Private v. Public Evidence
WE SHALL be dealing, mainly in connection with private psi experiences and
communication through mediums, with what we shall refer to as private evidence
and public evidence, and it will be helpful to have a clear understanding of
what we mean. Private evidence for survival is normally based on personal
knowledge of the deceased and on judgement as to whether a communication is
evidential, based on an assessment of the personality factors and the general
feel of the situation on receiving a communication, either directly or through a
medium. It is private or personal in the sense that its importance and apparent
validity cannot be directly appreciated by others.
For our present purposes public evidence is that which can be appreciated
equally well by any unbiased individual who is given an adequate report of it.
Normally we can say that public evidence is scientific evidence, at least when
we are dealing with the results of research into the phenomena of psi.
It is possible for a researcher to collect a quantity of private evidence
received by different people, to analyse and classify component parts and to
present the whole as public or scientific evidence. This has been done with
outstanding success in connection with near-death-experiences.
Conditions for Communication
Communication through mediums of different levels of
sensitivity ranges from a voice that is loud and clear, to obscure coded taps,
and there are probably as many variations as there are mediums and sensitives.
Paul Beard suggests in Survival of Death that in the HD* world thought takes
place much faster than it does in the 4D** world and therefore that a communicator
has to get into a different set of conditions in order to communicate with us. He suggests that a medium or sensitive is
an individual who can reach out to meet the HD world, to some extent, and that
as a result of these changes of conditions by both parties, from the HD world
and from the 4D world, there is a range of conditions in which the two can meet.
We can illustrate this with our own diagram:
 London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1966.
 Survival of Death, pages 101-102 and 105.
* HD: Higher dimensional.
** 4D: Four-dimensional. The world of three dimensions of space and one of time.
The communicator in the HD world goes into an altered state of consciousness (ASC)
and then into his dotted line, which represents the condition in which he can
make contact with the 4D world. The medium goes into an altered state of
consciousness and then into her dotted line, which represents the condition in
which she can make contact with the HD world. They then have a range of
conditions for communication, from the extreme marked X which is close to the HD
world to the extreme marked Y which is close to the 4D world. Beard tells us
that most mediums who demonstrate to an audience from a platform work close to
what we have labelled as the Y position (Beard, page 102).
 Survival of Death, page 102.
Both Beard and Cummins cover the main points indicated here and
they both make it clear that when the communicator enters his dotted line
condition he temporarily loses much of his memory, covering matters relating to
the 4D world and to the HD world.
 Survival of Death (London: Hodder and
 The Road to Immortality (London: Psychic Press, 1932).
Trivialities in Communication through Mediums
We often read critical statements which complain
that material received through mediums tends to be of a trivial nature. There is
great truth in this criticism to the extent that some mediums appear to be
incapable of handling material of depth and many communicators are prevented,
often by their lack of experience in communicating and possibly by a lack of
depth in their normal thought, from giving rise to communications beyond the
To some extent the sitters may be to blame. A communicator with little
experience of this type of work is unlikely to produce material of depth unless
encouraged to do so by the sitter.
In order that communications of great depth can be received, it is necessary
that the medium should have the ability to remain in contact with a particular
communicator for a reasonable length of time. Normally, every sitting starts
with the comparative trivialities of introductions and material of depth can
only be developed later with continuity of communication from that same
communicator and with an appropriate environment.
Several of the books referred to above illustrate the extreme non-triviality of
communication through mediums in appropriate conditions. Journey Beyond,
Survival of Death, Swan on a Black Sea and The Barbanell Report all illustrate
this. My own many sittings with mediums have never been concerned with
trivialities except where either the medium or the communicator has been limited
to such a level.
 Transmitted by Chan (Spirit guide of Ivy
 Paul Beard (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1966).
 Geraldine Cummins (Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1965.)
 Edited by Paul Beard, transmitted to Marie Cherrie (Norwich: Pilgrim Books,
We have ample evidence here for the rejection of any criticism of mediumship on
the grounds of triviality of material obtained.
We should be deeply appreciative of our freedom to find mediums and of the
freedom that makes it possible for people who think they have the capability of
setting up as mediums to do that. Anybody can claim to be a medium and that
freedom is valuable to us all. On the other hand, we have to make a modest
payment for these freedoms in that we may discover that one who claims to be a
medium shows, at least to us, little capability.
There needs to be a subtle rapport between a medium and a sitter, so that one
who is good for sitter A may not be so successful with sitter B. It is up to the
sitter to find mediums that can produce the type of communication that is
required. Nobody other than the sitters can judge the mediums. We should be
strong in protecting our freedoms in this area.
