Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people and about spiritually related topics. We’ve done over 600 of them now, and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So, if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there is a PayPal button on every page of the website, and there’s also a page explaining some alternatives to PayPal.
My guest today is Julie Beischel, Ph.D. Julie is the co-founder and director of research at the Windbridge Research Center. She received her Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology with a minor in microbiology and immunology. We’re not going to be talking about any of those things today because– What were you going to say, Julie?
Julie: I said, “Oh, no, that’s all I prepared to talk about.”
Rick: Well, tough. We’re going to talk about spelunking. Actually, her current research mainly focuses on mediums, individuals who experience communication with the deceased. Dr. Beischel has published research examining mediums’ accuracy and their experiences, psychology and physiology, and the potential therapeutic application of mediumship readings during bereavement. Her research interests also include spontaneous, facilitated, assisted, and requested after-death communication experiences. She lives in Arizona with her husband and research partner, Mark Boccuzzi, and their two dogs.
The reason that we cover this kind of topic on BatGap – last week I interviewed Jim Tucker about reincarnation, and I’ve interviewed people on out-of-body experiences and various related things – is that I feel that that’s part of the topography of the universe, that we don’t live in a strictly materialistic universe and when the body dies, that’s not the end of us. And even though it might not be directly germane to the topic of enlightenment and self-realization and all, it is part of the picture, and all the religious or spiritual traditions of the world have discussed it. So, I feel like we should discuss it. And it’s not something that I think people necessarily have to believe in, but there’s actually a lot more reason to take it seriously than many people may realize, because the topic, especially the topic of mediumship, is often treated facetiously. I actually interviewed Bruce Joel Rubin, who won the Oscar for the movie Ghost, in which Patrick Swayze sang “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” over and over again to Whoopi Goldberg, who was playing a medium, until she agreed to cooperate with him and let him communicate through her. In any case, it’s a serious topic, and Julie Beischel has been taking it very seriously for, what, 15 years now, studying it?
Julie: Yeah, I was introduced to the topic around 20 years ago, and I’ve been doing research for at least 15, yeah.
Rick: Yeah. I thought I’d start with a few nice quotes that I picked up from your books that I read. Here’s one from a Tibetan Buddhist tradition. They say, “When you’re born, you cry, and the world rejoices. When you die, you rejoice, and the world cries.” Here’s one from William James. “I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible.” Here’s one from Lao Tzu. “What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” And here’s one from Rabindranath Tagore. “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” Those are nice. So, Julie, how did you go from the study that I just described, toxicology and pharmacology and all that, to getting interested in this topic and making it your career, really?
Julie: The short answer is, while I was in grad school, I suffered a personal loss. My mom died from suicide. My family is remarkably Catholic. And so, I had this idea. I’d heard about this place called heaven, but it was very not concrete at all. I never heard of psychic abilities or mediums or anything. It was at the time that John Edward was on that show, “Crossing Over,” and I saw that.
Rick: Yeah, I used to watch him.
Julie: Yeah, and I thought, well, those people look genuinely moved by what he’s saying, and it seems pretty specific. But I’m a scientist. I’ve always been a scientist. I would have to check that out for myself. So, I got a recommendation for a local medium, and I went, and it was very evidential. I had read a little bit about how fraudulent mediums can fool you. So, I was on the lookout for that kind of things, and none of them happened. I got this reading, and it was really profound, as if I just talked to my deceased mother. It was just weird. As a scientist, I wanted to learn more and more, and there hadn’t been anything done in a long time, really. So, I decided, I think I should look into it. And the universe was, like a kick in the pants, as if to say, “here you go. That’s what you’re going to do with your life now.” And all these pieces just fell into place. In 2008, Mark and I founded the Windbridge Institute, then in 2017, we moved all that life-after-death mediumship research to the new Windbridge Research Center, which is a 501(c)(3) charity.
Rick: Great. So, people can donate to it if they want to help support it.
Julie: That would be great.
Rick: Yeah. Incidentally, I have a friend who lives there in northern Arizona named George. Hi, George. He happens to be Harry Houdini’s great-nephew.
Rick: And I mention that because Houdini was really interested in this topic and really tried hard to find some credible evidence of it, and I’m not quite sure he ever succeeded. It seems to me that evidence of the continuation of life-after-death, whether through mediumship or out-of-body experiences, near-death experience reports and all, could have a major impact on people’s psychology and how they actually view life itself, not only how they might view death, don’t you think?
Julie: Oh, yeah. I think fear of death is so insipid. We don’t even know how scared of death we are as individuals, and so, you don’t really know how it’s affecting your decision-making ability and what it’s impacting. There’s a theory called terror management theory which says, because of your fear of death, you know you’re going to die, so you do not want your worldview to die. Then you try and impose it on others. So, when people are reminded of their own death, they’re even more adamant about trying to push their own worldviews on others. If you’re reminded that, hey, maybe there’s an afterlife and you’ll live on, they don’t have that tendency. There are all kinds of examples of that, how the fear of death can impact our just moving through the world. So, it does have an impact, whether you believe that it’s important in your life or not, because you don’t know anyone that has died, it is important in your life, because of these issues about fear of death.
Rick: That’s very interesting. I’ve often felt that the tendency to be fundamentalist and adamant about one’s perspective had an underlying fear, you know, either a fear or a doubt in one’s own belief, and you’re trying to buttress up the belief by pounding it into others, or something like that. So anyway, what you said, I found very interesting. There’s a section in one of the papers you sent me where you have a conversation at Thanksgiving or something with a hypothetical Uncle Harold. So, I thought I’d start maybe by bringing up some of Uncle Harold’s skeptical questions and see how you would answer them. So, the first one is, “there’s no way science can study something like mediumship.”
Julie: Okay, so science is not a body of knowledge, it is a set of tools for answering questions. So, it is a set of steps, make an observation, make a hypothesis, test the blah blah blah. It’s a bunch of steps. So, if you can observe it, you can use science to investigate it. We can look around in the world, there are humans providing readings to other humans, and the content of the reading is specific – it’s about a deceased person. So now there are all kinds of questions we can ask about that phenomenon. But of course, science can investigate this, and I’ve been doing so for nearly 20 years.
Rick: Yeah, and this is not Uncle Harold’s question, this is mine, but when you test a medium and various information comes through, I presume that some of it is objectively verifiable. The medium might say, “Well, so-and-so is saying that, I don’t know, there’s a grandfather clock in her home and it broke and it’s set to 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” or something like that. You can give me a better example. So, in other words, it’s not just a matter of subjective opinion or belief or things that can’t be verified.
Julie: That’s correct. So, when we bring it into the lab and study it at the Windbridge Research Center, what we do is a two-fold approach. We have an optimal environment for the medium and the sitter and the deceased, because you can’t put them underwater and go, “They didn’t do a reading, so it’s all fraud.” You have to mimic the natural environment as close as possible. That’s one piece. And then the second piece is optimal controls. So, you have to eliminate, as much as you can, the other explanations for what it could be. So, we can’t let the medium have any access to the sitter, to where they can Google them or look things up.
Rick: So, the sitter is a living person who wants to contact their mother or someone like that, and that’s what ‘the sitter’ means.
Julie: Yeah, sorry, thank you. So, there’s a lot of terminology in this. Yeah, the sitter is the living person who wants to receive messages, and then we call the deceased person the discarnate. I’ll try and not use that word, but if I use it, that’s referencing the deceased person. So, in our protocol, which we have nicknamed, it’s quintuple blind. There’s five levels of blinding. This gets really complicated, and I have talked about this. I’ve written about this elsewhere, and there are free fact sheets and other videos and things on our website at Windbridge.org where I go through all of these details. But essentially, we control for all those things. The medium doesn’t have access to the sitter. I serve as a proxy sitter in place of the absent sitter, and I ask the medium specific questions about the discarnate. So, they can’t just say, “Your father loves you. Five stars, right?” We ask about the physical description, the personality, hobbies or activities, and cause of death and then if the discarnate has any specific messages for the sitter. That information is transcribed and scored, and the sitter receives two readings. One is theirs, and one is what’s called a decoy, and they don’t know which is which. So that controls for a psychological phenomenon called reader bias, where maybe you’re going to give the medium the benefit of the doubt because of your personality type, and you’re going to score everything. Or maybe you’re very skeptical, like Uncle Harold, and you’re going to score everything as wrong. So, that evens out the reader bias across the study. We did that 58 times with 20 pre-screened mediums, and it did show that at least these mediums can report accurate and specific information about the deceased under blinded, controlled laboratory conditions.
