Life after death contest expands to award more cash to more people

Mysteries

MYSTERY WIRE — A contest seeking evidence of the afterlife has expanded its number of prizewinners and the cash awards.

The Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) announced an essay contest last month, seeking the best evidence for life after physical death. The prizes of nearly a million dollars generated an overwhelming response.

Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace stands next to a model of an inflatable habitat that could be used for future space exploration during a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, April 7, 2016. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Las Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow didn’t know if he’d get more than a handful of entrants when he announced his essay contest in February. “I initially was kidding to people, ‘Gee, I hope we have at least three applicants,'” Bigelow said. “Well, we got a lot more than that.”

BICS offered to pay $950,000 to the top three essays offering proof that human consciousness survives physical death. BICS will award $500,000 to the first place essay.

The response was so overwhelming that Bigelow has decided to expand the prize money to $1.5 mil., with $50,000 going to each of another 11 essay entrants.

Applications have arrived from all over the world, Bigelow says.

“We have somebody on death row who is an applicant,” Bigelow told George Knapp. “We have a detective from Mexico, who has been solving murders, many murders, by communicating, he says, with the other side through mediums and solving his crimes. He’s a detective. So we have a full bandwidth of people who are also researchers and have been researchers in this field for most of their lives for many decades. So it runs the gamut of applicants from one end to the other.”

BICS has received entries from nearly every country in Europe, South America and southeast Asia, including India, Tibet, and China.

The deadline for the entries was February 28. So many entries arrived on the final weekend, BICS is still sorting through all of the applications but expects to be finished within a few days and hopes to notify those who were selected to write an essay this week.

The final essays of 25,000 words or less are due by August.

Bigelow contribution to space exploration is all about the space

Bigelow hoped the essay contest would generate worldwide interest in survival of consciousness, which he considers a central question of human existence.

Bigelow hopes this change to the number of winners will encourage all applicants who are selected to write essays to complete them and send them in. “Yeah, it’s worth the effort,” Bigelow said. “It’s as though it wasn’t worth the effort before. But at least now we’re embracing the opportunity for 11 more people to win instead of just three. So now we have a total of 14 opportunities.”


Below you can watch and read the entire interview between George Knapp and Robert Bigelow, recorded on March 3, 2021.

George Knapp
Mr. Bigelow. So can you tell us about the response? The deadline came Sunday? What was the response? Are you pleased with what happened?

Robert Bigelow
We’re very pleased, we had about 1000 emails over that weekend just prior to, to the Sunday’s close. And so we have had enormous positive response and applications. And a lot of really good applicants where it’s gonna be a real job for the judges to try to pick out only three winners, you know, a first place second place and third place. And altogether, those amounts were $500,000, for first $300,000 for for a second $150,000 for first, for $950,000 total, total winnings. And I got to thinking that it’s awfully challenging for the judges and trying to compact out of all the good applications we have, who are going to produce really good essays into just three, making three choices. You know, I initially was kidding to be well, gee, I hope we have at least three applicants, right? Well, we got a lot more than that. And so what I decided was to create another 11 winners, and each of those 11 would win $50,000. So we have altogether 14 potential winners in the contest. And it’s going to give the the essay authors more opportunities to win than they did have. And so it’s worth their trouble and worth your while to do good essays. And so we want them to know that now the field is much more broad for winning the prizes. And so all together as a million and a half dollars, 1,500,000 that is going to be awarded to all the winners.

George Knapp
It encourages people to go ahead and now that they’ve applied and made the cut, to go ahead and write the essay, right.

Robert Bigelow
Yeah, it’s worth the effort. No, I mean, It’s not as though it wasn’t worth the effort before. But at least now we’re embracing the opportunity for 11 more people to win instead of just three. So now we have a total of 14 opportunities.

George Knapp
Can you talk about You said you had so many great applicants, you’re still going through them, you’re still processing a bunch of the applications that came in, right?

Robert Bigelow
We are, but they’re going to be will be finished this week, and processing them. So by Thursday, by the end of Thursday, actually, we expect to be able to have categorize them and to process them. And so they will be the contestants or the applicants who are going to be allowed into the competition will have been notified this week or next week, by the end of next week surely they will have been notified that their application has been accepted.

George Knapp
You said you had so many quality applications. Can you sort of describe the scope of that where they came from? And were there any surprises about where they came from?

Robert Bigelow
We have somebody on death row who is an applicant. We have a detective from Mexico, who has been solving murders, many murders, by communicating he says with the other side through mediums and solving his crimes. He’s a detective. So we have a full bandwidth of people who are also researchers and have been researchers in this field for most of their lives for many decades. So it runs the gamut of of applicants from one end to the other.

George Knapp
I know you were hoping for Southeast Asia, India, China, Tibet, because those cultures have considered this Yeah, with a more open mind than maybe Western culture.

Robert Bigelow
Yes, we have applications from all over the world. This is truly international contest.

George Knapp
South America?

Robert Bigelow
South America as well. Yes. Particularly Brazil. Yes.

George Knapp
And you said quality, meaning academics who have done this kind of research, are there any surprises in that academics who were working on this that you didn’t know about?

