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Great post!

I think your epistemology is sound, Michael.

I think Michael Sudduth clearly has a genius-level intellect but ultimately I think that he--while having many important insights--misses the forest for trees when it comes to the Afterlife.

Michael Sudduth (also my friend on Facebook) was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his book. Which I still have yet to read in its entirety. But here is an insight of his that I think is important:

||More forcefully stated, survivalists have fallen victim to what philosopher of science Elliott Sober calls “lazy testing”:

"The lazy way to test a hypothesis H is to focus on one of its possible competitors H0, claim that the data refute H0, and then declare that H is the only hypothesis left standing. This is an attractive strategy if you are fond of the hypothesis H but are unable to say what testable predictions H makes." (Sober 2008: 353)||

We need to keep in mind that, even as our understanding of the Afterlife continues to evolve based on the evidence, we don't necessary just get to grab everything we want the Afterlife to be simply because we have a substantial amount of evidence.

To give another example, philosophers like Thomas Aquinas would provide many arguments for the existence of God, such as (what he and others perceived to be) the necessity of a Prime Mover. Having concluded that his arguments proved the existence of "God," he would then facilely conclude, with few other logical steps intervening, that this "God" was the precisely the God of the Bible, and thus everything in the Bible was true. Easy-peasy!

That said, the other side of things is that mediums are not these strange, rare people who can sometimes but not often provide verifiable information. Mediums are everywhere. I'm one (of admittedly meager talent), and many of my friends are. I've gotten big hits in my readings, and some readings have been pretty much one big hit. It's not that unusual.

So I have dealt with the Afterlife firsthand in multiple ways and psychic modes (including mediumship, dreams, etc.). That doesn't take away the mystery and doubt, however; in many ways, such experience increases it. But I think people who deal with the Afterlife from a philosophical or scientific viewpoint need to take the fact that such experiences are very common into consideration.


Off-topic but do you believe the davenport brothers were genuine mediums? Michael E. Tymn last month published an odd article on the website white crow books claiming the davenport brothers were genuinely communicating with spirits.

Their life has been well documented in magic literature and they were exposed as frauds a number of times. I left a comment to Michael Tymn but he isn't interested in any evidence of fraud. I am shocked that believers still defend outright frauds, you have called out frauds on this blog a number of times so I was interested in your opinion on the Davenport brothers.

Sarah, I haven’t read Michael Tymn's article yet, but everything I know about the Davenports leads me to think they were escape artists. I believe they even admitted as much, later in life. But maybe Mike can change my mind. I'll take a look!

"In my opinion, this gets the actual situation backward. It's not the case that investigators have added assumption upon assumption as research has proceeded. What's happened is that they've added empirical fact upon empirical fact. "- Michael

I think that's exactly right. In fact I think all of your arguments make sense.

Also, I find the psi/super-psi argument to be short sighted. Sure there are cases where psi occurs and there are cases, like Runki, where the psi explanation seems like a stretch. However, to my mind, if there's psi, then the door is opened to a new paradigm in which we are not mere meat robots; rather, first and foremost mental/consciousness beings and far more than our brains.

Of course Sudduth would probably say that the brain alone could produce psi by means of totally physical mechanisms, like a radio transmitted and radio waves, but there is no evidence for that at all. It's just a random non-explanatory speculation that meets certain philosophical preferences.

I read Mike Tymn's article, which is certainly interesting, but it clashes with other accounts I’ve looked at, such as this one:

Mike Tymn's blog post is here:

I’m still inclined to accept the skeptics' viewpoint on this one.

Re Frauds: Read somewhere long ago that the personality type(s?) of mediums (etc!) were such that they, under performance pressure, rather too easily succumb to fraud. To maintain their income/self-worth/circle of admiring clients. I think it was regards the Fox sisters specifically.

Re other mechanisms: I like the idea of mischievous spirits who can do a box of tricks to make all this stuff happen. The Trickster. Tricksters?

