Monday, June 16, 2008

Dubious about Dubois

EDITOR"S NOTE: I wanted to add this point of clarification which I seemed to have omitted from the post itself. I in no way am calling Allison Dubois' or Laurie Campbell's work with the Veritas Research Program into question. I am merely commenting on the controversy surrounding Ms. Dubois' public claims to having played a crucial and pivotal role in the resolution of several high profile investigations across the country.

I have been publicly criticized in the past for crossing the white line. The white line is the psychic world's equivalent to the "blue line" you find in the world of law enforcement. Like the blue line, the white line is an unwritten code of silence and a demarcation of loyalty. If you are a cop and you cross the blue line, you are essentially considered a dirty rat, scum-sucking snitch, yellow-bellied whistle-blower who better watch his back. So, by writing this, I am essentially warned of the pounding that may follow for criticizing a fellow medium.

I experienced a little of this last year when I crossed that white line by challenging medium, Laurie Campbell. Ms. Campbell is a medium made famous by Dr. Gary E. Schwartz in his seminal work, The Afterlife Experiments.

Some have dubbed Laurie Campbell as the most tested medium of her times. This claim may actually be true of this century, though many could still argue that this distinction and honor more properly belongs to Leonora Piper.

Described as a shy, unassuming housewife at the time that Dr. Schwartz met her, Laurie Campbell quickly rose to the top of her game and became the standard bearer for all mediums entering Dr. Schwartz's Veritas Research Program. As a CRM (certified research Medium), Laurie was extremely generous with her time and extremely happy with the attention and business The Afterlife Experiments brought her. As she should have been.

Then in 2005, something changed. That change was a show called Medium, based on the life of fellow CRM, Allison Dubois.

In the lab, Dr. Schwartz called Allison Dubois the "Michael Jordan of mediums." However in 2005, Dubois and Schwartz fell out of favor with each other over Schwartz publication of his book, "The Truth About Medium," which coincided with the debut of the show based on her life and professional claims.

According to Dubois, she had asked Dr. Schwartz not to include her name or her stories in his book. Dr. Schwartz contradicts this, saying Dubois had always been very willing to have her name associated with his research, and had signed a waiver indicating so. He has said this many times, including on my own internet radio program, AfterlifeFM Profiles.

I mention Allison Dubois' falling out with Dr. Schwartz because Laurie Campbell also filed a breach of confidentiality complaint against Dr. Schwartz around this time. I'm not implying anything fishy by this, but it has been suggested to me, though I have no evidence for it, that Allison herself may have influenced Laurie's decision to file this motion as well as having been the influence behind Laurie's famous TV appearance attacking Dr. Schwartz's professional ethics.

On Octeober 6, 2007 (my 40th birthday), Laurie embarked on what I see as a calculated character assassination against the very same man who catapulted her career into the spotlight, Dr. Gary E. Schwartz. I say character assassination only because it's difficult to find another term to describe the type of journalism that was showcased on the Geraldo at large show that evening.

Originally, Fox News had posted a blurb on their website that indicated that Allison Dubois would also appear on the program. She did not, so Laurie appeared alongside investigative journalist Marianne Macy, and together, they picked apart Dr. Schwartz with one unsubstantiated innuendo after another.

I digress. The real focus of this post is not Laurie campbell, but her former associate and current friend, Allison Dubois. Allison Dubois' own fame is centered around some very impressive claims and personal history. The claims entail her pivotal role in assisting the law enforcement agencies of different states in the discovery of information and evidence that led to the apprehension and subsequent imprisonment of several "bad guys". These claims are the foundation of the show Medium.

Ever since Allison has made these claims the springboard of her career, skeptics and debunkers have zeroed in on her. That is their job after all. Most famous of these skeptics is James Randi, who has challenged Allison Dubois to take him up on his "Million Dollar Challenge."

However, the most convincing skeptical review of Allison Dubois' claims was assembled by a skeptical online website called, The Two-Percent Company. In 2005, the Two-Percent Company was fed up with claims that the show Medium was based on a "true story" that they ran Allison Dubois Week - an entire week devoted to investigating Ms. Dubois' claims. The research they did was pretty thorough, and it left me very skeptical of her story as well.

That report is now almost three years old, and Ms. Dubois has never fully answered the credibility questions that the Two-Percent Company brought up. Ms. Dubois and the show, Medium, are no worse for the wear, as her books are still selling well and Medium is in its fourth season, still pulling in impressive ratings.

As of this week, though, the Allison Dubois saga was revived with the publication of a cover story in the Phoenix New TImes News. The article is extremely well-researched and managed to dig a little deeper into other claims made by Ms. Dubois which also raise the credibility issue. More interesting in some respects, the Phoenix New TImes reporter was actually able to get Ms. Dubois to open up about the criticisms she's received, plus the article is sprinkled with interviews of Ms. Dubois' children and key people involved in some of the lore surrounding Ms. Dubois' life and career.

Judging from Ms. Dubois' reaction to the article, the story must have come as a bit of a shock and hit a raw nerve. To some degree, I find Ms. Dubois' childish threats to the Phoenix New TImes reporter more disturbing than the possible exaggerations of the claims she has made. The reactions themselves are indicative of a person driven by vengeance rather than by science. These type of threats would be more at home in the political arena than in the world of spiritual enlightenment.

As a medium devoted to the promotion of psi research and the demotion of charlatans, I would hope that Ms. Dubois would genuinely tackle the very valid criticisms made against her rather than attack those who make them. The more ammunition we give the skeptics to ridicule and debase the search for outer consciousness, the more banging of our heads against the wall we'll experience.

So, Ms. Dubois, until you address point by point the claims you make and the claims made against you, I will consider you a liability to this profession, and if ever asked, I will publicly voice this concern. This may be of little importance to you now, seeing that very little can unbalance your success, but I think inside where things matter to you, the rising volume of people questioning your integrity really does matter to you, or else you wouldn't be lashing out so childishly.

Make no mistake, this post is not about one medium railing against another medium, or a psychic bashing driven by professional jealousy. This post is about the integrity of The Great Question - "Do we survive?" To me, this question must be defended before it is debated. If the people making the case for the survival hypothesis lose credibility, the question itself loses credibility.

It is not enough if Allison Dubois' claims are almost true, or somewhat true. They either are true or they are not. You can't have it both ways in this debate. As a medium, I am always aware of this pressure, so I do the easiest thing I know, stick to the truth, even if it makes me look bad.

My own personal motto as a medium is one I wrote and one that's simple to remember - "there is redemption in truth, and great knowledge in seeking it." This is a motto I hope all mediums will adopt one day, including the ones mentioned above.