Robert Bigelow
So it’s essentially going to be people who have been professional researchers, they’re all during their lives. It could be people who are practitioners in religion, it could be priests, ministers, rabbis, whatever. And people who have had unique experiences, it could be people who have been filmmakers and documentary folks who have recorded who essentially are ghostbusters, and they have recorded a lot of terrific things, you know, in the process of pursuing that kind of that field, and you can call them researchers of a certain category, certain time, just because they’re in the field of entertainment. I wouldn’t say well, they haven’t been exposed to to things in a way that that they’re trying to entertain by finding and presenting verifiably events that are very paranormal in this kind of area, you know, in terms of looking for ghosts and trying to understand that this, there’s some kind of consciousness may be going on here in some way. So we’re not trying to close the doors and saying, well, you’re you don’t have a background. But we have to say you have to have enough of a background, that you’ve been doing this for enough of a time, long enough time, perhaps five years or more. And so we have rules and regulations are that are described on our website. So we’ve tried to be as fair as we can.

George Knapp
It’s flexible and democratic. You don’t have to have a double PhD to enter the contest.

Robert Bigelow
Exactly. No, you don’t.

George Knapp
I know that speaking to you privately, that you had shared with me the idea that you’ve been flooded with personal notes, testaments from people who have written your passionate letters, what’s that been like?

Robert Bigelow
Well, I’m going to be authoring, actually, a letter next week, that is a personal letter, that I’ll post on our website, that is to thank all of the applicants, thank all the people who are friends, and who are providing advice and so on. And I have been getting letters at the office and at home and from a lot of people, and they’re pouring out their hearts in describing their own personal things that have happened to them, why they are convinced that the other side exists, and they pour out their hearts. And so my letter is going to be trying to explain that this contest and this effort isn’t about whether or not I don’t have personal opinions, I do have personal opinions. And my personal opinion is that the other side does exist. I’ve had that for decades. So it’s not that what we’re trying to do was create an opportunity to stimulate debate and interest in dialogue. And also to put on our website, perhaps all the the winning essays, in addition to maybe runners up that didn’t win anything, but runner up essays, and be able to have maybe two dozen or more, who knows, all in one website for people to see really solid arguments to where people who are good researchers, and they’re going to be they’re going to be trying to say there, the site does exist from different kinds of aspects and show different kinds of proof. And maybe some of that’s really going to resonate with folks. Maybe it won’t, because it’s not as though we’re trying to, to change everybody’s mind, we’re not. We’re trying to say, this is a body of information from diverse kinds of people and research and so on, that is going to try to be as unbiased as possible, not getting religion into things. Because we’ve tried to make that clear, you know, don’t be quoting scripture, because anybody can do that is trying to say come up with something more, something more concrete, that people that is more tangible for folks to actually get a hold of. And so I think we’re going to be doing a public service.

George Knapp
I know that you wanted to stimulate debate, get people talking, elevate the level of discussion about the afterlife, the subject. And it sounds like you’ve already done that, even before you see the essays. Could you anticipate ever doing this, again, another contest?

Robert Bigelow
We have to cross cross that bridge. We have now a period of time for five months until on the first of August, that the applicants, the time has been cut off the first of the 20th of February. And that was the time that they needed to have their applications in. So now they know there are 14 awards that are going to be made. Once the judges judge everything after the first of August, all the essays need to be completed by that’s the deadline. Some of these essays have more than one author. So there may be two, three, or four or five people getting together as a group to do an essay, no longer than 25,000 words. And so there’s plenty of time here for people to write and do a good job of writing, what they’re trying to present as their case, their case, right. And then the judges have three months, August, September and October, we have six judges now. We added one more, which was really good that the person is tremendously qualified. And we feel that this is going to make the judges more able to handle the volume of judging the volume of material that has to be read and poured over by them. And so then by the first November we’ll know who all these winners are, all the 14 winners, and we’ll make a big announcement and all we’re going to invite them to, to maybe, you know, be on your show, George and describe to everybody in the world as to how do they come to these conclusions? You know, why do they feel that they’re that they’re right, in what they’re presenting, and so this dialogue may continue on. after November 1, you know, maybe in December and on into 2022. Because of the ability of these people to, to be on various programs and shows and describe how they came to their conclusions.

George Knapp
I know that you mentioned about the all the letters, personal letters, you’re getting people pouring their hearts out to you about their own experiences, and their beliefs. You’re not the judge, you’re not making the decision.

Robert Bigelow
No, no, I’m glad I’m not. And I’m glad our staff is not. Our staff here at BICS have hands off of any of that these judges are going to be completely on their own to communicate among each other among themselves. And so the instruction is from from our side, from from management of BICS is just use good common sense. Use the the beyond a reasonable doubt metric of the Western court system, because that’s enough to convict, you know, that you can say yes, if I’m beyond a reasonable doubt doesn’t mean, you have to be 100% convinced it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt says reasonable, 100% is not reasonable. So you don’t have to reach 100% can, you know can convince conviction on that. And that witnesses matter if you have a story that involves that matters as to who the witnesses are, how many witnesses were there, you know, that matters. And that’s very important in trying to convince a jury of observers, what you’re presenting is, is pretty darn pretty darn correct and accurate and true.

George Knapp
Would we be right in guessing that a lot of big names known for near death experiences, books about the afterlife, research, academic or otherwise have applied?

Robert Bigelow
I have not, for this very reason, I have not stuck my nose and face into all the applications at all. What I told you about the two individuals in the beginning of your program here was was told to me by a senior staff member, so I had not read anything at all to do with who has applied? You know. And so I’ve been hands off on that.

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