Posted on 18 January 2021, 10:40
Although Michael Prescott is best known as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 22 suspense novels, he is also known for his blog dealing primarily with paranormal and life after death subjects. Over the past 20 years he has produced more than 1,600 blog posts with more than 50,000 comments by readers.
The end result is a departure from his fiction writing with his just-released The Far Horizon: Perspectives on Life Beyond Death, published by White Crow Books. He begins the book by examining some of the best evidence coming to us from psychical research and parapsychology over the past 138 years, since the organization of the Society for Psychical Research, then asking why, if it is so good, it is not more widely known and accepted. He offers four models of after-death consciousness, discussing each one in separate chapters. “In all four models, the space-time universe rendered by our subjective perception is the tip of the iceberg, with the other nine-tenths hidden from sight,” Prescott explains. “Vast expanses of reality and vast realms of consciousness lie submerged beneath the surface, difficult for us to access. Difficult, but not impossible, as mystics, shamans, mediums, and psychics have attested throughout history.”
As anyone who has thoroughly studied the evidence knows, much of it is vague, abstruse, convoluted, and often inconsistent with established religious dogma and doctrine, as well as with mainstream science. A very abstract picture of the afterlife emerges, one requiring much discernment. In effect, so much of it seems beyond human comprehension. Nevertheless, enough of it is discernible that the open-minded investigator can begin to see intelligence and clarity in the abstractness. Prescott (below) masterfully makes sense out of what seems like so much nonsense to many. As he states, it need not be “a baffling anomaly,” but it can be seen as “a logical extension of our experience of reality here and now.”
I recently put some questions to him by email.
I know you explain this in the book, but can you just briefly summarize how you became interested in the subject of life after death and what keeps you going on it?
The main thing was a kind of early midlife crisis in 1997 when I was 36 years old. Prior to that time, I’d been a complete skeptic with no interest in the paranormal or the afterlife. The only reading I’d done on the subject consisted of books by Martin Gardner and James Randi. I was also influenced by the skeptical opinions of Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, among others. I probably would’ve been a good candidate for membership in CSICOP, as it was then called, had I been more interested in the subject. But in ’97 I began to question my entire worldview. This was, in part, because of an experience I had when trying to come up with the idea for a novel.
I’d hit a brick wall on the book, was very frustrated and depressed, and had pretty much given up, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I felt an intense urge to sit down at my computer and start typing. I proceeded to type out a ten-page synopsis of an entirely new story that was, in effect, being dictated to me. That synopsis turned into the novel Comes the Dark, the most esoteric and “literary” thing I’ve written.
This experience deeply intrigued me. It got me interested in the subconscious and the idea that the two hemispheres of the brain operate, to some extent, independently of each other. This, in turn, got me to look into the nature of consciousness, which led me in a somewhat spiritual direction. Probably as a result of this, I began to feel that my outlook on life was cramped and shallow – that I was missing the big picture.
And so I began to take the paranormal little more seriously. I proceeded gradually and cautiously, because at first I felt almost foolish reading about this stuff. I started with Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic fields, went on to evidence for ESP, and eventually crossed the Rubicon by looking seriously at life after death. That is something I never thought I would do.
On a percentage basis, with zero being total disbelief and 100 being absolute certainty with regard to consciousness surviving death, where would you put yourself 30 years ago and where are you now?
30 years ago it was zero. These days it’s probably about 90%, or maybe 95% on some days.
What will it take to get you to 100%?
It will probably take actually dying! Or at least a near-death experience. There’s only so far you can go by reading about a subject or talking with other people, or visiting mediums, or recording dreams, synchronicities, and premonitions, or meditating. I’ve done all those things, and they’re certainly helpful, but they’re not quite enough to get me to 100%.
If you had to pick three cases from the annals of psychical research, parapsychology, and consciousness studies, as most convincing, which ones would you choose?
I think the Bobbie Newlove case, involving the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, is quite compelling. So is the R-101 case involving Eileen Garrett. A more recent case is the Jacqui Poole murder mystery. All three of these cases are covered in my book.
