A five year study by the Scottish Society for Psychical Research (SSPR) shows that mediums really can get in touch with the deceased. The SSPR's Tricia Robertson says, "The results were very surprising. I have no idea how mediums can gain this information but the results prove that able mediums can accurately read their subjects."
Jenifer Johnston writes in the Sunday Herald that 13 mediums from Scotland and London were studied. They sat in a different room from the participants and chose the seat numbers of people in the audience they wanted to "read," without knowing who would be sitting there. The audience sat in a room out of sight of the medium and were seated randomly. After the reading, researchers would distribute lists of what the mediums had seen and the audience would check off which of the statements applied to them.
According to the rules of chance, the mediums would be right about 30% of the time, but they actually gave correct readings 70-80% of the time. "Their chances of guessing this level of information about their subjects is a million to one, statistically," Robertson says. "I am aware that critics will say the tests were somehow rigged. But, rest assured, we could not have been more scientific in the way this was carried out. If anyone claims it is fixed or rigged, we would sue."
Gordon Smith, one of the mediums who was tested, says, "The conditions were very strict?I had to arrive an hour before the participants and never got to see them. While, for me, it is not essential to be in the same room as the participants, the work is very credible because of those test conditions we were working under."
Meanwhile, other researchers are trying to find out if near-death experiences are real. Clint Witchalls writes in the Independent that one in 10 cardiac-arrest patients report having an NDE. Jeanette Atkinson describes the typical experience: "I was going towards these lights and it was wonderful, it was peaceful, and then all of a sudden, a voice said to me, 'Come on you silly old cow, it's not your turn yet.' And I was back in my body. Back in pain, with a crash team round me. I don't remember anything else after that."
Researchers Dr. Sam Parnia and Dr. Peter Fenwick are starting a large-scale study of NDEs by placing objects out of the line of sight of cardiac patients and asking them to report on what they saw during their out-of-body experience. The study will cover at least a dozen hospitals in the U.K.
One argument against NDEs is that while these patients' hearts have stopped, their brains are still functioning, so this must be their imagination. Researchers Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax say NDEs are patients reliving their birth experience. The bright light at the end of the tunnel is the opening of the womb, and the person who greets them is the doctor or midwife. However, Parnia says that during cardiac arrest and advanced cardiac life support, global brain function ceases as well. EEG studies have shown that electrical activity in the brain ceases at least 10 seconds before the heart stops beating, and doesn't show any activity for up to two hours after the heart has been started again. He says, "The key to solving this mystery lies in the accurate timing of the experiences. If it can be proven that this period of consciousness has indeed taken place during cardiac arrest, it will have huge implications."
Some researchers just don't give up, when it comes to investigating legends that skeptics dismiss. And why should they, when they get such wonderful results?
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