45. Researching Psychic Mediums

download interview (MP3 36:06min, 17MB)

[audio: http://ba0.8a3.myftpupload.com/older-shows/skeptiko-2008-06-02-41638.mp3]

Announcer: On this episode of skeptiko, psychic medium researcher, Dr. Julie Beischel, on research into the afterlife.

“If there’s a question, that science’s job. There’s no line of what you can and cannot ask but, if you’re at a university, then there is because there’s public pressure and, you know, they are just a giant nonprofit basically. Like, they have to worry about funding and, you know, people were getting…you know…saying things like, “Oh, this is such a waste of taxpayer money.” No university dollar ever went to support our research. It was totally privately funded.”
–Julie Beischel, Ph.D.

Alex: Welcome to skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and, if you recall, on our last episode of skeptiko, we began our psychic medium research and it featured an interview that I had with the group over at The Skeptics Guide to the Universe regarding the protocol that we’re going to use to do our demonstration of whether psychic mediums really can connect with any real information or whether all their purported claims are really just cold reading.

If you recall, on that episode, I referenced a couple of times a researcher, formally at the University of Arizona, named Julie Beischel, who was a colleague of Gary Schwartz, probably the most famous researcher with psychic mediums. Now, Julie has gone out on her own, for reasons that will become clear as this interview with her proceeds, and she’s started an organization called The Windbridge Institute which furthers her research into psychic mediums.

So, a couple of months ago, I had a chance to reach Julie over the phone and chat about this upcoming demonstration that we’re doing with Steve Novella and The Skeptics Guide and, in the process, we talked about a number of other subjects that I think are very very interesting to me, very very near and dear to my heart, including the importance of money [laughs] and how it really drives research and just the abysmal situation that we have where probably the most important fundamental question we could ask about human consciousness or about humankind at all—that is whether our experience here on earth is all there is or whether something of our experience survives our death—how we’ve reached this almost unbelievable situation where there is virtually no research into this topic despite the fact that there’s an ever increasing set of tools and protocols that we can apply to probing these questions.

So, before I get into that, a little bit of background on Julie. We didn’t have a chance to talk about this directly but, I’ll just share with you a little bit about her story because I think it’s pretty amazing.

So, Julie, as you’ll come to find out when you hear her speak, is a very, very bright person and her educational background is what led her into this research. She was kind of rolling along as a graduate student after graduating magna cum laude with a degree in environmental sciences. She was taking a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology with a minor in microbiology at the University of Arizona.

So, she’s rolling along towards her Ph.D. and experiences a very traumatic death in her family, of her mother, when she’s relatively young. Julie’s 24 years old. Her mother dies, and it really sends her scouring everything she can get her hands on to try and get a grip with what does death mean? What happens? What does science say about what happens when we die? In the process, she comes across, of course, mediums who claim that they can connect with people on the other side and suggest that consciousness doesn’t end with the death of our physical body but that it extends on and she wonders, as a scientifically minded person, whether any of this can possibly be true but she’s also a grieving person so she wants to explore it rather than dismiss it out of hand.

This leads her to John Edwards, of course, the famous psychic medium who was on TV for a long time and, as some of you know, he did some work with Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona. So, in the process of kind of exploring that channel, she comes across Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona. She’s never heard of Gary Schwartz, doesn’t know anything about Gary Schwartz, but here is this guy at the same institution, the University of Arizona, where she’s getting her Ph.D.

So, she [laughs] goes over and essentially knocks on his door and says, “Tell me. Tell me everything I can know. How can I learn? How can I understand whether any of this is real and whether I can really connect with my mother who’s passed away?”

Well, that initial meeting and that initial drive for information is what led to a six-year collaboration with Dr. Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona, and Dr. Julie Beischel who have published many many papers, numerous papers, in peer-review journals and have really done the best research on mediums and their ability to connect with people who have passed away.

