From Abracadabra to Zombies
reader comments: Edgar Cayce
October 31, 2007
First, please do not publish my name. I don't mind whether comments are published.
Having heard of Edgar Cayce, I turned to the Internet and read your article. While I find the questions raised about Mr. Cayce are valid, I find the SkepDic's response itself worthy of skepticism.
I'd like to point out the following:
1. You write, "There is no way to demonstrate that Cayce used psychic powers even on those cases where there is no dispute that he was instrumental in the cure." The statement in itself seems true. However, the statement is disingenuous. It implies that since there is no way to demonstrate that Cayce used psychic powers, the ineluctable conclusion is that he did not use psychic powers.
reply: You could read it that way but that's not how it's intended. The only evidence for Cayce's psychic talents are anecdotes. Many of Cayce's supporters seem to think that if the anecdotes pile up very high with stories from satisfied customers, Cayce's magical healing abilities are established. Dale Beyerstein notes that the anecdotes themselves don't provide any clue as to how to distinguish cures effected by psychic healing and all other cures. There is no ineluctable conclusion that he didn't use psychic powers but there is no way to prove he did from the anecdotes. However, that's the only evidence there is. QED.
2. You write, "Gardner notes that Dr. J. B. Rhine, famous for his ESP experiments at Duke University, was not impressed with Cayce. Rhine felt that a psychic reading done for his daughter didn't fit the facts." This proves nothing. The diagnosis or "reading" may have simply been wrong on that occasion. The matter rests on Dr. Rhine's subjective opinion, not objective proof.
reply: You're right.
3. You write, "There are many myths and legends surrounding Cayce. . . . The New York Times is greatly responsible for the illiteracy myth." First, the very use of the word "myth" implies that the stories surrounding Cayce are false. Some of the more fanciful stories, e.g., seeing angels, may indeed be false. But it's a discredit to your argument to call the New York Times story a myth without providing evidence that the claim of Cayce's illiteracy is less than factual. Has it ever been documented that Edgar Cayce was literate? If so, what are your sources for this claim? Your statement about the New York Times suggests not only that Cayce wasn't illiterate, but that the Times made a libelous statement about Cayce.
reply: The New York Times story is not libelous. It's not defamatory but exalts Cayce as the media has often exalted the allegedly self-taught genius who has discovered what the scientific community has somehow overlooked. As for documentation, read on.
4. You write, "Even though Cayce didn't have a formal education much beyond grammar school, he was a voracious reader, worked in bookstores, and was especially fond of occult and osteopathic literature." What are your sources for the claim that "he was a voracious reader . . . and was especially fond of occult and osteopathic literature?" It seems to me that if you're in the business of being a skeptic, you should support your opinions with cold, hard evidence. Another unsupported claim by the SkepDic.
reply: I thought it would be clear from the reference made in the paragraph you cite that the source is Martin Gardner. Later in the article it should be clear who my sources are. All my sources are listed at the end of the article. Your implication that I'm just making this stuff up is inane.
5. You write, "The fact that Cayce mentions the lung is taken by his followers as evidence of a correct diagnosis; it counts as a psychic 'hit.' But what about the incorrect diagnoses: dorsals, lumbar, floating lesions, solar plexus and stomach? Why aren't those counted as diagnostic misses?" Personally, I don't see the relevance of diagnostic misses considering the vast number of diagnostic misses inflicted upon patients by members of the modern medical profession. I think diagnostic hits are more convincing and need to be examined more thoroughly. But you mention little of these except to say that, where they do exist, they are chiefly anecdotal. Somehow you fail to convince me of the merit of your argument.
reply: Conventional doctors might misdiagnose patients but they don't appeal to their successes as proof of the validity of modern medicine. The evidence is found in numerous studies, many of them controlled studies with randomized samples and proper documentation. Cayce and all other psychic healers are supported only by selective appeal to anecdotes. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Ignoring the diagnostic misses, or the absurd remedies sometimes suggested by Cayce, when assessing his healing prowess is unjustified.
I'm not sure what you think my argument is, but I get the impression that nothing I say would convince you that the evidence for Edgar Cayce's psychic healing ability is insubstantial and borders on the ludicrous.
