PMH ATWATER ..Fraud? Either way, still not a “good look” for NDE community or IANDS

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I don’t want to do any promoting of a podcast , but just needing to reference something , becuz it pertains to my question and concern ..

Episode 586 of skeptiko podcast really should be more “known.” I wish the people at IANDS were aware , of which she is more affiliated or known.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to pile on or attack an older woman. 

But I think it’s important to note.

PMH ATWATER. 

To make up research and make up numbers ??..

I believed a lot of “after effects” with NDE’ers’ thru books by her , one of which was a huge book , like an encyclopedia of NDE info and now I call so much of certain “research” by her as questionable .

Anyways , just wondered others thoughts and opinions …
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  • Larry
I recall an episode which is probably the one you mean.

My response at the time was a feeling of revulsion at the brutality with which Tsakiris attacked his guest, like visiting a friend's house for tea/coffee and being bitten by the friend's dog. It struck me as a low point for the podcast. Tsakiris demeaned himself with a ludicrous assault. What could have been a productive exchange of views became an empty encounter, devoid of humanity or warmth.
(This post was last modified: 2024-07-11, 12:28 PM by Typoz. Edited 1 time in total.)
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I quote myself from a private conversation which took place some time ago:

Quote:As for Alex's interviews, I don't listen to them any more. I did make an exception for the one with PMH Atwater. It seemed a great waste to me. Alex could have moved past the one point on which he concentrated and instead brought out some of the other knowledge and wisdom which she had to share. Indeed, given her age and background which I think accords her more respect and consideration, it seemed foolish to treat her like some energetic young researcher near the beginning of a career. It did no credit to Alex though he has long ago lost any particular respect from me.
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I've just watched that interview after reading the transcript. I agree with Typoz's assessment.

There's also no evidence of fraud, only incredulity on Alex's part. I can back up PMH on one point: IQ tests were standard practice when I was in primary school, at least at the (public) school I went to in South Africa. Our entire grade was tested in my third or fourth year of primary school. Those who tested high enough were offered the opportunity to participate in a programme for gifted kids at the local university. It's plausible to me, then, that enough people born from around or before the same time would know their IQ for PMH to have gathered those stats.
(This post was last modified: 2024-07-11, 09:24 AM by Laird. Edited 1 time in total. Edit Reason: To correct the school years )
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(2024-07-11, 09:23 AM)Laird Wrote: I've just watched that interview after reading the transcript. I agree with Typoz's assessment.

There's also no evidence of fraud, only incredulity on Alex's part. I can back up PMH on one point: IQ tests were standard practice when I was in primary school, at least at the (public) school I went to in South Africa. Our entire grade was tested in my third or fourth year of primary school. Those who tested high enough were offered the opportunity to participate in a programme for gifted kids at the local university. It's plausible to me, then, that enough people born from around or before the same time would know their IQ for PMH to have gathered those stats.

I generally find alex's personality kind of toxic and feel his conspiracy approach to be untenable. But: in the case of the PM interview I thought the way that alex challenged her to present evidence for her fantastical claim around IQ to be reasonable and her responce was weak and did not sound credible to me. She claimed to have discarded her files (if I remember correctly) and  obfuscated his queries when he pushed on her a bit although I thought alexes cutting off the interview was way inappropriate.
 I agree with Bill that it was not a good look for nde's
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Some of it goes against what I value most, independence of belief, I dislike organised religion, not necessarily because of any specific idea they may hold, but because it is organised. I reserve the right to approach my conception of God directly in my own way, without the intervention of any intermediaries.

If NDEs are somehow being turned into a modern religion with its priests and priestesses like some ancient cult then I'm against that. I'm not interested in what some sort of 'movement' is doing.

