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Thanks for the recommendation Michael. Very interesting posts.

"Now if the telepathy hypothesis is a valid one, or if the more elaborate and speculative theory that somehow a gifted medium has access to the forgotten memories of anyone who ever had any contact with Ann [i.e., super-psi], be correct, the question arises, why should this extended telepathy or access to a universal pool of knowledge not operate from the moment of Ann's death? "

Pow! That is an excellent point!

The additional anecdotes of David Kennedy are impressive Michael. You have convinced me to get a copy of his book. More importantly, these stories by Kennedy have introduced me to Albert Best, apparently an exceptional Irish medium. Best as reported by Kennedy was able to provide precise information transmitted from spiritual entities that perhaps rivaled or exceeded the mediumships of Leonora Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard with less theatrics. Best, apparently being a shy man did not get the publicity that Piper and Leonard received. Apparently no one kept notes about the sessions with Best as they did with Piper and Leonard. I could not find any books written about him (except Kennedy's) although there are several websites that provide information about his life, most of them cut and pasted from each other.

Surprisingly, I find myself reacting to these anecdotes of Kennedy in the mode of Prof. Stephen E. Braude, PhD who wrote an excellent book discussing the possibility of life after death titled "Immortal Remains: The Evidence for Life After Death" which I highly recommend. Although I don't totally agree with Braude's evaluation of some of the cases of spirit interaction with physical life he discusses, especially his assessment of the Patience Worth case. I must admit, following Braude's lead, that I am reluctant to allow full-fledged belief that Kennedy had made contact with the spirit of his deceased wife . Other possible explanations of Kennedy's experience need to be considered before accepting the possibility that the reported contacts may actually have been contacts with his deceased wife. - AOD

I am not convinced of spirit survival after physical death but there are three little words that would totally convince me of life after death.

I have heard tales of newborn infants speaking one or two words or sometimes a complete sentence immediately after birth. Of course these stories may be made-up but if it were possible that a newborn should speak I would be convinced of life after death , specifically reincarnation, if the infant said, upon emerging from the birth canal,

"F*ck! Not again!"

Now that would convince me! (provided of course that it was reported by a reliable source---preferably a professor at Cambridge or Stephen Hawking (ideally I should be in the delivery room); that it was tape recorded or a video was made at the time; that there were signed affidavits from the mother and physicians in attendance; that ventriloquism by Edgar Bergen was not a possible explanation: that Super-Psi was considered and rejected; that professors of philosophy and psychiatry all agreed that it was true and that all Skeptics accepted it as evidence of life after death.) - AOD

The mind is very powerful especially when there is grief. A lot of these mediums mentioned here are from a time where it became popular and many were deceiving clients. There was a book that I really enjoyed about the afterlife a Monsignor experience in the afterlife and George Anderson books, but again with a very skeptical eye.

It's off-topic, but I have found an outstanding and brilliant discussion and debate concerning the profound questions about evil and suffering and the nature of the reality that allows these things, that Michael has so excellently posted on. This is on the Skeptiko forum, the thread is at . Just one highlight - the "human life is a school" reincarnational perspective is having severe difficulties. One notable discussion summary referred to is by poster Laird, at . This is a quite comprehensive survey and analysis of most of the various different concepts that have been debated attempting to understand reality especially as it pertains to the reasons for incarnation, evil, and suffering.

AOD I am also not convinced about survival after death although I was I was.

I would guess that many people, even people who believe in alternate realities think as you do, that is, they are skeptical of reports relating to the paranormal or an after-life. I know that I am and I agree with you as I suspect that some books about these topics are written because the author sees an opportunity to gain recognition and money. ( Actually I think many of these types of books don't really make a lot of money.)

I have to guard against all of the over-intellectualizing about spirit survival and all that goes with it. One can get caught-up in verbiage that after all turns out to be just someone's opinion, opinions which probably have little relevance to anything. Most of the opinions I find to be just a lot of gobble-de-gook that I can't understand (My bad!) but I do think that most of them are meaningless as one get lost in all of the BS.

