by Michael E. Tymn via e-mail|
When it comes to weighing evidence, few people are more qualified that Victor Zammit, LL.B., Ph.D., a retired lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. Now retired from the practice of law, Zammit calls himself a full-time afterlife researcher. His book, A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife is subtitled irrefutable objective evidence. “I am stating that the evidence taken as a whole constitutes overwhelming and irrefutable proof for the existence of the afterlife,” Zammit states with much zeal in the “opening statement” of the book.
For the past year, Zammit has been closely observing and studying David Thompson, an Australian materialization and direct-voice medium. He has been reporting on it and otherwise spreading the gospel of survival at his website, http://www.victorzammit.com/ “These are sensational experiences which are silencing the debunkers,” he wrote in a recent e-mail. “There is nothing as dramatic, nothing as spectacular and nothing as paradigm shattering as when a materialized entity comes towards you and shakes hands with you – especially when you know there is no fraud, no trickery, no deception.”
What prompted your interest in survival research?
“Around 1990, I was experiencing a phenomenon which at first I did not connect with the paranormal. I was intermittently picking up thoughts of other people with whom I had a connection. Later of course I came to know it was telepathy and psychic intuition. I knew that what I was experiencing was something quite powerful but I could not prove objectively what it was. So I began my research into the paranormal. I was absolutely staggered to find a huge body of research stretching back over more than 150 years that I had no idea existed. I began to develop clairaudience and have my own direct experiences of survival, but I knew from my professional training that the only way I could convince others would be to collect irrefutable empirical evidence. I knew from my litigation experience that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to rebut objective evidence.”
Among researchers and mediums of the past, who are your favorites?
“There are so many really courageous mediums and researchers who devoted their lives to proving the afterlife at huge personal cost. Arthur Findlay, the British psychic researcher, is one of my favorites. His brilliant books, The Curse of Ignorance, On the Edge of the Etheric, and Rock of Truth show why he is a very exceptional psychic researcher. And then, of course, there is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who traveled the world at his own expense promoting survival evidence, and Sir William Crookes, the greatest scientist of his day who set out to expose mediumship as a fraud and was courageous enough to publish the truth of his research when he found it was genuine. And I also feel a lot of affinity with the lawyers mentioned in my book, including Judge John Edmonds who had to resign from the New York State Supreme Court after going public with his findings about the afterlife, Edward C. Randall who worked for twenty-two years with direct-voice and materialization medium Emily French. And of course there was the Australian Richard Hodgson who set out to expose the great mental medium Mrs. Leonore Piper but who was eventually courageous enough to admit he was wrong. And, of course, who can forget Helen Duncan, the wonderful materialization medium who suffered imprisonment and died for her mediumship?
How often have you observed David Thompson?
“I have been sitting as a member of David Thompson’s home circle for exactly a year now. In that time I have taken part in more than 45 experimental sittings in four different venues. I have had unparalleled access to David before and after sittings and have been free to record whatever has gone on. In that time, even though I cannot prove that the entities are who they claim to be, I am one-hundred percent convinced that paranormal activity has taken place.”
Please describe something of the conditions.
“Most of the sittings have taken place in total darkness, which we are told is still necessary for the production of ectoplasm, but, that said, I am still convinced, by the precautions that we have taken, that genuine materializations have taken place. Before every séance the medium, David, is searched as are all the sitters. He is tightly gagged and bound hand and foot to a heavy wooden chair. His gag and binds are secured with one-way cable ties which have to be removed with wire cutters. We also put seals wherever we can – on the tags on each hand, on his gag, around the feet and thighs. During the séance all of the sitters hold hands and constantly talk to each other so they are aware of where each one is sitting. To confirm that the voices I heard were not David’s, I was allowed to hold onto David’s gag and feel his mouth while a spirit voice was speaking on the other side of me. On another occasion we used masking tape in place of the gag and marked the position of the gag on David’s face with textacolour. At the end of the session the masking tape was still in place. On one memorable occasion William, the spirit master of ceremonies, allowed a red light to be turned on so that we could all see the ectoplasm which was coming out of David’s mouth. We attempted to photograph it but on that occasion the photographs didn’t come out.”
Would you mind giving some detail as to what you have e observed?
“I have experienced: 1) Very clear, very loud and distinctively different voices with different pitch, rhythm, pace, intonation and modulation, all of which answered questions intelligently. 2) Often the entities would begin speaking using direct voice – using an artificial larynx constructed from ectoplasm – the sound coming from close to the medium. Then they would materialize and start to move around the room. Their voices could be located as they moved and we could hear footsteps and in some cases clapping and stamping. Some sitters experienced having their toes trodden on. 3) Before each entity materialized we heard and recorded a peculiar loud ‘whooshing’ sound which can be heard in all of the MP3 recordings. There was a similar but shorter sound when entities de-materialized. 4) One or two cardboard trumpets painted with luminous paint being moved around the room at tremendous speed with considerable precision during every session. At times they would whiz past my face; I could feel a rush of air as it passed. 5) Often, at the end of a séance, the medium would be in his chair still bound and gagged but at the other end of the room. This would happen without any sound whatsoever. On three occasions his gag was removed and he was levitated to the ceiling while still bound in his chair. I could feel the legs of the chair and David’s foot in front of me and hear the medium speaking from high above my head. 6) The reversal of the medium’s cardigan, with the plastic ties still unbroken at the end of every session. 7) Extremely loud drumming with drumsticks. 8). Abnormal cold around the feet and legs of the sitters. 9) I and several of the sitters were able to see the fingers of a materialized hand in the light of a luminous tile while it was floated around the circle.”
