Science and the Séance - Selected Comments

Science and the Séance (BBC TV 2005)
BBC Documentary about physical mediumship and the connection with many scientists.

Discussion about Science and the Séance on the BBC Points of View Messageboard
(The discussion was closed in March, 2006.)


Following the broadcast of the documentary Science and the Séance in October, 2005, there was a discussion on the BBC Messageboard.
The exchange was wide-ranging and exhaustive, and by the time it was closed in March, 2006, there were 665 posts.

Posts were submitted both from people who had made extensive studies of survival as well as from staunch materialists and scientists who wholly reject the idea that consciousness lives on after the demise of our physical bodies.

The discussion covered materialisation phenomena and experiments, the scientific theories of Ron Pearson, the work of Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, John Logie Baird, Professor Charles Richet, the materialisation mediums Helen Duncan and Rita Goold. In addition, information was offered about "Dream Detective" Chris Robinson, magician Derren Brown and his simulating so-called paranormal phenomena, and Spiritualism.

The discussion included many detailed contributions from Ron Pearson and Michael Roll, as well as from other supporters of the Campaign for Philosophical Freedom.

Selected posts are presented here.
Posts included here have not been edited, and may therefore contain typographical errors.

Selected Comments From the Exchange

Thursday, September 1, 2005
At last an unbiased program on a mainstream TV channel which treats the subject of survival sensibly, and the usual establishment hostile skeptic attack dogs were left locked up in their kennels.

I think the subject could have had more content and less panning of the camera across old photographs and film footage though. It would have been good to have had interviews from successful present day researchers, such as Michael Roll, Victor Zammit and Garry Schwartz . You could also have interviewed more people who have witnessed materialization, and why not interview Ronald Pearson who has discovered the location of the spirit world, and shown that it has nothing to do with the supernatural and comes within the scientific discipline of sub atomic physics as Sir Oliver Lodge stated.

Finally, now that Cannon Michael Perry has acknowledged the phenomena exists why was he not asked what the church was going to do about modernizing their concept of survival? They cant go on much longer maintaining the departed are laying dormant in the ground awaiting the day of resurrection and judgment if they acknowledge they are ready and willing to communicate.
Thursday, September 1, 2005
It was really lovely to see such an honest programme compared to some I have seen in the past.

I am also glad that a Church working mediums' opinion was used, rather than a television personality medium.

It was quite funny to note the fact that it is at times of great need that people turn to Spiritualism (ie during the wars) and most of the people who come through the doors are looking for something they are unable to find in the orthodox religions.

My hope is that in time more and more programmes are shown about Spiritualism and that we (the only religion recognised by Act of Parliament) are also included in the list of religions shown on the front page of, but only time will tell.
Thursday, September 1, 2005
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! At last someone has produced an intelligent, educational programme about Spiritualism - a far cry from the usual programmes which decry mediumship.

What many of the people who are intent on knocking Spiritualism don't realise is that there is so much more to it than giving messages (although that is very much part and parcel of it). As one of the ladies in the programme said, it's a way of life and the whole philosophy is so very interesting.

Do hope we can have more programmes like this. Maybe one showing mediumship with questions and answers afterwards.

Spiritualism is a fascinating religion and philosophy with thousands of books having been written about. In fact it's something you never stop learning about it.
Saturday, September 3, 2005
It is interesting that when the one documentary that doesn't use the likes of Richard Wiseman to belittle the subject of the paranormal (out of, how many, certainly 'tens' of documentatries that have?) is finally allowed onto our screens we get a "I can't believe the BBC wastes its money..etc etc" response.