What I do support and value is listening to individual people reporting their own experiences. I've always valued the 'personal experiences' section of this forum. When it comes to NDEs it is often the anonymous and obscure ones which impact me most. A few times I've read something or watched and listened to something, and valued the insights shared but am not able to refer back to them years later because they are simply obscure. A peculiarity of these things is that I may read or listen to numerous NDEs today, but can't predict which ones will be memorable in five years time.
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(2024-07-11, 08:40 AM)Typoz Wrote: I recall an episode which is probably the one you mean.

My response at the time was a feeling of revulsion at the brutality with which Tsakiris attacked his guest, like visiting a friend's house for tea/coffee and being bitten by the friend's dog. It struck me as a low point for the podcast. Tsakiris demeaned himself with a ludicrous assault. What could have been a productive exchange of views became an empty encounter, devoid of humanity or warmth.


I found that typical of Tsakiris.  He doesn't let people talk and demeans everything they say if they don't agree with him  I stopped watching his podcasts soon after I started because I didn't like his attitude at all!
(2024-07-11, 09:23 AM)Laird Wrote: I've just watched that interview after reading the transcript. I agree with Typoz's assessment.

There's also no evidence of fraud, only incredulity on Alex's part. I can back up PMH on one point: IQ tests were standard practice when I was in primary school, at least at the (public) school I went to in South Africa. Our entire grade was tested in my third or fourth year of primary school. Those who tested high enough were offered the opportunity to participate in a programme for gifted kids at the local university. It's plausible to me, then, that enough people born from around or before the same time would know their IQ for PMH to have gathered those stats.

Same, those tests were pretty standard where I lived as well.

Edit: Looked at the transcript. Alex seemed pushy, but I feel like he was in the right to ask for evidence?

I've admittedly forgotten if I ever heard of this woman. I can understand her not recalling the evidence exactly, but to say she threw away the boxes...was her data examined beforehand for independent verification?

I think this was a case where it's entirely possible the woman made up her data, but also possible she had a reasonable explanation as she might be drawing on past data from decades ago.

All to say the aggression was counterproductive, but the skepticism from Alex wasn't unjustified IMO...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2024-07-11, 06:54 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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(2024-07-11, 03:32 PM)Larry Wrote: I generally find alex's personality kind of toxic and feel his conspiracy approach to be untenable. But: in the case of the PM interview I thought the way that alex challenged her to present evidence for her fantastical claim around IQ to be reasonable and her responce was weak and did not sound credible to me. She claimed to have discarded her files (if I remember correctly) and  obfuscated his queries when he pushed on her a bit although I thought alexes cutting off the interview was way inappropriate.
 I agree with Bill that it was not a good look for nde's

Conversely, I generally appreciate Alex pushing back on his guests, and I wouldn't describe his personality as toxic, but in this case I thought the push-back was over the top, inappropriate, and almost amounted to bullying. His explanation for it was very odd too: he said that they'd originally scheduled the interview for the day before, but that didn't work out (PMH interjected something to the effect of, "Yes, we had connection problems"), and somehow this had made him suspicious, and as his suspicion festered, he focused it on the IQ reporting. On the face of it, this is paranoia leading to a prejudiced fishing expedition followed by motivated reasoning.

It's also not clear what Alex was (1) claiming or alluding to, and (2) asking (near on "demanding") from PMH, and how he expected her fulfillment of his request to lay his claims/allusions to rest. He wanted her to go back through her records and... what? Recalculate the statistics? If so, why would he expect the results to be any different than the first time? If they were fraudulent, does he expect that she'd produce a different result this time around and be forced to say, "Oh dear, I got a different result this time - looks like you got me, and now have the proof that I was deceiving you"? That would be a naive expectation of behaviour inconsistent with that of a fraudster.

Or was he asking her to reproduce from each set of case notes the extract(s) pertaining to the reported IQ? If so, what did he expect this to achieve? Presumably, to provide evidence that the IQs were actually as reported, but if he suspected her of fraud in the first place, then why would he trust her not to forge the case note extracts?