So, I feel very very fortunate that Julie has agreed to consult with us on this demonstration. And, of course, as you’ll hear, she knows her stuff. She is a scientist first and foremost and has approached this research in a very very logical and scientifically well-reasoned way. Now, you know, when you talk about somebody who’s a Ph.D. in pharmacology, those folks know how to put together studies and run protocols. I mean, that’s part and parcel of what they do in testing drugs, right?
So, on to this very very enjoyable for me and I think very interesting and enlightening interview with Dr. Julie Beischel from The Windbridge Institute.

[intro music plays]

Julie: Why don’t you tell me about what exactly you want to do with this example or demonstration.

Alex: Well, what happened was this. I kind of stumbled into this debate with these skeptics at…I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this…Dr. Steven Novella and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe show, but it is…you know…to their credit, it’s one of the most popular shows on the internet. They get at least 30,000 listeners a week which is really pretty, you know, bigger than many many radios shows out there…

Julie: Uh huh…

Alex: …and it’s a really, as I’m sure you’ve encountered with these skeptics…it’s a real…[laughs]…it’s a real, you know, highly charged group. So, I got into this debate with them about how they don’t ever do any research…blah…blah…blah…and, the next thing you know, we’re doing medium research.

Julie: Um hum…

Alex: So, I was fine with doing that and I said, you know…I’ve talked…I’ve spoke with Gary a couple of times…

Julie: Um hum…

Alex: …you know, a really great guy, hard to get enough time with him…I had actually contacted him more than a year ago about doing some kind of experiment, a demonstration, I don’t want to call it an experiment. You do experiments. People like me do demonstrations.

Julie: [laughs]

Alex: …but…but…anyways, you know, that just kind of never materialized.

Julie: Okay.

Alex: So, here’s my thought, you know. I can go into this thing with Steve Novella and his group and what I said is, “Look. You guys pick the sitters. I’ll pick the mediums. We’ll do it.” I said, “I think, you know, the basic protocol that these guys have used in Arizona…it’s a very simple straightforward protocol…eliminates, you know, 99% of what anyone would constitute as cold reading and we’ll just evaluate…we’ll evaluate the results. We’re not doing hard research here but, you know, I think we’ll demonstrate something.”

Julie: Okay.

Alex: Well, then, I got the idea that, you know, what I thought would be kind of neat is to actually have you and your group on as kind of consultants on the project just because these guys…well, how have you dealt with skeptics? I mean, have you just kind of avoided…

Julie: Yeah…yeah…

Alex: …the whole thing or…?

Julie: …well, you know…because I just went out on my own starting at the beginning of January…so, Gary and I had an understanding that I would perform all the research and he would deal with the press. So, he was always like the face…

Alex: Right.

Julie: …of the research. So, I never really had to come face to face. You know what I mean? I never had to personally address that, you know…I clearly…

Alex: Yeah. You were flying under the radar a little bit.

Julie: Exactly. And I, you know, I clearly rant and rave in my own living room but…um…you know, I just try and ignore it. I [laughs] try not to read…um…internet…we have a joke at Windbridge that, you know, good science is peer-reviewed and a blog on the internet is not my peer.

Alex: Yeah, you know…I hear that…

Julie: [laughs]

Alex: I hear that feeling a lot but, I gotta tell you, after having done this thing for a year…and I mean, I’ve spoken with…I’ve just tried to speak with the best people, you know, the top notch people. So, Dean Radin…great…had some good conversations…he’s been on the show…

Julie: Um hum…

Alex: …and we’ve emailed back and forth, you know…Stephen Schwartz…like I said, I’ve talked to Gary…he was never on the show…Rupert Sheldrake, you know, researchers.
Julie: Right.

Alex: Ed and Emily Kelly…

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: So, not, you know, just like hack kind of people.

Julie: Right.