I suspect that some people get tired and/or annoyed with me for mentioning the Patience Worth/Pearl Curran case so often. To those people I apologize for saying that I think that the Patience Worth case provides a kind of evidence of spirit survival that can't be found in convoluted discussions with the 'experts' in physics, philosophy, medicine or logics. It is not communication with one's dear departed loved-ones. It does not involve spectacular floating apparitions, apports or direct voice mediumship. I think the case appeals solely to people of a literary bent, not impressed by people with position or degrees. It is a giant literary puzzle demanding an explanation.

Give it a try, Bernardo - AOD

My problem with the Patience Worth case is that there’s no historical record of a Patience Worth. Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But without empirical proof of Patience's existence, it’s hard to see how the communications channeled by Pearl Curran count very far toward postmortem survival.

They do indicate, at minimum, some unexpected abilities of the human mind. Curran, when in an altered state of consciousness, could compose poetry and prose very rapidly, by dictation, using arcane vocabulary that dated to an earlier era. She produced hundreds of thousands of words of publishable fiction, highly regarded and quite popular in its time (though not easy to read today). Her impromptu responses to challenges were perhaps most impressive. When asked to produce an acrostic poem (in which each line begins with a consecutive letter of the alphabet), she instantly recited an original, rhyming composition in 25 lines that ran from A to Z, excluding only X. This was apparently accomplished with no hesitation at all. See:

Amazing! But I would put it in the same category as the ability to hear any date and instantly know what day of the week it was, or to calculate the square root of any number off the top of your head. (A few rare people can do such things.) In other words, I see it as a mysterious savant-like talent, but not as necessarily as evidence of life after death.

The fact that Patience herself insisted that she was a discarnate spirit is perhaps evidence in favor of survival. But since these events took place when spiritualism was all the rage, this claim may have been a cover story concocted by some dissociated part of Curran's personality.

It’s a fascinating case, but I wouldn’t include it among the best survival evidence. For me, a better example of a literary puzzle indicating survival would be the famous cross-correspondences.

Here is the extensive Patience Worth site maintained by our commenter AOD:

Actually there is documentation of four Patience Worths, two living in New Jersey in the later 1600s and early 1700s and two in England, none of which match exactly the Patience Worth of Pearl Curran. The Patience Worths in New Jersey were in the family of William Worth and Faith Patterson. William named his daughter Patience and his son also named his daughter Patience Worth. It could be that 'Patience Worth" was a family name in the William Worth's family. If he had a sister or aunt or other spinster relative named Patience Worth, perhaps they memorialized her (after she was killed by the natives) by naming their girls after her. Prof. Stephen Braude, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Maryland who had written about the Patience Worth case has said that ,". . . we might wonder how much the discovery of a real Patience Worth would bolster a survivalist interpretation of the case. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is that it would make almost no difference."

It is a disappointment of course not to find evidence of Pearl Curran's Patience Worth as having lived in England with documentation of her birth in 1649 but do we really expect to find evidence of a rural teenage or twenty-something girl in 17th century England, engaged from dawn to dusk in household tasks who would have left a library of her writings documenting her improvisational prowess or that she would have achieved notoriety among the aristocracy warranting preservation of her writings for posterity and conveniently accessible for us to peruse---preserved in pristine condition in a 300 year-old thatch-covered hut, I presume. Patience was a young unmarried farm girl who owned no property, paid no taxes and had no children. She claimed she was a Puritan and Puritan girls received little education beyond reading the Bible and caring for children so to expect to find writings of Patience Worth one has to presume that as a rustic Puritan girl she was able to write and that she had reams of paper available on which to write.

Patience was once asked by a lady if when she lived on earth she had an ambition to write, since she was writing so much now. According to Dr. Franklin Prince who studied Patience and Pearl for a couple of years and wrote in a comprehensive report of his investigation, "The instantaneous answer was: "Dame, what wench that has a tongue and a mind to wag it e'er itched for a quill?"

For the sake of discussion if it is admitted that Pearl Curran had a savant-like talent, then where was that talent for the first 31 years of Pearl Curran's life? Most savants manifest their abilities early in life, even as children. Pearl Curran and Emily Hutchings sat with the Ouija board for a year before any of the communication from Patience Worth came through. If Pearl Curran had savant-like talent, why did she sit quietly at the Ouija Board for a year before she allowed her talents to be on display?

