Science & the Evidence
for Postmortem Survival
Presentation at the 37th Annual Conference of the
Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies
6/1/12-6/3/12
WILLIAM E. STONEY M.Sc.
[email protected]
571-201-0325
Flammarion 1888
Afterlife Contacts (ALCs)
• ALCs are all human experiences that
purport to be contacts with the spirits of the
departed.
• Sought Experiences
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Raps
Automatism: Table tilting, Ouija, AW
Mental Mediums
Physical Mediums
Electronic Voice/Image Phenomena
Psychomanteum
Induced After Death Communication
Past life regressions
• Spontaneous Experiences
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Raps
Apparitions (After Death Communications)
Death Bed Visions/Communications
Near Death Experiences (NDEs)
Children who remember past lives
Dreams
Ghosts,(location based apparitions)
Poltergeists
Possession
ALCs and Science
• The rapid rise of Spiritualism after the Fox sisters
generated a significant number of serious
investigations seeking to disprove both the spirit
concept and the miraculous phenomena involved.
– These investigations, the high intellectual status of
the investigators and their conclusions have been
virtually forgotten.
• But Mike Tymn is trying, read his The Articulate Dead
and The Afterlife Explorers
• These skeptical investigators were forced to
conclude that the ALC phenomena were “real” &
could not be dismissed as always being the
product of fraud, or bad or imagined observations.
• The number and quality of these accounts are a
challenge to the academic science community
certainly in physics and psychology
• This paper provides an overview of the ALC
family and a detailed look at their characteristics
that should get the attention of the scientific
community
• Note that the above reality conclusions were only
about the ALC phenomena, not about their source
– The big question, spirit or mind, is still with us.
Some preliminary observations
• There are two parts to every ALC
– The message
– The delivery mechanism
• Both are open to the mind or spirit question
– The message to Spirit or SuperPsi
– The delivery to
• Influence of spirit or mind on ideomotor activity
• Spirit directed ectoplasm or Super psychokinesis
• Philip The Imaginary Ghost (a new element)
– A research group in Canada created a story about
Philip and sat around a card table once a week for
four years.
– When they asked Philip questions the table would rap
and/or tilt answers but only to questions that were
involved in the story
– The results have been replicated by several other
groups.
• The Philip type experiments have demonstrated
non-spirit macro PSI and a group invented
discussion both of which must be considered in any
analysis of mediumship
Raps
• Raps started modern spirit communications
• Raps’ signature cannot be reproduced by
any known physical process
Quic kTime™ and a
dec ompr es sor
are needed to s ee t his pic tur e.
Table Tilting - Phil Jordan
Table Tilting
• Table Tilting, developed soon after
the Fox sisters, is still a part of some
Spiritualist groups.
– Some may be due to the ideomotor
function.
– My own half dozen table tilting
experiences could have been ideomotor
however I was never able to make the
table reproduce its movement over the
carpeted floor by the pressure of my
hands
– Phil Jordan is certainly not using
ideomotor.
• The Philip Group and its successors
replicated table tilting
ar e
Q u ic k T im e ™ a n d a
d ec om p r e ss or
n e e d e d t o s e e t h is p ic t u r e .
Ouija Board
•Probably the ALC most people have tried and
dismissed as teenage nonsense
•The movement of the planchette to the letters
could be the ideomotor of the strongest sitter.
–Ideomotor can be directed by spirit or mind
–The ideomotor process cannot explain some sitters
ability to locate the letters blindfolded
•Again the source of the messages (mind or
spirit) can only be judged by their content.
–In my one board experience the message was
certainly from a specific (and blindfolded) sitter.
–Stephen Braude spends 45 pages in “Immortal
Remains” arguing whether the 25 years of Patience
Worth’s high quality literary output came from Patience
or the sitter. He picked the sitter because that required
believing only one miracle.
•Some warn that Ouija Board use can be
dangerous because low or evil spirits may
mentally disturb or even possess the user.
•Has been and could again be used for research
Automatic Writing (AW)
• The communication method most
used by the early mediums
– The number of books that the authors
acknowledge were written by AW is
countless
• However AW is also a proven
secular capability
– A psychiatrist taught her patients AW
and used it to understand their
unconscious.
– The patients duplicated all the weird
writing styles seen in mediums, mirror
writing, backward writing, both hands at
once etc.
– It was abandoned when psychiatrists
found pills
• Since it can be taught, AW could be
one of the best ALCs for scientific
investigation of the spirit or mind
issue
Mental Mediums
• By far the most studied of all ALCs
• Medium’s communications are presented in
four different ways.