Maybe I am close minded on this but I simply ignore the "superpsi" explanation. To me this is clearly a case of it looks like a duck, has webbed feet, and quacks like a duck therefore it is a duck. The evidence all looks like consciousness survives death.

Also accepting the superpsi explanation requires me to accept that the human race has the ability to engage in superpsi but this ability only manifests itself in order to trick the dying ( NDEs), trick the grief stricken ( mediumship) and to trick some children into thinking they are reincarnated dead people. What a useless ability to evolve to put it mildly.

I've always thought that the use of super psi is a red herring. Once you accept that a person can know something at a distance that the brain and body couldn't know otherwise for instance Remote Viewing and any kind of psychic knowledge then all bets are off. We are no longer simply "meatbots." I have followed these arguments back and forth for most of my life and I"m now sixty two. IT used to be "well, esp can't happen at all. The future is fixed and time is and arrow" Then of course the information of the Rhine experiments and SRI and others became well known Psi information became available unless you were simply a strict Pat Robertson version of an atheist and simply denied anything that made you uncomfortable. Then I started hearing "Oh, well ya see it's Super PSI. Yeah, that's it. Super Psi! But, even if you accept super psi you still have a problem making the argument that the brain produces the mind or consciouness. Now full disclosure. I think Michael Suddeth is a really intelligent person and I enjoy being on his friends list on facebook. We have had many interactions where I have been really impressed by his broad range of interest and his ability to at least consider other possibilities. But, I absolutely think he's missing something here. Super Psi is the new sexy for skeptics but honestly? IT still opens up dimensions and more questions than it answers. Sometimes the simple answer is the correct one. If your deceased Aunt Becky told you while out you were dreaming or out of body that uncle jack hid the money in the matress then maybe that's exactly what happened. Especially if you find it.

Finally there is a really good movie called I Origins. AT one point the skeptical scientist says "it's all a matter of mathematics and percentages. Not supernatural." His lab partner and wife says "well, you know if I drop this hair brush a million times and it falls to the ground a million times then the next time it hangs in the air don't you think that one annomaly is worth researching?" That's not an exact quote or dialog but it's close. Really thought provoking movie by the way. It deals with reincarnation but it's not preachy and it's not new agey.

Another point...

Michael Sudduth is in an academic milieu that, broadly speaking, doesn't recognize the existence of the paranormal. Peer pressure is at work. If you admit that psi and whatnot are real, then you are not one of the cool kids.

Thus, my impression is that there is an odd type of cake-eating/having at work in Michael S's work: he wants to address the evidence for survival (i.e., a wide range of paranormal phenomena) more or less without recognizing that these phenomena exist.

Because the flow chart works like this, leading to the two horns of a dilemma:

Do you believe there is any evidence for survival?

No--> You are a regular ol' atheist. How boring. No interesting academic niche to occupy. No book on survival to write--just some basic Skeptical polemics that have already been written.

--> OK. Do you believe that the evidence supports a belief in survival?

Yes--> Congrats, you are one of many, many people who believe this. You are not respectable in the academic world, and if you want to write a book about it, well, there are already a ton of people in that market. Maybe try again with your answer?

No--> Well, that's an interesting position to take. You could perhaps carve out an academic niche for yourself with that, and you can also downplay the evidence in the first place so as to, you know, be cool with all the atheists that surround you.
-->BUT WAIT. The Dilemma:

Someone's going to ask, "Do you *really* believe that the evidence that is adduced for the afterlife has any value? Veridical information from NDE's, mediums, etc. etc., crisis apparitions, etc. etc. etc.?"

No--> Um, wait a sec. You said you *did* above. So you're really just an atheist who pretended to take the evidence seriously when you really should have dismissed it like all other atheists do? That's not good. Go back to square.

Yes--> Whoa, wait a sec. Why the lack of enthusiasm and excitement about all the evidence in support of psi and other paranormal phenomena? You should be shouting from the rooftops about the coming scientific revolution, right, because this is REAL, right? Nothing will ever be the same again--right?!?!

