27.9.09

LIFE AFTER DEATH

Anthony Peake. Is There Life After Death? The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When We Die. Arcturus Publishing, 2006.

Anthony Peake. The Daemon: A Guide to Your Extraordinary Secret Self. Arcturus Publishing, 2008.

My unpublished review of the first of these books, written in 2006/7, given below, shows that I was not mightily impressed the first time round:
The reader who gets this book looking for the latest evidence from psychical research, some new amazing scientific breakthrough will be sorely disappointed, for this book is really just an amalgam of poorly understood, often very 1970s pop science and philosophical musings.
To cut to the chase, you know all those odd Fortean mysteries? Well Peake can explain them all. You see what happens when you die is that you live your life all over again, and again and again ad nauseum, in the last few moments of your life. So chances are that this life your living now is most likely just to be a memory of a memory of a memory and so on. That might seem rather a little boring and pointless, so Peake argues that you can alter things because your inner daimon knows that this is just a memory and warns you not to give all your hard earned cash to that plausible con man which meant you had to send your wife to work as cocktail waitress, with somewhat unpleasant consequences. But you might argue that memories are memories, and even if you change them, you haven't changed what really happened. To get over this one we get into some complicated arguments about parallel universes and many worlds.

Problem with that is that while certain interpretations of the many world hypothesis suggest you might in your own private world you might escape an instantaneous annihilation initiated by a random quantum event (a not very usual means of decease) you would not end up running your life over again, but would just carry on the rest of your normal life in the time track in which you survive, only problem is that everyone you interact with would be a zombie, because in their world you died, and they would have no conscious experience of the rare number of worlds in which you survived.

One wonders what sort of person could be attracted to Peake's philosophy, presumably someone who has had a fairly cushy life, which they would love to rerun with just a few minor changes here and there, and little empathy or regard for other people less fortunate than oneself. This a world in which a woman is raped over and over again, Jews are chucked into the gas ovens over and over again, slaves live on the plantation over and over again, magnifying the injustices of the world to the nth degree. Not surprisingly one of the few things that observant Christians, Muslims, Jews and Humanists can agree on is that the doctrine of eternal return is a bloody awful philosophy.

It should also be pointed out while the idea of 'many worlds' has its attractions, in that one imagine alternate worlds in which ones loved ones still live on, where life's turnings could have taken a better course, and that the idea of a Totality of Being which encompasses all possible histories of all possible universes is certainly awe inspiring when viewed from an Olympian height, at a more parochial level it has certain disadvantages, such as failing to explain why we are in this particular world and not one of the zillions of others, how to escape its solipsistic conclusions, or find a mechanism to allow for all observers to share a common history; or even more unpleasantly it implies that just about anything and everything could happen to any of us, in a billion worlds: you, dear reader, are the victim of every conceivable kind of serial killer and general cosmic nastiness, to say nothing of those billion worlds in which you perpetrate unspeakable crimes. A billion worlds in which you a trillionaire and cop off with the celebrity of your choice doesn't exactly balance the score.

Peake clearly is enamoured of solipsism of some sort or other, which makes me wonder why he bothered to write this book, he must assume that there are real, live, real time people out there to read it.

The second book still fails to address these issues, and is full of the same errors and old fashioned ideas as the first. Thus on page six we get "there is overpowering scientific evidence that we forget absolutely nothing. All our experiences, thoughts and sensations, are held, recorded and waiting to be replayed". I doubt there is a single mainstream psychologist who holds to that view, and there is to the contrary considerable scientific evidence that memory is largely reconstructed and often confabulated. The author's views on the infinite divisibility of time are incompatible with quantum mechanics and so on.

This book now features more on the amazing abilities of the 'daemon' now identified with the non-dominant right hemisphere of the brain. This is supposed to retain awareness at death, while the left hemisphere or eidolon, here identified with normal consciousness goes on its endless reruns. In both books Peake argues that these reruns are subjective phenomena, and that to an outside observer the person is dying, He now argues that the daemon can warn the eidolon of forthcoming events because it remembers the events from previous reruns. He uses as evidence cases of alleged precognition, but these are reports in books and journals and therefore events in public space, implying that these reruns are public events. A complete self contradiction, not smoothed over by hand waving and using mantras like quantum mechanics, implicate order and many worlds.

This is, I am afraid typical of the problems likely to be encountered by those who ignore that fine piece of Ancient Brigantian wisdom, "Tha can't have tha cake and eat it." -- Reviewed by Peter Rogerson


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