On a more general level, the cross correspondences provide very good evidence of mediumship that goes beyond so-called super-psi, but this is a whole series of cases, not just one. I don’t talk about the cross correspondences in The Far Horizon, though, because the subject is too complicated to be quickly summarized.
Do you see a growing interest in this subject matter or has it pretty much flatlined, maybe even going in reverse?
My personal interest has somewhat flatlined, just because I’ve investigated it for so many years and it’s no longer fresh to me. My book is kind of a summing-up. I wouldn’t have written until I felt I’d gone pretty much as far as I could go.
For society, I think interest is increasing quite a lot. Unfortunately, there’s not that much new research being done. As you know better than almost anyone, the heyday of research into the afterlife was the late 19th century and early 20th century, when there were some very prominent people involved, notably William James. I don’t know of anyone today of similar prominence who is willing to stick up for this type of work.
Worse, there is very little funding. The quickest way to short-circuit your career in the sciences is to decide to study the paranormal, especially life after death. Very few people want to commit career suicide. I don’t think this will change any time soon because the “scientific-government complex” is implacably hostile to such ideas. And most scientific funding, as well as publication in mainstream peer-reviewed journals and tenure in academic institutions, is controlled by that complex. I’m talking about the US. Perhaps in other countries, there’s more open-mindedness. I don’t know.
Why so much resistance on a subject that seemingly should be welcomed by the masses?
I don’t think the subject is resisted by the masses. When I bring up my interest in the paranormal and the afterlife with regular folks, I often find they’ve had experiences of their own that they want to share. But they keep these accounts to themselves unless they feel comfortable opening up.
The whole idea, however, is strongly resisted by the elites, who are thoroughly materialistic in their philosophy. Even very creative, intelligent people in the establishment – for instance, Elon Musk – seem boxed in by materialistic thinking. For instance, when Musk talks about the universe as a virtual-reality simulation, he appears to see it as being literally a program run on some extraterrestrial computer. That’s a purely materialistic, and rather naïve, interpretation of an idea that can be interpreted in much more spiritual terms.
In my book, I go into the simulation hypothesis as one model of reality, but I make it clear that I’m not talking about a literal computer program. Instead, I’m speaking of an informational matrix that exists in a realm beyond the space-time universe we experience. It’s essentially the same thing as Immanuel Kant’s noumenal realm, as distinct from the phenomenal realm of direct experience. Or it could be compared to Plato’s world of Forms, the true reality that we perceive only as shadows on a wall.
Unfortunately, materialistic tendencies intrude even into afterlife studies. We’ve seen attempts by people over the years to build a machine that can communicate with the dead. One such device, dubbed Spiricom, was the subject of John Fuller’s book The Ghost of 29 Megacycles. While you never know what might work, I don’t have a particularly high opinion of such efforts. For me, it’s not about building a better mousetrap. We need to learn to adjust our consciousness, not improve our technology.
You’ve been self-publishing lately. Why did you decide to go with White Crow Books for this title?
Originally I was going to put it out myself, something I’ve been doing since around 2011 after my twenty-year traditional publishing career petered out. I’ve done well with ebooks. For a while I was making more money in that marketplace then I ever made with Penguin. But lately sales have dropped off. So when Jon Beecher of White Crow Books said he’d gotten wind of my project and was interested in it, I was happy to talk to him. He’s a really nice guy with a fascinating life story, and his company has put out many high-quality books, including yours. I felt he could do more with The Far Horizon than I could do on my own.
What is the key message of your book?
The key message is that life after death doesn’t have to be compartmentalized in our thinking. We don’t have to use one set of concepts or metaphors to understand the universe around us, and then come up with a whole new set of concepts and metaphors to make sense out of the afterlife. We can see both types of existence – our incarnational existence and our postmortem existence – as part of a continuum.
