Just got through listening to the Dreamland episode featuring Frank DeMarco. Whitley Strieber states that he intends to focus on communication with the "other world" in 2012, and this appears to be a first in the series.
Strieber argues that the West is rapidly developing the technical and philosophical capability of detecting--and communicating with--realities previously outside our physical awareness. I say "the West" because I suspect that Eastern cultures--particularly China--might already have a leg up on this process. A prominent NDE researcher, Raymond Moody, argues the same.
Our culture has been down this path before... the rise of Spiritualism coincided with rapidly developing electronic technology at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, which led to a belief that some breakthrough was near that would allow electronic communication with the dead. This breakthrough, of course, did not occur. But it's possible that such a breakthrough might be "allowed" to occur in the present era, for a number of reasons--the primary one being that humanity is currently faced with a number of existential threats.
Frank DeMarco's particular method for contacting the "dead" is simple, intriguing--but has a number of pitfalls. Essentially, what DeMarco does is engage in a form of meditation (not unlike Joe Fisher's in "Hungry Ghosts") in an attempt to start a dialog with specific deceased personalities. He then clears his mind, allows their thoughts to manifest in his interior mental dialog, and then writes them down.
Knowing what I know, I'd be scared to even attempt this.
Some of what DeMarco says rings true, and I've personally experienced it. For example, he says that non-physical "guides" assigned to people use various subtle methods and techniques for conveying information and advice. Synchronicities, unanticipated opportunities dropped into one's path, strong hunches, sudden and intrusive convictions that steer the personality into new and positive directions, are some of the techniques used by "guides" to assist their human charges. I've written a few times about my recent experiences with this; I can't explain certain events in my recent experience except as being some sort of external intervention.
So DeMarco's basic premise is plausible: that we have a retinue of non-physical helpers on "the other side" who are tasked with keeping us out of trouble, and that we can detect their influence and learn to rely on it. Such guides probably wouldn't care what humans called them--"God," "angels," or subconcious impulses--as long as the work gets done.
The rest of DeMarco's arguments are unproven and probably unprovable.
DeMarco believes that one can establish dialogs with famous deceased personalities that "resonate" with one's interests and inclinations. His website includes a number of these dialogs. I've read all sorts of books that detail channeled conversations with famous deceased personalities--Marilyn Monroe seems to be a popular choice. We have absolutely no way of knowing if these messages are geniune, and there's plenty of evidence that attempting to contact deceased personalities is unsafe.
Along this line, I did have one interesting experience when I was in grad school. I was writing a paper on the Pre-Raphaelites, and one night, I had a dream of Dante Rossetti... the dream was set in the 1960s; Rossetti was driving a car. I was in the passenger's seat. As he was driving, Rossetti was explaining something about his sister, Christina. The bit of information that "Rossetti" gave me about his sister was quite specific but I haven't substantiated it, one way or another. Many writers, researchers, scholars have had such dreams. Are they indications of contact with deceased personalities? Quite possibly. In my case, I did not initiate the contact, nor was I particularly expecting or "needing" it, which causes me to think that it might have had some reality.
Stephan Schwartz's "The Secret Vaults Of Time: Psychic Archaeology And The Quest For Man's Beginnings" makes a compelling argument that deceased historical personalities can aid the living with specific research projects. (And, supposedly, Hillary Clinton channeled Eleanor Roosevelt during the dark days of Whitewater.) But this is not the same thing as your average Joe chatting up Marilyn Monroe. The basic rule of thumb seems to be that when the dead want to contact the living, they will find a way to do so; it does not usually work the other way around.
I am guessing that this basic skepticism can be applied to information otherwise "channeled" or obtained via mediumship. I do believe that non-physical beings can "channel" through the living and, in rare cases, produce useful information. And I am gradually coming around to the possibility that certain people can "see" and converse with deceased personalities. This appears to be an in-born ability that can be nurtured and developed. But I still believe that the bulk of public mediums are just engaging in "cold reading." I definitely got this impression when I listened carefully to some John Holland sessions a few years back--and Holland is cited as one of the more credible mediums. Until her meltdown on "Coast To Coast," Sylvia Browne was cited as one of the "good ones." There's substantial available criticism of John Edward and Allison DuBois, two mediums highly regarded by Dr. Gary Schwartz (whose work, generally, I regard as promising). Until the current crop of public mediums can effectively rebut the substantial criticism of their work, I will continue to be highly skeptical of any person claiming mediumship ability... This is one area where I believe that extraordinary proof is needed to substantiate some rather extraordinary claims--including the interior dialogs of DeMarco.
Postscript: A paranormal podcaster who I had been following recently devoted a show trying to differentiate his experiences from those of the Ramtha lady (J. Z. Knight) and Jane Roberts. Essentially, his defense boils down to, "Well, they were faking their channeling, but my experience was real, and besides, I wasn't channeling, and they were." Which is neither a good defense of self, nor an effective rebuttal of others. I've never read the Ramtha stuff; I regarded it as prima facie absurd, so I can't speak to her defense. I thought to same about the Jane Roberts material when I first read it in '84. I thought that "Seth Speaks" was complete and utter BS at the time; the philosophy was obtuse and vague, I thought, and the material unreadable. However, something made me read it a second time... And after years of study, I have decided that it is what it purports to be. So I cannot blame the podcaster for his negative assessment based on one reading of a book that I also disliked the first time. However, while I believe that the podcaster's experiences to be genuine, I find the philosophy that he developed from it to be just as unfathomable as he finds the Seth material. And I've tried hard to fathom it--I got the book, listened to his podcasts, but I simply can't make heads or tails of it. Does that mean he's "wrong"? No. It simply means that his philosophy doesn't resonate with me; and it's not because I'm stupid or unenlightened.
So what's going on? How can one reader think an esoteric text is the bee's knees, while another person thinks it's horsecrap? Simple--there's no universal truth--only individual truths. And individual mystical insights and revelations almost never survive the translation to written text... Nor are individual truths and revelations applicable to others. Such information is essentially untranslatable. The minute you write it down, the experience is recontextualized, taken from its native environment, and dies, even if it informs your greater reality and resonates with a few people.
So, how does one evaluate the merits and veracity of unofficially obtained information? Carefully. I am still compiling the information about "channeled" information predicting the Arab Spring. The best we can do in the paranormal field is collect the data, present it, and let it pass the equivalent of peer review by allowing all who examine it come to their own conclusions about it.