Alex: But, I really really strongly think…and I really admire Gary for this…is that we can’t ignore these skeptics. You just can’t ignore them. And you’ve got somebody like Steve Novella and he’s got the credentials, you know, neurologist at Yale, and he…it’s not just him. What’s amazed me is the layer behind, you know, because we can all say, “Oh, these crazy skeptics and they get together, you know…and all that.” But they really embolden a whole group inside the scientific community. And I’m sure [laughs] you’ve run into this. I mean, you’ve kind of put your academic career on the line by going into this research. But…

Julie: Oh, yeah. There’s no turning back for me.

Alex: Yeah…I was just going to say…

Julie: You can be sure it was a foolish idea…

Alex: I mean, at what point did you think…at what point did you decide to just kind of trash your whole academic future [laughs] and decide to paddle upstream the whole way?

Julie: [laughs] ummm…I don’t…I think that I thought that I could go back…like I thought I could accept this position at the university and that I could do that for a few years and then I could go back but then, it…like all of a sudden it was too late…[laughs]…

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: …and too much time had gone by so…yeah…I’m in it for the long haul now I think.

Alex: You’re in it for the long haul…

Julie: But I think…I think it’s really important. You know, I could have stayed in pharmacology and…ummm…and, you know, they used to quote us the, you know, the chance that you’ll ever work on the drug that goes to market is infinitesimal.

Alex: Yeah [laughs]

Julie: You’ll spend your whole life working for a drug company and you won’t do any good…

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: …and then, you know, I started learning more about drugs and maybe drugs aren’t always the answer and so it wasn’t like…that field wasn’t for me anyway.

Alex: Uh huh…uh huh…

Julie: Ummm…but, you know, I have all that training, of course.

Alex: Well, I mean that’s…and that’s fantastic now because…yeah, anyone who…I listened to your interview that you did with Dean Radin and, you know, I mean, it just comes through that you know how to put together a good research project and that’s not…

Julie: Yeah, and that’s why they hired me, you know, at the University of Arizona, was because I’m a good methodologist.

Alex: Right.

Julie: So, I hope I can help you and…you know…I can at least do that. I know I’m good at that, I think, so…

Alex: And, you know, in this case, in the one that I’m doing…and I really do…I didn’t mean that totally as a kind of flippant remark, you know. I think it’s important for you…if you get involved with this project and I really hope that you will…I think it’s important to differentiate between your research and this demonstration, you know. But, at the same time, what I think it does…what I want to do is show that there are serious scientists who are doing this research and that…two things…one, that that’s true. And then, two, if we just…if we just would bother to look at what they’re doing, it kind of provides a framework for anyone who wants to do some personal exploration. You know, because…I’ll tell you my personal experience with it is that…you know…just reading Gary’s book kind of empowered me to say, “You know what. I’ve always had an interest in this stuff and I’ve kind of looked at it from the outside. I want to experience it myself.” And I just…this was just a year or year and a half ago, so…and I’d never had any big psychic experiences but I called up the…you know…I started calling up mediums and doing it.

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: I said, “Okay, you know, I don’t want to put you off or anything but, you know, what would be most meaningful for me is just to establish whether you really have anything so…I’m not going to say any…” you know…following kind of the basic outline of the protocol. And, I think that’s one of the ways that your research can really be meaningful to people.

Julie: Yeah. You know, if people read my paper…

Alex: I mean…like the triple blind one?

Julie: You know, there’s an example of how, you know, a properly designed study can get positive effects. I’m not saying it works every time or that it’s proof…undeniable proof or anything but, you know, but…you know…there you go.

Alex: Right. But, I mean…

Julie: But we…that’s the first thing skeptics say, “peer-review. It hasn’t been peer-reviewed.” But, you know, The Journal of the Society for Psychical Research is like a hundred years old and The Journal for Parapsychology. Those are all peer-reviewed.

Alex: Right.