6. You write, "And why did Cayce recommend osteopathic treatment for people with tuberculosis, epilepsy, and cancer?" What does this prove? That you can pose a question? It's a question that begs an answer, but in the context of your article it infers that because Cayce did recommend such treatments, which I guess runs contrary to acceptable medical practice, he must be a fraud. That's just plain nonsense because it makes no logical sense.
reply: Your comment proves you can evade an issue and misuse 'infer' (you mean that my question implies that he must be a fraud). My question implies that he didn't know what he was doing. He was a fraud if he did what he did knowing that he didn't know what he was doing. I don't know that he didn't know what he was doing. He may have been self-deceived. He may have been mentally ill. He may have been a psychic healer. But I don't know whether he was a fraud.
7. You write, "In addition to osteopathy, Cayce was knowledgeable of homeopathy and naturopathy. According to Dale Beyerstein, Cayce was one of the first to recommend laetrile as a cancer cure.* (Laetrile is chemically related to amygdalin, a substance found naturally in the pits of apricots and various other fruits, and is known to be ineffective for cancer.) Beyerstein writes:
Stearn (1967) summarizes Cayce's pronouncements on cancer. He reports that Cayce prescribed a serum made from the blood of rabbits for patients with "glandular," breast, and thyroid cancers, and in 1926, prescribed for a New York patient the raw side of a freshly skinned rabbit, still warm with blood, fur side out, placed on the breast for cancer of that area. "Animated ash," produced by taking bamboo fibers and passing an electrical charge through them, thereby producing the right vibrations for "life flowing effects," was another of his favorite cures.
* * * Gardner notes that Cayce recommended almonds to prevent cancer, but he makes no mention of laetrile either as a preventive or a cure of anything."
According to your statement, Gardner appears to attribute use of the word "laetrile" to Beyerstein. I don't see any mention of the word "laetrile" in Beyerstein's description of Stearn's summary. In fact, "laetrile" in its present form apparently wasn't around until at least 1951 (Quackwatch.com). However, laetrile is chemically related to amygdalin (Quackwatch.com). Amygdalin occurs in bitter almonds (Wikipedia). Therefore I am not certain what Gardner's statement proves, if anything.
In conclusion, I find your statements unsupported by facts. They rest chiefly upon innuendo and the bias that all "psychics" must be frauds. I'm not defending Cayce. It's just that you've convinced me of nothing because you offer proof of nothing, only opinion. Your arguments conversely mirror the arguments of Cayce's followers. D minus for SkepDic.com.
name withheld by request
reply: D-? Oooh, you know how to hurt a teacher, don't you? You'll have to infer my grade for you from the following remarks.
Things probably got a bit too complicated for you as the article concluded. Let me try to clarify matters, though it probably won't matter since you seem hell-bent on misunderstanding. Anyway, that little asterisk after the claim by Beyerstein about laetrile is a hot link that will take you to an article by Beyerstein where you can verify that he did indeed make this claim. The Gardner reference lets you, the reader, know that not everyone agrees with Beyerstein regarding Cayce and laetrile. I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm providing the reader with contrary claims. Make up your own mind as to which is correct. If you want me to do your thinking for you, I will. I think Gardner's right and Beyerstein's wrong because I can't find any evidence for Beyerstein's claim. The source for Gardner's claim can be found in the Cayce archives. At one time, this article only had the reference to Beyerstein's claim. A reader informed me of the error and I did some investigating. I then added the material from Gardner. Of course, just because I couldn't find support for Beyerstein's claim doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about, though, so I'll stop.
31 Dec 2006
You need to do your homework.
A quick internet search would have provided the following correlation to Cayce's "death ray" prediction that you are so quick to claim is pure bunk. The death ray as it was called by Cayce is obviously a form of prismatic based energy generator, i.e. laser. Try the following bit of history on for size, and see if it fits.
Charles Townes invented the laser (then called an “optical maser”) at Bell Laboratories. They have the patent to prove it, “Masers and Maser Communications System,” *filed July 30, 1958*, issued March 22, 1960 (written by Lucien Canepa, another Bell Labs attorney). The matter underwent, and withstood, extended judicial review because Gordon Gould, who had been a graduate student at Columbia at the time of the Townes’ inspiration, also claimed inventorship. Gould received several valuable patents (see table 1) and, with his entrepreneurial partner Patlex earned more money from these inventions than Townes. His royalties as late as 1990 were around $5 million a year. Townes, Nick Taylor, and Torsiglieri have all written informed accounts of the episode.
reply: Interesting, though I don't know what "see table 1" refers to, unless our author copied this bit from somebody else and forgot to edit out the table reference. Anyway, I just looked at an article on the history of the laser and lo and behold here was the very paragraph above, though I have no idea what this has to do with Edgar Cayce who said the original was built on Atlantis. If you're going to give Cayce credit for predicting the above scenario, then you should also give credit to H. G. Wells (the heat ray) and a bunch of other fantasy and science fiction writers who fantasized about various "death rays" as early as the 1920s. If Cayce listened to the radio or read any science fiction, he probably read about these "death rays."
