What happens to us when we die?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.

Post Number:#61  Postby Pathfinder » July 28th, 2010, 11:36 pm

We can only suppose about the afterlife.

My supposition is that there is no such thing as self, and therefore an afterlife of a self is moot.

However there is such a thing as human consciousness, and I suppose that it is this human consciousness that holds the key to evolution, reincarnation and life itself.

I think that after considering all of the dynamics and sticking to rational logic, one can suppose that consciousness evolves through the experiences it is subjected to from one incarnation to another.

When one comes to an understanding of what the awareness of self and identity really is, they can then begin to consider the possibility of an evolving consciousness that is the reality of what they are in any given span of life.
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Post Number:#62  Postby Pathfinder » July 28th, 2010, 11:39 pm

We can only suppose about the afterlife.

My supposition is that there is no such thing as self, and therefore an afterlife of a self is moot.

However there is such a thing as human consciousness, and I suppose that it is this human consciousness that holds the key to evolution, reincarnation and life itself.

I think that after considering all of the dynamics and sticking to rational logic, one can suppose that consciousness evolves through the experiences it is subjected to from one incarnation to another.

When one comes to an understanding of what the awareness of self and identity really is, they can then begin to consider the possibility of an evolving consciousness that is the reality of what they are in any given span of life.
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Post Number:#63  Postby Zewpals » July 30th, 2010, 10:43 am

Sorry for the length haha. I just wrote this for myself pretty much but if anyone is curious on what I believe happens in death feel free to read on.

I take a Monistic stance and try to explore death entirely psychologically, even though I've never even picked up a psychology book or taken a class on it. The two illogical assumptions I make are 1) The "self" is not material, where material is defined as something with mass and 2) Immediately after death, the non-material "self" is not affected. From those assumptions, I try to logically (very loosely, I would not debate this way) assess what happens to the non-material "self" without a body.

My beliefs...

I believe that what happens in death is unknowable. However, my pan-en-theistic belief system certainly allows for some variation of what could be called an afterlife, more or less. I believe that God is everything in existence and every one of us is a part of God. I'll try to explain what I currently believe happens in death...

Imagine a big bubble around the universe (aka God). Everything inside is everything that ever has, does, or will exist. Also, imagine our "selves" (anything with a conscience) as inside this big bubble, but each "self" has its own little bubble and is still apart of God, but "bubbled" off. While we are alive, this bubble will always be closed, because our senses ground us into our bodies, which fuel the wish to satisfy desire. Some individual are more or less "grounded" than others, but only enlightened individuals are exempt (though I believe no person has ever really been enlightened in life). Everyone can make their bubbles more "transparent" to the rest of the universe and allow permeation to varying degrees.

When we die, our bodies perish but our "selves," or souls, go on. Our bubble around our "selves" persists. It will be similar to when someone takes their first step out of the cave and they are blinded by the light and cannot recognize or identify with anything. The immediate difference between life and death will that we will be stripped of our worldly senses. Our driving motivator, desire, however, will persist. Our egos, ids, and superegos will all further play a part in progression in death.

The id, as ruled by pleasure and pain, still wants to achieve pleasure and get rid of pain and still strives to do so. The superego still tries to provide the "self" with a sense of right and wrong and will oppose any unacceptable desires of the Id, as if life goes on. The ego, as the center of thought, judgment, and the mediator between the id and the superego, still tries to please both the id and the superego.

So, in this scenario, death seems to be the exact same as life, but without a body to inhabit. Let us explore how the "self" would function without a body...

Since our body provides us with senses that can be chemically stimulated, our Id drives to maximize these stimulations that make us "feel good." There is no body in death, hence no senses to satisfy. The Id, although it still desires to obtain pleasure and avoid pain, has no methods of doing so, as pleasure and pain are only felt with the presence of a body to feel them. The superego, although it still desires to punish or reward the self for certain "rights" and "wrongs" also has no method of doing so without a body. Both the Id and the superego will not give up their roles as long as the self exists.

The ego, however, is what changes. Normally a slave to both the id and the superego, the ego finally can transcend itself. At first, it will act normally as it did in life. However, over time, it will eventually identify that being dead and being alive are different. The "rules" are different, so-to-speak. The ego will, over time, identify its self-defense mechanisms that it used in life, such as denial, fantasy, and suppression. Further over time, the ego will identify that there is virtually no way to please either the id or the superego; and as a result, the ego will come to realize that these self-defense mechanisms are useless.

