We see dead people. In our news at least. NDEs, hauntings and people crossing over...this is the section.

Investigating Mediumship: The 'Dazzle Shot'

In my book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (Amazon US/Amazon UK) I devote a chapter to the subject of mediumship, and how science should best approach investigation of this controversial area. One of the elements that I talk about is the so-called 'dazzle shot', where a medium hits on a single, idiosyncratic piece of information that is so specific that the sitter is convinced the reading is coming from a loved one, even if sometimes the rest of the sitting is non-evidential in tone. I feel that previous research which did not take these dazzle shots into account (by scoring readings on the total number of pieces of information that were correct) may have resulted in unnecessarily negative assessments of some mediums, and that future experiments should concentrate on comparing sittings on the overall reading, rather than tallying the number of accurate hits.

The above video of a 'non-believer' (Chad) receiving a reading has an excellent example of a dazzle shot, when medium Chris Stillar (at 10:45) seems a little confused by the "bizarre" and "cryptic" communication coming from the 'deceased personality', asking Chad quite simply "what's pickles?" As you'll see on the video, the sitter at this point is quite overwhelmed emotionally, and it turns out that his deceased friend was obsessed with pickles, to the point where Chad would buy him a jar every week. I'm unfamiliar with this particular experiment, and the researcher doing the work, so I can't vouch that everything was truly anonymous and the medium was definitely 'blind' to the sitter - but it does make you sit up and take notice, and it certainly grabbed Chad's attention.

Skeptics would see other things in the video that might portray things in a more negative light, such as the medium noting at another point that the sitter's eyes seemed to be saying "yes" in response to his question - perhaps evidence that he was at least subconsciously reading and reacting to Chad's body language and subtle cues. The two debrief videos below - the first with Chad, the other with Chris Stillar - also show that some of the information in the first video wasn't as accurate as it seemed (such as the mode of death of Chad's friend). But overall, I think it's a nice group of videos to get a feel for how mediumistic sessions can be so convincing to sitters, and also for a more personal 'chat' with a medium, rather than the usual sensationalised presentation of celebrity mediums that is the norm on television these days.

Here's Chad's debrief:

And here's the post-sitting interview with medium Chris Stillar:

Fascinating material, and well worth viewing if you're at all interested in this topic. And of course, for more on mediumship and other areas of 'afterlife' research, such as NDEs and death-bed visions, make sure you grab a copy of Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife.

Sylvia Browne is Dead

Sylvia Browne

The website of 'psychic icon' Sylvia Browne has today announced her passing:

World renowned spiritual teacher, psychic icon, author, and lecturer Sylvia Celeste Browne passed away at 7:10am this morning (Wednesday, November 20) at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, CA. Born October 19, 1936, Browne was 77 years old.

...A best-selling author, Browne published over 50 works throughout her life with 22 appearing on the New York Times Bestsellers List. She was also a frequent guest on radio and television shows including Larry King Live and The Montel Williams Show, where Browne’s appearances quickly became a popular weekly highlight among regular viewers for over 17 years.

"A beacon that shined for so many was extinguished today, but its brightness was relit and will now shine forever for many of us from above,” said Williams. “I, like so many of you, lost a friend today. But, as has been for the last twenty years, she'll always remain a part of me. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sylvia's family in this time of loss."

Browne is survived by her husband Michael Ulery, sons Christopher and Paul Dufresne, three grandchildren, Angelia, Jeffrey, and William; and her sister Sharon Bortolussi.

A private memorial service is to be scheduled.

I have never been a fan of Browne in any sense - everything I saw of her seemed false, and in many cases, downright ugly. She was infamous for her incorrect predictions regarding missing children - Amanda Berry and Shawn Hornbeck being prime examples - and these alone should stand as testament to her lack of care and empathy when it came to discussing such delicate matters. In fact, I find it difficult to understand what made her so famous - she was wrong often, she showed a distinct lack of emotional connection to 'sitters' (to the point of being outright rude to them), and her personality seemed abrasive and self-centred.

Some people obviously did have profound moments via her psychic readings, and she is survived by her children and grandchildren, so I'm sure there will be many who grieve for Browne. I can't include myself on that list though, sad to say.


Afterlife Book in Paperback

Looking for a fun new read on the latest research into near-death experiences, death-bed visions and mediumship? My new book, Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlifeis now available as a paperback (274 pages) for just $11.95 (and Amazon currently have it discounted to $10.91, if you want to get in quick!). If you buy the paperback you can also get the Kindle version for just $0.99 extra, if you like to have your books in both formats. I'm really proud of this book, and am sure you will get a lot out of it (it might make a fairly good Xmas present for others too...). The feedback and reviews so far have been fantastic, including best-selling author Michael Prescott's description of it as "a world-class addition" to the literature on afterlife research. Michael notes in his review that he has "read a lot of books on evidence for life after death, but the one I would most recommend as a general, nontechnical introduction is Stop Worrying! There Probably Is an Afterlife".