That's what seems to me to be the biggest thing wrong in Michael S's... "presentation," let's call it, since it includes not only what he wrote but how he talks about it or doesn't talk about it. Psi is real or it isn't--which is it, good sir?!?!

Michael Sudduth says in interview:

|| I show that the classical arguments will still fail to show that survival is more probable than not, even if we begin with the generous assumption that survival is as probable as not.||

Why is it a "generous" assumption that survival is as probable as annihilation? That suggests he thinks it's wholly unproblematic that the brain produces consciousness. Where are his arguments establishing this?

Anyway, if I'm understanding Sudduth correctly, he appears to be saying that we need to have a prior idea about what actually survives and what abilities we will have in the afterlife realm(s). So, for example, we wouldn't expect to be exactly the same in the afterlife as we were just before dying. I mean, imagine we had dementia just before dying. Would we have dementia in the afterlife too? It would seem not because dementia is a result of an impaired brain. In short, we won't be exactly the same just after death as we were just before death. Another example is would we expect deceased people to be able to communicate with some living people? I wouldn't have thought so.

Now, if all the evidence from mediumship and NDE's match up to what we concluded from such philosophical considerations about what survives and what abilities we should have etc, that would be very powerful evidence indeed! Unfortunately, in reality, this doesn't happen.

Although his arguments have a degree of merit against mediumship, they appear to me to have little to no merit against the evidence for reincarnation.

Elsewhere Michael Sudduth has said this about the reincarnation hypothesis:

||we have no good independent reason to suppose that some or all living persons would reincarnate on earth, much less as humans or with past life memories, congenital birth marks corresponding to the manner of their death in a former life, etc.||

I'll concede he's correct about the congenital birth marks. However, it still remains the case that they constitute compelling evidence indeed if they match up with the past-life memories of that child and those memories have been corroborated.

I do not agree with his other examples. Briefly, if there's an afterlife then I think it is highly likely there is also a "beforelife". I would also imagine the beforelife and afterlife realm or realms refer to the same place or places. Now, whatever process it is that occurs that makes us born on Earth, why would it occur once only? How would souls that have lived on earth be distinguished from souls that haven't yet lived on earth so that only the latter could be born? We would have to either suppose the before life and afterlife realms are different places, or souls somehow become different after being born once so they're unable to be born again. Essentially he's got it backasswards. We need good independent reason to suppose we are always born once. Never twice, or 10 times, or even zero times.

Re: Past life memories. We would have no independent reason to suppose anyone would have past life memories? I don't know why. The vast majority of us have no memories before around 4 years old, but a few people report having memories from birth. Also there's a condition called hyperthymesia where the people who have this condition can remember absolutely everything (or almost everything) from a certain age. The point being there are always exceptions to what we humans can generally remember, so we might surmise that should reincarnation occur a few people ought to remember a previous life. And this is what we indeed find.

I've also written a facebook note on Sudduth's allegation that reincarnation is not falsifiable.

I’m with Kris and Stephen. Super-psi seems, to my simple mind, the last resort for those who can’t countenance survival. An interesting theoretical idea but it seems to me an unnecessarily complex way to explain many psi phenomena. Of course if one is ideologically opposed to survival it’s all one has for for some phenomena.

I haven’t read any of Sudduth’s work so my opinion probably isn’t worth much but reading MP’s summary it is reminiscent of the weaving of cloth from bellybutton fluff which often comes from those who don’t have much practical exposure to psi phemonena: it’s an interesting shade of blue but I’m not sure anyone would seriously want to wear a coat made of it,

It seems easy enough to falsify reincarnation, demonstrate materialism. If not why not?