Rick: Maybe as we go along, you’ll give us some specific examples of that. I understand that you have a fairly rigorous screening process or testing process for these mediums before they can work with you.
Julie: Yes, we have an eight-step screening and certification procedure. So, the mediums are interviewed, they perform test readings to say, “Can you really do,” under controlled laboratory conditions, “can you do what you’re saying that you’re doing in your regular practice?” They’re trained on human subjects, research protocols, on the history of mediumship research, a little bit on grief and bereavement. So, it takes months and months to complete its eight steps. And at the end, the medium is certified as a Windbridge-certified research medium, but it’s very time and resource intensive. So, we received a grant to be able to collect our current team that we have, and then we needed to close the screening, so we’re not screening any mediums anymore.
Rick: Okay. I’ll just ask Uncle Harold’s second question, because I can’t remember what I was going to ask. His second question was, “But all mediums are frauds and con artists taking advantage of the bereaved,” which is what Whoopi Goldberg was doing in the movie “Ghost,” you know, until Patrick Swayze came along.
Julie: Right. I think in the case of that movie, she was a real medium, but maybe it’s not easy to do. We’ve put together this team of 20, two have retired, there are now 18. They can do it on demand, but maybe not everybody can. And, if you have to make a living at it and you’re forced to do it on demand every day, maybe sometimes you fake it, as in the case of that movie. But we can disprove the idea that all mediums are con artists by saying, “I brought these 20 in the lab. I blinded the heck out of the protocol. There was no way they were committing fraud. They had no information, and they still were able to provide accurate information.” So, hypothesis disproven, Uncle Harold.
Rick: Actually, I remembered my other question, which was that a lot of these mediums are professionals at it. Do they have a Windbridge “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval thing that they can put on their websites once you’ve tested them and they work with you?
Julie: Yes, they do. They volunteer their time. No money changes hands, so we don’t pay them. They don’t pay us, but, as a service to the public, we have that list available on our website in case people want to go to a medium that’s been vetted by a scientist. They can pick from that list. And we want to reward the medium since they’re volunteering their time. They volunteer their time to research, and we want to reward them. We want to give something back. So yeah, they have badges for their websites that say Windbridge Certified Research Medium.
Rick: Cool. Irene and I had a reading from a medium one time, and she’s somebody we know quite well. I don’t want to name her. But it didn’t pan out. She got stuck, maybe we had our psychic shields up or something. It didn’t cause me to doubt her ability, because I’ve seen ample evidence of it elsewhere. But somehow, she just hit a wall with us.
Julie: It’s a really important point. So, a mediumship reading involves three people, right? The medium is just one. There’s also the sitter and the deceased person. So, if the deceased person, we don’t know how it works exactly, maybe they haven’t learned how to do it yet. Maybe they don’t like this particular medium. Maybe they don’t think you’re ready to hear from them. There are all kinds of things out of our control. Yeah, if the sitter is really skeptical, that can disrupt, if I died and then you were at a medium and you thought, “I don’t believe any of this.” Then why would I come and talk to you, right? If you were a skeptic. So, all three of those people have to be at their best on that day. There are people who we attempted to certify and didn’t pass the certification that day and were really quick to say they didn’t achieve passing scores with that discarnate on that day with that sitter. So, we can never say they’re not a good medium overall or they are a good medium. I can’t say that the mediums on our team are going to be good every day with every sitter. Because, again, there are three people and people are people and they all don’t get along.
Rick: Yeah, babe Ruth didn’t hit home runs every time. In our case, I think we were open-minded about it. But, you know, we were trying to contact our mothers and stuff. And who knows, this was years after our mothers had died. Maybe they had moved on to some other level, realm or something and just weren’t around to connect with.
Julie: Our data has shown that it can be decades later that it is possible. That is not a thing people have to worry about. Oh, that is definitely something that happens. The person is no longer available. That’s not what we’ve seen in the research.
Rick: Okay, good. Here’s another question from Uncle Harold. You’ve already kind of covered this, but maybe you can embellish it a bit. “There’s no good evidence for mediumship or psychic abilities.”
Julie: Well, there’s plenty of evidence for psychic abilities. So, just a couple years ago, there’s a university in Sweden called Lund University. A psychology professor there, Ethel Cardenia, did a review of over 125 published papers and meta-analyses and concluded that, yeah, there’s ample evidence that psychic functioning is real. And that replicated what University of California statistician Jessica Utz had published in 1995 saying the same thing. And her study was – I don’t know if it was funded, but it was definitely encouraged by the CIA and Congress. And so those were her findings that she reported. And in her paper, she said, “This is a done deal. This is so obviously real, we can stop studying it. We can stop trying to prove it.” And we didn’t. That was 1995. And we keep doing it. We keep trying to show that it’s real. And it is. Consciousness can access information across space and time. That has been repeatedly demonstrated in the laboratory. And then what mediumship is, is a kind of psi, right? They’re using telepathy, they’re using mind-to-mind communication to communicate with the deceased. So, it’s a type of psi.
Rick: It’s interesting that the body of human knowledge, even human scientific knowledge, is so siloed, so segmented. I’ve interviewed Dean Radin a couple times and others at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and others in this kind of genre. And, they all say, “Well, there are just so many scientists, perhaps the majority of them, who just won’t even look at our research.” Because they just say, “Well, it couldn’t be possible, therefore I’m not going to waste my time.” This is closed-mindedness. Anyway, any comments on that?
Julie: Well, the world and science have a long history of that sort of thing happening, of paradigms being really difficult to overthrow, right? The Earth is the center of the universe, the Sun is revolving around the Earth. That took forever for people to really look at the data and say, “No, that’s not how these bodies are moving through space.” So, it’s no wonder this is going to take a bit, the joke is that paradigms fall one funeral at a time, right? Just wait for all the people to die off who are the staunch supporters of these theories that don’t have the data behind them.
Rick: Yeah, I think I talked about this with Jim Tucker last week. There’s a word for it, I forget the word, but it’s kind of the stability of paradigms. It’s good in a sense that they can’t just be overturned with the slightest bit of an anomaly. But on the other hand, they often seem too stubborn, too rigid. And it really takes a certain critical mass of contradictory evidence before they finally give way.
Julie: Definitely, yeah. It’s so unscientific to say, “Well, this can’t be real, so I’m not even going to look at the data.” That is opposite to science. And anyone who calls themselves a scientist and then says something like that, they’re not a good scientist. I’ll just say that.
Rick: That’s why David Lorimer and others started the Galileo Commission, because Galileo’s contemporaries in the Church said exactly that thing. They said, “Well, Jupiter couldn’t have moons, or whatever you say is out there, because it contradicts Church doctrine. Therefore, we’re not going to look through your telescope.”
Julie: Right, yeah. So, this data that I collected, 58 readings, 20 mediums, that was published in 2015 in a peer-reviewed journal. It’s out there, and it’s real. So, let’s move on as a society and go, “Okay, how can we use this to be better people, to treat bereavement, to alleviate fear of death, etc.” Again, one of the things is trying to push our belief systems on others.
Rick: Yeah. I think one of the reasons this spooks mainstream scientists so much is, firstly, they would be ridiculed if they actually showed interest in mediumship or something like that. Many of them fear that they would be. But also, the materialist, physicalist paradigm is really the predominant paradigm, and this kind of thing challenges that. So, what we’re really asking them to do is completely restructure their worldview from the bottom up. And you can’t blame them for not just saying, “Okay, I’ll do that.”