There is a problem of knowledge when it comes to savants specifically, in Pearl's case, the knowledge of Biblical, Medieval and Victorian history as evidenced in Patience Worth's novels. This is not something musical savants, artistic savants or calculating savants have. They have an ability or skill that normally requires practice but they don't have extensive knowledge of history. In Curran's case it would have required an input of actual facts related to various periods of Middle Eastern and English history for her to be able to color her novels with so much that was verifiable. There is no evidence that Curran ever had an opportunity to gain such knowledge. She was a rather average grade school student who wasn't interested in learning and dropped out of school at age 14 never having seen any place other than Texas, Missouri and Illinois during her formative years. The one available poem that she wrote as a school girl was typical of teenage efforts to write poetry, needing to be annotated by her father. Classifying Curran with savants just doesn't fit the facts of this case.

If Curran was in an altered state of consciousness when she received dictation from Patience Worth then perhaps all of us who write creatively are in an altered state when we write. Pearl Curran didn't seem to be in a trance of any sort when she took dictation from Patience. She was able to converse with those present around the Ouija board, smoke, scratch an itch, think about what she would have for a snack after everyone left or when necessary answer the telephone when it rang.

There were questions asked about whether Patience was a secondary personality of Pearl. Patience answered by saying "I say 'tis well that the wench be she. There be within mine words a thing she may not deny and within hers a thing I may not deny. There be two streams runnin' forth from one fountainhead, I say, the throat with two songs. And earth shall be confused before the task of knowin' what be upon them, and in the confusion they shall be drawn within the net, for they shall look upon the flesh of me for the flesh of her and see it not. Yet shall she take in the ears of them that list unto her for the words of me."

Even Ian Stephenson wrote that, "These productions [poems and novels of Patience Worth] were far beyond the ordinary powers of Mrs. Curran. For this and other reasons, some observers regarded 'Patience Worth' as a discarnate personality communicating through Mrs. Curran. This is not an unreasonable interpretation of the case; one of the greatest of psychical researchers, W.F. Prince (1929) , thought it the best explanation for the case, although he remained clearly aware of alternative ones."

I am of a like mind with Dr. Prince. - AOD

Interesting points, AOD.

I assumed there were historical records of some women named Patience Worth - probably not a wildly uncommon name in that era (Puritan women were often named after Christian virtues) - but what I meant was that there’s no record of a Patience Worth corresponding to Pearl Curran's Patience. I disagree with Dr. Braude that such a discovery wouldn’t do much to strengthen the case; if records could be found of a Patience Worth born in the right place and time, who emigrated to America and was killed by the natives, I think it would vastly strengthen the survival aspects of the case.

It's not totally unreasonable to expect to find a record of her birth. England was generally pretty good at keeping such records, even of rustic provincials. Shakespeare’s life is not very well documented, but we do have official records of his birth (or at least his baptism), his marriage, and the births of his children. This was several decades earlier. Shakespeare and family were rural folk, though they occupied a somewhat higher social stratum than Patience would have. There also were records of emigrants to the New World. We have a list of the passengers on the Mayflower, for instance. Of course, over the centuries, some records have inevitably been lost.

I certainly wouldn’t expect any writings from Patience to be preserved; I was thinking only of official records.

I mostly agree with your other points. There are cases of savants developing late, but only after some physical trauma, which wouldn’t apply to Curran. And it’s true that her knowledge of history and archaic vocabulary can’t be explained as the savant hypothesis.

It’s certainly an interesting case. I linked to your website in an earlier comment; it's the best resource I know on Pearl Curran and the enigma of her writings.

I read somewhere that the early passenger lists only contained names of men and their wives. They did not contain names of single women many of whom may have been servants. I don't know if that is true or not.

The .org website is 15 years old and I have not done anything with it for a long time. My newer .com site was destroyed by hackers and I was not able to salvage it. It was much better than the older site, but alas! it is no more.- AOD

Sorry to hear that, AOD. But the existing site is still very good.

Have you tried using the Wayback Machine to find your lost web pages?

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