Different Levels of Communication
In this chapter we are dealing with evidence of life
after death, mainly in connection with work with mediums. It looks as if a
fairly high percentage of the work of mediums might fit the general description
of communication between sitters and the minds of people who have died and wish
to communicate with them.
Such work normally deals with minds which are in the first level of the next
world, sometimes referred to as Paradise. The description Summerland has also
been used but for some people can be quite wrong. It was probably Myers who
referred to this level as 'The Plane of Illusion'. It is a level
from which we can obtain interesting comment and discussion, but normally
nothing new of any academic importance, although the mere fact that our
communicators are less restricted than we are to our 'now' point can give them
the ability to take a wider view than ours of some developing features in our
lives. On the other hand this is limited by the fact that they are normally not
allowed to solve our day to day problems for us.
 The Road to Immortality (London: Psychic
At this level we get no new science and in general nothing new that is of
But it is possible to have contact with a higher level at which we do not
normally communicate with named individuals but from which we can obtain highly
intelligent and sometimes highly technical information.
Over the years some scientists and mathematicians have told us that they have
been able to obtain required information when they have asked for help with a
carefully and precisely specified problem which is important to them but which
they have no alternative means of solving. On one occasion when I was desperate
to find an individual who might help in a particular situation I asked for help
in this way and, unexpectedly, the next morning, I was given the name of an
individual, one I had never thought of in this connection, who would handle the
job and who did, very successfully. The name just came to me, just two words,
like 'John Roberts', as if spoken by somebody behind me.
An engineer and inventor has told me that he has used this facility a number of
times, usually successfully, adding that one difficulty in this field is that he
never knew when the answer would come. He did know that when it came he had to
understand it right away, because it would not come again.
On one occasion he was shown what he thought was a haystack and failed to see
how that could help him to solve his problem, until he realised that it was not
a haystack but a graph, and as a graph it gave him exactly what he needed. In a
written comment he added 'The Haystacks signal came early on a Sunday morning
before I was properly awake and led to a major rearrangement of Monday's
programme as special recorders had to be obtained to display and record the
haystack shaped signals during the aircraft flight on the Monday afternoon'.
But one of his answers came to him when he was driving on a motorway, one came
when he was with young children at a birthday party and another when he was in
bed. This difficulty about timing was a feature of some of the experiences
described by W. B. Yeats in connection with his wife's psi
 A Vision (London: MacMillan, 1937, first
published by Werner Laurie in 1925.)
This is just one of several ways in which the high-level communication can
arise, when an individual is in need of help, asks for it and specifies the
Another way arises when the whole initiative is taken from the higher level,
possibly to the amazement of the individual. In April 1942 such an event
happened to me through a remarkable coincidence, with action started off by me
but involving a friend, which led to my being able to volunteer out of the RAF
and to enter an entirely new type of life. In November 1955 a closely parallel
event triggered by the use by a colleague of almost exactly the same words that
had been used by my friend in 1942, but involving an even more unbelievable
coincidence, provided a facility for me to leave the civil service and enter
industry, which again changed my life in a big way.
In neither of these cases had I been thinking of such a change. Each involved a
remarkable degree of unseen planning in advance of the coincidence. Each was for
me an outstanding and fantastic intervention.
The inspiration of Mozart, Ramanugan and so many others can probably be
considered to be further examples of this high-level influence coming from the
HD world. Mediums are not involved.
If, however, we return to the field of mental mediumship, we have the famous
cross-correspondences which showed such a high intellectual content, produced by
a few outstanding mediums who appeared to have been formed into a group for that
purpose by a high level intervention. If we look at physical mediumship we have
occasional occurrences of highly intellectual planning in connection with
particular phenomena, and in some situations these seem to arise along with
other phenomena that do not disclose any connection with intellectual factors.
I do not know enough about the substantial work that is being done by way of
counselling to suggest how that fits in with the two levels. It would seem to
make sense to assume that it can embrace the whole width of potential
communication, from the simplest and crudest at the lower levels to almost
unlimited wisdom. More and more material is now being published in this field
and it would seem that it will be for the readers of such books to sort out the
gems from the more modest contributions, the sparkling from the bland.
Elsewhere we find what may be highly intelligent communication in such fields as
dowsing and the work of arithmetical prodigies.
This chapter, however, is concerned with evidence of survival obtained through
mediums and for this purpose we are mainly concerned with communication with
people we have known who are in the first level of the HD world, where we do not
normally find deep academic achievement.
This section is a deliberate diversion for the purpose of seeking to
differentiate between the two levels that we can occasionally observe within the
field of mediumship. As with so many other aspects of the subject we need to be
careful to avoid jumping to conclusions regarding the nature of demarcations in
the HD world, but we must get back to our problem of evidence for survival.