Once these have been identified as useless, the ego can begin to explore the entire conscious and subconscious mind. Conscience and Subconscience become one entity. The go can then begin to let go of the self-defense mechanisms, and when it desires to do so, it will. In the middle of this process the ego may not want to let go of a particular self-defense mechanism, because it identifies this mechanism with the self. However, given time, the ego will let go of these mechanisms, as reasoning only points towards this direction. This is a one-way process, because it is the only logically sensible one since emotions no longer have a voice in reasoning. In life, we can identify and let go of self-defense mechanisms against the Id or superego, but they can also redevelop, because our bodily senses allow for reasoning to do so. Without a body, it is an impossibility to rebuild or formulate new mechanisms that the self can identify with.

In life, if all mechanisms were let go, the ego would be entirely vulnerable to the demands of the Id and the superego. This is noticeable in babies who are simply little ids that have not developed superegos or an ego that that is capable of defense of either part of the self. In death, after self-defense mechanisms have been let go of, the ego can no longer identify with a "self." The ego can no longer identify with the id and the superego and the "bubble" around the self becomes entirely unraveled, as self-identification is no longer important to the ego.

What happens to the ego, id, and superego after the bubble is entirely unraveled? No, they just "are," like everything else. The id no longer has a "self" to desire for, so it just "exists" without desire. The superego has no self to correct, punish, or reward, so it just "exists" without this desire. The same goes for the ego. All three become truly self-aware, instead of identifying with a single "self", of what they really are: one with God, the universe, and all existence. The individual "self" has not gone away; it has just "spread out" as a sand castle does when the tide moves over it. Who knows exactly what this entails? This theory of death draws no conclusion that paranormal activities cannot be caused by those who are dead.

Also, not everyone follows the exact process above to the same degrees. Ever "self" is different and has different self-defense mechanisms going into death and may want to hold on to life and refuse to recognize their death. But eventually, all "selves" converge to one ending. In a way, those who are "evil" will have more difficulty reaching this convergence than those who are "good."

What the beauty about this outlook on death is, though, is that death is just another path that everyone takes. The journey doesn't end after life. Our journeys continue in death and will still continue after we have unraveled our bubbles. If God and the universe cease to exists, then we will meet our true ends. But mass-energy balances dictate that matter (not material) must be maintained and cannot be created nor destroyed =D. Nothing to worry about =D.


__________________________________________________________________
Afterlife has not been proven (irrelevant of everything above)


First off, I am inclined to believe that all assertions made that state that an afterlife must exist are fallacies. The "scientific" evidence for an afterlife only provides identification of paranormal activities, not explanations for them. Therefore, assuming that these "scientific" studies are proper and from a trusted source, the only thing that we can derive is that paranormal activities exist. And again, paranormal just implies that we cannot find a pattern and thus rendering a particular event "abnormal." So, God, Zeus, the flying spaghetti monster, and werewolves are all "paranormal" phenomena that may or may not actually exist as we portray them. Once a knowable pattern is found, paranormal entities become normal. Therefore, talking to the dead is nothing more than an observation that particular individuals have made, whether true or false or properly or improperly identified. Science, normally, can be observed by anyone with the proper equipment and knowledge. These paranormal phenomena provide absolutely no pattern to properly observe and therefore have been identified, but not explained. The identification of these paranormal activities can be verified, but their true nature cannot.

So...rationality of an afterlife is only applicable to those who have directly experienced such paranormal phenomena that hint towards an afterlife. Also, talking to what one believes to be a ghost does not actually mean that person is talking to a ghost. It is no more logical to assume that one is communicating with someone who has died than communicating with someone that has not even been born yet.
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Post Number:#64  Postby Meleagar » August 2nd, 2010, 10:14 am

Once again, science has demonstrated the existence of an afterlife for 150 years. One need not have an explanation for a thing to prove scientifically that it exists - such as gravity, for example, or the fact that washing one's hands reduces the incidence of disease when performing surgery.

Whether or not it has been "proven" depends on the individual who is assessing the evidence available.
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Post Number:#65  Postby Demystified » September 5th, 2010, 1:30 am

You become food for worms and maggots.

Your bodily fluids replenish nearby plants.

Your body decomposes and becomes new top soil.

If your cremated none of the above. You just poof in a cloud of smoke.

If your buried in a casket who knows how long your remains will be in it before it is destroyed. Who knows what the decomposition rate of a funeral casket is these days. At any rate in a casket I imagine your body might be mummified if it was air tight but then again if wasn't air tight you just would be left with a funeral suit and skeletal bones overtime.

