A True Medium Is Rare, Burned or Half-Baked


To start, please excuse the pun, but I couldn’t help myself, as it just seemed to be appropriate here.

Back in the 1980’s, the term channeling was coined to promote the notion and belief that living people were able to have literal conversations with, and speak for the dead, and occasionally aliens (yeah right, and I can fly without a plane. That’s odd, I seem to have misplaced my cape and boots?).

The belief that certain individuals were able to speak with or the dead, the same way us living people speak with each other, has been around since ancient Greece.  In fact, the dawn of psychical research in 1882 Great Britain, began with the investigation of such claims, which were and still are, unprovable.  There is nothing new under the sun here, only the way it’s depicted in order to attract the attention of naive and gullible people willing to spend their hard-earned money on vaporware (again, please excuse the play on words here).

Let me make my position on this issue very clear.  Over the course of forty-six years of parapsychological research, I have seen absolutely no scientific evidence or proof that we humans can directly speak with, or to, the dead.  Although, if you watch enough cable television these days, you might doubt my conclusions, as one might believe they’re hearing from the dead on a regular basis, especially if they’re lawyers or politicians (oh, excuse me, they’re simply dead from the neck up and lacking a conscience).

There was a great line in an episode of The X-Files where Mulder said to Scully something along the lines of:  “We can talk to God all day and we call that prayer, but when God talks back, you’re schizophrenic”.

I am in almost totally concur with that statement, but with one minor exception.  If I were writing or making the statement, it would read:  “You can talk to God all day and we call that prayer, but when God or the dead talk back, your schizophrenic”.

So at this point you understand that my skepticism regarding mediumship and/or channeling the dead is rather extreme to say the least, correct?  Over the last four decades, I’ve encountered incredible amounts of evidence and data strongly indicating that most paranormal phenomena are real, objective and somewhat demonstrable, but that their true nature is far more complicated and intricate that we ever imagined.

Such phenomena have been displaying itself to us in many forms for several millennia, although our interpretation of such events is extremely biased due to our lack of scientific knowledge and religious orientation and dogma.

Simply put, it’s the concept of Ockham’s Razor, which states that all things being equal, the simplest explanation is generally correct.  Before we assume that an event is paranormal in nature, we must painstakingly demonstrate that it cannot be explained by any other means.  Once we’ve reached that crucial threshold, Ockham’s Razor must be utilized again when evaluating the claims of mediums and channelers .

If we can more readily and easily explain paranormal events in terms of ESP (telepathy, precognition, retrocognition, clairvoyance or remote viewing), why must we reach for the most improbable and outlandish explanation, that such information is being generated by discarnate entities or disembodied personalities?

In essence, almost all of the data collected over the last 130 years indicates that some people can, unquestionably, access information at a distance, from the past and from the future, as well as from living minds in their own time but non-locally.

Depending on where we are in both space and time relative to where said paranormal information originates from, determines its classification, and thereby, its name.

If the information appears to originate from the future, we call that precognition.  If it originates from the past, we call that retrocognition, and if said information is remote from your body in space independent of others’ perception, we call that clairvoyance.

The bottom line here, is that such data acquisition of nothing more than information, and it appears to all be the same other than where it appears to come from in space-time and where we are in space and time when we perceive it.

There are those researchers out there (whose names will not be mentioned here) who have made the claim that they can clinically distinguish between information accessed via an ESP mechanism as discussed here, as opposed to coming from a disembodied consciousness.

The problem with their assumptions and conclusions is that they are very subjective and not, as yet, clinically validated through contemporary neurophysiological methodologies and protocols and therefore not quantifiably demonstrable in any way.

When people converse, whether verbally or electronically, it is generally linear in its nature.  That is, there is a normal progression from one item to the next.  When psychically gifted people access information through ESP mechanisms, it is generally non-linear in nature, as if tapping into some form of non-local, random access memory source (Zero Point Power field?).

When individuals claim to be contacting or channeling spirits or aliens, the outcome is in the identical type non-linear formatting, not in the linear way we communicate amongst ourselves.  This strongly suggests that such alleged mediumistic communication is the same as any psychic (not medium) giving you a reading in person?

In the mid-1990’s I was in the green room at KNBC-TV in Burbank waiting to go on a television show regarding the paranormal.  I was approached by a man I did not recognize and he introduced himself as a well-known medium/channeler/psychic, whom I had never heard of.

When he asked me if I believe in what he does, I looked him square in the eye and said “No, as everything you claim to do we’ve done in a far more precise, controlled, scientific manner in our psi training groups UCLA’s former parapsychology lab, and there were no dead people floating around conveying the information to us.”

As this gentleman knew who I was, he was rather shocked to hear my skeptical reply.  He then asked what he might do to convince me of his alleged gift.  Thinking for a brief moment, I said that if  and when he was doing his “reading”, an apparition of the departed person he was allegedly communicating with,would appear on at least two video cameras simultaneously demonstrating parallax. The medium looked at me and smiled, as he turned and walked away, not fully understanding what I said or why.

