michael prescott
Although Michael Prescott is best known as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 22 suspense novels, he is also known for his blog dealing primarily with paranormal and life after death subjects. Over the past 20 years he has produced more than 1,600 blog posts with more than 50,000 comments by readers.

The end result is a departure from his fiction writing with his just-released The Far Horizon: Perspectives on Life Beyond Death, published by White Crow Books. He begins the book by examining some of the best evidence coming to us from psychical research and parapsychology over the past 138 years, since the organization of the Society for Psychical Research, then asking why, if it is so good, it is not more widely known and accepted. He offers four models of after-death consciousness, discussing each one in separate chapters. "In all four models, the space-time universe rendered by our subjective perception is the tip of the iceberg, with the other nine-tenths hidden from sight," Prescott explains. "Vast expanses of reality and vast realms of consciousness lie submerged beneath the surface, difficult for us to access. Difficult, but not impossible, as mystics, shamans, mediums, and psychics have attested throughout history."

As anyone who has thoroughly studied the evidence knows, much of it is vague, abstruse, convoluted, and often inconsistent with established religious dogma and doctrine, as well as with mainstream science. A very abstract picture of the afterlife emerges, one requiring much discernment. In effect, so much of it seems beyond human comprehension. Nevertheless, enough of it is discernible that the open-minded investigator can begin to see intelligence and clarity in the abstractness. Prescott (below) masterfully makes sense out of what seems like so much nonsense to many. As he states, it need not be "a baffling anomaly," but it can be seen as "a logical extension of our experience of reality here and now."

I recently put some questions to him by email.

I know you explain this in the book, but can you just briefly summarize how you became interested in the subject of life after death and what keeps you going on it?

The main thing was a kind of early midlife crisis in 1997 when I was 36 years old. Prior to that time, I'd been a complete skeptic with no interest in the paranormal or the afterlife. The only reading I'd done on the subject consisted of books by Martin Gardner and James Randi. I was also influenced by the skeptical opinions of Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, among others. I probably would've been a good candidate for membership in CSICOP, as it was then called, had I been more interested in the subject. But in '97 I began to question my entire worldview. This was, in part, because of an experience I had when trying to come up with the idea for a novel.

I'd hit a brick wall on the book, was very frustrated and depressed, and had pretty much given up, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I felt an intense urge to sit down at my computer and start typing. I proceeded to type out a ten-page synopsis of an entirely new story that was, in effect, being dictated to me. That synopsis turned into the novel Comes the Dark, the most esoteric and "literary" thing I've written.

This experience deeply intrigued me. It got me interested in the subconscious and the idea that the two hemispheres of the brain operate, to some extent, independently of each other. This, in turn, got me to look into the nature of consciousness, which led me in a somewhat spiritual direction. Probably as a result of this, I began to feel that my outlook on life was cramped and shallow - that I was missing the big picture.

And so I began to take the paranormal little more seriously. I proceeded gradually and cautiously, because at first I felt almost foolish reading about this stuff. I started with Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields, went on to evidence for ESP, and eventually crossed the Rubicon by looking seriously at life after death. That is something I never thought I would do.

On a percentage basis, with zero being total disbelief and 100 being absolute certainty with regard to consciousness surviving death, where would you put yourself 30 years ago and where are you now?

30 years ago it was zero. These days it's probably about 90%, or maybe 95% on some days.

What will it take to get you to 100%?

It will probably take actually dying! Or at least a near-death experience. There's only so far you can go by reading about a subject or talking with other people, or visiting mediums, or recording dreams, synchronicities, and premonitions, or meditating. I've done all those things, and they're certainly helpful, but they're not quite enough to get me to 100%.

If you had to pick three cases from the annals of psychical research, parapsychology, and consciousness studies, as most convincing, which ones would you choose?

I think the Bobbie Newlove case, involving the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, is quite compelling. So is the R-101 case involving Eileen Garrett. A more recent case is the Jacqui Poole murder mystery. All three of these cases are covered in my book.

On a more general level, the cross correspondences provide very good evidence of mediumship that goes beyond so-called super-psi, but this is a whole series of cases, not just one. I don't talk about the cross correspondences in The Far Horizon, though, because the subject is too complicated to be quickly summarized.

Do you see a growing interest in this subject matter or has it pretty much flatlined, maybe even going in reverse?

My personal interest has somewhat flatlined, just because I've investigated it for so many years and it's no longer fresh to me. My book is kind of a summing-up. I wouldn't have written until I felt I'd gone pretty much as far as I could go.

