GUEST POST: Victor and Wendy Zammit are the world’s leading afterlife experts. For decades they have fearlessly battled all who would deny humankind these truths, and they even have posted a million-dollar challenge for anyone who can prove that the afterlife evidence in their wonderful book, A Lawyer Presents the Evidence for the Afterlife, is either misinterpreted or bogus. Their indispensable Friday Afterlife Report is available for free at victorzammit.com. This article by Victor will help you better understand why so many otherwise intelligent people, both scientists and religionists, are still so unable to accept what is by now incontrovertibly true. Having also long fought this battle against ignorance, I think what Victor has to say is brilliant!
AFTER DECADES of dealing with all kinds of paranormal skeptics, I can relate to you that there are at least nine reasons why closed-minded skeptics tend to remain stubborn about their skeptical beliefs – and why some of them unreasonably attack those who scientifically and empirically investigate evidence for the paranormal. The nine reasons below can apply to any person who inflexibly holds strictly subjective, personal beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or secular.
My experience with closed-minded skeptics is that they do not investigate the evidence. They completely reject any information that is not consistent with their own cherished beliefs, even if that evidence is scientifically supported. And they lack the skills, competence, and objectivity to perceive new evidence in a scientific and balanced way. Here are some of the reasons why:
RATIONALIZATION THROUGH COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. “Cognitive dissonance” is a term used by psychologists to describe the discomfort that arises when people are confronted with information that is fundamentally inconsistent with their own beliefs. When a materialist is confronted with highly persuasive evidence for the paranormal, that evidence will elicit in him extreme anxiety. Denial must follow. The materialist will become angry, hostile, even aggressive. He will feel forced to reduce his anxiety by rationalizing his beliefs and going into extreme denial.
CATHEXIS. This is a psychological term for the fact that some people develop a very powerful – and usually unconscious – super-glue connection with an idea or a thing. Some of those who call themselves skeptics are “cathexed” to ideas which are incompatible with the possibility of an afterlife. Because the connection can be powerful and unconscious, sufferers often will attack their source of anxiety, which can be anyone who puts forward evidence that contradicts their beliefs. So these individuals are immune to logic, science, and any kind of repeatable and objective evidence that threatens to reverse their cathexis.
NEUROLINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING (NLP). When some skeptics are confronted with information that is fundamentally inconsistent with their own deeply cherished beliefs, the mind of the skeptic will DELETE that information. As with “cognitive dissonance” above, this kind of skeptic will experience unbearable anxiety, a disturbance of his “comfort zone,” and will go into complete DENIAL. The most aggressive skeptics who are affected this way will even cheat, mislead, and lie about the real situation.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMMING. “Environment determines perception.” It is known that, by and large, the environment you were born in will shape how you will see the world. If a Western skeptic from New York had instead been born in India, more likely than not the skeptic would be a Hindu. If he were born to a radical, extremist Islamic family, the skeptic would be a Moslem. If born to an orthodox Jewish family, the skeptic would be an orthodox Jew. And in secular Western countries, many people today grow up with an atheistic bias. One needs to have skills and considerable resolve to rise above such environmental conditioning and programming.
BRAIN-EXPLANATION FOR “CLOSED-MINDED SKEPTICISM.” Skepticism can even be biologically based. When we have a rigid belief system, the neurons in the brain fire in a certain defined network. So if information (e.g. afterlife evidence) comes into the brain and contradicts our rigid belief system (which in this case is skepticism), those neural pathways will fire in the same old way and will not decode the new information. This functions just like a filter. It is only when the skeptic has a dramatic experience that a new neural pathway will be established, and then the old one gradually falls into disuse. Our belief systems are fundamental to filtering our perceptions of reality.
PRIMARY MOTIVATIONS: MONEY, POWER, STATUS – AND A JOB. Some people choose to be closed-minded skeptics for career advancement and/or to make money, to attain influence, and even for celebrity status. Those who are scientists may want to continue to work in science. Most scientific funding comes from big corporations, and it tends to go only to those scientists and researchers who have the potential to increase their profits. For example, you may get a scientist who will reject the paranormal outright because he/she can get funding for taking that position. These scientists-come-skeptics will never listen to logic, to science, or to intelligent reasoning. They can’t move from their positions because they would lose money, power, status, and even their careers. Do you remember those negatively prejudiced scientists and medical doctors we once saw in glossy magazines in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, and also on television, stating as scientists that smoking is good, and even is healthy for you? Or those scientists who once stated that certain pharmaceutical drugs were healthy, when subsequently it was shown that these drugs might have killed hundreds or even thousands of people – a drug like vioxx? To this day there are scientists in Germany who still insist that smoking is safe.
THE SMORGASBORD ARGUMENT. Professor Stephen Hawking is most notorious for using this “smorgasbord” approach, picking and using only the information that substantiates his own negative prejudices. This closed-minded skeptical professor does not know that in a courtroom situation his smorgasbord arguments would be torn to shreds. Why? Because he would be cross-examined on the critical, most vital evidence that he ignores because it fundamentally contradicts his deeply entrenched negative prejudices. He makes a huge error in thinking that he is an expert in the use of evidence! A litigation lawyer has exclusive technical knowledge of what is relevant, what is evidentiary, and what is essential admissible as evidence, and won’t let anyone get away with picking and choosing only whatever evidence supports his own position.
THE HYPNOTIC EFFECT. Those skeptics who are blatantly irrational, illogical, and unreasonable about the paranormal or the afterlife evidence could be suffering from a powerful negative hypnotic effect. Some years ago I sent clear, easily identifiable afterlife evidence in rebuttal to a couple of hard-line skeptics. Their reply was, “where is the evidence?” Yet non-aligned scientists easily identified the evidentiary value in the same evidence when it was sent to them. It is possible that skeptics at some time in their lives experienced a “parallel hypnotic directive” that there is no afterlife or paranormal evidence. This is exactly what happens when we see a hypnotist on stage telling a couple of our hypnotized friends that they will be eating an apple. But the hypnotist then gives them an onion to eat, not an apple, and the hypnotized subjects CANNOT IDENTIFY THE EVIDENCE and refuse to believe they each have eaten an onion! Even after they have been taken out of the hypnotic state, they still insist that “the apple was really delicious.” Hypnotic suggestion can be so powerful that it can be almost impossible for people to overcome it.
BEING SPIRITUALLY RETARDED. There is no link between intelligence and being spiritual (you will notice that I said “spiritual,” NOT “religious.”) An atheist could be “spiritual” (or highly ethical) when he/she does voluntary work for the benefit of others without a thought of making some kind of profit for him/herself. But there is a class of closed-minded skeptics who may be highly intelligent but are spiritually retarded, meaning that they have not reached a stage in life where they can perform secular spiritual work for the benefit of others in selfless service. Nor can these spiritually deficient folks objectively identify legitimate afterlife evidence.
Having read Victor’s wisdom, now I better understand how it is possible that in the twenty-first century we still get such nonsense as scientists attempting to preserve the minds of those we love inside computers so we’ll be able to talk with them after they die. The next time I hear from someone who is stuck in close-minded skepticism, I’m just going to send him Victor’s wonderful words!
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