Writer and filmmaker Paul Davids has documented over 100 after death communications with Forrest Ackerman.
photo by: Paul Davids
To paraphrase an old saying, “some of us go seeking after-death communication, other have after-death communication thrust upon us.” That’s the experience of today’s guest, Paul Davids who’s had an amazing string of after-death communication experiences with a long-time friend and Hollywood monster movie legend Forrest Ackerman. Paul goes about trying to unravel this mystery by taking a scientific approach and carefully eliminating every possible explanation before concluding this is a case of genuine after-death communication. But as you’ll hear in this interview, Paul’s work also demonstrates the limits of the kind of research:
Alex Tsakiris: You can keep your iPhone and all of that, as long as you accept the fact that your dead relatives might be listening in to your conversations and your iPhone might pop-up with a weird message from angels. That is a very different kind of science than we’ve come to accept. If anything, it’s really more of a magical worldview.
Paul Davids: That magic that you’re talking about had never happened to me until these incidents started happening after Forry (Forrest Ackerman) died. For those who haven’t read An Atheist in Heaven, the first incident happened during the week of Forry’s tribute. There have been over 100 since then.
Read Excerpts From Interview:
Alex Tsakiris: Among the various evidence that you compile and present, which was really pretty remarkable, especially the sum-total of it, but the two Canadian filmmakers is really one of the hardest ones to shake. For anyone who’s technically inclined, I love the part where the guy goes to post something on Facebook and we’re all familiar with the CAPTCHA that comes up where you have to verify you’re a human and enter in something. We know those are just a random collection of letters and numbers. Up on the screen pops Ackerman with a capital A-zero-zero-zero. This is not to be believed and yet it’s verified by his colleague who has his own unexplainable [incident].
Paul Davids: Immediately. A message came out of his computer. A voice. When they began to question whether Forry was really dead, a voice out of his computer said, “Oh my gosh! No way!” And it was an animated emoticon that you can find on YouTube but he wasn’t logged on to YouTube and it wasn’t in his hard drive. As he and Johnston, he was the guy who had that computer, he said, my computer had no business talking to me. So that started things out. For me, I know you’re very interested in science, Alex. You’ve got a book [titled] Why Science is Wrong About Almost Everything. I don’t know if I would agree with the ‘almost everything’ part of it but I do agree that science has gotten so many things wrong in the past. Of course, science has tended to correct itself over the years. We do have aviation. We can fly. Rockets can go to the moon…all of these things. Views have changed. The Earth isn’t flat. But science has gotten it wrong and enforced its beliefs; really enforced certain attitudes and philosophies on whole populations of people, and put you in a position where you’re ridiculed if you don’t go along with the norm.
[easy-tweet tweet=”you can’t deny [after death communication] when you see objects move around and a mask pop off the wall at the punch line to a joke.”]
Alex Tsakiris: The life after death hypothesis that you lay out renders science meaningless in that once we step over and cross over into that [theory] life continues, consciousness continues, and that consciousness, which is what the movie and the book is all about, has the ability to impact our physical reality here, then everything that science seems to know gets very fuzzy. I wonder to what extent this has changed you in terms of saying I can play this reality game but in my heart of hearts, I know there’s a dramatically different reality that I’m imbedded in [and] don’t fully understand but have to wade my way through.
Paul Davids: I’ve undergone a massive change because of this. The desire to reject it and continually look for other explanations…Gary Schwartz has a chapter about that in here. It’s a natural, ingrained human desire to question your own sanity when something happens that you’ve always believed is impossible. That’s what happened to me. So I have gone through this great shift. In one of the chapters late in the book I say, I give up. I can’t use my rational mind each time one of these things happens to try to maintain the same order in the universe that I was always used to for my first 40 years. The reasons are many. I’ve been through a hundred experiences of strange things of many different varieties. Let me rattle off the category list: instrumental trans-communication, which is communication through instrumentality, which would be computers, telephones, videotape, recordings of various kinds. I’ve had experiences with mediums who have been vetted by Gary Schwartz who studied mediums and tries to eliminate the wheat from the chaff. He eliminates the wannabes and those who think they have the ability or are just fooling themselves. There are some who really have the ability. Unquestionably. Regardless of what Michael Shermer tells you or the Amazing Randi. They’re wrong. Yes, there is a psychic ability and it does sometimes manifest through mediumship. I’ve had synchronicities, so many of them that are so improbable, one after the other. It’s almost like being struck by lightening. It’s that one in a billion chance that keeps happening that relates in some way specifically to Forry. The other category would be what I call the strictly physical phenomena. Again, you can’t deny it when an object moves in your own house. The doors have been locked, you went out for lunch, and it’s not a question of a window being opened and the wind blowing something across a room. Objects will move around. They will disappear. A mask will pop off the wall in front of a lot of people at the punch line to a joke. A mask of Forry’s face moved across the room.
Alex Tsakiris: What do you think about people who, and I’m always amazed by people who do this, but there’s many who just don’t worry about that. They just have an experience. Sometimes it’s not that profound of an experience, [they] just say, well that’s it. Angels are real. I have guardian angels and they seem to work in my life. I have these synchronicities. They seem to work in my life. That’s it. From a worldview standpoint, we have to acknowledge that those people are out there as well. Over the years I’ve come to gain more respect for really where those people are coming from because I see my position as not being all that different. I’m just compiling this information and chugging it through my rigorous, logical [process]. But at the end of the day, it’s all just about how we’re processing our life experience isn’t it?
