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One issue with the super-psi/living agent psi argument is that sometimes the "spirits" are wrong and the sitter [at a seance] knows the spirits are wrong.

For example I have had two highly evidential sittings with the one and only medium I've met that was capable of producing awesome results under controlled conditions. I've mentioned this elsewhere on the past few years on this blog. Michael sat with the same medium and was also impressed.

One of the spirits that came through (my father) delivered perfectly accurate highly detailed information about my personal events from before his death and after. It was astounding. So astounding that my highly skeptical wife, who attended the first séance, became an instant believer.

However, there was also a big miss in the spirit's communications that I think represents damaging bearing on Sudduth's argument. My wife and I were breeding, breaking and starting thoroughbred race horses on our farm before turning them over to licensed trainers at the track for purpose of getting them actually racing. Trainers, as a group, are not the most ethical or competent lot. They have a lot of ways to screw you. You've got to be careful trusting them. We had begun working with a new trainer and, by the time of the séance, my wife and I had good reason to believe that he was cheating us and we were on the verge of pulling the plug on the relationship. We could see all of the evidence. We had been discussing that situation quite a bit in the days before the séance.

The spirit (my father) knew nothing of horse racing other than what most people know (horses come out of the gate, run fast, someone crosses the finish line first and gets some money).

We had been very closed lipped at the beginning of the séance because we didn't want to introduce the possibility of fishing, cold reading, hot reading, etc, but toward the end on the hour we began to open up a bit because we had been convinced that we were really communicating with deceased family. So my wife asked the spirit about the horse racing situation. It was just a simple question as to whether or not the new trainer was doing his job. The spirit said he was doing fine and was taking good care of the horses.

The spirit was wrong as can be and that fact became totally clear within a few weeks. Now, the trainer wasn't abusing the horses. He just wasn't getting them anywhere near racing fitness. To an inexperienced eye it would appear that he was doing right by the horses, but a knowledgeable eye would see that the trainer was pocketing money that should have been used getting exercise riders to gallop the horses, get the gate training, etc. The more important point is that, at the time of the séance, neither my wife nor I were thinking anything positive about the trainer. The horses weren't showing the level of fitness and ability they should have been at that point in the process. The medium didn't know anything about horse racing or even, until the question was asked, that we were involved in the sport in any way.

So where did the spirit's mistaken opinion come from? It couldn't have been psi from us or any other living agent - unless the trainer himself was capable of projecting deceptive counter-truth psi into the ether.

I think a study of similar spirit communications would be valuable in putting the super-psi argument to rest. When we have good evidence of real spirit communication occurring, what does the spirit still get wrong? Drill down into that bucket and develop an understanding of the limits of "spirits" and/or psi.

I think that the result would be - as in my case - the readily identifiable mistakes the spirit makes are expected based on the who the spirit is, what knowledge the spirit had in life, what personality features would drive a certain interpretation. Whereas super-psi would not be subject to those known limitations.

We don't study the misses as much as the hits, but we should. The misses can help develop proof and understanding too. We shouldn't be afraid to go there.

And, now that I think about it, the second séance we had with the same medium also contained evidence counter to super-psi. The second séance was a couple years after the first. It involved the spirit of my mother-in-law, who had passed away a couple of months prior. My wife and her mother had a strained relationship because her mother was a very difficult person with some serious character flaws (alcoholism and general wantonness being amongst them).

Like the first séance, the spirit came through immediately, loud and clear. No fishing on the part of the medium, many detailed highly evidentiary statements (the spirits always seem to want you to know it's really them).

The spirit appeared very interested in trying to repair the relationship with my wife. One tactic it attempted to deploy was to convince my wife that they are very much alike. It took half-truths and tried to make a sales pitch using those to make the case. The tactic was obvious and my wife was appalled. It also tried to exaggerate minor points about my wife to become equal to some of her mother's very real inappropriate behaviors. Again, my wife was quite horrified at this slander. However, it is exactly the kind of manipulative thing that my mother-in-law did when alive.

As the spirit's attempts at convincing my wife (and the medium?) of a false reality continued, the spirit began to get carried away and made some statements that my wife and I knew, at that very time, were materially incorrect; meaning the spirit would present information that was true and that the medium could not have known and that was specific to my wife and me, but then add a little twist at the end that was false, but consistent with the case it was trying to make. I'm at a loss as to how to apply super-psi to this instance.

I think that people that contemplate super-psi, etc tend to be those who have not had direct experience with competent mediums and spirits. They are either imagining what these experiences are like or parsing out certain details out of context from accounts they have read.