Around the mid-to-late 1980’s, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times regarding channeling.  When I discussed my skepticism and all the aforementioned points, the reporter agreed with me but then said “Yeah,  but that’s not very interesting or sexy, it’s downright boring.  No one’s going to pay you a huge sum of money for a reading if you’re just tapping into a holographically distributed space-time information system.”

Needless to say, this reporter never published his interview with me as it did not support the sensationalistic orientation of his pending article.  Forget all the multi-dimensional, quantum physics talk, this reporter made the most relevant point of all, and I’ve made mine.

While I do believe in the possibility for survival of consciousness and personality at some level (my book addresses this in detail), I have yet to see any real, hard evidence that we can sit down and break bread with the dead, especially if one expects real conversations to occur.  About the closest we ever really come to such an event is when we must consult and attorney over a legal matter (more on this in my book as well).

And before you ask, I do not believe that The Entity, the San Pedro or the Cielo Drive cases from my files are indicative of hauntings.  The only two cases out of my than 4,000 that even vaguely suggested discarnate intelligence were the 1970 Inglewood case (Chapter one of my book), The Holly Mont Case (Chapter one of my book, as well as the blog entitled “The Holly Mont Haunting: As Good As It Gets”, elsewhere on this site).

End of story.

By Dr. Barry Taff

Dr. Barry Taff, who holds a doctorate in psychophysiology with a minor in biomedical engineering, worked as a research associate at UCLAs former parapsychology laboratory from 1969 through 1978. During his 41-year career, Dr. Taff has investigated more than 4,000 cases of ghosts, hauntings, poltergeists, and he has conducted extensive studies in telepathy and precognition which led to the development of the original protocols and methodologies for what was later coined remote-viewing. He is the author of Aliens Above, Ghosts Below.

2 replies on “A True Medium Is Rare, Burned or Half-Baked”

Wasn’t it Dr. Schwartz who conducted a lot of research in this area? And, if I remember correctly, he claimed to have achieved some significant results, even achieving a sort of replication by several of his co-researchers.

My issue with this has always been the one you raised, Dr. Taff. How can we conclusively demonstrate that the information hasn’t been perceived through garden-variety psi, as opposed to communication with the dead? Those who seriously study (and so, seem to support) the concept of mediumship refer to the psychic accessing of this kind of -usually highly personal and detailed – information as “super-psi”, as if implying that gold-old, regular, run-of-the-mill psi isn’t powerful nor detailed enough to acquire the data. I think this BS. Although I’m pretty damned good, I wouldn’t call myself a psychic super-star, and yet I have frequently (almost but not quite routinely) been able to acquire such highly detailed and personal information as a person’s first, middle or last name, their initials, the sound of the beginning of their name, to describe their home, the type of work they do, their relationships with various other people (especially relationships that define or deeply impact their life), the manner of their death (even when I had no idea my target was a person, much less the manner of their death – as I do all my remote viewing double-blind), etc., etc. If I’m capable of that kind of performance, then those who practice psi (including mediumship) for a living should be able to do even better.

All we have to go are the statements of the mediums themselves. Since most all of them claim to also be clairvoyant, telepathic, and precognitive, the ones who refer to themselves as mediums claim that the information comes to them differently when they are accessing spirits, as opposed to practicing one of the other psi perception styles. Some claim to “see” the dead around and near the relatives. Others claim they can “hear” the dead speaking.

The problem I have with this is that I have enough experience (some 7,000 individual RV training sessions over the last 14 years, to know that the data can come in any number of different ways – and that just when I think I’ve experienced every possible manner of data of expressing itself in my mind, a new one occurs. Psi data perception usually mimics one of the five physical senses but there is a huge number of other ways as well. Many times the data just “appears” in my awareness, sometimes whole, but more often in a string of fragmented information bits. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere – and you’ve talked about, Dr. Taff – it often seems like the dredging up of a memory. Mediumship doesn’t sound any different.

The fact that mediumship is usually done with the relative of the dead sitting right in the same room with the medium brings up the old “unconscious cold reading” possibility. No “test” of mediums should be done this way. No feedback should be given until the medium is finished with the reading. But even if all the typical protocols of psi research are put in place, I STILL don’t see how mediumship can be differentiated from garden-variety psi.

Excellent commentary here Don. As I’ve stated here and you have reiterated, there’s absolutely scientific no proof that we can have a literal conversation with the dead (unless you’re talking with an attorney who are dead from the neck up). This is all nothing more than accessing non-local information from the past, the future, or at a distance. The only reason many people speak of themselves being a medium, is that it attracts more attention and allows them to more easily deprive naive and gullible people of their hard earned money. As the title of this blog clearly states: “A True Medium is Rare, Burned or Half-Baked”.

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