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 – – – – – – – – Raps Automatism: Table tilting, Ouija, AW Mental Mediums Physical Mediums Electronic Voice/Image Phenomena Psychomanteum Induced After Death Communication Past life regressions • Spontaneous Experiences – – – – – – – – – 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) • 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 • 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 • 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.. • The UVA medium program under Emily Kelly PhD is part of a larger privately funded paranormal program. – – – – – – • 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. • 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?* – – – – – – 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.