Topic: Physical Phenomena In Séances

Opening Statement

There is a wide range of psychic phenomena classified as "physical." (The phenomenon known as "materialization" has special characteristics and is not addressed in these comments.) At one end of the physical range are the simple - but still unexplainable - knocking sounds that respond to queries and rap out messages. Then we have the movement and levitation of small items, the movement and levitation of furniture, the levitation of people, and the manifestation of various items (known as apports) seemingly from nowhere. At the far end of the range, where our credulity is furthest stretched, is the teleportation of human beings across space and through solid walls.

All of these physical events have been attested to by credible witnesses. The more complex, being rarer, have been reported by only a few. This makes them easier to dismiss as fanciful. Easier, but not necessarily justifiable. Consider the knocking sounds. Detailed acoustical analysis of numerous recordings clearly shows that these raps are not made by any known physical process.

Some actions may seem more mysterious than others, but they may all rest on similar principles unknown to science. In light of the proven occurrences (raps) that we do not understand, how can we reject the possibility of any phenomena? Especially when they have been reported by people of sound mind and having no known motivation to bear false witness?

Granting the reality of the entire range of reported physical phenomena, both within and without the séance room, the question then becomes: To what extent do physical phenomena contribute to the evidence for the Survival of the human personality beyond the demise of the physical body?

Good Sources of Information on Physical Phenomena in Séances

The History of Spiritualism
On the Edge of the Etheric
The Psychic Riddle
The Scole Experiment
Alec Harris

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Commentary by Miles Edward Allen, 31 March 2011

Physical phenomena strengthen the evidence for Survival.

I first note that all physical phenomena - from what is termed poltergeist activity to the most dramatic mediumistic events - require the presence of at least one, and often several, living people. (The number of incidents recorded by isolated and unmanned video cameras is too small and too unreliable to be considered.) Skeptics might claim, therefore, that these phenomena are generated solely by the minds (conscious or subconscious) of the living. There are several reasons for discounting such an explanation:

1. The rarer phenomena are always accompanied by attestations of spirit control and the more common are usually so.
2. Phenomena are always developed in sequence from the more common to the most rare. Mediums, for instance, don't develop direct voice or trigger apports until they have gone through a period restricted to raps and table tilting. This suggests that all effects stem from a similar process having gradations of difficulty.
3. No living person has ever demonstrated the ability to cause these effects on demand.

Therefore, the evidence supports the idea that these phenomena are generated by the combined efforts and energies of spirit beings and living humans - which is just what the spirits claim to be the case.

Thus, the answer to the basic question is: Psychic phenomena classified as physical do strengthen the evidence for the existence of independent spirits and, therefore, of an afterlife.

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