Afternoon Inquisition

AI: seances

Last night, I participated in a Halloween seance with the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society in Denver, Colorado (yes, they are a skeptical group, despite the “paranormal” tag!).

This seance was in conjunction with the James Randi Educational Foundation; groups of us across the States were trying to contact Houdini…

It is with sadness that I report we were unsuccessful…

Who would you contact during a seance?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

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  1. I recently met one of my heroes, Tommy Smothers, he signed my “Give Peace A Chance” record, which he played on. He was a nice guy and we talked for a few minutes about John Lennon. Basically John Lennon (another one of my heroes) was kind of an asshole to him. If I could contact anyone, it would be Lennon, so I could get his side of the story.

  2. Richard Feynman, cause it would be so amazing to talk to him. That said, seems a waste not to have the chance to clear up a few things, so in order of ‘really want to the know the truth’:

    1) Jesus
    2) Princess Diana (pregnant or not?) Also is Alan Moore correct about her burial conspiracy theory?
    3) David Carradine

  3. What Steve said. If the proof given by Fermat’s “spirit” during the seance was accurate, it would be very strong proof that there is “an other side.”

    Unfortuantely, I think we’d get a bunch of excuses instead.

  4. @Tracy King: Just out of curiosity what would you ask David Carradine?

    “So David any change you could set the record straight, were you doing rope bondage-strangulation-masturbation when you died?”


    If I’d died that way, and was brought back I damn sure wouldn’t admit it, I’d say I slipped and fell or something.

    For myself, other than a few dead relations I’d like to speak to again, there’s no one from history I’d like to listen to.

    And now I think about it, I wouldn’t want to speak to my deceased loved one’s once for an hour or a day or a week, at the end of the allotted time I would beg for “Just one hour more” and another and another. I’d want only that which I could never have and so, even if we did survive death, I’d rather avoid communing with the dead altogether and concentrate on having meaningful relations with my animate relations.

  5. @russellsugden: Good point. His family seem to believe he was killed by ninjas or something equally stupid, so it may be possible he has contacted them first and has a story all ready.

    Although if there is a contactable afterlife, that raises all sorts of questions about heaven and hell. If he’s in heaven, would he be able to lie? If he’s in hell, we can assume he’s lying and therefore will find out the truth like some sort of Lewis Carroll riddle.

    Can Ghosts Lie? should be the name of a novel or something.

  6. This is an interesting question. Are we limited to just talking to the departed one? If so, I would like a conversation with President Lincoln. I would want to tell him about the current situation in the mid-east and ask his opinion on what our best course of action should be
    If we can get touchy, feely, I would want to contact Marilyn Chambers >:o)
    I know, I’m a very naughty boy…
    But all this is hypothetical of course, because we all know there is no contacting what/who doesn’t exist, right? Right??

  7. @Tracy King: Can you lie in Heaven? That’s a really good question. It’s a re-working of one my favourite needles of christians, “Is there anything to strive for and or overcome in Heaven?”

    Either negative things, such as lies, can take place in Heaven, giving exsistance there meaning (i.e. there can be satiation without hunger) but paradoxically making Heaven not Heaven, OR negative things can not happen in Heaven inwhich case Heaven is not Heaven (e.g. unremitting pleasure becomes an unremitting torture after a few minutes).

    Either way, Heaven can not be Heaven. Which may be why Christianity is very thin on the details of the afterlife.

  8. Wait, wait, wait a second… If I recall correctly JRY, Mayne and Shwood all determined that the word conjured by the Denver seance was a hit not a miss. Something about “Shor” relating to the a wish for a shorter word from Phil Plait, or something ;)

  9. Seriously? There are eleven (11!) unskeptical answers to this question? You wouldn’t contact ANYONE during a seance. At least, not anyone who is notably “living impaired.” Geesh!

  10. Seriously, I’m not pedantic. So I’d contact the life deficient Vasily Zaitsev and ask him whether he was as bad ass as his wikipedia article and the actor Jude Law suggest.

  11. @slxpluvs: Hmm, seems you have an issue with the wording of the question, maybe it should have been, if seances actually worked, who would you contact via a seance? Also, it was certainly less than ten, as @russellsugden: comment was dealing with issues with the christian conception of heaven, @Tracy King: comment, which Russell was commenting on, was dealing with suppositions based on the conditional statement of if there is an afterlife, @QuestionAuthority: ‘s statement was a possible test of the efficacy of seances, @PrimevilKneivel:’s comment was a straight up joke, and mine was a joking reference to what actually went on during the live webcast of the seance itself, leaving only 4 prior to your comment that actually answered the question, of the ones that were answering the question, that could be construed as “unskeptical.”

  12. @Tracy King: OMG – I didn’t know David Carradine was dead! *cries* I remember attempting to do crappy T’ai Chi to his workout video, in which he said and did some mildly creepy and very interesting things while Star Trek-costumed people questionably performed the moves in the background.

    I even bought the DVD a few years ago because I couldn’t believe it was put on DVD.


    Oh, I guess I would do the typical thing and contact my mom. While there are many things I would love to know about many famous people of bygone eras, mostly I’d like my mom to know that I finally graduated, I married that crazy vegetarian guy, and I’m trying out for the local roller derby league. I’d also like to learn more about her – I never really asked about her growing up, and now (of course) I wish I had. So many unanswered questions.

  13. @slxpluvs: There’s this wonderful thing called “Pretend”. Most skeptics I’ve ever met tend to have things they would love to be true, but don’t believe because of a lack of evidence for.

    As for me… I honestly can’t think of anyone dead I’d want to talk to… at least, that I have the linguistic capabilities to speak to. Julius Caesar might be nice, as would Radbaod of the Frisians.

  14. I might contact my mom’s mom (who died when I was about 2) to talk with her about family history.

    Oh, and Isaac Newton to find out whether he found out how to change lead into gold on the Other Side.

  15. Coming on this really late, I find it incredibly odd that David Carradine died by crazy sex ninjas and Micheal Jackson died peacefully of normal causes.

    Um…I think I would talk to Thomas Jefferson.

    “Tom, you’re never going to believe what they’ve been up too…”

  16. If it were just for some candid conversation I’d have trouble narrowing it down, On the short list are Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Henry VIII, Leonardo Di Vinci, and Julius Cesar.

  17. @James Fox: Yeah, it would be hard for me to narrow it down, too. I like most of the people on your list, but would have to add Abe Lincoln (just for the stories he could tell), Albert Einstein, and Buddha/Siddhartha.

    More personally, I’d like to speak with my father’s father, who died many years before I was born. Oh, and Jimi Hendrix.

  18. Next time, seance with the Rocky Horror Paranormal Research Society. You could callup one of the previous incarnations of Dr Who and then all do the Time Warp.

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