We see dead people. In our news at least. NDEs, hauntings and people crossing over...this is the section.

Did Roger Ebert Have a Deathbed Vision?

Roger Ebert

Famous movie pundit Roger Ebert was often claimed by others as an atheist, although his own opinion was that he disliked his convictions being reduced to one word or label. Ebert's real 'religion', I think, was summed up by his admission that he had "spent hours and hours in churches all over the world...not to pray, but to gently nudge my thoughts toward wonder and awe" - a position many readers here would probably feel aligned with.

It did not surprise me then when I read, in a recent Esquire article ("Oral Histories of 2013"), a first-hand account of Ebert's passing from his wife Chaz that suggests he had a profound experience in his final days:

On April 4, he was strong enough again for me to take him back home. My daughter and I went to pick him up. When we got there, the nurses were helping him get dressed. He was sitting on his bed, and he looked really happy to be going home. He was smiling. He was sitting almost like Buddha, and then he just put his head down. We thought he was meditating, maybe reflecting on his experiences, grateful to be going home. I don't remember who noticed first, who checked his pulse… In the beginning, of course, I was totally freaked out. There was some kind of code thing, and they brought machines in. I was stunned. But as we realized he was transitioning out of this world and into the next, everything, all of us, just went calm. They turned off the machines, and that room was so peaceful. I put on his music that he liked, Dave Brubeck. We just sat there on the bed together, and I whispered in his ear. I didn't want to leave him. I sat there with him for hours, just holding his hand.

Roger looked beautiful. He looked really beautiful. I don't know how to describe it, but he looked peaceful, and he looked young.

The one thing people might be surprised about — Roger said that he didn't know if he could believe in God. He had his doubts. But toward the end, something really interesting happened. That week before Roger passed away, I would see him and he would talk about having visited this other place. I thought he was hallucinating. I thought they were giving him too much medication. But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn't visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can't even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once.

As I noted in my recent book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, the fascinating phenomena associated with end-of-life experiences (ELEs), such as deathbed visions, aren't restricted to occurring in the minutes or seconds before passing...they can occur, days, weeks and sometimes even months before. I'd love to hear more from Chaz Ebert about what Roger experienced and described, because it certainly does sound like he had visions of a some kind of 'other' place that his consciousness was transiting to.

Link: Oral Histories of 2013: Roger Ebert's Wife, Chaz, on His Final Moments

Related: Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (Kindle/Paperback)

(h/t Nathan Deitcher/Michael Hughes)

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Top Five Phenomena That Offer Evidence For An Afterlife

Near Death Experience

In the modern age, the debate over the possibility that our consciousness might survive the physical death of our body is often reduced to a false dichotomy of science vs religion. As such, scientists sadly often ignore and ridicule reports of strange phenomena from those who have approached, and in some cases gone beyond, the threshold of death, even though such experiences have a profound effect upon those who undergo them. Do these phenomena offer evidence that we might live on in some way past the demise of our physical selves? Here’s a list of five areas, taken from the book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (Kindle/Paperback), which suggest that it might just be so:

1. Veridical NDEs

The near-death experience first shot into the limelight in the 1970s after the publication of Raymond Moody’s best-selling book Life After Life, to the extent that nearly everyone today knows what an ‘NDE’ is. But while many people took the near-death experience itself as proof of a life beyond death, orthodox science has judged (rightly or wrongly) the heavenly visions of the NDE to be simply hallucinations brought on by the various physical and psychological burdens put on the brain by its imminent demise.

One area that has the potential to change that opinion, however, is research into what are termed ‘veridical NDEs’. This is where, during the ‘out-of-body experience’ stage of the NDE, the experiencer sees things – and later reports back on them – that they should not have been able to perceive. There are many anecdotes of veridical NDEs, such as the case of ‘Dentures Man’, which was mentioned in the respected journal The Lancet. In this case from 1979, a 44-year-old man (‘Mr. B’) was brought into the emergency department at Canisius Hospital in the Netherlands by ambulance, after being discovered comatose, hypothermic and without a pulse in a cold, damp meadow in the middle of the night. Hospital staff, including the senior nurse (‘T.G.’), were beginning resuscitation on the patient when T.G. noticed that Mr. B was wearing dentures, so removed them and placed them on the ‘crash cart’ so that he could put a ventilation mask on the unconscious man. After Mr. B was successfully ‘brought back’, he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, and so T.G. did not see the man again until a week later while doing rounds distributing medication. T.G. was astonished when, as he walked into the room, the patient he had brought back to life suddenly exclaimed ‘‘Oh, that nurse knows where my dentures are!’’. Seeing the look of surprise on T.G.’s face, Mr. B explained himself: since coming back to consciousness, Mr. B. had been looking for his dentures. ‘‘You were there when I was brought into hospital and you took my dentures out of my mouth and put them onto that cart,” he said. “It had all these bottles on it and there was this sliding drawer underneath and there you put my teeth”. T.G. was confused by this, as he remembered that he had done this when the patient was unconscious and undergoing CPR to bring him back to life:

