will Charlton was a spiritualist, my understanding is that he did not become a spiritualist until after he had examined the transcripts and had become convinced that actual spirit communications were involved. if this is so – and I really don't know if it is or not – then his later commitment to spiritualism is irrelevant to his initial evaluation of the transcripts.

It is true that Charlton simply ran the supply depot for the R-101 project. But he claimed that he had shown the transcripts to some of the engineers, who were duly impressed. Harris says this never happened and that Charlton was making it up. I don't see how we can tell one way or the other.

The people who debunked the transcripts read them decades after the fact. One of them insisted that the transcripts got all the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering dead wrong. From everything I've read, this is simply not true. The R-101 project was victimized by political infighting and bureaucratic problems. The test flight ended in disaster in large part because the project had been rushed. It is at least possible that, later on, some people did not want to admit that the project had been mishandled and that the fatalities were the result of bureaucratic and political mismanagement. If so, they had at least as much of a motive to disparage the transcripts as any alleged spiritualist might have had in promoting them.

It's also notable that the transcripts were considered evidential and generally accurate by both Lord Dowding, Commander-in-Chief of the (British) Fighter Command in World War II, and Sir Victor Goddard, former commander of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Harris does not mention either of them.

Harris also doesn't say anything about the fact that the personalities of the dead crew members came through quite clearly, right down to distinctive turns of phrase, mannerisms, gestures, and so forth. This strikes me as at least as significant as the technical accuracy or inaccuracy of the communicators' statements. And he doesn't mention the secret diary that one of the communicators said he had been keeping, in which he discussed the political problems that were undermining the project. This secret diary did in fact turn up decades later among the man's personal effects.

I do agree that Eileen Garrett could have obtained the name of the village of Achy from her road trips around France. And it is well known that some of the technical details in the transcripts are wrong. Harris mentions only two. But dozens if not hundreds of details were included in the transcripts, so singling out two for criticism is not very persuasive. Harris airily dismisses the rest as being equally nonsensical, but this contradicts most of what I've read elsewhere. Other commentators have put the accurate information in the transcripts at about 70%, with another 20% uncertain, and only 10% clearly wrong. This is only a rough estimate, and naturally evaluations will vary depending on how generous or ungenerous one wishes to be in interpreting technical jargon.

Harris seems to assume that a lengthy discussion of lift problems and other aerodynamic issues would be possible for someone who was not trained in aeronautics but had simply picked up various stray facts in the newspapers. I find this unlikely. Eileen Garrett did not travel in social circles where engineering problems were discussed; her friends were mostly writers and theater folk, including some who were very prominent, like William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. These were intelligent, well-educated people, but they were not engineering buffs.

Harris dismisses all of the sessions held by Villiers (which were arguably the most notable sessions) on the ground that Villiers did not use a stenographer and simply wrote notes on each session as soon as it ended. I don't think this is sufficient reason to dismiss the Villiers sittings, but opinions may vary.

Here's an excerpt from the first session, which was recorded by a stenographer. The purported communicator is Lt. Irwin, and he spoke in the rapid staccato style characteristic of him in life. Consider if this type of material is likely to be produced by picking up scraps of information from newspapers:

"The whole bulk of the dirigible was entirely and absolutely too much for her engine capacity. Engines too heavy. It was this that on five occasions made me scuttle back to safety ... Useful lift too small. Gross lift computed badly – inform control panel ... Explosion caused by friction in electric storm. Flying too low altitude and could never rise. Disposable lift could not be utilized ...

"Load too great for a long flight ... Cruising speed bad, and ship badly swinging. Severe tension on fabric, which is chafing. Starboard strakes started. Engines wrong – too heavy – cannot rise ... Never reached cruising altitude. Same in trials. Too short trials. No one knew the ship properly.

"Airscrews too small. Fuel injection bad and air pump failed. Cooling system bad. Bore capacity bad. Next time with cylinders but bore of engine 1,100 cc’s, but that bore is not enough to raise too heavy load and support weight. It had been known to me on many occasions that the bore capacity was entirely inadequate to the volume of structure. This I had placed again and again before engineer, without being able to enlarge capacity of Diesel twin-valve ...

"But the structure no good. That actually is the case, not gas did not allow mixture to get to engine – backfired. Fuel injection bad ... There was not sufficient feed. Leakage. Pressure and heat produced explosion ...

"Weather bad for long flight. Fabric all water-logged and ship’s nose down. Impossible to rise. Cannot trim ... At inquiry to be held later, it will be found that the superstructure of the envelope contained no resilience, and had far too much weight in envelope ... The added middle section was entirely wrong. It made strong but took resilience away and entirely impossible. Too heavy and too much overweighted for the capacity of the engines ..."