– Readings, They see and/or hear the spirit and
communicate descriptions and messages
• The most common in modern times
• Are the backbone of the Spiritualist religion
• Are currently being tested at U of A and UVA
– Trance, The spirit speaks through and moves
the medium’s unconscious body
• Those most tested in the mid-century used trance
– Voice, Spirit’s voice is not the medium’s
• They present a real challenge to science since it
has been shown the voice does not come from the
body of the medium. The spirit’s explanation
involves ectoplasm, another never explained
phenomena
– Automatic writing, Spirit (or subconscious
mind) controls the writing arm
• See previous chart
Historical Tests of Mental Mediums
• Leonora Piper 1859-1950
(Trance)
– Investigated over 43 years by James, Lodge,
Myers, Hodgson & Hyslop (maybe 5000 sittings)
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Gladys Osborne Leonard 18821968 (Trance)
– For over fifty years, Mrs. Leonard was studied
by the best investigators of the British and
American Societies of Psychical Research.
• Eileen Garrett 1893-1970
(Trance)
– Famous for the R101 case (see AECES case 2)
– Founded the Parapsychology Foundation for
investigation of psychic phenomena
• Sophia Williams mid 1900s
(Direct Voice)
– Directed the finding of 15 crosses buried by
American Indians in the 1800s around LA by
talking to the spirits of the Indians and several
Catholic missionaries. (see AECES case 6)
• Leslie Flint 1911-1994 (Direct
Voice)
– Many of his voice sessions are available on the
internet
http://www.leslieflint.com/recordings.html
Contemporary Tests of Mental
Mediums
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There are two university located programs that have or
are currently testing mental mediums
– Gary Schwartz, PhD, University of Arizona
– Emily Kelly, PhD, University of Virginia
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Schwartz tests started in the late ‘90’s
– He used the double, triple blind procedures of modern
psychology to preclude any sensory connection between
the medium and the sitter.
– He used 4 very well known mediums and one other to read
the same set of 4 sitters.
• The average accuracy of the medium’s statements was over
70%
– Academic scientists have ignored the tests. He has
published his studies in 2 books (see refs) but they have
not been published in a scientific journal..
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The UVA medium program under Emily Kelly PhD is part
of a larger privately funded paranormal program.
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Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives
Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)
Veridical NDEs Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs)
Apparitions and After-Death Communications
Deathbed Visions
Psychophyslological Studies of Altered States of
Consciousness and Psi
Other current medium testing activities
– Julie Beischel PhD, Schwartz’s graduate student has
created the (privately funded) Windbridge Institute
dedicated to testing mediums.
– The Forever Family Foundation has been created to spread
the word about communication with loved ones through
mediums
Physical Mediums
• All physical séances (except those of D.D. Home)
were/are conducted in the complete dark or low red
light, providing the strong opportunity for fake
phenomena. There were many fraudulent
mediums.
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The Phenomena: All of the following have been reported
– Raps (that have different acoustic patterns than
normal physically produced raps)
– Levitation of objects, the medium, other people
– Apports (objects transported into the séance from
outside the séance room) sometimes randomly,
sometimes by specific request.
– Playing of musical instruments (no visible hands)
– Movement of light objects (usually trumpets) about
the room rapidly and the gentle touching of the sitters
by them (in the total dark)
– Lights moving rapidly about the room and touching
and going through the sitters hands.
– Materialization of hands of various sizes that felt real
and would simply dissolve if not let go. Hands have
been dipped in wax and moulds made of them.
– Materialization of full people recognized by the sitters,
touched and kissed by them and long conversations
exchanged. A red light or spirit self illumination made
this possible. Sessions with 10 to 20 different people,
from small to large, have been reported.
Eusapia Palladino levitating a table
Engineer Henri Mathouillot
Measuring Table Levitation
QuickTime™ and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Table Levitation
• The previous pictures are courtesy of Walter
Meyer zu Erpin from his presentation “Do
Tables Tilt ,Turn and Float?’
• They confirm the many testimonies of table
levitation by mediums and private circles.
• Object levitation, spirit or mind induced,
directly defies the law of gravitation and would
thus seem to present a pressing challenge to
physicists.
• Table levitation has in fact been measured in
laboratory tests in the 1960s ‘70s.
– Batcheldor got levitations in 70 out of 200
simulated dark seances, some without any hand
contact.
– Collins Brookes-Smith reported 57 sittings with
levitations
– Julian Issacs conducted some successful
sittings but concluded that the long term group
sittings required were probably too
psychologically difficult for physicists
• Nobody has tried since
Ectoplasm
Medium Jack Webber: Use of ectoplasm as
rods to move trumpets. Note that medium is
tied hand and foot to the chair, that the sitters
are holding hands, and that they do not
appear to be noticing the trumpets, probably
because it’s a dark séance
Ectoplasm
Spirit Hand Materialization
Materialization of the Spirit Guide
Silver Belle from Ectoplasm
Epharata, Pennsylvania 1953
Ethel Post-Parrish, Medium
Jack Edwards, Infra-Red Photographer
These pictures were taken in 50 second intervals, using infra-red film.