When I asked further, it appeared the man had seen himself lying in bed, that he had perceived from above how nurses and doctors had been busy with CPR. He was also able to describe correctly and in detail the small room in which he had been resuscitated as well as the appearance of those present like myself. At the time that he observed the situation he had been very much afraid that we would stop CPR and that he would die. And it is true that we had been very negative about the patient’s prognosis due to his very poor medical condition when admitted. The patient tells me that he desperately and unsuccessfully tried to make it clear to us that he was still alive and that we should continue CPR. He is deeply impressed by his experience and says he is no longer afraid of death. Four weeks later he left hospital as a healthy man.

How did Mr. B ‘see’ the resuscitation room, and in particular the head nurse’s face, when his brain was apparently shut down? While this account alone is puzzling, it is just one of a long list of ‘veridical NDE’ reports through the years. Another patient, Al Sullivan, was undergoing emergency heart surgery when

New Study Finds that Mediumship May Be a Distinct Mental State

The Deceased on 'The Other Side'

A new study co-authored by (among others) Dean Radin and Julie Beischel has found that electrocortical activity during mediumistic 'communication' is distinctly different than during other contemplative moments such as thinking about living or imaginary people. The research was done to explore two questions: possible correlations between the accuracy of mediums’ statements and the electrical activity in their brain; and the differences in mediums’ brain activity when they intentionally evoked four different subjective states.

To do so, the researchers collected psychometric and brain electrophysiology data from "six individuals who had previously reported accurate information about deceased individuals under double-blind conditions" (ie. mediums - or more accurately, mediums previously accredited by Julie Beischel's Windbridge Institute). Each experimental participant performed two tasks with eyes closed. In the first task, the medium was given the first name of a deceased person and asked 25 questions, after which they were asked to silently perceive information relevant to the question for 20 seconds and then respond. These responses were then scored for accuracy by individuals who knew the deceased persons. Researchers found that of the four mediums whose accuracy could be evaluated, three scored significantly above chance (p < 0.03). One of the mediums also showed a highly significant correlation between accuracy and brain activity in frontal theta.

In the second task, participants were asked to experience four mental states for 1 min each, a process that was repeated three times: (1) thinking about a known living person, (2) listening to a biography, (3) thinking about an imaginary person, and (4) interacting mentally with a known deceased person. Interestingly, statistically significant differences in electrocortical activity among the four mental states were found in all six participants, leading the researchers to conclude that the differences in electrocortical activity "suggest that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination".

Here's the conclusion of the paper, in the authors' words:

To conclude, we believe the results for Medium 1, correlating accuracy with electrocortical activity, qualify as a robust finding. The results regarding differences in gamma power bands between different mental states remains puzzling as the gamma difference we observed seems to arise, at least in part, from eye or muscular activity. The characterization of the exact nature of this difference in the gamma frequency band, and assessing whether any of this activity originates from the brain, calls for additional research. Taken together, the study’s findings suggest that the experience of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state that is not consistent with brain activity during ordinary thinking or imagination.

For more information on scientific research into mediumship, check out my recent book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife and also Julie Beischel's memoir on her work, Among Mediums: A Scientist's Quest for Answers.

Link: "Electrocortical activity associated with subjective communication with the deceased"

Investigating Mediumship: The 'Dazzle Shot'

In my book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (Amazon US/Amazon UK) I devote a chapter to the subject of mediumship, and how science should best approach investigation of this controversial area. One of the elements that I talk about is the so-called 'dazzle shot', where a medium hits on a single, idiosyncratic piece of information that is so specific that the sitter is convinced the reading is coming from a loved one, even if sometimes the rest of the sitting is non-evidential in tone. I feel that previous research which did not take these dazzle shots into account (by scoring readings on the total number of pieces of information that were correct) may have resulted in unnecessarily negative assessments of some mediums, and that future experiments should concentrate on comparing sittings on the overall reading, rather than tallying the number of accurate hits.