From everything I've read, much of this information was confirmed at the official inquiry. To say that it was all wrong, or worthless gobbledygook, does not square with my reading of either the transcripts or the history of the case. See more here:

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

I might add that in his initial comment on this subject, Bill said that Harris's book established that the R-101 case was a "hoax," but Harris does not make this claim. He implies that Garrett produced the information via her subconscious, not as a deliberate deception. Bill also called John Fuller's book a "fabrication," but Harris suggests only that Fuller may have misinterpreted certain points, not that he was intentionally trying to deceive.

@Bill

In regard to my previous comment, before you ask me what Soal’s motivation to disparage Garrett could possibly be, I’ll answer the question.

The evidence for psi is so clear and abundant, that anyone (like Soal) who resorts to lying about phony evidence, must be doing so because he’s failing to appreciate and nurture the real thing. (Like Garrett, perhaps, though I can't know what actually went down in those "well controlled" sessions. I stress "nurture" because psi, like all human gifts and behaviors, is best observed in the appropriate setting.)

Furthermore, if a researcher violates our trust by fudging the facts and trashing his own credibility—his prime professional asset—I do not trust that he is thinking clearly about *anything*.

So again: if one of us used Soal to defend a viewpoint, wouldn't you point out that he was a liar?

Wyatt Earp was a literary creation featured in dime novels once upon a time; even so, a man named Wyatt Earp lived and died and served as the basis for this creation and is part of our historical record.

The human personality of Earp was an extension into physical reality of a particular being, one that might be referred to as an essence, entity, or soul.

Each of us is also such an extension, as was the man upon whose shoulders the myth of Christianity was primarily draped.

The existence of such beings can be known, directly, by any person, but requires mastering some relatively simple techniques or methods.

Souls or entities can convey information to living, conscious personalities -- their own, or others -- by a variety of methods.

Acquiring information from the soul or entity of the man at the center of the myth is more difficult, however, owing to the sheer power and pervasiveness of the myth. (Try to focus on the inner being of the man, "Jesus," to begin to appreciate these difficulties -- you'll have to first clear away deep personal associations, whether you believe there ever was such a fellow or not, and these are rampant -- think of just Christmas alone, and all that is associated with it in your own mind, before even contemplating the endless associations that accompany the word "Christianity.")

I'm fond of a particular quote concerning Paul, not "Jesus." (Per several non-physical sources, both men were extensions of the same soul or entity living in the same general time and place; both had unusual experiences in life, but it might be said that Saul or Paul promoted -- very effectively -- a distortion, as he wasn't capable of comprehending his particular unusual experience, which was based on his inner connection to the other man. The quote references an "incarnation" of Saul of Tarsus (Paul) in which he uses his amazing marketing abilities to rectify the earlier error, made significant by those abilities):

"By that time, all religions will be in severe crisis. He will undermine religious organizations -- not unite them. His message will be that of the individual in relation to All That Is. He will clearly state methods by which each individual can attain a state of intimate contact with his own entity; the entity to some extent being man's mediator with All That Is."

This is from _Seth Speaks_ by Jane Roberts. Note that "All That Is" is not the same as the mythical Judeo/Christian god.

In a long ago thread here, Michael dismissed Seth, having only read part of Jane Robert's _The Seth Material_, not one of the later books dictated by Seth like _Seth Speaks_ (Seth's first dictated book.)

Michael is of course free to hold whatever opinions or beliefs he likes. I am fond of Seth's teachings, however, for two primary reasons:

1. The first time I tried to meditate, I perceived, inwardly, a persistent full-color image of the cover of _Seth Speaks_ that was in print at the time. This got my attention -- I'd glanced at a Seth book in a bookstore some time prior to this experience as some kind of New Age nonsense but after this odd experience decided that, possibly, my judgement had been premature. In fact, I hiked into Harvard Square immediately afterwards (in those days, Harvard Square was chock full of physical, printed bookstores) and purchased the book.

2. I read the book and purchased others then in print. Whenever I came across one of the exercises Seth embedded in them, to validate his material, I'd say to myself: "I'll get around to this later" until I actually stopped and did Seth's "Preliminary Probable Self" exercise in his two-volume _The 'Unknown' Reality_. That resulted in a second very powerful experience, and I knew then that at least some of Seth's exercises rivaled some of those given by George Gurdjieff to his pupils (I was never been one of those very zealous and serious followers of "G" but I did read a number of his books and those by his followers; the "Watch Yourself and Remember Yourself" exercise can generate a very strong experience of expansive consciousness if someone doing it is persistent).

I don't believe the question of "Jesus" can be resolved by literary analysis and examining historical and archeological information, although doing that can certainly shed quite a bit of light on the subject. I prefer a much more direct approach; I satisfied my curiosity on this long ago.

Michael the word of veteran pilots is very important because they know the subject.

Lord Dowding was basically a believer that fairies were real so we shouldn't trust his word for anything without first checking the facts. Should we trust a man who believes fairies are real? And yes Dowding has written a book on fairies claiming to see them. He was a devout spiritualist. I will discard Dowding as unreliable. I will look into the other you mention.

