IF THE evidence offered by Dr. Gary Schwartz in this book that consciousness survives bodily death does not sway the skeptic, it is likely that the skeptic has closed his mind to truth and is only a pseudo-skeptic, merely a cynic who can't get past his intellectual arrogance or the fear that his structured material world will be shattered. Schwartz offers evidence that goes well beyond the "preponderance of evidence" standard required to prove civil law suits and, in this writer's opinion, easily meets the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required for criminal cases.
Certainly, Schwartz has the credentials of a true scientist. He received his doctorate from Harvard and served as a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale, where he was director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center and co-director of the Yale Behavioral Medicine Clinic. He is now a professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the University of Arizona as well as director of its human Energy Systems Laboratory. He has published more than 400 scientific papers and edited eleven academic books.
But Schwartz differs from the great majority of scientists in one respect. He had the courage to undertake research in a field that raises eyebrows, that invites ridicule, that triggers scoffing, snickering, and smirking among the "intelligent" majority. As Schwartz states, it is a "forbidden" subject and it was with much reservation and considerable hesitation that he took on the research project. "I was brought up from an early age to believe that scientists are not supposed to believe in things - in the sense of belief as opposed to accepting ideas and facts that current science has acknowledged as being specifically verified," Schwartz writes.
Schwartz was a true skeptic when, during 1997, a psychiatrist friend, Dr. Donald Watson, told him of a woman who apparently had the ability to communicate with his (Watson's) deceased son. Curious, Schwartz asked Watson to introduce him to the medium, Laurie Campbell. No sooner had they met when Campbell started receiving meaningful messages from Schwartz's deceased mother. After further exploration of the subject, Schwartz collaborated with Linda Russek, Ph.D. in formal research on the subject of mediumship. In 1999, the two scientists arranged for five well-known mediums, including John Edward and George Anderson, to visit their research lab at the University of Arizona and undergo strict testing under controlled conditions. Schwartz and Russek took every possible precaution to rule out fraud, cold reading, mind reading, and pure chance. They even invited input from a "psychic magician," who knew the tricks of fraudulent mediums. To rule out the possibility of the medium researching the individual sitters beforehand, they made sure the mediums had no clue as to the identities of the sitters. They went so far as to shield the sitters from the mediums so that the mediums could not attempt to discern information through facial expressions and other reactions. They even arranged for sitters to remain mute and relay their "yes" and "no" responses to the mediums' comments with hand signals to the researchers.
The early results clearly pointed to the conclusion that the mediums were indeed gifted and able to communicate with the spirit world. But Schwartz still couldn't bring himself to accept such a conclusion. "My degree of doubt in the presence of all data was frankly irrational," Schwartz writes. "I was experiencing skeptimania. I knew it, but I hadn't been able to do anything about it."
The research continued and Schwartz finally decided it was time to overcome his "skeptimania" and face truth. "I can no longer ignore the data and dismiss the words," he explains his ultimate acceptance of the data. "They are as real as the sun, the trees, and our television sets, which seem to pull pictures out of the air."
In spite of the strict scientific controls, the pseudo-skeptics have attacked Schwartz's and Russek's work. "Probably our greatest surprise and deepest disappointment was the unexpected discovery that some of the people who are most convinced that this entire subject is based on fraud were willing to criticize our work without every looking at our data," Schwartz offers. He tells how one television network distorted his findings and made it appear that one of the mediums he had tested was doing cold readings and was nothing more than a fake.
As Schwartz sees it, it is one thing to be skeptical. It is something else to be "devoutly skeptical" - always knowing that cheating, lying, fraud, and deception are the explanations for any non-yet-explainable phenomenon, especially without fully examining the data.
To the "believer" in the survival of consciousness, this book will bolster his or her faith. To the true skeptic, the book will open some eyes and the light will be allowed to penetrate an open mind. To the pseudo-skeptic, sadly, it will do nothing more than raise eyebrows. Because the general media sides with the pseudo-skeptics, the book, unfortunately, will likely never make the best seller lists, as it should.
book is available from Amazon.com for $17.50. ($25 normal price). Click