Julie: Ummm…and that article…that Explorer article that’s on the computer, you’d say well…I don’t know…

Alex: Well, I mean, you’ve obviously taken every reasonable objection that someone could have with regard to cold reading…has just been completely completely removed from the process and, yet, you know, that’s the thing that the skeptics…and the good skeptics…I mean, like, you know, if you listen to Steve Novella, he’s not a ranter and a raver, but he just hasn’t…it’s…they just don’ really read the research. I mean that’s what it really comes down to.

Julie: I know they’re…you know…that’s a good explanation. That’s a very viable explanation…is cold reading…if you don’t control for it, so, yeah…you know…you should call people on that. But, when it’s controlled for, you don’t have…that’s not a valid argument anymore.

Alex: Yeah, but…you know…I have to say…and I don’t…I always kind of wondered this about the research that you did with Gary at the University of Arizona, do you get to some point where you kind of suck the life out of the reader?

Julie: Yeah. And, actually, we did that. Ummm…where we did a study…I haven’t published the results yet…where we simply emailed the medium the first name of a deceased person and we said, “Okay, do a reading and email it back to us.” And we didn’t have…we weren’t part of it, so that’s…they only had that piece of information…

Alex: Uh huh…

Julie: …and they did it on their own and it didn’t work. They couldn’t get the information like they could…

Alex: Right.

Julie: …the same medium…

Alex: Right.

Julie: …like, she could…you know…where they’re interacting with the sitter…even if it’s the proxy sitter, which it always is…ummm…but, a couple of the mediums did well and so I looked into how they did it. And the…one is a dyslexic so she couldn’t be typing with language while she was trying to get the information. What she did was she just had her friend come and sit in as the proxy and she did a reading out loud with the friend there.

Alex: Wow.

Julie: That worked.

Alex: Huh.

Julie: So, you can control the phenomena right out of existence.

Alex: Yeah. Yeah. And I think the other part of it, you know…so, there’s…and there’s two parts of the phenomena, you know, there’s…I’m just preaching to the choir here but, I mean…

Julie: [laughs]

Alex: …the one phenomenon is, yeah, statistically, there’s kind of more hits but the other part of the phenomena…that I think…anyone who hasn’t had a reading can’t really grasp is the personal connection to some of the information, you know…I mean…

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: They’ll say one or two things and it’s just like…you know, someone from the outside says, “So, what. I mean, they saw something…” They go like, “No. That is like the most important thing with my…
Julie: Right. Right.

Alex: …my relationship with my mom or my daughter. “ You know. And I’ve had that…I’ve had that experience with…

Julie: Yeah. We used to do two sets of scores. So, for each item the rater scored for accuracy and for emotional significance. But, it’s very…that’s very time consuming for the rater to have to think…you know…and then you have to go back and forth. How right is it? How much does it mean to me? Because that’s…that’s a hard thought process to accomplish and you have to follow the donor’s wishes and our donor wasn’t that interested. He was more interested in the accuracy scores and not really the emotional significance so we stopped doing it because it takes so much extra time.

But it is definitely a very important part of…if you’re just getting a reading for yourself. Definitely. You know, it’s not how right the stuff is. It’s how important it is to you.

[interview stops here]

[comment by Alex]

Alex: Okay, at this point the conversation shifted to some of the particulars of the demonstration that we’re doing and I’m not going to include all that. It isn’t all that interesting. But, then I asked Julie about how things ended with her relationship with the University of Arizona and, of course, Gary Schwartz who is the best known researcher on afterlife and mediumship research. And here’s what Julie had to say.

[interview begins again]

Julie: We…uh…the funding ran out. The…ummm…you know…Gary never received any funding. He did the work he did on the afterlife experiments on the side…and I think like, when he did like HBO specials or whatever, they funded the time involved and whatnot but…ummm…when I came on board 4½ years ago, just one donor donated the money for my salary. And so, I was the only one getting paid. And then, towards the very end, we had a part-time student research assistant.

