IMG_0569
Blog powered by Typepad

« Less than amazing | Main | Flying high »

Comments

Nice roundup. I was hoping, of course, for a rousing final kick for goal. Oh well...

Michael
I think you nailed it. Science conceived of in and concerned with a virtual reality cannot address events originating out side of that virtual reality.Even when it entertains the possibility of multiple universes, material science limits the universes to being material ones. As such, it is literally impossible for our current science to postulate that any paranormal type of experience, or any possible life after death, have any reality at all. Materialistic science was developed within a virtual reality system and only concerns itself with events taking part within that virtual reality system. It is somewhat similar to a scientist in “World of Warcaft” studying his or her geography and determining the distance between his world and his Sun to be 93,000,000 miles. While, from our point of observation, outside of his computer-contained universe, we know that there is no distance between him and his “Sun” at all. Like our own scientists, the World of Warcraft character is “correct” within his own frame of reference (the game) but wrong from the bigger reference frame outside of the game. Most, or all, of the paranormal events probably originate from outside of our “virtual” universe, consequently our science denies their existence.It’s also highly probable that our minds (souls, if you will) also originate and possibly dwell “outside” of this universe, where we voluntarily have confined ourselves (or our attention) to exclusively tuning in to the data flow of a virtual reality. Therefore, the current scientific paradigm will tell us (and it does) that life after death does not exist. It is correct. There is no life after death IN this virtual reality. It is outside of it. For a philosophy or paradigm, locked inside a small virtual universe, unwilling to, and mostly unable to measure or even conceive of the “non-material,” things like mind and soul,a life outside of that reality does not exist.

Sorry to be so "wordy" but you hit a note that also reflects my current worldview.

Yes the hypothesis that consciousness is not produced by the brain is unfalsifiable, as is the alternative hypothesis that consciousness is produced by the brain. But neither are scientific hypotheses, so this is to be expected!

Keith Augustine banged on about the survival hypothesis (life after death hypothesis) being unfalsifiable in his book "the myth of an afterlife". In section 8 of my review of his book I address this issue:

http://ian-wardell.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-response-to-myth-of-afterlife.html

Also the rest of my review is well worth a read.

I don't think science implies materialism at all. What you label "technical materialism" seems to be commonly referred to as naturalism. But naturalism, similar to materialism, leaves out consciousness in its description of reality, or at least conflates consciousness with material processes.

I address this issue of whether the mind-brain correlations suggests that the brain produces the mind in the following blog post:

http://ian-wardell.blogspot.com/2018/11/can-we-really-be-so-certain-theres-no.html

"According to philosopher of science Karl Popper, a scientific theory must be testable and, as such, must be falsifiable in principle."

However, that is a conception of science, but not the only one. One can say that in the biological and social sciences matters less the teastability and more the convergence: a theory would be accepted as scientific if it explains a whole group of seemingly disparate phenomena that would otherwise remain unexplained, even if it is unfalsifiable. Thus the hypothesis of an afterlife explains a whole group of phenomena that otherwise remain unexplained: NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and memories of previous lives. The mortalists think that they can explain those cases without resorting to an afterlife, but really they can not do it in all the cases.

"The second person is a philosophical dualist – someone who holds that physicality and consciousness are two different kinds of things with equal ontological priority."

Do not forget idealism, because according to idealism, matter is only the image of experience and lacks ontological status.

GregL, I agree, and I don’t find you wordy at all!

Ian wrote: //What you label "technical materialism" seems to be commonly referred to as naturalism.//

I use the term naturalism as essentially synonymous with materialism and physicalism; by any of these names, it’s a worldview.

By technical materialism, I mean a method, not a worldview. It doesn’t entail a description of reality. It’s more like a handy rule of thumb.

//Yes the hypothesis that consciousness is not produced by the brain is unfalsifiable, as is the alternative hypothesis that consciousness is produced by the brain. But neither are scientific hypotheses, so this is to be expected!//

That’s the point of my post.

David wrote: //I was hoping, of course, for a rousing final kick for goal.//

What would this kick consist of? What is the goal?

Juan wrote, //Do not forget idealism, because according to idealism, matter is only the image of experience and lacks ontological status.//

I remember idealism, but since hardly anyone advocates it on either side of the paranormal debate, I figured I would leave it out for the sake of simplicity.

//One can say that in the biological and social sciences matters less the teastability and more the convergence: //

That may be true. I was thinking of the hard sciences. But even the social sciences have testable hypotheses. Psychology experiments can be used to test certain theories; for instance: the theory that false memories are readily formed has been tested by exposing test subjects to various events and then quizzing them a few weeks later on the accuracy of their recollections.

I’m not sure what the Popperian view of, say, field anthropology would be. That seems to be an area where experimentation is largely ruled out.

The claim that consciousness generated by the brain is falsifiable by an observation of mental activity in the absence of relevant brain activity. This is why certain kind of vertical NDEs are so bitterly disputed. In such cases, everything is on the line.

"The claim that consciousness generated by the brain is falsifiable by an observation of mental activity in the absence of relevant brain activity. "

True but the mental activity is only observed after the patient has recovered and tells us what was experienced. One could say that mental activity was formed when the patient recovered, not when he/she was going through the worst brain crysis. Hence the importance of time markers in the NDEs, that is, events marked in time that indicate when the NDEs occurred.

In general, what happens is that a specific hypothesis is falsifiable, but most of the time you can add ad hoc hypothesis so that it is not refuted, making it unfalsifiable.

The idea that brain states strongly correlate with mental states is a myth. Always look for the phrase "percent signal change" in any paper dealing with neural correlates of consciousness. You will find that except for sensory perception (vision, hearing), mental activity does not correlate much with brain states. When humans recall things or think hard, their brains do not show more than a 1% variation in brain activity, which is what we would expect from chance variations. The post below cites 15+ neuroscience papers showing 1% or less variation in percent signal change during thinking and recall.
https://headtruth.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-brain-shows-no-sign-of-working.html

I think that another point should be added to this (excellent) conversation. That is, that science is a wholly human endeavor, and therefore subject to all the limitations of the human experience. This is why things thought well established in science end up being re-evaluated later. As an engineer/science major in school, I was always enthralled with the human stories of science. Scientific breakthroughs are always intuitive ideas, followed by testing to prove it. Food for thought...Where does the intuition come from? I think that scientists can and do have similar experiences of things bigger than themselves (a muse?) like musicians/artists.

Check this interesting article out. I don’t think this means consciousness is brain based, but I bet materialists are jumping for joy. https://owlcation.com/stem/Zombie-Brains

" the argument that it's impossible for an entirely nonphysical consciousness to interact with the physical world."

I've never understood this claim. How could they possibly know what something they don't believe exists can and cannot do?

The assertion surely requires the acceptance of some other "thing" or things which ARE distinct from the physical world and an observation of their inability to act upon it, from which to extrapolate the conclusion that a non physical consciousness couldn't do so either.

"I remember idealism, but since hardly anyone advocates it on either side of the paranormal debate . . ."

As one who falls into that category myself, I'm surprised to hear you say this, Michael. Here’s what Dean Radin has to say on the subject.

“So, I took off about six months and read probably hundreds of books and thousands of articles on this to see if I could create a synthesis and I did, which is what I write about in the book, and the bottom line comes down to, essentially that consciousness is fundamental, consciousness is more fundamental than the physical world. That’s the philosophical stance of idealism and there are now a number of contemporary philosophers and scientists who are beginning to think that idealism is actually a better worldview than materialism and they have good reasons for that, which I also talk about that in the book.”

Do you really think idealists are outliers?

I was going to hold my tongue on this one, but since a claim was made about what my volume states, I thought it might be worthwhile to directly link to what the book actually says.

In general, what happens is that a specific hypothesis is falsifiable, but most of the time you can add ad hoc hypothesis so that it is not refuted, making it unfalsifiable.

What I actually argue in The Myth of an Afterlife is not that the survival hypothesis is unfalsifiable, but that empirical survivalists take steps to immunize it from falsifying evidence. That makes it falsifiable in principle, but de facto unfalsifiable. If you're interested in what the volume actually says, see the last paragraph of the Introduction: https://books.google.com/books?id=dlRuBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA36

Essentially, when you say that any evidence for the existential dependence of consciousness on brain functioning is nothing more than evidence for functional dependence, this is akin to saying that any evidence for biological evolution is nothing more than evidence that God placed the fossils there to look like evolution occurred. If you don't allow survivalists to make that move (just like you don't allow creationists to make their move), then dualistic survival is not only falsifiable, but in fact falsified by (primarily) neuroscientific evidence. And the way that you block dogmatists of any kind from making that illegitimate move is to forbid the use of auxiliary assumptions that are not themselves testable (i.e., are ad hoc). That's just straight up contemporary philosophy of science, but unfortunately I don't think anyone else has ever attempted to apply it to the issue of whether mental activity depends for its existence upon a functioning brain.

The claim that consciousness generated by the brain is falsifiable by an observation of mental activity in the absence of relevant brain activity.

Exactly: https://books.google.com/books?id=dlRuBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA218#v=onepage&q&f=false

Note that the flip side of taking the position that everything's just pure metaphysics is that no evidence can count in favor of survival, either. So laboratory mediumship experiments, replicable AWARE II hits, etc., would all thrown out with the bathwater. For just as dogmatic survivalists can say that any evidence for existential dependence is nothing more than evidence for functional dependence, so too dogmatic mortalists can say that any evidence for survival is just evidence for living agent psi. The way out of this stalemate is to only allow auxiliary assumptions that are themselves testable.

Here's the sort of thing we see happen repeatedly at the moment of death, and that skeptics will insist is pure coincidence:

"Shanann Watts' mother said she felt her daughter's spirit the moment she died"

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/11/us/shanann-watts-family-dr-phil/index.html

Great article. I think the proverbial "fly" in the materialist's "ointment" concerning consciousness as the producer of consciousness is the "down to earth" so-called "dream argument."