Why don't you skeptics do your homework? Maybe it would pass muster with you if Cayce gave the exact location and time of day the patent was filed. The mathematical odds of predicting the year 1958 for a technology that was _completely unknown to anyone_ in Cayce's day is literally beyond calculation.
reply: The only reason you think that the year the patent was applied for is the key to the accuracy of Cayce's prediction is that he said that America would develop a death ray in 1958. But you might just as well have selected as the key date 1951 (when Charles Townes invented the ammonia beam maser), 1954 (when Townes, James Gordon, and Herbert Zeiger got a practical model going), 1955 (the year of the original patent application), 1959 (when the patent was issued), and a bunch of other dates that I won't bother to mention but you can find them all in the article you cribbed your second paragraph from.
You skeptics are charlatans in your own right as you draw factual???? conclusions for your audience using only a self serving partial presentation of the facts available.
reply: I swear, readers, I did not make this up.
So, care to explain to your audience how Cayce predicted the exact year that the MASER-LASER was formally patented. Especially since it was a completely unknown scientific concept at the time.
reply: As noted, the concept of a "death ray," which is what Cayce predicted, was familiar to 19th century and early 20th century writers. Cayce had no more idea of a maser or laser than H. G. Wells did. I leave it to the reader to figure out the logic that gets from the data to the conclusion that "Cayce predicted the exact year that the MASER-LASER was formally patented." Kelly must be using one of those "alternative logics" or he's a practical joker making fun of me for wasting time debunking idiotic ideas.
9 Jul 1999
I just ran across your page on Edgar Cayce. I disagree with your views, of course. In particular, your suggestion that an excerpt, taken from a reading of a woman with tuberculosis, was a 'miss', rather than a 'hit'.
You stated that his followers felt it was a 'hit' only because he mentioned the lung, and that his mentioning of the dorsals, lumbar, floating lesions, solar plexus and stomach were incorrect diagnoses. You go on to question his recommendations of osteopathic treatment for people with tuberculosis, epilepsy and cancer.
In response, one must wonder if you believe that the lung(s) is just sitting there in one's body all alone, not connected, in any way, to any other part of one's body. You must believe that imbalances of any kind in one's body only effect that one particular part of one's body.
reply: No, believe it or not but I believe that the lungs do not just sit there in one's body and that an imbalance in one part of the body often affects other biological functions.
I hope you understand that I am saying that your whole body is one system made up of sub-systems. Any imbalance within any system that is within the whole system can and does effect any or all the systems. For, it is all connected.
Most of the time, his suggestions for treatment did seem to be far from the stated problem or complaint. However, this was because he was actually directly addressing treatment to the 'first cause' or root of the problem, rather than merely treating the symptoms, as do so many of our doctors, today. In only treating the symptoms, the problem stands, only masked, and either resurfaces as before or finds new outlets. This fools most doctors into believing the one problem is 'cured' only to be replaced by a new one. And so, the cycle begins with the body becoming more and more debilitated. All unnecessary, when one considers the logic of Cayce's method.
reply: I see it all very clearly now. So, when a chiropractor identifies a need for lumbar alignment when a person really has cancer, the chiropractor is treating the root of the problem. Very interesting. How do we test this theory?
I must say that you, obviously, have not studied and researched Edgar Cayce as thoroughly as you should have to earn credence in your work as a skeptic. I say this because, if you had, you would have discovered that, on numerous occasions, he gave readings on persons that were, at the time of the readings, in other cities or even states.
reply: Many people do psychic medical readings of people in other cities. But are their diagnoses correct? Where is the proof that anyone can diagnosis illness by telepathy?