"No one is ever quite that much in the dark.
Here are some ways you could know if Mr. X is at least a plausible suspect:
Mr. X left the signed confession at the scene
Mr. X left his fingerprints on the murder weapon
Mr. X's monogrammed handkerchief was found stuffed in the victim's mouth
Eyewitnesses observed Mr. X leaving the scene.
You can multiply examples indefinitely."

Herein lies the difference between academics and people that live in the real world (and I don't mean that as an insult. It's a face value statement).

Academics - especially philosophers- get paid to sit around playing fun thought experiments all day, every day. Maybe someone forged Mr X's confession, maybe someone planted Mr X's finger prints on the murder weapon. It could be true after all. There is some level of probability that there was a conspiracy to frame Mr X.How do we know that the victim was even dead? Maybe the death was an elaborate ruse to collect insurance. How do I even know that Mr X is really Mr X? How do I know that I'm even me? How can I be sure that it's really Wednesday?

Since there is some level of uncertainty in each assumption then I don't have a true concept of what valid evidence of Mr X's guilt would look like. In fact I have no concept of what evidence of anything that I take for granted would like. Everything is open to philosophical critique, at least by one school of philosophical thought or another. What would the evidence of one school of philosophical thought's validity over another's look like? What would that evidence look like? Can anyone define that?

In the real world, where huge amounts of money or lives or even the very security of a nation are at stake and depend on decisions based on analysis and assessment of what information is available, such academic "analysis paralysis" is not an option. There is neither time nor resources for perpetual mental games. You assemble the data, validate against other available sources to the extent possible, put all of that against some explanatory scenarios and arrive at a logical assessment and make a decision. As Kris says, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has a bill and feathers, you conclude it's a duck and move forward with that understanding. Sometimes it's a goose - and that's close enough. The real world works pretty well, all things considered.

But I dunno, I've been paid to analyze things my entire adult life and I've never understood philosophy. I go to a medium and I mask my identity and the medium takes on the personality of a deceased parent and tells me very detailed info, specific to me that only the deceased and I would know, I accept that the deceased is still alive, just without a body. After that I have other things to do and think about.

Regarding superpsi? We have to let go of the whole idea of us living in a "separate" universe. There is no separation. People during certain times sometimes catch glimpses of the real nature of our Universe and the hard wiring of their brains allow them to gather information in a nature that not everyone is able to.

As Dr. David Bohm described there is a really deep nature to our Universe from which everything originates. He called these places the implicate and explicate order. Our universe is just a projection from this implicate order.

People who have NDEs oftentimes describe the place they were during their experience in terminology that seems to indicate that the physics of the place they were was very different from what we normally experience here. They say things like "I literally felt like I was the Universe" or "me and the Universe were one" or "I simply had to think about a subject and I knew everything about it." "All knowledge" simply because they were connected to the whole instead of the part like we are here. Mark Horton in his NDE description said "I was unique but I was the tiniest part of the whole."

Excerpt from Michelle M's NDE description, "I remember understanding the others here, as if the others here were a part of me too. As if, all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was - gosh this is so hard to explain - it was as if we were all the same. As if, consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be as if all things are all different parts of the same body, so to speak."

Our whole concept of the nature or physics of where we currently live is entirely wrong. Things are not as they seem. Writers often times get ideas for stories in their sleep. Some writers took drugs which shut down the parts of their brain that keeps us from seeing things as they really are. I suspicion that is what "Alice in Wonderland" is about. Seeing the whole rather than the part. Our bodies actually limit what is out there which is why many near death experiencers say that they saw "more colors than normal." They were seeing the entire light spectrum rather than just a small part of it. Our vision only allows us to see a small part of the light spectrum but in actuality the electromagnetic spectrum is huge and there is way more to than what we are currently able to see. When you are totally connected to the whole and no longer are limited by the body you will be able to see "all that is" rather than just a small part of it.