The Super-ESP Hypothesis
If information received through a medium exists
anywhere, say in the memory of an individual who is living or in a document,
then any one of the minds involved in the sitting, the mind of the medium, or of
the medium's guide, or of the sitter, could have acquired it by way of telepathy
or clairvoyance. It appears that Professor Hornell Hart first called such a
hypothesis "The Super-ESP Hypothesis". If it is
accepted then it could be difficult or even impossible to obtain scientific
evidence for survival. The problem is discussed in Gauld and elsewhere.
It is, however, probably fair to say that in many cases the apparent evidence
for survival could not be accounted for by "super-ESP" without requiring a far
higher standard of telepathy or clairvoyance than has been demonstrated in terms
of scientific evidence.
 See Alan Gauld's "The 'Super-ESP' Hypothesis"
in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 53, 1961, page 227.
Professor Ian Stevenson has studied the potential for cryptomnesia as a possible
factor. This is the recall from the subconscious of memories long forgotten,
typically of words read or heard spoken many years ago. This needs to be added
to telepathy and clairvoyance when considering the possible effects of
There have been instances in which communications have included information,
including errors, that corresponds in some detail with that printed in a
newspaper or a book, many years earlier. It is tempting to assume that the
medium may have read that earlier record and forgotten it, but we cannot claim
to be able to distinguish satisfactorily between cryptomnesia, telepathy and
clairvoyance in such cases.
Our model sees all minds being of the HD world and we know very little of the
standards of communication in the HD world. It seems to me that much of what is
accepted as scientific evidence of telepathy and clairvoyance, based on
laboratory experiments, may be at a very low level compared with what can be
achieved by unfettered minds. In the field of dowsing it has often been
rediscovered that most successful dowsers fail to reproduce the effects when
they try to show them at a party, and yet a few have recently told me that they
can do that. They might, for instance, seek to locate objects hidden under a
carpet. It seems that for dowsing to work effectively there usually has to be a
true need. If, however, that factor were necessary for other psychic faculties
then we would not expect to see much in the way of success from the typical
The best communications when received by experienced and discerning sensitives
or sitters frequently appear to provide good personal evidence of survival. This
is how it appears to be. "Super ESP" provides a hypothesis concerning how such a
situation could arise by other means. We know very little about the likely
limits of such effects. Serious investigators with wide experience in the field
are generally not inclined to accept Super ESP as the answer, but we need to
appreciate that it may not be easy to provide scientific evidence to refute it.
On the other hand, Super ESP cannot be of the physical world. There is no
conceivable way of accounting for Super ESP, or even for normal ESP, in terms of
received scientific models based on the operation of the world of physics. So we
can only consider Super ESP along with a new model of the system in which we
live, possibly a model like the one presented here, and with such a model we are
free to postulate hypotheses based on information from the minds of deceased
individuals or via Super ESP. The important point is that one does not exclude
the other. It is, however, unfortunate that the Super ESP idea is frequently put
forward by people who have little understanding of the scope of observed ESP and
it is wrong to use it when the circumstances would require a higher power or
scope than has been demonstrated to exist. Any viable model must cover both, the
possibility of evidence of survival through communication from surviving minds
and material received by ESP of a high order. And any viable model must leave
the question open to the extent that, even in the course of a single sitting,
different methods may be used.
So the Super ESP hypothesis was originally set up with a view to possibly
invalidating the concept of messages from deceased people. That now seems to be
logically impossible and Super ESP needs to take a new place as a possible
alternative explanation of some parts of such messages.
General v. Particular Evidence
Particular evidence for survival will be defined
here as evidence for the survival of a specified individual.
For our present discussions general evidence is the totality of evidence
provided in the literature and, unrecorded, to thousands of individuals every
day, including the evidence that comes from near-death experiences and possibly,
indirectly, through some out-of-the-body experiences.
If we can, through new experimental work, obtain significant evidence of the
operation of independent minds, then that could be a contribution towards
general evidence for survival. The question would then remain as to whether any
of them was previously associated with a body living in the 4D world.
Any evidence for reincarnation is automatically evidence for survival and its
type may be general or particular.
It is normally assumed that either (1) everybody survives, or (2) there is no
such thing as survival. We do not propose to question this approach here, on the
grounds that we are unlikely to have any opportunities for obtaining evidence to
support any third possibility, such as selective survival, until after
establishing that some individuals do, unquestionably, survive. There could also
be some problems relating to a precise definition of what we mean by survival.
In much of our research we have to assume acceptance of survival in order to
obtain further evidence of survival. Typically we make appointments to see
mediums who tell us that all their work is done with the help of guides and who
present us with what are claimed to be messages from people who have died. To
this extent our search for indisputable particular evidence may be conducted
against a background of weak general evidence.