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: So that was all the money that there was coming in and, you know, we tapped that guy out after 4½ years of him funding, you know, 1½ people’s salaries. He was tapped out. He didn’t want…he didn’t want to do that anymore, which I can understand.

Alex: Wow.

Julie: It’s a lot of money.
Alex: Wow.

Julie: So…

Alex: Yeah. But it’s just…it’s just…I mean, it’s just staggering. Oh, man. You want to go out shouting at the TV. You know. It’s like. Oh, you know. There goes a billion dollars here, you know…a billion dollars on some rocket or, you know, 100 million dollars on some research. Geez Louise. Don’t we want to know? Don’t we want to know what happens after we die?

Julie: I was talking with a psychologist the other day and she does grief counseling seminars…

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: …for people and she talks about the afterlife. And she was saying that she charges…it’s some really really cheap amount, like $75.00 or something…to come to these seminars and people are like, Oh, that’s too expensive.” And she was like, “How much did your highlights cost?”

Alex: Exactly.

Julie: You know, like, “You go every month to get your hair done and it costs $75.00 but you won’t pay $75.00 to learn that you survive your physical death?” Like what? Yeah. So, there’s a big disconnect. And, you know, people are, you know, so excited and they love to hear what I do and they’re, you know, “We’re so supportive.” but, our…you know…I went off on my own…the other thing was the university was taking a lot of slack. I don’t really know all the details but my impression is they were taking a lot of slack and so they stopped allowing us to publically fundraise.

Alex: Oh.

Julie: So, now, I don’t have a donor and I’m not allowed to find a new one.

Alex: Yeah. That’s unbelievable. You know what. I kind of suspected but I didn’t want to say but that whole Geraldo thing which is the biggest piece of crap…you know…that just had to have an impact and it’s just the same old thing with…and that’s why I think this whole skeptical thing is that, you know, if we’re not standing up to the skeptics then as soon as somebody does something like that and there’s even a hint, it just…boom…you know, the university just closes down.

Julie: Yeah. And I think…ummm…that did have an effect also on people that, you know, wanted to be associated with us too like that so…

Alex: Exactly.

Julie: …so it was like, everybody knew it was a bunch of crap but people like, “Hey, we don’t want to get caught in the storm, you know, when…” of people…“If you’re getting attacked, we don’t want to be associated with you and get attacked alongside.”

Alex: Absolutely.

Julie: So, now, we’re losing colleagues…

Alex: Yeah. No. Ah, that so sucks…that so sucks. Yeah. Yeah. So, do you think you’re going to be able to keep going?

Julie: I hope. You know…like we went to a conference a couple of weekends ago in San Francisco that The Forever Family Foundation put on.

Alex: Yep. Yep.

Julie: It went really well. You know it was for a lay audience and, you know, their collection of speakers was amazing and, you know…so we met some people there and they were, you know, who were just really excited about…that this research had taken place…and, so I was talking to one guy about, you know, well, we’re trying to get some funding so that I don’t have to get another job because that’s the…through the history of parapsychology, that’s the problem…that people have to do it on the side.

Alex: Right.

Julie: …and then you don’t make any progress because you’re doing it…

Alex: Right.

Julie:…you know, on your weekends.

Alex: Right.

Julie: And so he was like, “Well, but somebody will do this research, right? It’ll get done.” And I was like, “How…who’s going to do it? How do you expect it to get done.?”

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: You know. I need to eat and pay my mortgage so, the only way it can get done is if someone, you know, we find some money so I don’t have to work at Target. That’s my backup plan. [laughs]

Alex: [laughs] Yeah. You know, what’s really sad and really unfortunate is when I talk to these skeptics and I talk to, you know, university skeptics, not just your hacker on the web that’s doing a blog post, but…

Julie: Right.