Because not everyone is able to experience "all that is" there will always be skeptics who poo-poo these ideas and be unaccepting of the truth. I suspicion that it may be that way on purpose. Just another kind of "duality and separation" for us to experience so that the soul or our consciousness can learn what it means and how it feels to be separate - which is something that may not be so easy to learn or understand in a universe where everything is so totally connected and "one", where everything interpenetrates everything else, so if we want to learn about time and space and separation and being limited by a body, and what "out there" looks and feels like... it has to be done here.

I read an article recently which seems to point in the direction that in actuality everything may be happening at once and our brain or consciousness only tricks us into believing that things are happening in time. In actuality "past, present, and future" may exist altogether. And by the way this idea was proposed by a physicist - not some "new agey" guru.

Regarding Mediums who cheat... Imagine that you are a gifted medium. You actually do catch glimpses of the other side and information really does come through. The problem is that what you see and feel and hear is only short glimpses, and it's not all that clear.

So you want to use this gift to try and make a living and somehow you got to extend out these "Glimpses of Heaven" into 45 or 50 minute readings. How do you come up with enough "filler" to get your $45 or $50 fee? If you just told them exactly what you were seeing and hearing it would only fill up about ten minutes - and the client is wanting to sit in front of you for 50 full minutes and be enthralled and mystified for the full time? How do you come up with enough to fill up the whole reading?

What you do is try and put it altogether and figure out what it means and use whatever means necessary to fill up the time. Some Mediums, who may be real mediums, might resort to trickery to fill up the allotted time.

This reminds me of a sermon I heard one time by a fundamentalist preacher. He was holding up the bible and he said "it's either all true or it's all lies." Well, at the time I didn't give it too much thought because I was mostly there for the social life, girls, and church dinners after service.

But much later in my life I figured out that it doesn't have to be either all true or all lies. Some of it can be real and some of it made up hooey. The trick is to be able to figure which is which. In fact most of life is "some of it's true and some of it's baloney." Historical fiction writers glean a bit of history, names and places and actual things that happened, and then they extend it out and fill up 250 pages so they can sell a novel. The basic story is true but a lot of it is just conjecture. I believe the same thing is what happens with a lot of Mediums. And some of them do resort to trickery - but that doesn't mean that some of it can't be true either.

Frederick Myers, communicating through a medium, said that being on the other side was like, “standing behind a sheet of frosted glass which blurs sight and deadens sound dictating feebly to a reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretary.”

So it doesn't have to be either all true or all lies... it can be some of both.

Art wrote, "Because not everyone is able to experience "all that is" there will always be skeptics who poo-poo these ideas and be unaccepting of the truth."

A good name for such persons is "Flatlanders," and Sudduth is obviously one of them.

"Once you accept that a person can know something at a distance that the brain and body couldn't know otherwise for instance Remote Viewing and any kind of psychic knowledge then all bets are off. We are no longer simply 'meatbots.'"
—Stephen Snead

Worth repeating!

I don’t think Michael Sudduth is opposed to psi. His arguments hinge on "living-agent psi" as an alternative to survival.

Also, he’s not necessarily anti-survival. If I understand him correctly, he's agnostic on the subject.

One question I would ask him is: If the current arguments for survival are flawed because they depend on unwarranted assumptions, what would a better argument look like?

"One question I would ask him is: If the current arguments for survival are flawed because they depend on unwarranted assumptions, what would a better argument look like? " - MP

I'm very skeptical of claims of "ectoplasm", but I'm wondering if there are any convincing cases of ectoplasm being generated. I usually just glance at such claims due to my inherent bias.

I'm thinking that if there good solid cases involving ectoplasm, then maybe that would constitute proof of something more than living agent psi.

MP: "I don’t think Michael Sudduth is opposed to psi. "

You're right; I shouldn't have called him a Flatlander. .But he's engaged in a worse offense, though I don't know exactly what to call it. "Logic chopping"? "Playing dumb"?

Michael Prescott wrote:

||I don’t think Michael Sudduth is opposed to psi. His arguments hinge on "living-agent psi" as an alternative to survival.

