Life after death, is the Truth influenced by belief?
The following Article was written for a Polish language magazine
Throughout our recorded history we humans have sought to know the Truth about our
existence after death. Do we totally and completely cease to exist? Do we continue to
exist within some system based on rewards and punishments for our deeds during our
physical lifetime? How can it be that humankind's quest for the answer from the
beginning of time, across cultures and civilizations that have come and gone, right
up to the present day has not led us to the Truth? As human beings we tend to believe
that the answer to the questions about our continued existence after death will be
either yes or no. We expect one of these answers to be the Truth. Perhaps the great
mystery surrounding life after death has something to do with our lack of
understanding the basic nature of the Truth.
Many believe that the answers to such questions will come from our spiritual leaders
and our religions. Yet, for all of those that have come and gone throughout our
recorded history, and those that remain with us today, no consensus exists between
them as the Truth. On the contrary if we look to our spiritual leaders and our
religions for the Truth, we find that the Truth depends upon which leader or religion
you listen to. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Shintos, Buddhists, Atheists, just
to name a very few, have of widely varying versions of the Truth about our afterlife
existence. Lacking a consensus among them seeking the Truth becomes a process of
choosing between them. What you believe about life after death is in all likelihood a
matter of the religion of the family you were born into, or a personal choice often
triggered by dissatisfaction with that religion's version of the Truth.
As an engineer I rely on science, and the scientific method, as the best tools for
finding the Truth. A competent scientist should be able to design and run an
experiment, gather and analyze the data, and arrive at an answer. The results of that
experiment, if properly designed, should eliminate all other possible conclusions and
lead to one conclusive answer. Other scientists should be able to independently run
an identical experiment, under identical conditions, and analysis of their data
should lead to a single, identical conclusion. When enough experiments run by enough
scientists lead to the same, single conclusion science accepts this conclusion as the
There was a time when I believed that the scientific method was the best tool to
find the Truth for any question. But that was before I gave much thought to the
implications of an experiment run by two scientists seeking the answer to a simple
question. If I stare at a person who does not know I am staring at them, can they
somehow become aware of my staring? It seems like a simple question, and that the
scientific method should be able to provide a single answer, yes or no. It was called
the "Experimenter effects and the Remote Detection of Staring" experiment
and its results point to an entirely new understanding of what the Truth really is.
For those of you interested in a detailed description of this experiment and its
results they will be found in The Journal of Parapsychology (V61, N3 Sept, 1997: Page
Within physical reality we can design experiments that measure properties like mass,
velocity, charge, location, volume, and the like and the replication of these
measurements by anyone should lead to the same conclusion. For example if we ask the
question, does the Sun revolve around the Earth through measurement and observation
physical world properties we expect to find a single answer to the question, yes or
no. When enough experiments have been run that all lead to the same yes or no answer
we accept this answer as the truth, and believe that a Truth arrived at in this
manner is objective, unchanging and universally applicable. But in the remote staring
experiment it is difficult to know what physical world properties there are to
measure that will lead to an answer. After all, there appears to be no physical world
explanation for how a person could know that they're being remotely stared at.
Fortunately the two scientists who ran the experiment, Dr. Marilyn Schlitz and Dr.
Richard Wiseman were only trying to answer the question, "is it possible"
not, "how is it possible." Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D. is Director of Research
at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and Senior Scientist at the Complementary
Medicine Research Institute at the California Pacific Medical Center. Professor
Richard Wiseman holds Britain's only chair in the Public Understanding of
Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He has published over forty papers in
academic journals, and gained an international reputation for research into unusual
areas of psychology, including deception, luck and the paranormal.
The experiment began as an attempt by Dr. Schlitz to replicate the results of a
remote staring experiment previously run by another researcher in the 1930s. The
object of the 1930s experiment was to determine if it was true that a person being
surreptitiously stared at by another person could detect the staring. The experiment
run in the 1930s answered that question in the affirmative, and Dr. Schlitz's
experiment confirmed that result. The results of her experiments showed a statistical
correlation beyond chance between remote staring and detection of that staring by the
person being stared at.
