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Fred Fengler afengler@uvm.edu

31 South Prospect St. Summer, 2010


“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human
experience”(Teilhard de Chard)

“And we have no evidence whatsoever that the soul perishes with the body.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

“Just as a little bird cracks open the shell and flies out, we fly out of this shell, the shell of the body. We
call that death, but strictly speaking, death is nothing but a change of form.” (Swami Satchidananda)

Do we survive death? It is doubtful that the evidence we will be examining in this course will convince the
hardcore skeptic. However, we will ask why it is that the unseen is so hard to accept in modern society
today? Should we only value sensory based information as valid? Is material reality the only reality? How
can we be sure? Should we exclude all non physical experiences from scientific investigation? Why is it
that scientists often feel threatened by that which they cannot explain or understand? Irrespective of what
personal conclusion you come to about the survival of death, my hope, at the end of this course, is that you
will come to appreciate the value of a more expanded view of reality.


Kenneth Ring: Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near Death Experience
Echo Bodine, Relax, It’s Only a Ghost
John Edward, One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those Who Have Loved and Lost
Carol Bowman, Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child
Gary Schwartz, The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Evidence of Life After Death
Peter & Elizabeth Fenwick, The Art of Dying: A Journey to Elsewhere


Because each class is the equivalent of a week or more of classes the reading assignments may at times
seem substantial. It is important that you attend class and keep up with the reading assignments.
Videotapes and guest speakers are important parts of the course.

A short quiz will be given at the beginning of all classes. Only one make up quiz that must be taken the
next class is permitted. Otherwise a zero will count for that quizzes score out of 20 points.

The final grade for this course will be determined as follows:

10 Quizzes 200 points

Final Exam 100 points



July 5

I Beyond the Sociological Imagination

A. The Study of Sociology and the Social Sciences

B. Method & Theory
C. Symbolic Interaction and the Social Construction of Reality
D. Similarities and Differences with the Physical Sciences

II Sensory Materialist vs Paranormal Spirit Realities

A . Consciousness or the Material ----Which is Fundamental?

B. Local or Non Local – Where is consciousness housed?
C. Separation or Wholeness – What is the nature of reality?

II I Science, Paranormal Phenomena and Non Local Consciousness

A. ESP: Precognition, Retrocognition, Telepathy

B. Clairvoyance or Remote Viewing
C. Conditions Supportive of ESP
D. Prayer & the Placebo Effect

July 7 & 9

III After Death and Before Birth Communications

A. “Nearing Death Awareness,” Death Bed Incidents: Visions and Escorts

B. After Death Apparitions – varied roles and functions
C. Angel Rescuers
D. Pre Birth Apparitions/Communications

Readings: Fentons, The Art of Dying

Recommended Readings

B & J Guggenheim, Hello from Heaven: A New Field of Research---

J. Lerma, Into the Light: Visions of Afterlife & Other Pre Death Exp.,
Allan Botkin, Induced After Death Communication
Emma Heathcote-James, After Death Communication
Feather & Schmicker, ESP, The Extrordinary Experiences of Ordinary People
Michael Schmicker, Best Evidence
M. Morse, Parting Visions: Uses and Meanings of Pre-Death Experiences
Louis LaGrand, After Death Communication: Final Farewells
Joel Martin and Pat Romanowski, Love Beyond Life: The Healing Power of
After Death Experiences
Brad Steiger, Touched by Heaven‟s Light: Inspiring Glimpses into the Afterlife
Raymond Moody, Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones
Maggie Callanan & Patricia Kelley, Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness Needs and
Communications of the Dying (particularly chapters 7 & 8)
Robert Monroe, Journeys Out of the Body
Russell Targ and Jane Katra, Miracles of Mind
R. Targ & H. Puthoff, Mind Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Ability
David Morehouse, Psychic Warrior

July 12 & 14

III Out of Body andThe Near Death Experience

A. Out of Body Experiences as Evidence for non Local Consciousness

B. Common Elements of NDEs
C. Typical Consequences
D. Explanations – Natural or Spiritual?
E. The Life Review and the Golden Rule
F. What is the Benign Virus?
G. Frightening NDES