To do this requires grasping one essential fact, namely, that all experience is subjective. While I argue that there is an objective basis for our experience, this doesn’t change the fact that experience itself is, by its nature, subjective. You can’t have an experience without an object to apprehend and a subject who apprehends it, something to perceive and a mind that perceives. And as far as experience per se is concerned, perception is reality. It is impossible to detach one’s perception of the event from the event itself, because the event exists, for us, only in our perception of it.
If we see reality in these terms, then postmortem reality simply involves a shift in focus — we redirect our attention from one level of experience to another. Or we alter our consciousness from one degree of perception to another. It amounts to the same thing.
We need to get away from the idea that, in dying, we are physically traveling to some other physical location that we call the afterlife. It is more like a change in perception – a broadening or widening of perception – which is why mind-expanding drugs can bring about experiences that have a lot in common with NDEs and OBEs.
In other words, it’s all about consciousness, and if we see consciousness as existing along a spectrum of frequencies, then dying is no more than dialing up to a higher frequency. Which, of course, is another of the models I explore in The Far Horizon!
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is released on January 26, 2021.
The Far Horizon: Perspectives on Life Beyond Death by Michael Prescott is published by White Crow Books.
Next blog post: Feb. 4.
I agree, there has been much “icing on the cake” in recent decades. My contention is that the cake was baked before 1935, pretty much ending with the research of Dr. T. Glen Hamilton of Canada and the change from psychical research to parapsychology during that decade. People often remind me about Seth and I keep telling myself I must get back to “his” books, which I haven’t read in many years. Thanks for the additional reminder.
Michael Tymn, Tue 2 Feb, 01:06
For those who may be interested, I addressed Tony Youens’ objections to the Jacqui Poole case in detail on my blog (though not in my book):
Also, I didn’t mean to imply that I’ve read only Gardner and Randi. What I meant was that, in my skeptical years, when I had little or no interest in the paranormal, they were the only writers I’d even looked at.
Later on, naturally, I had to acquaint myself with a wide variety of skeptical literature. However, I make little effort to address this literature in my book. I decided early on that in order to keep the book short and to the point, I would focus on the cases I find convincing and memorable, and on “models” by which to interpret them, without devoting pages to skeptical arguments that have been covered in many other places. Incidentally, I also don’t address the super-psi argument except in a brief endnote, for the same reason.
Thanks to everyone for all the feedback!
Michael Prescott, Mon 1 Feb, 21:44
Michael: “Beyond my curiosity and research project 20-plus years ago, I have had no need to sit with a medium and so I haven’t looked for one. I haven’t heard about any good ones here in Hawaii, although some people seem to think that Hawaii is a hotbed for such activity.”
I would be delighted to find myself in Hawaii, as I could visit an old friend with remarkable gifts. Although she is well known in some circles, it is not for those gifts. She prefers not to be at all known for them, publicly; only friends and family members are aware of them.
Meanwhile, many I once interacted with are dead or quite elderly, no longer active in an Internet sort of way, and probably no longer interested in the kind of group explorations we once engaged in.
For me, merely reading about such things is of a “second hand” nature. I much prefer immediate and direct and experience, as I’ve posted.
What researchers did in the 19th Century or early 20th Century can certainly make for fascinating reading, but there is no shortage of more recent activities to review. The Scole and Norfolk Experiments and Marcello Bacci’s radio come to mind, even the activities that once took place at Findhorn. Not necessarily very scientific, true, but science really doesn’t do “inner” very well, owing to its design.
Related to mediums, mediumship, and the afterlife are questions of “entity.” (Similar to “essence,” even “soul” in some teachings.)
This tantalizing statement Seth made in _Seth Speaks_ has long inspired me:
“His message will be that of the individual in relation to All That Is. He will clearly state methods by which each individual can attain a state of intimate contact with his own entity; the entity to some extent being man’s mediator with All That Is.”
Bill Ingle, Mon 1 Feb, 18:08
Thanks for the suggestion. We are both aware of the contest, but I believe we both have the same problem—coming up with something not previously published. I don’t know about Michael Prescott, but I might give it a shot.