Is there communication going on with all of this physical phenomena?
“On at least forty occasions I have heard materialized entities conversing intelligently with loved ones sitting in the circle and being recognized by them. After each session I spoke to those who had received visits and confirmed that all felt they were genuine. On two occasions I was present while my wife’s father materialized and spoke to my wife of things about which no one in the room had any knowledge. During these sessions I saw four notes written in pencil which sitters claimed had been pushed into their hands by materialized entities. One of these sitters was my wife whose paper contained the name of her father – a name totally unknown to anyone present.”
I gather from your website that some famous people have materialized.
“One night an entity claiming to be Arthur Conan Doyle approached me and shook my hand. His voice was immediately in front of me but well above my head and his hand felt warm and solid and was huge – at least twice as large as the hand of the medium or anyone else then in the room. I later learned that he was a huge man. On another occasion, an entity claiming to be Louis Armstrong also shook hands with me – his hand was much smaller. We also had an entity calling itself Harry Houdini materialize. On balance of probabilities and with caution, I do in fact accept that he is who he claims to be. His personality, his assertiveness, his rather brash superciliousness are all typical Houdini. He’s a great entertainer when he materializes.”
There seems to have been much more of that type of mediumship going on in the past than now. Do you agree?
“Yes, it’s true that at least in the West we seem to have a lot fewer physical mediums than in the past. People today are generally not prepared to put in the time to sit in a development circle for many years. But even so I do not agree that overall the quality of mediumship is lower today than it was a hundred years ago. You had quacks then as you have today. We have to accept that today there are some wonderfully gifted international mental mediums whose paranormal work has been translated into many languages – people like John Edward, James Van Praagh, Allison Dubois, George Anderson and others who are producing brilliant results. We have more evidence today about the validity of mediumship and the paranormal generally than ever before – evidence produced and written about by highly professional people, some of them physicists.
It doesn't seem as if the world is any more accepting of the evidence now than it was a century ago. Do you agree?
“No, I do not agree with that statement. Surveys consistently show that sixty-five percent of people in America accept some form of survival after physical death. Thirty per cent are not sure about the afterlife and only some five percent adamantly refuse to accept there is an afterlife or any form of paranormal. Television and the Internet, which did not exist a hundred years ago, are enabling people to share their paranormal experiences and are extremely important in educating people about afterlife matters. And it seems that a huge number of people are having near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and their own experiences of direct afterlife contact. In most groups where I speak it’s about 30 percent of those present.”
But why, do you think, the reports of Crookes, Hodgson, Lodge, Hyslop, et al are not more known and accepted today?
“Powerful debunking skeptics wreaked havoc and were relatively successful in neutralizing mediumship and the paranormal generally in academic circles and the media for a while. But in the last ten years the academically informed skeptics have quieted down because now the empirical evidence for the afterlife is being assembled and disseminated. The leading professional debunkers have been as quiet as mice when I have challenged them to rebut the empirical evidence for the afterlife. Something spectacular has happened with the David Thompson materialization experiments that hugely annoy the skeptical debunkers and the scientific materialists: our experiments are repeatable and guarantee there is no fraud. All scientists do understand that objectivity and repeatability are impossible to rebut. Whilst there is some criticism at the lower uninformed end of skepticism, the professorial debunkers from New York do not dare attack us. I have directly challenged the secularly informed skeptics but they refuse to come out in public to take us on notwithstanding the allurement of half a million dollars if they could duplicate what we do or to show that fraud is taking place. This, I believe, is the first time in history that we, as empirical psychic investigators, are winning over the public.”
So progress is being made in spreading the word of survival?
“Definitely. And more people today are talking to the media about their paranormal experiences. More than 50 percent of widows and widowers claim to have direct contact with their deceased spouses and it is not rare for parents who have lost a child to have some contact. People are becoming more sensitive to dream visitations and to after death contacts and more and more are experimenting with EVP. And, of course, with the advances in life saving medical technology huge numbers of people are having near-death experiences. And so we are getting some very convincing cases like that of Pam Reynolds where the subject patient was clinically dead for almost an hour. Her brain was not functioning at all and the monitors were showing a flat line. But when she regained consciousness after a very delicate operation, she was able to recall the procedures she had seen during the operation, what the nurses had said to the doctors, and other things she had seen while by all measurable criteria she was dead.”
What motivates you to continually want to educate the public on the evidence for survival?
“For reasons perhaps I do not understand, I feel I have a mission – but not a crusade – to disseminate this empirical evidence on a global level because I fully understand the huge consequences of my discoveries. I do not make money from my research into the paranormal. On the contrary, I have spent a fortune doing research, endeavoring to obtain the best afterlife evidence. However, I feel that I have been privileged to have had the education, the skills and the opportunity to access evidence that most people in the world simply don’t come across or don’t have the professional training to be able to analyze and present. I have found that relating this critically important evidence helps an enormous number of people and that gives me a lot of personal satisfaction.”