He set the stage for his new post-death competition, seeking the best available evidence of the survival of consciousness, with prizes of $ 500,000, $ 300,000 and $ 150,000 for first, second and third places. . The winners will be announced on November 1st.
Applicants must qualify as serious researchers by February 28, with a record of at least five years of study in the field and preferably affiliation with groups like the Society for Psychical Research in Britain. Submissions of a maximum of 25,000 words must be submitted by August 1, to be judged by a panel of experts. Mr Bigelow said he had an idea of what that best evidence might be, but “it would be detrimental to say so.”
The Bigelows’ interest in consciousness developed after the suicide death of their 24-year-old son Rod Lee, father of a baby and an unborn daughter in 1992. (This son, Rod II, grew up struggling with drug addiction and would also die of suicide at age 20 in 2011. His sister, Mr Bigelow’s granddaughter, Blair, worked with his aerospace and real estate companies and could eventually take them over, Mr Bigelow has said.)
Seeking solace after their son’s death, the Bigelows held sessions with renowned psychic George Anderson. Has their son made contact? “Not really,” Mr Bigelow said, “but what I took away from the readings, I think, was that his mind existed and he was fine”
Finding few researchers seriously studying afterlife experiences, the couple endowed the Bigelow Chair in Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas in 1997 with a donation of $ 3.7 million. . Charles T. Tart, a spiritual-minded transpersonal psychologist, and Raymond Moody, an author who popularized the study of near-death experiences, became the first two chairmen, but Bigelow closed the program after several years. “Unfortunately, we just haven’t been able to make enough progress in the research aspects,” he said.