Michael Tymn, Mon 1 Feb, 11:15
Thanks for that info. Beyond my curiosity and research project 20-plus years ago, I have had no need to sit with a medium and so I haven’t looked for one. I haven’t heard about any good ones here in Hawaii, although some people seem to think that Hawaii is a hotbed for such activity.
Michael Tymn, Mon 1 Feb, 04:52
Michael Prescott or you should submit an essay to the Bigalow Consciousness essay contest for a chance to win from $ 150-500k. I just wonder if anyone can come up with anything more convincing for survival of consciousness than what was already researched and published by researchers of this topic between the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Michael if you are not aware of the Bigalow Consciousness essay contest you should Google it.
Ilona, Sun 31 Jan, 23:46
Michael: “Bill, it is usually not that easy to find a competent medium and to get the answer you are looking for. You lucked out in the situation you described.”
In my experience, people with exceptional psychic abilities—not just mediums—are everywhere. Many hide their abilities, not wishing to attract attention. Some have careers in other areas and feel that being known for their psychic abilities would interfere with them.
Then there are professionals and certified mediums. I’ve encountered many with gifts in the last 40 years or so, the vast majority of them them amateurs, and sometimes in the most unexpected ways/situations.
Intention and perseverance have parts to play.
Where I live and have lived and “where” I interacted on-line in dial-up days may be connected with this, too.
Eileen Garrett was once tested in a Faraday Cage about a mile from my abode. Salem, with Laurie Cabot and many others who engage in fringe activities loosely associated with the “psychic” zone is only 12 miles away.
Swampscott, with its Spiritualist church (where mediums are trained in “3-Way” mediumship, also called “Evidential” or “Direct”)is one town away from Salem.
I lived in Boston, once, and came across a very skilled “light trance medium” after visiting a yard sale in nearby Brookline. I attended his weekly sessions for months, initially highly skeptical, but it soon became clear that the being who spoke through him could read my mind, answering my questions before I voiced them.
Of course Boston is next door to Cambridge, where William James once resided, while most here are familiar with Leonora Piper.
The medium in question—she who enabled my conversation with Ken Olsen—hosted a meetup group and taught mediumship classes.
I was using Meetup to look for something else—not mediumship—call it a kind of felt “energy” that I experienced decades ago after physically meeting some of those I interacted with on an old fashioned mailing list devoted to enthusiasts of the Seth material.
I sampled nearby meditation groups but didn’t find what I was seeking. Then I noticed her group, which featured “Mediumship and Meditation” and attended a “demo.”
Part of the procedure was an “opening meditation” and during this I couldn’t help but notice the “energy.” (This is highly subjective, of course, although there are times when it is accompanied by palpable sensations that may be felt by multiple people simultaneously—it deals with areas poorly understood in our “official” knowledge that can be loosely connected with things like “energy centers” or “chakras.”)
Meditating, I was stunned as well by the amazing “visuals.”
Then one of her students, an opera singer, “read” me and immediately connected with an historical personage I’d been reading about earlier in the day, conveying his thoughts to me. At the very least, she was reading my mind.
So I signed up for classes. Although I definitely had a number of successes, I never became a proficient medium. One challenge I ran into was “getting” distinct and vivid so called “past life” imagery when “reading” another student. Unlike details of a deceased relative that may be remembered by a “sitter” (“evidence” in that form of mediumship) there’s no way to validate that kind of information.
Although I’ve read widely in this area (not nearly as widely as you, of course), I prefer a more direct “jump in the water” approach to this and related areas.
I’m not interested in “proving” that my own subjective experience has any “objective” validity—I don’t have the time or interest in that; let others who are concerned with proof do what they can. So I don’t insist that whatever I’ve experienced is anything more than my own subjective experience.
Even so, there have been occasions when what I experienced was simultaneously experienced by others, and numerous times when, no matter what was actually happening, instances of telepathy or precognition were recorded.
This entire area remains enshrouded in mystery and will probably remain as such until or unless underlying beliefs in the wider civilization shift away from a predominantly materialist view.
