Monday, August 03, 2009

Survival of consciousness

An excellent resource (articles, course handouts, and powerpoint slides) on survival of consciousness after bodily death, from Dr. Michael Sudduth, can be found here.


10 comments:

mrehayden said...

Wonderful to see regular and interesting posts on you blog again Dean.

Krish said...

Very interesting.

if you have time, check
http://mythoughts-krish.blogspot.com/

Eric Lyman said...

I agree. Please continue!

Patrick said...

Nice web site. Thanks for the link. I will be spending a lot of time on there. One quick point though:

The author suggests that super-ESP is at least equally as plausible as survival when explaining veridical medium reports.

However, an important objection is that mediums actually claim to distinctly *sense* personalities, and *not* impersonal computer-like fields of information. One medium that I spoke to strongly insisted that he can tell the difference between receiving information from a person and receiving information from his computer. I have yet to find any mediums who support the super-ESP view.

Super-ESP is certainly a possible explanation for accurate medium reports, but I don't think it's *as* plausible as the standard interpretation given by the mediums themselves.

anyway, thanks for posting the link. The author strikes me very thoughtful and honest.

- Pat

dawnow said...

Some other objections. What about "drop-in" communicators? Deceased communicators appear uninvited and usually unwanted. It's hard to see how communicators unknown to any of the sitters could give verifiable facts unknown to any living person if they were an artificial construct. The super psi'ers would have to claim that their universal record also deliberately and consciously impersonates dead people.

There is the direct voice or independent voice phenomenon. In the direct voice, the voice was often heard to be exactly like it was when the person was incarnate. Conversations were carried out about things very personal to the sitter and communicator and clearly unknown to the medium. It is very difficult to reconcile the Super ESP or Super PSI theory with the direct voice unless we assume that this "cosmic computer" has the ability to record voices and then carry on conversations.

Dave Smith said...

"However, an important objection is that mediums actually claim to distinctly *sense* personalities, and *not* impersonal computer-like fields of information. One medium that I spoke to strongly insisted that he can tell the difference between receiving information from a person and receiving information from his computer."


I think the problem lies is being able to tell how much of the medium's experience is 'received' information and how much of it is additional interpretation by the medium's own psyche. One of the mind's main functions is interpretation.

dawnow said...

For the super-psi hypothesis to work, the subliminal mind would need not just super esp powers to derive information from living minds and by clairvoyance, but also truly incredible powers of instant data integration so as to credibly simulate deceased personalities not just to mediumistic sitters, but to the conscious minds of the mediums themselves. This latter required extraordinary data processing capability (instant extreme unconscious mentation) wasn't considered by Dr. Sudduth, and it seems to me to weight somewhat against the super-psi hypothesis. In toto apparently an almost fiendish desire and ability to deceive.

Unfortunately that doesn't make it totally untenable. Some data does seem to confirm such great powers and intent to deceive on the part of the subliminal mind when fuelled by conscious desire to produce results. For instance the case of "Philip" where an entirely fictitious personality was developed out of whole cloth by a sitting circle. It eventually responded as if a genuine discarnate personality despite being entirely invented. The circle had apparently, collectively, created an apparent semi-autonomous complex thought form behaving as if it was a discrete personality.

So I guess we just don't know enough to totally rule out super-psi, though I think the data weighs against it by some little margin. I think Stephen Braude came to some such provisional conclusion in his excellent study, "Immortal Remains".

Patrick said...

Hi Dave.

>> I think the problem lies in being able to tell how much of the medium's experience is 'received' information and how much of it is additional interpretation by the medium's own psyche. One of the mind's main functions is interpretation. <<

A point worthy of consideration and one that I implicitly acknowledged by describing the survival view as the "interpretation" of mediums. But my point and belief is that, given that it is indeed the standard (and perhaps only) interpretation given by mediums themselves, it is *more* plausible than the super-ESP hypothesis – which I granted is possible.

I can tell/ feel/ sense the difference between information coming from a newspaper article and information coming from a live person directly communicating with me. Mediums typically report that same distinction with as much (or more) force when they claim to receive information from non-embodied minds/ personalities. The vast majority of (if not all) mediums report this.

They *may* be mistaken, but why should we assume that it is equally plausible that they are? Unless we've had the experiences ourselves, I don't think we're in much position to contradict them.

- Pat

Dave Smith said...

I can tell/ feel/ sense the difference between information coming from a newspaper article and information coming from a live person directly communicating with me. Mediums typically report that same distinction with as much (or more) force when they claim to receive information from non-embodied minds/ personalities. The vast majority of (if not all) mediums report this.

I am not that familiar with mediumship research but I fully accept what you are saying here. However, just because someone has a strong feeling that they are receiving information from a whole personality doesn't make it so! We need to be able to figure this out empirically wouldn't you agree? Have there been any experiments that try to distinguish between the ESP and survival hypotheses?

anonymous said...

The super psi hypothesis has a hard time explaining multiple witness death bed visions. Multiple witness death bed visions occur when a spirit visits a dying person and other people who are nearby also see the spirit.

The last two examples in this article from my blog are examples of this:

Death-bed Visions Confirmed


It's one thing to say a medium is unconsicously using her psychic powers to dramatize communication with a spirit, or to say a child uses psychic powers to obtain information about a putative past life, but it is quite another thing to say some unidentified psychic somewhere is inducing the same hallucination in more than one person.


One of the arguments that drop in communicators are evidence against super-psi is that for a medium to use psi unconsciously to dramitize spirit communication there must be some psychological benefit for them from it. When they seem to communicate with a spirit known to the sitters, one can see that they benefit from that phenomena. However when a medium seems to communicate with a drop-in, unknown to the sitter, it is hard to identify what benefit that could provide. Why would a medium select a spirit unknown to the sitter to "communicate" with? In this case it seems more compelling to suppose the there really is a spirit who has a need to communicate and who is communicating through the medium.

For anyone interested, I have a couple of other articles on super-psi on my blog:


Survival and Super-Psi




Book Review: Immortal Remains: The Evidence for Life after Death by Stephen E. Braude