Julie: Yeah, exactly. There’s the idea that, if people are studying neurology and the brain, and we’re going, “Ah, it’s really not that important, consciousness is separate from that, and it’s primary,” then it discounts their life’s work. Of course, you would be hesitant to jump on board with that. And then the other piece is, there’s no funding for this kind of research, essentially. And scientists are people and like to eat and sleep indoors, so of course they’re going to stick with the things that can get funding.
Rick: Yeah, and of course, the widespread acceptance that consciousness is fundamental and is not merely created by the brain would not put neurophysiologists out of business, because it would open up a whole new arena for study. How is it that the brain is a transmitter-receiver for consciousness? How does that work? Where are memories stored? And all kinds of things like that.
Julie: Yeah, you’re right. It doesn’t put an end to their life’s work, it opens up a bunch of new avenues.
Rick: Yeah. As a matter of fact, I’d say they’re going down a dead end if they’re spending all their time just trying to figure out how the brain creates consciousness. It’s a wrong hypothesis to begin with.
Julie: Right, yeah. And there’s so much data that supports this, all the psychic phenomena data is support. If consciousness can acquire information across space and time, then it can’t be stuck inside the skull. So, there’s all that, and then there’s all kinds of evidence of memory not being stored in the brain. If it were, then when people had strokes, localized strokes, they would lose specific kinds of memories, and that’s not how it works. So, there is all this mainstream evidence that consciousness is not created by the brain. Clearly there is a relationship between the two, but it’s as you said. I think the better explanation is that the brain is the receiver of this external, non-local consciousness that’s primary.
Rick: Yeah, like a radio. It’s a helpful metaphor, you know. The radio doesn’t create the music, and if the radio breaks, the music doesn’t cease. Another radio could pick it up, but it’s a transmitter/receiver kind of thing, depending on the kind of radio. Irene has a question. Have you tested many that have highly developed abilities? For instance, there are a couple of well-known mediums that it would appear are extremely accurate most of the time, at least the ones you see on television. You don’t know how much is being edited out, but do you find a big range in abilities?
Julie: What we found, we had an email list, and we put out an open call, saying we’re now screening mediums because we got this grant, and there were already hundreds of mediums on there. Of the mediums we screened, about 25% couldn’t pass. Again, it was on that day with that deceased person and that sitter. So, I’m always cautious. I always caution people, when you see a medium say on their website, “Oh, I’m 90% accurate.” What does that mean? Is that your best? Does that mean on average? Is that with a specific kind of death? These kinds of numbers are really meaningless. So, if someone gets paid more and is famous, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a better medium. It’s just what the market will bear. So, for the team that we put together, we were looking for research mediums, people who understood the limitations of research. That we have to follow these rules, and with blinding and all those sorts of things, and we wanted people who were just as interested in the answers as we were and could dedicate the time. Someone who’s famous or has a TV show, they don’t have that time anyway, and it’s not as if they would bring more to the team because they’re famous. What we were looking for were people who could participate on a team in a research setting.
Rick: What’s your impression of some of the famous ones like John Edward or Teresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium?
Julie: I haven’t tested them in the lab, so I don’t have any opinion.
Rick: Well, you’ve watched those shows probably. I mean…
Rick: No, you haven’t? Wow.
Julie: No. Do you think ER doctors watch ER? I don’t know.
Rick: Maybe not. It would be like a busman’s holiday.
Julie: If I watched those, I would just be angry at the unblindedness of it. And yeah, there is a lot of editing, right? In my understanding, the way those shows are shot, there is a camera on the person as they come in the door. So, they’ve clearly already signed a release before they came in the door. So, it’s a lot less reality than it seems with all the editing.
Rick: Yeah, yeah. Okay. A question came in from Chris on Long Island, speaking of Long Island Medium. It is similar to the one I asked, but perhaps you can embellish a bit. He said, or she, “What is the highest level of accuracy achieved by any one Windbridge medium, and are there any readings that really amaze you personally?”
Julie: Yeah, we don’t look at it like that because it’s not scientific, all that doesn’t mean anything. The best one or the worst one, it doesn’t mean anything. We just want to see is the phenomenon real? So, we average everything. And these are the only meaningful numbers, these averages. And what’s interesting is under these quintuple-blinded conditions, on average, the mediums scored 50% accuracy. But that was statistically higher than what the decoy readings were scored, which was only 30% accuracy. And that is because people are only so different. So, if you say brown hair, that’s going to be applicable to more than one person. So, 30%, and I’ve talked to other researchers in other countries who do mediumship research, and they found the same exact number. About 30% of any reading could apply to any person, or could apply to a variety of people.
Rick: Yeah, and I should point out that 50% accurate doesn’t mean 50% like you’d get with a coin toss, because any degree of accuracy is pretty remarkable. People are coming up with things that they shouldn’t, couldn’t really know through mundane, ordinary means.
Julie: Right, yeah, that’s a good point. Thank you. That’s the percent accuracy of all the items, so each item gets scored. And then the other thing we do is, the sitter is given two readings. One is the one that was intended for them, that’s called a target reading. And then one is a decoy, and they don’t know which is which. And they do all the item scores, and then they give each whole reading a score. And then we say, “Pick which one of these two that you think is yours.” And with that, it’s not 90%, 50% accuracy is what would be expected by chance, but it’s higher than that. I’m sorry I don’t have that number off the top of my head, I want to say it’s like 63%? I don’t have that number in front of me. That’s okay. But regardless, the difference was statistically significant.
Rick: Yeah. Here’s another question from Uncle Harold. “If mediums were actually real, they could win the lottery.”
Rick: Uncle Harold is ruining your dinner.
Julie: Right. While you try…
Julie: That is not something that mediums report being able to do, and that’s not how psychic functioning works. That’s a lot of data to pull in, six numbers, that’s a lot of data. So even the best of psychics would have difficulty with it. That is not in line with the psychic abilities that have been demonstrated in the lab. And it’s not something mediums say they can do, so why would you expect that they could do that?
Julie: It’s just illogical.
Rick: It also suggests that they should be able to foresee the future, because those numbers haven’t been drawn yet.
Rick: Right. Although I believe you did tell one story about a medium reading which did predict a future event, you know, about the Philadelphia Eagles?
Julie: Oh, yeah. The medium shared that she was doing a group reading and a grandmother came through, I think, and was talking to her daughter, the mother of the grandson. And the grandmother said to the daughter, “Your son,” the grandson, “is going to be really happy, come February 1st” or whatever. And he was a huge Eagles fan.
Julie: So that was her impression, that the deceased had spilled the beans on the people.
Rick: Yeah. You guys should have bet on it or something. [Laughter.] All right. Another of Uncle Harold’s questions was pretty much already answered. And here’s another final one from Uncle Harold. We’ve already touched on this, but I think there’s more we could say about it. “How could life after death even happen? When the brain dies, that’s it. Game over.”
Julie: Yeah, we did cover that. So, the theory of materialism says the brain creates consciousness. If that’s true, then yeah. If the brain is gone, then consciousness is gone. But that’s not true. I mean, think about how often our cells turn over. Every night a sixth of your skin gets replaced. So how could we possibly think that this body is somehow permanent and this brain is somehow permanent, when our body is turning over all the time? You know, so much of our body is bugs and viruses. So, it’s not even all you. It’s not stable. It’s not permanent. And so, this alternative theory to materialism is called non-local consciousness. So again, that’s the theory that consciousness is like a signal and the brain is just the antenna. So, as you said, when the radio breaks, the signal’s still coming out of the radio station. The consciousness can still exist outside of whether the brain is alive or not. And so that’s how it can continue to live after the body dies.
Rick: Yeah, that point about the bugs in our body, out of the many trillions of cells we have, most of them are non-human, the microbiome.
Julie: The data are equal numbers. There are as many of them as there are of us. They’re much, much smaller than we are, but there are as many of them as there are of us.