But in his book Harris cites two veteran pilots who looked at the scripts and described them as technically empty. Is this not enough for case closed? These are experts declaring the content from the scripts to be valueless so why do paranormal proponents still believe? It is from misinterpretation from Fuller.

The R101 is a hoax in the sense that spiritualists like Fuller have deliberately passed these séances off as evidence Herbert Carmichael Irwin communicated through Garrett. According to both Archie Jarman who wrote an 80,000-word report and Harris himself there is no reliable evidence from these séances.

My only question is where is Jarman's 80,000-word report? Apart from that I have no questions. I consider the case debunked by Melvin Harris and the veteran pilots he cites who found the content in the scripts valueless. Others such as Joe Nickell who I speak to now and again who spend his entire life researching cases like this also consider the case refuted. There really is nothing left.

As for Fuller I believe he was a hoaxer, he had also authored a book on Zé Arigó a fraudulent psychic surgeon claiming he was genuine.

Bruce,

Samuel Soal was a big time fraud, but the experiments he conducted with Garrett were not alone like his fraudulent ESP experiments or his fiddled results with Blance Cooper, there were two other psychical researchers with him in a laboratory with Garrett.

It was not his own lab, it was the a laboratory at the University College London.

Independent observers are very important in experiments. I have no reason to believe Soal faked the experimental results with Garrett and made her look bad.

After Soal's experiments another psychical researcher called Robert H. Thouless with eleven persons present obtained extreme negative results with Garrett as well.

The only time Garrett performed well is when the controls were loose or she could cheat.

"According to both Archie Jarman who wrote an 80,000-word report and Harris himself there is no reliable evidence from these séances."

Harris was basically regurgitating Jarman's work, so this all boils down to Jarman. But are you sure that Jarman reached this conclusion? Harris and others quote him as saying that the R-101 case is a "dead duck" in terms of its psychological import. But here is another quote attributed to Jarman:

"It was the technical aspect of this case that makes it unique in psychic history ---- and I mean unique… My opinion is that greater credulity is demanded to believe that Eileen obtained her obscure and specialized data by mundane means than to accept that, in some paranormal manner, she had contact with the remembering psyche of the dead Captain Irwin to the moment of his incineration with his vast airship."

http://www.prairieghosts.com/garrett.html

The same Jarman quote is also given here:

http://www.euro-tongil.org/swedish/english/er101.htm

At this site it's stated that the quote is taken from an appreciation he wrote of Garrett after her death. The article is said to have appeared in the magazine Psychic News in 1970.

I don't know if the quote is accurate. But it could be. In my own essay on the R-101, I wrote,

"It is true that Jarman did not find the Villiers transcripts useful, because Villiers had jotted down incomplete notes and later supplemented them by memory. Jarman felt that this method opened up too many possibilities for unconscious distortion or embellishment of the material. ... In any case, Jarman assessed the Price transcript (the one reviewed by Charlton) quite differently. Because these notes had been taken down verbatim by a trained stenographer, he judged them to be a reliable record of the séances – and he felt they did provide important evidence about the fate of the R-101 that could not be obtained through normal means."

Having written the essay a decade ago, I don't recall my source for this claim. It's probably Fuller. Anyway, it jibes with the quote presented above.

Jarman's 80,000 word essay would solve the mystery of what he actually believed, but as far as I know, the essay is not available anywhere. I suppose a decades-old copy of Psychic News could also establish whether the pro-psi quote is accurate or not. But I don't know how to track that down, either.

So in the end it comes down to the assumption that Jarman's 80,000 word essay a) is reliably researched and soundly argued and b) says what some skeptical writers claim it says, even though c) other writers cite Jarman as saying the opposite.

My guess (it's only a guess) is that Jarman thought the Villiers transcripts were a "dead duck" because they were not verbatim records, but felt differently about the Price transcript. I could be wrong, but this would be one way of resolving the apparent contradiction between the two quotes.

Incidentally, Garrett herself commissioned Jarman to look into the case and to "delve as deeply" as he could.

"Sir Victor Goddard, former commander of the Royal New Zealand Air Force."

Wow after a bit of digging. He wrote an entire book claiming to have travelled back in time!

I pulled this from an evil skeptic website, but it will do:

"While Goddard had risen quite high in the military ranks, he effectively had a second career as a paranormal enthusiast after retiring. His book Flight Towards Reality is largely a collection of thoughts about the nature of the spirit, ESP, and continued consciousness. He was a strong promoter of spirituality and alternative modes of healing."

His belief in a ghost-photo debunked here:

http://www.skeptic.com/insight/should-goddards-squadron-drop-dead-fred/

Dowding a believer in fairies and this guy claimed to time travel. I am not surprised they saw what they wanted to see in Garrett's scripts. Melvin Harris is much more reliable in my opinion.

