Life after death & scams

It’s so nice not to have to rant about politics or our leadership in the U.S. . . .

I’ve been watching Netflix’s Surviving Death.  I’m only on episode 4 (of 6).  I liked and enjoyed the first episode, about near death experiences.  However, I’m sickened and saddened by the next 3 – they are about mediums and “signs” after death.  

The people in all four episodes are compelling.  In the first episode, people were recounting their own near-death experiences (NDEs).  I’ve long been fascinated by NDEs, and am glad that there is legitimate, scientific research going on about them.  From what I’ve read, there are common themes among those who have experienced NDEs, regardless of culture, religion, etc.  I am also open to the possibility that NDEs have a physiological, neurological, biological explanation.  

But the next three episodes bothered me.  They are filled with psychics/mediums (and a quick Google search reveals that they make good money for their sessions), with virtually no criticism of their “craft”.  I know that there is a strong desire to communicate with those who have died – I feel it, about my parents, about my boyfriend who died at age 18.  I understand that we, as humans, want to have reassurance that those have passed on are okay.  But I am troubled that there are those who prey on the vulnerable with nonsensical promises and communications.  I think it highly unlikely that one’s dearly departed would choose to communicate to his/her family through a stranger speaking in the voice of a child.  

I am a person of faith.  My faith is constantly evolving, but I do identify as Christian.  I do believe that we exist, in some manner, after death, although I don’t have a clue what that might look like.  But I also had the delightful (if frustrating) experience of representing James “The Amazing” Randi (RIP).  While I’ve generally been proud of my analytical, critical ability, my relationship with him introduced me to the whole world of skepticism.  (If you’d like a quick introduction to skepticism and Randi, check out the PBS Nova episode, “Secrets of the Psychics”, available (at this point, at least) on YouTube.)  

It is tragic to see susceptible folks – who have shelled out significant $$, whether or not they can afford it – to grasp at straws for a hint that their loved ones exist and can communicate with them.  The desperation is sad.  And a pox on those who take advantage of the desperation, and seek to profit from it. 

Please, folks who are tempted by such claims, remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

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