Rick: Okay. And there’s one other point to throw in here. And this came up in last week’s conversation with Jim Tucker about reincarnation. Because some people will distinguish, they’ll say, “Okay, fine, consciousness is non-local, but how is it that an individual entity continues once the body dies?” And so, there’s an explanation from Eastern traditions, which is the word “koshas” or “sheaths.” I’m actually showing a graphic of it on the screen right now. It means we have a subtle body which has various levels to it. And when the flesh and blood body dies, the subtle body continues on. And that’s the vehicle through which we could be communicating with others from the other side or through which we could reincarnate into another physical body. Just thought I’d throw that in there.
Julie: Yeah. That’s above my pay grade. I don’t know how this works. That’s not my job. My job is to bring it in the lab and see if it can demonstrate itself. And it can, but what that means in the larger sense, again, that’s above my pay grade.
Rick: Yeah. But do you ever contemplate it? Do you sort of think, “How does this work? Where are they exactly? Are they in a physical place, kind of broadcasting to us? Are they in a parallel dimension? Do they have bodies?” Do you ask yourself those kinds of questions, even personally, if not as a scientist?
Julie: Yeah, personally I do. Again, once I had that very first mediumship reading, and that’s the only mediumship reading I have ever had, but that really opened up things, “Well, wait, what else is my science textbook saying that isn’t true?” And it really opens up to start to think about these things. And, I have gone on to embrace other modalities of health care. I have a chronic neurological disease that’s not managed by Western medicine, so, I have to go and look elsewhere, and I’ve learned a lot about a lot of different things and found the things that work for me, and that supports this idea of non-local consciousness, or at least, that information can move through space and time.
Rick: So, you’re saying that your mediumship studies made you more open-minded and it impacted your personal life in terms of willingness to look into alternative medicine and things like that?
Julie: I don’t think I’m any more open-minded. I’ve always been a good scientist, so I’ve always followed the data. I just had never heard of those things, and once you put a crack in the façade, oh, a lot of things can spill through. And so, I just was around people that knew about all these other things and I looked into those because, again, when you have a chronic health disorder, you’re always on the lookout for something that can help.
Rick: Yeah. A question came in from Wendy Fellows in Altadena – I think that’s in California – which we’ve kind of answered, but I think there are a couple more things we could say about it. And her question is, “Is there any scientific way to prove there is an afterlife?” And the word “prove” jumps out at me there, because that’s a rather strong word for anything in science.
Julie: Yeah, scientists don’t try and prove anything. We ask questions and get answers. But we have collected – this gets very complicated – but so, we talked about whatever a medium is doing under blinded conditions, where they’re not using sensory information to get the information about the deceased person. They are using some kind of psi, they’re using some kind of psychic ability. Psi, the Greek letter psi, P-S-I, the word psi is an umbrella term that encompasses all these psychic abilities – telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. So, whatever a medium is doing is psi. So, once you control for the sensory things, you go, “It’s definitely psi,” but there are two kinds of psi that it could be. And this gets technical, but one theory is called survival psi, which is that the medium is communicating telepathically with the survived consciousness of the deceased person. And the other theory is called somatic psi. It’s based on the word “soma,” which means “body.” So, if they’re using somatic psi, they’re simply reading the body of knowledge in the psychic reservoir or they’re reading from the living sitter. So, we use the word “soma,” “somatic,” to represent the sitter and the psychic reservoir. It’s either one of those things. And no matter what a medium says, it could be either one.
So, let’s talk about the Eagles example, right, winning the Super Bowl. She could be using her own precognition to say that, or a deceased person could be telling that to her, and there’s no way we can tell the difference based on the content. You cannot determine source from content. So, we went a different way, and we asked the mediums about their experiences, and that field of study is called phenomenology, and there are all kinds of phenomenological research in all kinds of fields. But, if you ask a medium, they know what regular psychic functioning feels like, and communication from the deceased feels different. And so, we’ve done a number of research studies that qualitatively and quantitatively looked at those differences in the medium’s experiences, and we even did one where the mediums were blinded. So, we did do a target, do a reading for this target, and do another reading for that. And one was a living target and one was a deceased target, and they were blinded and they didn’t know which was which. And then we said, “Okay, now fill out this questionnaire about your experiences,” and we found that they experienced love to a greater degree when communicating with the deceased than when doing a psychic reading for a living person.
Rick: Interesting. I would suggest to Wendy that she could look, not only for the topic of today’s interview, there’s a categorical index on batgap.com, and one category is for out-of-body experiences. Those are very interesting, and they pretty clearly demonstrate that one can have conscious experience, even at a distance, when the body is incapacitated in some ways, and this is closely related to near-death experiences. So, there are a lot of things, and Jim Tucker’s reincarnation studies are very interesting. I won’t elaborate on them now, but I just did his interview last week. So, you could spend a few hours looking at those things, and I think you’ll find it convincing.
Julie: With the mediumship data, they’re reporting accurate information under blinded conditions, so there has to be psi, and when you look at the phenomenology data, they claim that they’re talking to the dead, and that’s what the data supports. So that provides scientific evidence that mediums are communicating with the survived consciousnesses of people who have died.
Rick: Yeah. A question came from Dan Mitchell in Sparta. I never know where these cities are. That’s either in Greece or in Georgia, I think, probably Georgia. Would you explain how a triple-blind study works? Now, you do quintuple-blind studies, but I guess he just wants to know a little bit more about this blinding process and for the non-scientists, what the word “blinding” means, let’s make sure we’re clear on that.
Julie: Okay, so blinding is a system used in research where different people are prevented from knowing different types of information. So, we call our protocol quintuple-blind because there are five levels of blinding. So, the medium is blinded to information about the sitter. The sitter is blinded to which reading was intended for them, and then there are three experimenters who are blinded to various pieces of information. I had previously published a journal article where we called it triple-blind, and it’s the same thing.
Rick: Oh, I see. Yeah.
Julie: Yeah, it’s that. And when that paper was published, I was working with research assistants, and we didn’t think of them as people. No, I don’t want to say that. But it’s really the same thing. It’s the same level of blinding in both cases. I know Jim Tucker hates that I use the term “quintuple-blinding” because he is a doctor, and double is as far as he’s willing to go. Either the people are all blinded or they’re not. And so, he doesn’t like that word quintuple. But we just want to demonstrate that there are five people involved in the protocol, and they’re all blinded to different pieces of information.
Rick: Good. So, you’re being very careful. That’s essentially it.
Rick: Okay. So, from things I’ve heard you say, it sounded as if you’re not taking on new mediums, and a lot of the mediums you were working with aren’t actively doing it anymore, at least with you.
Julie: No, just two. So, we still have a team of 18.
Rick: Oh, okay, because I was wondering what keeps you busy these days. So, most of them are still there, but you don’t need to take on new ones because 18 is enough.
Julie: Yeah. 18 is enough to have a good N for any study, a good number.
Rick: And so, are you learning new things? You’ve been working with these 18 for some number of years now. Is it the same thing over and over again, or are you breaking new ground?
Julie: That’s a good question. What we did in 2017, we thought, well, they’re representative of the larger population of mediums, so, whatever we find with them, it’s generalizable to mediums on the whole. And we said, well, let’s think about that. Is that true? So, what we did in 2017 was a survey study, and we asked mediums all over the country to fill out various questionnaires, and that sort of thing. And there were close to 130 mediums. We did one study, there are a lot of different pieces, but we compared mediums and non-mediums with psychology and their various scores on various tests. Some of the mediums were our Windbridge mediums, and some of them were self-identified mediums from the public, from the world. And so, we did a number of studies where we did look at whether these data are generalizable. Is our little population of Windbridge-certified research mediums representative of the larger population? And it looked as if that is the case. But we did collect a lot more information from this wider population of mediums.
Rick: I heard you say – perhaps it was in your book – that there is quite a higher than average incidence of certain health problems in mediums than in a general population, such as migraines and two or three other things you mentioned. You want to comment on that a little bit?