The dream argument demonstrates how virtually every night a 3D drama is displayed within our minds of which we are not the director (unless it is a lucid dream) and therefore cannot be the producer of such dramas. Unless of course you argue that our awakened state is also a 3D virtual reality drama created solely by our own minds which is solipsism (i.e., only one's own mind is certain to exist.) I may be wrong, but I think this dream argument is falsifies the notion that the brain is the producer of consciousness even though Karl Popper believed solipsism was not falsifiable. Many people including myself find solipsism a logical fallacy because nobody can direct or produce everything that happens in the course of one's life -- or non-lucid dream for that matter. It's just a basic fact of life. And I believe it falsifies solipsism and consciousness as the producer of consciousness.

Great article, Michael. Home run!

Yes, the materialists have set themselves up in a self-confirming logic loop. Deep forest dwellers that are experts on trees, but who do not know anything about the forest and its relationship to the meadows and oceans and deserts. But, since most of us live in the deep forest, they still produce useful information and knowledge; which dazzles us into believing they are masters of understanding all that is.

The problem with your argument is simple Keith. No matter how much you don't want to hear it correlation does not prove causation. There is a correlation between a decrease in the amount of pirates using wooden ships and an increase in global warming. No one would seriously suggest that a decrease in pirates using wooden ships is causing the Earth to get warmer. There is a correlation between the brain and the mind. No one seriously disputes this. This has been well known since ancient times. What people do dispute is the reason for this. The only thing this correlation demonstrates is that they are interrelated. That is it. This relationship does not demonstrate the mind was created by the brain. The image on my TV screen correlates to the quality of my TV,, it does not mean my TV made the TV signal. The music coming through my radio correlates to the quality of my radio; it doesn't mean my radio created the music.

Ironically enough I think the only ones who act like creationist in this discussion are materialists. Your side will argue that no matter how little neuroactivity is going on in a brain ( or no detectable neuroactivity) that the brain still is producing consciousness. If that isn't making a position unfalsifiable then what is it? Your side is the one producing how it could have been scenarios when it comes to NDEs; not mine. Look at all the absurd scenarios you and Woerlee came up with to explain away the Reynold's case that no one familiar with the case found to be remotely convincing. Her own doctor proclaimed it to be a medical mystery. Never once did he state “ Keith and Gerry explained it ”. Or the Sullivan case. Your side simply argues " lucky guess". I could go on and on with how your side acts like a bunch creationist with NDE research but I realize that would be wasting my time. Of course if NDErs separated from their bodies all the data is easy explained. I wrote a series of questions I use for discussions to show just how ad hoc the hallucination model is:


1. Why do you maintain that consciousness is poorly understood but then argue the hallucination model is more reasonable then the survival model even if the survival model is strongly suggested by the accounts?

2. Does the hallucination model lend itself to any predictions? Can it be falsified?

3. Why is it mainstream NDE researchers reject the hallucination argument? https://iands.org/ndes/about-ndes/common-questions.html

4. What is the evolutionary advantage to NDEs?

5. Hallucination according to the Mirriam Webster is defined the following way. : perception of objects with no reality usually arising from disorder of the nervous system or in response to drugs (as LSD)
NDE accounts often start in the environment where the experiencer is, for example a hospital room. If they report seeing the environment they are in correctly why you maintain this is a hallucination?

6.) NDEr’s have demonstrated the ability to accurately describe surgeries being done on them ( Sabom and Sartori studies). Why is accurately describing the actions being done to you now considered a hallucination

7.)NDEr’s have correctly identified conversations and visual aspects of their environment, why is this considered now a hallucination.

8.) How can you maintain this is a hallucination when it clear that they are in reality

9.). While hallucinations might be considered to be real at the moment the person hallucinating later realizes the experience was a hallucination. Yet the overwhelming amount of NDErs ( over 99%) maintain this experience was not a hallucination. If NDEs are hallucination why this radical departure from the normal model of hallucinations.

10). Hallucinations among those born blind or those who became blind at a young age lack visual components, however the Ring Study demonstrated that NDErs who were born blind or became blind at a young age had visual components. Why this radical departure from the normal model of hallucinations as demonstrated by dream studies of the blind.http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/what-do-blind-people-dream-about.html

11. If NDEs are comforting fantasies why do some people have hellish NDEs?

12. If NDEs are fantasies why do many people report religious tension between the experience and their prior religious views?

13. If NDEs are fantasies why do people report a life judgment stage where they experience the suffering they caused others. Also what evolutionary advantage would this provide?

14. Hallucinations caused by a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) start of complex but degrade to simplicity and then cease as the brain becomes more and more damaged , while NDEs start off simple and become more complex. Please explain this if you wish to use the lack of oxygen as an explanation as this is the exact opposite pattern of an NDE. Hypoxia as an experience is incredibly frightening which is the exact opposite of the vast majority of NDEs- http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0101-60832007000700015&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en

Also explain the cases where patients had the normal amount of oxygen such as in an hospital setting.

15. Hallucinations caused by an excess of Co2 cause people to see geometric shapes ,music notes and numbers, yet these features are absent from NDEs, please explain. Please explain the cases where the patient had an NDE and they had a normal amount of C02. Please explain why scuba divers with excess Co2 do not report NDEs upon returning to the surface. http://hallucinations.enacademic.com/717/geometric_hallucination

16. Why do NDErs uniformly report seeing their deceased loved ones in the prime of their lives, not as they remembered them before they died? Why such a uniformity for a hallucination?

17. Why do NDErs universally report communication via telepathy during the experience? Why such a uniformity for a hallucination?

15. If these are fantasy experiences why are the NDEs with dead pets relatively infrequent? Many people do form profound attachments with pets so if they were hallucinating departed loved ones why not these?

17. If you feel the tunnel experience can be explained through physiology please explain why it rarely happens outside Western NDEs?

18. Please explain NDEs in patients under going Cardiac arrest as this almost instantly removes consciousness.

19. If you feel NDEs are caused by Anesthesia Awareness please explain why the frequency of NDEs is far greater than the frequency of Anesthesia Awareness and why they describe the experience as pleasurable and not horrific.

20. If you feel NDEs are caused by endorphins please explain how NDEs both start and stop suddenly, while Endorphins start off slow and end slow.

21. NDE-ers often say how uncomfortable it was getting back in their body. Why should that be if they were just dreaming or hallucinating since people are already in their body when they dream?

22. When some NDErs report meeting people who died; they often report they met people they were not close to or had poor relationship with. Why fantasize such a meeting?

23. Please explain cases such as the Al Sullivan case and the Pam Reynold’s case that had the patient making accurate observations when the overall conditions of the surgery would have made it impossible.

24. While not directly an NDE experience please explain "Peak in Darien" experience where dying people report to those around them that they saw someone in the afterlife who was not known to them to be dead but later was verified to be dead.

Bruce Greyson reported a case where a boy was badly injured and had an NDE. When he came back he told his family that he had seen his sister in the afterlife and she told him he had to go back. His father asked the doctor to give him medicine as he was clearly hallucinating as his sister was away at college. However shortly after his injury his sister then unknown to the family has been killed in a car accident.

This is such an extraordinary coincidence if these experiences are hallucinations but perfectly consistent with the view they are not.

All of this can easily be explained if NDEs are NOT hallucinations. These questions are tricky indeed for the hallucination model.

Your side tries to argue with Ian Stevenson's research that it was simply a "cultural fantasy", yet anyone who is familiar with his research realizes that argument is weaker then wet toilet paper. Here is why:

Cases that show this is not a cultural fantasy or a fraud
1.) Shameful cases ( for example remembering being a Japanese soldier, a brigand, a business cheat etc)
2.) Cases with religious tension, for example a Hindu born to Muslims
3.) Cases where a person of a higher caste was born to a lower caste
4.) Lack of Karma
5.) Inappropriate behavior by the child, such as kissing his grandmother like he was still her husband
6.) You cannot claimed a deceased persons property as yours
7.) Adult attitude among children causing family tensions
8.) Using inappropriate addresses for adult family members
8.) Inappropriate reactions to authority figures, such as intensely disliking police

Similarities between cases across the world
1.) Similar cases have similar phobias and reactions. For example children remembering being Japanese soldiers killed by planes tended to hide from planes.
2.) Children remembering being Japanese soldiers acted like they were Japanese
3.) Announcement dreams
4.) Disincarnate states
5.) Many cases have the child wishing to avenge himself on his killers
6.) Craving intoxicants used by the past life
7.) Children play acting their professions
8.) Adult attitude among children
9.) Children absolutely refusing to use their names, insisting they are called by the deceased persons name.
10.) Some subjects feel pain discussing these cases
11.) Children resisting their parents religions because it conflicted with their past lives views.

Keith states “The way out of this stalemate is to only allow auxiliary assumptions that are themselves testable.”

That makes no sense. Why is there any need to end this so called stalemate? I think humanity will be quite fine if it is not resolved any time soon.

Why is it important to embrace a silly non sequitur with your argument from correlation? I see no need to be irrational just to advance an argument.


I have to note no one in here considers this to be a stalemate though as we would all argue that the evidence for the mind being separate from the brain far exceeds the arguments against it. You are of course entitled to your views on this but I have to say unless one is a committed materialist they almost certainly will not find your positions to be convincing.

Materialism looks good and works for many things; especially in day to day living. But it has a tremendous difficulty with explain consciousness much less things like NDEs or Reincarnation research. An analogy to this would be the difference between Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics. Newtonian Physics works for almost all things we encounter; however it breaks down when dealing with the atomic realm. That doesn’t make Newtonian Physics useless; it simply means it is not as good a model for reality as Quantum Physics. I think materialism is a good model but it has very obvious weaknesses. I hope eventually a better worldview replaces it.

