What will happen when you die? No question affects more people than that one.
But funding for the rigorous scientific inquiry of phenomena addressing the survival of consciousness after death is minimal if not essentially absent. What the heck is up with that?
At the Windbridge Institute, we were fortunate to receive a grant from the Bial Foundation in Portugal our very first year in existence. That organization provides arguably the largest financial award available in the world for projects investigating parapsychological topics. But that award is fractions of pennies on the dollar of any US National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that are offered for ‘more important’ topics.
It is no surprise that Windbridge is the only scientific research organization in the world focusing primarily on the survival of consciousness. People need food, clothing, and shelter and those things cost money. Most scientists don't do the research they want to; they do the research that can get funded. Survival research (if you do it right rather than fast, and you form sound and reasonable conclusions) is not a good way to pay the bills. Trust me, I know (e.g., Mark and I never took a honeymoon, my engagement ring is cubic zirconium, our car is a 1995 Ford Aspire, etc.). However, also trust me that I know deep in my bones that this research is tremendously important, that it might not get done without us, and that if I followed my intended path, I’d be working for a drug company right now with plenty of food, clothing, and shelter but a dark and empty soul. I am grateful to be who and where I am.
I could spend countless days and endless words lamenting about the current state of things and offering suggestions as to why I believe the mere mention of topics like survival and mediumship results in stomach cramps and wet underpants on the part of certain so-called ‘scientists’ from more mainstream fields. I won’t, but I will make a couple (or a few or several or a bunch of, depending on how sleepy I get -- I'm a late night blogger) comments and then get back to my point.
Science, by its definition, is a method for knowing. It is just one method. Knowledge can also come about through, for example, experience or observation. Science is NOT a god to be worshipped or an unchanging dogma to be blindly embraced. (To think that at this point in history we even have a notion of how the universe works is completely arrogant and utterly ridiculous. Not long ago, doctors didn’t even wash their hands.) Science is simply a method for answering questions. And science, when practiced appropriately, will address any question regardless of what a church, a parent, a book, a professor, a past civilization, or a guy on the bus has to say about it. Science has no biases and no boundaries. There are not topics that science cannot be used to study. Thus, I think it is only appropriate that certain journals, government agencies, and university departments with the word ‘science’ in their titles (a) change their names under penalties of the laws covering truth in advertising or (b) start encouraging actual science and research that is meaningful to every single person on the planet.
I recently heard Cassandra Vieten, Director of Research at IONS, give a presentation at the Toward a Science of Consciousness 2010 conference. She cited research that demonstrated that when faced with new data that is in line with a person’s current belief system, the part of his or her brain involved in learning is activated. However, when presented with new information that goes against a belief system, the part of the brain involved in error detection lights up. Thus, when people hear new information, their instinct---at a neurological level---is to conclude that those data are wrong. Thus, I am so, so thankful for people like the vast, vast majority of you who can transcend that neurology and think, “Gee, what I just heard goes against everything I was ever taught by every textbook and authority figure I ever encountered, so I better look into it more with an open mind and a careful eye,” instead of reacting with what is at its essence, “Uh, um, uh… you’re dumb!” I am so grateful to be a member of this TDG community.
[Tangent complete. Returning to ‘What affects more and is valued less?’] Outside of simply the number of people afterlife science affects, the survival research we perform at Windbridge is publicly applicable for a lot of other reasons which granting organizations seem to overlook.
(1) Research on Terror Management Theory has demonstrated that belief in an afterlife may liberate people from “the compulsion to continually prove our value and the correctness of our beliefs” (Dechesne et al., 2003. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 722-37), an impulse that can manifest in extreme cases as radical actions that defend or propagate the dominance of one’s beliefs, religion, nation, etc. (which provides the individual with the psychological comfort of symbolic immortality). There is a great documentary called “Flight From Death” on this topic.
(2) Mediums may be able to regularly and consistently find missing persons and successfully contribute to criminal investigations, but more research is needed.
(3) Dead people may have advice or information that could benefit scientific, technological, and social progress, but more research is needed.
(4) Empirical evidence for survival may alleviate the fear and anxiety commonly experienced by hospice patients and their families (I know it’s science that will bring me comfort at the end), but more research is needed.
(5) Mediumship readings may be beneficial in grief recovery. We have collected pilot data in this area, but (guess what) more research is needed. My goal is that someday we will have collected and published enough data that health insurance companies will cover readings with certified mediums as part of their mental health coverage.
Regardless of these compelling facts, I don’t think that the granting organizations are going to come around in time to make these possibilities a reality in my lifetime, so I’d like to let you know how you can be a part of history and we can get the ball rolling on these fronts without them. We don’t need no stinkin’ grants. Our overhead is so low (there’s just Mark and I and a part time research assistant and we don’t even need a building to do this work) and we are so efficient at Windbridge that some minimal grassroots support is all we need.
Here are some (not freeways but) FREE ways you can stick it to the man and help independent afterlife research succeed:
* Tell your friends about Windbridge.
* When you are going to buy something at Amazon anyway (and they sell almost anything), use the Windbridge Store and they’ll give us a very small portion of the price without charging you extra. You can use the search box here.
* Become a fan of the Windbridge Institute on Facebook. (You know how to do that, you don’t need a link.)
* Join our email list so we can tell you about where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing. We have some awesome online events planned that you won’t want to miss.
Feeling a little more giving?
* Become a Member of Windbridge (it involves a fascinating e-newsletter). Until Monday, you can even do so for only $9.99. Need more reasons why? Let me convince you here.
* Buy a t-shirt or a mug that says “Ghosts are People Too” or a variety of other kitschy products and gifts at the Windbridge Gear store. Yeah, your dad would totally want one for Fathers’ Day.
Are you wicked pumped up to make things happen?
* Become an Enhanced Member and hang out with Windbridge researchers, advisors, and mediums in our E-Members-only community groupsite.
* Make an online contribution. Every dollar makes a difference (but none of them are tax-deductible for US federal income tax purposes).
Thank you for simply being interested in this topic. Someday soon, you and I will change the world.
PS - I have overstayed my welcome in the featured blog corner, so I will back off now, but promise to share more as appropriate.