The Afterlife: Real Or Imagined?
Detail: Eugène Thiébault (French, b. 1825) Henri Robin and a Specter, 1863 Albumen silver print; 22.9 x 17.4 cm Collection Gérard Lévy, Paris (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Rev. G. Vale Owen reported seeing in February of 1923 a vision of heaven, where sailing was a popular pastime.
Dispatches from beyond can seem farfetched, which brings the debate back to psychic Barbara Reeder. Is it possible she really is communing with my dearly departed, Brzezinski asks?
While some of her comments were not quite on mark, such as, "Your grandmother is chubby. No, she's not that chubby, your daughters have never had any injuries. Well, no, one did," Reeder tells Brzezinski.
Yet some rang eerily true: "Oh, grandfather says your husband has to check his transmission," Reeder says.
To which Brzezinski responds, "Weird, his service light is on."
But, does anyone really know?
"There are a lot of people who, who believe that they know," author Mary Roach says. "But I don't mean, nobody really knows."
Roach travels the sometimes inspired, sometimes zany terrain of the great beyond in her new book, "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife."
As Roach recalled some of the more fascinating anecdotes in "Spook," the following story came to mind:
"There was this guy, Thomas Lynn Bradford. He wanted to prove there was, this beyond. And so he got together with this woman named Ruth and figured out, O.K., the only way to do this is to get two minds perfectly attuned," Roach says.
"One of them must shed its earthly mantel, meaning die. In an effort to, then, he was gonna communicate to Ruth that 'Yes, I'm here and here's what's here,'" Roach says.
Bradford's 'efforts' made front page news in the New York Times, but unfortunately we'll never know whether he ever actually got through to Ruth.
"When you're talking about really getting an answer, you know, pinning down some sort of truth, some of the near-death experience work that's going on right now is, is very intriguing," Roach says.
But claims of near-death experiences remain just that: claims.
So, can science ever prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife, Brzezinski asks?
"I, I'm not sure we want them to," Roach replies. "It's possibly nice to have some mystery to it. And to be, to leave it open to one's beliefs.
"If we say, 'Prove that there's, that lights out, that's it,' how sad to take that away from people. So I don't even know, you know, although I personally still wanna know," Roach says, then laughs, well, "Only if the answer's yes."
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