I could go on and on but I realize I am flogging a dead horse. Your “ knock out argument” from neuroscience is akin to being flogged with a wet piece of lettuce and your sides how it could have been scenarios would make a creationist or a Jesus Myther stand back in amazement at what you have produced.

No one expects you to change your mind Keith. You are way to committed to your position to do that. However we can show again and again why your arguments simply do not work.

Very interesting discussion. Special thanks to Keith Augustine for commenting on his book. It’s always good to hear directly from the author.

Todd made the point that extracerebral consciousness could be proved by a sufficiently compelling NDE. I guess this is true. But the problem is that no real-world case may ever be "sufficiently compelling." Someone can always argue that a bare flicker of brain activity was present, or that the NDE was constructed after the patient was resuscitated. Even Stephen Braude, in his book Immortal Remains, finds NDEs unpersuasive as evidence of postmortem survival (he interprets them in terms of living-agent psi). I don’t agree with his assessment, but it shows how difficult it is to find NDE evidence that can be rated as conclusive.

I can imagine scenarios in which postmortem survival is effectively proven, thus resolving the mind-body debate. For instance, if some foolproof method of communicating with the deceased were developed, so that the living could talk to them on demand, there would be little room for doubt. Or if materializations of the deceased could be reliably and repeatedly arranged under unimpeachable conditions (good light, cameras recording everything, evidential statements by the deceased, etc.), then we would have something close to dispositive empirical proof. Needless to say, we’re not there yet!

With regard to idealism, I think it’s always been an extreme minority position, which doesn’t make it wrong. I may even be partial to idealism myself, at least in the sense that, if there is a monist explanation for reality, it is far more likely to be found in consciousness than in physicality. As a practical matter, the debate is mostly between materialists and dualists. However, you can add idealism to the mix without altering the basic point of the essay.

I have learned over the years that one has to make judgement calls that could possibly be wrong. For example with the existence of a historical Jesus. One of the strongest pieces of evidence for him existing in my opinion is references to his brother James such as Paul meeting him ( Gal 1:19), Josephus recording his execution and other early Christian writers discussing him. As I like to say it is hard for a non existent man to have a brother that someone met and whose execution was noted by a historian.

Of course a dedicated myther could argue the person Paul met had an unusual title or was simply lying. Josephus was mistaken or his account was forged. They could also argue the Christian sources are mistaken. All possible.

Of course the simplest explanation is Jesus existed and had a brother. The other arguments come off as incredibly contrived, but they are possible just very unlikely.

That is how I view materialist arguments against NDE research and Reincarnation research, they are incredibly contrived but possible albeit unlikely.

Keith argued elsewhere that we have to have universally agreed upon facts before making a judgment but the real world is rarely so tidy. For example if Trump admitted he made a deal with the Russians to win the 2016 election a considerable amount of people would not accept it.

Those of us who have examined this data for a long time, many times decades or more know just how weak Keith's arguments are.

Michael,

Excellent post! I would say that materialism, however, is a falsifiable belief system in that materialists have a long list of phenomena they believe are incompatible with their belief system and struggle mightily to deny, one by one, each case of such phenomena.

For certain belief systems, such as Idealism, or at least certain versions of them, I would say that, yes, they are unfalsifiable and amount to a preferred aesthetic lens with which to view the world (and there's nothing wrong with having such a lens and it may be impossible to totally avoid having one).

Keith wrote,

||Essentially, when you say that any evidence for the existential dependence of consciousness on brain functioning is nothing more than evidence for functional dependence, this is akin to saying that any evidence for biological evolution is nothing more than evidence that God placed the fossils there to look like evolution occurred.||

What defeats this point is the fact that we have direct evidence that consciousness survives death from NDEs, ADCs, etc. I agree that consciousness is dependent on the brain in some sense, but, ultimately survival appears to be real.

||For just as dogmatic survivalists can say that any evidence for existential dependence is nothing more than evidence for functional dependence, so too dogmatic mortalists can say that any evidence for survival is just evidence for living agent psi.||

I would be satisfied at this point to have materialists concede that at least psi is real. Do you?

"I may even be partial to idealism myself"

Yes, I thought I saw signs of that recently. So I was surprised to read what I thought might be a put-down. Glad to know you were describing its popularity rather than its worth.

Idealism has been my passion for so long, and I've read and thought so much on the topic, that it's hard for me to think of it as an "extreme minority" viewpoint. But maybe I'm forgetting just how weird I am.

“Here's the sort of thing we see happen repeatedly at the moment of death, and that skeptics will insist is pure coincidence:
"Shanann Watts' mother said she felt her daughter's spirit the moment she died"
https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/11/us/shanann-watts-family-dr-phil/index.html


That’s a very interesting article.
And yes, we do see it happening repeatedly.
No doubt that in a few days or so, skeptics will probably catch this and dismiss it all as delirium and fantasy the minute they see it.
It happens almost all the time, when there’s an NDE article/blog or blogger.

Such as: https://medium.com/@rhoffman/a-near-death-experience-as-told-to-megyn-kelly-2245dcc9ae1e

btw, the poster uses Gerry Woerlee’s and Catherine Giordano’s source to try to debunk the former atheist’s experience.

I see articles with “scientific explanations” that really aren’t new, every year to the point that it’s just hilarious.

But it’s evidence like NDEs and such, that tell me that the afterlife may be more than just a coping mechanism for depression, the physically ill( this is coming from me who’s been constantly sick for years, which occasionally depresses me. But that’s not the reason why I lean towards an afterlife and question materialism ), the injured, life’s obstacles, and mortality.
I know that there’s a greater meaning to life than the depressing worldview of materialism.

Kris, I already address the correlation is not causation canard here (and the TV analogy a little further along): https://books.google.com/books?id=dlRuBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA208

I don't expect you to read it since it's clear that you've already made your mind up that I'm mistaken. So be it; the volume was not compiled to dissuade convinced survivalists, but to provide the other side of the case where representation of that side is sorely lacking in the extant survival literature.

Almost everyone who contributes to the survival literature is in fact a survivalist. Surely bringing a little balance to that literature is a good thing? If you compare the survival literature to the literature on the existence of God, for example, arguments from suffering against the existence of God (like the reality of nature red in tooth and claw) are about as equally represented in the literature as fine-tuning arguments for the existence of God. Why the survival literature should be monopolized by one side is beyond me when no such monopoly exists on other, related topics.

All that I did in the volume was apply the same set of standards that scientists use to determine that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, or that nuclear radiation cause leukemia, to establish that brain activity brings about mental activity. If there is something wrong with those standards, you should petition the medical community to stop using them as their gold standard. (For a recent example, Robert Lustig uses the same standards to infer that overconsumption of sugar causes metabolic syndrome: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/07/the-sugar-conspiracy-robert-lustig-john-yudkin )

I'm going to ignore the rest of what you said in order to avoid a flame war and/or hijacking this thread. Besides, some of your questions are just plain misconceived. For example, why would any experience have to have an "evolutionary advantage" in order to occur? Is this an argument that I ever advanced, anywhere? If you had ever read my work, you'd already know that I don't endorse the idea that the "tunnel experience can be explained through physiology" for exactly the reasons you mention (they, like other prototypical Western NDE motifs, are rarely found outside of non-contaminated non-Western reports of NDEs). I think that specific Western NDEs motifs have a sociocultural source, not a physiological one, as recently put forth by Jens Schlieter in What is It Like to Be Dead: Near-Death Experiences, Christianity, and the Occult.

Suffice it to say that if you want to know why no one from "my side" is seriously considered, perhaps you should ask yourself why no one from "my side" is ever invited to give DOPS or IANDS presentations. It might have something to do with their presenters only wanting "their side" represented and/or their audience only wanting to hear "their side." Again, organizations that do survival research are atypical in this regard; Google "Conference on Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific Enterprise," and you'll see both sides represented even though a theistic outfit put that conference together. When is the last time that a Division of Perceptual Studies conference featured a speaker who did not believe in survival, if ever? The near-death researchers you dub "mainstream researchers" are almost all survivalists because the people attracted to near-death research tend to be survivalists, just like most UFOlogists tend to think that extraterrestrial spacecraft are visiting Earth because almost all of the people attracted to UFOlogy already think that extraterrestrial spacecraft are visiting Earth, else they wouldn't be involved in UFOlogy in the first place.

Michael, the distinction that you mention in your post is typically called the difference between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism (see the conference reference just made). In practice, it usually comes up in discussions about the scientific investigation of human origins or the origin of life itself. (I've previously argued that the reason *why* methodological naturalism works is because metaphysical naturalism is true, but I'm sure no one here wants to go over that ground, so I'll spare you.) Incidentally, I think dividing the world up into dualists vs. physicalists oversimplifies the philosophy of mind literature too much. In practice, in the last few decades the focus has actually been on middle ground positions like property dualism or Russellian monism, which you would probably categorize as versions of physicalism because they deny that consciousness can exist independently of particular arrangements of physical matter (but which aren't really "physicalist" in the original sense of that term).

Kevin Williams, contrary to material on your website, David Chalmers' property dualism does not allow dualistic personal survival. Property dualism holds that consciousness is a property of the brain, albeit a nonphysical one. If this is correct, then consciousness would cease to exist with the destruction of the brain just like the (physical) property of the shape of an apple would not persist if one destroyed the apple. (And while we're at it, the website I've contributed to has always been called The Secular Web since it was founded in 1995; it was not renamed Internet Infidels, as your website claims. Internet Infidels has always been the nonprofit that manages the website.)

Matt, I'm agnostic about whether "psi" exists. I tentatively presume that it does not until evidence sufficiently compelling to persuade psychologists, cognitive scientists, and the like that is is real emerges. Just like I tentatively presume that Bigfoot does not exist until some DNA-analyzed hair sample or remains turn up that suggest otherwise to mainstream zoologists.