That's why I think you should look fantastic and sauve on your final last day so if somebody digs you up they will say to themselves that skeleton is wearing a really nice suit. :lol:
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Post Number:#66  Postby Persecrates » September 5th, 2010, 1:54 am

Meleagar wrote:Once again, science has demonstrated the existence of an afterlife for 150 years.


Is that so, now?
I suppose you speak of NDE, and the only think they prove is that your brain keep on functionning for minutes after being declared dead.
You're confusing, "being medically declared dead" and being actually dead.

One need not have an explanation for a thing to prove scientifically that it exists


That's a new concept... But even some scientists (physicists and all users of probabilities and statistics in place of actual causes) support this stance now... So, I guess I understand why you jump on such claim and make them your truth.
You're right why bother trying to find the causes of phenomena?..
The only problem is that it's not science anymore.


such as gravity


Gravity is anything but proved, you're right and that's why we can assert it's not a scientific "theory", it's not even a scientific hypothesis since we still didn't find any trace/evidence for the existence of gravitons...

or the fact that washing one's hands reduces the incidence of disease when performing surgery.


This is proved and easy to understand.
By washing your hands you get rid of the bacteria/microbes/viruses on it... So, there are less likely to transfer on the body of the patient.
Don't know that?

Whether or not it has been "proven" depends on the individual who is assessing the evidence available.


Subjective reality, huh? Nothing is objectively true nor false, right nor wrong...
So, you're defending subjective moral/ethics now?
All choices/beliefs are dependent on the individual who is acting upon them?

@Demystified:

I agree completely.
Their delusion or desire of immortatility has no impact on 'reality'.
I don't know if there is a soul or not.
But I don't want to indulge myself in such fantasy by believing it.
I'll see the truth if there is something to be seen.
But I won't base my life on, or introduce in what I consider "the knowledge I possess", such delusion based on fear of non-existence and the narcissistic idea that we can live on for ever. That our life cannot end.

That's another characteristic of "free-will": We are free to be completely delusional and believe whatever we desire.
Yet, reality doesn't care...
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Post Number:#67  Postby Dbagdeluxe » September 5th, 2010, 2:32 am

Persecrates wrote:
Meleagar wrote:Once again, science has demonstrated the existence of an afterlife for 150 years.


Is that so, now?
I suppose you speak of NDE, and the only think they prove is that your brain keep on functionning for minutes after being declared dead.
You're confusing, "being medically declared dead" and being actually dead.


I definitely agree with this, Persecrates. Must the perception of time correspond with the actual passing of time, though? I haven't studied the perception of time in great detail, but I do know that it can change and doesn't correspond with the actual passing of time (I was going to link a study for one example, but I can't since I'm a new member; if you want to check out examples, go to wikipedia, search for the perception of time, and look at the articles in the references). I suppose you could argue that this study only measured behavior and not subjective experience (but hey, the same goes for every other psychological study), so the question really hasn't been definitively answered. In principle, the perception of time can vary depending on one's psychological state, but that doesn't imply that there are limitless possibilities to that phenomenon.

It does, however, raise the possibility that experience continues on for what could appear to be a long time (maybe even an eternity - we do not know). It's conceivable (though perhaps implausible, and certainly not backed by any direct evidence) that when we die, we enter a dream that in reality only lasts a very short period of time, but is experienced as hours, days, years, or even longer.

Nonetheless, this is simply speculation about the experience of death. We do know that the form of life we occupy ceases to exist when we die. I think Demystified puts it quite eloquently:

Demystified wrote:You become food for worms and maggots.

Your bodily fluids replenish nearby plants.

Your body decomposes and becomes new top soil.

If your cremated none of the above. You just poof in a cloud of smoke.

If your buried in a casket who knows how long your remains will be in it before it is destroyed. Who knows what the decomposition rate of a funeral casket is these days. At any rate in a casket I imagine your body might be mummified if it was air tight but then again if wasn't air tight you just would be left with a funeral suit and skeletal bones overtime.

That's why I think you should look fantastic and sauve on your final last day so if somebody digs you up they will say to themselves that skeleton is wearing a really nice suit. :lol:
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Post Number:#68  Postby ChaoticMindSays » September 5th, 2010, 5:49 am

Myself, I believe that billions and billions and billions of people don't believe something for tens of thousands of years for no reason. I think we all get reabsorbed, so to say, in the collective consciousness and then reborn as someone new.
Oh and btw, There is a lot of empirical evidence on reincarnation and the such, I cannot site any sources directly but if you do the research I'm sure you can find it.
For example, 90 percent of all people who are hypnotized can remember experiences from their past life or lives. AND the things they recall are extremely accurate, there have been recorded cases of people reporting facts about ancient history before they were ever discovered by empirical means. Such as, that the oil lamp was invented before the written word and that women, in some areas(not sure where), Had extremely intricate hairstyles in the stone age.
There is all kinds of evidence on "supernatural phenomena" that is ignored by the mainstream scientific body... It's sad, people are so scared of having to do a total reform on the way we think of things that they ignore the truth when it's slapping them in the face over and over again. I mean just think of how many paradigm shifts we have passed up because of greed and or fear. :(
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Post Number:#69  Postby Meleagar » September 5th, 2010, 8:54 am

Dbagdeluxe wrote:I definitely agree with this, Persecrates. Must the perception of time correspond with the actual passing of time, though?