Alex: …it’s…it’s always the same thing. One of the things they always say is, you know, “If there was any good research, there would just be a storm of people following this. You couldn’t…

Julie: You’d think, wouldn’t you…

Alex: …keep a…” And then, you know, you talk to the people on the frontline and they’re like, “Huh?” …and I mean, “Man, I have to do this so undercover and I’ve got to spin it so many different ways and…” You know, I was just talking to…I’m doing…I am funding some research on replicating Rupert Sheldrake’s dogs that know when their owners are coming home…

Julie: Uh huh…

Alex: …because I think it’s, you know, your research is so great but it’s so dif…challenging for people to accept.

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: …and I think I can get kind of the same there. I think I can find a university that will do Sheldrake dogs that, you know, a vet college or something like that.

Julie: Yes. Yes.

Alex: You can kind of sneak in the backdoor that maybe consciousness is more…but anyways…I’m talking to this guy, Marc Beckoff, who’s just…professor emeritus at Colorado…who’s written this book, “Emotional Lives of Animals.” But the point of the whole story is is that, “Hey, so Marc, I’m looking to place some…I’ll do some funding, you know, a modest amount of funding to help support this research replicate.” He goes, “Oh, no. You’ll never find anyone to do that.”

Julie: Uh huh.

Alex: Because it’s suicide. He goes…you know…any Ph.D. student, you know, that would do this research, one, would either have to get a negative result which, you know…

Julie: Uh hmmm…
Alex: …who cares then, or two, a positive result that…

Julie: It’s like we’re working for a cigarette company.

Alex: Exactly. [laughs] Yeah, exactly. It’s like big oil or big tobacco or something like that.

Julie: Yeah. They’ll pay you…they’ll pay you to say it’s crap but…

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: …ahh…that’s not the truth so I’m not…yeah.

Alex: So, now I have to juxtapose these two worlds…with these skeptics saying, “Oh, yeah. I mean, there’s just this open value-free science. It goes where the data is.” And then you talk to people who really know and they go, “Oh, no. It’s like. [laughs] forget it. It’s suicide to even walk into this stuff.”

Julie: Yeah. And, you know, I find it…I’m so grateful that we had a home in the university for so long.

Alex: Yeah.

Julie: They were really supportive. Our department head was really supportive. The human subjects protection program, they, you know, they put our stuff through just like it was any other project. “Okay, you want to ask that question? Okay. Fill out this form.” You know. They didn’t think of it as something strange or…it was just another psychology project.

Alex: And it should be for gosh sakes. I mean…when we can’t ask the questions…I mean, where are we when we can’t even ask the questions?

Julie: Exactly. The…the…there was a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle that was at The Forever Family Conference and she interviewed me and then she called me once we got home and she asked me some more stuff and she quoted me. And her article came out yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s on sfgate.com if you want to look…ummm…

Alex: Yeah, I’m going to go look.

Julie: But, she quoted me saying like…there’s no line in science. You can’t say…we can ask all these questions on this side of the line but not on this side of the line. And I said, “No. If there’s a question, that science’s job.” There’s no line of what you can and cannot ask but, if you’re at a university, then there is because there’s public pressure and, you know, they are just a giant nonprofit basically. Like, they have to worry about funding and, you know, people were getting…you know…saying things like, “Oh, this is such a waste of taxpayer money.” No university dollar ever went to support our research. It was totally privately funded.

So, it…you know…that was…but, you know, people don’t understand that so it was like, there is all this riff about taxpayer money which is not true but, that’s the other reason why…you know…that’s the…ummm…the benefit of going out and creating a private institute is that we don’t have…we can ask any…we can investigate any question we want. We don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves. And there is such a low overhead that all research dollars go to research. All donated dollars go to research whereas…you know, in a big institution like a university, up to half can go to overhead.

Alex: Right. Right. Right. They take their cut off the top.

Julie: Yeah. Which they have to. Like it takes a lot of money to run a university. I understand that.