"I would say that materialism, however, is a falsifiable belief system in that materialists have a long list of phenomena they believe are incompatible with their belief system and struggle mightily to deny, one by one, each case of such phenomena." - Matt Rouge

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. The materialists start with an arbitrary premise. To wit; "Only that which I can perceive and measure with the 5 physical senses is real and then only if my peers can do the same and obtain the same results". Things like ghosts/spirits, psi cannot be real until I can perceive them with the 5 senses and measure them along with my peers. Since I (and my peers) cannot use my methods to "prove" spirits and psi, they are false.

That approach, to my mind, represents an unfalsifiable situation;an artificial self-licking ice cream cone.

Many great discoveries that are now in every day applications have come from people that observed some phenomena, thought about it, developed a hunch and went way out on a limb (from the scientific consensus of the day).

Ignoring phenomena because it doesn't fit an arbitrarily favored paradigm seems stupid. Mediumship is proven under controlled conditions. A number of us have personally contacted mediums under controlled conditions. The mediums have performed beyond random chance and well beyond what cold/hot readers can do. Some of us have sat with the same medium with similar excellent results. That is repeatability. Only a non-scientist would fail to move forward from there with a non-material hypothesis. There really isn't much more to say about it; despite how much the non-scientist materialist paradigm guardians might protest.

I am way out of my depth in this conversation but acknowledging that, I wonder if sometimes consciousness is determined by those observing a body from the outside. That is, we say a person or animal is conscious if it can be determined that the conscious person recognizes those people and things going on around him or her and perhaps can interact with them. But during sleep, to those of us on the outside, the person is not conscious, that is, he is not aware of what is going on outside of his body in the local environment. During sleep, the consciousness, however, of that sleeping person may be very active and quite aware of what is going on, not on the outside of the body but what is occurring 'somewhere else' on some other level, plane or dimension however one cares to define it. Brain waves of dream sleep and wakefulness are apparently similar but obviously the dreaming person does not appear to be conscious to those observing him on the outside. In a few cases of people who have no brain waves, upon restoration of brain function they report that during the time there were no brain waves they apparently were conscious not like when dreaming but conscious as when awake.

So, the fact that a person does not appear to be conscious after a brain injury or during general anesthesia does not necessarily mean that the person is not conscious in some other reality, like in a dream. The brain is physical and necessary for the physical conscious mind and body to function but it may not be necessary for the consciousness to function. It is clear that when there is no functioning brain then the physical body cannot function; it cannot move or speak. But the lack of brain function may not inhibit the consciousness. That is, that part of living beings that is aware of itself as a separate entity.

I guess that the question is, when the brain dies---when there are no brain waves---what happens to the consciousness; the body obviously is not conscious. Is consciousness still aware, but in some other plane or dimension like in a dream. I guess what I am trying to convey is that there is a difference between what we mean when we say that a person is conscious and what we mean when we speak of a consciousness. - AOD

Keith, it may be true that most NDE researchers are survivalists, but the other side isn’t entirely shut out. For instance, your lengthy essay "Near-Death Experiences with Hallucinatory Features" was prominently featured in The Journal of Near Death Studies; the article and various replies to it took up all of Vol 26, #1. The next issue, Vol 26, #2, featured your article "Psychophysiological and Cultural Correlates Undermining a Survivalist Interpretation of Near-Death Experiences"; the article and replies again took up the entire issue, except for an obituary. Devoting two consecutive issues of the journal to the anti-survival position seems pretty generous to me. Admittedly this was back in 2007; I don’t know if anti-survivalist papers continue to receive the same treatment.

Other people who’ve written skeptically about NDEs include Susan Blackmore, Gerald Woerlee, Dean Mobbs, Caroline Watt, Birk Engmann, Karl Jansen, and Joel Ibrahim Kreps. There are surely others, so the anti-survivalist side isn’t totally unrepresented. I don’t know if these individuals have ever been invited to an IANDS conference, but they probably should be.

"Correlation is not causation" is hardly a "canard." It’s a widely accepted principle of logic. Sometimes correlation does point to causation, and other times it doesn’t. What’s needed to nail down the case is a mechanism of causation. Needless to say, the mechanism by which brain states are translated into mental states is presently unknown.

As far as survival is concerned, there are innumerable instances in which there is no correlation between brain states and mental states — NDES, OBES, mediumship, etc. Materialists have to discount every one of these cases as fraud, delusion, error, or anecdote.

Keith responded in just the way I figured he would; yet another essay stating the exact same thing. No matter how much you want to stick your fingers in your ears Keith and not hear it correlation does not prove causation is simply a fact of logic. No matter how much you wish to engage in special pleading that will not change. Yes I read the excerpts you listed. And nothing in them overcame the fact correlation does prove causation. Speaking of not reading stuff did you ever read Ian Stevenson like I suggested you read around a decade ago? Why do I doubt it?

The reason your side doesn't get much of a hearing is your side rarely has studied the research in the first place and when you try to come up with alternative explanations they are incredibly contrived. It is the same reason why creationist do not get the invite to a biology conference.

By the way those " survivalist" happen to be neurosurgeons ( Bruce Greyson), former heads of Psychology from the University of Yale ( Kenneth Ring), cardiac surgeons ( Michael Sabom), a Doctorate in Nursing ( Penny Sartori) a former Head of the Psychology Department of the University of Virgina ( Ian Stevenson) just to name a few quickly . I suspect they are just a bit more qualified to discuss this subject then someone with a Masters in Philosophy( who despite his degree still doesn't comprehend logical fallacies are still logical fallacies when he engages in them ) who seems to think that despite his absolute lack of training in science, psychology or neurology ( or for that matter any actual field research on NDEs) that his views should trump theirs. Of course Keith probably wants to say he has a hard training in logic that they don't so they cannot see the flaws with the survival position like he can. Of course his hard training in logic is also held by Chris Carter ( Masters of Philosophy from Oxford) and even by our own Ian Wardell who have come to the exact opposite conclusions as that of Keith.

Did I say you advanced the evolutionary argument Keith? No I did not.

I for one would like to know the evolutionary advantage to an experience that greatly decreases the fear of death. After all dying is a bad thing in biology and in particular with evolutionary biology as you can no longer reproduce your genes. So why would evolutionary forces create such an experience? Why not select against it?

Once you comprehend that constantly repeating the same failed arguments does not make them work you might have some relevance to this discussion Keith. As of now it seems that you are going to share that same fate as that other notable denizen of internet infidels; Dr Richard Carrier. Irrelevancy brought about by peddling absurd arguments that will only be believed by those poorly informed.

True enough, Michael. It certainly *was* generous to give me space in three consecutive issues of the Journal of Near-Death Studies. This leaves open, of course, exactly *why* I was invited to be published there given that the three articles were variations on an essay that had already been published online for anyone to see. Among the top reasons you ought to consider are (a) in order to be rebutted by multiple commentators and (b) in order to be provocative enough to stimulate more article submissions in the future when not enough usable ones were being submitted to meet the Editor's need to publish enough material on a quarterly basis. But all of this is neither here nor there since this was not the point I was making.

My point is that "not entirely shut out" is not the same as "equally represented." Theistic and atheistic arguments are equally represented in philosophy of religion journals like the journal Religious Studies. This is not the case for journals where survivalist arguments are typically proferred. Arguments against survival are atypical there at best. I was invited to respond to a critical review of The Myth of an Afterlife in the Journal of Parapsychology in 2016, and am indeed grateful for the invitation since otherwise mischaracterizations about the volume would simply go unchecked altogether among that audience. But let's not pretend this amounts to equal representation of both sides. There was James G. Matlock's review, my response (along with that of two other contributors), Matlock's counterreply, and the Editor's take on the exchange. Matlock got to speak twice on the same issue, and then the JP Editor got to add his two cents in support of Matlock. Which is all fine and well, but by comparison, I had one chance and one chance only to say what needed to be said in that issue (and so said everything that I could in that one chance, being mindful that my only turn to speak would be now or never). I could've probably dragged on the debate in the next issue in a much briefer letter to the editor, but that would be the extent of my involvement in the Journal of Parapsychology that its editorial board would likely tolerate. Meanwhile Matlock would have free reign to publish multiple papers there in the future for decades to come in the absence of any response at all. You would not see an equal number of papers criticizing purported evidence of reincarnation as those advocating it going forward.

My response was at least given an airing, and I acknowledge (and appreciate) that much, but you can't deny that finding arguments against survival in such journals is an aberration (and that this surely has something to do with the fact that only 14% of Parapsychology Association members hold that consciousness does not survive death per a 2014 survey by Harvey J. Irwin). If you picked up a random issue of any one of these journals, you are not equally likely to find arguments against survival as you are to find arguments for it. But if you picked up a random issue of Religious Studies, you *are* about just as likely to find atheistic arguments as theistic ones in any given issue. What gets talked about in the survival literature is heavily slanted toward evidence for the survival hypothesis. Textbook introductions to parapsychology often talk about potential evidence for survival from mediumship under the umbrella of "the survival hypothesis," but I'm unaware of any at all that talk about the relevance of Phineas Gage-like cases, Alzheimer's disease, split-brain cases, various agnosias, or long-term potentiation as a mechanism for memory formation to the prospect that the survival hypothesis is true. You might find a handful of papers, like Douglas M. Stokes' "Mind, Matter, and Death: Cognitive Neuroscience and the Problem of Survival," that considered contrary evidence if you searched the contents of psychical research journals in the last 50 years. You'd find a deluge of papers advocating survival in the same time period. That's the only point I was making. Yet surely *both* sources of evidence are relevant to whether one's mind could actually survive bodily death intact, no?