I would be interested to know what qualifies those of you who have assessed the history of paranormal research as pseudo-science. An objective person would surely conclude that the records of scientists such as Crookes and Lodge would amply support the view that they would be the very last persons to indulge in pseudo-science. I think that if I were Crookes I would be rather indignant to be told I had been fooled by a sheet of cheesecloth! The idea is less credible than the ectoplasm hypothesis

I am all for being sceptical and scientific, particularly when dealing with extraordinary claims, but you have to look at the evidence and if you do it objectively and fully, you soon find that it is overwhelming. After one has made a full study, it becomes a matter of little importance whether or not the Fox sisters were bogus, or even whether Crookes had been fooled by, or colluded with, Florence Cook, for they are just a publicised drop in the ocean of evidence for the so-called paranormal
Sunday, September 4, 2005
The Russians have taken Rons theory seriously

Randi and CSICOP are professional debunkers. That’s how they make their living. They only have to admit one incidence of psi and their appeal and income will plummet. To admit one instance would be to them defeat and they would be finished. Its no wonder they fight like polecats to discredit anything and everything and that during their whole history they have never come up with one positive result despite the fact that respected researchers all over the world have. I find that quite telling, especially as experiments with non human subjects, incapable of committing fraud, such as body cells, random number generators and even the humble house plant have produced results for open minded researchers.

They used the cheesecloth/net curtain ploy when Helen Duncans seance was raided by the police and they found nothing. Someone even acused her of stuffing it up her anus to avoid detection. I would not recommend anyone tries this at home!
Sunday, September 4, 2005
Readers may like to hear what the magician James Randi thinks of those of us who are reading survival after death as a branch of physics - natural and normal forces in the universe.

He calls us "scoundrels"!

This includes a current Nobel Laureate for Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University where Rutherford split the atom - Professor B.D. Josephson.

Well done BBC Radio 4 for giving this real balance. A very simple choice here: James Randi or Professor Josephson?

[Unsuitable link removed by Moderator]

Randi is very good at taking on mediums but not so good when he comes up against a top scientist.
Friday, September 9, 2005
If Ron Pearson's theory is flawed - fine... just give him the opportunity in the main stream science papers and a chance to defend and explain his theories in the public domain. But no! he's not allowed to do this!

This is ridiculous and seems to me that some people out there are trying to suppress what he is saying... surely not? I mean, the discovery of the ether and the fact that people/animals etc survive death is the most important thing that we can learn about in our lives. So why hide it?

Come on, let's get Ron Pearson's theory out in the UK/World media and then let's discuss it. If it's wrong then it's wrong but don't hide it away from everyone.

I know that we survive death - I have had way too many experiences to prove this. I am not a nutter or a "believer". I am logical, need proof and often accept nothing until I have experienced it. My personal experiences of "supernatural" phenomena have proved to me that something exists beyond this life and this physical world. Ron has given a scientific explaination for something that I know exists. When Parapsychologists say there is no afterlife or mediumship or anything other than this world then they need to wake up and realise they don't have all the answers to everything that this universe has on offer. That would demonstrate a rather inflated ego. Not nice.
Friday, September 9, 2005
Ron Pearson's scientific discipline is thermodynamics - he is an expert on how gas behaves under pressure. He is a former university lecturer, now retired.

Scientists across every discipline agree that suns are turned on from a primordial gas. Who better to come to conclusions about cosmology than an expert on gas?

Doing away with the ether (the so-called spirit world) in 1905 following the publishing of Einstein's theory of relativity has set scientific endeavour back 100 years.

These blocked discoveries in physics are all covered on my website.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Science and the Séance: A reply to “normalynormal” messages 29 & 38

I feel a need to contest some misleading comments made in several contributions, mainly from “normalynormal” in messages 29 and 38. He implies that I make errors even in classical physics but is careful not to mention what he thinks they are. I had better begin therefore by showing what triggered my interest in cosmology. This is the interest that led to developing a mathematically based physical theory; showing mind is not mere brain function and could survive death.

An article by the physicist, Professor Edward Tryon (New Scientist March1984) caused me concern. He said gravitation contributed a negative energy that could cancel the positive energy needed to create the universe. A flaw existed that, amazingly, had passed all assessors. So I thought this needed correction (for the mathematically minded he had failed to evaluate the “constant of integration”).