Seth, in his introduction to _Seth Speaks_:
“Most of my readers are familiar with the term, ‘muscle bound.’ As a species you have grown ‘ego bound’ instead, held in a spiritual rigidity, with the intuitive portions of the self either denied or distorted beyond any recognition.”
Bill Ingle, Sun 31 Jan, 17:11
I read the Poole case some years ago and don’t recall the details. I can’t find the book, so can’t pitch in on the debate over it.
Michael Tymn, Fri 29 Jan, 18:46
I get your drift, Michael, and think you’re on to something. If new assistance/guidance comes from the other side, it will likely not fit within previous patterns. Damage was indeed done, and things have no doubt evolved on both sides of the veil. NDEs, while surely as old as human death itself, have garnered increasing attention, but I suspect they’ve largely run their course, even if unconscious patients continue to provide veridical information from the emergency room. No, I find myself coming back instead to the old Christian doctrine of the second coming, in which this liberal clergyman never put much stock. Suddenly, it begins to have new appeal but in a manner far otherwise than Jesus coming back in the clouds. Should my intimations gel in this regard, this blog would be the first place I’d like to explore them.
Newton E. Finn, Fri 29 Jan, 16:49
Clearly, the Tony Youens and Adrian Shaw conjectures have not “debunked” the Poole case! I have no dog in this fight but the piffle imagined by Youens and Shaw has absolutely no significance to anything and is a waste of the time and effort I have taken to read through it.
I would not presume to know what Michael Prescott knows or doesn’t know about so-called “literature” of Skeptics. I have read Prescott’s comments regarding the paranormal for many, many years and based upon what he has stated in writing over those years I am inclined to believe that he is very familiar with the views and evidence provided by Skeptics. I do agree that “we” (whoever that is) should be advised to consider “evidence”, both for and against paranormal explanations but most popular books about the paranormal do not present a legal case of both sides of the argument. Take what is provided in the one example and go on to other cases. – AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 29 Jan, 14:20
I can’t immediately find Imperator’s quote, but he said they misjudged their ability to influence and help us, not realizing there would be so much resistance; thus, they had to back off, as too many innocent people were being hurt. The resistance seems no less now than then. If they do provide assistance, it likely will be less direct and not recognizable as spirit influence.
Michael Tymn, Thu 28 Jan, 20:52
The Jacqui Poole murder mystery has been debunked by Tony Youens and Adrian Shaw. No paranormal explanation is needed.
I don’t think Prescott is familiar with the skeptic literature. He only cites Randi and Gardner. I am disappointed with his book. I don’t think we should present only one side of the evidence.
Abd Lomax, Thu 28 Jan, 20:08
While rereading the superb overview of spiritualism that begins Michael’s “Dead Men Talking,” I was struck by the report that “Feda told Mrs. Leonard that she was going to control her as she had work to do through her because of a great happening (apparently World War I) that would soon take place.” I found myself wondering, in light of the “great happening” of the pandemic and the even greater happenings likely to unfold from the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, whether humanity may be in store for one more, perhaps the last, infusion of proffered assistance and guidance from the other side. Anyone else have similar thoughts?
Newton E. Finn, Thu 28 Jan, 18:28
The contest is certainly a very challenging one. I believe we need more people like Mr. Bigelow.
Michael Tymn, Wed 27 Jan, 21:50
It is so thrilling to be part of these validating conversations. Michael Prescott and Michael Tymn – and so many others – speak the language of truth and wisdom. Of course Bigelow’s “contest” is silly, but like someone else said, it brings the subject further into the zeitgesit where it should be in the evolution of consciousness that we are privileged enough to be contributing to.
Denise David Williams, Wed 27 Jan, 20:35
I took me a minute but I get what you mean! Very good!- AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 27 Jan, 20:25
“I am getting the spooky feeling of “The Amazing Randy” coming back to haunt us all again with his million dollar prize. – AOD”
If the late Mr. Randi did return to offer his $1 million prize, he would win it.
