Of all the places that I would expect to report on the reality of people having encounters with dead loved ones, CNN is the last. After all, the article below (click on screenshot) is not an op-ed, but appears in the site’s “Health” section, and is written by John Blake, a CNN producer and writer.
The most objectionable part of this article, beyond it appearing at CNN, is that it raises no doubts about the reality of these ADCs (“after death communications”). It interviews no skeptics, offers no naturalistic explanations, and gives lots of anecdotes that, in toto, look like strong support for the reality of ADCs. CNN is pandering to those who believe in unsubstantiated woo.
Here are two anecdotes from among several given in the article:
When Ian and Michelle Horne got married, he wore a purple tie on their wedding day because it was her favorite color. As the years rolled by, they got matching tattoos and gave each other nicknames from the movie, “The Princess Bride.” He called her Princess Buttercup and she called him “Farm Boy Wesley.” They made plans to visit Ireland this year to celebrate her Irish roots.
[Michelle died young of Covid-19.]
. . . . . But not long after his wife’s death, the morning radio deejay in Wichita, Kansas, wondered if Michelle was still speaking to him. He was driving to his job in the predawn darkness when he spotted something odd. About two dozen streetlights flanking the highway had turned purple. They looked like a lavender string of pearls glowing in the night sky.“Michelle knew that was my route to work that I take every morning and was the route she took on her final drive to the hospital,” says Horne, who hosts his morning show on 101.3 KFDI as “JJ Hayes.”“I remember simply smiling and feeling overwhelmed with the idea that Michelle was close.”
Consider the story of Jamie Jackson, an office manager who lives near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and her beloved “Aunt Pat.” Jackson’s aunt died of a heart attack last summer after complications from Covid. Jackson said her aunt was like a mother to her — someone she spent summers with and accompanied to the hospital for routine medical visits.
But when her aunt was afflicted with Covid, Jackson couldn’t visit the hospital to reassure her.
“That was the hardest thing,” Jackson says. “You can’t say goodbye and you can’t be there as an advocate for your loved one, which is difficult because you have somebody who’s in the hospital, who’s scared and not used to being alone.”
Seven months later, though, Jackson says she heard from her aunt again.
It was December, and Jackson was putting up Christmas decorations in the house while Bing Crosby sang holiday carols. Christmas was one of her aunt’s favorite holidays, and she loved decorating. Jackson’s bin was filled with the same decorations that once belonged to her aunt.
Jackson says she left the bin in her hallway to get something and when she returned, she saw a translucent figure peering into it. It was the figure of a petite woman, with the same haircut, color of hair and white blouse and blue slacks that her aunt used to wear.
Jackson froze. Her hearted started pounding. She fled to her dining room and started crying. When she returned, the figure was gone. She says it was her aunt.
“It was overwhelming,” Jackson says. “It’s hard to put into words. I felt touched by that. It’s obvious that she’s around and she’s visiting me.”
It goes on, but the stories are all like this, and the article also recounts tales from other times, like people killed in war who come back to speak to their relatives and loved ones. Likewise with Japanese people revisited by relatives killed in tsunamis.
Further, they quote some “experts” whose words lend credibility not to the idea that people only thought they saw dead loved ones, but that they were real paranormal phenomena. Here are a few such quotes:
“These kind of reports are normal in my world,” says Scott Janssen, an author who has worked in the hospice field for years and studies these experiences. “It would make sense that in a pandemic or other event that leads to mass deaths that there will be a numerical increase in reports and experiences, given the shared grief and trauma.”. . . Bill Guggenheim, co-author of “Hello from Heaven,” a book that explores ADCs, believes there is a spiritual purpose behind the visits.“They want you to know they’re still alive, and that you’ll be reunited with them when it’s your turn to leave your lifetime on Earth,” he writes. “They want to assure you they’ll be there to meet you and greet you — and perhaps even to assist you — as you make your own transition.”
The only caveats in the article about any of these stories are lame:
Talk to people who have these experiences, and many will acknowledge that maybe their minds created the episode. Others insist the visitations were too real to deny.
Jackson, who lost her aunt, says it’s almost irrelevant if they’re real or not. Their impact is real, she says. They made her feel better”.
If I needed to see it and it made me feel better and that’s all it was, I’m okay with that,” she says. “I tell people if they don’t want to believe me, that’s fine. I don’t need to explain to other people.”
So the only caveat we have is that “many” people will acknowledge that maybe their minds created the episode. But others say they were real! We have no experts weighing in on the dubious nature of these experiences, no scientists reporting about how they can induce such experiences with drugs or brain stimulation, no Randi-ans who deny any credible evidence for communications from the dead. No, CNN, like those who had these ADCs, seemingly wants to believe they’re real.
And who wouldn’t want to? Books about people coming back from near-death experiences, reporting on the existence of a Heaven that harbors their loved ones, have been best sellers (see one here). Nobody wants to hear that there’s no credible evidence for an afterlife, and that, despite the ubiquity of psychics and seances, that there are no well documented cases of communications from beyond.
But for CNN to push this palaver as real, without enlisting one skeptic in its article—well, that’s reprehensible. Could it be that this is one effect of postmodernism-derived wokeness: that all “truths” are real, including personal ones?
But regardless of their origin, ADCs are, in the absence of evidence, simple wish-thinking and confirmation bias. I sympathize with the people who have the experiences and think they are real, but yes, it does matter—a LOT—about whether “they’re real or not.” A world with ADCs is a very different world from a naturalistic one in which, when you die, that’s all, folks. Either there’s an afterlife in which you meet your loved ones, or there isn’t, and that matters. If for nothing else, it affects the credibility of many religions.