Once again, I think super-psi can be disproven by carefully examining what otherwise accurate mediums/spirits get wrong.

My biggest problem with " super psi" simply remains that it is unknown to humanity except among the dying or when discussing the dead. How probable is that?

Why would this ability only manifest in such specific circumstances? Why does it manifest in such a way that makes it appear to support survival?

It is just too contrived for me to take seriously.

"My biggest problem with " super psi" simply remains that it is unknown to humanity except among the dying or when discussing the dead. How probable is that? " - Kris

Hopefully not nit picking too much because I generally agree with that line of thinking.

However, I do think that there are ample examples of something like super-psi operating among people who are not dying or dead. For instance, many of us have had precognitive dreams concerning events seemingly unrelated to us. Wouldn't that be super-psi?

In my own anecdotes (up-thread) it could be said that the "spirit" was wrong because the super psi channel had broken down on that particular question (the horse trainer) or that the medium badly interpreted what super-psi was saying.

I don't think that is the case. Having been there, it sure didn't feel that way. Yet the argument could be made. I guess this is what Sudduth is saying (in part). What would irrefutable proof of survival look like? What "proof" do we have that someone can't poke a hole in?

"What would irrefutable proof of survival look like? What 'proof' do we have that someone can't poke a hole in?"

It depends on one's level of skepticism, I think. Someone could ask, "What proof do I have that other people are even conscious? Maybe they are automatons who only appear to have a sense of self. Maybe I'm reading my own mentality into them, or they've been programmed to fool me. Maybe the entire world is an illusion."

Descartes said we can doubt everything except the possibility of doubting. Yet in practice we don't doubt most things. We behave as if the external world is real and other people are conscious beings like ourselves. We can't prove it. Proof doesn't operate at such a fundamental level. We have to start somewhere, and then we can prove things based on our starting point. But we can't prove the assumptions that are the basis of our whole concept of proof.

(Some people claim we can start with axioms that are self-evident and work from there. But this doesn't work, because either the axioms are mere tautologies and lead nowhere, or they are not as self-evident as they might seem.)

When it comes to survival, we can't expect a greater degree of proof than we might obtain when establishing the independent mentality of another living person. If the discarnate communicator can pass something like the "Turing test," then it's reasonable to see him or her as a self-aware entity unless there is a very good reason not to.

"Descartes said we can doubt everything except the possibility of doubting. Yet in practice we don't doubt most things." - MP

Right. That was the basis of one my comments on your original Sudduth Thread. "... 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? ... Can anyone define that? "

I really wasn't trying to be sarcastic. It's my primary criticism of philosophy. It's all ivory tower mumbo jumbo. No one actually lives like a philosopher - not even philosophers - because it would be a paralyzed existence.

The only difference is philosophers get paid to play thought experiments and then go home, have a drink, and forget about it all until the next morning (or next time publish or perish becomes an imperative). The rest of us, who don't get paid to indulge in non-profitable mind games, just forget about it and live a life that makes most sense to us based on our individual characteristics and our communities' needs.

If we are analytically minded, we use logic, past experience and maybe some intuition to more formally assess data and then we choose a path based on our best assessment. I don't think there's really a way for humans to get beyond that level of certainty. Ultimately, faith becomes a necessary ingredient in life.

Interesting post, Michael!

I have an argument against super-psi that is so simple yet fatal to the concept, I'm surprised that no one has stated it yet:

Super-psi, if it exists has *no reason* to present a consistent narrative. Yet we see an incredible amount of consistency in ADCs, etc., as to the nature of the Afterlife as well as (crucially) no endorsement of religions or other traditional belief systems.

If super-psi is truly "living agent psi," that is, originating in some sense in people's minds, then why don't we see the following (to any significant degree):

• Purposely aggressive/negative portrayals of individuals based on personal vendettas, etc.

• Devout endorsements of traditional religions.

• Widely diverse descriptions of the Afterlife.

• Trickster phenomena: combining the truth with absurdities or negative statements so as to sow doubt and confusion about the Afterlife.

• Just plain old inconsistency.

Now, I've learned in life that we can never say that something *never* happens. The point is that ADCs are widely consistent and positive (i.e., the deceased do not come across as low-vibrational entities) and, what is more, are consistent with evidence from NDEs, crisis apparitions, etc.

There is no reason to expect that a diverse group of "living agents" would conspire unconsciously to present a coherent picture that fits the BIG picture. None. That's not how people work.

