From Publishers Weekly
Schwartz (The Living Energy Universe), director of the Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Arizona, proposes "working with a group of top mediums who have consistently received messages, supposedly from the dead," to investigate whether or not there is indeed life after death. Armed with consummate authority (e.g., logic, scientific research and the focus of a recent HBO documentary), the book progresses through the lab's findings. Of particular fun are the session transcripts, which include running commentary provided by lead investigators. (One sitter describes a medium's performance as "dead on.") That their data will convince readers, the authors believe, is a foregone conclusion: "[E]ven skeptics will begin to evolve as a result of these findings." Yet the story comes off like high-grade magic or a splendid infomercial. Despite the reliance on experts (such as magicians, scientists and videographers), the narrative has the suspect tone of a sideshow barker. All the same, Schwartz embraces an admirable passion for curious knowledge and adamantly resolves to uphold his survival-of-consciousness hypothesis until research proves otherwise.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Schwartz has long been interested in the possible survival of consciousness after death. With Simon's assistance, he reports on his and fellow psychologist Linda Russek's increasingly scientific experiments to determine whether consciousness survives death--experiments that HBO publicized in a program that unfortunately downplayed the science in them. The second and third experiments involved some silent-sitter time, when the spirit mediums involved had to make observations without being able to ask questions, and also wholly quiet times. The results, particularly of the second and third experiments, showed definite examples of precognition and surprisingly accurate observations by the mediums. Lengthy presentation of some of the sessions with the mediums figure in the text, and 90 pages of scientific reports demonstrate the scientific foundation for Schwartz and Russek's work, as does their earlier book The Living Energy Universe
(1999). The Afterlife Experiments
should provoke considerable discussion, which, once the reactions of those who refuse to look at the data are discarded, should be of value for further investigation in this controversial field. William BeattyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved