March 10, 2002 at 4:13 pm #62591
Re: The Afterlife Experiments by Schwartz and Simon. I want to set the record straight regarding some of the misstatements made by this reviewer as well as reply on some general issues.
Reviewer: Marc Berard (see more about me) from Central Falls, RI USA
MB: Dr. Schwartz demonstrates limited understanding of cold reading. As a
result each of his experiments fail to control for sitter bias, feedback,
and the Forer effect. In some of the experiments half the reading was done
without any sitter feedback at all. During these the mediums scored
significantly lower, a clear indicator that they are getting their
information from the sitter, not spirits. Yet Schwartz ignores those
Reply: Clearly the lower ratings on the silent sittings are due to the
problems perfecting identity. See discussion below.
MB: He repeatedly states the information the mediums come up with is very
specific, and not vague. Yet the statements from one reading that were taken
as refering to the sitter’s daughter, a few pages latter Schwartz
demonstrates they can be applied equaly as well to refer to himself. When a
magician explains mentalist techniques such as “I’m getting an M name”
Schwartz criticizes that medium Suzane Northrop does not do anything like
that, offering the HBO footage as evidence. Yet quotes from that very same
footage given in this book show Suzane saying “I hear a male with a D name”
and “I also hear an L name”.
Reply: I have observed JE and other mediums use what appears to be cold
reading in order to perfect identity. I have
brought this up before. This part of the readings always seem to be
problematic. I have suggested to Schwartz that a
phase of the experiment be performed where identity information is given up
to the medium, and that the medium asked
if this is a spirit they “have” I visited/tested a medium locally. I told
her the name of “spirit” and even threw a picture
of the subject on the desk as we sat down. She considered this for a moment,
and then proceeded to have a three way
conversation between the spirit subject, herself and myself. Everything was
extremely unique and valid, and nothing
whatsoever could be categorized as vague. She didn’t have to grope for
identity information or ask me any questions
since I answered the identity questions in advance and willingly. Skeptics
can’t seem to get passed the name game
that even genuine mediums are forced to play. One surmises that this occurs
in large groups because there are many
discarnate consciousnesses communicating or trying to communicate
(party-line) or that even in one-on-ones, more
than a single entity may “show up.”
MB: He repeatedly states the data is open for others to examine. Yet we know
this is not quite true. When magician James Randi asked to see them he was
told he would have to sign a statement that he would not share any
information, opinions, or conclusions with anyone. Schwartz latter announced
that he would not correspond with anyone unless they could pass a mediumship
test of his own devising.
Reply: Randi refused to come to Arizona to see the data himself after
writing a letter to the President of the University
laying down the gauntlet and challenging Schwartz to accept his Million
Dollar challenge. Schwartz did not apply, Randi
did. Randi wanted Shermer, Hyman, Minsky and Krippner as referees. Randi
wanted all the original data packed up and
sent to him in Ft. Lauderdale including videotapes. Schwartz wanted some
conditions of his own, especially since it was
Randi making the challenege and not him. First of all Schwartz withdrew his
“mediumship test” as a condition. Secondly,
he wanted Randi to visit the lab and examine the data and be videotaped
doing it. Third, he did not want Randi to
publicly release his conclusions unless or until he had a chance to review
them first and respond to them. And fourth,
he wanted a fairer and more evenly balanced group of referees. After all,
these 4 people are also close personal
friends of Randi. In addition when Schwartz checked, he found that Stanley
Krippner had declined to participate
but Randi decided to throw his name in the letter anyway.
AND LOLOLOL Schwartz DID NOT refuse to dialogue with Randi, it was the other
way round and Randi even says
so in his own published online column. He refused to discuss anything
further with Schwartz until his conditions were
met. That included I guess discussion of those conditions. Oh well.
MB: There is finnaly a good experiment design finnaly given in the book.
However that section is only one and a half pages long. It mentions six
sitters were used, but only mentions the results for one of them.
Reply: I am perplexed by this remark. All the results for all the sitters
were mentioned if this reviewer had taken the
trouble to go to the appendix and access the original studies. There were
several experimental designs involved, including
the Miraval and Canyon Ranch phases involving “silent sitters” as well as
atest of Randi’s generalization hypothesis
which was falsified.
MB: The book gets very insulting to anyone questioning his work. Skepticism
is passed off as a mental disorder, or caused by a lack of love, rather than
considering if there is any rational basis for their arguments. The only
thing worse seems to be his grasp on physics, highlighted by this statement:
“The photons that have traveled billions of miles to make their way into
your pupils are not much larger than the head of a pin.”
Reply: I have had the pleasure of spending about ten hours discussing this
work with Schwartz recently. He is very open
to skepticism, is very open to critical doubt but, like most of us, he is
fed up with cynics and close mindedness whenever and
wherever he finds it. I have concluded he is a reputable investigator who is
not prone to flights of fancy and uncritical doubt
although the close minded skeptics are fond of accusing him of these
I hope GS doesn’t get angry with me for relating this but he told me that he
told a very high profile medium who shall remain
nameless (he told me who) “If I ever found out you are cheating, I swear, I
will kill you!” LOLOL. Because he was confronted
with evidence that is so evidential and he has exhausted every possible
normal or natural explanation, he has had no choice
but accept the data personally but he is happy to let it speak for itself
and let others make up their own minds.
Millions of photons, for the purpose of general discussion can indeed be not much larger than the head of a pin. Light reaching earth (e.g. photons) does travel vast distances and light from the end of the universe is calculated at still traveling here since the beginning of time (e.g. our unvierse creation date). For some strange reason there are people who, for example, think that light from the sun is reaching us in real time. Not.March 10, 2002 at 5:58 pm #72565
James Randi replies….