Weak evidence does not normally become strong through replication. In other
words, if there proves to be another explanation for what appeared to be
evidence of survival, that explanation can be applied to any number of other
similar instances, whether they are of a general or particular nature.
Impeders and False Communicators
The term "False Communicators" has been used for
communicators who pretend to be somebody else, possibly pretending to be someone
with whom the sitter wishes to make contact.
Amateur sensitives can be seriously deceived by such action and a published
example appeared at pages 12 to 17 of Yeats (1937). In that case the offending
entity was described as being of a seriously hostile nature and was referred to
by Yeats as one of the "frustrators". In another situation, in the early 1940s,
repeated attempts to impersonate were made by a friendly deceased relative who
appeared to be unhappy in the HD world and who enjoyed communicating, but in
that case (known to the author but not published) the impersonator always
apologised and withdrew when challenged.
On a much wider basis it appears that there are many people using ouija boards,
pendulums or mental methods for seeking communications and within that
population it seems likely that impeders and false communicators may be active
on a substantial scale. Normally we do not know about such activities but since
1984 a number of people have been motivated by articles in books and magazines
to try to obtain the keys to the codes left by Dr.
Robert Thouless. The positive side
of that subject is referred to in the section below, in dealing with the
arranging of tests, but here we can consider briefly the problem of false
communicators in this field.
References to the Thouless codes in magazines are sometimes less than clear and
some people have been motivated by an apparently deceptive reference in a book
and appear to have done a considerable amount of work that has been wasted
because of the deception. In general, while any keys obtained can be checked by
anybody who cares to take the trouble, based on the information published by Dr.
Thouless, many people wrote to the Society for Psychical Research with what they
had been told, through communications, were attempts to ascertain the keys. Such
letters were usually sent by the Society to Miss Betty Markwick or to me, or to
each of us, as we each have computer programs for checking the keys.
From such letters that came to me, and in some cases further correspondence or
telephone conversations, it became clear that some people were convinced that
they had been in touch with Dr. Thouless when the material that they produced
could not possibly have been valid for consideration. Typically, it might
consist of words or figures that bore no relationship to the explanations and
definitions that Thouless published. Furthermore, some of these people were not
easily convinced that they had been deceived. He was a man of deep sincerity and
it is inconceivable that he would communicate and give false material of a wrong
type or format, in other words, material that could not conceivably be correct.
As far as I can see, all such communications must have been false from the
start. In my communications that have purported to come from Thouless, mainly
through Mrs. Marie Cherrie, it has always been made clear that he cannot
remember the keys.
Any valid attempt that is of the required type or format and that is received in
conditions that suggest a genuine communication, should certainly be sent to the
Society for checking, although difficulties in communicating could well result
in their being wrong. The only basis for the critical nature of these comments
is the amount of false communication that came to light, although virtually all
communications from the public relating to the Thouless tests appear to have
ceased from the early 1990s.
Throughout my experience of communication through mediums, communicators who
have been famous or outstanding during their lifetimes appear to communicate
with great modesty, sometimes so great that it becomes difficult to confirm
their identity. Those seeking to arrange their own means of communication could
well look for such modesty as a first test. Any suggestion that what is being
communicated is important, or any detectable exuberance may be a warning of the
very common falsity in which a communicator of no substance seeks to create a
false importance in order to enjoy the process of communication.
We have been considering false communicators, and in particular their apparently
common activities in connection with sensitives of limited experience. On the
other hand, an unknown communicator who remains behind the scenes is not
necessarily doing harm. It can be extremely helpful when an independent mind
assumes the role of an intermediary and helps others to communicate. With some
mediums a "control" or a "guide" plays that part fairly regularly. The term
"false communicators" would be unsatisfactory in such a context in that it
refers to only one or two of a wide range of situations in which an intermediate
mind plays a part in communication. Similarly, Yeats' term "frustrators" deals
with an even narrower part of the range. I have been inclined to favour the word
"impeders" on the grounds that any un-declared impersonation tends to impede our
progress in research and our understanding of the subject, whether the impeder
is friendly and trying to help, or, at the other extreme, hostile and dangerous.
It is probably fair to say that most experienced mediums are for much of the
time reasonably free from the effect of impeders, mainly because they have
experienced minds in attendance - the ones they refer to as guides - to help in
managing the proceedings. Another reason is that some of them have been trained
to watch for any type of interference. However, even with experienced mediums it
can be unwise to ask for contact with a particular individual, because we just
do not understand the scope for impersonation. It may well be that ample
information is available from the memory of the sitter for any competent impeder
to play the required part and in such circumstances it would be understandable
if the guide remained unaware of the fact that the communicator was an impeder.