Eighty-one people witnessed this seance, and some of them even
walked arm in arm with Silver Belle, the materialized Spirit
1. The white, smoky ectoplasm is being drawn from medium,
sitting inside of the cabinet (the curtained enclosure).
2. The ectoplasm coming from the medium’s body forms a “Pillar of
Cloud” from the ground upwards.
4. Slowly Silver Belle sculpts her features into the column of
ectoplasm.
5. More of Silver Belle’s features form in the column of
ectoplasm.
6. The fully formed Silver Belle is now able to speak with the
people attending the séance.
7. Unfortunately, Mr. Edwards had to change film between
pictures 6 & 7. At this point, Silver Belle blesses the people.
Her ectoplasmic form is breaking up. The ectoplasm will
retract back into the medium’s body, however, not all of it will
return; leaving the medium very exhausted. This is why
Joshua did not leave the tent in Exodus 33:11. Joshua was the
medium for Jehovah to materialize and “speak with Moses
face to face.”
3. This type of phenomena is how Moses spoke to God
face to face in Exodus 33:7-11.
The Scole Experiment
A Modern Physical Séance Investigation
• A 4 person (2 mediums) group sat in
dark séances twice weekly in Scole
England from 1993 to 1998
• The séances produced most of the
physical phenomena listed.
• 3 scientists from the Society for
Psychical Research (SPR) sat in 30
sessions
• They stated that”the evidence favored
the hypothesis of intelligent forces…
able to influence material objects and
to convey associated meaningful
messages, both visual and aural.”
• In the same report several SPR
members argued that there were
insufficient controls to fully support the
paranormality of the effects.
Scole Photographs
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Physical Séances Seem to be
Coming Back
• R. Craig Hogan, Ph.D (An Academy Trustee) has
testified on one of the current physical mediums
– “David Thompson has been demonstrating his
mediumship abilities for twenty-nine years …
David’s abilities include mental mediumship,
physical or materialization mediumship with
ectoplasm, deep trance mediumship, and
spiritual healing.”
• I, with my wife and daughter, attended a dark
séance by Tom Morris in NY last year.
– They thought it a total fake, I am on the fence.
– A friend of Mike Tymn was very impressed by her 2
sittings with him in France.
• The Problem is of course the total darkness
• Dr. Braude, (Uof MD) is negotiating with The Felix
Experimental Group to attend part of a séance
with IR equipment.
Death Bed Visions
• The dying often report having visions and discussions with
– Deceased relatives coming to help them cross over
– Deceased relatives they thought were living
– Angels
• Attendants have also reported seeing
– Mists and full body shapes leaving the body at death
(Taken by a French researcher in 1907 three hours after his
wife’ death)
• There are case histories of attendants sharing the visions of
the dying, some having NDEs themselves in which they go
part way with the dying.
– The normal person’s NDE cannot be attributed to the dying
process
• As more and more hospice workers report their observations
of death bed visions the potential is here for a systematic
sustained study updating Karl Osis’s 1977 study
Apparitions, Ghosts
After Death Communications
Ghost of Raynham Hall, Norfolk,
England. Taken in 1936.
Apparitions, Ghosts
After Death Communications
• Seeing apparitions/ghosts is not rare.
– In a recent survey 25% of British adults claimed to
have experienced a ghost
• What the sighting means is the question
– Sightings provide information unknown to the observer
– They have been seen simultaneously by multiple
people
• Very frequent stories
– A deceased person appearing to a close relative at or
near the time of their death (Apparition)
– Many repeated disturbances (footsteps, doors
opening, and less often, figures seen) over months,
years in a single location (Haunting, Ghosts)
• What are people reporting they observe?*
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80% humans, 20% animals (cats/dogs), locations
28% are recognized
33% of the recognized are living
14% of visual apparitions speak
66% of living not in crisis situation
84% Visual, 37% Audible,15% Tactile, 18%
Temperature, 8% Smell
Death Bed Visions (DBV)
There has been one scientific study of this phenomena
Karlis Osis, PhD, and Erlendur Haraldsson, PhD, At The Hour Of Death, The
Results of Research On Over 1,000 Afterlife Experiences (1977)
COMPARISON OF U.S. & INDIA DATA*
Sec ular
M other
Father
Spous e
Sibling
O ffs pring
O ther relatives
U nidentified relatives
Friends , ac quaintanc es
U nidentified pers ons
Sec ular total
% U .S.