The other possibility is that super-psi is the product of a singular force. For example, Christians could claim that it's all consistent because Satan and his minions are the ones putting out the ADCs (they really do claim that it is demons impersonating people). This, of course, is not a falsifiable claim. (I've even heard it claimed by Christians that the Being of Light seen in NDEs is actually Satan. Nice that God allows the devil to have such access in our most vulnerable moments!)

Christian polemics aside, the argument that super-psi is the product of a force above and beyond us over which we have no control is simply Descartes' demon in another form. I think that such suppositions universally reduce to a recognition of the fact that *we are not in control of reality.* Which we already knew. Thus, proposing super-psi as an explanation does not actually add any type of information. It is merely calling our position vis-a-vis reality (i.e., not in control) by another name and is therefore void of explanatory value.

It may therefore be rejected on philosophical grounds.

FWIW, I was a philosophy major in undergrad...

Regarding Michael Sudduth's philosophy and those of a similar bent, I think it is absurd and unproductive to talk in terms of probabilities when it comes to foundational statement about the nature of Reality.

E.g., it is absurd to talk about the probability of there being a God. If there is a God (of some sort or another), then Reality is one thing, and if there is not a God, reality is a completely different thing. I mean the sentence, "There is a 10% probability of God existing," seems silly on its face, doesn't it?

I think the existence of the Afterlife is the same kind of thing. If the Afterlife exists, Reality is something completely different than if it doesn't exist.

Thus, as astute and erudite and educated as it may be, I think Michael Sudduth's epistemology is... wrong. Just plain wrong. But it's wrong also for another reason, which I will explain in my next message.

It all comes down to phenomena...

If it were not for the phenomena of NDEs, ADCs, etc., I would not believe in the Afterlife. Maybe, *maybe* psychic phenomena would be enough to suggest that one exists. Maybe I would believe. But if there were no psi in the world? Nuh-uh. I would not.

But there *are* phenomena to explain. Lots and lots and LOTS of them. Mind-blowing stuff. Ubiquitous stuff. Exceptional stuff and everyday stuff. Stuff I have *directly and frequently* experienced myself. I am a psychic, I am a medium myself. Lots of people are. It's not rare. Most people I know who identify as psychic do get contacts from the departed, whether it's because a sitter is reaching out or a deceased person bangs down the door and demands that you talk to a living person on their behalf. (This happens to me from time to time: a deceased person will very strongly insist that I talk to their relative for them, who is a stranger to me. It's hard to know what to do in such situations...)

Skeptics argue against the Afterlife by denying ALL of the phenomena. Every single case. Everything. They know that, if they have to admit that even one single thing is real, their entire worldview is forfeit. They recognize the importance of the phenomena.

So, we have the odd case of Michael Sudduth, who wishes to argue against the existence of the Afterlife but who also doesn't seem to wish to acknowledge the existence of any particular phenomenon.

As I said in the last post, this fairly unique stance may be seen as coming from Michael Sudduth's academic environment, in which he has established his niche as the philosopher who takes the Afterlife seriously but argues against it but who doesn't wish to seem to be the uncool kid in academia who actually believes in "that stuff."

Look, if you don't believe that NDEs and ADCs have produced veridical information, then there is basically *no point* in talking about evidence for the Afterlife. If you don't believe in psi at all, then there is *definitely* no point (one would be left with only a religious belief, such as Christians who believe in Heaven and Hell for dogmatic reasons but who also believe that all psi is demons at work. For Muslims, same thing, only psi comes from the jinn.).

If Michael Sudduth believes in psi and other evidence for the Afterlife, I think a clear statement to that effect is in order. I mean... that's a scientific revolution right there! Awesome, right? Life will never be the same, right?!

I think my point is clear. Meanwhile, we who do believe in the Afterlife *start* with the phenomena, we take seriously the actual *content* of NDEs and ADCs, and we work to put all of the evidence and content into a coherent picture. I think that is good epistemology and good science.

I agree that philosophizing can't provide us with a stable foundation from which to start making sense of the rest. It's turtles all the way down. Or, as Mencken said, "We are here and it is now. Any reasoning [he used a different word, which I forget—maybe "speculation"] beyond that is moonshine."

It's not just a question of estimating the probability of big metaphysical propositions. When it comes to assessing prior probabilities in general, as is done in Bayesian statistical analysis, I am skeptical that the likelihood of these underlying hypotheses can be estimated with any objectivity.

Bayesians insist that such estimates are not merely subjective. Judge for yourself. Here's an online example using a scene in a Star Wars movie to explain Bayesian priors.