In such a situation the medium might have no way of checking.
In the case of a proxy sitting, when the memory of the sitter does not contain
the required information, but an object is produced that previously belonged to
the individual in question, it seems as if the production of such an object can
definitely provide a channel to relevant information, but we have no idea as to
how that works, nor as to how far it can reach. We have, therefore, to watch for
the possible appearance of an impeder in any such proxy sitting. Alternatively,
it might be that we are only given information that can be obtained from the
object itself. In that case there should be no deception, but the sitter needs
to have sufficient experience to be able to judge the situation fairly.
It is interesting in this connection that we are warned in the Bible to "Believe
not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many
false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John, 4, 1). The first part of
this statement appears to be a warning on the lines of the preceding paragraphs.
The second part seems to put the blame on the medium. We are rather fortunate in
the UK in having a number of good mediums available, although, at least
occasionally, even one of them may not be aware that an impeder has taken over.
Certainly all of those below an acceptable standard of competence might have to
be classified for this purpose as potentially 'false prophets', although some of
them could be successful some of the time.
It could well be that some communications that are genuine initially, become
false part way through, or for a brief period, owing to intrusion by impeders.
That is what Yeats reported, a short but false intrusion that appeared to be
part of a longer and apparently genuine communication.
There is not much by way of reference to the problem of the impeders in the
literature. It could be more important than is generally recognised. It could be
wise to look carefully at any communication that claims to come from a famous
The Arranging of Tests
In the early days of the SPR some people deposited
messages in sealed envelopes with a view to trying to communicate the detail
after death. This type of test was unsatisfactory in that opening the envelope,
to check a wrong attempt at communication, destroyed the test. It also failed in
that it could be read by a medium through the use of clairvoyance.
Two important tests set up by Robert Thouless will now be considered. This
material was written before the second test was destroyed by a man who broke the
code with the help of a computer in the USA in 1995. Until then both of the
tests were important and it seems best to retain the descriptions as they were
written when we were handling both of the tests.
In 1948 Dr. Robert H. Thouless (say RHT) set up two cipher tests, using two
different procedures for coding. In each case there are four features:
(a) The coding procedure, described in the original paper
(b) Text that has not been disclosed
(c) The Key (a further piece of text) that has not been disclosed
(d) The (meaningless) coded message, in effect a string of code characters,
printed in the paper
For the first test the key was a sequence of words 'from some identifiable
passage in a printed work' and for the second test it was just two words. The
keys were selected by RHT with a view to ease of communication.
During his lifetime RHT challenged mediums and others to try to ascertain the
keys; they were not ascertained in that way.
When a key (c) is received we have to decode the message (d) using that key. If
the answer makes sense (b) then we shall know that we have received the correct
key, as it is extremely unlikely that a wrong key will produce a passage that
makes sense. Any number of wrong keys can be checked without destroying the
test. Technically, checking many wrong keys reduces the significance of
receiving the correct one at a later stage, but for the first of RHT's tests the
effect on significance will be very small. In the other test, with two words in
the key, it would probably again have been very small, but depending on how many
wrong keys have been checked.
At a later stage the second code was broken by a man working with a computer in
the USA, but the following paragraphs were written before that happened and in
order to retain the full description they have been kept as they were, before
dealing with the breaking of that code.
Dr. Thouless died on the 25th September 1984. In the months that followed his
death there were several articles published in the press by researchers,
inviting members of the public to try to obtain the keys. Miss Betty Markwick
wrote a program so that keys could be checked with the aid of a computer and she
checked a number of submissions received by the Society, but none were correct.
In November 1985 Professor Ian Stevenson very kindly provided the SPR with a
fund to be used to pay for the cost of seeking to obtain the keys, mainly
through sittings with mediums, and I was appointed as the co-ordinator of the
project. Professor Stevenson expressed the wish that the co-ordinator should be
personally involved in as many of the sittings as possible. As I had a different
type of computer, I wrote my own programs for checking the keys received. I
confirmed with Betty Markwick that our independent approaches to the preparation
of our programs were giving identical results.