The scientific evidence for the afterlife has been accumulating since Willam Crookes' investigation of mediumship. NDEs are just one small slice of the evidence available that an afterlife exists.
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Post Number:#70  Postby Dbagdeluxe » September 5th, 2010, 12:16 pm

To those who think that the existence of psi phenomena are empirically grounded, I highly recommend going back and reading the posts by Yahadreas, and perhaps even making the effort to look up the sources he cites. I would give you sources myself, but Yahadreas has already done it.
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Post Number:#71  Postby Dbagdeluxe » September 5th, 2010, 4:50 pm

I will take up the position Yahadreas presented earlier.

Meleagar wrote:
Yahadreas wrote:If I were to make the positive claim that "unicorns(/dragons/fairies) do not exist", how am I supposed to prove this to be the case? All I can do is point to the lack of evidence which supports the claims that they exist. How can I prove that the American Government are not really alien lizards in disguise?. All I can do is point to the lack of evidence which supports the claims that they are.


The obvious answer is to not make claims you cannot support.

Right, but one can cite reasons for indefinite suspension of belief.

Meleagar wrote:
It does not follow from me not being able to prove that unicorns do not exist that I ought to simply dispense with a belief either way; a lack of evidence in favour is sufficient evidence against.


No, it isn't. Lack of evidence for a thing is not evidence it doesn't exist.

Not being able to find evidence to support the existence of unicorns is rational grounds for a belief in their non-existence. Simple as.


No, it isn't. Lack of evidence that a thing exists is sufficient rational grounds for saying "I'm skeptical of their existence because I haven't seen any supportive evidence otherwise."

Mountain gorillas were once considered myths. So were giant squid. Lack of evidence for a thing is not rational grounds to assert that the thing doesn't exist; it is rational grounds to be neutrally skeptical.

True, but one need not make the claim that "x doesn't exist" in order to have good reason to disbelieve in x and thereby act as if x doesn't exist until disbelief is no longer justified.

Meleagar wrote:
Although the articles I provided do not deal specifically with mediumship, they do deal with the extra-sensory faculties which mediums, psychics, clairvoyants, etc. claim to have.


Hasty generalization. Nobody in this thread has claimed that mediumship and other psi claims are "the same thing"; you are equivocating the two because you apparently have zero support for your specific assertion about mediumship. The rational thing to do is to withdraw your assertion about mediumship and replace it with a supportable, better stated one that actually reflects your knowledge (or lack thereof) about the scientific evidence specifically regarding mediumship.



Yahadreas never equivocated the two phenomena either. Instead, Yahadreas pointed to the relationship between them. As for mediumship, two different explanations are quite common - one kind of explanation is a psychological explanation that can reduce the phenomenon to ordinary confabulation, delusion, or some other psychological phenomenon, which in turn can be explained in physical terms. On the other hand, one might posit one of many other possible explanations that, in general, necessarily establish the existence of psi, whatever psi may be. If one argues that mediumship involves non-physical interactions, then we can classify that position as aligned with the view that acknowledges psi phenomena. The acknowledgement of psi, however, does not necessarily imply that the ordinary psychological explanations of mediumship are inadequate.

Meleagar wrote:
There has been no reliable evidence in favour of "psi", as it is called.


I doubt you have the capacity to support this categorical assertion. A better way to phrase it would be that you are not aware of any such evidence.


Most of us aren't psi researchers and do not have broad knowledge of the literature in that area. If you have evidence that psi do exist, please share.

Meleagar wrote:
If it had been reliably shown that an afterlife exists -- that mediums can talk to departed souls -- then there would be as much challenge to mediumship as there is to evolution, i.e. very little.


You are now compounding categorical, unsupported assertion upon assertion, and you are making unsustainable broad claims using the vague term "evolution". Can you support your assertion that there is "very little" challenge to "evolution" - and please, further define what you mean by "evolution".

Otherwise, please stop making broad, categorical and vague assertions that you have no means to support.

