Written in response to Prof. Stephen Braude's comments
First, my apologies if I misrepresented Stephen as an opponent of the survival hypothesis,
but it still looks that way to my unsophisticated mind. No matter: the issue (as
I am sure will be generally agreed) is not whether either theory can be proved, but
which is the more plausible. And the case against super-
Let me give one example which both Stephen and Peter Wadhams dismiss too readily:
the cross correspondences. It is true that they are difficult, and that many of them
generate debates over "the proper translation, interpretation and significance of
its obscure allusions and quotations", but that shouldn't be allowed to detract from
the fact that many of them can be seen in retrospect to be perfectly clear. If Stephen
or Peter study The Palm Sunday case by the Countess of Balfour, they would find
it difficult to escape the conclusion that details of Arthur Balfour's private tribute
to his dead lover in 1875 were transmitted some decades later via five different
automatists through automatic writings, trance utterances and cross-
 Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 52, pt 189, 1960.
 Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 53, pt 192.
If some simpler illustration of a communication using the cross-
Now before trying to reconcile that with super-
Since Stephen notes his agreement with Peter Wadham's doubts, which center on the
role of the classicist Mrs. Verrall as the unconscious source of the messages, I
have to point out that this familiar criticism has long since been refuted. Not only
did the cross correspondences continue for a great many years after Mrs. Verrall's
death, but many of them originated with or involved other mediums. And while I agree
with Robert Thouless's strictures on the complexity of the cross-
Stephen takes me to task for my assertion that "no medium, however gifted in acquiring
information from living minds, can produce a meaningful message of which no-
Even more striking is the very recent case of the medium assailed by messages from a freshly murdered woman, which I summarized all too inadequately, leaving Stephen to draw the wrong conclusion. Although many accurate statements she gave to the police could have been drawn from the mind of the investigating detective who had spent five hours a few days earlier examining every aspect of the corpse and the victim's apartment, a good many facts were unknown to him or to his fellow constable at the time of the interview.
Of course, where verification of the facts takes place later on, the super-
Stephen similarly downgrades the evidentiality of Ian Stevenson's better cases of apparent reincarnation, on which Peter Wadhams relies for support. It is not merely the case that small children can obtain information known to the dead person whose personality they appear to have inherited. If that information were known exclusively to the dead person, there would be no means to verify it, and hence it is not evidence. So far I agree with Stephen. However, the evidence goes much beyond mere information transmission. It is of things, people, places, toys and even garments recognized by the child when visiting his "former parents", to say nothing of birthmarks related to the location of injuries sustained at the death of the deceased. There are in addition personality traits, likes and dislikes, prejudices and recollections which often persuade the families of the former life that the child has indeed inherited the spirit and the memory, as well as the personality, of their dead relative.
Finally Stephen argues that, since advocates of survival accept telepathy from dead
communicator to live medium as a transmission mechanism, they can't logically jib
at similar telepathic interaction between the living. But these extreme extensions
of psi are not evidence: they are speculations designed to fit a theory; and some
of them are a mite too fanciful for me. I do not say the super-
I look forward to reading Stephen's Immortal Remains. May he long survive before he becomes part of them.
February 15th 2002.