Many letters of rejection came back from nearly all-scientific journals approached, all refusing to accept that any flaw existed. Only the last attempt received a positive response. It was by then August 1987 and the reply was from the very eminent Professor J.P. Vigier of Paris, the gravitational consultant of "Physics Letters A". In his reply, dated 2/8/87 he said that both he and his colleagues agreed that I was correct and that the critique should be published. He followed by giving advice on possible journals. He added that he hoped I would succeed in this and that I could quote his letter to help. However, he made it clear that, for some undisclosed reason, publication in Physics Letters A was not permitted.

Realising the considerable effort made had been futile, I wrote to Professor Paul Davies, a physicist who also writes many popular books about physics. I asked him how the Big Bang theory, that tried to explain the origin of the universe, would be affected, since Tryon's argument was a part of this. Davies responded by sending me a copy of the theory of "inflation" written by its originator, Dr. Alan Guth, for inclusion in a book under preparation to be called, "The New Physics" (Edited by Davies 1989).

I was astonished to discover flawed logic that caused this theory to make a hopelessly false prediction called the “Problem of the Cosmological Constant”. This still totally invalidates all the projections the big bang theory makes. The problem arises from postulating a means for producing an explosive creation that cannot be switched off. The theory began by trying to cancel an energy density of space with a negative pressure: something violating a thermodynamic principle. Then an equation containing a pressure term had been used way outside its range of applicability to switch gravity from an attractive to a repulsive force –all totally unacceptable!

To show how serious the problem is considered to be, a paper by the physicist and Nobel laureate, Steven Weinberg published in “Reviews of Modern Physics” Jan.1989 is worth quoting. He wrote: “The cosmological constant represents a veritable crisis for physics”.

The difficulty has been troubling many physicists and Dr. Brian Greene in a book published in 1999 admits string theory can offer no solution. As far as physicists and cosmologists are concerned the problem still remains unresolved.
What is exasperating is that I published a solution to this problem in Russia in 1993 since assessors here refuse to recognise submissions from other disciplines. However, nobody has been able to fault the solution and eventually a non-mathematical description was published by the scientific journal "Frontier Perspectives" in 1997. A copy of this ”Consciousness as a Sub-Quantum Phenomenon”: can be downloaded from:

[Broken link removed by Moderator] (gives illustrations)

My solution appeared by studying the mechanics of a sub-quantum background medium built as a mix of positive and negative energies. Not only did this resolve the original problem, a fine grain structure of filaments and blobs emerged from the maths suggesting this could produce the organised waves needed at the quantum level.

It soon emerged that a common background of this kind could support several interpenetrating universes. Only the latter would be truly real with the rest only seeming to be so: just as dreams seem real when you are in them. In this way I realised that survival became compatible with this new aspect of physics. When our brains die our consciousnesses, each part of the background, simply switch to a parallel universe.

In this way physics can be extended to support survival and indeed every aspect of the "paranormal" now seen as real and not illusory. There is no longer any need to try and discredit the evidence since it does not pose a threat to science. Ridicule is no substitute for valid critique. If normalynormal thinks my work is flawed it is more probable that is he who lacks adequate understanding.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Answer to message 44 from Normalynormal:

Thanks for coming forward with constructive criticism of Ron Pearson's secular scientific case for survival after death. Ron will of course be only too pleased to answer your points.

However, the bit at the end hit us like a punch in the nose - that Ron is attempting to support religious beliefs!

Our website [Broken link removed by Moderator] is presenting the secular scientific case for survival after death without any connection whatsoever with the divisive religious hatred connected with priestcraft.

We are saying loud and clear that nothing is supernatural or paranormal. That if something happens then there has to be a rational sciientific explanation for what we are witnessing.
Monday, September 12, 2005

You may have a good grasp of physics but you appear to have lost the plot as far as this discussion about survival goes. The whole object of the exercise was to show that survival is, like birth, a process which falls within the laws of nature and has nothing to do with religion or faith Further, if you had visited the Victor Zammit website you would see that he clearly expresses the view that whenever science and religion clash science always prevails. On that point we are obviously batting for the same side.

You are attempting to support a religious belief with impartial science. This will result in on of two outcomes. Science will prevail and the religious belief will be found to be just another groundless delusion, or the delusion will distort your view of reality to produce rationalisations that support your belief. This is he case here.
Wedneday, September 14, 2005
To Normalynormal:

I am so glad we have got everything on a friendly basis.