For my own sittings, in order to help in making contact a small object that had
belonged to RHT was normally handed to the medium, in an open envelope. At most
of the sittings contact appeared to be effective immediately and communications
were received that seemed to be from RHT. Normally there was no mention of the
cipher tests either by the sitter or in the communications. At the eighth
sitting booked for this project, in February 1986, the medium had apparently
completed a communication from RHT and was about to pass on to other
communicators when I asked, in desperation, "Could he possibly comment on the
problem in which we are both interested?" The reply came immediately "You mean
the code?" and I said "Yes", but it is necessary to explain that that medium
already knew that I was interested in obtaining the key to a code from that
communicator; I had had many sittings with her. She continued with the message
and explained that he was having great difficulty in trying to remember the
reality of his life here in our world. He said it was like a dream he had had
long ago and that this made it difficult. This was something he had not
expected. "It is like trying to remember something you did in a dream". He tried
to keep the code simple "but someone is making it complicated". I asked "Is it
just the system that is making it complicated ?" The medium said "Yes". This
discussion continued, but we have here the essential part for our present
I am hoping that if we persevere RHT may at some stage be able to recall the
keys. He has confirmed that he is willing to keep trying. Some further
information has been included in an earlier reference to this work, in
connection with the nature of memory, in Chapter 6.
An interim report covering work on the Thouless cipher tests and on what were
called the 'combination lock tests' was the subject of a paper by Stevenson,
Oram and Markwick (1989) in the Journal of the SPR.
 'Two Test of Survival After Death', 55, pages
The original papers in which Dr. R. H. Thouless set out his tests are as
'The First Test' Proc SPR 48, pages 253-263, from 'Appendix - A Supplementary Test'
at page 258. (What was originally the first test at pages 253 to 258 proved to
be unsatisfactory and was later withdrawn. See page 342.) The required key will
be 'an identifiable passage in a printed work' (page 261) and it will contain 74
different words, this point arising from the procedure described in the paper.
'The Second Test' Proc SPR 48, pages 342-343
The required key will be two words
If a test such as either of these, and particularly the first, is successful it
should be powerful evidence, but it will not be irrefutable evidence because
with clairvoyance and telepathy along with retrocognition it could be argued
that a mind operating at the time of the sitting could obtain information
relating to the content of the mind of RHT in, say, 1983. We have no independent
evidence of that sort of thing happening, but when we use the term "irrefutable"
it does not come with any guarantee that potential refuters will be modest, or
even reasonable. The most that we can hope for is that they will be honest. The
second test, as it requires a key of only two words, could more easily be solved
by a chance selection of the words.
Clearly this subject is far more difficult than most people realise. It is
stated in Cummins at page 106 that on dying we lose normal recall of all
concrete memories and of all things we have learned. Furthermore, in order to
communicate we then have to go into a state of altered consciousness, somewhat
akin to hypnosis, and in that state (page 124) we are even more cut off from old
memories and may not even be able to remember our name.
 The Road to Immortality (London: Psychic
It seems that in arranging any future tests the items to be remembered should be
very simple and preferably based on emotional links, although it may be
difficult to combine such keys with an effective overall design from a point of
view of the statistical significance of potential results.
At this point it can be confirmed that in July 1995 we were told that the second
code had been broken by a man with a computer in the USA. The key words had been
found to be Black Beauty. A short paper in the Journal of the SPR
reported the situation and that paper includes some further information on the
 'The Original Thouless Two-Word Code', part 61,
pages 116-119, 1996.
It might possibly be helpful to describe a sequence of events that did not
involve a test, but happened to reproduce some of the features that could
contribute to a successful test. This case was not recorded or treated as being
important at the time.
The characters were:
A. An old lady, unable to move beyond her home. She treasured her silver which
was displayed on a sideboard in her dining room.
B. A neighbour who visited A from time to time and happened to be sensitive to
C. A daughter of B. C visited A fairly regularly over a period of months.
D. Another daughter of B. D visited A one weekend when C was away and then
continued to visit A at weekends for several weeks.
A died in the early 1970s and some time after that B dreamt (or possibly had a
vision while awake - for convenience I shall refer to it as a dream) of A, who
told B in the dream that she had much better silver in her new life and referred
to the silver she had previously owned as "that old rubbish". She asked B to
explain to D that "this is the one place from which I cannot send you a
B remembered that C used to visit A regularly and forgot that D had also done
so. So she passed the message to C. C said it meant nothing to her and that it
should be passed to D, reminding B that D had also visited A towards the end of
the time before A was taken to hospital.
B then told D of the message. D said it was most interesting. During her visits
A had been showing her post-cards of places that A had visited. D had shown an
interest in the cards and A had said, jokingly, "next time I go somewhere
interesting I'll send you a card". D had not mentioned these minutiae of
conversation to anyone until she was told of the dream.
It could be that this little experience points to possible requirements for such
tests from the point of view of the main character involved; the undertaking was
simple and it was emotional. It was, of course, not planned to be sound from the
standpoint of the design of experiments, and it was in no way envisaged as an
experiment. It was just a little joke. We are dealing with feelings and emotion.