Julie: Yeah. So, what you read or heard, was from the Windbridge mediums, right? Just the ones on our team. And that’s one of the things that we did want to look at in the survey, because I have an autoimmune disease, and in just talking with him, I learned that a lot of them on our team had autoimmune diseases as well. I thought, “Well, is that common?” And so, in our survey, we did look at that. We did ask a bigger population of mediums, and it did ring true. So, the mediums in the study reported higher levels of incidence of autoimmune diseases than the non-mediums in the study who were matched for gender, race, and age. So, it was the majority – the average is white women in their 50s. That’s our population. So, if you look at white women in their 50s, predominantly, who identify as mediums, and compare them to white women in their 50s who identify as not mediums, the mediums report a much higher level of general disease burden. We just had a big list of symptoms in the different organ systems that people have. So, the mediums reported more general symptoms and more autoimmune diseases specifically.
Rick: I had a spiritual teacher for many years, and the first time I ever saw him on a course, he gave a whole talk about mediums, and he discouraged us from getting involved in it. He said it might be interesting information, it might be valid information, but it’s bad for the medium. It breaks down the mind-body coordination. He was referring specifically to a spirit or entity taking control of the medium’s personality or nervous system and putting them off in a corner and then speaking through them that way. And I don’t think that’s what your mediums are doing. I’ll stop there and let you comment.
Julie: Okay. Yeah, when mediumship research began in the 1880s, the mediums who were being studied would do readings, would be in seances, and they would achieve full trance. They would let what’s called a spirit control take over the body and speak through their throat and their voice. So, when the reading was over, you couldn’t do any phenomenology research with them because they weren’t there when the reading happened. They were unconscious, basically, so you couldn’t ask them about their experiences. That’s one of the reasons why we were able to do that in modern times, because most of the mediums do not achieve full trance or let a spirit control take over them. My personal theory is that is because women have rights now and we’re not going to let someone else take over our bodies. That is my personal opinion. But the data says that most mediums practicing in the U.S. aren’t achieving full trance. Some do. Some do sometimes. It’s a continuum. So, when I was hearing about the mediums on our team having these autoimmune diseases, that’s what I was thinking. Because the experience the medium has is what we call multimodal. They see things, they smell things, they taste things, and they feel things in their body. So, my theory was, oh, well, because you’re feeling so many people’s cause of death and ailments, your body is getting confused about what is self and what is other, and that’s why you’re getting autoimmune diseases. That doesn’t seem to be the reason. In our survey study, we looked at the idea of ACEs, adverse childhood experiences, and the mediums did score really high versus the non-mediums in having experiences of childhood abuse and trauma. And even in the mainstream literature, that connection is well established, that childhood trauma causes adult disease. So, my conclusion was that it’s not mediumship that causes disease; it’s childhood trauma that causes mediumship and disease.
Rick: That’s very interesting. Do you think it’s because somehow the childhood trauma just cracks us open in certain ways that we otherwise would not be opened?
Julie: That’s one of the theories. There are theories, and I think this is what your teacher might have been saying, that it interrupts the energetic pathways. It allows, even requires the development of psychic ability, because in that kind of situations, you don’t know where the danger is coming from. You have to be able to acquire information that there’s no way you could know otherwise. There’s no sensory, logical way you could know. So, you develop psychic ability to be able to predict where and when danger is coming. And then once you can do that, now you’re open to all these other kinds of psychic abilities.
Rick: Yeah. It almost seems like mediumship is kind of a curse and a blessing. It’s almost a wounding from having had these traumatic childhood experiences. You’re somehow damaged, but the damage somehow gives you capabilities you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Julie: Yeah, and I want to point out, because people in question chats like the one you have, have asked, “Well, does adult trauma result in mediumship?” No, there’s no data that adult trauma results in medium or psychic ability. So please don’t put yourself in danger in an attempt to acquire psychic ability.
Rick: Yeah, right. Before we get too far from the thing we were discussing a minute ago, I want to bring up Edgar Cayce, who obviously, was a man, but he was also a trance medium. I don’t know, but I understand that when he came out of a reading, he didn’t know what he had said. He was gone, and all this stuff was just coming through him. Is that right?
Julie: I don’t know specifically. I won’t comment on Edgar Cayce specifically, but that is the general idea of what happens when mediums go into full trance. So, the term “trance medium” isn’t really accurate because some mediums, even in their own practice, they’ll go into different levels of trance. So, we talk about two kinds of mediumship. Mental, where a medium receives communication from a deceased person and conveys the messages to the living. And then there is what is called physical mediumship, where the medium is at the center of physical phenomena, like voices, apports: objects that just appear out of thin air, things like that. So those are the two kinds. And the level of trance in either one of those is all along the continuum. So, some physical mediums might go into full trance, and mental mediums might go into full trance. And some of each type have very shallow trance consciousness.
Rick: Do you happen to know whether Edgar Cayce was traumatized as a child?
Julie: I do not know that.
Rick: And you don’t probably know whether he was unhealthy as a result of his mediumship or anything like that?
Julie: No, I don’t know.
Rick: I’m sure that information is available. I was just curious. Question from Irene. “The readings I have seen in which the deceased relative very clearly comes through seem to always happen when the living relative is harboring some deep guilt or grief. The deceased friend or relative comes through with messages of forgiveness and love and allows the living person to greatly lighten their load and move on. The most profound and accurate readings I have seen have a real need or purpose to them. I find this very inspiring.”
Julie: So, my expertise is in this bringing mediumship into the laboratory, and in our readings, we ask these very specific questions. What did the person look like? How did they die? Those sorts of things. But one of the questions we do ask is, does the person have any messages for the sitter, the absent sitter, who will read this in a transcript? Because we do want to optimize the environment. The purpose of a mediumship reading is to connect. We talk about it as triangulated, right? It’s a three-part system where the medium connects the deceased person with the sitter. And so, of course, why would you want to connect with the people in your life? It would be to say things like that. If there are unresolved things in a relationship, whether the person is in their body or not, then, there would be impetus to bring those things up and to talk about those things. It just makes sense.
Rick: Yeah. I’ve heard you mention physical things that could even be detected with a camera, such as tables shaking or things breaking or that kind of stuff, things levitating or whatnot. Have you actually ever witnessed any of those things in your studies, or are these just anecdotes that you’ve heard in this realm of mediumship?
Julie: When physical mediumship is defined, that kind of things are listed in the literature in all of the books. My studies are with mental mediums. My husband, Mark Boccuzzi has done research with physical mediumship. So, he did some studies with table tipping and where he used thermal imaging cameras to document all kinds of cool things. It’s all technology, and it’s not my thing. I’ll let him talk to you about that at some point. But my primary research is with mental mediums, so I don’t really know a whole lot about physical mediumship.
Rick: So, in physical mediumship, is the medium somehow facilitating – well, I shouldn’t ask you – you just said you don’t know much about it. But anyway, I’ll just ask. Is the medium somehow facilitating those physical events, or is the presence of the medium making those physical events more likely to happen, as a way of convincing people that something’s really going on? Is that the point of it?
Julie: I don’t really know about the phenomenology of physical mediums. I know there’s a book called “Surviving Death” that journalist Leslie Kane put together. She had written a book about UFOs where she put evidence together from pilots and weather experts, and she basically just presented the data and said, “You decide what it is.” And she wanted to do the same thing again with survival research. So, I wrote a chapter in her book, Jim Tucker wrote a chapter in her book, and she does cover physical mediumship in that book. Again, it’s called “Surviving Death.” So, I would point people to that, or on our website, on the Windbridge Research Center website, windbridge.org, I know we have that journal article that Mark wrote, about his physical mediumship study that he did.
Rick: Okay, good. There’s a section in your book about animals coming through, with mediums. And everybody loves animals. You have a couple of dogs. We have a couple of dogs. You have some interesting stories you can tell about this?
Julie: We took our quintuple blind protocol and we replicated it with, instead of deceased people, it was deceased companion animals. And we saw similar data to what we see with people. And I presented this, the pilot data, what I’d collected at the time, at a scientific conference. The people from the conference get up and stand at the microphone to ask a question, and the line was nearly out the door. Scientists were sobbing. It really brings out a much different kind of grief, because there are people in the world who think, oh, it’s just a dog. Are you kidding me? It’s a member of my family, and I love her the same. And her consciousness, just because she can’t talk, doesn’t mean her consciousness is any different than ours. I think Socrates said, “The soul is the same in all living creatures, only the body is different.” It just makes sense. Why would we be the only ones that our consciousness survived? So, we did the study. The data looked good. We had to stop the study because it’s so blinded, right? The people don’t get to talk to the medium. They just get emailed. At the time, this was before online questionnaires were available, they just get emailed a Word document with a description. The people were suffering too much in the study and we didn’t feel it was ethical to keep doing that to people who had lost animals.