Readings Kenneth Ring, Lessons from the Light

Recommended Readings

Dannion Brinkley, At Peace in the Light. Saved by the Light

Raymond Moody, Life After Life, Reflections of Life after Life
Peter Fenwick, The Truth in the Light
Cheri Sutherland, Reborn in the Light
Melvin Morse, Transformed by the Light
Rick Strassman, DMT: The Spirit Molecule: The Biology of Near Death

July 16

VI Ghosts, Hauntings & Poltergeists

A. Contact with Spirits of the Dead

B. Poltergeist Behavior
C. Collecting evidence – physical and otherwise
D. People who attract ghosts and spirits
E. Are Ghosts only attached to places?

Reading: Echo Bodine, Relax, It’s Only a Ghost

Recommended Readings

Alan Baker, Ghosts and Spirits

Hans Holzer, Ghosts:True Encounters With the World Beyond
Brad Steiger, Shadow World

July 19, 21 & 23

VII Psychic Mediums and Channelers

A. What is being channeled: where is it coming from and from whom?

B. The use and value of channeled information
C. A spirit‟s interpretation of life and the afterlife
D. Visit of Channeler (tentative) – Bernice Kelman
E. Scientific Evidence? What is valid evidence?

Readings: Gary Schwartz, The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life

After Death
John Edwards, One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to One Who Has Loved &

Recommended Readings

Stephen Braude, Immortal Remains: The Evidence for Life After Death
Grant & Jane Solomon, The Scole Experiment, Scientific Evidence for Life After Death
Mark Macy, Miracles in the Storm: Talking to the Other Side with the New
Technology of Spiritual Contact
Jane Roberts, Seth Speaks; The Nature of Personal Reality etc.
James Van Praagh, Talking to Heaven; Reaching to Heaven
Neal D. Walsch, Conversations with God Books 1-3, Home With God
John Edwards, Crossing Over
Norman Friedman, Bridging Science and Spirit
J. Martin and P. Romanowski, Our Children Forever: George Anderson‟s
Messages from Children on the Other Side
George Chapman, Surgeon from the Other Side

July 26 & 28

VIII Reincarnation

A. Past life hypnosis and regression

B. Regression and healing
C. Evidence and validation
E. Group lives and “walk ins”
F. Pre Birth Announcements
E. Future lives
F. Visit of hypnotherapist (tentative) – Betty Moore-Hafter

Reading Carol Bowman, Children’s Past Lives

Recommended Readings

B. & A. Leininger, Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a WWII Fighter Pilot

Jenny Cockell, Across Time and Death: Past Lives, Future Lives
Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters; Through Time into Healing; Only
Love is Real
Helen Wambach, Reliving Past Lives: The Evidence Under Hypnosis
Carol Bowman, Return from Heaven: Beloved Relatives Reincarnated Within
Your Family
Trutz Hardo, Children Who Have Lived Before



“A fish is the last to know it lives in water.”


Essay Introduction to Course

How do we know something is true? What is reality? Researchers of the paranormal often find
themselves at odds with the larger scientific community. Science is currently the dominant view and
paranormal phenomena represent a deviation from the norm whose proponents must struggle to achieve for
it acceptance and legitimacy.
This is a course basically about a clash between two sets of beliefs about the nature of reality –
phenomena that are legitimate and acceptable within the prevailing scientific framework and phenomena
that seem to lie outside that perspective and methodology.
The popular movie “The Truman Show” can be seen as a metaphor for how a worldview limits
what is possible for a person to perceive or know. Truman‟s life is scripted by television executives and he
grows up believing that his entire reality is what he experienced on a huge stage set. When Kristoff, the
director, is asked why Truman seems so accepting of this artificial staged existence (at least up to now), his
reply is that all of us tend to “accept the reality with which we are presented.”
However, after many years in this “bubble,” Truman does become suspicious and puts enough
clues together to break out and discover there is a world beyond his staged and programmed existence.
And that is what we will be doing in this course as we go „backstage‟ and question the fundamental nature
of our reality that which we commonly accept as “real” such as time, space and matter.