For society, I think interest is increasing quite a lot. Unfortunately, there's not that much new research being done. As you know better than almost anyone, the heyday of research into the afterlife was the late 19th century and early 20th century, when there were some very prominent people involved, notably William James. I don't know of anyone today of similar prominence who is willing to stick up for this type of work.

Worse, there is very little funding. The quickest way to short-circuit your career in the sciences is to decide to study the paranormal, especially life after death. Very few people want to commit career suicide. I don't think this will change any time soon because the "scientific-government complex" is implacably hostile to such ideas. And most scientific funding, as well as publication in mainstream peer-reviewed journals and tenure in academic institutions, is controlled by that complex. I'm talking about the US. Perhaps in other countries, there's more open-mindedness. I don't know.

Why so much resistance on a subject that seemingly should be welcomed by the masses?

I don't think the subject is resisted by the masses. When I bring up my interest in the paranormal and the afterlife with regular folks, I often find they've had experiences of their own that they want to share. But they keep these accounts to themselves unless they feel comfortable opening up.

The whole idea, however, is strongly resisted by the elites, who are thoroughly materialistic in their philosophy. Even very creative, intelligent people in the establishment - for instance, Elon Musk - seem boxed in by materialistic thinking. For instance, when Musk talks about the universe as a virtual-reality simulation, he appears to see it as being literally a program run on some extraterrestrial computer. That's a purely materialistic, and rather naïve, interpretation of an idea that can be interpreted in much more spiritual terms.

In my book, I go into the simulation hypothesis as one model of reality, but I make it clear that I'm not talking about a literal computer program. Instead, I'm speaking of an informational matrix that exists in a realm beyond the space-time universe we experience. It's essentially the same thing as Immanuel Kant's noumenal realm, as distinct from the phenomenal realm of direct experience. Or it could be compared to Plato's world of Forms, the true reality that we perceive only as shadows on a wall.

Unfortunately, materialistic tendencies intrude even into afterlife studies. We've seen attempts by people over the years to build a machine that can communicate with the dead. One such device, dubbed Spiricom, was the subject of John Fuller's book The Ghost of 29 Megacycles. While you never know what might work, I don't have a particularly high opinion of such efforts. For me, it's not about building a better mousetrap. We need to learn to adjust our consciousness, not improve our technology.

You've been self-publishing lately. Why did you decide to go with White Crow Books for this title?

Originally I was going to put it out myself, something I've been doing since around 2011 after my twenty-year traditional publishing career petered out. I've done well with ebooks. For a while I was making more money in that marketplace then I ever made with Penguin. But lately sales have dropped off. So when Jon Beecher of White Crow Books said he'd gotten wind of my project and was interested in it, I was happy to talk to him. He's a really nice guy with a fascinating life story, and his company has put out many high-quality books, including yours. I felt he could do more with The Far Horizon than I could do on my own.

What is the key message of your book?

The key message is that life after death doesn't have to be compartmentalized in our thinking. We don't have to use one set of concepts or metaphors to understand the universe around us, and then come up with a whole new set of concepts and metaphors to make sense out of the afterlife. We can see both types of existence - our incarnational existence and our postmortem existence - as part of a continuum.

To do this requires grasping one essential fact, namely, that all experience is subjective. While I argue that there is an objective basis for our experience, this doesn't change the fact that experience itself is, by its nature, subjective. You can't have an experience without an object to apprehend and a subject who apprehends it, something to perceive and a mind that perceives. And as far as experience per se is concerned, perception is reality. It is impossible to detach one's perception of the event from the event itself, because the event exists, for us, only in our perception of it.

If we see reality in these terms, then postmortem reality simply involves a shift in focus — we redirect our attention from one level of experience to another. Or we alter our consciousness from one degree of perception to another. It amounts to the same thing.

We need to get away from the idea that, in dying, we are physically traveling to some other physical location that we call the afterlife. It is more like a change in perception - a broadening or widening of perception - which is why mind-expanding drugs can bring about experiences that have a lot in common with NDEs and OBEs.

In other words, it's all about consciousness, and if we see consciousness as existing along a spectrum of frequencies, then dying is no more than dialing up to a higher frequency. Which, of course, is another of the models I explore in The Far Horizon!
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I. His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is released on January 26, 2021.
The Far Horizon: Perspectives on Life Beyond Death by Michael Prescott is published by White Crow Books.