But lots of mediums bring through – that’s how we talk about it. I will try and stay on track with my sentence as we talk about this – there are three kinds of information that mediums bring through. The first is information identifying the discarnate. The second is things that have happened in the sitter’s life since the death. And the third are messages. If the medium just started out with, “He says he loves you,” that’s not meaningful. You have to identify the person first. “Prove to me it’s you,” and then, “Prove to me you’re still around.” So, we talk about those three kinds of things as, “It’s me, it’s me. I’m here, I’m here. I love you, I love you.” So, with the “it’s me,” one of the things that was coming through in the research with deceased people was, the discarnate would say, “Oh, I have the little white dog with me.” And so, we were seeing animals were coming through, and so that was the observation that we made. We replicated the protocol with deceased animals. And again, it works, and lots of mediums report animals, and some of them specialize in bringing through deceased companion animals. And it works, but again, just the ethics. Because it’s a different kind of grief, we just weren’t able to continue that study.
Rick: We had a cat die one time many years ago, and for several days after she died, we kept being woken up at night by hearing her cry. And it wasn’t as if she had been crying a lot before she died. We were just woken up by a cat crying sound, and our windows weren’t open or anything like that. We really felt like she was talking to us.
Julie: Yeah, and lots of people have this kind of experiences, and we would call that spontaneous after-death communication, right? It was your phenomenology. It was your experience that that was your cat. And so, we have to take that seriously. That was your experience. And a lot of people report spontaneous after-death communication experiences from their deceased people and their deceased animals. So, at the Windbridge Research Center, our primary mission is to alleviate suffering around dying, death, and what comes next. So, we want to be able to normalize this kind of things so that when you tell someone that story, they’re not reacting as if, “You’re a lunatic.” Right? We want to put it in the world that, “No, these are real experiences. It is valid. Consciousness survives. Of course, it can come back and talk to you or cry at you,” whatever the case may be. And the way that we accomplish our mission is by performing rigorous scientific research and then creating free educational materials. So, with our educational materials, we want to be able to show people these are real experiences. They have science behind them, and they’re normal, and we need to stop discounting them, and we need to stop disparaging them in our society.
Rick: Yeah. So, are those educational materials on your website?
Julie: They are.
Rick: Yeah. It’s interesting, I mentioned I interviewed Jim Tucker last week, who studies children who remember past lives. I put up a notice of that interview on my Facebook page, and a number of people chimed in and said, “Oh yeah, my kids, when they were two or three years old, they were talking about past lives.” And, the people never reported it to anybody or did anything about it, but it made it sound like it was a common phenomenon. And in fact, Jim and I were talking about how it may happen way more commonly than we realize, because perhaps even before kids are verbal, they’re remembering things clearly, but they can’t express it. So, I wonder if in the same vein, there is a lot of mediumship stuff going on, and you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of people who actually pursue it as a career or get in touch with you about it or anything like that.
Julie: Yeah, definitely. And one of the reasons why it’s important to be studying mediums, is that people are getting readings from mediums, and we need to understand that better. So, we did the accuracy testing, we’re doing the phenomenology, and we’re looking at disease burden and childhood trauma and these kinds of things, psychology. What we found in our research was mediums, again, compared to non-mediums of the same gender, race, and age profile, are less neurotic. On a different test, their psychological well-being is stronger. So, the mediums are not crazy, they’re not weird, their psychological well-being is actually stronger than non-mediums in our study. So, these are the kinds of things that we need to understand, and who should be getting a reading, and when, and what kinds of deaths are maybe better for it or worse for it. And so, we serve four populations at the Center, the general population, mediums, researchers, and clinicians. So, what do healthcare providers, mental health care professionals, and general health providers need to know about mediumship? If they have a higher disease prevalence, then maybe your general practitioner should know that. When you come in and say, “I’m a medium,” they know to look for these kinds of things because you may have a higher tendency to have these things. And we also want to train mental health professionals. I work with a licensed social worker from Texas. Her name is Beth Christofferson, and she was really interested in that. Many years ago, several years ago, the World Health Organization called out that religion and spirituality were important for people’s health, and they started putting together questionnaires that doctors are supposed to ask patients about religion and spirituality. But none of these questionnaires includes questions about the afterlife or experiences that you’ve had with your person that you may have lost. So, Beth put together an instrument, and she and I wrote a paper, and the paper is free and the fact sheet is free on our website where it’s an instrument that clinicians can use. Because what she was hearing from her colleagues was, “I don’t talk about the afterlife in my practice because I don’t know how to ask. I don’t know what to say.” And so, she put together this instrument that clinicians, mental health professionals, can use in their practice to feel confident in being able to talk about the afterlife, because people want to talk about it. They want to know it’s not weird. They want to know it’s common. And so, this instrument includes directions, if you want to point people to other resources, it trains clinicians on how to incorporate afterlife beliefs and experiences into their mental health practices.
Rick: I know Dannian Brinkley, who had a bunch of near-death experiences. He ended up dedicating himself, maybe he’s still doing it, to working in homes where people are going to be dying pretty soon. I forget what you call those homes. But assuaging people’s fear of death based upon his own experience that you don’t really die. And he is providing a lot of relief to people thereby.
Julie: Yeah, think about how much money families could save and society could save, if we really, really believed that consciousness is primary and even when the body dies, consciousness can continue to live on. What if we really believed that and we stopped trying to keep bodies alive and we just let bodies go? If bodies are going to die, that’s what bodies do. And we don’t know how much trauma that’s causing the consciousness, to be trapped inside the body for this extended amount of time where we just are keeping it alive on machines and causing ongoing trauma to the family watching that body suffer. If we, as a society, could decide, that you could decide and I could decide. When it’s my time to go, I’m going to go. I’m not going to hold on. I’m going to go when it’s my time. And we would save a lot of money and a lot of heartache and a lot of traumas to ourselves and our family if doctors stopped thinking of death as a failure. Bodies are going to die. It’s a part of life.
Rick: Yeah. I don’t know the percentages, but I’ve heard that a large percentage of the total health care expenditure in a person’s life, on average, is incurred in the final weeks or months, when they’re in intensive care and it’s just this huge expensive thing. And that has implications for being able to provide universal health care and make it affordable to the whole society.
Julie: Yeah. Yeah. These are really important pieces and mainstream research isn’t addressing these things. You know, we know through mainstream research, the closer a person, a patient is to dying, the less time the doctor will spend in their room in the hospital. So, at the Windbridge Research Center, we have a scientific advisory board of experts in the field. Jim Tucker is on our board of people to provide input on protocols. But we also have a clinical advisory board of mental health professionals and doctors who are working in intensive care and those sorts of things, watching people go through that process all the time. So, we need to get this information out. I don’t like to use the word pamphlet because it sounds like it’s an advertisement, but we put together a pamphlet about end-of-life experiences and what to expect. So that’s available for free on our website in the fact sheet section of the education page. So, you can print that out. It’s pretty… it’s comforting. And so, families of people who are dying and the dying themselves can look at that. And it’s not so scary. We know people die. A lot of people have died. We know what to expect. We know what’s coming. And if we were educated about, if people were educated about that, it would be less scary. So again, that’s what we’re trying to do at the center is alleviate suffering. So, we put together these free materials that people can use.
Rick: Yeah, most of the near-death experience people that I’ve heard or talked to, they don’t have a death wish, but they all say, “I’m kind of looking forward to it. I mean, I’m enjoying life, but I’m not at all concerned about dying. I’ve been there, done that, and it’s glorious.”
