Thursday, May 18, 2023

Unravelling The Universe

Ben Sinclair's Unravelling The Universe is a good YouTube channel to follow on paranormal issues. He's done interviews with some of the biggest names in the field: Bruce Greyson, Stanley Krippner, Gregory Shushan, etc. There's a lot of valuable material on a lot of subjects.

Here's Greyson discussing reincarnation cases that involve multiple children living at one time who remember the same past life, one child remembering the past lives of two individuals who lived simultaneously, etc. I think the best explanation for the reincarnation evidence is that some memories and other portions of individuals' lives are transferable, but that having access to such aspects of another person's life isn't the same as being that person. The same is true in organ transplant cases that involve the recipient's taking on characteristics of the donor, for example. So, evidence like what Greyson cites gives us some reason to favor an interpretation of the reincarnation data other than the traditional reincarnation model.

Here's Krippner discussing his experiences with Wikipedia's bias against the paranormal.

There's an interview with Shushan that's nearly three hours long. I don't remember seeing any other interview with him that goes into as much depth. It covers near-death experiences, mediumship, and a lot of other issues. See my review of one of Shushan's books here for an explanation of how much overlap there is between Shushan's view of some of these paranormal issues and mine.

Ben also did a couple of interviews with Ed Kelly that cover a wide range of topics, here and here. The closing of the second interview, starting here, is especially worth watching. They discuss some of their agreements and disagreements with organized religion and acknowledge that there are many aspects of the paranormal that are strange, unfriendly, and such. Ed even refers to the dark side of the paranormal and how much it's been neglected by researchers (see his comments here). He refers to a lack of evidence for some concepts associated with organized religion, but it seems that he's largely looking for evidence in the wrong places.

It looks to me like much of what we see in near-death experiences, deathbed experiences, mediumship, and some other paranormal contexts is coming from the paranormal activity of living humans, so that the phenomena are largely subjective experiences reflecting the human mind in a pre-afterlife context (and occasionally the earliest stages of an afterlife). So, people who have a view of the afterlife based primarily on a view of these paranormal phenomena that takes them to be of a more veridical nature than what I just outlined are basing too much of a conclusion on too little data. Elsewhere, I've summarized much of what happens in these paranormal contexts (not all of it) as what can roughly be called paranormal dreams. We need to be cautious about how much we conclude from such experiences, as we would be with conclusions derived from the dreams of a normal nature that occur when we sleep.

And the evidence we have from outside organized religion needs to be combined with the evidence organized religion offers. We have to ask what the best explanation is of the evidence as a whole, not just part of it. As I've said before, proponents of organized religion have a major problem with neglecting paranormal phenomena outside of organized religion, and proponents of those outside phenomena tend to neglect organized religion. Both sides need to pay more attention to each other. For a brief overview of some of the evidence for Christianity, see my recent post here addressing the question of why we should prefer Jesus to other figures who have had miracles attributed to them. We should be focusing on issues like the nature of the Christian system of miracles, such as its largeness and its outperforming its rivals, and the significance of the claims associated with that system (e.g., Jesus' identifying himself as the incarnate God of Isaiah 9:1-7 and Isaiah's Servant of the Lord figure). And I've discussed other advantages of organized religion and disadvantages with a system based on paranormal phenomena outside organized religion in my series of posts on near-death experiences and related phenomena that I linked earlier. The disorderliness of the paranormal phenomena Ben and Ed discuss, which they acknowledge and lament, should give us more of an appreciation for the more organized nature of organized religion.

Near the end of the interview, Ed warned about the dangers of getting involved in something like automatic writing or using a Ouija board. That's a theme that I've come across frequently in paranormal circles, from both Christian and non-Christian sources. I've done a lot of work on the Enfield Poltergeist, and it seems highly likely to me that the poltergeist in that case originated with the Hodgson girls' use of a Ouija board, something both girls have also suggested (in Guy Playfair, This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 238-39; Janet Hodgson's comments in Will Storr, Will Storr Vs. The Supernatural [New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006], 195-96; her comments cited here). In his book just mentioned, Playfair refers to how he got Margaret Hodgson to assure him that "she would not play around with ouija boards again" (239). The Ouija board is a recurring theme in Storr's book cited above. He often mentions his own bad experiences with it and the warnings about it that he got from both Christian and non-Christian individuals (46, 173-74, 195-96, 286, 301). It's not just a Christian concern.

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