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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Her Book on the Great Beyond Is Startling But Substantive

Author of a best-selling book on UFO's, investigative journalist Leslie Kean has written a recently published book entitled Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife. The book includes some startling eyewitness accounts by the author, and has ten chapters written by various researchers (mostly PhD's or doctors) who have accumulated evidence relevant to this topic.

The first part of the book deals with evidence for reincarnation. Such evidence was first systematically gathered by psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, who spent decades documenting cases of children who claimed to have had a previous life, often doing a birthmark corroboration that links birthmarks on the child with the cause of death of a previously living person. Stevenson was able to find many cases of children who reported past lives, with the details apparently matching the lives of previously living persons. His research has been continued by Jim Tucker, MD, who contributes a chapter to Kean's book. Kean describes an interview with a family with a son who claimed to have had a previous life as a minor show business figure. Kean presents a list of 55 similarities between the child's account and the life of a minor show business figure named Marty Martyn.

On page 229 Tucker says that 70% of the children who claim to remember past lives say they died in their previous lives by violence, accidents or suicide. Could it be that reincarnation occurs only to those who didn't live to old age? It should be noted that a particular “past life” case never proves a universal tendency for people to reincarnate. There are always still possibilities such as voluntary reincarnation and the possibility that knowledge is being transferred in some paranormal way that does not involve reincarnation.

The second part of the book deals mainly with near-death experiences. There is a chapter by a person involved in one of the most famous cases, the social worker who found on a hospital ledge a dark blue tennis shoe that a patient claimed to have seen while floating out of her body. One chapter discusses children who claimed to recall a life between earthly incarnations. We are told on page 128 that one in five children who claim to remember previous lives report remembering some otherworldly or heavenly existence where they existed between earthly incarnations.

There is a chapter by Peter Fenwick, an MD who is the author of the excellent book The Art of Dying. Fenwick discusses deathbed visions, in which people close to death often report seeing visions of dead relatives. Fenwick's chapter includes this strange narrative (page 141) of people seeing a mist-like thing leaving the body at death:

What is seen has been described to us variously as a “smoke,” a “gray mist,” a “white mist,” a “very wispy white shape,” seen leaving the body, usually from the chest or through the head. Some describe the air being wavy, like the heat haze of a mirage. It can also be an almost solid white form.

In Part 3 of the book, Leslie Kean discusses her experiences with mediums, psychics who claim to be able to contact the dead. She discusses what she calls an “almost perfect reading” with a medium, one in which the medium mentioned 19 things that seemed to be accurate. There is a chapter by Julie Beischel, PhD, who has long done scientific research involving mediums, getting “highly statistically significant results” suggesting some real paranormal effect (an example of one of her papers is here). 

In Chapter 19 (page 231) Kean reports hearing the voice of her dead brother saying, “Leslie..I'm fine. It's okay.” She reports other strange experiences such as electrical disturbances and bottle caps flying off bottles. She also reports seeing a weird dark apparition that slowly dissolved. She says on page 238, “This really, actually, and without question was something otherworldly, ghostly, inexplicable, an apparition that I had witnessed right there next to me.”

In Part Four of the book there is a discussion by psychic researcher Erlendur Haraldsson, PhD of observations of a large variety of stunningly paranormal phenomena produced by the Icelandic medium Indridi Indridason while he was in a specially constructed observation center created to observe the strange effects he was producing, under controlled conditions apparently offering no possibility for cheating. As reported at length here, Indridason was observed at length in such a center by some prestigious people such as a professor and someone who would later become a prime minister of Iceland. Such witnesses could find no evidence of trickery or fraud. In a similar vein, Kean discusses some utterly paranormal activity at a séance she attended. Not wishing to give too many “spoilers” about her book, I won't describe this jaw-dropping activity in detail.

Nearly 400 pages in length, and including many references at the end, Kean's fascinating book is one of the more substantive treatments of life after death to appear in recent years. The book includes very many relevant accounts I haven't mentioned. Although the parapsychological significance of some of her personal accounts are debatable, Kean deserves credit for sticking her neck out and reporting astonishing personal incidents that many people might never reveal out of fear of being ridiculed. 

Postscript: In Chapter 3 of his book The Scalpel and the Soul, Allan J. Hamilton M.D. discusses a strange phenomenon he has observed. Hamilton says:

A dull, waxy, yellowish light accumulates around those who are about to die....This glow would seem to shine from underneath the patient's skin. Invariably, when I saw it, patients would die soon....I've seen patients precariously close to dying in the ICU, who have had this soft, candle-like light come into their being. Then it faded back to a crisper, cleaner white light as they recovered. But when the yellowish hue comes, the individual is near death.  

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