Can Scientific Research Lead Us to the Spirit World?

Dr. Gary E. Schwartz studies mediums and how they channel lost loved ones
medium channeling


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.

Roland Comtois Purple Papers

Roland Comtois’s Purple Papers (credit:

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.

Gary Schwartz

Gary Schwartz (credit:

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:

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”The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is.”

—Fred Rogers
Tree of Heaven


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The Bay Area Celebrates the 7th Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day!

Join SevenPonds and our fellow End-of-Life organizations as we come together to support and encourage the conversation on death


Choir end of life event

Threshold Choir

The “Life of Stories” Program will include music by the Threshold Choir and The Crooner by the Bay; dance performances by Soulciety; and a can’t-miss presentation by Ise Lyfe.

The EXPO is a network of organizations serving the public to make your advanced health care wishes known. Receive free Advance Health Care Directives and POLST forms, talk with an estate planner, learn more about the medicare and medi-cal hospice benefits and more:

Wednesday April 16th 2014

Kaiser Center Auditorium

300 Lakeside Dr., Oakland

(BART 19th St., 2 blocks)

1 pm – 5 pm

Program Registration is F R E E  - or email

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My Grandmother’s Final Moments

A recollection

This is Theresa’s story, as told by Angela Borrello. Our “Opening Our Hearts” stories are based on people’s real-life experiences with loss. By sharing these experiences publicly, we hope to help our readers feel less alone in their experience of grief and, ultimately, to aid them in their healing processes. In this post, we tell the story of a young woman whose belief system is completely altered by the experience of losing her grandmother.

Wall art, hospital room art, healing art


I have never been a particularly religious person. Though raised under strict Catholic households, both of my parents long since abandoned their respective churches, and I grew up with freedom to choose in regards to religion and spirituality. I’m not sure if it was a lack of guidance on my parents part, or the lack interest on mine, but I grew up with little to no thought about what happens when we die. It’s not that I was an atheist, although I did enjoy telling people that as an angsty teenager; it was just that I had never encountered death up close until I was nineteen years old. I had never been forced to ask the hard questions about existence or to pursue a higher power, so I was completely unaware of my own beliefs.

With each day in the hospital, the news from the doctors became more and more disheartening.

This all changed the summer before I went to college, when my grandmother became sick. At 87 she was about as healthy as they come, driving, working, cooking with the vigor of many adults half her age. So it came as a huge shock to us when she caught pneumonia and wound up in the hospital. By the time I saw her, it was clear that, since the pneumonia had taken a serious toll on her body, her recovery was going to be difficult. A few days later she suffered a stroke while still in the hospital, and the conversations quickly moved from caretakers to nursing homes before I could even wrap my head around what was happening. It seemed as if one day my Grandmother was this vivacious healthy woman, and the next, lifeless and sickly. I wanted to believe that she would simply recover from her stroke and go back to her life, just as if it had been a cold, or a really bad case of the flu, but I knew in my heart that things for my grandma were changing quickly.

If you’ve ever spent time in a hospital, you know an hour can sometimes feel like an eternity.

With each day in the hospital, the news from the doctors became more and more disheartening. They predicted paralysis on the right side of her body, warned of memory loss, disorientation, and continually reminded us of just how old she was. More days passed, along with a second stroke, and the energy in her room and amongst my family changed from bad to worse.

hosptial lighting


If you’ve ever spent time in a hospital, you know that an hour can sometimes feel like an eternity. And the days I waited in that hospital room with my grandma are no exception. They will be forever ingrained in my mind. I could tell you in detail about the pictures on the wall, the color of the tiles on the floor, and how the bathroom lights buzzed incessantly each time they were turned on. No one said exactly what it was we were waiting for. Test results yes, but we all knew the weight of mortality hung in the air, more defined than any of the lab work we were waiting to hear back on.

It was as if her spirit was being lifted from her physical being.