Alex: Well, you know, it’s funny and it’s unfortunate but, not only is that the situation but it’s gotten worse, right? I mean, with all the whole corporate influence in the university now, it’s…you know…I was in the Ph.D. at the University of Arizona over in the MIS Department, Management Information Systems, so…

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: They got it long ago. It’s like, hey, we don’t do anything unless somebody’s paying for it…

Julie: Yeah.

Alex: You know, come on. Who’s your sponsor? You bring in the dough, you know. You eat what you kill kind of thing.

Julie: [laughs]

Alez: And most people are just so unaware of it, you know…

Julie: Yeah, and I think the other thing that people don’t recognize too is that there’s so much downtime. Like I…you know…because it takes a long time to write a paper and, you know, it takes a long time to come up with streaming procedures and protocols and whatever. You can’t just go out like experiment after experiment. You have to stop and write it up and, you know…and when there’s just one of me, that’s tough.

Alex: Well, the one thing I think I am committed to doing and, I mean…my interest in this is just as a lay person who just…I mean…

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: My first reaction was just…is this true? And then, once I found out that there is some real science behind this, then I was like, “Well, what’s the other side of this? you know, what’s the skeptical side?” And then, when I saw it…you know…excuse me, but…

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: …just what pure bullshit it is. I mean, that’s just what really enraged me is just how these skeptics just…it’s…it’s so funny because they’re…they get so riled up about fundamentalist Christians and they’re just exactly like fundamentalist Christians.

Julie: [laughs] Yeah. They are because they…they have no open mind. They won’t listen to anything new. They’ve made up their minds. That’s why I don’t like to talk to subjects. They’ve made up their mind. They’re not going to listen to anything.

Alex: And like the worst of the Christians…I can’t…you know, we paint it with a broad brush but you understand what I’m saying…the worst of the Christians and the worst of the skeptics…it’s that they feel justified in using any deception, any technique, any misinformation to get their goal across…

Julie: Um hmmm…

Alex: …because they…they already assume that, you know, you’re trying to peddle some untruth and they’re going to combat that with their own non-truth. The other thing I think we have to do is I think we have to confront these skeptics because they do hold the microphone right now. Whether we like it or not, they have control of the microphone.

Julie: And…they…

Alex: And, when we go around them…

Julie: …they only make…their job is to be a skeptic. So, it is…there’s…it is financially retarded for them to ever change their mind.

Alex: Right.

Julie: Who’s going to buy skeptic magazines from Michael Shermer if he goes, “Hey, yeah, they are doing something interesting there, those mediums.” No one.
Alex: Right.

Julie: So, he can’t…he can’t make a living if he has an open mind.

Alex: And, it’s funny because you do see them at times kind of step up to the edge of the cliff [laughs] and then it’s like, what you were saying just kind of sinks in at some point and they go…”Whoa…wait a minute.” And then they have to come around and come to some kind of justification to…you know…put down that cognitive dissonance and go, “No, no, no. Back to what I believe.” And, again, that’s just like…just like a…you know…

Julie: Yeah.

Alex: …if you talk to a fundamentalist Christian, you go, “Yeah, but, you know, here’s this new archeological evidence that shows that…you know…Jesus wasn’t so poor and he lived here and there and he wasn’t born here.” And they go, “Wow.” And then you see them a week later and like, “No, no. I’m right back to where I was before.” You know.

Julie: [laughs] Right. Right. I…uh…I coined…early on in my work with Gary, I coined some phrases that I call…that there’s two kinds of skeptics and I…pathos skeptics and sopho skeptics. So, you know, the word skeptic is supposed to mean someone…

Alex: Right.

Julie: …who’s open minded and they’ll hear both sides of the story.

Alex: Right.

Julie: But that’s not what it’s turned out. So, these people who…these fundamentalist skeptics, that’s…they’re pathos skeptics. They’re, you know…

Alex: Uh huh.

