Mediums are nothing if not reflections of our own proclivities. Do we believe them, or do we scoff incredulously at their messages from the otherworld? You may have watched John Edward on TV and disavowed his status as a medium as nothing more than finely crafted intuition, or you may have alternatively wondered how he delivers the pure and definite voice of a lost loved one. You may have balked or bawled at Suzane Northrop’s flashing hands and rapid-fire delivery as she assures us that our loved ones still care for us. You may have puzzled over Roland Comtois’s “Purple Papers”, the channeled messages written on purple notecards, which he takes on his travels, hoping to find the living person for whom the message is intended. Whether or not you believe in the spirit world and our ability to commune with it, mediums still perform their mysteries for us today. They have survived the spiritual erosion brought on by science; people are still willing to believe them.
But mediums don’t exist outside of science. The logic of parapsychology is is the same as the logic of vaccination: resist through assimilation. Dr. Gary E. Schwartz from Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Arizona has conducted fascinating experiments in which a series of mediums all produce similar and accurate information about the deceased family and friends of a “sitter” without knowing anything about the sitter beforehand. Researchers call this process Anomalous Information Reception, or AIR—a befitting acronym for a beguiling phenomenon. Though completely unaware of the other mediums’ results and of the sitter’s identity, each medium receives messages from the same relatives, and even if the details they glean sound somewhat vague to the novitiate’s ear (such as my own), the fact that each medium produces the same vague detail is compelling. Has Dr. Schwartz proved the existence of the otherside?
No matter how you interpret Dr. Schwartz’s research, his work provides a valuable, alternative perspective to the materialist philosophy that pervades mainstream science.
Well, not exactly. The observable phenomenon of the medium could have a number of causes, and the spirit world is only one (if the most enchanting) of several hypotheses. Dr. Schwartz, who received his doctorate from Harvard, believes wholeheartedly in the spirit world, but he also acknowledges the limitations of the methods he uses to observe the metaphysical. But his experiments at least suggest that something inexplicable is happening. His results endow the spirit world with valid “proof of possibility”, if not with incontrovertible proof of existence.
No matter how you interpret Dr. Schwartz’s research, his work provides a valuable, alternative perspective to the materialist philosophy that pervades mainstream science. He compares his work, as do many other scientists in his field, to the efforts of quantum physicists, who now suppose that the material universe comprises around 5% of what actually exists. What about the other 95%? It’s all dark matter and dark energy—things we don’t really understand. Therefore, as we develop tools to learn more about the immaterial universe, and as mainstream science outgrows its cradle of materialism, scientists like Dr. Schwartz and mediums like John Edwards may find themselves suddenly pulled in from the countercultures of society and placed at the center our attention. They could earn our unwavering belief and connect us once and for all with life after death.
Mediums stimulate our imaginations. They give us a language we can use to explore strange, inexplicable experiences. They empower us with a sense of our own intuitions and comfort us by validating the way we feel.
Or maybe it won’t happen. At any rate, it’s fascinating to consider how science can be compatible with spirituality, as in the case of Dr. Schwartz. Both satisfy vital human needs—knowing and believing—so why can’t these concepts go hand in hand? On his website, Dr. Schwartz waxes stirring and cosmic rhetoric. He sounds like a visionary: “Is our love “our energy and information” like the light from distant stars, continuing its radiance long after the star has “died”? Does the energy of our love have the same kind of immortality as the energy of stars?” If nothing else, his work is admittedly beautiful.
And beauty alone justifies the work of mediums. Watch the audience’s tears stream in one John Edward’s shows and you’ll see what I mean. It is much more satisfying and delightful to believe that our loved ones surround us in the imperceptible world. Matter composes only a small percent of the atom; who’s to say they don’t wait for us in the space between protons and electrons? Mediums stimulate our imaginations. They give us a language we can use to explore strange, inexplicable experiences. They empower us with a sense of our own intuitions and comfort us by validating the way we feel. Their messages always center on the belief of eternal love. With such wounds as loss and grief, who can deny anyone comfort, no matter how it is packaged? Whether you believe our doubt them, the stories themselves are miraculous.
More on Spirituality from SevenPonds:
- How Can Afterlife Communication Aid The Grieving Process? An Interview With Terri Daniel
- Can’t Wait to Die – What I Learned from the “White Light”
- Comfort and Communication – The presence of loved ones even after death