Also, he’s not necessarily anti-survival. If I understand him correctly, he's agnostic on the subject.||

Michael Sudduth says in the interview:

||I’m no longer a survivalist – I neither affirm nor deny survival – though I remain open to future evidence persuading me. I suspect that evidence will come from cognitive neuroscience and technological developments in artificial intelligence, not parapsychology.||

So yes, he's agnostic as you say. But this quote would seem to downplay psi quite a bit. No more evidence to come from parapsychology--wha'?!

For the longest time, it was very hard to tell where Michael S stood on survival itself. I.e., OK, maybe it can't be scientifically or philosophically proven, but does he actually believe in it? I read a bunch of stuff online and was able to tease out from what I read something resembling a position. It was frustrating, especially since, you know, his "gig" was the survival thing.

I would say the same thing now about his position on the paranormal itself. I don't see a clear statement on whether he believes any particular paranormal phenomenon has been demonstrated, and in my personal conversation with him on the topic I was not able to ascertain his thought. I find this frustrating as well.

The thing that convinced me about life after death was the corroboration, parallels, and connection between the things Michael Talbot wrote about the holographic universe theory and the things that a lot of near death experiencers describe in their NDE descriptions. The parallels between them just jumped out at me and can't be coincidental. Read the online essay "The Universe as a Hologram" and then read Mark Horton's NDE description. The parallels between them can't be accidental!

The Universe as a Hologram,

Mark Horton's NDE description,

I agree with Roger. He sounds like another “logic chopper (I do like that phrase).

Having been accused of fence-sitting myself, I don’t think adopting an open mind is at all a bad thing but what it sounds like Michael Sudduth is doing is rather more than simply keeping an open mind to me. I am sure it is a genuine position but I can see that this academic style of approach often does not lead to a conclusion but allows for almost any kind of theory however improbable.

I agree Eric that scepticism (in the truest sense) about any psi phenomena that one hasn’t witnessed is perfectly reasonable, however the fact is that ectoplasm and physical mediumship has been widely investigated and there are many reputable people who have seen and touched ectoplasm, if they are to be believed.

It seems to me that physical mediumship does make the super-psi idea look like grasping at straws. Although one may not be convinced of physical mediumship, it’s another thing to promote a theory as though it has been disproved.

"I agree with Roger. He sounds like another “logic chopper (I do like that phrase)."

Another term for him is poseur.

I'm honestly not too crazy about personal disparagement of Michael Sudduth. As I said in my post, he's the rare academic who takes postmortem survival seriously. IMO, it would be better to focus on his arguments rather than trying to analyze his psyche or pigeonhole him as this or that variety of skeptic.

I think the term “logic chopper” is more about his approach than his psyche. To my mind it’s more about his approaching the issue as a philosophical exercise than about getting to the truth.

It’s not uncommon in my (limited) experience where academics are involved and has probably contributed to my own reluctance to make a definitive decision. It’s unsatisfying, to me anyway.

I agree with Paul. It is interesting that neither Michael nor Matt could get through Sudduth’s book. I had the same problem when I tried to read any and all of his writings. In my view Paul was absolutely correct when he said, “To my mind it’s more about his approaching the issue as a philosophical exercise than about getting to the truth.”

I couldn’t agree more. - AOD

I wasn’t objecting to "logic chopper" so much as to some of the other characterizations. "Poseur," in particular, struck me as a bit harsh.

Philosophers have their own way of talking about and dealing with these issues. What may seem like gobbledygook to a non-philosopher (like me) may be entirely cogent to an academic reader versed in this field.

I know that Stephen E. Braude has expressed considerable enthusiasm for Sudduth's book. So it may be the case that the book raises important issues for people of a more academic bent.

Thanks Michael. I’m always a bit suspicious of explanations for psi matters which are hard to follow and conveniently overlook areas of evidence that don’t fit (I haven’t read Michael Sudduth’s work so I’m not saying it necessarily applies there).