It looks as if we should continue with attempts to arrange tests, but with
careful thought for the necessary criteria from the point of view of evidence
and for these additional factors relating to feelings and emotion.
Before we leave this section I want to introduce a thought that has been
suggested by others, one that is pure speculation, but one that we should
possibly bear in mind. It is that there is a possibility that those who form
policy in the HD world are not ready for us to have the type of fairly concrete
evidence that would be represented by our obtaining the keys to the Thouless
tests and that because of that he has been prevented from communicating the keys
I am myself inclined to prepare and have published if I can a test similar to
the one referred to here as Thouless' first test, the one for which the key is a
passage of text from some printed work. I consider this to be a procedure that
could be worth carrying out and one in which I might be able to reflect
something of what I think I have learned as to the requirements for such tests.
If, however, I do that, I shall do it with a clear understanding that I may find
that I am precluded from communicating the key.
The Reliability of Information Received Through
In considering the reliability of information
received through mediums we can start with some general observations.
An individual is no more intelligent after death than before, and probably
rather less intelligent about physical problems.
The only advantage he may have is that while we who are on earth normally only
know about the past and the present, he does not have those rigid demarcations
in connection with time and he may see something of the outcome of a situation.
In that way he may know more than we do.
But while he does not have our demarcations regarding time, he also does not
have our measurement of time, so that while he may be right about the outcome of
a problem, he could be wildly out in his estimate of timing. Sometimes
communicators and mediums will say "at the time of the daffodils" or use any
indicator of that nature. That is great if it works, but it can be difficult if
it is wrong by several years.
I suspect that big events may possibly look more important to a communicator
than comparatively small events, and sometimes lead him to think they are closer
than they really are, but this is mere supposition and needs to be investigated.
The early stages of the next life are normally in no way concerned with academic
considerations; it is in the main an emotional life. Some communicators retain
their judgement when referring to our problems, but others can forget and only
look to the emotional factors. For instance, your interests might be deeply
dependent on easy access to London, but a communicator concentrating on the
emotional side might press you to sell your house and move to Somerset, thinking
of an association you had with that area years ago.
Long before I was married I suggested to a girl friend whom I was thinking of
marrying that we might each visit a particular medium and we did that. She went
first and I was able to follow her as the next client of the medium. I asked
about the girl she had just seen. She replied to the effect that "I don't see
you two together". But the most impressive part of this exchange was her
complete lack of interest in the question and the cold way she handled it. She
was right. In some such situations the virtual brushing aside of a question may
be almost more revealing than the words used.
In dealing with precognition we have seen two instances where identical
forecasts made by independent mediums to separate members of a family were
Mediums frequently explain to their sitters that they can only give them what
they receive from the next world, and that seems to be the situation. The medium
has no way of ascertaining whether advice is right or wrong. On the other hand,
the medium should exercise some judgement with regard to the wisdom of passing
on certain types of sensitive information. For instance, if a sitter is in some
way wholly dependent on his or her spouse it could be devastating to be told
that the spouse will shortly die. On the other hand, it could be advisable to
warn the sitter so that special arrangements can be made. Such situations can be
particularly difficult to handle and the medium has to decide what to say
suddenly, as the question arises. It is probably too much to expect deep wisdom
from some mediums in such situations.
The old legal principle caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, should in all cases
be applied to the implied offer of the sale of a service by a medium. The
sensitivity that makes an individual into a medium is widely spread between
people of all backgrounds and of all levels of intelligence. There is no
guarantee of receiving wisdom or sound judgement from a medium, or from some
communicators. A potential sitter should choose his medium carefully and there
is normally no basis for complaining about information received.
Where the mediumship is that of an amateur, then anything can happen with regard
to information obtained. If a communicator tells of important plans, or of
anything of a grand style, then he is almost certainly one of the impeders and
probably seeking contact because he is unhappy in the next world. The more
senior minds are usually extremely modest.
Any suggestion that the sitter should approach a third party in connection with
information received should normally be resisted. The safest procedure is to
Even in our ordinary conversation with each other, advice that you should 'do
this' differs only slightly from the advice that you should 'not do this'. The
insertion of the one word 'not' reverses the whole proposition. But W. B. Yeats
found that such a word could be inserted by an impeder into a communication that
was otherwise from a trusted source, as explained in the introduction to Yeats
(1925). I have never found this type of deception to arise in any of my
sittings, but as far as I know there have never been any hostile communicators
 A Vision (London: MacMillan, 1937, first
published by Werner Laurie in 1925.)
This subject is loaded with traps for the beginner and the wisest conclusion
about the reliability of information received from mediums is that the sitter
must take full responsibility at all times for decisions and action taken.