//Now we have to come up with an estimate for our Prior Probability that Han [Solo] will successfully navigate the asteroid field. We do have a real problem though, we have a lot of reasons for believing Han will survive but no numbers to back that up. We have to make a guess. Let's start with some sort of upper bound on his badassness. If we believe it was impossible for Han to die then the movie becomes boring. At the other end, I personally feel much more strongly about Han being able to make it than C3PO does about him failing. I'm going to say I roughly feel that Han has a 20,000:1 chance of making it through a situation like this.//

The author acknowledges that this number is "very approximate," and he uses a distribution curve to encompass a wider range of possibilities. Still, 20,000:1 is the estimate he arrives at for the probability of the prior hypothesis in this case.

And to me, no matter how you dress it up, this number is completely arbitrary and subjective. It may well be true that Solo has a better than average chance of surviving the asteroid belt, but any attempt to quantify his special, intangible qualities as a pilot — to express this personal magic in mathematical terms — seems hopeless to me. Why 20,000:1? Why not 10,000:1 or 500,000:1 or any other number? The author says he "personally feels strongly" that Solo can make it. How can this be objective?

In actual practice, the probabilities assigned to priors can be just as arbitrary. Skeptics and materialists routinely assign a vanishingly low probability to the hypothesis of life after death because they "feel strongly" that the idea is absurd. They then perform calculations based on this prior probability. To me, this is a case of "garbage in, garbage out." Putting arguments in the form of mathematical equations doesn’t give them objective validity if the underlying assumptions are based on "strong feelings."

No doubt, very sophisticated arguments can be adduced to defend Bayesian priors, but unless those arguments can be convincingly explicated in plain language, I’m going to remain dubious of the whole enterprise.

\\"What would irrefutable proof of survival look like?"//

In statistics there is a thing called confidence intervals which is measured as a percentage. As in "I have 90% confidence that something of who I am survives the death of my physical body." It doesn't have to be "all or nothing" as far as us believing. In the Alison Krauss song "There is a reason" there is a line in the song that says "I do believe but forgive my unbelief."

I don't believe we will ever be allowed to know 100% for certain that there is a life after death. It is in the "not knowing" that our soul or consciousness learns the things it came here to learn. There is a connection between emotion and memory and the more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates.

If this Earth life is a school, as I believe it is, we simply learn here the things that can't be learned in heaven and one of the most striking differences between "here" and "there" (as described by numerous near death experiencers) are those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness. Which is certainly not something that we routinely experience here. What we do experience here is separation, over and over again.

Can you learn to drive a car without actually getting behind the wheel and driving it? Or ride a bike without actually getting on the bike and riding it? The same is true for a soul learning what it feels like to be in a body and controlling it, or what time and space look and feel like, or what it is like to eat and taste food, or even make love to another person? Watching a video of two people making love is nowhere the same thing as actually doing it for yourself.

From the moment we are born and separate from our mothers till the day we die and our death becomes a lesson in separation to our loved ones we leave behind. Religion, politics, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, language, dialects, wealth, education, social status, looks, the list is endless. Life is one great big long lesson in separation.

And if we knew absolutely 100% for certain that there is a life after death and one day we were going to be reunited forever with our loved ones the death of someone we love would lose a lot of it's emotion. We would know it is temporary and that they'd be waiting for us in heaven. The powerful emotions death evokes would no longer help imprint on our consciousness what it means or how it feels to separate from our loved ones.

This life has to be exactly the way it is in order for us to learn what it is we came here to learn, separation, time and space, being embodied and limited by a physical body, control of the body, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time universe. And because of those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness in heaven - we are not living for just ourselves because on the other side all information would be shared and what I know you would know.

Sort of a grand universal internet that contains everything we have learned while we are here. This is what the "all knowledge" that so many near death experiencers describe. It is a by product of the holographic nature of heaven and the fact that on holographic film all the information is spread throughout the entire hologram with each piece containing the whole and everything interpenetrating everything else.

The physics of heaven is very different from the physics we currently experience here and it is in this differentness that we learn the things we came here to learn - but if we knew absolutely for certain that this life is just a school and that one day we were going to graduate and go live in heaven this life would be just a joke, not something to take seriously, and the emotion necessary to imprint on our consciousness the things we need to learn, would cease to exist.

Bayesian probability can be used to mathematically defend almost anything. For example William Lane Craig has used Bayesian probability to demonstrate Jesus rose from the dead and at the same time Richard Carrier has used Bayesian probability to demonstrate Jesus never existed. Logically it cannot be both so either one of them is full of it are both of them are full of it. Either way it shows Bayes is only as good as the data inputted into it. Basically garbage in, garbage out.