Eileen Garrett was tested (in a Faraday cage built just for her!) by John Hays Hammond, Jr., the prolific inventor, in his laboratory here in Gloucester, MA. Somewhere, I may have a description of the results. (Hammond died in 1965. I lived elsewhere in the state and had an odd lucid dream/OOBE at about the age of 10, when Hammond was still alive, not recalling it until many years later, when I toured the museum that was once Hammond's home and laboratory. Short version: Hammond was trying to run my 10-year old dream self through with a lance; what brought it all back was the tour guide asking if any of us wished to see Mr. Hammond's lance collection.)

I never met Ms. Garrett, a friend of Hammond's wife Irene, a person with her own pronounced clairvoyant abilities, I'm given to understand. I never met Irene, either, while she was still living, but, nevertheless, have had two communicative experiences, a tale for some other time.

Whether Ms. Garrett's abilities were genuine or not is nothing I have any easy way to verify, but I note that an unknown number of intelligent people have questioned their own such abilities -- it would be difficult for such a person not to do so, given the official beliefs prevalent in our society, official beliefs that lean strongly towards the material and impress those who adopt scientism.

Instead of pouring over old test results, I would suggest that those who wonder about such things might do much better by finding a good mediumship teacher and taking classes offered by them. (How does one find a good mediumship teacher? Obviously you have to look for one. Although I don't consider myself much of a medium, I did find a good teacher -- tested her first, in my own way -- and took a number of her classes. I discovered that I have certain abilities, but although I did have some success with the techniques she taught, this was fairly hit or miss. The abilities I discovered were outside of those techniques, as they dealt with details of sitters' so called "past" lives, not those of some dead uncle or grandmother, which can very often be verified.)

In mediumship, as in related areas, a very basic preliminary technique involves temporarily quieting the conscious mind and intellect; this can enable certain perceptual abilities that tend to be occluded in the course of socialization.

Reading old test results requires using exactly that part of the mind which needs to be quieted in order to gain an immediate, direct experience of these perceptual abilities.

I'm quite sure there have been other societies, with "official" beliefs quite different from those of ours, wherein these abilities are acknowledged and developed.

Someone in our society might dismiss any and all records, inscriptions, etc., of such a society, strictly owing to their own biases and those that are more or less built into our society, taught to everyone within our official educational establishments above and beyond what most learn from their parents and peers as they grow up.

Bill said:

"Samuel Soal was a big time fraud, but the experiments he conducted with Garrett were not alone like his fraudulent ESP experiments or his fiddled results with Blance Cooper, there were two other psychical researchers with him in a laboratory with Garrett."

I don't know about you, but if I'm looking for trustworthy information and happen upon some research in which a "big-time fraud" plays a significant role, I'll keep looking.

Bill:

"Lord Dowding was basically a believer that fairies were real so we shouldn't trust his word for anything without first checking the facts. Should we trust a man who believes fairies are real?"

Hang on - fairies ARE real, aren't they? I mean, all these REALLY clever scientists are constantly telling us that we live in a Multiverse where there are at least one hundred thousand million gazillion other realities, whereby everything that CAN exist, MUST exist. That's how we find ourselves in our own universe which is extraordinarily 'finely tuned' for life, so we are told - our universe just got lucky. What other explanation could there POSSIBLY be?

So in at least one of these uncountable universes, fairies MUST exist - as must elves, pixies, Bigfoot, Santa Claus, Harry Potter and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. An infinite number of universes DEMANDS it!

(In fact, the only thing that definitely, definitely can't POSSIBLY exist in ANY of these infinitudes of universes, is God. Scientists don't allow any of that nonsense, thank you very much!)

So Dowding was obviously in contact with the Fairy Universe - no need to disbelieve him at all! Unless you disagree with all those eminent scientists regarding the existence of the Multiverse, and that would be REALLY silly because there's all this EVIDENCE for the Multiverse such as .... er....ah ......ummm ...tum-te-tum ........ hang on, I'm nearly there ..... oh, er .... ummm .... tell you what, I'll get back to you!

But anyway, no fairies = no Multiverse. That, apparently, is the choice!

Bill said, "Dowding a believer in fairies and this guy claimed to time travel."

When someone's belief system is used to ridicule them or to dismiss what they have to say one perhaps loses an opportunity to learn something new. It seems likely that at another time it was said that "This man is a believer that the earth is a sphere and this guy claimed that the sun was the center of the solar system."

I have never seen an earth sprite neither have I experienced time travel but I am not going to say that those things are not possible. I try to have an open mind about things that I personally do not understand or believe. We are all in this together and each of us, perhaps in our own way, is trying to make sense of it all. - AOD

So, to the skeptics, here is why I believe the most: I experience these things myself. My friend asked for a reading last night. She did not ask me to serve as a medium, and I never offer mediumistic readings. I am passive in that regard: if the spirits wish to come through, I'm listening. In 90% of my readings, they don't. Her grandfather came through in this one. Here is the relevant part of the transcript. I've added nothing in nor taken anything out, including my errors:

---

Me: your dad's dad seems close to you

(Don't say grandma )
Nope. ..neither one were ever nice to me. ..and both passed
My mother. .maybe. I'm. ..dipping my toe in that water. .so to speak
I didn't dad's dad..he died when I was just 2
My mom's dad. ..he was a man I always loved. He died early...but when he lived. ..the people he knew (me included)...KNEW he loved them
I was 9 when he died. .but he was my hero
maybe that's the one I see

Me: did he smoke a pipe?