Here's the short blurb:

Did Steve Jobs have a vision of the afterlife on his death-bed? Does quantum physics suggest that our mind might survive the physical death of our body? How do some near-death experiencers 'see' outside of their bodies at a time when they are supposed to be dead?

In Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, author Greg Taylor covers all these questions and more. From Victorian seance rooms through to modern scientific laboratories, Taylor surveys the fascinating history of research into the survival of human consciousness, and returns with a stunning conclusion: that maybe we should stop worrying so much about death, because there probably is an afterlife.

As always, purchasing books by Daily Grail Publishing is a win for everyone: it helps keep this site running into the future, and (in my opinion!) gives you a great read on fascinating Grail-related topics.

Here's the quick links to the paperback and Kindle editions of Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife for anyone interested in learning more about their (possible) fate beyond death:

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition

(I will also be selling signed and numbered limited edition hardcovers directly in the near future as well, so drop me a line if you're interested in a collectable.)

Thanks for your support!!

Is There a Ghost in this Image?

Is there a ghost in this image?

Dr. Ciarán O'Keeffe is well-known in the United Kingdom - at least, to the paranormal-inclined - as a result of his appearances on Living TV's paranormal television series Most Haunted, and also on account of his criticism of that show for misleading viewers using "showmanship and dramatics". The problems he came across while working on TV features about the paranormal led O'Keeffe to set up his own team, with whom he is filming investigations under the name Ghostlands.

On Halloween the Ghostlands team posted their first outing on YouTube, an investigation into a supposedly haunted World War II bunker on the Channel Islands. The 20 minute mini-documentary shows the setting up, possible manifestations of EVP, and finishes with a ghostly shadow fleeing the researchers' cameras (screen capture at the beginning of this post). Those that enjoy ghost-hunting shows should find plenty to enjoy in Ghostlands, especially if you're sitting home alone on a dark and stormy night...

This is a brief insight into a paranormal investigation conducted over a number of days where I had control and was not bound by the rules and expectations of television. Where I could choose a location that had never been shown before, one I wanted to investigate, one that I thought you would find as fascinating as I have and with a team I had chosen. But most of all, I wanted to present you with the evidence, to "let the evidence speak".

But this will also be about you. You are ghost enthusiasts, investigators, paranormal fans, cynics, sceptics and believers and those who simply want to find out if the "truth is out there". So get involved by contributing with your comments. It's about recognising that this show is organic and can develop if there are the means available. So say what can be done differently, what can be done better, what you are expecting, what you don't like, but more importantly what you do like, what you've learned, but also...did you notice anything I didn't see?

Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife

Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife

Ladies and gents, I'm very happy to announce that my new book, Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, is now available from the Amazon Kindle store for just $5.99! And for the launch, I'm looking to use the Grail army to my advantage, if you'll be kind enough to join in. More details after the blurb:

Did Steve Jobs have a vision of the afterlife on his death-bed? Does quantum physics suggest that our mind might survive the physical death of our body? How do some near-death experiencers 'see' outside of their bodies at a time when they are supposed to be dead?

In Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, author Greg Taylor covers all these questions and more. From Victorian seance rooms through to modern scientific laboratories, Taylor surveys the fascinating history of research into the survival of human consciousness, and returns with a stunning conclusion: that maybe we should stop worrying so much about death, because there probably is an afterlife.

Now, to try and make the maximum splash on entry into the eBook world, I'm asking interested Grail readers to grab a copy as soon as possible to push the book up Amazon's charts and thus make it more visible to other buyers. Here are the relevant Amazon links:

If you can help out by hitting Amazon hard, I'd love to see the result. To add a bit of incentive, I'll give away a couple of limited edition hardcover versions of the book, which will be randomly drawn from those who comment beneath this story letting me know that they've purchased the eBook.

Update: I'll cut entries off on Sunday night, 10pm U.S. West Coast time, to allow non-daily readers a chance at a hardcover) and make the draw soon after. Don't forget to comment beneath when you've grabbed a copy to be in the running!

(For those that still prefer paper to electronic books, the 274-page paperback should be out next week sometime, and will retail for $11.95. Alternatively, if you're a collector I will be selling signed and limited hardcovers directly in the near future as well.)

Stop Worrying! My Book is Finally Done!

Stop Worrying!

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally finished the book I've been working on for the past couple of years, Stop Worrying! There Probably Is An Afterlife. It should be available to purchase in the next week or two, but today eBook copies were sent out to those people who contributed to the crowdfunding effort for the book on IndieGoGo. If you were one of those people, but haven't received an email (due to spam filters, change of email address etc), please get in touch with me so that I can get your long-awaited copy of the book into your hands (I'm greg, and I'm at dailygrail.com)!

I'll of course post an update here when the book is available for purchase on Amazon, for those interested.