I was also puzzled regarding the remarks of Professor Archie Roy at the end of this programme because it was me who in 1983 introduced Archie to the Rita Goold experiment. Rita is a materialisation medium. The only type of medium that can actually prove survival after death with repeatable experiments under laboratory conditions. Every time Rita gave a demonstration six recently deceased people fully materialised for hours on end. They have been physically reunited with their families who are still on Earth.

This is the experiment that Sir William Crookes was unable to carry out when Katie King materialised at his experiments because Katie had passed over so long ago that she had no living friends and relations.

This full report is on my website:

To be fair to Professor Archie Roy as he is a university professor he does not have my freedom to report such a revolutionary experiment. He would be crucified by his peers - orthodox scientists who start from the base that the mind and brain are the same and that death is the end of everything.

After Archie witnessed the same thing that I did he telephoned to say that everything I witnessed he also witnessed. However, there was no way he could submit a report like mine without doing the same exercise as Sir William Crookes - to carry out repeatable experiments under laboratory condition, "It could take a year."

As Prof. Roy was unable to complete his experiments he was unable to back my report. This is why we are now pleading for another first class materialisation medium like Florence Cook or Rita Goold to come forward and dedicate their wonderful gift to scientific advancement. Needless to say the safety of the medium would be number one priority during the experiments.
Wedneday, September 14, 2005
Science and the Séance
Answering the critique of “normalynormal”: Message 44

I consider that the physicist, writing under the pseudonym “normalynormal”, was not being quite fair in his critique of my “Exact Classical Mechanics”. In any fair assessment the whole of a document has to be considered on its merits and credit given for any novel features that add insights that are flaw free. Normalynormal ignores everything except for one small item. This describes the mechanics of a rotating dumbbell showing that its rotational speed reduces as it is accelerated to a high linear speed. It demonstrated that if the lifetime of a particle is measured as the number of rotations made, then lifetimes will increase with linear speed. It suggests that time does not need to dilate as implied by relativity theory. Normalynormal debunks this on grounds that the pion, I used only by way of example, does not rotate. He ignores the extension that shows the same effect applies to the components of the particle. The proposal was to suggest that everything might be made entirely from kinetic energy –which he deplores as my own invention. This was only a suggestion not a firm proposition.

Using the same model he implies that I am unaware that the energy carried by the photon is electromagnetic and not kinetic. But there is a phenomenon called, “wave particle duality” of which he is fully familiar. The photon has an effective mass due to the energy it carries and so electromagnetic energy can in this case be regarded as a form of kinetic energy for evaluating such effects as radiation pressure.

The only place his critique is fair is in pointing out that I ignored the gyroscopic effect. I am very angry with myself about this because it was an oversight made in the first derivation and one I corrected shortly afterwards by changing the wording to: “The direction in which the dumbbell is accelerated linearly has to be parallel with the axis of rotation of the dumbbell”. I was traumatised to find the original version was still there. This was my fault entirely since it shows I had not made a proper check.

In his final sentence he says:

“You are attempting to support a religious belief with impartial science. This will result in one of two outcomes. Science will prevail and the religious belief will be found to be just another groundless delusion, or the delusion will distort your view of reality to produce rationalisations that support your belief. This is the case here.”

This implies a lack of knowledge of the overwhelming nature of survival evidence and treats it as unsupported and delusory religious belief. He is at present unable to accept even the possibility that survival could be true. My hope is that he will be open-minded enough to look into this evidence. If he does he may well realise he is wrong here. He will discover it to be an experimentally verified fact.

He says that my survival theory is based on “hidden variables”, a concept studied by Einstein and others long ago and finally abandoned. I am fully aware of this having read the book “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” by David Bohm. The electron and other sub-atomic particles are regarded as objects travelling along with a jitter imposed due to the quantum fluctuations produced by the hidden variables. It is obvious that this will not satisfy all the experiments and so only this interpretation is disallowed.