Julie: …there’s a pathology there and then “sopho” means wise. So, then, you know, a sopho skeptic is someone who hasn’t made their mind up yet but they’re willing to hear the information and make an…an educated conclusion on what the data says.

Alex: Uh huh.

Julie: So, have you ever run into a sopho skeptic?

Alex: No. No.

Julie: [laughs] I think…

Alex: No, I haven’t. Because, look at your stuff. Look at your stuff, Julie. Anyone who’s skeptical that digs into it can be skeptical of what the implications are but it’s really difficult when you look at…

Julie: Right.

Alex: …your research to be skeptical of the research. Anyone who looks at…

Julie: Right.

Alex: …that, who is open minded, should be demanding that a significant portion of the research dollars that we spend go into that because, if you accept the research…and I know I’m just preaching to the choir but I have to vent. I mean, if you accept the research…

Julie: [laughs]

Alex: …how…what is more fundamental? Cancer? I mean cancer is very important but it’s not more fundamental than what happens to us…after we die?

Julie: Yeah, that…that San Francisco Chronicle reporter was like, “One could argue that this is, indeed, the most important research because it affects every single one of us.” And I said, “Yes, one could argue that. Thank you.” [laughs]

Alex: Yes.

Julie: Yeah, not everyone’s going to get cancer. Not everyone’s going to get heart disease. But everybody’s going to die. And we’re all scared to…pardon the pun…we’re all scared to death of it.

Alex: Right.

Julie: And that we can’t, you know, our…we were just…the…agency for applied research in human potential so, how can we use…how can this research benefit all living things? And, if we can stop being scared of death, that makes the transition so much easier. It, you know, it…can we use mediums as a grief counseling remedy? You know, there’s so much that…that we could use as a society that’s in this research but, you know, they can’t…I keep telling people, you have to fight the machine from within the machine…like you can’t get grief counseling to be…through a medium to be approved by insurance companies until you bring it into the mainstream…

Alex: Um hmmm…
Julie: …and you show it in peer-review journal articles. You know, because a lot of people go, “Well, of course, mediums can talk to dead people.” Like, no, that is not a given in any way, shape, or form.

Alex: Right.

Julie: So…

Alex: Right. Which is, you know, the other thing…I mean…your research doesn’t say that. I mean…

Julie: No.

Alex: It implies that that may be a possibility…

Julie: Possibility, yes, but it’s…people…

Alex: It’s one of many possibilities.

Julie: Yeah, right. At least…it’s…it’s one of two major possibilities, survival and some form of psi, tele…

Alex: Right, telepathy. Well, listen. I’ve taken a lot of your time today but it’s been great to talk to you.

Julie: You too. Bye bye.

Alex: Bye.

[call ends]

Alex: I’d again like to thank Julie for joining me today. I’d encourage any of you who can, who have the financial means, to support her research. I’ve never asked anyone to donate any money to anything but I can’t imagine a better place to donate money for research than this research and I’ve certainly put some of my resources behind it and will be putting more of my resources behind it because it…we have to…we have to face up to the fact that we really want to know the answers and we do. And the answers are out there and they’re knowable. But, just as we were discussing in the interview, we can’t make the assumption that someone else is going to do it. “Oh, don’t worry. Scientists are all over this.” They’re not. And the only way it happens is if we support the research and that means money. We have to put money behind this research.

So, I’ve never made any financial pleas before but I will in this case. If you have the means, open up your checkbook, click on your PayPal, and support The Windbridge Institute and support this research.

Okay, that’s going to do it for today. To check out any of our previous shows, go to the skeptiko website skeptiko.com. You’ll find links to all the old shows, links to our email address where you can drop us a note, and links to the forum where you can get involved and have a chat with other people whether you agree or disagree with any of the ideas that have been expressed.

Lots more coming up in future episodes. I have some very good interviews that have already been conducted and we’ll get them out there just as time permits. So, take care and bye for now.

 

Submit a Comment