This is the bibliography for my paranormal novella, Chasing Omega. It includes specific sources used for factual claims, as well as other resources for people who wish to explore these issues further.
The errors of experts
Meteors: The resistance of the scientific establishment to “stones falling from the sky” is discussed here.
Germ theory: Opposition to Pasteur’s theory is well documented. As one article notes, “Pasteur was vilified in public … The medical establishment ridiculed him.”
Continental drift: The decades-long opposition to continental drift theory is discussed here.
A new Ice Age: Though some climatologists worried about global warming in the 1970s, others raised the alarm over an Ice Age; a list of popular news articles on global cooling can be found here.
The atom cannot be split: Pioneering physicist John Dalton argued that the atom was indivisible, a position that went unchallenged for decades.
Flying machines: Lord Kelvin wrote, “I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning.”
Psychic phenomena (general)
The literature on psychic phenomena is vast. Some of the better books I’ve read are:
Science and Psychic Phenomena, by Chris Carter;
The End of Materialism, by Charles Tart;
The Sense of Being Stared At, by Rupert Sheldrake;
and The Secret Vaults of Time, by Stephan A. Schwartz.
For a debate between skeptics and proponents of the paranormal, see Debating Psychic Experience, edited by Stanley C. Krippner, PhD, and Harris L. Friedman.
For background on the recovery of a Soviet plane in Zaire, see the article “CIA-Initiated Remote Viewing at Stanford Research Institute,” by H.E. Puthoff.
Empirical evidence for life after death is remarkably abundant. Most people have little idea of how much serious work has been done in this area. Besides mediumship, the main avenues of investigation are near-death experiences, deathbed visions, apparitions, hauntings, after-death communications, and past-life memories.
The best overviews include:
Stop Worrying! There Probably Is an Afterlife, by Greg Taylor;
Immortal Remains, by Stephen E. Braude;
Science and the Paranormal, by Arthur Ellison;
David Fontana’s Is There an Afterlife?;
F.W.H. Myers’ turn-of-the-century classic Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death;
and its contemporary follow-up, Irreducible Mind, by Edward F. Kelly et al.
The AECES Top 40 site compiles summaries of the strongest cases.
A site called Spiritual Development presents a good survey of the evidence.
The early years of the scientific study of mediums are covered in:
Ghost Hunters, by Deborah Blum,
Natural and Supernatural, by Brian Ingliss,
The theory that mediumship and other phenomena suggestive of life after death can be explained by unusually robust ESP is called “super-ESP” or “super-psi.” See:
Braude’s Immortal Remains,
Alan Gauld’s Mediumship and Survival,
and Carter’s Science and the Afterlife Experience.
Contemporary scientific study of mediums is carried out by The Windbridge Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Julie Beischel’s Among Mediums discusses the institute’s work. Sadly, Windbridge does not enjoy anything close to the financial resources of the Omega program.
Methods of testing mediums
Experiments in which the medium is physically separated from the sitter, and communication between the two is handled by an intermediary, are discussed in The Afterlife Experiments, by Gary E. Schwartz.
Experiments in which the medium and the sitter are connected only by a muted telephone line are covered in “The Reincarnation of Mediumship Research,” by Julie Beischel.
Mediumship (specific cases)
The Jacqui Poole case is discussed in my blog post, “The Murder of Jacqui Poole.”
For information on Gladys Osborne Leonard and the Bobbie Newlove case, see An Amazing Experiment, by Charles Drayton Thomas (complete text online).
Physical and materialization mediumship
Two valuable books on this topic are The Limits of Influence, by Stephen E. Braude, and Sittings with Eusapia Palladino, by Everard Feilding. For the most part, I don’t find physical and materialization mediumship very compelling, but some cases appear to be genuine.
Scientists, academics, and political figures interested in mediumship
Charles Richet, a pioneering medical researcher who won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1913, extensively investigated mediums as a sideline.
William James studied Leonora Piper and was active in the American branch of the Society for Psychical Research. See Blum’s Ghost Hunters.
Alfred Russel Wallace became convinced of life after death and wrote a book about it, Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (complete text online).
Oliver Lodge also became convinced of an afterlife and wrote Raymond, or Life and Death (complete text online).
The claim that President Lincoln was encouraged to issue the Emancipation Proclamation by a trance medium is made in Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist? by Nettie Colburn (complete text online). Since the author is the medium herself, her account is open to doubt, though the book’s publisher insists he made strenuous efforts to verify it. Mary Todd Lincoln arranged seances in the White House, which her husband sometimes attended. His attitude toward the proceedings is still debated.
Literary figures interested in mediumship
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill used a Ouija board.
Sylvia Plath also used a Ouija board.
Victor Hugo used a planchette (similar to a Ouija board) while in political exile. John Chambers’ The Secret Life of Genius covers Hugo’s channeling sessions and the spiritual and paranormal interests of other historical figures.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was deeply impressed with medium Daniel Dunglas Home–so much so, that her skeptical and possibly jealous husband, Robert Browning, wrote a long satirical poem, “Mr. Sludge, ‘The Medium,’” about Home. The poem implies that Home (represented by Mr. Sludge) was caught in fraud, but in actuality he never was.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s fascination with mediums and spiritualism is well known.
Mark Twain believed he’d had precognitive dreams and other paranormal experiences, and joined the American chapter of the Society for Psychical Research.
Pearl Curran, channeling “Patience Worth,” produced reams of written material on demand, including several novels highly acclaimed in their day.
Raymond Moody, M.D., coined the term “near-death experience” in his groundbreaking 1975 study Life After Life.
A few years later, Michael B. Sabom, M.D., published Recollections of Death, which includes the famous Pam Reynolds case.