In my theory “Consciousness as a Sub-Quantum Phenomenon”, published in 1997:

[Broken link removed by Moderator] an intelligent background medium generates organised waves that produce the effect of sub-atomic particles. These do not travel like jittering objects but jump about in a random way though constrained by wave interference patterns. They are manifestations joined end to end in time but not in position. This fits in with all the experiments perfectly and so this version of hidden variables is different from those that have been abandoned. Normalynormal wrongly implies that I know nothing about the probabilities involved in quantum theory from his reading of my “Exact Classical Mechanics [Broken link removed by Moderator].

A new book by Steven Adler, (clearly a physicist) “Quantum Theory as an Emergent Phenomenon”: Cambridge University Press May 2004 copies my lead in providing a sub-quantum background, based on “an extension of classical dynamics”, from which the quantum level emerges. This is the same as saying he uses a revised Newtonian mechanics which is what my “Exact Classical Mechanics” is derived to do.

A final comment: the survival theory implies that only the background is truly real with the quantum and macroscopic levels produced in the manner of a semi-virtual reality. The “semi” means it is based on real energy but these are intelligently organised. It means that some internal contradictions, such as are present in relativity and quantum field theory, can then be permitted. They are not permissible in the background that is fully real and was the reason for developing this mechanics. A contradiction-free mechanics was only essential for the background and for solving the problem of the cosmological constant that is dealt with in the consciousness article.
Wedneday, September 14, 2005
I agree wholeheartedly, this programme was excellent compared with those of the past which were mostly controlled by sceptics.

I am not a spiritualist and follow no religion whatsoever but I am a serious afterlife researcher. Since my study began four years ago I have experienced some amazing and evidential phenomena on a personal level - the most wonderful being an answerphone message to my ex husband from my daughter who had passed three years previously.

I fully realise the ridicule I have opened myself up to from sceptics by stating this fact but care not for the truth is the truth, it would be ludicrous for anyone to suggest that my husband and I could not recognise our own daughters` voice. Congratulations to the BBC for presenting such an enlightening programme - more please!.
Wedneday, September 14, 2005
I don't think there are any here who have been offended! I think the most important thing to come from this is the revelation (perhaps not to you normalynormal but to some) that the acceptance of survival of death need not have anything to do with religious faith. You will have noted that most of us here supporting the life-after-death hypothesis are very much anti-religion.

We do not use the term 'supernatural' since we believe all things are ultimately natural and explainable by science. If there is a 'lifeforce', as we maintain, it will have properties and natural laws in the same way that magnetism and electricity does.

But make no mistake! There are some here, such as Michael Roll, who have had first-hand experience of a very real and distinct nature. No vague, verbal information, no 'tricks with mirrors', but the real deal: actual solid materialisation of a known 'dead' person. You tell Michael he has been tricked or is a charlatan if you wish, but if, after hearing his story, you feel the same way, I would be surprised. It is easy to dismiss claims that do not 'fit', but to be true to yourself you should satisfy yourself by viewing all the evidence and testimony and using your judgement.

There are numerous 'home circles' of people, all over the country, who certainly believe that they are holding regular communications with teams of 'spirits', without their being known to stage or screen or indeed to most outside their small groups. Is it really feasible that they are all fooling themselves?

Have you read the results of one such circle, the Schole group, who did publish their results over several years, and if so, do you really think they are in this for one huge great self-serving deception? Whilst the waters are clearly and unfortunately muddied by a number of charlatans in the Victorian era who were presumably in it for the money or the kudos, my judgement rightly or wrongly leads me to believe the modern-day exemplars at their word
Friday, September 16, 2005
Re Ihasa1800

According to my Oxford Dictionary religion is, ’One of the prevalent systems of faith; worship and human recognition of superhuman controlling power and especially of a personal God entitled to obedience.’ I cannot see anyone here supporting this definition. The problem is that that many people assume you support religion just because you accept the empirical evidence for survival. The whole exercise is to prove that survival is a natural process, like migration, and is totally divorced from religion.

Evolution of the physical body is separate to the evolution of the personality which migrates during the process called death.