I guess to those fortunate enough to have had a definitive experience, such explanations pale into irrelevance. The rest of us are working to get our heads around it too.

I think that philosophers like to hear themselves talk or else they would not talk a subject to death the way they often do. It seems to me that they chew and spit and chew both sides of a question but never ever swallow anything, like chewing tobacco just for the pleasure of it. That is, they rarely come to any conclusion about the current morsel that they feast upon.

Apparently Orville and Wilbur Wright never consulted a philosopher because if they had then they may never have gotten their “flying machine” off of the ground at Kitty Hawk. - AOD

AOD wrote,

||It is interesting that neither Michael nor Matt could get through Sudduth’s book.||

To clarify, it's still on my reading list. I am interested in what he has to say and think the book raises important points.

Michael I really think you put to much credit on this man. My gut feeling is that he is kind of playing with us, and in a sense enjoying that. First he injects the idea that he is a brilliant thinker by introducing an advanced probability formula on the survival hypothesis (originally on Subversive Thinking, then Paranormalia), which nobody could understand or verify and which didn't include a clear description and probability assessment of these so called auxiliary assumptions. The effect of this was that his public was shocked and confused: what are we simple believers in the afterlife to think of this, is he right, is he wrong, what does it all mean, does this brilliant man has a point. It produced a lot of discussion on a lot of websites, all circling around the big question of what on earth does he mean. The next step is that he produces a book which initially cost about $300, not the kind of money the broader public is willing to spend on a book with the potential of undermining one's faith in the afterlife, and so keeping his position of brilliant but unapproachable critic of the survivalist viewpoint. Now in his 'interview' with Carlos Alvarado he gives us some new crumbs of information. First he seems to be moving further away from his old position as a survivalist, and he says that normal evidence for survival isn't relevant for the question of survival, the solution has to come from neurology and artificial intelligence. Meaning, you got to take me seriously because this philosophy of my does affect my own belief system and therefore has to be relevant for you too, and secondly maybe we should look first at what materialism has to say about all these apparent survival stories. And by the way, if you are still interested in my vision you should buy my book, its a lot cheaper now, it's only $90. But still no mentioning of these illusive auxiliary assumptions, or why living-agent-psi as an alternative isn't that appealing anymore. He keeps us in the dark about almost everything he says and seems uninterested in real discussion. It isn't just this book selling scam, which obviously isn't his main goal, but his annoying attitude towards his audience. If I cant trust the man, I cant trust his thinking.

Like virtually everyone here, I have difficulty following Michael Sudduth's train of thought. I presume that Sudduth is trying to shine a light on fundamental problems that a theory of survival must address. This is a smart group of people with, collectively, a comprehensive laymen's grasp of the literature on survival. If we can't fathom his survival slaying argument, then how can researchers without a doctorate in philosophy gain from his insights? I understand that he's addressing a professional audience, but the people who most need his assistance require straightforward arguments that can serve to direct research in more fruitful directions.

In the quest for extraterrestrial intelligence, many scientists consider a radio signal with a pattern of prime numbers as sufficient proof of an alien intelligence. Obviously, astronomers have an assumption that aliens with the ability to broadcast radio signals into space would possess knowledge of mathematics and know the significance of prime numbers as a non random pattern of radio pulses. In other words, some common ground of consciousness must be assumed if we are to communicate with another species.

The vast store of channeled communication from the other side is a far more powerful argument for discarnate intelligences than a lousy string of prime numbers. Unlike aliens, who could have radically different minds from ours, it is reasonable to assume that discarnate minds would be similar to ours.

Why scanty evidence is sufficient to signal alien intelligence, whereas the cornucopia of mediumistic communications is held in contempt, is something of a mystery. I don't think that refined arguments for survival will have much effect. It may require that a few more generations of scientists and philosophers kick the bucket before the air clears sufficiently to see a way through.