Dr. Gary Schwartz does not represent my participation truthfully. He
volunteered, sitting in the library of the James Randi Educational
Foundation, that he WOULD submit all relevant data — including
videotapes — to us for examination. That was immediately following his
“testing” of Edward and others. He also expressed his satisfaction — if
not delight — with a protocol for testing these claims, that I outlined to
him at that time.
The results: He never sent the promised data, and he never implemented the
protocol that we originated for him.
My offer to the University was simply that they would win the millon-dollar
prize offered by the JREF if Dr. Schwartz would fulfill his promise to
supply the data, and that data — in the opinion of an experienced and very
well qualified panel — proved Edward’s claim. I made this overture after
Schwartz grandly declined to participate, saying that scientists do not vie
for prizes. I mentioned the name “Nobel” to him, but have had no response.
I find Dr. Schwartz’s attitude of secrecy, of reticence, of concealment, to
be in direct opposition to the manner in which I believe a true scientist
would and should react to a challenge of his data and his conclusions. He
is very willing — perhaps compulsive — when it comes to specifying his
glowing academic scores. But, as I’ve said before, a formal education
doesn’t necessarily make one smart; it merely makes one educated.
James RandiMarch 10, 2002 at 6:07 pm #72557
OMG! Is Randi putting his “prize” in the same classification as the Nobel prize?
I have the utmost respect for Dr. Schwartz and the UofA for not answering Randi’s “challenge”.March 10, 2002 at 7:09 pm #72550
The last thing I want to do is start a he said, she said, yes it is, no it isn’t type of thing here. I posted the Amazon Review, I responded to the answers based on what Randi had in his column and what Gary and I have discussed about this and I posted Randi’s response to me …..which doesn’t address the issues which pertain to him but rather some informal meeting they had in Ft. Lauderdale when Gary was meeting with Randi to get ideas about what protocols he (Randi) would recommend for the experiments.
I want to make it perfectly clear that the reason Gary has not followed through is because Randi refused to discuss let alone accede to any conditions he (Gary) wanted to impose, which I placed in my original response.
I did not even mention the subsequent invective Randi spewed on his website commentary in the weeks following his issuance of a letter to the University challenging Schwartz to come foreward and submit his work for the prize. Hardly conducive to an amicable negotiation of a set of conditions for this to have gone forward. Undaunted, Gary issued a reply to Randi which was widely circulatewd (but never answered) and which we have on http://www.survivalscience.org as well.March 11, 2002 at 12:42 am #72487
Victor Zammitt responds
I was one of the advisors who advised Dr Gary Schwarz (and other legitimate
psychic researchers) to completely ignore the Randi Foundation nonsense of
the $1M offer. There is NO legitimate offer from Randi!!
Randi is trying to jump on the bandwagon to try to give himself some
importance and, as he has done for so many years, he will find something in
the final analysis to disqualify the applicant for the $1m offer.
Besides, Randi is not qualified as an experimenter and he does not approach
PSI with an unencumbered perception. When we were exchanging some hot emails
Randi did not know what a dependant variable was in experimentation!!!How
then does he have the effrontery to challenge Dr Schwartz? Why doesn’t this
Randi stick to his magic tricks and leave us alone?
I advised Dr Schwartz to completely IGNORE the Randi mob. He’s skilful in
verbal sleight of hand and if for so many years he did not allow some gifted
psychicsto participate in the final test, he will not allow anyone to get
too close to the finish. When confronted by a gifted psychic, as he was on
the Larry King Live Show on CNN, Randi was slaughtered by Rosemary Altea – a
really gifted medium!!!
I stated to Dr Schwartz that Randi has lost ALL empirical equanimity. Also,
I stated on my website under WHY NOBODY CAN WIN THE SKEPTICS’OFFER he is
TRAPPED into NOT finding anything in psi: this is because if he did he would
appear the biggest and greatest fool this world has ever seen! It would mean
that for the quarter of a century or however long he’s been deluding himself
there is nothing in psi, he was wrong!!!!
Further, hisperception will not allow him to find anything of
value in psi because he would lose all his funding and become a nonentity, a
nobody … so he’s trapped into NOT finding validity in Dr Schwartz’
My experience with hard core materialist closed-minded skeptics is that they
lie, cheat and sometimes indulge in indecent language and verbal sleight of
hand – they do not strictly adhere to rules of debate and legitimate
Victor ZammitMarch 11, 2002 at 1:53 am #72490
I have said this before…….and I will say it again……James Randi has about zero interest in proving John Edward, Sylvia Browne or anyone else is a fraud…..if he did, he would take the million dollars from his challenge…..spend it on private detectives and have all this over and done with in less than 3 months if he were so inclined. This is a nation that unravels frauds and deceptions on the scale of Watergate and Enron with a lot less time, effort and money. If he could topple a John Edward there would be no need to even bother conducting the challenge with little Russian girls (yes, I know she volunteered)…….the point would be mute. However, if he chose to do so, rather than engaging in a continuing debate…..well, there would be no need for the JREF foundation, now would there? What exactly WAS his last big true expose anyway? When exactly was the last JREF sholarship handed out anyway…..wasn’t it 1999? I don’t know the criteria, but boy it must be awfully tough if there hasn’t been anyone worthy since 1999. Surely I misread that on the website?? I look at both sides of the coin (so to speak) and I am not sure who (if anyone) is interested in proof.
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