Similarly, Julie Beischel's laboratory mediumship research has been presented in print and in conference presentations organized by the Society for Scientific Exploration (which publishes the Journal of Scientific Exploration). If I asked any of the contributors to The Myth of an Afterlife how many times they've been asked to contribute something either in writing or as a conference presentation to the SSE--such as the authors of the chapter "Madness in the Method: Fatal Flaws in Recent Mediumship Experiments," a chapter that The Trickster and the Paranormal author George Hansen tweeted was an important paper--I'd make a large wager that the number of times any of them was contacted for any such purpose, by the SSE or anyone else within parapsychology, in the four years since the volume has been out, is zero.

The reason why is because the people who produce and read such journals are simply not interested in seriously considering arguments *against* their positions. This is unusual compared to typical philosophy journals where multiple perspectives are encouraged rather than frowned up. Compare the heavily theistic editorial boards of Religious Studies nevertheless publishing atheistic and theistic pieces in equal numbers to the reaction Neal Grossman had to giving arguments against survivalist interpretations of near-death phenomena *any* space at all (even if only "not entirely shut out" space): http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/GrossmanLetter.pdf . Apparently airing any opinion other than Grossman's is some huge affront to him (a point similarly made by Etzel Cardena on another matter). I guarantee you that a rant complaining that atheistic arguments are given any space at all in the journal Religious Studies, instead of an attempt to actually respond to those previously published arguments, would end up on the cutting room floor by their editorial board.

FWIW, when used as a way to blithely dismiss evidence that counts against one's own position, I would say that the blanket statement that "correlation is not causation" is indeed a canard. It would be a canard for tobacco companies to use against the Surgeon General of the United States' warning labels on cigarettes, for creationists to use against biology textbooks, and for survivalists to use against the consensus views of cognitive neuroscientists. Correlation doesn't necessarily indicate causation, but it surely does *sometimes*, so to simply retort that "correlation is not causation" as if that settles some issue is indeed a canard. It would be like saying "you can't prove a negative" in response to the law of non-contradiction (i.e., the negative proposition that A can *not* simultaneously be true and not true).

One does not need to postulate some nefarious reason that most NDE researchers are survivalists. The vast majority of biologists are not creationist and the vast majority of Classical Historians accept the existence of Jesus. Does this mean they are close minded? Of course not; it shows in the end how the fringe ideas of mytherism or creationism are not accepted by experts. I can see no reason not to apply this explanation to NDE researchers The survival explanation far better fits the evidence than the hallucination model hence the reason they use that model . For example Michael Sabom started off skeptical of NDEs until after he did his research. . I have to note among the people listed by Michael none of them engaged in field research to the best of my knowledge. They simply read the research of others, who tend to be survivalist.

To make the hallucination model work one has to ignore multiple areas of data, come up with unlikely scenario after unlikely scenario for vertical cases and postulate hidden pockets of consciousness in non functional brains. This is not going to be an easy task to make this work and so far no proponent of the hallucination model has come up with any explanation that remotely explains the data.

From IANDS https://iands.org/ndes/about-ndes/common-questions.html

“ More than a dozen theories have been put forward to explain the NDE and its associated physical mechanisms, but none of them singly or together fits all cases.”

IANDS rejects the Hallucination Model :

“ Everyone dreams, and most people remember their dreams at least occasionally. People who have had NDEs say their NDEs were totally different than their dreams. For example, upon awakening, a dreamer usually knows the dream was not "real," whereas upon returning to normal consciousness, NDErs usually say the NDE was more real than normal reality. Similarly, people who have experienced both an NDE and hallucination say the two experiences are quite different. Again, in retrospect, a hallucination is known to have been "unreal" whereas an NDE usually is perceived to have been "hyperreal." Your doctor may understand dreams and hallucinations more than (s)he does NDEs. In particular, extensive research has shown that NDEs are not an indication of mental disorder.”

And tentatively supports survival

“Certainly this is a very popular interpretation, although there is no "proof" in a statistical sense and no consensus of opinion. A more cautious explanation is that NDEs suggest that some aspect of human consciousness may continue after physical death. No means currently exists to demonstrate whether this speculation is true”

To accept the survival model one simply has to postulate that the mind separated from the body; which is exactly what NDErs report.

Let’s look at a few of my questions and see how each side would answer them:

Question While hallucinations might be considered to be real at the moment the person hallucinating later realizes the experience was a hallucination. Yet the overwhelming amount of NDErs ( over 99%) maintain this experience was not a hallucination. If NDEs are hallucination why this radical departure from the normal model of hallucinations.

Answers:

Survival Model- They were not hallucinating hence the reason they do not consider the experience to be a hallucination

Hallucination Model. This is a special class of hallucinations which defy the normal expectations of hallucinations.

Question. If NDEs are fantasies why do many people report religious tension between the experience and their prior religious views?
Answers:

Survival Model- They are not fantasies; they are real. Hence people have tensions with their religious views because their religious views did not accurately describe life after death

Hallucination model. They would argue that the person already had religious tension going on; however they did not know about it as it was subconscious. Rather obviously this argument cannot be falsified but one has to wonder if one is already having tensions with their religious views how would they not consciously know it?

Questions If NDEs are fantasies why do people report a life judgment stage where they experience the suffering they caused others. Also what evolutionary advantage would this provide?

Answers:

Survival model. Consciousness survives we learn from our mistakes.

Hallucination model- This rarely happens in NDEs ( not really true) and besides that they really don’t have an explanation.

NDEr’s have demonstrated the ability to accurately describe surgeries being done on them ( Sabom and Sartori studies). Why is accurately describing the actions being done to you now considered a hallucination

Answers:

Survival Model- They saw it like they reported. It is easy to describe accurately things one witnessed.

Hallucination Model. They create highly unlikely scenarios for each case which often times contradicts the reports of doctors who treated the patients and the NDE researchers which discovered the cases.

For example with the Reynold’s case here are just a few “ minor” problems with the materialist “ position “on it. My comments below should not be considered in-depth and I encourage everyone to read Woerlee’s attempt to defend the hallucination model with the Reynolds case in the Spring 2012 JNDS. By the way Keith, here is another skeptic being given a hearing by the JNDS.

Proponents of the Hallucination Model need to do the following with her case:

They need to explain how she was conscious during her surgery, and would have considered it pleasant seeing her blood was being removed from her body and her temperature was being dropped.

They need to explain how she was continuously conscious during her experience because part of her surgery involved her being flat lined

They need to explain how should hear conversations over the beeping noise which was continuous

They need to explain how she did not hear the beeps

They need to explain how she saw the bone saw

They need to have her have an NDE

None of that is a problem for the survival model. None of that above is user friendly for the hallucination model at all.

I could go on and on with this but the difference between the hallucination model and the survival model is the difference between Ptolemy’s epicycle orbits for the planets verses Kepler’s elliptical orbits.

We also have reincarnation research from people like Ian Stevenson. Scientific American is certainly not a friend to parapsychology yet they said this about his research in the article below.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/ian-stevensone28099s-case-for-the-afterlife-are-we-e28098skepticse28099-really-just-cynics/

“More often than not, Stevenson could identify an actual figure that once lived based solely on the statements given by the child. Some cases were much stronger than others, but I must say, when you actually read them firsthand, many are exceedingly difficult to explain away by rational, non-paranormal means. Much of this is due to Stevenson’s own exhaustive efforts to disconfirm the paranormal account. “We can strive toward objectivity by exposing as fully as possible all observations that tend to weaken our preferred interpretation of the data,” he wrote. “If adversaries fire at us, let them use ammunition that we have given them.” And if truth be told, he excelled at debunking the debunkers.”

I could keep flogging this dead horse but in the end the reason why people who research things such as NDEs and Reincarnation are survivalists is simple; it better explains the data.

Keith Augustine said:
//I was going to hold my tongue on this one//

Keith always says this, but nevertheless seems compelled to make a comment whenever I say anything negative about his book regardless of where on the web I make the remark.

//when you say that any evidence for the existential dependence of consciousness on brain functioning//

Can we have evidence that X produces Y if there is no conceivable mechanism that could achieve this?

//dualistic survival is not only falsifiable, but in fact falsified by (primarily) neuroscientific evidence.//

I do not believe this is correct. I've read "the myth of the afterlife" in its entirety, and no such evidence is provided there. Please give a reference to this evidence, preferably a link so I can read it.


//Note that the flip side of taking the position that everything's just pure metaphysics is that no evidence can count in favor of survival, either. So laboratory mediumship experiments, replicable AWARE II hits, etc., would all thrown out with the bathwater.//

Keith knows I've addressed this point in part 7 "science" of my review. http://ian-wardell.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-response-to-myth-of-afterlife.html

"All that I did in the volume was apply the same set of standards that scientists use to determine that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer..." - Keith

Just a nitpick (or is it?) from an insurance actuary (me). Smoking does not "cause" cancer. If it did, everyone who ever smoked would develop cancer; which is far from the case.

Rather, smoking is correlated with an increased risk of developing certain cancers.

Life threatening cancer is a relatively rare event and smoking is associated with around a 3 to 4 fold increase in incidence of lung cancer as well as cancers of the throat and mouth. Some studies have the risk increase higher, but that is because they engage in sloppy and politically biased "science" and they include cancers that non-smokers also get at around the same rate (kind of like the "drunk" driving death stats that include any fatality even if the dead person had only one drink and was the victim of an irresponsible sober driver who ran a red light, etc).

"I'm agnostic about whether "psi" exists. I tentatively presume that it does not until evidence sufficiently compelling to persuade psychologists, cognitive scientists, and the like that is real emerges"

Well psi has been proven at a level that exceeds a lot of other phenomena that you no doubt accept as "real" and the proof has been accepted by very well credentialed scientists. IMO, what you are really saying is that you don't accept it because it violates your dearly held and heavily invested paradigm and you don't want to admit you're wrong. So if you can find a like minded "scientist" or two out there to agree with you, then psi is not real. Forget all the other who have seen the evidence and accepted it.

