Leslie Kean, Investigative Journalist Tackles Survival After Death |342|

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Leslie Kean, Investigative Journalist Tackles Survival After Death |342|
by Alex Tsakiris | Mar 14 | Consciousness Science, Near-Death Experience

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Leslie Kean made headlines investigating UFOs, now she taking on NDEs, mediums, and after death communication.


Today we welcome Leslie Kean to Skeptiko. Leslie is an investigating journalist with a long long list of credits from many major news outlets, but you may also know her from 2010 NYT bestseller, UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record. Well, she’s back with another thumb to the eye of conventional paradigms with her new book: Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence of an Afterlife. Leslie, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks for joining me…

Alex Tsakiris: You’ve looked at these people square in the eye, you sat in the séance session, and not that you’re infallible or can’t be fooled at all, but you’re bringing something there that, I think, adds a certain degree of credibility for people like me… I think the journalist, in that position, is somebody I trust.

Leslie Kean: Well, I hope that’s the case and I’m glad you feel that way, I hope it came through that way in the book, because I certainly, even though I did have my own personal experiences, which really affected me, at the same time I remained in the role of a journalist and I even analysed my own experiences that way.
 
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@Alex Bang on time! Your podcasts come out every other Tuesday!

Leslie comes across as a very grounded kind of person - exactly the person to do this study. I hope her book is a great success.

I am glad she has included the reincarnation evidence - it needs to become as publicly recognised as the existence of NDE's has become, because like NDE's these cases come from utterly normal people.

I am glad Alex pointed out that this book contains a lot of new evidence and ideas, because up until that point I had thought that it would only cover things we have already discussed at length on Skeptiko.

David
 
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I do think that the information in this book doesn’t contradict belief systems.
In Judiasm and Christianity some believe that the body will be resurrected and until then, the dead are asleep in their graves. That might make some people reluctant to accept any empirical evidence of the afterlife. But there are also good reasons for Christians to accept this type of evidence.

I mean I think, as a journalist, what’s important about them is what’s uniform about them, is the fact that people do go into some kind of alternative realm and they are forever changed by that experience. I think those kinds of things are more important than the specifics of what they say occurred for them when they were in that realm, because as you point out, the Christians will see Jesus and the Buddhists might see the Buddha
You have to analyze what is different and what is the same. The differences show it isn't all a hardwired physiological response. The uniformities show it isn't random hallucinations. And people don't always see what they are expecting.

I think my unique contribution here is applying journalistic standards to it, you know, trying to be very objective and seeing how it all holds together and maybe being able to be a voice for bringing more credibility to this topic.
Very few people trust journalists. I find philosophers like Chris Carter to be most credible. Knowledge of epistemology is very helpful in writing about a controversial subject particularly one where the evidence is often indirect and first hand experience is unavailable to most people.

it is important to make clear what I mean by “survival”. This concept does not refer to an impersonal merging into pure awareness or becoming one with universal consciousness as envisioned by many who meditate or who are influenced by Easton religions.
Out of fairness I would have liked to have seen some specifics here. What religion or meditation traditions advocate this? I am a Buddhist and I never encountered it studying Buddhism except as a misunderstanding.


"Do you think this book will make a difference?"

Yes and no. I think it will help people who might not be aware of the empirical evidence of the afterlife to learn about this important subject. For those people it can be an important life changing event. But I am not aware of anything particularly unique about this book (I haven't read it) that would distinguish it from the many other very good books on the subject so I am not expecting it to trigger a paradigm shift.
 
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I do think that the information in this book doesn’t contradict belief systems.
In Judiasm and Christianity some believe that the body will be resurrected and until then, the dead are asleep in their graves. That might make some people reluctant to accept any empirical evidence of the afterlife. But there are also good reasons for Christians to accept this type of evidence.
Somehow there’s something odd about the term ‘Belief system’...

I couldn’t put my finger on it until now. But it assumes that someone accepts a pre-packaged set of beliefs, rather than judging each issue on its merits.

It’s like being a follower of a political party. It’s assumed that a follower of such a system accepts a pre-packaged set of beliefs, instead of judging each issue on its merits.
 
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About to listen to the show. Looking forward to the section on reincarnation!

And just to follow up on the previous post: A natural implication of a belief in reincarnation is less fear of physical death. As Julius Caesar reported of the druids:

'The principal point of their doctrine is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another... the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructibility of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed.'
 
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I am glad Alex pointed out that this book contains a lot of new evidence and ideas, because up until that point I had thought that it would only cover things we have already discussed at length on Skeptiko.

David
David,

I'm only about maybe 40% of the way through the book and it does cover some stories we're familiar with, but I've been discovering new details about each one that I wasn't aware of before. It's a great book for newcomers to the field, as well as folks like us who may have been around the block already with some of the material. Something in there for everyone I think.

For anybody who hasn't read her UFO book ... stop what you're doing, order the book and read it NOW ;-) One of the best books on UFOs out there.
 
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"Do you think this book will make a difference?"
Well, on the one hand, there are a number of people who have had an NDE or whatever, and written books about it, and on the other we have this old school journalist who has written about such experiences from a "more objective" point of view. In ordinary circumstances, who would you believe most? The person who had had the first-hand experience, or the second-hand reporter of that experience? The colonel who had been on Juno beach on D-Day, or the historian writing a book about D-Day? It's a moot point, not least with respect to differing perspectives on an issue. But one thing: some people don't accept the first-hand experience, so will they allow largely second-hand experience to change their minds?