From what you say it is obvious you have not studied the evidence which is overwhelming, continually being added to, and is well documented by people of impeccable character. As recently as 5th Dec last a successful EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) experiment was carried out in Italy witnessed by a team of researchers, Prof. David Fontana being the UK presence. Unless you study the evidence you cannot possible argue from an informed position.

I think scientists agree that once three criteria are satisfied something is proven. There have to be repeatable experiments under laboratory conditions, there has to be a credible theory and this theory has to be backed up by the mathematics. As far as I can see Ron Pearson has supplied the two last criteria.

People know what they see hear and experience and scientists cannot maintain their position that they are either the victims of fraud or delusion just because the phenomena does not fit in with present science. If the observational facts are facts then science must find an explanation for them and this is what Ron Pearson has done.

Materialisation mediums are very rare because in the main mediumship is an inherited gift and the church did its best to exterminate them in the past. The next step is to get everything recorded on night vision equipment now that we have the technology, and hopefully, the funding. Unfortunately in the past most of the funding went to researchers guaranteed to get negative results.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Actually survival after death via the scientific theory of subatomic physics has nothing to do with religion - please tell me what I am worshipping if that is the case. Spiritualism? Pardon me? I have nothing to do with this "religion" - I am only interested in the science that will give me a greater understanding of the Near Death Experience I had (aged 12, witnessed people rushing around trying to save me, never heard of NDE at the time). Also of the many other experiences I have witnessed with friends and family all at the same time. Oh we all imagined it... Oh we all made it up.... silly us. Should have been more "rational".

Ihasa 1800 wrote: "To accept 'survival after death' requires one to completely ignore the most important fact accounting for our existance; that we are just animals that have undergone billions of years of continuous non-stop evolution. Anyone thinking life after death is a reasonable propersition has to decide at which point in our evolution it started, and think about the actual hard mechanism that could account for its development. Also a reason for this major event occuring at any time in the past if it was not always a feature of pre-bacterial life onwards. If it was always a feature of life then all living things have this property, including plants. It wouldn't make any difference even if there was a hypothosis (such as goddidit) as there is no evidence to support the afterlife"

Well, please explain how/why scientifically this cancels out survival? What is your mathematical proof that because we have evolved over time (including animals and birds etc)this then does not allow living creatures to survive physical death? How does evolution not allow consciousness survival? How much research have you done in this area? What is the evidence to support your theory? Can you recommend some reading matter regarding survival disproven as humans, animals etc have had billions of years of evolution? I am dying to read the evidence. I can recommend many websites, books etc if you wish to view the evidence (not belief) that we all survive our physical bodies.

Ihasa1800 wrote:"The mistakes all theirs! Why don't they film it and prove it"

It will be filmed as soon as we have a willing materialisation medium.

It's very important to be skeptical but once you close your mind and not acknowledge that something maybe possible only because it is not part of your paradigm, then that's when you restrict your learning and shut yourself off from other possibilities in life. Truth is stranger than fiction remember.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Reading the pages of Points Of View about the programme Science and the Seance confirms the attitude I formed many years ago. i.e. most of the "anti survivalists" have closed minds and many are firmly against accepting ANY evidence that proves they are mistaken. They are and have been backed up by various government and other "official" bodies over the years. e.g.Galileo's telescope, flat earthists, space travel and many more.

I am of the opinion that not a great number of those with closed minds have actually taken part in any actual "hands on research" as many of the "pros." have. During my search (of many years), I have encountered a number of deluded people and a few whose intention was to delude others. On these occasions I merely moved elsewhere to continue my search. With patience success was achieved and I have been privileged to witness and take part in a great deal of many types of phenomena but sadly not materialization. However, relations and friends who I trust implicitly have been so privileged.

My advice to "anti's" is:-

(1) Attempt to open your mind.

(2) Search for a small group of folk who are sensible and honest to "sit" with you on a regular basis and be patient.

(3) Don't try to make phenomena occur - it will happen in it's own time.

(4) An hour a week isn't too much to ask, is it?