This is not so convincing, you say. However, he would occasionally provide an aside remark about what the person was, at that time wearing, doing, saying, as well as, describe the surroundings, furnishings, rooms, houses, and even streets. These were, of course, recorded by a stenographer and later substantiated by the person the reading was given for, as well as others. You say that he gleaned the information from assistants and letters from the people asking for the readings. These people would not and did not describe these things in simple requests for readings.
reply: Is this kind of credulity what you consider to be "thorough research"?
I know you say that these things were not proven by the mere testimonials. I say to you that, as Jesus said, and I paraphrase, one should say only yea or nay to be believed.
reply: At least you were making sense up to here. What does Jesus have to with Cayce's claims?
Believe me please, when I say to you, that not only is everything in one's body connected, therefore effected through any given cause, but so is everything and everyone connected in all of creation. Please don't ever think that anything or everything you think, desire, feel or do does not effect any or all of the rest of creation. It does, it does.
reply: I believe you, but I don't see what is so interesting or important about everything being connected. Most of the effects in the universe are immeasurable and of no interest to anyone except vain occult speculators.
This is not meant, in any way, to cause offense, but to encourage reconsideration. I submit to you a formal and personal request to perform a new, more thorough study of all of the Cayce material before publishing your skeptic views.
I wish you Happiness, Joy and Laughter
reply: Thank you. I promise to be at least as thorough and critical as you have been.
31 Mar 1998
I enjoyed reading your comments on my grandfather, Edgar Cayce. While I never knew him, I'm probably as skeptical as anyone re: the data he gave. Yet I've seen application of some of the concepts save and change people's lives - physically.
The ARE [Edgar Cayce Resource Center] is not doing what it should and is completely ignoring research - research into 63% of that material of physical ailments. The medical profession refuses to touch it because M.D.'s in this area can have their medical privileges taken from them at hospitals if too closely associated with information they know nothing about!
Dr. Brainard based most of his research on the pineal on hypotheses from the readings and can give you both an interesting and funny lecture on the subject. But when asked to appear on T.V., he couldn't - he'd lose his professorship.
I know the sting of it all because I'm married to an M.D. One who is interested, but very secretive about his interest. He has to make a living and the AMA is a pretty strong arm.
People seem to forget that all Cayce gave were "readings" - basically an enormous amount of psychic data. It was not all correct. I refer you to a book by my father, Edgar Evans Cayce and Hugh Lynn Cayce on the cases that seemed to be wrong OUTER LIMITS OF EDGAR CAYCE'S POWER. Do take a look at it.
My father is an electrical engineer and probably wished the subject "Atlantis" never came up in the psychic data given. But he wrote a book after studying all the readings that mentioned Atlantis in 1968 - EDGAR CAYCE ON ATLANTIS. He later co-authored a book with Dr. Douglas Richards and myself MYSTERIES OF ATLANTIS REVISITED which tries to objectively look at what Cayce gave and at geological and archaeological evidence up to 1988. A more recent version was recently published by St. Martins. You can take a look at it at http://www.edgar-cayce.com.
If you're a good skeptic - take time to look at the book MYSTERIES OF ATLANTIS REVISITED - at least so you can be skeptical in an intelligent way. I would be quite interested in your comments on the book - as well as the others mentioned here.
Finally, a good deal of the crap ARE is publishing at present is just that - crap. But there are some good books. The best on my grandfather's life is THERE IS A RIVER by Thomas Sugrue. Sugrue was my uncle's roommate in college and was given up for dead by the doctors when he came to the beach. Pop said he weighed all of 80 pounds when they carried him in. At any rate, he recovered to the extent that he could take up his job again - reporting for the Chicago Herald - in the 2nd World War, though I believe he had to use a wheelchair. His account of Cayce was done after his recovery. He thought he was a bunch of crap before then. Check out his book too. He almost was kicked out of the Catholic Church when he wrote A CATHOLIC SPEAKS HIS MIND - but that's another story.
Gail Cayce Schwartzer
reply: I don't know what to say. I don't know if I'm a "good" skeptic or not. Only time will tell. Will I revisit this great mystery of Atlantis? Only time will tell. Will I go through the thousands of Cayce readings to separate the wheat from the chaff? I may leave that task to others. Does it help a psychic's case to admit that he was not infallible? I don't think so. You mention some tempting books; I'm afraid my reading list is already quite long but maybe some readers will be interested and have the time to explore these great mysteries further.