Paul Davids: It really is. I think that direct personal experience, which we can’t predict [or] make it happen. We might want it to happen. A lot of people would like to see a UFO and they never have. One of those [people] is Stanton Friedman who’s one of the world authorities on UFOs. He’s a physicist. He’s never seen one. He believes in them totally and passionately.
Alex Tsakiris: To me that’s more impressive.
Paul Davids: Yes. He says, I’ve never seen a molecule either but I know that molecules exist. I’ve never seen an atom. So the mind deduces things from what it sees around it and what the individual experience is. All of our experiences are different. For the person who’s drowning and suddenly an angel appears and saves them. Then they’re on the shore and their life has been saved and they saw the angel. Who’s going to question that? Maybe some people will but I believe it when I hear that from people. I’ve heard about angelic intervention. I never would’ve believed it for the first 40 years of my life.
Alex Tsakiris: One of the lessons we get out of this is we don’t know what journey these other people are on. You mentioned early on, a throwaway point that I think is key to this whole [discussion], you said Forry’s comments to you were “I’ll drop you a line but don’t count on it.” That was the set up. Who set that up? One of the things that we understand, as soon as we understand that consciousness extends beyond bodily death, and I agree with you, that is the biggest step for anyone to make. That would suggest that this was set up. There was some direction, some force beforehand that again, we can’t really grasp or touch, or understand, but the evidence of that is overwhelming. The anecdotal evidence [is overwhelming] and if you want to break that down into science, some of the most well replicated and published research on presentiment suggests that our understanding and experience of time is not what we think it is. We do “know” things, quote-unquote, before they even happen so of course we would have to throw onto the table that Forry was playing out some drama while he was alive.
Paul Davids: And it was a drama larger than he could see himself at that time.
Alex Tsakiris: So here’s my question: this is remarkable work. Important work. And I love what you’ve brought to it. So where should it go? Where would you like to see, and there’s an important distinction here, beyond the after-death communication is real; consciousness survives bodily death, which I think you and I agree is the most important step for most people to take. But here’s the question with regard to, quote-unquote, science, what would you like to see science do for the next step? We can go into Dr. Gary Schwartz’s lab and we can see the photon [experiment] that says we can communicate but do we do with that? Do we ask what we should be doing here? What we should do with the planet? What the message is? Should we go down that path or should we use it just to reflect on our own life and enhance our personal connection to other people, which is what all the mystics say. They say forget about all the technology; forget about all the bells and whistles, and the fireworks going off. Just love each other and try to find that connection in your daily life. All the big stuff doesn’t matter. What is your thought on the really big questions in terms of what do we do with this?
Paul Davids: I think it’s a little of all the things that you’ve talked about. I’m not sure that the “let’s all love one another” is the final conclusion.
Alex Tsakiris: It is the overwhelming message from the near-death experience science. And what I think is interesting about that [research] is everyone focuses on did they see deceased relatives; did they cross over and how long was their resuscitation? Over and over again. If you read those accounts, and there’s thousands of them. They come back and say, it’s about love. I experienced this higher being and what they told me is it’s about love. You look at people who’ve had psychedelic experiences, overwhelmingly it’s about love. Mediums–they’re communication, we’ve talked to many of them including the best researchers [like] Dr. Julie Beischel, former associate of [Dr. Schwartz] and I’ve spoken to Gary plenty of times–it’s about love.
Paul Davids: I’m not going to argue with love. I’ve been longer than George Burns and Gracie Allen were married; a very long Hollywood marriage. So I know about love and I have a wonderful family. And I’m not going to argue about love because The Beatles taught me so much about it and the name of that show in Las Vegas called “Love” was one of my favorite things. But I think there are other aspects to the point you were raising in terms of what we do with this. I think there needs to be a changed attitude; more of an open door from science and scientists so that there can be research, because science isn’t going to progress without the research. There needs to be the possibility of grants and acceptance of the research at the academic level as something that’s legitimate.
Alex Tsakiris: We’ve spent enough time on the skeptics but here’s the thing: when I was researching the show I went to Skeptic magazine and I read a great post from a skeptic (Skeptic magazine is Michael Shermer’s magazine), and he’s really dissing Dr. Schwartz’s research. I’ll read you this: the whole study is rubbish. How does he know that ghosts are inside the boxes? (These are the boxes that are inside Dr. Schwartz’s photon gatherer that he uses to measure this) In the boxes could’ve been unicorns, dragons or even God himself…In a strange, twisted way, this person’s right. We don’t know. We hypothesize that it’s Ackerman and that Ackerman has some limits to how he can communicate and how he can interact with us. All these things become assumptions.
Paul Davids: I wish you could hear what happened to your voice as you were speaking to me. You can’t imagine how the sound became distorted. Alright, so maybe somebody’s playing with us right now at the end of the show. So it could be dragons. It could be unicorns disguised as Forrest J. Ackerman or photons of light.
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music by: Rafal Mac