The Reynolds case is also discussed in Carter’s Science and the Near-Death Experience, pages 220-229.
The case of Brad Barrows, a man born blind who saw snow for the first time while having an NDE, is summarized on pages 391-2 of Fontana’s Is There an Afterlife? and presented in greater detail in Mindsight, by Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper, which includes other such cases.
For the dentures case, see “Corroboration of the Dentures Anecdote Involving Veridical Perception in a Near-Death Experience,” by Rudolf H. Smit. The case is also covered in Carter’s Science and the Near-Death Experience, pages 217-219.
For the case of Maria’s shoe, see my essay “Who Will Watch the Watchers?”, especially the addendum presenting excerpts from Kimberly Clark Sharp’s article on the case.
For the plaid shoelaces case, see the entry under “Joyce Harmon” on this page of the website Near-Death.com. The same page offers many similar examples of veridical perception during an NDE.
The movie to which Brand makes reference is Flatliners (1990), starring Kiefer Sutherland.
Visions of the dying
The last words of Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs have been reported in many sources, including this one. (There is some dispute about whether Edison’s statement was made just before his death or a couple of days earlier.)
The fascinating subject of deathbed visions, which sometimes include information that the dying person had no normal way of knowing, was first broached by William Barrett in his classic Death Bed Visions (complete text online). A more recent study is At the Hour of Death, by Karlis Osis and Eriendur Haraldsson.
The crisis apparition described in the story may be found on page 45 of Fontana’s Is There an Afterlife? and on pages 118-120 of in Carter’s Science and the Afterlife Experience. Please note that the person in “crisis” in such cases is the one whose apparition is seen – not the percipient, who is usually quite relaxed.
Though not covered in Chasing Omega, recent history’s most famous apparitional episode may be the Chaffin will case, which is found in Fontana’s book, in Carter’s Science and the Afterlife Experience (pages 120-124), and at the AECES site. The story of Dante’s appearance in his son’s dream is recounted in Carter’s Science and the Afterlife Experience, page 120.
The prevalence of apparitions of people who died violently is discussed in Science and the Afterlife Experience, page 80. Incidentally, children who remember past lives will disproportionately recall lives that ended through violence or acute illness, perhaps suggesting that an abrupt, wrenching transition is more likely to lead to attempts to finish up earthly business as an apparition or via reincarnation.
Electronic Voice Phenomena
Electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, are a new and controversial area of parapsychology; much of this material is dicey, but some cases may be legitimate. The incident at the bus depot was inspired by D. Scott Rogo’s Phone Calls from the Dead–not Rogo’s best, but the title alone makes it worth having!
Reincarnation is not explicitly mentioned in my story, but there is a good deal of evidence for it, especially in cases where young children spontaneously report memories of a previous life. Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, by Ian Stevenson, M.D., is the classic work in the field.
Some hypnotherapists have allegedly retrieved past-life memories from their patients, though these cases don’t always hold up to scrutiny, as D. Scott Rogo shows in The Search for Yesterday.
One of the more intriguing books of this type is Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton, PhD, which focuses on the “between-lives” memories of deeply hypnotized persons.
Afterlife (channeled material)
There’s a rich literature of channeled material describing conditions in the next world. As you would expect, the quality varies dramatically, from the sublime to the (occasionally) ridiculous. Among the earliest examples are the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, such as Heaven and Hell. Other books include:
Oliver Lodge’s Raymond, or Life and Death (complete text online),
Geraldine Cummins’ The Road to Immortality (complete text online),
and Helen Greaves’ Testimony of Light.
Geraldine Cummins’ Swan on a BlackSea is often cited as the most evidential channeled manuscript.
Channeled material partly formed the basis of Richard Matheson’s novel What Dreams May Come.
Mirror gazing, or scrying, is an ancient esoteric practice recently revived by Raymond Moody, who built his own psychomanteum and described the results in Reunions.
For a scholarly overview of “The Eleusinian Mysteries,” see the linked article by Edward A. Beach. There’s no reason to think that a psychomanteum played any role in these rites; this is my invention.
Virtual-reality universe theory
Is the universe “the digital output of a nonphysical quantum network”? Computer scientist Brian Whitworth thinks it may be. See his papers:
and “The Matter Glitch.”
Aspects of the VR approach are fleshed out step by step at The Bottom Layer.
A variety of essays on the subject can be found at The Information Philosopher.
Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism offers an interesting outlook merging biology, consciousness, and quantum physics.
For my own speculations on the role of consciousness in the system, see my essays:
and “Slices of Life.”
A must-read for anyone trying to imagine a higher-dimensional reality is Edwin A. Abbott’s classic Flatland (complete text online).
The idea of the brain as a receiver of the “signal” of consciousness is known as the “transmission theory” and is credited to William James, who introduces it in his lecture “Human Immortality” (complete text online).
For a contemporary version of this theory, which sees the brain as a transceiver dynamically interacting with consciousness, see Bruce H. Lipton’s The Biology of Belief.
The inspiration for the AR visor came, in part, from real-life work done by neuroscientist Michael Persinger, inventor of the so-called “God Helmet.”
Philosophical and religious issues
Zeno’s paradox of the arrow is an old philosophical conundrum.
“The pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:45-46) is, of course, one of Jesus’ parables. The idea is that a man would give up everything he owns for this one incomparable treasure, which symbolizes “the kingdom of heaven.”
I would suggest that “the kingdom of heaven” refers to the experience of “cosmic consciousness” achieved by rare individuals throughout history, as documented in Richard Maurice Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness.
The slaughter of the naviim (or nevi’im) is discussed in Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.