Rick Darby, Wed 27 Jan, 17:50
Denise David Williams,
Robert Bigelow is going to award three prizes for the best (new?) evidence for life after death—-presented in less than 25,000 words. Well, well, well! “Best evidence” for anything is highly subjective and individualistic. I wonder what the criteria will be for the “best evidence” and who determined the qualifications of those who would judge the evidence. I basically don’t like these kinds of things and there is a tinge of publicity hound and narcissist about the one who proposes them. But, more power to Mr. Bigelow if his money will help spread the word about survival. I hope the prize winners support his preconceived ideas about life after death so he will be reassured. (They most assuredly will, if Bigelow has anything to say about it!)
I think that the “best evidence” is not found in any one thing but is suggested or intimated in several if not many things including of course, near death accounts, reincarnation studies and research, studies of mediums both modern and those of centuries past. It has taken me many, many years reading and studying reports and accounts suggesting survival of consciousness after bodily death to come to some understanding of what might be going on. Unfortunately as I learn more and more about the human condition and how and why humans think and do what they do and say, I am tending to think less and less that most of the “evidence’ is very convincing.
I think the enigma of Patience Worth is at the top of my list for the best evidence but I don’t think I could present it in less than 25,000 words nor would I meet Bigelow’s other qualification criteria. My second prize would go to the Bangs sisters with their precipitated paintings and third prize would be a toss-up between Leonora Piper’s mediumistic sessions, Ian Stevenson’s reincarnational studies and the multitude of modern near death reports from all over the world, particularly coming from Germany. Except for the German NDEs, this is all old evidence available to anyone who makes the effort to discover it.
I am getting the spooky feeling of “The Amazing Randy” coming back to haunt us all again with his million dollar prize. – AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 26 Jan, 22:38
Thank you, Denise. I did receive a direct invitation to submit an entry. The problem I have and many others have is that the essays have to be original and previously unpublished. It is extremely difficult to come up with fresh material without plagiarizing oneself. However, I am pondering on it and I suspect that Michael Prescott is as well.
Michael Tymn, Tue 26 Jan, 22:17
Michael, I agree that the most powerful evidence of the afterlife occurred prior to the SPR’s investigations. But what impresses me about the SPR’s work is that it subjected afterlife evidence to strict, protracted scientific scrutiny, with the results being magnificently summarized by Myers in the last chapters of “Human Personality.” What Myers did, yet to be fully appreciated, is tie scientific afterlife evidence into the tapestry of the world’s great religious traditions, separating wheat from chaff according to the new “revelations.” As I said before, some enterprising theologian is going to pick up where Myers left off and again reconnect conceptually, this time in stunning new ways, this world and the next.
Newton Finn, Tue 26 Jan, 22:07
I thought the first (NDE) and last (reincarnation) segments of the series were the best. Those in between were good, but left something to be desired. The one about being able to find information on an Internet search after the medium gave the reading was especially misleading as it left the impression that such was the way she got it. I don’t recall any attempt to suggest that she didn’t get it from the internet. I would have left out the butterfly effect, but it was better than anything else I have seen touching upon all phenomena.
Michael Tymn, Tue 26 Jan, 20:57
Thanks for the plug. As I have said many times, the old research, if properly studied and understood, far exceeds the research that came after 1935, when parapsychology replaced psychical research. Parapsychology wanted nothing to do with spirits and survival and even NDE research did its best avoid the subject until recently. The very best evidence came even before the 1882 formation of the SPR. The research by Judge John Edmonds and Robert Hare is the most impressive of all.
Michael Tymn, Tue 26 Jan, 20:51
Hey guys, Go for this:
From The New York Times:
Can Robert Bigelow (and the Rest of Us) Survive Death?
He’s offering nearly $1 million if you help him figure it out.