After reading about Dr. Schlitz's experiment Dr. Wiseman attempted to run an
identical experiment to replicate her results. But, Dr. Wiseman's results clearly
indicated that no such statistical correlation existed! His attempt to replicate Dr.
Schlitz's results, using the same experimental design, arrived at exactly the
opposite conclusion. At this point something interesting happened. Drs. Schlitz and
Wiseman agreed to run exactly the same experiment under exactly the same conditions,
in exactly the same location, in an effort to determine the Truth about the
detectability of remote staring. In their experimental design they went to great
lengths to eliminate any possible source of differences between their results.
In their experiment test subjects were randomly selected from the same pool of
people to eliminate potential differences in test subject populations. One of these
test subjects was seated in a room, in front of a video camera, reading a book to
provide some level of distraction from their part in the experiment. This test
subject was wired with electronic sensors capable of detecting changes in electrical
skin conductance. A second test subject was seated in a different room, in a
different building, remote from the first test subject eliminating any possible
physical contact or collusion between test subjects. A television monitor in the room
with the second test subject could be made to display the video camera image of the
first test subject. Drs. Schlitz and Wiseman used exactly the same computer and
software to randomly select the timing and conditions of thirty-two testing sessions
with each pair of test subjects. During sixteen of these randomly selected sessions
the second test subject was directed to stare at the image of the first test subject
on the television monitor. During the other sixteen randomly selected sessions the
second test subject was directed to not stare at the image. During these test
sessions either Dr. Schlitz or Dr. Wiseman was seated in a third room, remote from
both test subjects, thus eliminating any possibility of physical contact or collusion
between themselves and the test subjects. The researchers both ran the exactly same
number of experiments in exactly the same manner with sufficient pairs of test
subjects that their results would be statistically valid.
Analysis of the data from Dr. Schlitz's experimental runs clearly demonstrated a
statistically verified correlation between staring of the second test subject and
changes in the electrical skin conductance of the first test subject. According to
her data, remotely staring at a person can be detected by measuring a physical world
property, electrical skin conductance. According to analysis of her data
"yes" is the Truth about remote staring. Analysis of Dr. Wiseman's data
clearly demonstrated that there was no statistically verifiable correlation between
remote staring and detection. According to his data, a person being stared at cannot
be detected. According to analysis of his data "no" is the truth about
remote staring. Obviously with the rigid adherence to the scientific method the data
from these experiments should support one conclusion or the other, never both. Drs.
Schlitz and Wiseman refined their experimental design to eliminate any other possible
differences that could affect the experiment and reran it more than once in an
attempt to have the results arrive at a single conclusion. They never succeeded. In
the end these researchers found only one difference they could point to in an effort
to explain this impossible result.
Dr. Schlitz believed that detection of remote staring was possible, while Dr.
Wiseman did not.
Their experiment has come to be known as one demonstrating the experimenter's
effect upon the experiment. It demonstrates that some subtle, as yet not understood,
mechanism can actually alter the physical world properties measured in rigorously
controlled experiments causing the resulting data to conform to the
experimenter's beliefs. A direct implication of these results is that scientists
attempting to explore phenomenon for which there are no physical world explanations
will find the determining factor for Truth to be what ever they personally believe.
And just as with seeking the Truth about our afterlife existence in our spiritual
leaders and our religions, lacking a consensus among scientists, seeking the Truth
becomes a process of choosing between them. If neither religion nor science can give
us the Truth about our afterlife existence, how can we find it?
Through my books and my workshops I teach a simple system concepts, techniques and
exercises anyone can use to explore beyond physical reality through their own direct
experience. With the understanding that your beliefs will directly affect your
perception and your experience you can begin to make adjustments for this factor.
Many have already done this and are coming to their own conclusions based on their
own direct experience. From my years of exploring and teaching I have formed the
opinion that the single, most important key factor that will determine your success
or failure in seeking the Truth about our existence beyond that is understanding and
dealing with the effects of your beliefs upon your perception.
Copyright© 2006 by Bruce A. Moen, All Rights Reserved
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