Anyone who has done much afterlife research has encountered the work of skeptics and debunkers. Honest skeptics have contributed tremendously to the advancement of our understanding, but sadly most of those who claim to be writing as skeptics are just debunkers. You cannot learn a thing from a debunker, so it will be important that you know the difference!
Skepticism is a healthy approach to dealing with extraordinary claims. Some of the greatest afterlife researchers began their careers as honest skeptics. From Ian Stevenson and Raymond Moody through Bruce Lipton, Helen Wambach and Gary Schwartz to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Bob Monroe, most of the best afterlife researchers were startled to discover some seeming anomaly. They were curious, and with an open-minded skepticism they set out to study that anomaly enough to be able to explain it and move on. Of course, the phenomena that they had paused to study turned out not to be anomalies at all, so none of them ever did move on. Today their wonderful work forms the basis of modern afterlife-related scholarship. Others, of course, have studied some phenomenon, been unconvinced, and said so. But no honest skeptic ever will attempt to mess with the evidence, or will consider his own view to be determinative of anything.
Skepticism in researching the afterlife is a healthy thing. But many purported skeptics now dealing with afterlife-related evidence are not operating as honest skeptics at all. They are operating instead as debunkers. When they encounter an afterlife-related phenomenon, their first reaction is not curiosity, but fear. The most common debunkers are scientists whose materialism-based careers might be at risk if reality turns out to be more complicated than what mainstream science long has supposed. Many of them are atheists as well. For them, debunking afterlife-related phenomena is a two-fer: not only can they protect their careers, but they can maybe also give God the boot!
Debunkers try to pass for honest skeptics, and it can be hard to tell them apart until you have some experience. To help you recognize debunker foolishness when you see it, here are four common debunker techniques:
1) They might choose what they think is a key aspect of some afterlife-related phenomenon and try to reproduce it under laboratory conditions, thereby in their minds proving that no supernatural explanation is necessary. In doing this, of course, they ignore whole swathes of other aspects of these phenomena which could not be so easily explained! But since they can (for example) produce tunnel vision and visual spots of light by whirling people in centrifuges, the whole well-documented phenomenon of NDEs is thereby “debunked” in their view. Someone conceivably could have opened the film-box that was on the table at Scole while a session was underway, so all the extraordinary photographic evidence which instantly appeared there must be ignored. Whenever a purported skeptical researcher focuses on just one aspect of a phenomenon, that is your cue to be skeptical of him.
2) They speak and write as if scientific hypotheses are the final word on something. As any good professional scientist knows, all scientific claims remain hypotheses. If that were not the case, then how could basic scientific advancements occur? Since all scientific claims are working hypotheses which can be revised or rebutted in the face of new information, when some “skeptic” claims to have the final word, you know he is no scientist.
3) They deny that some well-documented event actually happened. If they cannot find a way to debunk something, they simply say that it has been debunked and move on. Don’t let anyone try to tell you that any afterlife-related phenomenon has been debunked until you yourself have impartially examined all the evidence.
4) They refuse to consider bodies of afterlife-related evidence as a whole. It is in the very nature of afterlife-related phenomena that the evidence for them is extraordinary and usually highly subjective. In general, these phenomena are difficult to study and usually impossible to reproduce. You were the only witness to the appearance of your mother at the foot of your bed while she was dying half a world away? Good luck getting anyone to believe that!
5) They selectively lie. A strong word, true. They specialize in negative propaganda in areas where their lying cannot be balanced, so to do an internet search on any so-called paranormal phenomenon is to decide before the fact that you are not interested in an open-minded search for the truth. To give just one example, William Stainton Moses was arguable among the greatest natural mediums who ever lived, but yet if you attempt a Google search on his name you will learn that he is a thoroughly discredited impostor. He is not that. Check out a blog post by the venerable Michael Tymn for a more balanced view.
To honestly research the afterlife is to begin an extraordinary voyage! When I started doing afterlife research, I assumed that most of the purported afterlife communications that I was setting out to read would be nonsense. What I was looking for was a few bits of similarities among some of them, hoping that I could use those bits to get some idea of whether in fact there was an afterlife and what that afterlife was like. But in reading many hundreds of communications from the dead received over nearly 200 years, I found no outliers whatsoever and I cannot recall finding one duplication. Sure, if you look at one afterlife communication, it might have been faked. But, hundreds? And they all perfectly agree? The odds against chance for such a finding are so long as to be nearly incalculable. Personally, I find this amazing result to be my own surest evidence that all of this is real. Debunkers, however, generally insist on dealing with each event individually.
Everything that a debunker says or writes is fear-based propaganda. Ignore it! Instead, concentrate on reading honest skeptics’ original research, and draw your own conclusions.