Denise David Williams, Tue 26 Jan, 19:19
Just wanted to share a comment I made on Caitlin Johnstone’s Australian blog, read worldwide. Her politics, like mine, are somewhat to the left of Che and thus might turn off many of Michael’s readers, but because they might still appreciate the “evangelical outreach,” here goes: “Caitlin’s accurate criticism of Wikipedia’s political censorship (ostensibly via a small but frenzied group of self-appointed ‘editors’) applies with equal force to Wikipedia’s entries concerning the paranormal, all of which are examples of slanted, selective ‘debunking’ by proponents of scientific materialism. Do Caitlin’s readers know, for example, have even the remotest idea, that the only group of prominent, hardnosed scientists and scholars who set out to debunk the spiritualism craze of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exposing numerous frauds in the process, ALSO FOUND THE REAL THING: concrete, objective, compelling evidence of the existence of an afterlife? Don’t believe me? Please do your own research and reading; dig into the decades of painstaking, professional work performed by the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Unlike Wikipedia, Michael Tymn’s accurate, informative, and entertaining books are great places to start, especially “Resurrecting Leonora Piper.” Yes, my friends, despite what’s been drummed into us by our social conditioning, despite what most of us have been led to believe science has shown, it turns out we have something like souls after all, apart from any traditional religious doctrine or dogma or creed.”
Newton Finn, Tue 26 Jan, 17:02
Off-topic: Netflix streaming offers an alternative to its usual menu of serial-killer, teenage romance, cop procedural, and zombie movies. A six-part series, Surviving Death, gives viewers a glimpse of research into spirit communication, mediumship, and similar phenomena, although the show is diluted by entertainment values.
On the positive side, the series devotes reasonable screen time — not just video bites — to serious psychical researchers such as Bruce Greyson, Chris Roe of the SPR, Loyd Auerbach, and others. In six episodes they might have found room for others who have been willing to be interviewed for video: Peter Fenwick, Sam Parnia, et al. NDExperiencers such as Mary Neal describe their out-of-body journeys.
The episodes about mediumship aren’t bad. They include sessions with a Dutch mental and physical medium who seems to be on the level.
An episode featuring a support group for people grieving over relatives who passed over is pretty much a waste of time (for outside viewers; it clearly helped the group members). The healing on offer is based on spirits of the departed leaving physical “messages” to announce they are still around. There is one remarkable video of home lights blinking separately in apparent random sequences — I think this is an actual recording of the phenomenon, though throughout the series it isn’t always easy to distinguish what are called, in radio and TV biz, “actualities” from ersatz staging. Generally, though, the “signs” described consist of flowers, lights, birds, and touching. Without assuming all these are fantasies, they are ambiguous enough to raise questions. Thanks to the series producer and director for allowing one of the group members to express his inability to quite be convinced by a “spirit” bird visiting. There are millions of birds flying around, he says, and they have to settle somewhere.
The directorial style is likely to be irritating to any viewer with a triple-digit IQ. It carries some of the techniques that today’s TV documentaries use hoping to prevent boredom: bombarding the audience with sensory stimuli, especially quick cutting and “illustrating.” If a speaker says he witnessed a chair tipping backward, we are shown a chair tipping backward, even though the effect and the shot that captured it were obviously created artificially in the studio. It’s assumed that today’s documentary “consumers” have no imagination, and even verbal descriptions have to be transcribed into action sequences for them.
I’m glad that Netflix chose to back the Surviving Death series. Despite its limitations, it takes the subject seriously and avoids sensationalizing it. Most of its content will be familiar to readers here, but for some others it may be a revelation.
Rick Darby, Tue 26 Jan, 04:19
Bill, it is usually not that easy to find a competent medium and to get the answer you are looking for. You lucked out in the situation you described. Thanks for sharing.
Michael Tymn, Wed 20 Jan, 19:21
I was pleasantly surprised to come across a piece featuring both Michaels. I’ve known of Michael P.‘s blog for many years and immediately thought of it and Michael upon coming upon Michael T. here.
I tend to agree with Michael P.‘s thoughts regarding communication mechanisms but I can’t forget a medium-enabled conversation with Ken Olsen, founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, several years after his death.