Yes...he did!
I can still smell the scent of the unlit tobacco

Me: hmm, I feel he's showing me a small, green hardback book. Did he use to read to you?
And there is a nickname like Pap?

No...just grandpa

Me: did he read to you?

Yes...he is one of the only people that EVER read to me!
He is probably the only one that ever did

Me: k, then I would consider those two big hits
the pipe and the book

Yes

Me: he is the one who is vibrationally close
he also showed me another image. he is young again, very dark, thick wavy hair, and he's on a boat, fishing. Did he enjoy that?

Yes!

Me: K, this seems like a very positive confirmation

Yes...it does. Thank YOU, Matt! You're awesome

Me: glad to be of service!

Love you, Matt!....Thank you!

Me: U bet!

---

By the way, I am talking about the "hits" and confirmation not so much to boost myself or brag but to confirm with her that this was on target. I could probably phrase such things better and think I usually do.

Any skeptic could look at the above and blow it off. Those hits aren't so big, they would say. Of course, to any skeptic a hit isn't big until it is, and then it's cheating. But I experience such things all the time, and my psychic friends do similar things, and it's all very *ordinary* to us. Plus, I get hits much bigger than the above on a regular basis, including whole names, obscure details, etc.

And I am not a great medium by any means. Maybe a 4 out of 10 on the scale. But even a minor psychic like myself can produce a bit.

So skeptics can doubt all they like. The paranormal to me isn't paranormal. It's just life.

By the way, there is a *very* distinct vibration I see and feel when spirits are contacting me from the Afterlife. It is as if an extremely pure, beautiful, and transcendent light is pouring through a kind of dimensional hole they make by contacting me. What I feel sounds very much like what people experience who have "shared death experiences" with people on their deathbed. I do *not* get this feeling (you both see and feel it--it transcends ordinary senses) from any other type of psi work I do. And it's one very big reason that I believe that the Afterlife *is* the Afterlife and not the product of our subconscious.

Sorry, it should read:

Me: maybe that's the one I see
did he smoke a pipe?

Bill wrote,

||Dowding a believer in fairies and this guy claimed to time travel. I am not surprised they saw what they wanted to see in Garrett's scripts. Melvin Harris is much more reliable in my opinion.||

The fallacy of the glancing blow in action! You found something you didn't like about these guys, so everything they ever said can be discounted and ignored.

But this fallacy is of course selectively applied by Skeptics:

||Samuel Soal was a big time fraud, but the experiments he conducted with Garrett were not alone like his fraudulent ESP experiments or his fiddled results with Blance Cooper, there were two other psychical researchers with him in a laboratory with Garrett.||

Well then, let's use whatever we find useful from Soal, but not from Dowding and Garrett. Those guys are off-limits cuz Bill says so!

Epistemological FAIL.

Bill Ingle,

I don't remember Michael dismissing Seth, but he may have done so before I started reading here. I'd be curious to hear what he thinks now.

I just read the "Preliminary Probable Self Exercise" here: http://www.realitytest.com/doors.htm

Wow. I have always been impressed by the Seth material. I haven't read it widely (or listened to very many recordings), but I have never seen anything that I disagreed with.

The exercise above is of an extremely high level. I mean, even if we suppose it is a text that someone made up without thinking it is true, it is just amazing. The fact that it seems true (i.e., jibes with my picture of reality while expanding it) makes it all the more amazing.

My comment on Nov. 29 at 9:57 may have been overlooked in the continuing back-and-forth, so just to reiterate: Archie Jarman, the independent researcher whom Melvin Harris relies on for his debunking of the R-101 affair, is quoted in a 1970 publication as saying that he thinks a paranormal phenomenon - Garrett's ability to read the dead airman's thoughts - is the most plausible explanation.

As I said, I don't know if this quote is accurate. For that matter, I also don't know if the quote supplied by Harris, to the effect that Jarman thought the RT-101 case was as a "dead duck" in terms of its psychic implications, is accurate. Perhaps both quotes are accurate, and Jarman changed his mind at some point or was referring to different aspects of the case. Or perhaps only one quote is accurate, or neither is.

Given the uncertainty about what Jarman actually concluded, and the fact that his paper seems to be unavailable (which means it can't be checked to determine how rigorous his investigation was), I'd have to say that Jarman is not a strong pillar on which to rest the skeptical case.

"I don't remember Michael dismissing Seth, but he may have done so before I started reading here. I'd be curious to hear what he thinks now."

Back in '07 I did post some negative stuff about Seth, but more recently (n 2013 and 2015) I wrote pro-Seth posts, mostly concerning his comments on matters relating to physics. Google "Seth" and "Jane Roberts" in the sidebar search engine and these articles will come up.

"Epistemological FAIL."

