The other day I was looking at the events calendar in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald and saw an announcement that a local psychic medium named Robert E. Hansen would be conducting a session of his Love Never Dies program at the Plainview Jewish Center on Monday, June 13 for $35 per person.
My first thought, me being the skeptical guy that I am, was to wonder, "Has the Plainview Jewish Center conducted some kind of test to determine if this Robert Hansen can actually do what he claims to do, that is, to be able to communicate with the spirits of dead people?" After all, if you are hosting and charging admission for such an event, if the person is not the real deal, aren't you essentially facilitating an act of fraud on gullible people?
I'm not going to get into the subject of whether or not I believe that part of us survives the death of our physical body here. However, I find it interesting that nobody ever seems to be able to communicate directly with their own deceased relatives and friends, and yet somehow complete strangers can supposedly accomplish such a feat on our behalf because they have a special gift the rest of us lack.
How does that work anyway? Do the souls of the departed swarm around the privileged few who can hear them, whispering their names into the medium's ear, with only the first letter being clear? "I'm hearing 'Dave?' 'Dan?', or is that 'Donald?'" Or is it more like tuning into a radio station with constant static in the background, preventing the words from being heard clearly? On his website, Hansen compares it to "lying on the bottom of a 6' deep swimming pool and someone was trying to yell down to you."
Back to the testing part, one possible way of going about it would be if a number of people who were terminally ill (but still functional) were to bury boxes with a messages in secret locations, tell their family members that they buried something for them somewhere, but that they would have to visit a medium after they died to find out the where the boxes were buried. If the medium was legitimate, he would tell them the secret location of the box. If the medium could provide the location of the box, then it would be solid evidence that the dead can communicate with the living, and that the particular medium who provided the location was in fact the real deal.
It would probably not be easy to coordinate such an experiment with a sufficient number of terminally ill people to form a large enough group in a fixed geographical area so that the family members of the different deceased participants could consult the same mediums. If one medium succeeded in providing accurate locations for multiple boxes, while other mediums could not locate any, it could provide a benchmark for determining which mediums were true and which ones were bullshit artists.