I asked Ken, quite the engineer in his day, whether he thought electronic communication between the living and dead was possible. He thought this likely, but suggested it might be necessary to raise venture capital for such a project, as it might entail high expenses.
Of course I can’t prove I was actually conversing with the shade of Olsen, but the circumstances made it quite convincing—the medium had never heard of Olsen, knew nothing of DEC, and was only given “Ken” after asking me who I would like her to contact. She described an encounter with a very “mathematical” mind prior to proceeding to communication.
Why bother to go to all of that trouble when a competent medium can accomplish this, without any complicated equipment?
Maybe it would be more convincing than the services of a medium to those unfamiliar with the inner world and fond of today’s electronic devices, especially those who are distrustful of all things “psychic.”
In the meantime, we can purchase Michael P.‘s book. If enough do this, it could catch on and become a best-seller; possibly, some of those distrustful folks will then read it. Some might even change their beliefs after doing so.
Bill Ingle, Wed 20 Jan, 05:47
I immediately purchased the Kindle version. Thank you Michael, for putting your thinking about this subject into book form.
James (Jay) Oeming, Tue 19 Jan, 19:31
I’ve come across Michael Prescott’s views in his blog previously and have a lot of time for his perspectives. Thanks for this interesting piece, Michael, its good to know that White Crow managed to capture this book. I must get round to reading one of his suspense novels soon.
Keith P i England, Mon 18 Jan, 22:08
I think it is wonderful he has written such a book.
It is good he has, like you, brought out in the present time, information of the serious researchthat has been done in the past… about life after death, mediumship, etc.
I like his view of life as basically a continual extension of reality…
I would say that for most, unless a person has a place where there is regular attendance at, for example,spirit sessions, where there are mediums one trusts, and from them constantly receive information over many years that keeps corroborating (and reinforcing) proof of actual mediumship and of the afterlife…if one only reads the literature available, one can only come to a certain opinion and that is it. Glad to hear his belief is at 90% to 95%!
That is why, as you know, as you look back in history people started their own “circles”…
to see and experience for themselves the phenomena and to continue to study it first hand.
Anyone can start a spiritual study group.
Eventually, I have found, if a group is sincere, serious and persevering in their pursuit of truth, eventually some people in the group either develop mediumship spontaneously and/or people will “show up” who are mediums at these groups… due to spirit influence.
That is because the spirits want to talk to us, they want us to believe in them, they want us to be prepared aboutwhat lies beyond material life, they want us to know the spiritual laws and purpose of material life, they want us to help them to help those spirits that need adjustment to their new situation after transition in the spirit world. They want us to know the two sides of LIFE.
The various phenomena and evidentiary information that will arise within the group will eventually convince the seriously discerning to 100%.
These circle activities will be common in the future… People are starving for spiritual nourishment and they want to have their own spiritual experience.
Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find: knock and the door will be opened to you.”
(medium of over 40 years, has been attending a group since 1978)
Yvonne Limoges, Mon 18 Jan, 20:34
Michael Prescott’s The Far Horizon is a brilliant meditation on human nature and destiny. His thesis is that we are all spiritual beings of pure awareness weighed down by human flesh, with death our deliverance and the Mind of God the ultimate prize. Reincarnation cases, deathbed visions, NDEs, apparitions, earthbound spirits, and mediumistic communications form the foundation of his thesis. In an arresting analogy, one of many, he compares each of us to a diamond, with our personality a flawed facet struggling through a succession of lives. The core of the diamond, or “oversoul,” is beautiful and precious, and at death we are reunited with it. Reading Prescott was both exciting and humbling: Here was a colleague with perspectives, as far apart as quantum theory and cosmic consciousness, that I had largely ignored in my research on the afterlife, and I found myself taking notes! Moreover, he writes with a flourish unusual for a scholar. From beginning to end, an engrossing read.
– Stafford Betty, author of The Afterlife Therapist and Heaven and Hell Unveiled
Stafford Betty, Mon 18 Jan, 18:11
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