Sociology as a discipline is particularly suited to investigate the substance and consequences of

different belief systems. Sociologists investigate how features of our social environment, the major cultural
values of our society as well as the groups to which we belong impact our beliefs, values and behaviors.
What we believe and how we interpret our experiences are shaped by our culture and transmitted and
filtered through such major institutions as family, occupation, education and church. Age, gender, social
class, ethnicity and racial identity may also influence our beliefs, values and behaviors.
As sociologists we generally take a scientific approach to the study of society. All the major
social sciences assume some underlying order or pattern to human behavior that can be uncovered and
explained by employing a variety of methodologies and statistical tools. For example, one might want to
establish causality between two variables such as whether a person‟s religion predicts a high probability of
voting for a certain party. Or one might want to show that one group of people healed much more quickly
following surgery if they were prayed for when compared with a comparable group that was not prayed for.
Social scientists try to determine the probability of a certain predicted relationship among groups of people
and attempt to explain the nature of that relationship by excluding alternative interpretations. Using the
prayer example, one might want to be sure that the group that healed faster was not given better medical
care since this interpretation might more accurately explain the relationship between prayer and speed of

In this course we will be contrasting two different perspectives on the nature of reality. We will
label them as the Sensory-Materialist view of Reality and the Paranormal-Spirit view of Reality. The
difference between the two is largely a difference of thought and attitude and ways of looking at the world
and which we will discuss only briefly here. The Sensory-Materialist relies on the scientific method almost
exclusively while the Paranormal-Spiritualist would use scientific methodology also but, in addition, would
value other ways of validating and understanding unusual phenomena.
The majority of us spend all or most of our time living on the level of material reality basing our
thoughts on the information conveyed through our five major senses and where objects are experienced as
distinct separate things. On the other hand, most paranormal phenomena give greater credence to intuition
or a sixth sense and are characterized by interconnectedness, wholeness and timelessness. This distinction
is nicely conveyed by author Damon Wilson in his book Unsolved Mysteries.

“We see people and things as separate entities and we consider the most important things about
them to be the properties that make them individual. From the other point of view, that of
„clairvoyant reality‟ the important thing about an individual is his or her relationship to the rest of
the universe. All beings – and even inanimate substances like rock, water and earth – are seen as
parts of a whole. Time, also, is perceived differently – it does not necessarily flow in one
direction at an even pace. Our everyday concepts of past, present and future are seen as illusions.

These two ways of thinking, the way of time and history and the way of eternity and timelessness,
are both parts of our effort to comprehend the world in which we live. Neither is comprehended in
the other nor reducible to it. They are, as we have learned to say in physics, complementary
views, each supplementing the other, neither telling the whole story.” (Damon Wilson, Unsolved
Mysteries, p. 483-84)

As we previously mentioned, the materialistic and the paranormal perspectives may come to
different conclusions about the nature of reality. While both make claims, they may not make use of the
same types of evidence nor reason in exactly the same way. How do they differ in their approaches to the
investigation of reality? Are the assumptions and beliefs about the nature of reality and how evidence is
gathered and conclusions reached different for most mainstream scientists and paranormal researchers?
Perhaps paranormal phenomena are not as readily amenable to traditional scientific methodology which is
basically used to investigate physical phenomena.
Even in our everyday world of material objects, the ultimate composition of those objects, at the
subatomic level, are unsubstantial. Material or physical reality on a micro level is fundamentally energy,
frequencies or vibrations in constant flux and motion, and accessed by our traditional five senses in a very
limited and focused way. Matter itself exists as probabilities and tendencies rather than as absolute things,
suggesting that reality may not be so real or solid after all. According to Einstein, even the major units of
time and space on a macro level are variable phenomena responding to the differing effects of motion and
gravity. In essence, little is fundamentally “solid” or “absolute” about our material reality even though we
may perceive or experience it that way.
To what extent, if at all, can paranormal phenomena such as remote viewing, telepathy, pre
cognition, dowsing, psychokinesis, near death and out of body experiences be researched and evaluated
using traditional scientific methodologies for collecting and interpreting data? And if there are limitations
to traditional scientific methodology, are there other equally or even more meaningful ways to validate
paranormal phenomena?

A broad underlying theme we will be addressing in this course is whether all of us are
ultimately “spiritual beings having a human experience.”