Stephen Hawley Martin,
The Science of Life After Death
(Oaklee Press, 2009)

Internet talk-show host Stephen Hawley Martin has been interviewing consciousness researchers on his show, The Truth About Life, since 2007. In The Science of Life After Death, he offers up a report on what he has discovered in these talks. Martin supplements his interviews with material gathered from several research projects, especially those being conducted by the Windbridge Institute, the University of Virginia and the Monroe Institute.

If you've followed the research over the past 30 years or so, what you'll discover is that Martin is searching for a scientific basis for what we already know: that consciousness can be projected so that we can perceive remote objects, that there is probably something that survives death, that a whole bunch of evidence exists that suggests the possibility of reincarnation and so on.

Not that it's not a good thing to have scientific validation of these things, but as far as consciousness research goes, we're still stuck at the beginning, showing that something beyond ordinary modes of perception exists. It's time to change the question, to ask what these things mean, instead of what they are.

While valuable, Martin's book contains a few major flaws: one, most of the research in it isn't new. The University of Virginia studies he quotes were done decades ago, while the Duke University material goes back to the work of J.B. Rhine in the 1930s. Even the remote viewing material dates back to the work done at Stanford Research Institute In the 1970s.

Second, he does not seem to be aware of the work that the neuroscientists are doing with the human brain, which makes the brain research he refers to obsolete. Finally, while he emphasizes science, there is still a leap of faith going on. Science proves we can gather information from sources outside ourselves; it does not prove that the source is our dead relatives, still existing on this plane as ghosts. That's the leap of faith.

If you want a survey of research that has been done and is being done, The Science of Life After Death is for you. If you want to go farther, though, this book won't take you there.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

2 January 2009

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