It's a standard Skeptical tactic to say, "You can't trust Professor X's opinion on telepathy; he also believes in UFOs!" The circular reasoning is obvious. Only people who are themselves Skeptics can be trusted; anyone who expresses an opinion contrary to the opinions of Skeptics is automatically discounted as a nutcase.

That's not to say that I'm perfectly okay with Dowding's belief in fairies. It strikes me as silly. But fairy lore was quite common in some rural parts of England in Dowding's day; he probably grew up with it. Local folklore can be very persistent. I've read that a majority of Icelanders claim to believe in elves and gnomes. I wouldn't conclude that Icelanders are unable to think logically, or that Dowding was unable to intelligently read a transcript about aeronautic design.

Bill's strategy is to use condescension over and over again, while at the same time mocking anyone's critique of pseudoskeptical cults by saying "evil skeptic" to suggest paranoia and a need to believe in the paranormal is what drives skepticism against skeptics.

It's this kind of attempt at social manipulation rather than genuine desire for the truth that separates the anti-paranormal cults from legitimate skepticism.

I'd be curious if any pseudoskeptics are involved with the examination of psychology's over 60% failure to replicate, the criticism of the multiverse hypothesis for lack of evidence, corporate studies that are deliberately manipulative, and so on. Ideally at least someone in Psi-cop cares about this sorta of thing.

Matt,
I know you didn't post your reading to have it picked apart but from my perspective--- and I don't really want to rain on your parade---I don't see much if anything evidential in it. In fact the 'misses' seem to me to be more evidential that this was not a spirit contact., e.g., it was mother's dad not dad's dad, nickname 'pap' was disclaimed , the green hardback book was not validated, dark, thick wavy hair and boating were not acknowledged. None of that information was confirmed by the sitter. The green hardback book was not a hit since the sitter only validated that her grandfather read to her not that he read from a green hardback book. He could have read to her from the funny papers which in my generation many parents did.

Early-on the sitter gave some information from which an intuitive intelligent person could possibly deduce something about the sitter's early life as a child and the culture and environs in which she lived. Since she was a friend of yours, you couldn't help subconsciously knowing and storing some background information, either explicit or implicit about her, some of which may have allowed you to make reasonable guesses. Your use of questions to the sitter I think leads the sitter in a way that provides information for you to make reasonable guesses. Grandpas from a certain time period and culture smoked pipes (mine did! ) and it is not unreasonable to also guess that a grandpa may have read something to a grandchild under 9 years old (mine didn't!) especially if he was the sitters "hero". Actually it was her mother's father who was vibrationally close to her not her dad's dad as you originally opened with and that information was provided by the sitter. You asked the sitter a question at the end about whether or not her grandfather enjoyed fishing and she responded that he did but that response did not validate that he had dark wavy hair or he fished from a boat. Again, depending on the culture, many older men enjoy fishing.

At the end you decided that the pipe and the book were "two big hits" and said that "this seems like a very positive confirmation" to which the sitter affectionately agreed with you, You were both being very cordial and stroking each other at the end so that you both came away with a good feeling that the reading had successfully made contact with a deceased much-loved relative.

Affectionately, your in-house skeptic -AOD

Michael wrote,

||That's not to say that I'm perfectly okay with Dowding's belief in fairies. It strikes me as silly. But fairy lore was quite common in some rural parts of England in Dowding's day; he probably grew up with it. Local folklore can be very persistent.||

Yes, plus I'm not willing to judge his belief until I know more about it. He may simply have been using the template of "fairy" to explain phenomena that are real. Just as people can use the template of "poltergeist" to explain phenomena that are real. Our friend david r is using the template of "demons" to explain phenomena that are real.

Another issue is the existence of things as myth. Mythological beings are "real" in a particular sense, and in some cases they may be able to influence physical reality, though perhaps only via consensus consciousness. For example, it may be the case that UFOs are modern mythical creations of mankind that can have physical effects.

One thing I can say for certain: every human has some ludicrous beliefs and some incorrect beliefs, and those circles in the Venn diagram typically overlap to some extent. The conceit of Skeptics that they are without such "sin" is simply that, a conceit.

Matt, There's not much aroma to unlit pipe-tobacco. SC

Matt:

I've interacted with other Seth readers (most of us were solitary readers until the Internet came along) on-line and in-person since 1995, but my work in high tech areas means I must be conversant with more conventional beliefs (and careful to note with whom I'm speaking or interacting with -- I don't always get this right). (My primary client these days is the son of a man who worked for Lord Dowding during and after the Battle of Britain, initially as as fighter pilot. Those who worked for Dowding definitely respected him but called him, behind his back, "Stuffy.")

The RealityTest site is my own, and it's sadly out of date -- someday, maybe, I'll update it.

The first phase of on-line Seth-related activities (dot.com era, from early adopters using UNIX List Serve mailing lists to later Yahoo Groups as Internet adoption took off) wound down after 9/11, and I found myself interacting elsewhere, in different -- sometimes very different -- electronic environments (including Michael's blog -- I'm glad it's still running).