2 1 .9 8
5 .4 9
1 7 .9 5
9 .8 9
9 .8 9
2 .5 6
3 .3 0
7 .6 9
9 .1 6
8 7 .9 1
% I ndia
5 .6 1
5 .6 1
3 .5 1
5 .2 6
5 .9 6
7 .3 7
4 .9 1
2 .8 1
2 1 .4 0
6 2 .4 6
Religious
G od or J es us
Shiva, Rama, Kris hna
M ary, Kali, D urga
G od of D eath, M es s engers
Saints & G urus
A ngels , D evi, etc .
D emons & D evils
O ther religious . unidentified
Religious total
4 .7 6
0 .0 0
1 .8 3
0 .0 0
1 .1 0
3 .3 0
0 .3 7
0 .7 3
1 2 .0 9
5 .9 6
4 .5 6
1 .4 0
6 .3 2
1 .7 5
5 .9 6
0 .7 0
1 0 .8 8
3 7 .5 4
Near Death Experiences
Hieronymus Bosch (16th Century)
Near Death Experiences
• NDEs may be the phenomena that allows scientists
to start examining the after life theory seriously
• Veridical NDE
– An NDE in which the patient has an Out of Body
Experience (OBE) during which they see
themselves being operated on, see relatives in
other rooms and hear them talking, see objects
outside the hospital, which are verified by the
people observed.
– Such observations strongly imply the separation
of the mind and the brain.
– There are many such case histories in the
literature.
• The AWARE Study
– Dr. Sam Parnia of Cornell is leading a team that will
be working in collaboration with more than 25 major
medical centers throughout Europe, Canada and the
US
– They are testing the validity of the OBE with randomly
generated hidden images only visible from near the
ceiling
– They will also tape the operations so that descriptions
by the NDEer can be checked
Children Who Remember Past Lives
Reincarnation is the only spiritual hypothesis
that has strong scientific data to support it.
• This is based on UVA’s Ian Stevenson’s 40 years
collecting 3000 cases of children remembering past
lives, mostly in India and nearby countries.
– The data suggest that reincarnation may be limited to
those who die prematurely by accident or murder,
– For many cases the child’s birthmarks are identical to
the physical marks that caused the original death,
bullets, knife cuts,etc
• There are U.S. cases
– Jim Tucker at UVA, is collecting US cases..
– Carol Bowman has written two books of American
cases and has a website. She emphasizes the
healing effects that occur with these memories.
– Bruce Leininger et al, Soul Survivor (2009) A very
convincing story of a father’s 10 year investigation of
his son’s memories of a previous life as a naval aviator
shot down near the end of World War II.
• Past life regressions as proof of reincarnation.
– Rejected by Stevenson because of the suggestibility
factor involved in hypnotism.
• Academic science has ignored the results
– The only current studies are those in Stevenson’s UVA
group that, as was Stevenson, is privately funded
Summary
• There are 19 human experiences that seem to be
afterlife contacts (ALCs)
• All of them have been shown scientifically to be
real events (not always fraud, bad observation, or
imagined memories)
• Both parts of the ALC are open to the mind or
spirit question on a case by case basis
• The Philip non-spirit séance results have made
this discrimination much more difficult.
• Many ALC phenomena violate current laws of
physics and should be studied on that basis
alone. (independent of the mind vs. spirit issue)
– The physical phenomena defy gravity and go way
beyond demonstrated psychokinesis. (Tables
levitate, & spoons bend)
– The communications through mediums go equally
far beyond that defined in ESP experiments.
Concluding remarks
• For some of us, the amount and
quality of the communication data in
the ALCs has proven the existence of
spirit beyond (or at least right up to) a
shadow of doubt
– We should admit that the limits to our
knowledge of our mind’s capabilities
leaves the SuperPsi mind vs. spirit
question theoretically open.
• We need the power and stamina of
university science to really resolve
the issue.
• We ultimately need their statement if
the existence of spirit is ever to be
accepted as fact by the majority.
• Perhaps the Academy should make
the subject of the next symposium
– “The effects on society if the existence of
the afterlife and communications with the
departed were taught in grade school
science classes”
Epilogue
Academic Science Rejects A Priori All Data
Implying Spirit Contact
Academic science has extrapolated the
success of their theories about the physical
world to pronounce that the world is totally
material and works through cause and effect.
Our minds and our consciousness are totally caused
by the chemical/electrical changes in our brains, the
cause & effect clause leaving no room for free will.
But there is hope
The small group of scientists who have
accepted that the four elements of psi
(telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance,
psychokinesis) have been scientifically
demonstrated under laboratory conditions
have adopted William James’ “transmission”
mind/brain theory.
The brain acts like a multi-channeled TV that is
normally set on the five sense channels but can in
some people, some of the time, access channels
that provide information from non-sensory sources
to our non-material consciousness/mind.

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