Johan G,

Right. I may not agree with each of your points exactly, but there is a purposeful obscurity to his position that I think is ultimately unhelpful.

I doubt he's made any substantial money from his book (which was priced absurdly high apparently because it was from an academic press), but I think what he's really selling is not to the public but to his academic colleagues. Maintaining a particular status and niche within academia is what he does for a living.

That's why what he says isn't really intended to make sense outside that world and, you know, actually address the problems. Whereas Michael Prescott and the commenters here are thinking about these things because we genuinely care about advancing the science and understanding of the Afterlife.

It's a pity because I think Michael Sudduth has the potential to make a big contribution were he to let down his academic guard and play in the mud with us "amateurs."

One can sometimes get access to expensive academic books via interlibrary loan. And big cities often allow one to make interlibrary loan requests via one's computer. The book will then be made available at a local library of one's choice—there's no need to visit the main or central library. Sometimes there is a $5 fee. (This is the situaltion in Seattle.)

Even if we can't say with 100% certainty what evidence for an afterlife would look like, we can focus on the fact that the materialist rejection of an afterlife hinges on the notion that all conscious experience is a product of the brain, ergo the NDE evidence that contradicts this is adequate for refuting that rejection.

I remember reading in one of the later books by Stephen E. Braude, about how disillusioned and outraged he was to discover that his colleagues wouldn't look at parapsychology from a philosophical perspective, but only from an unexamined, knee-jerk, philistine, conformist-careerist one. They had no real interest in truth, just in word-games and one-upsmanship.

Stephen E. Braude has praised Michael Sudduth’s book, so it seems he doesn’t include Sudduth in the category of “word games and one-upmanship.”

According to Sudduth, the survivalist hypothesis has no more merits than the live agent hypothesis, since both are compatible with the evidence and neither is refutable, because auxiliary hypotheses can always be added to explain unexplained facts by the original hypothesis.

However, I think that there are a capital difference between both hypotheses: every time we notice great psychic performance, it is almost always linked to the field of postmortem survival. If everything is the result of the living, why don't they show such power in other fields? Because they can not. The simplest is to consider that there are different types of agents in these cases, that is, the consciousness of deceased humans. What is logically possible to be demons emulating the dead? Yes. What is logically that the subconscious usurps the identity of the deceased? Yes, but
1) none of this is plausible because they are hypotheses specifically designed not to accept a post-life. and
2) there are other types of phenomena such as NDEs and appartions that also point in the same direction about a post-life.

||However, to my mind, if there's psi, then the door is opened to a new paradigm in which we are not mere meat robots; rather, first and foremost mental/consciousness beings and far more than our brains.||

In that I do not agree, we do not know what the brain is really capable of, it is conceivable that due to quantum properties, two brains can be in remote contact, even if the experience disappears if the brain is destroyed; what is needed is evidence that there is experience with a destroyed brain. I think there is, with some NDEs and mediumship, but psi does not imply or make more plausible a post-life.

||Of course Sudduth would probably say that the brain alone could produce psi by means of totally physical mechanisms, like a radio transmitted and radio waves, but there is no evidence for that at all.||

Except for the evidence of parapsychology... I mean, there are the psychic data. Some interpret it as brains in direct contact through quantum, others interpret it as brains in direct contact through quantum and in contact with consciences no longer linked to organic bodies. I acknowledge that the global evidence points to the latter, but it cannot be said that there is no evidence that psi is produced by physical means.

||Once you accept that a person can know something at a distance that the brain and body couldn't know otherwise for instance Remote Viewing and any kind of psychic knowledge then all bets are off.||

How can you know that the brain and the body cannot know that? You cannot, we can know that someone knows something that he has been able to know through known senses, but we cannot know if he has known through some unknown corporeal mechanism, precisely because it is unknown. Now, is there no evidence of that? There is, the psychic evidence itself can be interpreted that way. What is required is evidence of human minds not linked to bodies or brains, psi does not make that more plausible.

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