From all that I glean from much of the reading and viewing that I have amassed regarding the afterlife, I am a different kind of skeptic.
I consider myself an optimistic skeptic, a variation of an open-minded skeptic. I want to believe in those wonderful visions of the other side that some mediums, near-death experiencers, and mystics put forward. I want to believe in ecstasy, thought manifestation, true freedom of information, and other wonders. I want to believe in the eventual deployment of the SoulPhone™ and the communication experiences it could offer.
But I ask a ton of questions.
I believe that a true skeptic continuously searches for alternative explanations. It’s done from a spirit of inquiry, not from a mandate to disprove someone’s claim or testimony. A big difference exists between wanting to take someone down in a vicious rhetorical debate and searching for the truth.
I’ve noticed, though, that some “believers” have little patience for skeptics who are often seen as surly warriors. In a simplistic good versus evil way, believers often perceive skeptics as bad, close-minded apples—the enemy. A common belief is that you can’t argue fairly with a skeptic because they just want to trash any evidence.
If we are ever going to reach enlightenment about the true nature of this life and any other life, we need to embrace healthy questioning, which is what open-minded skepticism is.
One reason for positive skepticism is to reach an understanding of the various contradictions in stories a reader or listener or viewer encounters. For example, some mediums claim that they have no control over whose ‘spirit’ comes through during a reading. Other mediums go out and “fetch” or call in specific ‘dead people’ they want to talk with. A witness to this disconnect might rightly wonder how and why the rules change between mediums. A militant skeptic might assume that fraud is taking place. An open-minded skeptic might search for an explanation that embraces both reported situations.
Another case I wonder about regards the fundamentals of how communication takes place. Some mediums appear to talk very conversationally with the presumed or alleged ‘spirit’ in the room. It’s as if they are repeating verbatim what the spirit is supposedly telling them. Other evidential mediums provide intricate details about the ‘deceased’ but it’s not offered as a conversation per se. They might use language like “she’s showing me” or even “telling me” but it appears that the medium is putting words to impressions being received.
A healthy skeptic might ask if there’s another possibility for how a medium seems to know things they logically shouldn’t know. Rather than talking with a specific spirit, could the medium be interfacing with some form of cosmic artificial intelligence? Akashic records? Another astral being who just knows a lot? Even if it’s most likely that the medium would be talking to the identified person, an open-minded skeptic still entertains other possibilities.
A healthy skeptic won’t go for the first answer that sounds good. They will pursue different avenues of inquiry for educational, truth-finding purposes. Not all skeptics are out to disprove the existence of the afterlife. Some seek to better understand phenomena through persistent questioning, trial-and-error experiencing, and open-mindedness.
If you call yourself or someone else you encounter a skeptic, it’s good to know what you are thinking and saying. Some skeptics really, truly are trying to help.
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