Information received from a medium must be treated with great reserve; it may be
helpful, but it may be wrong.
If one goes to several independent mediums and obtains the same information from
each of them, that in itself can have a considerable impact. On the other hand,
we do not know whether the same information or advice coming from several
seemingly independent mediums has a greater validity that that from just one
medium. It could be that something that has been seen by a medium is in effect
lying around in the months that follow, to be picked up by any other medium,
even for a different but related sitter.
If one goes to a particular medium from time to time over a period of years and
appears to be communicating with the same communicator on a number of occasions,
apparently with great interest and apparent value in advice received, there can
still be an unexpected failure, arising without any warning. I received such a
communication early in 1994 and the broad details may be of interest.
T had suffered a minor stroke and although she recovered fairly quickly, she at
some stage told me that one outcome of that experience was that one tends to
worry as to whether a major stroke might follow. I asked her whether it might
help if I asked a medium about the position and she said she thought it might. I
visited a medium I had been dealing with for some years and when the
communicator was T's father, with whom I had communicated for many years and had
always found to be extremely reliable, as he had been during his lifetime. He
was accompanied on this occasion by T's mother.
I explained T's question and they assured me that everything would be alright.
They said she would remain in full control of her faculties 'until she passed
through the door'. They said she would never have any trouble with her legs, and
in general gave me far more reassuring information than I had expected. I asked
whether I should show her a copy of the tape of that conversation and they said
yes, it would help to give her confidence.
Several months later T had the big stroke. She has never walked since then,
except with difficulty with a frame. Her short term memory has been severely
affected. Her personality has been changed. She no longer wants to be with
people and lives almost entirely on her own in her nursing home bedroom. Just
two or three close friends manage to keep in touch with her.
Obviously to tell this story was going to upset my medium. So I postponed that
for several months. My medium was then very upset. Through her I discussed the
situation with T's father and he was very concerned about it. He explained that
he could only say that neither he nor her mother saw anything of what had
subsequently happened when they gave me that account of what they saw at the
I can only give my personal conclusions about this case, but unless we have
better explanations these comments could be important.
In the first place it appears to show that what a communicator sees about the
development of a situation in the future may be given to that communicator by
some other and presumably more senior mind. In other words it seems that it may
not be a direct vision of what is going to happen.
Secondly, it looks as if what was said initially was given in order to help T to
live the coming weeks with the maximum confidence and so it might have been the
wisest approach in spite of the fact that what was said was in no way true.
There are parts of this world where enquirers are often given answers by
well-meaning people, calculated to make them happy at the time, rather than what
might be described as an attempt to give factual truth.
Any messages relating to future events need to be treated with the greatest care
and this case just illustrates one rather frightening, but probably wise,
situation that can occur.
But we almost certainly have to go further than that. In chapter 7, in
discussing precognition, we referred briefly to the pastiche type of picture or
vision that is sometimes seen by living sensitives. The elements of a future
event may be seen, but in a different sequence or format from that of the event
itself and we concluded that such pictures appear to have been created by minds,
presumably for a purpose. It looks as if a similar situation applies when a
communicator communicates through a medium. In such cases it looks as if the
communicator may have based the information he or she has given on a pastiche
type of vision of future events, which has presumably been prepared by a mind at
a higher level. We have no idea how far this goes.
Too easily we assume that our communicator has a superior source of true
information, but his sources may be similar to those used directly by living
sensitives. It looks as if there could be a hierarchy of levels, in effect a
hierarchy of dependence on such pictures, all created by minds for purposes we
may not understand.
We referred in chapter 7 to the insistence by many leading mediums in 1939 that
there would be no major war. This looks as if it could have been based on an
agreement between the guides, based on an idea, or on knowledge, that to
forecast a major war at that time could have made the outcome even worse. We may
never know about the full background to such decisions. My experience early in
1994, referred to above, was of a similar nature but relating to the life of one
Fortune telling has for a long time had a bad name and this is a relatively
small part of the background. Here we have seemingly wrong forecasting by
normally trustworthy communicators for presumably good reasons that we do not
understand. Far greater problems could arise if hostility and deliberate harm or
frustration were involved.
We started this section with a heading referring to reliability of information.
We end it realising that we do not know what we mean by reliability or by
information when dealing with messages received about future developments.
We can probably be reasonably safe if at all times we remain thoughtful and
careful concerning material received, realising that criteria other than our own
may have validity in particular situations.
Any advice or comment that is received must be treated with great care. The
subject is immensely important for our understanding of the system in which we
live, but there is so much that we do not yet understand.
The above article was originally titled "Part II Evidence for Survival". It was
taken from Arthur Oram's "The System in Which We Live" (Purley: Talbot Books,