That notwithstanding, the point is, they are only some people. Many people, I'd guess most people, aren't hard-line pseudosceptics, and a relatively dispassionate report from a bone fide source who has already published a well received and widely respected best seller on UFOs might well be able to persuade them to remain open-minded. I'd like to think that slowly, inexorably, the tide is turning, but then, I'm somewhat biased. Even so, it isn't strictly necessary to convert the pseudosceptics, so much as to shift the prevalent paradigm; make it respectable to maintain an open mind and to make more marginal the influence of those who have a rigid and ideological opposition to psi or spiritual matters.
 
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who would you believe most? The person who had had the first-hand experience, or the second-hand reporter of that experience? The colonel who had been on Juno beach on D-Day, or the historian writing a book about D-Day?
I would be most interested in the first hand accounts.

But, not to criticize your post which I liked, the historian would provide the bigger picture by discussing multiple accounts and relating them to other factors giving the reader a wider view and context. And the historian could check records or interview other witnesses to confirm what the Colonel said. The historian has something to add to personal accounts.

I haven't read Leslie's book so I don't know if this applies or not but in general, a writer can discuss more than just personal NDE accounts such as interviews with doctors, and researchers, and family members, to tell the reader more than just the experiencer's account. Some people might be more inclined to believe a book that interviewed other witnesses that corroborated the experiencers account of events before and after the experience, and also explained why the researchers felt the experiences could not be explained by physiological or psychological causes.
 
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I've just been reading some of the book (on line). She's got an original manuscript by Pam Reynolds which holds some extra details, very interesting !
Is that so, Tim?! That would be great. If there is some material that we can insert in a new edition of The Self Does Not Die, that would be most welcome.

BTW, ALEX, she was talking about veridical NDE's. It is not clear to me whether you mentioned to her something about our book The Self Does Not Die, which contains many NDE's with veridical perceptions that were confirmed by independent third parties.

Smithy

(Edit) PS - I just downloaded the Kindle version of her book. Very interesting indeed what I have seen thus far. The section on Pam Reynolds is also very interesting and provides some useful details we have not come across previously. But these are not world shattering...;)
A pity though that apparently Ms Kean was not aware of The Self Does Not Die. Some cases presented therein would have been very suitable for her book.
 
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Is that so, Tim?! That would be great. If there is some material that we can insert in a new edition of The Self Does Not Die, that would be most welcome.

BTW, ALEX, she was talking about veridical NDE's. It is not clear to me whether you mentioned to her something about our book The Self Does Not Die, which contains many NDE's with veridical perceptions that were confirmed by independent third parties.

Smithy

(Edit) PS - I just downloaded the Kindle version of her book. Very interesting indeed what I have seen thus far. The section on Pam Reynolds is also very interesting and provides some useful details we have not come across previously. But these are not world shattering...;)
A pity though that apparently Ms Kean was not aware of The Self Does Not Die. Some cases presented therein would have been very suitable for her book.
Thanks, Smithy. Her description is even more detailed than previously told. For instance she said she actually tried to communicate with Camilla M (the cardiovascular surgeon) I'm not going to say too much more about it but anyone who reads that and tries to suggest that it's some kind of confabulation needs their bumps feeling.
 
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Great interview! I do take a little bit of an issue with one of her comments:

"There’s two ways to explain it as far as I’m concerned, number one, the deceased people were communicating through her, which is what she was, absolutely 100% sure was happening and I have to say that personality traits came through as well; it wasn’t just information. Or the second possible explanation is that all the information was coming through, through the medium’s own psi, through her own telepathy and clairvoyance, that she was basically reading my mind, but maybe doesn’t realize that that’s what’s happening.

As far as I’m concerned there’s no other way to explain this and the issue is that many people in the scientific world won’t even accept the psi explanation, so they have to come up with it being fraudulent in some way but they can’t do that either. So I’m kind of interested to see how they’re going to respond to this."

To say there is no other explanation is a bit of a logical fallacy, I don't buy it. (Confession: I regularly listen to Matt Dillahunty to keep myself grounded. ;)) After reading the Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts and listening to a couple of Seriah Azkath's interviews with George Hansen and Jeff Ritzmann, I'm convinced we can never be 100% sure of exactly who or what we are communicating with or if we are getting accurate information, no matter how persuasive it is. The trickster card should ALWAYS be assumed to be in play.
 
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"Do you think this book will make a difference?"

Yes and no. I think it will help people who might not be aware of the empirical evidence of the afterlife to learn about this important subject. For those people it can be an important life changing event. But I am not aware of anything particularly unique about this book (I haven't read it) that would distinguish it from the many other very good books on the subject so I am not expecting it to trigger a paradigm shift.
Taking that thought further, I can't think of any book that has in itself caused a paradigm shift. As history and social engineering seem to reveal, what causes paradigm shifts (at least with the masses) is exposure to a few simple, repeated ideas. Most people's attention span is limited to just that. But to those who think things through, the cumulative weight of such works as Leslie Kean can be helpful.

It's like how Alex confronts critics of NDEs etc.: he pummels them by citing high-credibility studies one after the other. It's so devastating that it's quite amusing to witness. The last such encounter, with Ed May, contained of course the embarrassing reaction by Ed May and then a request to change the subject (and later to delete the interview!).

The pseudo-skeptics, such as Ed May, Steven Novella, James Randy, etc. can't stand the weight of evidence. They run for their safe spaces!
 
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PS: As was mentioned in the interview with Leslie Kean regarding belief systems, these can be another huge barrier to a paradigm shift. From what I've seen, when followers/sheep of a belief system such as Xianity do have NDEs, they try to spin it as fulfilling their orthodoxy-heresy, believer-infidel dichotomous view of the world. Either that or they are too afraid to mention it to their fellow sheep because of fear of reprisals. After all, reincarnation and many NDE experiences are opposed to their pre-packaged idea of what happens after physical death.
 
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