"Why 20,000:1? Why not 10,000:1 or 500,000:1 or any other number? The author says he "personally feels strongly" that Solo can make it. How can this be objective?"

The problem is that the author doesn't understand what he's talking about and is misusing/mis-explaining the concept.

CP30 is basically correct about how you should look at the odds of surviving a trip through the asteroid belt (assuming CP30 is basing his odds off actual recorded past events).

If CP30 has fairly complete and accurate records and those records show 2 people surviving and 7,440 being atomized, then the trend (the prior probability) of surviving the asteroid belt is 3,720 to 1.

In plain language, past experience shows a trip through the asteroid belt is extremely risky and we can make predictions about the outcome of future attempts based on that past experience. Much insurance actuarial work is more or less premised on such a mode of analysis. We even call pricing premiums based off past risk as "experience rated".

Where the author of the article goes off the rails is in his assignment of the probability (or risk) to Han Solo at 20,000:1 because Han is a "bad ass". That is indeed arbitrary and an abuse of the Bayesian approach.

There is no reason to believe that bad-assery is a factor in surviving asteroid belts when traveling at hyper speeds. It's in the realm of magical thinking that it would be. It's pseudo-science.

Now, if you had a larger pool of asteroid belt survivors and you could perform an analysis of their characteristics versus non-survivors and you found that the primary factor driving survivability was bad-assness, then it is possible to assign some expected probability of survival based on Han's level of bad-assness as determined by his score on a proven bad-ass assessment test.

Notice this is all based off real data and analysis. It's not just subjectively pulling 20,000:1 out of the air.

"Bayesian probability can be used to mathematically defend almost anything" - Kris

No. *Misapplication* of Bayesian probability can be used to defend anything and there's nothing mathematical about the misapplication in the least bit.

Correct use of Bayesian probability involves mathematically calculating actual probabilities from actual historic data (example; looking at historic data, aka "experience" concerning the probability of obese white males age 55 to 60, from a certain zip code, having a heart attack can be used to understand the future probability of a risk pool containing obese white males age 55 to 60 from a certain zip code having a heart attack - we do this kind of actuarial analysis all of the time. It's SOP and it usually arrives at accurate forecasts of risks and financial consequences in insurance and other risk oriented business).

Improper use of Bayesian probability, which, incidentally, can be found in some aspects of military intelligence and strategy formation, is simply a bunch of people, often with group think, assigning odds based on their personal biases. Sometimes, the organizer of the exercise will take the average of the assigned probabilities, but, given the prevalence of said group think among career minded conformists and the lack of a large sample that can be statistically analyzed, the averaging doesn't much help. I imagine academics are subject to the same confounds and garbage in/garbage out issues. make this more clear;

Tossing a fair coin doesn't lend itself to Bayesian methods. There's a 50/50 chance of heads regardless of previous tosses. Pure probability calcs on that one.

I over-simplified how we forecast in insurance, but the idea is that it's not a the toss of a fair coin and previous experience doesn't exactly predict future experience. And since we are forecasting future risk (or probability) there are assumptions; the biggest one is that the future will follow the same patterns or trends or probabilities as the past given the same inputs (or adjusting for foreseen new inputs). So there is a Bayesian component, IMO. However, it's based on rigorous analysis of past experience and that analysis is quantified by assigning probabilities actually found in past data.

The guy in the Han Solo vignette isn't doing that. When I was first exposed to that type of so called Bayesian analysis my first thought was that it's just a means of quantifying and simplifying people's opinion. So rather than a bunch of unclear words, we have some probabilities. That does make summarizing a group discussion that much easier, but that's all it is. I still think that is the case. It's just a way of talking. The odds are as good as the opinions of the people involved.

The method does receive a lot of window dressing and glorification, but in my experience, that is from people who are trying to razzle dazzle the ignorant who are attracted to shiny things and afraid to state that the emperor has no clothes.

Michael and Eric,

I agree with your reasoning.

In short, statistics is an appropriate tool for reasoning when one has past data or clear physical principles to work with (e.g., a marble having a roughly 1/4 chance of entering 1 of 4 physically equivalent slots).

It is not an appropriate tool for arguing metaphysics.

Dr. Sudduth has written about the problems of auxiliary assumptions, but what exactly do we mean by “assumption”?

It is typically meant as something accepted as true without question or proof/evidence.