Short Documentary 'Surviving Death' Talks to Three Near-Death Experiencers

Surviving Death is a beautifully produced 12-minute-long mini-documentary featuring the near-death experiences (NDEs) of Kimberly Clark Sharp, Roland A. Webb, and Louisa Peck, told in their own words. The interviews are part of a longer series titled Consciousness Continues, the first episode of which will be released on on Amazon instant Streaming in January 2014.

Commonalities of the Near Death Experience

This 'documentary', put together out of various clips of near-death experiencers and NDE researchers, does an excellent job of listing many of the common elements of these strange experiences through first-hand testimony. Definitely worth your time.

The Ouija Board

Our good friend Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America and an upcoming book on the positive thinking movement, has previously written about the history of the Ouija Board, both for our print anthology Darklore and also here on TDG. For those with tl;dr syndrome though, the above 6 minute video that Mitch helped create as part of the Midnight Archive series is a nice little introduction, charting the development of Ouija through to its heyday in the 1960s when it outsold Monopoloy, as well as including fascinating anecdotes regarding the board's influence on some well-known poets.

On a related note, readers might also like to check out a recent BBC Future article which attempted to answer the question "What Makes the Ouija Board Move?" in terms of modern consciousness research, and also this response: "Ouija Board Explained, Magicians Unsurprised"

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Esquire Exposé on Proof of Heaven Author Eben Alexander Distorted the Facts of the Case

Eben Alexander

Near-death experiencs (NDEs) were in the news for all the wrong reasons last month, with journalist Luke Dittrich's 'exposé' of bestselling author and NDEr Eben Alexander in Esquire spreading far and wide across the internet. Dittrich painted Alexander as a medical professional of dubious reputation (on the basis of several malpractice suits) who was more than a bit 'creative' when it came to the facts of his case.

In my original story about the Esquire exposé I urged some caution in taking it all at face value, and in a follow-up piece noted one example of how Dittrich himself seems to have a been a bit 'creative' (or at least selective) in quoting the Dalai Lama about Alexander's case. But NDE researcher Robert Mays has gone one step further and put a blowtorch to a number of the claims in the Esquire article (PDF), and discovered that it seems to have distorted the facts of the case. Along with the out-of-context Dalai Lama statements that I covered, Mays gives statements from a number of those involved that corroborate facts which Dittrich claims were fictions by Alexander. Perhaps the most important of which is a statement by Dr. Laura Potter, who was used by Dittrich as the hammer to drive the final nail into the coffin of Eben Alexander's credibility. Dittrich's article squashes Alexander's claim that he was essentially without a mind during his illness in the following words: "I ask Potter whether the manic, agitated state that Alexander exhibited whenever they weaned him off his anesthetics during his first days of coma would meet her definition of conscious. 'Yes', she says. 'Conscious but delirious'." But Mays says that Potter was in fact alarmed by the way her remarks were twisted, with the doctor making the following statement via email:

I am saddened by and gravely disappointed by the article recently published in Esquire. The content attributed to me is both out of context and does not accurately portray the events around Dr. Eben Alexander’s hospitalization. I felt my side of the story was misrepresented by the reporter. I believe Dr. Alexander has made every attempt to be factual in his accounting of events.

In the 15-page article, Robert Mays makes clear his dismay at what appears to be a long list of serious errors and/or misrepresentations made by Dittrich and Esquire, and further aggrieved by the fact that Esquire made a point of asking online readers to pay $1.99 because "great journalism isn't free". Mays concludes:

Dittrich's article was irresponsible because of the impact — the real harm — the resulting distortions have caused. I am sure Luke Dittrich and his editors felt completely justified, based on what they felt was a solid case against Eben Alexander. They probably also considered the negative effect that Dittrich's article and its conclusions would have on Alexander and others, and similarly felt justified. In their minds, Eben Alexander is a complete fraud and deserves to be exposed as such.

But did Luke Dittrich and his editors exercise sufficient care in building their case? In my opinion they did not: the facts presented in the article were distorted or completely wrong and the conclusions are totally unwarranted. And the result has been devastating to those people who know the facts and how utterly wrong they were portrayed in the article. They include all of the people I mentioned two paragraphs above, especially Dr. Laura Potter whose statements were misrepresented and distorted by Luke Dittrich to establish the central fact of his case. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be quite dismayed that his warm, supportive statements to Eben Alexander have been so cleverly distorted into the exact opposite of his meaning.

But the person most harmed is Dr. Eben Alexander, whose reputation has been severely damaged on the basis of Dittrich’s erroneous, distorted judgments. From now on, many people will associate Eben Alexander with altering records, embellishment, fabrication and delusion.

Mays goes on to note the irony that Dittrich used the malpractice suits against Alexander to sow seeds of doubt about the surgeon's character in his readers' minds, and yet "Mr. Dittrich's actions in investigating and writing the article and Esquire's unabashed endorsement of it rise to the level of malpractice" themselves.

Link: "Esquire article on Eben Alexander distorts the facts" (PDF)