You may recall Dr. Gary E. Schwartz's name from the HBO documentary Life Afterlife. Or perhaps you watch NBC's Medium, a drama based on Allison DuBois, a Phoenix-based "research medium" Schwartz worked with for four years in the UA lab he co-founded and directs, the Human Energy Systems Laboratory. (DuBois left the HESL in 2005, and on her Web site, writes that she does not endorse Schwartz's book, The Truth About "Medium.") Regardless, Schwartz does fascinating research, especially his "mediumship communication research project" housed under the HESL's VERITAS Research Program, including psychological experiments on "research mediums" and "sitters," who sit for readings with mediums to see if they may "talk" with the recently departed. Visit the VERITAS site for more information.
What type of scientific research do you do at the UA?
When people ask what we do in the lab, I say we do three types of research. One's merely controversial; the second is very controversial; and the third is super-controversial. The merely controversial works with mind-body medicine, such as the effects of love on long-term health or meditation and healing. The very controversial deals with energy medicine, bioelectromagnetic effects, healing and therapeutic touch, and so on. But the super-controversial is in the area of spiritual medicine, or spiritual systems science. What this means in plain English is the possibility of the survival of consciousness after death, and what we call the SAM hypothesis, which stands for Spirit Assisted Medicine. However, a few years ago, (I found) within the super controversial, there are three types of super controversial--there's the merely super controversial, the very super controversial and the super-super controversial. And, believe it or not, the survival-of-consciousness research with mediums is only merely super controversial, so you might ask: What's an example of super-super controversial? One example is being able to see the future and actually being able to see information that could not be known, that is not known by any human being on the planet, and having it be accurate. Because if the future can be known, and there is some sort of larger organizing plan to all of this that relates to a G.O.D. (Guiding-Organizing-Designing) hypothesis, for example, this is super-super controversial.
In your book, The Truth About 'Medium,' you discuss the truth behind "Medium" and Allison DuBois. While your research is scientific in scope and audience, what do books like The Truth seek to accomplish for general audiences?
... (W)hen the television show first came out, people contacted me--anywhere from scientists and skeptics to reporters and my brother--asking me two questions: Is Allison DuBois for real, and is the television show for real? Of course, the information was not available about Allison DuBois, and people had no way of knowing (if) the real Allison DuBois (was) related to the television show. They couldn't answer this question. And I had information. Secondly, Allison herself, as well as some of the other mediums, were frankly unhappy that I wasn't more actively publishing some of these experiments.
But you mention in the book that some of it is exploratory research, and that was why it wasn't published quite yet ...
Well, that was part of the reason, but the other part is that carefully designed confirmatory studies, like the triple-blind experiment I describe in the book, are very hard to get published--even studies that are perfectly controlled. And the reason why it's difficult to get them published is that the editors of the journals don't want to send the articles out for review, because the content is so controversial ...
Do you feel like the pop culture representation of Allison DuBois is helpful or hurtful in television shows like "Medium"?
It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, (the TV program) portrays the life that is inspired by a real live person, and what it's like to be a mother of three children and the wife of an aerospace engineer and dealing with your psychic gifts, the personal side. Making that part real is valuable. However, the Hollywood-izing of it--it's not based on Allison's life; it's vaguely inspired by it. And ... she doesn't even work that way; this character is displayed as getting most of her information through dreams. There's only one medium who I've ever met who even approximates that kind of accuracy from dreams. His name is Christopher Robinson, and he's the "dream detective" in England. He's actually featured in the first two chapters of The G.O.D. Experiments book, which comes out April 4.