It is only because it is impossible to prove a negative that there is still believe in the afterlife (and Yahweh, and Allah, and witchcraft). If positives were proven, as is the case with gravity, the orbit of the Earth, and evolution, then a belief in mediumship (and the lizard-alien politicians) would be the common view.


Appeal to popularity is not a rational argument; claiming that it is not the "common view" is irrelevent. Also, it is a erroneous to claim one cannot prove a negative; some negatives cannot be proven, but others certainly can. "There is no air in this cannister." is an example of a claim of non-existence that can be proven.

If one cannot reasonably support an assertion, whether positive or negative, they shouldn't make it, or once made and challenged, it should be withdrawn.

I definitely agree that popular belief of an idea is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for the truth value of that idea.
Meleagar wrote:
The fact that Derren Brown, for example, can emulate mediums and psychics using cold reading and clever techniques shows that the same results achieved by claimed mediums and psychics can be explained by cold reading and clever techniques.


Because someone can fraudulently emulate a thing doesn't mean that all such cases of the thing are fraudulent.

No, but it does sufficiently demonstrate that those who make claims to mediumship and psychic powers must show that their accomplishments are beyond what cold readers are capable of in order to rule out the possibility that they are just cold readers masquerading as people endowed with supernatural powers. People like Darren Brown have shown us just how much cold reading can accomplish.
Meleagar wrote:
It is much more reasonable to explain mediumship with reference to these tricks than to paranormal activity.


Bald assertion. You have yet to demonstrate why it is "much more reasonable" except through appeals to popularity and a hasty generalization via an equivocation to psi phenomena in general.

The claim that the mind occupies an utterly non-physical psychic existence but somehow interacts with the physical world seems, on the face of it, to violate the conceptions of the physical provided by physicists. Nonetheless, that claim certainly is a much stronger claim than the claim that all psychics and mediums are just performing tricks. This of course does not show that the latter explanation is true and the former false, but it does establish a burden of proof for those who claim the that the former explanation is right - one which I don't believe has been met.
Meleagar wrote:
Only if they can achieve impossible results can we resort to impossible explanations.


I don't even know what to make of this statement. You assume that psi is an "impossible explanation", which clearly reveals your a priori bias, then demand an "impossible result", which by definition is self-contradictory; if it occurs, then obviously it wasn't impossible, and so doesn't meet your criteria.


I cannot disagree with this, Meleager.

I recognize that I am not very knowledgeable about the literature in the area of psi research generally, but nonetheless, my or anyone else's ignorance alone does not in any way imply justification for your assertion that your explanations are the best ones. Just saying so-and-so says that mediumship is scientifically proven is not even slightly convincing considering that I can also say the same thing about very highly regarded scientists who argue that psychics and mediums are fraudulent. If you want to make an assertion and be convincing, you must lay out your argument that your explanation is better than the alternatives. Until then, I will continue my indefinite disbelief in the existence of psi (non-physical mental substances or forces).
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Post Number:#72  Postby Persecrates » September 5th, 2010, 6:03 pm

Meleagar wrote:
Yahadreas wrote:If I were to make the positive claim that "unicorns(/dragons/fairies) do not exist", how am I supposed to prove this to be the case? All I can do is point to the lack of evidence which supports the claims that they exist. How can I prove that the American Government are not really alien lizards in disguise?. All I can do is point to the lack of evidence which supports the claims that they are.


The obvious answer is to not make claims you cannot support.


I really like this one Meleagar. I didn't catch it at first, but I like it.
I'm not being ironic.

You know, I think you you have an effective and efficient mind... Too bad you desire to believe in God... You would make a very good Agnostic.
No, I'm not condescending.
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Post Number:#73  Postby Meleagar » September 5th, 2010, 7:47 pm

Dbagdeluxe wrote:Right, but one can cite reasons for indefinite suspension of belief.


I've never made an argument against neutral skepticism; my argument above concerned categorical claims of nonexistence.

Yahadreas never equivocated the two phenomena either.


Sure he did, and so did you, when you said:

On the other hand, one might posit one of many other possible explanations that, in general, necessarily establish the existence of psi, whatever psi may be.


Unless you're going to provide evidence of what non-fraudulent, non-psychological mediumship might entail, and compare that agains what psi might entail, then generalizing that they are the same, or that one requires the other, is unfounded.

We were talking about mediumship, not psi. His information regarding psi was not information about mediumship.

If one argues that mediumship involves non-physical interactions, then we can classify that position as aligned with the view that acknowledges psi phenomena.


