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Dr. Schwartz makes it hard not to believe in the afterlife
on December 9, 2002
Life after death has been one if the many controversial topics of discussion. Inductive arguments exist such as is there life after death, are love and life eternal, and is there a survival of consciousness after physical death. In this book Dr. Gary Schwartz and his research partner Dr. Linda Russek set out to investigate this phenomenon. With the help of a handful of well-known mediums, they set out to prove, or disprove, the existence of an afterlife through a series of well-controlled experiments.
I had a hard time in the beginning of this book believing in it. Being one of I am sure many people these days that are questioning their faith, the thought of life after death was pretty much a doubt to me. It is hard not to become a believer however after reading this book. The circumstances of the experiments left me rereading the scientific results searching for my own explanations, however I could not find any. Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Russek were very careful to control their laboratory conditions in each experiment they conducted. In these controlled experiments the mediums attempted to contact those family and friends who had past on of "sitters" who at times were hidden from view and kept silent so as not to allow the mediums any opportunity to get any kind of hints from the sitters. The two Dr.'s first started testing the survival of consciousness hypothesis before moving through several other experiments each getting more and more controlled with the use of curtains, walls, and silence. Through several experiments including a single blind experiment, kept secret from everyone but the experimenter, they were able to scientifically rule out telepathy and remote viewing, amongst other things, while the mediums accurately conveyed several facts with no help from the sitter. Not only were the mediums accurate independently, but as a group collectively. Through out the entire book the Dr.'s remained their biggest skeptics. The thought of being deceived lead them to be more cautious about accepting "evidence" from their experiments and the people in them no matter what their credentials. They used arguments of elimination to rule out logically the various possibilities of deception, telepathy, and even remote viewing.
At one point Dr. Schwartz states that science is a systematic approach to obtaining knowledge. After several of the experiments Dr. Schwartz goes so far as to compare the results with control groups outside the experiments to see if they could come up with the same results as the mediums. Science must continue to address the issues of the fraud hypothesis. The only way to do this is by repeating the same conditions and examining the results over and over under these conditions if any one is to believe in mediums. The one thing that grabbed me the most about the book was surprisingly not the extraordinary accurate information that these mediums were able to obtain in these highly controlled experiments, but the fact that Dr. Schwartz welcomes any help in discovering any flaws in his experiments in order to develop better ones. It is as if he does not want to believe his own findings.
Was there a possibility of deception by the people involved in these experiments? With each experiment the chance of deception decreased as the control levels increased to disprove each deception. Each experiment is described clearly and the findings were for the most part consistent. I feel that Dr. Schwartz presents his findings of an afterlife with scientific evidence through his controlled experiments. I believe his findings to be valid and convincing. There were some attacks on the mediums which could fall under the fallacy of "arguments against a person" where people felt that the mediums were using nothing but magic and forer effects to get there information. But it is in my opinion that the highly controlled experiments and the measures that were taken disprove these attacks.
The claim of an afterlife is well presented in this book. The evidence collected in these experiments support the claim of an afterlife with 80% accuracy and disproves other hypothesis like telepathy, magic, fraud, deception, and remote viewing. The use of control groups double-checking the evidence support the accuracy of the evidence collected. I would have to agree with Dr. Russek when she states "Let the data speak, whatever the data says". The experiments conducted by Dr. Schwartz make it hard not to believe in an afterlife.