Or did he want her to produce all of the case notes in their entirety and point out to him painstakingly where in each one the reported IQ was jotted down? That's probably the only option that makes some sort of sense, because it would be difficult to insert fraudulent IQ reports into the logs after the fact, but it's an awful lot of work to expect from somebody when you're the one making the (at least insinuated) claim of fraud such that they might reasonably see you as bearing the burden of proof, and reject any attempt to force it onto them when they (presumably) know they're innocent, especially when, as PMH pointed out, she's not claiming any scientific rigour - this is (she says) just her report of what was in turn reported to her.

In any case, the main point I wanted to make was that the title of this thread includes the question "Fraud?", but the interview itself contains no actual evidence of fraud, and it's unclear what basis there is for even posing the question as though a serious case had been made for it. The best "case" that Alex made for fraud was that the sets of IQs - and one in particular - were statistically highly improbable, but by this reasoning, any time a parapsychology experiment achieves a very high p-value - by definition statistically highly improbable (on the null hypothesis) - we should be suspecting fraud rather than rejecting the null hypothesis. Is this really the sort of reasoning we (and Alex) want to endorse? It would badly undercut our/his arguments for psi based on lab experiments.

That said, I was not previously familiar with PMH nor her work, and, with no disrespect intended, for all I know, this work of hers is unreliable, but, certainly, that wasn't demonstrated in this interview. There is, though, a valid question that could be asked which wasn't (explicitly): is there good reason to believe that the self-reported IQs were both genuine (not made up) and accurately recalled? A prima facie plausible answer is: "Yes, given that NDEs are typically life-changing events which lead to great improvements in the character of the experient; that good character is consistent with honest and accurate reporting."
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(2024-07-11, 06:55 PM)Laird Wrote: Conversely,...
That said, I was not previously familiar with PMH nor her work, and, with no disrespect intended, for all I know, this work of hers is unreliable, but, certainly, that wasn't demonstrated in this interview. There is, though, a valid question that could be asked which wasn't (explicitly): is there good reason to believe that the self-reported IQs were both genuine (not made up) and accurately recalled? A prima facie plausible answer is: "Yes, given that NDEs are typically life-changing events which lead to great improvements in the character of the experient; that good character is consistent with honest and accurate reporting."

I agree with a lot of what you said, especially if we treat incredible claims beyond our boggle threshold as false we open ourselves to the same attack.

It's also possible people roughly estimated the IQs. A lot of people seem to think other standardized tests can be shifted over to give an IQ score, so this might be the case here. SATs and other such standardized tests may have been examined, they may also have used GPA or some other indirect marker they believed could give them a good estimate.

Here's one case - perhaps the only she lists online - that does mention the increase in IQ of an NDEr who was serving time in prison:

Quote:The evidence which actually proved that my NDE was real and that I was not paranoid or schizophrenic or delusional came from the IQ test that I was given as part of my diagnosis, after what was called by mental health professionals, a psychotic episode. My IQ had leapt to 145, where it had only been at most 125 before. I happened to be listening to Coast-to-Coast, a radio show, on which Dr. PMH Atwater was speaking about near-death experiences, and I noticed the similarity between what she was describing and what had happened to me, so I bought her book, THE BIG BOOK OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES.

In THE BIG BOOK OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES, on the subject of IQs, it explained that dramatic IQ leaps were one of the unmistakable and inexplicable proofs of a real NDE. I wrote Dr. Atwater, and Dr. Bruce Greyson at the University of Virginia. Both confirmed the information in letters to me about the relevance of the rise in IQ. I presented this evidence to the mental health staff, who were in charge of my care and who had administered the IQ test - and had been unable to offer any explanation for the score that I had. This evidence which they had to maintain in their records, alongside the letters I had received from experts such as Dr. Atwater and Dr. Greyson, who had Credentials which far eclipsed those who were making judgments about me, caused a complete turnaround in my diagnosis. I would like to thank Dr. Atwater and Dr. Grayson, as I am now out of prison and am helping others. I am able to give the testimony that sharing our stories is important. ~Jamey Massengale.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2024-07-11, 07:12 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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