I have a wide range of interests that I focus on during my non-working hours, including what might be termed the "paranormal."

When Seth-related activity died down, I eventually focused on other areas during my off-hours, including "conventional" Spiritualist mediumship and ITC.

More recently, there's been a surge in FB Seth-related interaction and FB group creation but I find the present social networking era very different in some respects from the previous on-line era and not completely to my liking -- there seems to be a tendency in the current environment to merely quote Seth, not to engage in the much more "hands on" experimentation of earlier days.

As much as I favor Seth's teachings -- text and exercises -- after exploring any number of other zones, today some of the on-line Seth readers I encounter seem to suffer from a kind of monomania.

This is a bit odd, as Seth emphasized the importance of the conscious beliefs someone holds as they create their personal reality (See _The Nature of Personal Reality_ and also _The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events_.) In other words, those who seem to be almost literalists, focusing strongly on Seth's published words (not the exercises) aren't very open to other traditions and teachings -- their beliefs have become "Sethified" to an extent that even Seth might have deplored.

My preference for active experimentation has led to a weekly Skype meditation (Skype is handy for such things -- with a headset, one need not look at their monitor, hard to do when their eyes are close) that gets into experimental group exercises.

I confess to being a dabbler -- maybe if I weren't working full-time this would be different. This extends to areas like mediumship, trance writing, and so on.

It's clear to me that nearly everyone has a degree of psychic ability but many ignore this owing to their particular conscious beliefs.

I very much enjoyed reading Deborah Blum's book about Wm. James and his investigations (_Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death_) but wished that the good professor had taken a dual approach, taking off his man of science hat and learning mediumship himself, even if this had been something he didn't speak of to most of his colleagues or recorded in a posthumous publication...

"My comment on Nov. 29 at 9:57 may have been overlooked in the continuing back-and-forth, so just to reiterate: Archie Jarman, the independent researcher whom Melvin Harris relies on for his debunking of the R-101 affair, is quoted in a 1970 publication as saying that he thinks a paranormal phenomenon - Garrett's ability to read the dead airman's thoughts - is the most plausible explanation."

Yes this is an important point. Melvin Harris raises that point also in his book.

Fuller and other spiritualists have Archie Jarman as a believer in a psychic explanation to the R101 case but Harris states the complete opposite. That is what I was getting at earlier. The spiritualists such as Fuller have misinterpreted things. Harris was in contact with Jarman before his death, so he is more reliable.

Jarman was a skeptic. Here is some information about him.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403802457.html

He wrote an article on fraudulent physical mediums, this was reprinted in the book "Spiritualism: A Critical Survey", by Simeon Edmunds. That is a classic in the field. I have no reason to believe Jarman was a believer in Garrett's R101 séances or the majority of psychic claims.

I don't know where the 80,000 report is but people like the Society for Psychical Research might know. They need to look into this case and re-open a modern day examination following the research of Harris and Jarman.

"It's a standard Skeptical tactic to say, "You can't trust Professor X's opinion on telepathy; he also believes in UFOs!" The circular reasoning is obvious. Only people who are themselves Skeptics can be trusted; anyone who expresses an opinion contrary to the opinions of Skeptics is automatically discounted as a nutcase."

Rational people can be trusted. Not a man who claims to have seen fairies, or a man who wrote a book claiming to have travelled back in time.

Information on his believe in fairies here:

http://www.strangehistory.net/2012/10/21/dowding-and-the-fairies/

He believed that invisible fairies were involved in the development of flowers.

Bill wrote, "Fuller and other spiritualists have Archie Jarman as a believer in a psychic explanation to the R101 case but Harris states the complete opposite."

And we have quotes attributed to Jarman saying both that the R-101 case is a "dead duck" and that it's uniquely important.

"The spiritualists such as Fuller have misinterpreted things."

Maybe skeptics such as Harris have misinterpreted things.

"Harris was in contact with Jarman before his death, so he is more reliable."

More reliable than a published quote attributed to Jarman himself in 1970?

"Jarman was a skeptic. ... He wrote an article on fraudulent physical mediums, this was reprinted in the book 'Spiritualism: A Critical Survey', by Simeon Edmunds."

It is perfectly possible to write about fraudulent mediums (Jarman apparently covered three such cases in his article) without being a thoroughgoing skeptic. I've written about fraudulent mediums myself. For instance, see my two essays on Marthe Beraud at this link (under "mediumship'):

http://michaelprescott.net/essays.html

Or see my often-reprinted essay "The Dark Side of the Paranormal" at the same link. Those are far from the only examples. Other mediums at whom I've looked askance include Helen Duncan, Arthur Ford, Sylvia Browne, David Thompson, and Florence Cook. Many writers sympathetic to spiritualism spend a fair amount of time separating the wheat from the chaff. And if Jarman had been reflexively and immovably skeptical, it's doubtful that Garrett would have enlisted him to investigate the case.