However, that can mean different things. Here are some examples:

a) My assumptions about a colleague’s home, which I have never seen, or heard about. Here assumption would mean considering certain ideas about what my colleagues home is like, are reasonable.

b) Hearing another colleague describe her home, and assuming her description is accurate. Here assumption would mean considering her statements about what her home is like as accurate.

c) Assuming that our senses and minds are working properly and that we are not hallucinating. This is something that philosophers have extensively debated, and this does not seem to be a settled matter at all. On one hand there is no evidence or proof of global deception or misunderstanding, for such deception or misunderstanding would undermine any kind of evidence or proof. On the other hand any evidence or proof presented for the reliability of our senses and minds and the absurdity of deception or misunderstanding must presume the reliability of our senses and minds, we cannot have any independent evidence or proof.

How we use the word “assumption” has important implications for the current debate on survival.
In the last post Dr. Sudduth’s claim that auxiliary assumptions are being used to bulk up the survival hypothesis was disputed with the response:

“ 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.”

Dr. Sudduth may respond that that though mediums , and experiencers of NDEs have produced veridical information, considering them trustworthy on the question of survival and the afterlife and considering their description of surviving minds and the afterlife as reliable are also assumptions.

Again, the way the word “assumption” is used is an important consideration for it determines how we distinguish empirical facts from assumptions, or whether we could make that distinction.

If we use the word “assumption” in a broad way then much of what we accept as empirical fact would be considered as assumptions.
The existence of the sun would be considered as an assumption if the reliability of our senses is considered an assumption.

The survivalist position depends on the acceptance of the testimony of mediums and experiencers of NDEs, as well as taking certain things at face-value. These may be called “assumptions” but they are different from the kinds of assumptions used by proponents of living agent psi which seem at least to me as speculation and conjecture.

I for one cannot accept Dr. Sudduth’s approach of evaluating evidence and his concern on auxiliary assumptions, without having clarification on how the word “assumption” is used. The reason being that I cannot know what exactly his approach is in the first place.

"Let's suppose that Pr(DMAX/S&K) = Pr(DMAX/C&K). That is, the predictive power or likelihoods of S and C are equivalent. The survival hypothesis might still have a greater posterior probability than C (maybe even be more probable than not) if its prior probability is greater, especially if the prior probability is much greater. From a Bayesian viewpoint, if Pr(e/h1&k) = Pr(e/h2&k), then Pr(h1/e&k) > Pr(h2/e&K) just if Pr(h1/k) > Pr(h2/k)...."

McLuhan is correct in his critique of the above, IMO, but I think there's another meaningful critique of the same statement.

This section -"That is, the predictive power or likelihoods of S and C are equivalent." - is a big analytical no no.

More directly to the point, Sudduth is apparently saying that super psi = S has equivalent predictive power as life after death =C with regards to claims of spirit alleged communication.

Collinearity and multicollinearity are at issue here; meaning one predictor variable in a multiple regression model can be linearly predicted from the others with a substantial degree of accuracy. S and C must be truly independent (and not collinear) for the statement to be true.

An illustration is as follows;
Including both height =S and shopping at the mens' "big and tall" shop (yes/no) = C, in an equation designed to predict success at playing pro basketball. Shopping at the big and tall shop is likely a good proxy for height. With Sudduth's Bayesian logic he could come to the conclusion that shopping at the big and tall mensware store is the key to predicting success at pro basketball because it's equally predictive as height. Of course, we all know that is actually height that is driving the success (along with other truly independent variables that may be in the equation).

So the Bayesian argument, as a general rule is wrong.

Also, Sudduth is equating predictive power with causation. In other words he is making the old mistake of correlation being the same as causation. Amateurish!

Getting back to the question of does Sudduth know that S and C aren't collinear?

How does Sudduth know that super psi and spirit communication aren't collinear?

Spirits are not talking using their mouths. The spirit explanation has spirits using psi and they seem to be able to "mentally" pop up pretty much anywhere, just as super psi would. If there is a vast mental network of psi, then surely spirits, if real, exist within it. In fact, they would be inseparable from it.

Conversely, if there is psi and super psi, then we are entities that exist in extended consciousness as much as we are entities that exist in - or as - a limited physical body, which reasonably should lead one to assume that we are more than our brains and probably something like a spirit that survives death exists in this mental network.


So spirit and survival could be like "height" in the basketball success prediction and super psi is like the big and tall mens' store.

I kind of think that Sudduth recognized this problem at least a little and that is why he cooked up the very loose Bayesian prior probability amendment to the first part of the argument, that McLuhan addresses.

Of course I haven't read the book. So I'm speculating as to what the complete argument is.

Some things don't easily lend themselves to science or calculating statistically if they are true or not. Dr. Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona did all kinds of readings with mediums and some of them were pretty impressive but that still wasn't enough to convince the skeptics in the reality of life after death. I'm pretty sure there isn't anything that would convince them of life after death unless it was their grandmother coming back from the dead and slapping them upside the head.