I’ll never forget the moment I knew her time was coming. We had been waiting and waiting all day, as we had been since her health began to decline, when all of a sudden I felt a kind of tingling and pulsing enter the room. I looked over to my grandmother’s bed and saw her breathing begin to shallow as the EKG and heart monitors began beeping wildly. I knew in that moment this was it, and sure enough just as quickly as the pulsing feeling entered, it left. As it dissipated I literally watched a wave of energy wash over her body. It was as if her spirit was being lifted from her physical being, and as it left I could feel its power reverberate throughout the room. When it was gone I knew I was looking at her body, but all that was left behind seemed like a shell. Before the doctors came and officially declared it, there was not a doubt in my mind that she was gone. I don’t know where she went, and I still have yet to truly explore religion, but I know that her energy went somewhere. In that moment I felt pieces of her spirit scatter into the universe, although where they went I still don’t know.

 More Stories from Opening Our Hearts.

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A Man Suffering Dementia Is Humiliated To Tears

A private community run by men humiliates a member - at what point does chauvinism cross the line?

We all love touching holiday stories, so this is an Easter story.


Easter at Seven Ponds lakes

My middle brother called family members for the Easter holiday and told the same story to each of us. He was quite upset. It all begins on the arcadian shore of the real Seven Ponds lakes on which the lovely Swiss Farm sits. The Swiss Farm is about 90 acres shared by over 29 (originally) Swiss families and their homes. All of my family members, including myself, have a home or lot there. It’s set up as a corporation, all one piece of land. And like tradition of women’s suffrage in Switzerland, the Swiss Farm still does not allow women to attend the meetings or vote.

Upon hearing this Mr. Scotford immediately begins to weep tears in front of a room full of these men.

This story takes place at the most recent meeting which only my middle brother attended. My other male family members have long lost interest in the meetings—for good reason, I would say. At the meeting the president discusses whether a member, Mr. Scotford, who is suffering from dementia, is mentally capable of voting. He does this in the presence of Mr. Scotford, who upon hearing this immediately begins to weep in front of the room full of these men.

At this point I will ask, HOW the hell in this day and age, in this country, there are laws that allow women to be banned from attending meetings and voting on their own homes? And how is it that men can be so insensitive as to humiliate their own kind? Especially someone suffering from dementia. This upsets my brother so much he tells this story to each family member.

At this point I will ask how the hell in this day and age and in this country, there are laws that allow women to be banned  from attending meetings and voting on their own homes?

img_0595_600Mr. Scotford returns home from the meeting and cannot recall any details to his wife. She puts in a special request to the Swiss Farm for permission to attend the meetings. Of course she’s voted down.

My mom discusses this with me. She recalls years ago a Swiss member whose husband suffered from a stroke and her father from dementia. This woman would joke with my mother about how, when the two men would return from the meetings, one was unable to remember anything and the other couldn’t tell her anything. She tells this story in a humorous way. Sadly it all doesn’t seem so humorous to me.

Ah yes, this was one of those personal, touching holiday stories (but now it’s an Easter story).

Or was it?

Further reading:

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Monday Hearts for Madalene

Page Hodel creates the most beautiful hearts in an ongoing celebration of love


It’s an honor for SevenPonds to share with our readers the story of the Monday Hearts for Madalene project, a true account of the power of love in the midst of death.

The project’s origins take us to 2005: the moment Page Hodel encountered Madalene Rodriguez and fell “instantly, dizzyingly in love with her.” The couple’s first meeting was electric, and Page felt inspired to do something unique for the woman who captured her heart. So, she began leaving handmade hearts – made from flowers, leaves, and other materials – on Madalene’s doorstep.  The hearts became a ritual, and they were there to greet Madalene as she left for work every Monday.

“To start her week with a visual reminder of our beautiful love.” Page Hodel

Just seven months later, Madalene was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away on June 20th, 2006. But Page’s love for her hasn’t ceased, and she continues to make a heart for her every Monday in celebration of her life.

If you would like, you can also receive Page’s “Monday Hearts for Madalene” by emailing her at with “subscribe” written as the subject. Images of the hearts can also be purchased on individual cards and in her beautifully compiled book, Monday Hearts for Madelene. You can find these on her website. A portion of all sales will go to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, California (

See more Monday Hearts for Madalene here.

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