The Survival Paradox – A Thought Provoked by the SPR Gwen Tate Memorial Lecture

The Survival Paradox

As a member of the Society of Psychical Research I attended their Gwen Tate Memorial Lecture on the 1st October, which was given by Dr. Zofia Weaver on ‘The Inconsistencies in Survival Evidence’. As ever the lecture was very interesting, well delivered by Zofia and an excellently detailed piece. Thank you Zofia. As ever I have left the lecture pondering even more questions in regards to psychical research, but I’m looking forward to researching those new questions. 

However Zofia did touch on an area that has been on my own mind recently too, that’s understanding the evidence presented during communication (or telepathic interaction as I call it) needs to be verified, interpreted and possibly simplistically emotional. 

The problem is that the information transferred during telepathic interactions is ‘noisey’, containing little or too much information. Where what we need is really little known or even unknown information, but information that can be verified. This is where the paradox comes into play, you see good telepathic interactions seem to occur where there are strong emotional bonds (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) transferring more detailed information. However because these emotional bonds exist it’s equally more possible that there is history between the Agent (information source like a spirit of friend) is full of information. Thus it’s possible the information is transferred between one persons to another, rather than from a deceased Agent. 

So, basically in my opinion, we could take this paradox to the extreme. If the information transferred is known to anyone still living, then we could conclude that it may have been transferred from this person to the Automatist. This transfer could equally occur in close proximity as it could at a distance. Therefore we could verify the information and even interpret it, but if the same information can be verified and interpreted as related to a living individual then it’s more probable to conclude that the information is more from that person rather than someone deceased. 

It’s a depressing thought as someone who spends a lot of time conducting psychical research, but in order to find the Holy Grail in the field and understand the survival hypothesis properly we must be certain of our source. As Dr Weaver stated we must rule out supernormal interactions as these kinds of entities are not verifiable. Just to clarify, we don’t dismiss them totally, but rule them out at this stage until we can understand interaction better. 

This is where the paradox almost kills all hope. Unless I’ve missed something, it means that in order to prove survival we would need to have the piece of information communicated which is not known to anyone apart from the deceased communicator. Of course the only way to do this is for our hypothetical deceased communicator to store a piece of information prior to passing away, so we can verify it. The problem with this approach is that it can only be attempted once or many times over time, with the information being revealed on a certain date to compare against the data. This is nothing new really, just still requires a little patience. That idea leads to another post for another time, which may cover how this may be achieved.

Finally, if we receive a message via an Automatist that can be verified, we must equally assess the Automatists access to that information and probability they knew of it; this could redefine the worth of the message as evidence. Thus information transferred needs to be blind to the Automatist, simple, unique and probably emotional. 

I wonder if we may stumble upon such an arrangement of information via telepathic interaction? 

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