But the real problem is that we are arguing over the conclusions reached in an 80,000 word report that neither of us has read. For all we know, the report isn't even any good. Who's to say that Jarman did a competent job of investigating? Maybe he botched it. I'm willing to bet that if a paranormalist produced an 80,000 word essay purportedly proving spirit communication, you would not be willing to accept its conclusions at second hand (nor would I). What, then, makes Jarman's report so special that it can be accepted sight unseen?

All we have is the claim that Jarman performed an exhaustive and competent investigation (unproven) and the claim that he reached a negative conclusion (also unproven and apparently contradicted by the 1970 quote).

Bill said:

"Rational people can be trusted."

That's good to know—especially now that you're here to explain what's rational and what's not. We get confused sometimes!

Ah Simon, to the contrary. The aroma of my grandfather's humidor of tobacco is unforgettable for me. I have that old humidor and I can still smell the fragrance of my grandfather's tobacco even though there is none left in it. - AOL

AOD wrote,

||Matt,
I know you didn't post your reading to have it picked apart but from my perspective--- and I don't really want to rain on your parade---I don't see much if anything evidential in it.||

I agree that, looked at from a critical perspective, it is not very evidential, which I acknowledged in the post. But here's the thing: the Departed just want to get their message across. If they have to use mundane, common things that could easily be good guesses, they will use those. If you look at how genuinely good mediums like John Edward describe the information they receive, it is in the form of bits and pieces: an image here, a name there if one is lucky, and so on. That's just the way it is.

||In fact the 'misses' seem to me to be more evidential that this was not a spirit contact.,||

I think the first thing a medium uses to judge whether it is a spirit contact is *not* the big hits or the evidence that can be provided but the *feeling* of the experience, as I described.

||e.g., it was mother's dad not dad's dad||

Yes, this was simply an error.

||nickname 'pap' was disclaimed||

In such cases, it could still be applicable, somehow. You will see John Edward say, "No, I think it's true--go check with your relatives," etc. Sometimes that can just be stubbornness on the part of the medium. Sometimes that kind of thing turns out to be true. I don't know about this case.

||, the green hardback book was not validated,||

Here we have to go back to feeling. The *feeling* that went with the image was that he had read to her, and that was strongly validated.

||dark, thick wavy hair and boating were not acknowledged.||

They were not denied either, and she said that he enjoyed fishing, so I think you are reaching for the neg there.

||None of that information was confirmed by the sitter. The green hardback book was not a hit since the sitter only validated that her grandfather read to her not that he read from a green hardback book. He could have read to her from the funny papers which in my generation many parents did.||

Reaching for the neg, as this was strongly validated as an important part of their relationship.

||Early-on the sitter gave some information from which an intuitive intelligent person could possibly deduce something about the sitter's early life as a child and the culture and environs in which she lived. Since she was a friend of yours, you couldn't help subconsciously knowing and storing some background information, either explicit or implicit about her, some of which may have allowed you to make reasonable guesses.||

Well, so it goes when you know someone. I am trying to help people, not prove my mediumistic awesomeness.

||Your use of questions to the sitter I think leads the sitter in a way that provides information for you to make reasonable guesses.||

Well, in *favor* of the point you are making, if you serve as a medium for a bit, you will soon find that there are only so many types of relationships, and you tend to see the same things over and over. It can be difficult to discern what might be standard from a certain common pattern and what is unique to the sitter. At the same time, the spirits are not interested or even cognizant of what can make you look good as a medium. They are just interested in making contact.

||Grandpas from a certain time period and culture smoked pipes (mine did! ) and it is not unreasonable to also guess that a grandpa may have read something to a grandchild under 9 years old (mine didn't!) especially if he was the sitters "hero".||

True. I actually was hesitant to say the thing about the pipe, as it seemed so cliched, but I have learned to go with whatever I get.

||At the end you decided that the pipe and the book were "two big hits" and said that "this seems like a very positive confirmation" to which the sitter affectionately agreed with you, You were both being very cordial and stroking each other at the end so that you both came away with a good feeling that the reading had successfully made contact with a deceased much-loved relative.||

Fair enough, but keep in mind that I don't do this except when I feel the spirits really want to make contact. For example, I was in a store once and the clerk's grandmother was practically begging me to talk to the clerk and say she was all right. I didn't do it. Maybe I should have. And if it were just in my head or a thing that stroked my ego in some way, I would do that all the time, but I don't.

I have gotten some amazing hits and some very detailed ones. I purposely quoted my latest story warts and all to show how such events can take place in daily life and needn't be a big deal or strange.

Moreover, I would say maybe 1/30 or so of my readings is a disaster and the readee tells me I got everything wrong. This happens to *every* psychic. I also have readings that are more of a mixed bag than the one I posted and ones that are massively full of hits. I have unexpected people come through, and sometimes people some through to give a message through someone else.

As I said, just throwing it out there. Skepticism is fine. Ultimately, it's evidence in the aggregate that wins the day.

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