Julie: Yeah, I’m fascinated by it. What is it like to live and not be trapped in this meat bag? Right? Can I go anywhere? Can I know anything? I have a neighbor who lives two doors down from me, and she and her husband met in high school, and they went to college together. And I was at college at the same time that they were at college. We all went to the same college, but we never knew each other. So that’s going to be my first question when I die, “How many times was I in the same room with her? How many times did I pass her in the student union, and I never knew?” I want to know all those times. And so, I’m fascinated with this idea of not being trapped in the body. I did a presentation at a meeting, and then I wrote an article about it, and it’s called “You’re Not Even In There Now.” And it’s this idea, based on my medical background, tissue turnover and those kinds of things, and that we’re half bugs, and that, this isn’t me. And there’s a lot of cool research, mainstream research. They never talk about non-local consciousness in these mainstream papers, but there’s a lot of research where they do. There is one called “rubber hand illusion.” You put your hand on the table, and then they replace it when you’re not looking. No, you’re looking. You know what they’re doing. With a rubber hand, and then they stroke your hand at the time that someone else is stroking the rubber hand. And so, your mind goes, “Oh, okay, that’s our hand now? Okay.” And then if they hit it with a hammer, you will react with adrenaline because your body thinks that’s your hand. And it works with full body illusion experiments as well. It’s really easy to fool the mind into thinking that you are somewhere else. And so, we have constant feedback from our senses and proprioception where we feel like we are in the world, that it’s just continual evidence, “I’m in here. I’m in here. I’m in here.” But if you interrupt, it’s so easily interrupted, you’re just barely in there. It’s going to be easy to be done if we really learn how to do that, how to know we’re not really in here. And so, I’m interested in developing other ways that we can demonstrate that to the living, to the healthy living, “Oh, you’re not even in there now, so, it’s not scary that sometime soon you’re going to be not in here because you’re not even in there now.”
Rick: You remind me of a line from “Good Morning, Vietnam” where Robin Williams had to get up really early to start the radio show and he’s dragging himself down the hallway. He said, “I’m not even in my body.”
Julie: Yeah, and none of us are.
Rick: Yeah. Well, we are and we aren’t. I don’t want to get too abstract, but it’s what we really are, the universe is in us. We are not this little pinpoint of life in a vast universe. The vast universe is contained within an unboundedly vast self, which is what we are.
Julie: You know, it’s like when we think of, “Oh, we should take care of nature.” We are nature. We’re in nature. We’re part of nature. So, yeah, we’re part of the universe. We’re not separate from it.
Rick: Yeah, a few minutes ago, I was reminded of a story from Yogananda’s autobiography of where he had a pet deer in his ashram or something, and he overfed the deer on warm milk or something like that, and the deer was dying because it had gorged itself. And Yogananda loved the deer and he was holding it in his lap, and he was just sort of wishing and praying that the deer would live. And then at a certain point, the voice of the deer, or the spirit of the deer, came to him very clearly and said, “Let me go. It’s my time to go. You know, you’re holding me back.”
Julie: Yeah. I did that. I held on to the previous dog that we had. I did not want her to go. And she just was so lethargic, and it was as if she had really bad hip problems. She had trouble getting around. It was definitely her time. But I feel really bad about this to this day. I would not let her go. And at some point, we decided. She was lying down outside, and I called the vet, who does home house calls sometimes, and I said, “Can you come over and put her down in our house?” And while I was on the phone with him, she came over to me. She was just sitting down outside, all content. She got up, came over to me, and it was as if, “Yeah, what you’re doing is the right thing.” Yeah, yeah. And encouraged me to make this phone call to the vet. And imagine if we could do that with our human bodies. “No, it’s my time. Let’s get out of here. I’m done.”
Rick: Some people do sign waivers and stuff, saying, “Don’t sustain me on life support” or anything like that. I want to check out.
Julie: Right. Yeah.
Rick: Yeah. I was just reading about Richard Feynmann the other day, the physicist. He had some serious problem, and his kidneys were shot. And at a certain point, they said, “Well, we can put you on dialysis, and you’ll live a couple more months maybe.” He said, “No, man. I’ve lived a great life. I’ve accomplished what I want to accomplish. I’m out of here.”
Julie: Right. It’s this difference between the quantity of days versus the quality of life.
Rick: Yeah. We’re sort of really dwelling on this one point, but it needs to be dwelt on, I think. Still, the way the society functions, no matter what people may believe, so many Christians think you’re going to heaven or Hindus think you’re going to be reincarnated or whatever, it doesn’t seem to work out that way in practice. There’s so many people being kept alive beyond the point of hope of returning and having any quality of life, although there are rare examples where that kind of thing happens. But if we really understood that, when the physical body dies, that’s not the end of us. It’s like hanging on to a 1987 Chevy or something that you’re still driving around, and it’s breaking down all the time, you’re spending all this money on repairs, and you could be in a nice brand new one, maybe a Tesla.
Julie: Right. Yeah, we don’t know. Yeah, maybe we all get a Tesla when we die. We don’t know.
Rick: Tesla body.
Julie: Yeah, right. That would be awesome. I heard someone who had near-death experience was asked, “Well, when you were out of your body and looking down, what did you think of your body?” And she answered, “It was like a jacket. Like, yep, that’s my jacket, but if someone loses it, I’m not going to be upset about that.” That was the attachment that she had to the jacket.
Rick: Yeah. The Bhagavad Gita uses that very same metaphor. They say the body is like a suit of clothes, and just as you discard worn-out clothes and put on new ones, you do that with bodies.
Julie: Yeah. Yeah, I’m fascinated with what it’s going to be like to not be stuck in here, in what I lovingly refer to as the meat bag. You know, we’re in the body now. Let’s make the most of that, and then when that experience is over, let’s move on and do something else.
Rick: Yeah, when my mother died, she died of ovarian cancer.
Julie: I’m sorry.
Rick: Well, it was a long time ago, 30 years ago or more. She had tried to commit suicide three times herself, but then she wasn’t a pharmacist. So, she just took a lot of my father’s phenobarbital, and somehow, she was discovered, and her stomach was pumped, and she lived. Anyway, I got her onto meditation, and it really turned her around, and she lived quite a happy life for many years. But then when she was finally dying, I remember we were in the hospital room, and she was saying to the doctors, “Now, don’t try to keep me alive unnecessarily,” and all that. And then she finally checked out, and we were sitting in the room with her body, and my wife said that she heard her say, “Hi, Irene! It’s like whoop-de-doo, you know, this is really great, just saying hi.”
Julie: A couple of years ago, the NIH put it out there, a request for proposals. They wanted to study – I’ll get the word wrong. It used to be called terminal lucidity, I think it’s now called paradoxical lucidity because they didn’t want to have the word terminal to scare people. But they put out a call for proposals. We want to know more about paradoxical lucidity, which, if people don’t know, is when someone is in the throes of dementia or even in coma, and then they spontaneously become lucid or wake up and have a very intelligible conversation with you and then go back. Then a little later, it depends, then they pass over, they die. And so, I asked the mediums on our team, “Have you ever communicated in a reading with someone, and then you later found out from the sitter, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s my mom, but she’s not dead. She has dementia or she’s in coma.'” And they all said yes. Every single one of them said yes.
Julie: And so, I said, “Let’s look at that.” And the NIH said, “No, we’re not looking at that.” They were not interested. But that’s really important, right, because if someone’s in coma, they can’t tell you what they want, but maybe that’s something that a medium can do. And so, the way they were describing it, it was like one foot in, one foot out, and that they are coming and going and that they come back into the body, but then they’re also investigating and experiencing what the other side is like. They’re coming back and forth. So, what if, in that situation, the medium could communicate with the person and tell you what their needs were, right? If you didn’t have a DNR, a do not resuscitate order in place, but you were like your mom, you did not want to be resuscitated, and that paperwork wasn’t in place, maybe a medium could share that with your family for you. And then, again, that’s a lot less suffering that has to happen. So, there are all these socially applicable things that we need to investigate.
Rick: Yeah, this is an interesting thing. Perhaps we’ll even think of a few more of these before we’re finished. I’m fascinated by the whole practical implications of this thing, you know, when we’ve mentioned several. And it’s just worth noting also, that with terminal lucidity, sometimes this happens when people’s brains are physically deteriorated, you know, with advanced Alzheimer’s or something, and yet somehow, they’re able to function lucidly for a little while close to death.
