Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Review of Soul Shift: Finding Where the Dead Go

Public Parapsychology welcomes guest reviewer, Rosemarie Pilkington in her first contribution to the site. Below is her review of Soul Shift: Finding Where the Dead Go, by Mark Ireland.

Mark Ireland is the son of the gifted psychic/medium Dr. Richard Ireland, who amazed and entertained thousands in churches, halls and on television with his prodigious gifts in the 1960’s through the 80’s. Although he was an entertainer, Dr. Ireland was also a minister who tried through his psychic demonstrations to spread the message, "there is no death and there are no dead."

Mark, although he learned much from his father, and absorbed I’m sure even more than he knew of his belief, didn’t discover his own inherited abilities until he had a premonition about the death of his son, Brandon. This tragic event led him to try to make contact with his son’s spirit, and in so doing, Mark became immersed in the world of mental mediumship. Soul Shift: Finding Where the Dead Go documents this journey

As with many others who have lost loved ones, Ireland embarked on a quest for the meaning of life and death. The unexpected demise of his son, and perhaps even more his precognitive sensing of the impending tragedy, changed his world view. He became more spiritual and desirous of contributing to the universe by developing his own latent powers.

Those who believe in survival after death will find much in Ireland’s interpretation of the phenomena he has experienced to support their belief. Although he says at one point that he still has doubts and expects readers to form their own conclusions (p. 173), his narrative is designed to convince us that human personality continues after death. In Soul Shift’s 200 pages, he spends merely half of one paragraph in a cursory nod to any other view (p. 147).

Ireland gives short shrift to those who contend that the information provided by psychics/mediums may be attributed to their own psychic abilities rather than communications from the dead. He dismisses this theory by stating, “super psi is a very elaborate concept, which appears nearly impossible to test” (p. 147). One might say the same, and many have, about the spirit hypothesis of course. Neither theory has ever been proven. Serious scholars and experimenters in psychical research have argued both the spirit and psi hypotheses for more than a century and are still no closer to agreement than they were when Charles Richet and Oliver Lodge argued each side in the 1920s.

By the way, I dislike the term “super-psi.” Psi is super. No one knows the range or limits of psychic ability or indeed if there are any limits.

Ireland’s father could read notes while completely blindfolded. He telepathically picked up names and gave accurate clairvoyant and precognitive information to strangers. (Films from some of his TV appearances may be found on You Tube). If he could pick up names of living friends and relatives, tell when babies would be born and what their sex was, or what moves or business ventures would profit the person he was ‘reading’, Ireland’s father could just as easily pick up information about their dead loved ones by using his psychic powers. As Richet would say, “there is no reason to suppose the intervention of the soul of a deceased person.” Because we don’t yet understand the mechanism of psi, how it works, and to what extent, we cannot assume that the information given by psychics/mediums is obtained from beyond.

I can understand Mr. Ireland’s need to believe his son is still with him and it’s also much simpler to accept at face value that the messages we receive are indeed from our loved ones and that we will meet them again some day. I would like to think he is right. I too have lost a child and it is a comforting thought.

Having said that, whether or not one subscribes to the survival theory there is much to ponder in this very readable work. Dr. Ireland’s brother was also psychically gifted, as are the author and his surviving son, which demonstrates that psychic talent may be inherited. There is also evidence that Brandon, whose untimely death prompted his father’s quest, was a spiritual and probably psychically talented person as well. But I found especially interesting the prodigious talent of Dr. Richard Ireland. His story is alone worth the price of the book and should be of interest to anyone learning about psychic ability.

Rosemarie Pilkington, Ph.D.

Rosemarie is a writer, musician, and educator who holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook Graduate Institute in San Francisco. She is an associate member of the Parapsychology Association. In addition to writing many articles and book reviews on psychic phenomena, her latest book is The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof: The Enigma of Seance Phenomena, which focuses on one little known episode of physical mediumship. Gilbert Roller's utterly charming and disarming autobiographical account of a group of teenagers who experimented with seance phenomena and contacted an alleged spirit named Dr. Bindelof.


dawnow said...

I have not read the book, and this excellent review tempts me to buy it. Pilkington apparently considers the "super psi" theory just as plausible as the survival hypothesis, for the wide range of psychical phenomena that appear to point to survival. I disagree.

She remarks, "If he could pick up names of living friends and relatives, tell when babies would be born and what their sex was, or what moves or business ventures would profit the person he was ‘reading’, Ireland’s father could just as easily pick up information about their dead loved ones by using his psychic powers." Yes, and much successful psychic mediumistic "communication" seems to be reasonably explainable by telepathy and clairvoyance. But there are so many other cases where information comes through unknown to any living person. Where it simply strains credulity to suppose the necessary nearly godlike psychic powers including integration of multiple pieces of psychically derived information and realistic simulation of deceased personalities. Then there is evidence of entirely different types such as the data apparently indicative of reincarnation as in Stevenson's research, and veridical OBEs during NDEs.

She is right that this debate in parapsychological circles has gone on forever and shows no sign of ending. There can be no scientific "proof" in this area, just abductive reasoning to the most reasonable hypothesis based on all the data.

Sharon Day said...

Very good article! I am psychic and I admit that when I began to "read the dead" I was highly skeptical. There was nothing I was receiving that wasn't information the living person in front of me could be providing psychically. I do admit that upon occasion the reading of a dead person seems as if I'm able to discern more about their psyche and how they viewed things, but then there's also no proof that I'm not reading a life that did exist and not one that exists now. Much the same for reincarnation. It's my belief that it's nothing more than the accidental psychic reading of a person somehow passing a life that had been and by seeing it as a psychic would, through the deceased person's eyes, believes that he himself had lived that life. It's a hard thing to prove, whether we read things have have existed (such as I read object's or old building's histories)or if we read something that is actually present in some form right now as part of a continuous life pattern...