As far as I know, nobody here was arguing that mediumship involves non-physical interactions. I certainly wasn't. You are yet again attempting to conflate psi with mediumship.

Most of us aren't psi researchers and do not have broad knowledge of the literature in that area. If you have evidence that psi do exist, please share.


Whether or not such evidence exists is not my point in this particular exchange; my point was that one cannot support such a universal, categorically negative assertion.

No, but it does sufficiently demonstrate that those who make claims to mediumship and psychic powers must show that their accomplishments are beyond what cold readers are capable of in order to rule out the possibility that they are just cold readers masquerading as people endowed with supernatural powers. People like Darren Brown have shown us just how much cold reading can accomplish.


What psi advocates or mediums would have to do, in order for there to be a scientific case for either, is to engage in rigorously controlled, repeated, wide-ranging scientific experimentation that set baselines and established clear criteria and an appropriate methodology.

Such evidence exists; whether or not one finds it convincing is up to them.


It is much more reasonable to explain mediumship with reference to these tricks than to paranormal activity.


Why is it "more reasonable", especially when you admit you don't have much knowledge about mediumship research?

The claim that the mind occupies an utterly non-physical psychic existence but somehow interacts with the physical world seems, on the face of it, to violate the conceptions of the physical provided by physicists.


Where did I make such a claim about the mind?

Nonetheless, that claim certainly is a much stronger claim than the claim that all psychics and mediums are just performing tricks.

By what means of evaluation have you concluded which is the "stronger" claim? Your personal view?

This of course does not show that the latter explanation is true and the former false, but it does establish a burden of proof for those who claim the that the former explanation is right - one which I don't believe has been met.


If one is going to claim that all such people are fraudulent, then they have their burden of proof to meet. Again, where did I make the claim that you are attributing to me?

I recognize that I am not very knowledgeable about the literature in the area of psi research generally, but nonetheless, my or anyone else's ignorance alone does not in any way imply justification for your assertion that your explanations are the best ones.


Where did I make such an assertion?

Just saying so-and-so says that mediumship is scientifically proven is not even slightly convincing considering that I can also say the same thing about very highly regarded scientists who argue that psychics and mediums are fraudulent.


It has been scientifically proven to many people for the past 150 years. As I said in a previous post: "Whether or not it has been "proven" depends on the individual who is assessing the evidence available."

You admit that you have little knowledge about any scientific literature and research into mediumship, yet here you are arguing against it. Why? Don't you think it is strange that you should argue against something you have little knowledge of? Don't you think it is strange that you consider it more likely that mediums are frauds than not, when you admit to not being informed of the pertinent research?

It seems like you are displaying an a priori bias against the idea that there is an afterlife.

If you want to make an assertion and be convincing, you must lay out your argument that your explanation is better than the alternatives. Until then, I will continue my indefinite disbelief in the existence of psi (non-physical mental substances or forces).


Well, for starters:

William Crooke's Research into mediumship., published in the Quarterly Journal of Science. Crookes was widely regarded as the greatest scientist of his time; his validation of spiritual mediumship cause and uproar in the scientific community.

A couple of his contemporaries said of his and other such research:

SIR WILLIAM BARRETT, (1844-1925) – Professor of physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin for 37 years, “I’m absolutely convinced of the fact that those who once lived on earth can and do communicate with us. It is hardly possible to convey to the inexperienced an adequate idea of the strength and cumulative force of the evidence (for the afterlife).”

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) – Co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution: " My position is that the phenomena of communicating with those who crossed over - in their entirety do not require further confirmation. They are proved quite as well as facts are proved in other sciences."

NDE research, published in the Lancet. An excerpt:

With lack of evidence for any other theories for NDE, the thus far assumed, but never proven, concept that consciousness and memories are localised in the brain should be discussed. How could a clear consciousness outside one’s body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical death with flat EEG?

Also, in cardiac arrest the EEG usually becomes flat in most cases within about 10 s from onset of syncope.29,30 Furthermore, blind people have described veridical perception during out-of-body experiences at the time of this xperience.31 NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mind-brain relation.

Another theory holds that NDE might be a changing state of consciousness (transcendence), in which identity, cognition, and emotion function independently from the unconscious body, but retain the possibility of non-sensory perception. Research should be concentrated on the effort to explain scientifically the occurrence and content of NDE. Research should be focused on certain specific elements of NDE, such as out-of-body experiences and other verifiable aspects. Finally, the theory and background of transcendence should be included as a part of an explanatory framework for these experiences.