It is quite difficult to get humans to come to a consensus on pretty much anything. It just doesn't seem to be in our nature. My grandfather never believed that men landed on the moon. He was born in a small village in what is now Poland in 1888 and died in 1977. {smile}

Not obsessing, just having fun thinking about this topic....isn't Sudduth making the assumption (consciously or unconsciously) that super psi is by nature prone to telling specific lies? To wit, super psi can produce very accurate knowledge of events unknown to the medium and, sometimes, unknown to the medium and the sitter. Yet it has the peculiar tendency to lie about its identity.

Why deliver all kinds of detailed facts and then be deceptive? Why claim that it's your deceased loved and [usually] that still loves you and watched over you? Why the charade? And why the Charade with regards to that one aspect of delivered information? Why go to such lengths to prove that it is a deceased loved one?

Sudduth must assume (a prior probability) that it is highly likely that super psi seeks to deceive us. Does he recognize that?

My Bayesian estimate says that is a low probability BS.

\\"Why the charade?" - Eric//

Uh? Because you're taking people's money and you got to give them their money's worth? You may be getting bits and pieces of information but you got to fill up 50 minutes or so in order to give their money's worth? It's not like a telephone conversation where you just dial a number and someone picks up on the other end?

Yes, some of it is absolutely real... bit hits but then there is dead silence for the next 20 minutes so you got to come up with something to fill the waiting?

It's sort of like writing a historical novel. Your publisher says you got to fill up 200 pages but all you got is 25 pages of research from the library on some historical person you got to make up stuff to fill the rest of the pages. It's the same thing with Mediums. Yes, some of it real and they are getting visions and big hits but it's not enough to fill up the entire time so they got to say stuff to fill the rest of the reading.

So like everything else in life... some of it's real and some of it's made up on the spot.

Art, I think you’ve misread Eric's comment. He’s not talking about dishonest mediums. He’s asking why the faculty of super-psi would go to such lengths to convince us that we're in touch with the deceased (whether via mediumship, NDEs, apparitions, or whatever).

Assuming that super-psi operates at an unconscious level, we would have to believe that our unconscious mind and the unconscious minds of others are all in collusion (so to speak) to fool our conscious minds. The super-psi hypothesis seems to require intentionality on the part of the unconscious not only to pull in information from various sources but also to disguise those sources by masquerading as something else entirely.

For instance, the super-psi hypothesis would claim that when we see dead relatives in a deathbed vision or NDE, we are only fooling ourselves by manufacturing a convincing illusion. Any veridical information we might obtain (e.g., if we didn’t know in advance that a particular person was actually dead) would be chalked up to clairvoyance, telepathy, or precognition.

The "charade" in question isn’t the trickery of mediums who use cold reading and other gimmicks to augment their psychic powers (if any), but a much more elaborate charade supposedly put on by the unconscious mind of anyone who experiences an after-death communication of any type. And since thousands of such ADCs have been experienced, we have to imagine a charade of truly cosmic proportions.

This seems like a "low probability hypothesis" to me.

Michael Prescott said:
||"Skeptics and materialists routinely assign a vanishingly low probability to the hypothesis of life after death because they "feel strongly" that the idea is absurd. They then perform calculations based on this prior probability".||

I think this is the key point. So long as a life after death is regarded as being an extraordinary claim, then NDE's, past life memories etc will be disregarded. Skeptics regard the survival hypothesis as an extraordinary one because of the mind-brain correlations. But I have argued that these correlations simply do not have the consequences they assume. I argue about this in the following blog post:

That’s extremely succinctly put, Eric and Michael - thank you.

Michael Prescott said:
||"Skeptics and materialists routinely assign a vanishingly low probability to the hypothesis of life after death because they "feel strongly" that the idea is absurd. They then perform calculations based on this prior probability".||

About 15–20 (??) years ago I subscribed to the Skeptical Inquirer, to see what the other side was up to. I remember an article, one perhaps even written or endorsed by its editor, claiming that Bayesian statistics could and should be used to dismiss proofs of psi based on ordinary statistics. For instance, where Sheldrake and others using his procedure have found that, say, persons having a sense of being stared at are correct at a rate exceeding chance, the SI article claimed that, because this result was supernatural and thus impossible, it would be better to use Bayesian statistics loaded with a huge negative "prior" value to debunk it.

What a preposterous, low-road bunch those capital-S Skeptics are.