Julie: Yeah, it’s physiologically impossible what happens. There’s one of the early cases. We publish a journal at the Center, it’s called Threshold, and the articles are all free on our website, on the Threshold website. And one of our contributors is an author, and she wrote a paper about this idea of terminal lucidity, paradoxical lucidity. And one of the early cases, which I think from the 1800s, was a woman who, she’d been nonverbal since she was six. She was in a home for people the family can’t take care of, so they just give them to the home. And the girl just hadn’t talked or moved. She couldn’t even feed herself, I don’t think. And then near the end of her life, she sat up and she sang a whole hymn, word for word, and then she laid back down and died. And so, this is not a new phenomenon, these cases have been around, and it is something that we should look at as a potential place we can alleviate suffering.
Rick: Yeah, and then there are other examples of people who have brain injuries or something, and all of a sudden, they become excellent jazz pianists or something, having never really learned to play the piano. All these abilities dawn, so there are implications regarding what the soul, or whatever we are ultimately, may know or possess, skills, knowledge, and all that. And perhaps we only manifest a certain small portion of it, but something can unlock it.
Julie: Yeah, the idea we talked about, that the brain is the antenna. So, lots of different verbs have been used: the brain is the receiver, it’s the mediator, it’s the transmitter, it acts as a funnel. That consciousness is probably bigger, but now it has to get vetted through this bag of fat inside your skull. It’s going to have limitations. So, when the brain isn’t really involved anymore, it brings up a good point, because people always ask, “Well, what kind of EEG studies are you doing?” And we did an EEG study with our mediums, and it did not go well. It’s not a good, it’s not an ideal method to study mediumship, because mediumship, you know, the phenomenology is they’re receiving it and saying it, right? They’re not editing what they say, they’re just a medium, they’re a translator. So, they’re hearing it and saying it. And with EEG, because of the artifacts that muscle movement makes, you can’t talk while EEG data is being recorded. So, it’s not a good method for studying mediumship in its natural environment, where they’re just talking spontaneously. So, then the other issue is, if it’s non-local, and the medium is talking to the deceased person who doesn’t have a body, well, maybe the medium’s consciousness is not in her body, and they’re talking like that. Maybe if we looked in the brain, if we did MRI studies, which are really expensive, we wouldn’t even see anything, because they’re not even in there when it’s happening. Again, we’re interested in what are the real-world applications of this. So, will that help anything to know that about what the brain is doing?
Rick: And of course, law enforcement would be another one. You know, the medium could say, “All right, describe the guy who murdered you. What was he wearing? What did he look like? Did he have a beard?” Things like that.
Julie: Yeah, and there are lots of cases. That was one of the survey questions that we asked, “Have you ever worked with law enforcement?” And a number of mediums said yes, and they listed the states and the cities and the departments that they worked with. And that does happen. And the law enforcement officers that have seen it happen will rely on it because they’ve seen it work, but they won’t be public about it. That’s very dangerous. I’m not mad at them. I can’t think of the right word. I’m not mad at them for not coming forward. That’s really dangerous for your career.
Rick: Yeah, they’re meat and potatoes guys, you know? They don’t want to sort of be woo-woo hippie types.
Rick: All right, we should wrap it up because this is long for you. Maybe this will lead us to a final sort of wrap-up point. Michael from Long Island again wants to know, “Is the research from Windbridge peer-reviewed, and are there other studies by other researchers that are trying to replicate your results?”
Julie: If I get lost, remind me of that second piece. So, yes, our data is all peer-reviewed. A lot of it is peer-reviewed four times. So, we apply for a grant. To be accepted, our application has to be vetted by our peers, by the people on the committee. Then we do the study, and then we write a final report, which gets vetted again by our peers. Then we submit an abstract for a conference proceedings, and that’s vetted by our peers. And then when we write a journal article and it gets published, that’s a peer-reviewed journal article. So, yeah, our research is definitely peer-reviewed a number of times over. And on the Windbridge Research Center website, windbridge.org, there’s a research page and an education page. And the top of the education page, the first category, is peer-reviewed journal articles. And so all of our stuff is listed there. The ones that we have access to are available. You can download those. Some of our papers are behind the journal’s own paywall. So, in those cases, we’ve written a fact sheet for free that summarizes the findings, and you can look at that. But, yes, peer-reviewed, yes.
Rick: And then he was asking about replication.
Julie: Oh, so our protocol requires a lot of experimenters, a lot of time. It’s very difficult. And so, it doesn’t get replicated like we would hope it did. There’s a group in Italy that’s currently working on a protocol similar to ours. But it’s, again, because scientists need to eat and sleep indoors, there’s no money for things like this. So not a lot of people are doing it. What would be the impetus for someone to adopt this to try and replicate this stuff? It’s career suicide. There’s no money. You’re going to get ridiculed. So, yeah, replication is the cornerstone of science, but in the real world, it’s really difficult. But our protocols are all out there. People can read it and do it whenever they want, but it’s really hard. It requires at least three experimenters, and it’s very time-consuming. You have to vet the sitter. You have to vet the medium. And so, no, it’s not easy to do.
Julie: But we hope more people do it.
Rick: So, if people got inspired by this interview to actually get a reading with the medium themselves, what advice would you give them?
Julie: So, on our website in the education page, there’s also a segment called “Fact Sheets,” and we have a fact sheet, and it is advice for sitters. People can look at that, but basically you want to sort of engage in a conversation with your deceased person. You don’t have to say it out loud. It can be in your head, that sort of thing. But I’d like to communicate with you, and I’m thinking about getting a mediumship reading. Please help me pick the one that you want to talk to. And then if you have a friend who got a good reading, and they tell you, they spontaneously tell you after you have that conversation, “Hey, I got a mediumship reading from this person,” maybe that’s the person you go to. We have a list of the Windbridge mediums on our website, and so if you’re going to use that, we suggest you look through. They have links to their website, so maybe you go through the websites, and one will speak to you. “Oh, okay, this one. I like, and my deceased person likes this one,” and then you do that. And then, leave your expectations at the door. Leave your assumptions, because that can really ruin a mediumship reading. So, the medium doesn’t have any control over who comes through or what they say. They’re just a translator. So be open to it, the right stuff is going to come through, you don’t have any control over who’s going to talk or what they’re going to say, and just be in the present and accept that for what it is. But again, this fact sheet has some more do’s and don’ts.
Rick: Sure. Okay, so I’ll be linking to your website and to your books and all that, and people can find that page on batgap.com and just hop from those links to your site and your books and so on. So, thanks so much, Julie. I know this is a bit difficult for you because of the autoimmune condition you mentioned, and I really appreciate your spending this much time. I hope it wasn’t too much of a strain or anything. I’ve really had a lot of fun talking to you and also preparing for this.
Julie: I’ve had fun, too. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah, I think I’m just about at my end of my energy.
Julie: I think we’re good.
Rick: We’ll wrap it up before you fall off your chair. So, thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. We really appreciate you being here, and next week will be a physicist named Peter Russell who’s written a book about effortlessness and naturalness in meditative practice. Go to batgap.com and explore the menus and see what you find.
Julie: Thank you. I should have mentioned, I encourage people to join our email list to be notified of when we have new papers and that sort of thing. I should have said that. I’m sorry.
Rick: We’ll leave that in. We’ll leave that in. What you’re saying right now, we’ll just continue this.
Julie: Okay. I encourage people to sign up for our email list, which you can do on our website at windbridge.org, to be notified whenever we have a new fact sheet or new free materials. We send that out to our email list, and we only send emails out about once a month.
Rick: Good. All right. Well, thanks for everything you’re doing, and take care, and maybe I’ll run into you one of these days at some conference or something.
Julie: Thanks so much for having me. It was a blast.
Rick: You’re welcome. Thank you. And hi to Mark and hi to the dogs.
Julie: Thank you.
Rick: Okay. Bye-bye.