Veritas Project, mediumship research conducted by the Universtity of Arizona, which produced publications such as:

Beischel J, Schwartz GE. Anomalous information reception by research mediums demonstrated using a novel triple-blind protocol. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science & Healing. 2007;3(1):23-27.

and

Schwartz GER, Russek LGS, Nelson LA, Barentsen C. Accuracy and replicability of anomalous after-death communication across highly skilled mediums. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 2001;65(1):1-25.

Schwartz GE (with Simon WL). The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death. New York: Pocket Books (division of Simon and Schuster); 2002.

Abstracts of the 40th Parapsychology Foundation International Conference
“The Study of Mediumship: Interdisciplinary Perspectives”

The Scole Experiment

The Windbridge Institute, which has ongoing mediumship research, with many publications including "ANOMALOUS INFORMATION RECEPTION BY RESEARCH MEDIUMS DEMONSTRATED USING A NOVEL TRIPLE-BLIND PROTOCOL."

The point being, there is considerable evidence that an afterlife of some sort exists; there is no evidence (that I'm aware of) that an afterlife does not exist. There is no rational reason that I can think of, other than ideological bias, to believe that there is no afterlife.
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Post Number:#74  Postby Dbagdeluxe » September 5th, 2010, 9:03 pm

I have not had time to locate and read through the sources you cited yet, and I do intend to do that. However, there are some points in your message in which you misrepresented my words, and thus I wish to respond to those points before engaging with those reading materials.

Meleagar wrote:
Yahadreas never equivocated the two phenomena either.


Sure he did, and so did you, when you said:

On the other hand, one might posit one of many other possible explanations that, in general, necessarily establish the existence of psi, whatever psi may be.


Unless you're going to provide evidence of what non-fraudulent, non-psychological mediumship might entail, and compare that agains what psi might entail, then generalizing that they are the same, or that one requires the other, is unfounded.

We were talking about mediumship, not psi. His information regarding psi was not information about mediumship.

Well I apologize for not being more clear about some background assumptions. The reason why I claimed mediumship is related to psi is because there do not appear to be physical mechanisms that could account for mediumship. This would force us into positing the existence of a wholly different kind of mechanism - which I refer to generally as a psi-based mechanism. If there does exist an explanation for mediumship that involves only physical mechanisms, then clearly this would not fall into either of the two categories of explanations for mediumship that I mentioned. If you read my words carefully, you will notice that I specifically did not say that these two types of explanations (ordinary psychological explanations and psi explanations) exhaust all of the explanations for mediumship.
Meleagar wrote:
No, but it does sufficiently demonstrate that those who make claims to mediumship and psychic powers must show that their accomplishments are beyond what cold readers are capable of in order to rule out the possibility that they are just cold readers masquerading as people endowed with supernatural powers. People like Darren Brown have shown us just how much cold reading can accomplish.


What psi advocates or mediums would have to do, in order for there to be a scientific case for either, is to engage in rigorously controlled, repeated, wide-ranging scientific experimentation that set baselines and established clear criteria and an appropriate methodology.

I agree with this completely.
Meleagar wrote:Such evidence exists; whether or not one finds it convincing is up to them.

That I will grant, and I will give my best effort to seriously appraise the evidence you have presented.

Meleagar wrote:
It is much more reasonable to explain mediumship with reference to these tricks than to paranormal activity.


Why is it "more reasonable", especially when you admit you don't have much knowledge about mediumship research?

Those are Yahadreas's words, not mine.

Meleagar wrote:
The claim that the mind occupies an utterly non-physical psychic existence but somehow interacts with the physical world seems, on the face of it, to violate the conceptions of the physical provided by physicists.


Where did I make such a claim about the mind?

Read more carefully; I said "the claim" not "your claim".

Meleagar wrote:
Nonetheless, that claim certainly is a much stronger claim than the claim that all psychics and mediums are just performing tricks.

By what means of evaluation have you concluded which is the "stronger" claim? Your personal view?

It is a stronger claim in virtue of how much of the current paradigms of science must be rejected to account for it. Of course, fitting better into the paradigms of our current sciences is not a condition for a claim to be true or false, but it is a condition for how strong we say a claim is.

Meleagar wrote:
This of course does not show that the latter explanation is true and the former false, but it does establish a burden of proof for those who claim the that the former explanation is right - one which I don't believe has been met.


If one is going to claim that all such people are fraudulent, then they have their burden of proof to meet. Again, where did I make the claim that you are attributing to me?

Again, there is no attribution of a claim to you in that passage. I referred to "those who claim", not "you". I agree that anyone who claims that others are fraudulent need to support that claim.

