Sunday, January 24, 2016

Was not able to finish "The Afterlife Of Billy Fingers"

I probably should explain why. To read *any* book regarding mediumship requires, for me, a deliberate suspension of disbelief--because a part of me wants to believe that it's true, and I know that many books on this subject aren't. I've learned to be skeptical.

I was curious about "The Afterlife Of Billy Fingers" after the author recently appeared on a well-know paranormal podcast; I think that the host said that he sensed Billy "buzzing around the room" during the interview. So I was intrigued.

As always, I first sought out any critical information that I could find about the book.  I found a few critical reviews online, and the arguments made boil down to two major observations: The author discloses too little of her personal life experience to establish a sense of validation and credibility to the reader; and the process that the author uses to speak to "Billy" seems too perfect.  (Another critic noted that the evolved and philosophical afterlife "Billy" did not seem to be the same person as the real-life troubled Billy, a life-long substance addict who created turmoil among those around him.)

To me, the process that the author used to communicate with Billy is the most problematic part of the account. The author presents to the reader a series of lengthy, coherent, and philosophical paragraphs that she states were audible dictated to her by Billy. These were not the usual mentally impressed thoughts and images that are commonly experienced by mediums, but actual audible sounds.

I'm not arguing that this did not actually happen--it may have--but if it did, it's highly significant. Practically all audible traces left by the "dead" are short and succinct. And they are usually recorded, to establish the legitimacy of the communication. These audible traces are highly variable and seem to require a great deal of energy from "the other side" to manifest. Sometimes voices are physically heard but not picked up by the recorder; other times, they are recorded but not heard.  This suggests to me that it's not a trivial matter for the "dead" to communicate verbally, nor is it guaranteed to work.

(Not to mention--many examples of "recorded" voices, such as the Spiricom, have been credibly debunked.)

Okay. So maybe Billy created the *illusion* of an auditory voice but was actually using mental telepathy. That's possible. But again--the communications are verbally sophisticated, lengthy, and coherent. This is unusual. Even mediums with years of experience seem to struggle to produce a few paragraphs, and these communications contain "translation" errors, as information is passed through several channels and then mentally reconstructed into human language.

So I wasn't able to make the leap on this story. I wished that I could. Billy seems to be quite a character--someone I'd like to know (and I've known a few "Billys" in this life).  So if I'm missing something essential, feel free to point it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Currently reading...

"The Last Frontier" by Julia Assante. I think it's a good book, particularly as an introduction to the topic. Although she does not emphasize it, I detect a distinct Seth influence upon her philosophy--which can be good or bad. (As much as I am always quoting Seth, I don't necessarily agree with "him" on several things.) The book is divided into logical examinations ("The Evidence For Survival," "The Social Construction Of The Afterlife," etc.).  Some parts can be skimmed--particularly if you've read a lot of Jane Roberts. There's a very good summary of the development of the religious notions of the afterlife among the major religions through the millennia.  It all caused me to wonder, "What are gods, and who is God?"  In my opinion, the correct answer to the later is, "No living person knows with certainty, or can say with authority."  The answer to the first question is knowable, and discoverable and, I think, important.

Unfortunately, the fact that Dr. Assante has to even discuss the subject of religion in a book on the afterlife is because we as a society relegate the entire topic to that of religion and belief.  Our beliefs in, and notions of, the afterlife are largely wrapped up in our notions of divinity--along with ideas of moral worthiness ("if I'm a bad person, I won't go to heaven").  Dr. Assante tries to decouple this association, for good reasons--many of our beliefs on the "afterlife" are simply not accurate, just as our notions of "God" are probably inaccurate (or flat-out wrong, as is the case with some).  And these erroneous religious beliefs contaminate our ideas of the afterlife--not only now, but in the hereafter.

Which brings me to something that Dr. Assante has observed, which, to my knowledge, no one else has addressed:  Primarily, accounts by survival personalities (via mediums) never talk about the wondrous being of light that is common in NDEs. Also, there is no past-life flashback review described in these communications.  (These descriptions are also absent from hypnotic past-life regressions.)  I've wondered about this for years, even to the point of causing me to doubt the authenticity of much of mediumship material.  Over time, I've developed my own theories of why this might be, but Dr. Assante has some interesting ideas on this.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ring out the old, ring in the new

I have had some unaccustomed free time, so I've been reading quite a bit. I'm re-reading a book that I bought in 2012: "Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11," one of the more evidentiary books on the subject (though some reviewers at are less than impressed).  I'm not sure if I blogged about the book (I think so, but 2012 is a bit of a blur, and I almost never go back and read my old posts), but the one aspect of the "premonitions" part of the experience is that most of the victims "knew" that a significant event was to occur about three months before September 11. Back when I was beginning my dream research, I noticed the same pattern: Most of my precognitive dreams were three months prior to the event. Anyhoo, the author quotes Tennyson, which I thought was neat.

On an unrelated subject, I still somehow keep getting regular emails from a well-known paranormal forum that I registered with back in the days that I was listening to that stuff. The related podcast used to be good (albeit a bit dry) until it ditched its mercurial but entertaining co-host, and subsequently went more mainstream and became subsumed with commercials. The show's focus was primarily UFOs, but occasionally it touched (skeptically) on other subjects. I thought it was much better than "Coast To Coast" (although it's possible to find some defenders of George Noory out there). My current perspective on the paranormal can best be compared to that of one of this show's best guests, when he was alive: Jim Moseley. I see the cultural obsession with UFOs (which waxes and wanes) as a sort of barometer of mass consciousness; it is an entertaining sociological sideshow to the phenomenon itself. I still enjoy occasionally going to the various forums and reading about alien structures on Mars and whatnot. (And I'm sure that they will eventually be found.). In my opinion, however, it is very easy to go off the deep end with the paranormal and become dangerously obsessed with dark side topics, such as "shadow civilizations," Nazi infiltration of American institutions, alien-human breeding programs, and the like. My quibble with "Coast" (and other shows) is that it seems to traffic in that sort of pot-stirring, which, IMHO, is dangerous. The aforementioned podcast (now show) never seemed to do that. But I still have one major problem with this show: its primary host has a pathological habit of begging his forum and email subscribers for money. Regularly. To live on. I find this offensive, and so do many others. Each time I get a forum update, it's there. And people are actually giving him money.  So I'm constantly reminded of it.

I know why, from a financial standpoint, this is happening. The paranormal (particularly the UFO field) is nowhere near as profitable as it once was, when UFO contactees (and later, abductees) stalked the world. Even the "Coast" audience has shrunken to a few thousand. "Fate" magazine surprises me by still continuing to be published, and I doubt that they make any more money than it costs to print the semi-regular edition. All this is due to significant upheavals in information dissemination, and a mass-cultural shift away from the subject. (Though two of my posts concerning the Psychic Twins continue to get hundreds of views, to my puzzlement.)  So you really can't do a paranormal show and expect to make an honest (notice, I said "honest") living at it. And filling your website with a bunch of Prepper ads will only do so much. In this context, begging subscribers personally for money may seem the logical thing to do, but it will never be right.