The above video of a 'non-believer' (Chad) receiving a reading has an excellent example of a dazzle shot, when medium Chris Stillar (at 10:45) seems a little confused by the "bizarre" and "cryptic" communication coming from the 'deceased personality', asking Chad quite simply "what's pickles?" As you'll see on the video, the sitter at this point is quite overwhelmed emotionally, and it turns out that his deceased friend was obsessed with pickles, to the point where Chad would buy him a jar every week. I'm unfamiliar with this particular experiment, and the researcher doing the work, so I can't vouch that everything was truly anonymous and the medium was definitely 'blind' to the sitter - but it does make you sit up and take notice, and it certainly grabbed Chad's attention.

Skeptics would see other things in the video that might portray things in a more negative light, such as the medium noting at another point that the sitter's eyes seemed to be saying "yes" in response to his question - perhaps evidence that he was at least subconsciously reading and reacting to Chad's body language and subtle cues. The two debrief videos below - the first with Chad, the other with Chris Stillar - also show that some of the information in the first video wasn't as accurate as it seemed (such as the mode of death of Chad's friend). But overall, I think it's a nice group of videos to get a feel for how mediumistic sessions can be so convincing to sitters, and also for a more personal 'chat' with a medium, rather than the usual sensationalised presentation of celebrity mediums that is the norm on television these days.

Here's Chad's debrief:

And here's the post-sitting interview with medium Chris Stillar:

Fascinating material, and well worth viewing if you're at all interested in this topic. And of course, for more on mediumship and other areas of 'afterlife' research, such as NDEs and death-bed visions, make sure you grab a copy of Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife.

Sylvia Browne is Dead

Sylvia Browne

The website of 'psychic icon' Sylvia Browne has today announced her passing:

World renowned spiritual teacher, psychic icon, author, and lecturer Sylvia Celeste Browne passed away at 7:10am this morning (Wednesday, November 20) at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, CA. Born October 19, 1936, Browne was 77 years old.

...A best-selling author, Browne published over 50 works throughout her life with 22 appearing on the New York Times Bestsellers List. She was also a frequent guest on radio and television shows including Larry King Live and The Montel Williams Show, where Browne’s appearances quickly became a popular weekly highlight among regular viewers for over 17 years.

"A beacon that shined for so many was extinguished today, but its brightness was relit and will now shine forever for many of us from above,” said Williams. “I, like so many of you, lost a friend today. But, as has been for the last twenty years, she'll always remain a part of me. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sylvia's family in this time of loss."

Browne is survived by her husband Michael Ulery, sons Christopher and Paul Dufresne, three grandchildren, Angelia, Jeffrey, and William; and her sister Sharon Bortolussi.

A private memorial service is to be scheduled.

I have never been a fan of Browne in any sense - everything I saw of her seemed false, and in many cases, downright ugly. She was infamous for her incorrect predictions regarding missing children - Amanda Berry and Shawn Hornbeck being prime examples - and these alone should stand as testament to her lack of care and empathy when it came to discussing such delicate matters. In fact, I find it difficult to understand what made her so famous - she was wrong often, she showed a distinct lack of emotional connection to 'sitters' (to the point of being outright rude to them), and her personality seemed abrasive and self-centred.

Some people obviously did have profound moments via her psychic readings, and she is survived by her children and grandchildren, so I'm sure there will be many who grieve for Browne. I can't include myself on that list though, sad to say.

Related:

Afterlife Book in Paperback

Looking for a fun new read on the latest research into near-death experiences, death-bed visions and mediumship? My new book, Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlifeis now available as a paperback (274 pages) for just $11.95 (and Amazon currently have it discounted to $10.91, if you want to get in quick!). If you buy the paperback you can also get the Kindle version for just $0.99 extra, if you like to have your books in both formats. I'm really proud of this book, and am sure you will get a lot out of it (it might make a fairly good Xmas present for others too...). The feedback and reviews so far have been fantastic, including best-selling author Michael Prescott's description of it as "a world-class addition" to the literature on afterlife research. Michael notes in his review that he has "read a lot of books on evidence for life after death, but the one I would most recommend as a general, nontechnical introduction is Stop Worrying! There Probably Is an Afterlife".

Here's the short blurb:

Did Steve Jobs have a vision of the afterlife on his death-bed? Does quantum physics suggest that our mind might survive the physical death of our body? How do some near-death experiencers 'see' outside of their bodies at a time when they are supposed to be dead?

In Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, author Greg Taylor covers all these questions and more. From Victorian seance rooms through to modern scientific laboratories, Taylor surveys the fascinating history of research into the survival of human consciousness, and returns with a stunning conclusion: that maybe we should stop worrying so much about death, because there probably is an afterlife.

As always, purchasing books by Daily Grail Publishing is a win for everyone: it helps keep this site running into the future, and (in my opinion!) gives you a great read on fascinating Grail-related topics.