Meleagar wrote:
I recognize that I am not very knowledgeable about the literature in the area of psi research generally, but nonetheless, my or anyone else's ignorance alone does not in any way imply justification for your assertion that your explanations are the best ones.


Where did I make such an assertion?

Here I must admit that I did not choose my words very well. You assert that the existence of mediumship has been proven, and this is the assertion that I am concerned with. I think that making this assertion that "mediumship exists" has implications about which explanations of the phenomenon are possible and which are not. If admitting that cold reading and fraud as an explanation of mediumship phenomena still allows one to make the claim that "mediumship exists", then I retract my statements. I don't think you will agree that saying "mediumship exists" allows for that explanation as a possibility, though; that's not what we mean when we say "mediumship". Please correct me if this conclusion is incorrect.

Meleagar wrote:
Just saying so-and-so says that mediumship is scientifically proven is not even slightly convincing considering that I can also say the same thing about very highly regarded scientists who argue that psychics and mediums are fraudulent.


It has been scientifically proven to many people for the past 150 years. As I said in a previous post: "Whether or not it has been "proven" depends on the individual who is assessing the evidence available."

You admit that you have little knowledge about any scientific literature and research into mediumship, yet here you are arguing against it. Why? Don't you think it is strange that you should argue against something you have little knowledge of? Don't you think it is strange that you consider it more likely that mediums are frauds than not, when you admit to not being informed of the pertinent research?

I did not say at all that I have little knowledge about any scientific literature and research into mediumship. I have read some journal articles about parapsychology and psi. What I have read, though I must admit, is not enough for me to consider myself knowledgeable about the subject. I am, however, well informed about the current paradigm in psychology, and more or less informed about the paradigms in the physical sciences. I simply have not read much of the literature that parapsychologists have put out. I never claimed that explanations contrary to those which conform to the current paradigm in psychology must be false, but only that the claims that go against the paradigm are stronger claims than those that fit in the paradigm. Obviously the evidence and truth in a claim is more important than its conformity with a paradigm, and for this reason I recognize the possibility that mediumship might exist.

Meleagar wrote:It seems like you are displaying an a priori bias against the idea that there is an afterlife.

Well I hope this response clears up those false seemings.

Meleagar wrote:The point being, there is considerable evidence that an afterlife of some sort exists; there is no evidence (that I'm aware of) that an afterlife does not exist. There is no rational reason that I can think of, other than ideological bias, to believe that there is no afterlife.


The claim that no afterlife exists is backed by the evidence that conscious experience is realized by the functioning of nervous systems; insofar is the integrity of a nervous system is a necessary condition for conscious experience, the destruction of a nervous system will also cause conscious experience to cease to exist. If one can show that nervous system functioning is not a necessary condition for conscious experience, then clearly there would no longer be an argument against the possibility of an afterlife.

I hope that this clears things up. I'll come back and make another post once I have completely read all of those sources you pointed me toward.
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Post Number:#75  Postby Meleagar » September 5th, 2010, 9:48 pm

Dbagdeluxe,

The research published by The Lancet has been published in a recent book by the researchers: Consciousness Beyond Life
The Science of the Near-Death Experience.

From the book description:

As a cardiologist, Pim van Lommel was struck by the number of his patients who claimed to have near-death experiences as a result of their heart attacks. As a scientist, this was difficult for him to accept: Wouldn't it be scientifically irresponsible of him to ignore the evidence of these stories? Faced with this dilemma, van Lommel decided to design a research study to investigate the phenomenon under the controlled environment of a cluster of hospitals with a medically trained staff.

For more than twenty years van Lommel systematically studied such near-death experiences in a wide variety of hospital patients who survived a cardiac arrest. In 2001, he and his fellow researchers published his study on near-death experiences in the renowned medical journal The Lancet. The article caused an international sensation as it was the first scientifically rigorous study of this phenomenon. Now available for the first time in English, van Lommel offers an in-depth presentation of his results and theories in this book that has already sold over 125,000 copies in Europe.

Van Lommel provides scientific evidence that the near-death phenomenon is an authentic experience that cannot be attributed to imagination, psychosis, or oxygen deprivation. He further reveals that after such a profound experience, most patients' personalities undergo a permanent change. In van Lommel's opinion, the current views on the relationship between the brain and consciousness held by most physicians, philosophers, and psychologists are too narrow for a proper understanding of the phenomenon. In Consciousness Beyond Life, van Lommel shows that our consciousness does not always coincide with brain functions and that, remarkably and significantly, consciousness can even be experienced separate from the body.


In one of the cases, a patient was literally brain dead for a procedure and accurately described events that occurred while her brain was flatlined.
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