So let me see if I got this straight Keith ; Parapsychology Journals are obligated to give equal time to every materialists no matter how contrived and sloppy their arguments are. Do you think Biology Journals are now required to give room to every creationist? Do you think Geology Journals are obligated to give equal time to flat earthers? How does this work?

There are reasons Journals have editors. They are their to prevent time and resources from being wasted. The fact that most materialists articles cannot make it pass the editor is an indictment on the sloppy arguments of materialists and certainly not the fault of parapsychology.

Keith wrote, "Textbook introductions to parapsychology often talk about potential evidence for survival from mediumship under the umbrella of "the survival hypothesis," but I'm unaware of any at all that talk about the relevance of Phineas Gage-like cases, Alzheimer's disease, split-brain cases ..."

I’m surprised textbooks don’t talk about those issues as objections to survival. This humble blog has talked about all of them. The only textbook on parapsychology that I’ve read is Irreducible Mind. The index lists split-brain research, brain impairment and survival, memory, neuroimaging, and brain injury. So these topics are at least addressed — not necessarily in detail. Other, less comprehensive textbooks may not address them, but they should.

Without getting into an endless back-and-forth, I’ll just say that I think your point on correlation is a quibble. "Correlation is not causation" doesn’t mean "correlation can never be associated with causation." That would be absurd. Obviously if there is causation, there will be correlation. The statement simply means "correlation alone does not prove causation." And this is true. If some scientists are using correlation alone to estimate the toxicity of certain chemicals, they must be taking a shortcut — presumably they pick some (necessarily arbitrary) degree of correlation and call it proof of causation. This may be a handy rule of thumb, but it won’t be of much help in solving ontological disputes. If I’m wrong and the scientists have figured out how to prove causation from correlation alone, they should share their discovery with the rest of us, because they have solved the problem of induction! 🙂

"One does not need to postulate some nefarious reason that most NDE researchers are survivalists......I have to note among the people listed by Michael none of them engaged in field research to the best of my knowledge. They simply read the research of others, who tend to be survivalist. " - Kris

Yes. Great comment Keith's complaints that the materialists are under-represented in certain journals dedicated to the study of these matters is a like a moon landing denier complaining that his work is not published in serious space exploration journals. Or a whacky 911 conspiracy theorist not having his "theories" presented in US intelligence assessments; even though he Googled real hard and knows a little something about the events.

Agreed, the materialists regularly publicly admit that they have not kept up with the NDE or other paranormal research. They often admit they aren't even very familiar with historic cases.

At this point I see the hardcore materialists as being about the same level of scientific inquiry and intellectual honesty as moon landing deniers. There really isn't much reason to engage such people. They will always exist out there on the fringes.

I read that letter by Doctor Grossman that Keith linked to. http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/GrossmanLetter.pdf

I have to wonder if Keith meant to link to this letter though. I certainly saw nothing in this letter that could be considered a rant; if anything it was a nice concise letter explaining why many common materialist arguments against survival are flawed. Certainly there was nothing in the letter saying materialist arguments should not be published or given space, he simply argued that arguments should be based on evidenced possibilities instead of simply logical possibilities. Grossman provides the definition for each type of possibility in his article.

Evidence possibility- a hypothesis is possible only if there is some empirical reason to believe that it might be true.

Logical possibility- a hypothesis is possible means that it is consistent, that it can be formulated without self-contradiction

Grossman went on to explain that scientists only have to respond to evidenced possibility and not just logical possibilities. For example, there is an evidenced possibility that the asteroid that struck earth 65 million years ago did not alone cause the extinction of the dinosaurs. Scientist have to deal with that. Scientist are under no obligation to deal with the argument that Satan made the fossil record to deceive people as while this argument is consistent without self-contradiction it has no evidence to it.

Keith has completely misrepresented Grossman views. He did not object to publishing arguments for materialist views on survival and certainly there is nothing in this letter that would indicate that Grossman felt “airing any opinion other than Grossman's is some huge affront to him “ He was objecting to flawed irrational arguments from materialists.

Keith needs to either link to a letter of Grossman’s that supports his claims or retract his claim.

"If some scientists are using correlation alone to estimate the toxicity of certain chemicals, they must be taking a shortcut — presumably they pick some (necessarily arbitrary) degree of correlation and call it proof of causation."

To be fair, in academia (and only in academia), some people try to use some sophisticated regression models as proof of causation. This is a hotly debated practice. In business (e.g. actuarial sciences and "big data") we only use regression models for prediction. IMO, when the academic types are successful using it for causational inference they are getting away with it by accident. They should have used a traditional causational approach (to keep it simple, think ANOVA), but, because there is a causal relationship in the between the dependent and independent variables in the regression equation, it works. Of course, at other times it doesn't work because the causal relationship is not there.

Academicians usually don't suffer consequences for being wrong. They are eggheads. Sometimes being wrong even pays if the wrong answer is what the grant writers and grantors want to hear. In business being wrong means losing money. Academia can afford to be sloppy and often is.

"What I actually argue in The Myth of an Afterlife is not that the survival hypothesis is unfalsifiable, but that empirical survivalists take steps to immunize it from falsifying evidence."

That's what mortalists do too. The hypothesis that bodily death involve the extinction of consciousness is falsifiable, but when we present evidence that falsifies it, mortalists will interpret it in another way to immunize their hypothesis and make it unfalsifiable.

"If you don't allow survivalists to make that move (just like you don't allow creationists to make their move), then dualistic survival is not only falsifiable, but in fact falsified by (primarily) neuroscientific evidence."

Also mortalism is falsified by psychic evidence such as some NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and memories of past lives.

"Almost everyone who contributes to the survival literature is in fact a survivalist. Surely bringing a little balance to that literature is a good thing?"

But the best works of this topic do not start by being survivalists, but examine the evidence and then conclude some kind of afterlife, like the works of Curt John Ducasse or Hornell Hart.

"Matt, I'm agnostic about whether "psi" exists."

Then you are a hypocrite, because the hardest cases of psychic research clearly corner to mortalism to admit some form of psi only among the living, but now it turns out that you are uncertain about the existence of psi.

"What gets talked about in the survival literature is heavily slanted toward evidence for the survival hypothesis."

That's like complaining that the evolutionary biology is leaning towards evolution.

Kris writes: "Of course not; it shows in the end how the fringe ideas of mytherism or creationism are not accepted by experts."

Do you mean to imply in that comment that since the fringe ideas of parapsychologists (recall that the title Fringe-ology was written by Steve Volk, someone *sympathetic* to the paranormal) are not accepted by regular psychologists, cognitive scientists, etc., that we should tentatively reject them until they are accepted by mainstream scientists? If not, why the special pleading that your favored pet ideas be treated differently than other "fringe" ideas?

Kris quotes IANDS: “More than a dozen theories have been put forward to explain the NDE and its associated physical mechanisms, but none of them singly or together fits all cases.”

John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin have already addressed this issue. Are you aware of what they have said about it? As for the difference between waking up from a dream and "waking up" from nearly dying, the context of waking up in a bed surely makes a difference to how real people count the experience, no matter how real it felt to them.

Kris quotes IANDS: “NDEs suggest that some aspect of human consciousness may continue after physical death.”

Well at least IANDS is upfront that they take a position on this issue rather than leaving the question entirely open.

Kris writes: "If NDEs are fantasies why do people report a life judgment stage where they experience the suffering they caused others. "

What percentage of life reviews feature NDErs "experienc[ing] the suffering they caused others"? Most of them feature random memories. See the pre-1975/pre-Moody NDEs quoted in Jens Schlieter's What is It Like to Be Dead: Near-Death Experiences, Christianity, and the Occult. The memories are usually random flashbacks with no particular significance to the experient.

I've already commented in print on Sabom's study of people who imagine their resuscitations versus NDErs who describe them, so I'll spare you my comments on it here. I presume you'd already know what I have to say about it were you interested in my thoughts, so there's no point in me repeating what I said 12 years ago again now.

The AEP beeps in Pam Reynolds' ears were not continuous. And white noise was played in one ear while beeps were played in the other. This ground has already been covered on this very blog, so I'll leave it to you to refresh your memory of Michael's discussions of it.

As for the Scientific American article by Jesse Bering, I read it some time ago. FWIW, I think Bering is too impressed with correspondences that might well be more than chance would produce, but which have normal sources. If I tell you all sorts of details about person X's life merely because I overheard a conversation about that person, for example, that's hardly compelling evidence of anything paranormal. Only cases where there are simultaneously striking correspondences *and* no plausible normal source of the information provided should impress Bering, IMO.

Ian writes: "Keith always says this, but nevertheless seems compelled to make a comment whenever I say anything negative about his book regardless of where on the web I make the remark."

Should I just leave your mischaracterizations uncorrected? Tell me what you would do if someone were attributing positions to you that you *demonstrably* don't hold. Say nothing? My linked comments in the book were obviously written *before* your review of it. So maybe *you* should explain the discrepancy between my earlier comments and your later mischaracterization of them.

Ian asks: "Can we have evidence that X produces Y if there is no conceivable mechanism that could achieve this?"

You already know what I've said about this. If this is your standard, then you must not believe that there is any evidence for psi since there is "no conceivable mechanism" for clairvoyance, and certainly no accepted mechanism for any other form of psi like precognition or telepathy, although there are speculative quantum guesses about potential mechanisms.

While we're on the topic, the exact mechanism by which smoking causes lung cancer isn't known, either (to address Michael's earlier demand for a mechanism, too)--the inference to causation is statistical. Presumably it has something to do with the toxins in tar, but some people smoke a long time and never get lung cancer, some smokers get it but only after smoking for decades, etc., and yet epidemiologists do not conclude that "correlation is not causation" in this case. So should we reject that smoking causes lung cancer? If not, why not?