Here's the quick links to the paperback and Kindle editions of Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife for anyone interested in learning more about their (possible) fate beyond death:

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition

(I will also be selling signed and numbered limited edition hardcovers directly in the near future as well, so drop me a line if you're interested in a collectable.)

Thanks for your support!!

Is There a Ghost in this Image?

Is there a ghost in this image?

Dr. Ciarán O'Keeffe is well-known in the United Kingdom - at least, to the paranormal-inclined - as a result of his appearances on Living TV's paranormal television series Most Haunted, and also on account of his criticism of that show for misleading viewers using "showmanship and dramatics". The problems he came across while working on TV features about the paranormal led O'Keeffe to set up his own team, with whom he is filming investigations under the name Ghostlands.

On Halloween the Ghostlands team posted their first outing on YouTube, an investigation into a supposedly haunted World War II bunker on the Channel Islands. The 20 minute mini-documentary shows the setting up, possible manifestations of EVP, and finishes with a ghostly shadow fleeing the researchers' cameras (screen capture at the beginning of this post). Those that enjoy ghost-hunting shows should find plenty to enjoy in Ghostlands, especially if you're sitting home alone on a dark and stormy night...

This is a brief insight into a paranormal investigation conducted over a number of days where I had control and was not bound by the rules and expectations of television. Where I could choose a location that had never been shown before, one I wanted to investigate, one that I thought you would find as fascinating as I have and with a team I had chosen. But most of all, I wanted to present you with the evidence, to "let the evidence speak".

But this will also be about you. You are ghost enthusiasts, investigators, paranormal fans, cynics, sceptics and believers and those who simply want to find out if the "truth is out there". So get involved by contributing with your comments. It's about recognising that this show is organic and can develop if there are the means available. So say what can be done differently, what can be done better, what you are expecting, what you don't like, but more importantly what you do like, what you've learned, but also...did you notice anything I didn't see?

Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife

Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife

Ladies and gents, I'm very happy to announce that my new book, Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, is now available from the Amazon Kindle store for just $5.99! And for the launch, I'm looking to use the Grail army to my advantage, if you'll be kind enough to join in. More details after the blurb:

Did Steve Jobs have a vision of the afterlife on his death-bed? Does quantum physics suggest that our mind might survive the physical death of our body? How do some near-death experiencers 'see' outside of their bodies at a time when they are supposed to be dead?

In Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, author Greg Taylor covers all these questions and more. From Victorian seance rooms through to modern scientific laboratories, Taylor surveys the fascinating history of research into the survival of human consciousness, and returns with a stunning conclusion: that maybe we should stop worrying so much about death, because there probably is an afterlife.

Now, to try and make the maximum splash on entry into the eBook world, I'm asking interested Grail readers to grab a copy as soon as possible to push the book up Amazon's charts and thus make it more visible to other buyers. Here are the relevant Amazon links:

If you can help out by hitting Amazon hard, I'd love to see the result. To add a bit of incentive, I'll give away a couple of limited edition hardcover versions of the book, which will be randomly drawn from those who comment beneath this story letting me know that they've purchased the eBook.

Update: I'll cut entries off on Sunday night, 10pm U.S. West Coast time, to allow non-daily readers a chance at a hardcover) and make the draw soon after. Don't forget to comment beneath when you've grabbed a copy to be in the running!

(For those that still prefer paper to electronic books, the 274-page paperback should be out next week sometime, and will retail for $11.95. Alternatively, if you're a collector I will be selling signed and limited hardcovers directly in the near future as well.)

Stop Worrying! My Book is Finally Done!

Stop Worrying!

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally finished the book I've been working on for the past couple of years, Stop Worrying! There Probably Is An Afterlife. It should be available to purchase in the next week or two, but today eBook copies were sent out to those people who contributed to the crowdfunding effort for the book on IndieGoGo. If you were one of those people, but haven't received an email (due to spam filters, change of email address etc), please get in touch with me so that I can get your long-awaited copy of the book into your hands (I'm greg, and I'm at dailygrail.com)!

I'll of course post an update here when the book is available for purchase on Amazon, for those interested.

Short Documentary 'Surviving Death' Talks to Three Near-Death Experiencers

Surviving Death is a beautifully produced 12-minute-long mini-documentary featuring the near-death experiences (NDEs) of Kimberly Clark Sharp, Roland A. Webb, and Louisa Peck, told in their own words. The interviews are part of a longer series titled Consciousness Continues, the first episode of which will be released on on Amazon instant Streaming in January 2014.