\\"Art, I think you’ve misread Eric's comment. He’s not talking about dishonest mediums. He’s asking why the faculty of super-psi would go to such lengths to convince us that we're in touch with the deceased (whether via mediumship, NDEs, apparitions, or whatever)." - Michael Prescott//

Excerpt from Michelle M's NDE: "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."

Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE: "I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole."

They say things like "I literally felt like I was the Universe." Or "me and the Universe were one."

When ya'll are talking I get the feeling you really don't understand the implications of the interconnectedness of a holographic Universe and what it means? You're stuck in separation mode thinking. Super psi and life after death and survival is all the same thing. You gotta let go of thinking about our universe like we are separate. We're not. It's all an illusion. Where we are now is an illusion.

I just got done reading an NDE of a woman that freaked out when she was told on the other side that this side is just an illusion, a cleverly projected illusion from someplace else. I have read so many NDEs that say exactly the same thing and that is also what the holographic universe theory and quantum physics seems to imply and consilience (which I learned about on this blog) tells me that if a whole bunch of different sources all agree it is probably true.

I keep saying that near death experiencers oftentimes describe a universe where everything is interconnected and "one" and when we get to the other side we will be separate and connected at the time. Mark Horton describe it as "I was unique but I was the tiniest part of the whole." It's liked we will have the internet downloaded into our mind and whatever we focus our attention on that is what we will experience.

The physics we normally experience here is totally different from what we will experience there. The separation we experience here simply doesn't exist on the other side.

If we are experiencing "the other side" then it's not like picking up a telephone and dialing somebody's number. That just doesn't translate to the physics of heaven. You have access to all knowledge because your mind or consciousness is connected to "all that is."

Heaven is the original holographic film that our universe is projected from. Past, present, and future exists all at once. Everything that is here exists there. We experience there whatever we focus our attention on is what we will experience. Not just on the Earth but the entire Universe, and maybe even the multiverse?

There would still be a difference between postmortem survival and super-psi, even if everything is interconnected. Postmortem survival means the persistence of the individual mind after death, while super-psi means (or is usually interpreted to mean) the extinction of the mind at death. In super-psi the telepathic impressions are obtained only from the living, not the deceased. This is why Sudduth calls it living agent psi. In this view, the departed have ceased to exist, so they cannot communicate with or influence anyone.

Incidentally, most NDEs, OBEs, deathbed visions, mediumistic communications, and past-life memories don’t involve an overwhelming sense of cosmic connectedness. You can find such cases, but they’re pretty rare. Jenny Wade makes this point in "Changes of Mind," when she observes that most NDEs represent a disappointing climbdown from the exalted visions of cosmic consciousness reported by some mystics. Most likely, the reason is that our state of mind at least in early postmortem stages is not much different from the level of development we attained while incarnated. It appears there’s no free lunch even in the hereafter — we don’t magically achieve cosmic consciousness when we cross over, any more than we effortlessly achieve knowledge and wisdom here on earth.

I like the analogy that likens reality to a woven carpet or a fabric in which each consciousness is like a thread incorporated into the whole. The carpet would not be complete without that thread and some threads are very similar and others are quite different but they are all part of the whole carpet and each is a necessary part of the whole design. - AOD

||"I like the analogy that likens reality to a woven carpet or a fabric in which each consciousness is like a thread incorporated into the whole." - AOD||

Two more NDE descriptions about interconnectivity of the other side....

Excerpt from Kelly K's NDE description, "The next thing I recall was being shown the universe. I remember thinking, 'So, THAT'S how it is!' I was in awe. It was like a huge net, or chain-link fence, everything in the universe is connected."

and from Victor Solow's NDE:
"The last impression I can recall lasted a brief instant. I was moving at high speed toward a net of great luminosity. The strands and knots where the luminous lines intersected were vibrating with a tremendous cold energy. The grid appeared as a barrier that would prevent further travel. I did not want to move through the grid. For a brief moment my speed appeared to slow down. Then I was in the grid. The instant I made contact with it, the vibrant luminosity increased to a blinding intensity which drained, absorbed and transformed me at the same time."

And I think Mark Horton says it best in his NDE description...

"I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole."

||But there *are* phenomena to explain. Lots and lots and LOTS of them. Mind-blowing stuff. Ubiquitous stuff. Exceptional stuff and everyday stuff.||

Well, it doesn't seem to me that psychic phenomena are so widespread. When is the last time you observed a news about psi in the news? I live in Spain and I don't even remember one news about psi on TV. I am not medium and I think I have never had psychic experiences. Then there is the post-life question, which is different, as I commented. We may all be psychic, but if so, why psi is not as seated as the genes or the nuclear energy.

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