Ian asks for a link to the (primarily) neuroscientific evidence falsifying dualistic survival in The Myth of an Afterlife. Here it is: https://books.google.com/books?id=dlRuBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA227

Since the heading is "Confirmation of the Dependence Thesis from the Falsification of Its Rival," it's hard to see how you could possibly miss this, but whatever. Here's a teaser from that section that I've mentioned to you before on this very point (and on which your review is conveniently silent): "The greatly enhanced mental powers of human beings, compared to those of our primate cousins, are a clear result of the enlarged brains that we possess but that they do not. But then how could human minds retain their impressive mental faculties in the complete absence of brain functioning after death?" (p. 232)

Of course you might retort that something less than a full-blooded human mind is what survives death, but this is not what survival proponents believe, which is why Sam Harris once noted: "What we're being asked to consider is that you damage one part of the brain, and something about the mind and subjectivity is lost, you damage another and yet more is lost, [but] you damage the whole thing at death, [and then] we can rise off the brain with all our faculties intact, recognizing grandma and speaking English."

Eric: I think you are using "cause" in a much more restricted sense than epidemiologists use it. That's why the warnings on cigarette labels have stated things like "Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy"

Eric writes: "IMO, what you are really saying is that you don't accept it because it violates your dearly held and heavily invested paradigm and you don't want to admit you're wrong."

Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, Eric, but this is mere rhetoric in place of substance. I'm no more vested in the existence or nonexistence of some vague "psi" than I am invested in the existence or nonexistence of Bigfoot. In both cases I tentatively accept the mainstream consensus of the scientific community until sufficiently good evidence emerges that changes that consensus. It's the same reason I accept that our universe began in a Big Bang and that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. I'm simply reasoning consistently here. End of story. (No "worldview considerations" have anything to do with my similar tentative rejection of the existence of Bigfoot, since the existence of another species of primate would not be inconsistent with any scientific background knowledge--but mere compatibility with existing science is no reason to affirm that X exists. There needs to be some positive reason to assert the existence of X. And the positive reason has to be grounded in decent evidence--like DNA-analyzed hair samples--not anecdotes.)

Spin that however you want, but that's the end of it for me. Whether "psi" exists or not is a lot less interesting to me than a lot of other issues, which is precisely why the only psi-related issue that I comment on is survival. I'm not all that interested one way or the other in whether presentiment, remote viewing, telepathic twins, dogs that know their owners are coming home, etc. exists. The only psi that interests me is "otherworldly psi," as Michael F. Stoeber called it decades ago (see https://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/53501.pdf if you're interested in his distinction).

In fact, I explicitly *allow* for the possibility that psi among the living exists in the Introduction to The Myth of an Afterlife, but argue that even if it does, it doesn't serve as a credible alternative explanation of ostensible evidence for survival: "One might consider invoking [psi among the living] only when the effects to be explained do not surpass the paranormal abilities of living persons that have been demonstrated in laboratory experiments. But at best laboratory effects have been far too weak to account for the purportedly paranormal aspects of the survival evidence (Braude, 2003, pp. 14–15; Gauld, 1982, p. 130; Irwin, 1994, p. 10), and at worst they are statistical artifacts that provide no evidence that living persons possess any paranormal abilities at all (Alcock, 2003, pp. 37–38, 41–44; Kennedy, 2004; 2013)" (p. 33). (I mention a third possibility in an endnote, but the point remains the same for it, too.)

I don't subscribe to the belief that psi definitively does exist precisely because I'm agnostic about its existence--it may or may not exist--as previously noted. I'm open to both possibilities, and neither one really concerns me much. Either living agent psi doesn't exist at all, or it exists but is too weak to account for the survival evidence. That conclusion is not decided a priori by adherence to some rigid worldview, but is suggested by the experimental evidence that actually exists.

If Daryl Bem has demonstrated that we can "feel the future" a few milliseconds in advance, for instance, this makes no difference one way or the other to whether or not dualistic survival occurs, and so does not interest me all that much. (An article in Salon suggests that what Bem found was not evidence of psi, but evidence of the deficiency of the statistical measures used by psychologists to establish an effect. Given how small the effects claimed in parapsychology experiments with positive results, this wouldn't really surprise me. It does strike me as telling, though, that when Bem-like replications were preregistered, the effect disappeared. See https://slate.com/health-and-science/2017/06/daryl-bem-proved-esp-is-real-showed-science-is-broken.html

Instead of parroting the standard parapsychological rhetoric about worldview bias, why are you so disinterested in direct tests of survival, experiments that serve to cut through all of this rhetoric? The most recent of them was published in 2009, titled "Charles Fryer and His Tape." Have you even heard of it? Here's what this so-called test of survival (more accurately a test of communication with the dead) found:

"Eight people made attempts to read the tape in 1996, during his lifetime, but none was judged by Charles to be successful. He died on 29 August 2005, aged 91. Since then, 35 psychic sensitives from all over the world have taken up Charles's challenge and have been in touch with us.... Sadly, none of the attempts came anywhere near this wording [of a poem recorded on audio tape], or of the images it conveys.... We are grateful to Charles for initiating this experiment, and to the many people who have collaborated in it; but it cannot be judged to have been a success. Perhaps Charles lost interest? Perhaps he was unable to 'get through'? Perhaps none of the sensitives were in tune with him? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps." (Michael Perry and David Fontana, The Paranormal Review, Issue 52, 2009, pp. 11-12).

This is not a one-off experiment. Similar attempts to "prove survival" were made by psychical researchers Frederic W. H. Myers (over 100 years ago!), Oliver Lodge, Clarissa Mulders, Robert Thouless, Ian Stevenson, Susy Smith, Frank C. Tribbe, Arthur S. Berger, and others all now deceased. (I counted over three dozen of them when trying to get an accounting of how many of these experiments have been attempted.) Why have we heard nothing from any of these deceased psychical researchers if communication with the dead really occurs? Why can not a single one of them "authenticate" that they are really communicating through a medium by providing the agreed-upon "password," to use the information security terminology, if mediums can really talk to the dead? If you care about what the evidence indicates, these are the sorts of questions that you should be asking.

The perpetual failure of direct tests of survival would seem to indicate that neither living agent psi nor otherworldly psi exist; that is straightforwardly what these clear-cut, simple experimental results suggest with no statistical techniques (tricks?) needed. If no one can get the "passwords" to these tests either before death or afterward, this would seem to indicate that "sensitives" can neither read the minds of the living, sense the contents of an audio tape clairvoyantly, or communicate with the dead. Has this clear-cut experimental failure led to an abandonment of research into purported paranormal abilities? Of course not. Parapsychologists will power through these experimental results as if they had never been obtained. Why is that? Why don't such experimental results have any effect on the decisions of psychical researchers about whether their chosen field of study is a worthwhile pursuit?

Kris adds: "Parapsychology Journals are obligated to give equal time to every materialists no matter how contrived and sloppy their arguments are."

I invite you to read my response in the Journal of Parapsychology before deciding how "sloppy" it is. There, among other things, I quote verbatim people like the favorably name-dropped David Chalmers making my points for me since Matlock cites Chalmers and other prominent thinkers as supporting his own views when in fact none of the people cited do so if you read their actual words.

Michael writes: "The index [of Irreducible Mind] lists split-brain research, brain impairment and survival, memory, neuroimaging, and brain injury. So these topics are at least addressed — not necessarily in detail."

Read the page numbers indicated and see if they discuss these topics as objections to survival. One of the points I noted in the Journal of Parapsychology is how little overlap there is between The Myth of an Afterlife and Irreducible Mind because the latter does not in fact address the survival question, but instead addresses all other sorts of unrelated paranormal claims, like that of levitating monks and placebo effects, that have little relevance to the survival question.

Michael writes: "I’ll just say that I think your point on correlation is a quibble. "Correlation is not causation" doesn’t mean "correlation can never be associated with causation." That would be absurd."

But that's exactly the point I'm making. If correlation *can* indicate causation, then the next question is: when does it do so? I look to both the philosophy literature (on Mill's methods of causal inference) and the scientific literature (on the Hill criteria) on when we ought to infer causation from correlation, and then apply both standards to the evidence from mind-brain correlations. By those standards, the inference that brain activity brings about mental activity is as justified here as it is anywhere else, like the inference that the Moon causes the tides: https://books.google.com/books?id=dlRuBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA204

Michael writes: "If I’m wrong and the scientists have figured out how to prove causation from correlation alone, they should share their discovery with the rest of us, because they have solved the problem of induction!"

"Prove" is a strong word. Since all that anyone is claiming here is that it's highly probable that mental activity existentially depends upon brain activity, given the evidence from neuroscience (and other things like behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology), your appeal to the problem of induction misses the mark. Because to consistently appeal to the problem of induction in this case, you would have to say that we don't 100% know that any event causes any other event, like that the Moon causes the tides, not just that we don't know that brain activity causes mental activity. The argument is that we know empirically with the same degree of confidence that brain activity causes mental activity as we know that the Moon causes the tides. Why? Because we know that the Moon causes the tides by the standards of Mill's method of concomitant variation (Mill actually used that example). Mind-brain correlations meet all of the same standards as moon-tide correlations, so if the inference to causation is justified in the one case, it's justified in the other, too.

Keith wrote,

||Yet surely *both* sources of evidence are relevant to whether one's mind could actually survive bodily death intact, no?||

What Kris said. Also, I think we are at an unusual point in history where we believe consciously or unconsciously, with respect to many, perhaps most, of the major debates going on of scientific or philosophical import, that stalemate is the norm and "equal representation" should pertain in a glorious eternal debate, hallelujah. But if we look at history, this really hasn't been the case. For example, we don't today debate whether the germ theory of disease or heliocentrism are true or not. The reason is that the evidence is so overwhelming that these positions are considered prima facie true.

||I'm agnostic about whether "psi" exists. I tentatively presume that it does not until evidence sufficiently compelling to persuade psychologists, cognitive scientists, and the like that is is real emerges.||

Umm, it's emerged. It emerged a long time ago. I'm not going to twist your words here, but take a look at them again. They reflect the sociological reality that, if not you, people like you are not going to believe something inasmuch as the vast majority of your self-selected peer group, your "side," doesn't believe them. And the reason your side doesn't want to believe is for sociological/historical reasons. I won't give my detailed view of the history, but, suffice it to say that in the 19th century atheism became the prestige belief system among scientists, and today in many but not all such circles, it's "uncool" to be anything other than a materialist.

