A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife


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By Retired attorney Victor Zammit

After 27 years of dealing with all kinds of paranormal skeptics, I can relate to you there are at least nine reasons why closed minded skeptics tend to remain stubborn about their skeptical beliefs – and why some of them unreasonably attack those who scientifically and empirically investigate evidence for the paranormal .

Of course, the nine reasons below can apply to any person who inflexibly holds strict subjective, personal beliefs. The nine reasons could equally apply to any Fundamentalist – religious or secular.

My experience with closed minded skeptics is that they do not investigate the evidence. Basically, they completely reject any information which is not consistent with their own cherished skeptical beliefs - even if it is scientifically supported.

My experience also tells me that theses closed minded skeptics do not have skills, competence and the ability to perceive the paranormal with true empirical equanimity - in an objective, scientific balanced way:

1. ‘RATIONALIZATION THROUGH COGNITIVE DISSONANCE’: ‘Cognitive dissonance’ is a term used by psychologists to describe the discomfort that arises when people are confronted with information fundamentally inconsistent with their beliefs. When a materialist is confronted with highly persuasive evidence for the paranormal-afterlife the materialist will deny it has any validity. This is because the evidence will elicit anxiety, increase his blood pressure, sweat etc. Denial will follow. The materialist will become angry, hostile and even aggressive. He will try to reduce anxiety by rationalizing his beliefs and going into extreme DENIAL.

2. ‘CATHEXIS’: This is another term in psychology which explains that some people may have a very powerful – usually unconscious super-glue connection with an idea or a thing. Applied to the skeptics this is where a class of skeptics are ‘cathexed’ to closed minded skepticism. Because the connection is powerful and unconscious, they will attack their source of anxiety – the person who puts forward the evidence for the paranormal. So, one cannot use logic, science or repeatable and objective evidence to try to reverse their cathexis.

3. NEUROLINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING (NLP) states that when these skeptics are confronted with information which is fundamentally inconsistent with their own deeply cherished beliefs, the mind of the skeptic will DELETE that information. This is because the new information will give a great deal of anxiety to the skeptic. As with ‘cognitive dissonance’ above, the skeptic will experience anxiety, disturbance of his ‘comfort zone’. This accounts for the skeptic going into complete DENIAL. The more aggressive skeptics will even cheat, mislead and lie about the real situation.

4. ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMMING – ‘environment determines perception’: there is a saying that by and large, the environment you were born in will shape how you will see the world. If a Western skeptic from New York was born in India, more likely than not the skeptic would be a Hindu. If born to a radical, extremist Islamic family, the skeptic would be a Moslem. If born to an orthodox Jewish family, the skeptic would be an orthodox Jew. One needs to have skills to rise above environmental conditioning and programming.

5. BIOLOGICAL: BRAIN-EXPLANATION FOR 'CLOSED SKEPTICISM': Here is another explanation for the stubbornness of closed- minded skeptics. It's the biological argument for closed-skepticism. When you have a rigid belief system the neurons in the brain fire in a certain defined network. So if information (e.g. afterlife evidence) comes into the brain and contradicts the rigid belief system (skepticism) those neural pathways will fire in the same old way and will not de-code the new information. It’s just like a filter. It's only when the skeptic has a dramatic experience that a new neural pathway is established and the old one gradually falls into disuse. Belief systems are fundamental to filtering reality.

6. PRIMARY MOTIVATION: MONEY, POWER, STATUS - AND A JOB. There is also a minority which chooses to be closed minded skeptic for career advancement and/ or to make money, to attain influence and celebrity status; also, those who are scientists, who want to job to work in science. Traditionally funding is done by big corporations - and goes only to those scientists and researchers who have the potential to increase the profits of big business. For example, you may get a scientist who will reject the paranormal because he/she can get funding for opposing the paranormal. The history of funding shows that. These scientists-come skeptics will never listen to logic, to science, to intelligent reasoning. They can’t move from their position because they would lose money, power, status and their job in science. Remember those negatively prejudiced scientists and medical doctors we saw in glossy magazines in the U.S. and elsehere in the world - and on television stating that as scientists they stated words to the effect that smoking is good, healthy for you? Or those scientists who stated that certain pharmaceutical drugs are healthy for you when subsequently it was shown these drugs must have killed hundreds - even thousands of people - a drug like vioxx? Or those scientists in Germany who still say that smoking is safe?

7. THE 'SMORGASBORD ARGUMENT': Professor Stephen Hawking, the astronomer, is most notorious for using this 'SMORGASBORD' argument - picking and using only the information that substantiates his own negative prejudices. This closed -minded skeptical professor does not know that in a court-room situation his 'smorgasbord argument' would be torn to shreds. Why? Because he would be cross-examined on the critical, most vital evidence that he deletes - that fundamentally contradicts his deeply entrenched negative prejudices. This closed-skeptical scientist makes a huge error thinking that he is an expert in law as well. Wrong! A litigation lawyer has exclusive technical knowledge of what is relevant, what is evidentiary what is essential admissible evidence - certainly not an astronomer!

8. 'HYPNOTIC EFFECT': those skeptics who are blatantly irrational, illogical and unreasonable about the paranormal or the afterlife evidence could be suffering from a powerful negative 'hypnotic effect.' Some years ago I sent clear, easily identifiable afterlife evidence to rebut to a couple of hard-line skeptics. Their reply was, "where is the evidence?". Yet non-aligned scientists easily identified the same evidence sent to them. It is possible that skeptics at one time in their life experienced a 'parallel hypnotic directive' to encumber their mind that there is no afterlife or paranormal evidence. This is exactly what happens when we see hypnotists on stage tell a couple of our friends who volunteer to be hypnotized on stage - when tranced are told that they will be eating an apple. But the hypnotist gave them an onion to eat, NOT an apple. The hypnotized subjects COULD NOT IDENTIFY THE EVIDENCE and refused to believe they each ate an onion! Even after when they were taken out of the hypnotic state - all subjects stated 'the apple was really delicious' - as was directed by the hypnotist for the subjects to believe even when they were put out of trance.

9. 'Being Spiritually Retarded': first, there is no link between intelligence and being spiritual -( notice I said 'spiritual' NOT 'religious.') An atheist could be 'spiritual' (or highly ethical) when he-she does voluntary work for the benefit of others without a thought of making some kind of profit for him/herself. But there is a class of closed minded skeptics who may be highly intelligent but are spiritually retarded - meaning they have not reached a stage in life where they can perform 'secular' spiritual work for the benefit of others - a kind of selfless service. Nor can they objectively identify legitimate afterlife evidence.

Victor Zammit November 2011 - UPDATED 2016