A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for Postmortem Survival by Michael Sudduth

Edward F. Kelly


Psychical researchers have long recognized the difficulties posed for interpretation of ostensible evidence of postmortem survival by paranormal interactions and other psychological processes involving only living persons. Myers (1903, Vol. 1:8–9), for example, says


It became gradually plain to me that before we could safely mark off any group of manifestations as definitely implying an influence from beyond the grave, there was need of a more searching review of the capacities of man’s incarnate personality than psychologists . . . had thought it worth their while to undertake.

Myers himself of course became convinced that he had obtained compelling evidence of survival, but others in his own circle, familiar with most if not quite all of the same evidence, remained unpersuaded. That early episode pretty much set the pattern for the subsequent history of the subject: Despite the advent of more and better evidence of types Myers and his colleagues already knew about, and additional kinds of evidence not as well-known or even unknown to them such as drop-in mediumistic communicators and cases of the reincarnation type (CORT), serious and open-minded students of the survival literature have remained deeply divided right to the present day as to whether the available evidence justifies rational belief in the possibility of survival, and if so to what degree.

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