Thus, even though the same level of "just open your eyes, dammit!" evidence for the paranormal has existed for about 150 years, people don't believe because they just don't want to believe. In fact, the evidence has been caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of Christians and atheists not wanting to perceive the obvious because it negatively impacts the viability of their worldviews. That is the only reason why we have such stagnation today. (Creationists don't want to believe in evolution for the same reason; it's not because Christians in general are stupid.)

I think your side can and does add value by challenging us not to glibly ignore the material side of things. I myself find the "brain is just like a TV set!" line of thinking to be simplistic and too easy, and I think we should be challenged to take on and incorporate *all* of the data points.

Nevertheless, it's just boring and tiresome to deal with people who, in defense of an untenable worldview, are compelled to deny, deny, deny each and every phenomenon that would, if taken seriously, destroy it in a puff of smoke. With some sparks thrown in for visual effect. That is why your side doesn't receive--and doesn't deserve--equal representation among people who are willing and eager to explain the actual phenomena at hand.

Eric,

||Things like ghosts/spirits, psi cannot be real until I can perceive them with the 5 senses and measure them along with my peers. Since I (and my peers) cannot use my methods to "prove" spirits and psi, they are false.||

Right. I would say materialism *as it is actually expressed by materialists* (i.e., an explicitly expressed, strong disbelief in a long list of phenomena) is falsifiable, but they will never allow it to be falsified in their own minds (i.e., they are not open to the evidence).

Keith is rapidly beginning to remind me of Earl Doherty. He seems to think making yet another long post saying pretty much the exact same thing he has said for the last 15 years will somehow change things. He doesn't get and never will get no matter how high he stacks his fairy castle of suppositions and how it could have been scenarios that it will never ever be convincing.

That is why for 15 years now Keith has interacted with NDE scholars and so far none of them have come to his position. He has done the same with knowledgeable laymen and none again have come to his position. If Keith was half the rationalist he thinks he was that would have him very disturbed.

I want Keith to think about this. He is arguing with people who have medical degrees and often times doctorates in various subjects. These are all people trained in how to evaluate arguments and none of them find him to be convincing. Not once in 15 years.

Right now on this forum his audience typically has at least a Bachelors level degree. Many of us have more. We know how to use and evaluate facts.

Be us educated laymen or experts we all have a fascination with NDEs etc. If Keith could make a good argument we would acknowledge it. That is how people who engage in academia like we do operate.

I know I have changed my views on many subjects over the years when presented with good arguments. I used to be very right wing. Now I am a liberal. I used to be a member of the NRA. Now I support European type gun control. I was raised Christian, now I am not one. I retired from the military, now days my views are awful close to pacifism. In history I used to think Leo Frank was innocent. I changed my mind when I actually studied the case presented by Hugh Dorsey in 1913.

I used to be a proponent of the Hallucination Model for NDEs. I gradually changed my view to survival because it simply made more sense.

I have no doubt that everyone Keith has corresponded with on this subject over the years can tell a similar story in their lives of how they changed their minds on major issues.

The problem isn't us Keith; it's you. You keep making weak arguments. That is all it is.

Look at your typically weak response when I asked about the life review stage. First all memories are random to a degree. That doesn't make them not meaningful. Secondly you didn't address the problem of why do people report feeling the pain they made others feel? Isn't that an odd thing indeed for a dying hallucinating brain to do?

The beeps from Reynold's ear plugs. It beeped 11.3 times per second at 100 decibels. I tried Woerlee's experiment on that in 2012 and not only did I hear the beeps I could not hear much of anything else. That was simply using ear buds. It would have only been worse had it been with custom fitted ear buds like she used. Yet she didn't hear the beeps but she heard her doctors speak. Exactly what one would expect if her consciousness was away from her body ( after all when my students play blasting music I cannot hear it when they have decent ear buds and they cannot hear me) and the exact opposite of what one would expect if she had simply been aware during her surgery.

Others have had similar results with the beeps. For example Rudolf Smits in a discussion on NDEs let others listen to the beeps. He noted that "I played the beeps at the end of the lecture, and the audience agreed with me wholeheartedly that such highly irritating noise could never be ignored by Pam."

That issue alone hanged Gerry's argument completely. The rest of what I mentioned was just even more problems for your ( his) position. As I like to say that case is not user friendly for your side.


Why do you think that about Ian Stevenson's correlations? You have not read his books. You have no way to know. I strongly suspect you are simply taking the word of Leonard Angel at face value on this without actually fact checking it.

Why haven't you gone on skeptiko despite repeated invites? Chris Carter first told me about that ( he told me some other less complementary stuff too, but I won't discuss that) and I confirmed that with Alex. Here is an excellent venue for you to spread your views before your target audience. I think we both know why you are not going on that show. You don't want to be cross examined.

I have also compared you with Richard Carrier and his Christ Mything ways. He simply peddles his views to the uninformed and has yet to convince the knowledgeable. Much like you. If you are not careful you will go down his path.

This is my last comment to you on this discussion. I am done playing Ground Hogs Day with you.

Keith wrote,

||I'm not all that interested one way or the other in whether presentiment, remote viewing, telepathic twins, dogs that know their owners are coming home, etc. exists.||

You should be. The proof of any single paranormal phenomena, indeed any single instance of a paranormal phenomenon, falsifies materialism. Everything changes, everything has to be reconsidered based on the accepted existence of the new phenomenon, and this will directly impact the survival issue. (My guess is that you actually understand this and are simply saying otherwise as part of your polemics.)

||Parapsychologists will power through these experimental results as if they had never been obtained. Why is that? Why don't such experimental results have any effect on the decisions of psychical researchers about whether their chosen field of study is a worthwhile pursuit?||

I think it's pretty simple. Phenomena exist that require an explanation, and such cases of failure don't cause the phenomena to disappear. You're smart enough to understand that the instances of failure don't prove that instances of success don't exist. For example, people here have consulted mediums after taking every precaution to prevent hot reading and have received readings so strong as to compel the belief in some sort of paranormal phenomenon at work. I myself have experienced such things. Researchers have documented such things. Why don't you recognize the existence of such phenomena? Because you choose to deny them. It's quite simple.

||The argument is that we know empirically with the same degree of confidence that brain activity causes mental activity as we know that the Moon causes the tides.||

It's a faulty argument. The phenomena involved in the moon/tide relationship are conceptually quite simple. We understand the mathematics of gravity almost completely (quantum gravity expected, etc. etc.). There is no mystery here.

We don't know how the brain works beyond some preliminary observations. We don't know how, even if we accept materialism, the brain produces consciousness. We don't understand consciousness, pretty much at all. If we did and the relationships were completely visible to us, then your argument could carry some weight.

That said, we should not allow our ignorance of these matters to encourage us to say, "The brain is just a TV set and consciousness exists completely elsewhere!"

Personally, I tentatively believe in an Afterlife because many different piece of evidence converge upon such a conclusion. It is a reasonable interpretation of phenomenon in which a believe based on overwhelming evidence as well as personal experience.

Keith asserts he isn't given a fair hearing across the Parapsychological community and religious community. I would have to say he is wrong about this. As Michael has mentioned he was allowed to publish his arguments against Nde's in three nde journals. Also, he has been heard before on a radio station that is religious.

https://works.bepress.com/gary_habermas/82/


It looks like Keith Augustine is asserting a conspiracy among the vast majority of psychical researchers. It probably leaves Keith very dumbfounded to wonder why so many psychical researchers have accepted the evidence for survival. Split brain experiments have been often assumed to be evidence that their are two separate consciousness when you split the brain. However, recently a new study casts major doubt on that interpretation.


http://www.uva.nl/en/content/news/press-releases/2017/01/split-brain-does-not-lead-to-split-consciousness.html

The experiments you mention Keith on direct tests for survival you seem to be nitpicking ignoring inconvenient experimental evidence like the cross correspondences, book tests and newspaper tests , drop in communicators etc. We know that the communication is not easy over on the otherside. Why would it be?. Of course, materialist's will say if their really is an afterlife the conditions for communication from this reality to their reality should be good. But thinking about it why would it be?. This would explain failed experiments. This of course would not be a logical answer for Keith and other naturalists. The fact that most psychical researchers consider now only Survival v.s Super Psi as the real debate should speak volumes that naturalist explanations have been carefully ruled out as well as the extinction hypothesis.

I have to wonder something though. If it is so important to always get both sides of the issue of survival so much so that Keith feels he should be a resident skeptic for various parapsychology journals how come Keith and other contributors didn't invite parapsychologist contributions to their tome Myth of the Afterlife. Double standard?? Surely not!!

You’re wasting your time with Keith Augustine. As they say, follow the money as to why he’s doing it. He’s been avoiding the issues for years. Chris Carter demolished him.

"The argument is that we know empirically with the same degree of confidence that brain activity causes mental activity as we know that the Moon causes the tides."

That is true, but it does not imply that consciousness disappears when brain activity disappears. Why? Because while we are living biologically, our consciousness is maintained by the brain, but with bodily death, our consciousness is maintained by a cause unknown to current science, call it the etheric body. Is this comparable to the idea that God created
in a direct way fossils? No, because this idea lacks independent support, instead the idea of the astral or etheric body has support in some OBEs, NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and memories of past lives.

The comments to this entry are closed.