Friday, May 11, 2007

Deport all Mediums!!

I've been doing some perusing around the internet, visiting various science-based parapsychology websites or PSI friendly blogs and one thing has become increasingly clear to me... mediums are the illegal aliens toiling the field of parapsychology. That is, with very rare exception, mediums are not mentioned, acknowledged or assimilated into the greater family of parapsychology study.

If mentioned at all, mediums are relegated to the respect level of lab rats; set free from their cages on special occasions to perform tasks that offer up statistical opposition to chance probability.

Perhaps the marginalization of mediums is warranted. After all, the industry has historically been ripe with frauds, quacks and hucksters... but so has the insurance industry, medicine, politics, and yes, that sacred hall of intellectual elitism, academic research.

My guess is that parapsychology researchers are more interested in garnering personal acceptance from skeptical, university peers than they are interested in enfranchising mediums like me. Well, that's a real shame because good mediums are out there, and we're a huge untapped resource. So, instead of treating us like lab rats, perhaps you might want to do something a little radical, like invite us to the collective consciousness conference table.


Michael Prescott said...

A hundred years ago there were some real partnerships between mediums and researchers - look at Leonora Piper in Boston and Gladys Osborne-Leonard in the UK. A little later, Eileen Garrett impressed parapsychologists around the world; she even set up her own research institute.

Unfortunately the "lab rat" mentality took over the field of parapsychology around the middle of the century, when it also took over mainstream psychology. I guess we can thank the behaviorists and related materialists for that.

Nowadays it's hard to get a psychology researcher or a neuroscientist even to admit that there is such a thing as consciousness or the self; that's how engrained materialism has become. But attitudes are changing, as evidenced by the recent publication of Irreducible Mind by Edward F. Kelly et al. Hopefully the infatuation with behaviorist models is on its way out, and an attitude of mutual respect between researchers and test subjects can be reestablished.

In the field of psychology (and parapsychology) I sometimes think we have lost at least as much as we've gained in the last fifty years. But perhaps it's necessary to take a step back in order to take two steps forward.

Btw, for an excellent overview of the early days of scientific research into mediumship, see Deborah Blum's book Ghost Hunters.

The County Clerk said...


I'd like to read some speculation from you as to why this is the case. The comment is good.

What do YOU think?

Marcel Cairo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcel Cairo said...

Today, parapsychologist are coming back out of the closet to demand respect; however, they've chosen to talk, dress and look like their oppressors. They are so hard up for membership in scientific country club, that they are willing to keep clairavoyants and the like locked up and gagged in the basement.

Clairavoyants don't know how to talk science. For the most part, mediums usually talk with both feet in their mouths. I know I do. For us, it's hard to talk about consciousness without talking about "love." Science can't define or prove love. Science doesn't know how to deal with love. Other than teenage pregnancies and a really high divorce rate, love is a statiscal black hole.

Then again, maybe I'm just talking the smack of a proud, yet sleep deprived Daddy. Thanks for listening, though.

M.C. said...

My guess is that parapsychology researchers are more interested in garnering personal acceptance from skeptical, university peers than they are interested in enfranchising mediums like me.

Scientists are just like everybody else -- they want to be respected by members of their sociological community.

The concept of life after death has become a taboo, labelled "superstition", supposedly overcome with the advent of modern science.

So any phenomenon that points at the reality of the survival of consciousness is avoided, because such thinking will have you labelled as a kook, and no one will pay attention.

However, the truth always has the last word. So there are some brave souls who are going where the evidence demands. As they continue to amass evidence for the survival of consciousness, those who refuse to address it will lose more and more credibility among the general public who are much more open to the survival hypothesis.

Annalisa said...

Indeed the issue of survival is a touchy subject within parapsychology, and as a result, there are a number of topics that don't get as much attention as they deserve...even at the fringes of science. However, I don't think that the situation is as bad as you have stated above.

Just a couple of years ago, I attended a conference on mediumship hosted by the Parapsychology Foundation, which was open to the public and attended by a number of mediums. The conference highlighted quite a bit of current research being done with mediums. Perhaps there is a conference proceedings available?

Then there's Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona who is actively doing research with mediums. Stephen Braude at the University of Maryland would very much be in your camp, and his books Immortal Remains or The Limits of Influence are both excellent reads.

I'm collaborating on a web site that will be tapping into this resource in a couple of months. Stay tuned to my blog for an announcement.

Dean Radin said...

One reason that parapsychology historically moved from mediumship (survival-oriented) to psychic research (psi in the living) is because mediums and psychics are observed to do the same thing -- they both gain verifiable (sometimes) information by means that bypass the ordinary senses.

But interpretation of where the information comes from is quite different. For the former the claim is information from discarnates, for the latter the claim is information from living people or verifiable objects. Since we don't have any way of directly verifying the former, most research has shifted to the latter because the resulting interpretations are much more straightforward.

A second reason is that funding for parapsychological work is practically nonexistent, so that severely limits what is going to be studied, and how many people are going to be involved in the field. At any given time there are a handful of scientists working in parapsychology full time. Compare that to say, the 150,000 members of the American Psychological Association, and the problem is clear. When you have hundreds of millions of people interested in these phenomena worldwide, but just a few people actively engaged in studying them, advancements will move very slowly.

A third reason is that working with people who claim special talents is difficult because there aren't all that many of them around in the first place (with verifiable skill), and even fewer among the talented who are willing to put up with scientific standards and methodological constraints. How those constraints make the medium or psychic feel is largely up to the investigator. E.g., if one feels like a lab rat, the investigator is not doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

Actually it's the parapsychologists who are left out in the cold...

"I thought it might interest you to hear about some of my experiences learning mediumship at a Spiritualist church."

"It's sort of odd that in the mainstream culture of the US, psychic abilities are considered either non-existent or rare and unusual, while at the same time Spiritualists have been quietly going about their daily lives living with and experiencing psychic phenomena as a normal everyday thing as certain and natural as the sunrise or the changing seasons."

Anonymous said...

marcel caro said, "Clairavoyants don't know how to talk science."

It's worse than that. Too often in the psychic community there is a prejudice against educated people especially scientists and engineers.

"Spiritualists formed churches so that their beliefs and practices would be considered as valid as any other religion in the eyes of society. This was needed to protect them from persecution. It is profoundly ignorant and hypocritical for a spiritualist to publicly make any group of people the butt of jokes and snide comments about perceived handicaps. Anyone claiming to be a spiritual teacher would be embarrassed to be found out making jokes about ethnic or religious groups or about people with handicaps. Yet slurs against educated individuals continue at Spiritualist churches."

Anonymous said...

Survival researchers are too dependent on the mainstream scientific community for acceptance. Survival has been proven over and over in the last 150 years. (If you didn't know this look up the references in "History of Spiritualism" by Arthur Conan Doyle, and in Victor Zammit's book). Survival researchers should stop repeating the basic experiment of trying to prove survival and start trying to understand how it works. With greater understanding of how it works, greater reliability of mediums might be attained and improved teaching methods could allow more people to be mediums. That would also have an effect on gaining acceptance by mainstream science. We need to be bold and move forward and let the rest of science worry about itself when they realize they have a lot of catching up to do.

But, the problem works both ways. Mediums need to be more open to scientific investigation. For example, it could be extremely enlightening if the circle of the silver cord had a "scientific advisor" who could pose questions and follow-up questions to the spirits.

Maybe the problem is that there is a deep disconnect between the scientific and the psychic communities.