It set the stage for its new After Death Contest, which sought the best available evidence of survival of consciousness, with prizes of $ 500,000, $ 300,000, and $ 150,000 for first, second, and third place. The winners will be announced on November 1st.
Participants must qualify as reputable researchers by February 28th, with a record of at least five years of study and preferably belonging to groups such as the Society for Psychical Research in the UK. The submission of up to 25,000 words is due by August 1st and will be judged by an expert jury. Mr. Bigelow said he had an idea what this best evidence might be, but “it would be detrimental to say.”
The Bigelows’ interest in consciousness grew after the suicidal death of their 24-year-old son Rod Lee, father of a young boy and an unborn daughter, in 1992. (This son, Rod II, grew up fighting drug addiction and died with him in 2011 20 years of suicide. His sister, Mr. Bigelow’s granddaughter Blair, has worked with his aerospace and real estate companies and may eventually take them over. Mr. Bigelow said.)
The Bigelows sought solace after the death of their son and held meetings with the well-known medium George Anderson. Did your son contact you? “Not really,” said Mr. Bigelow, “but what I got from the readings was that his spirit existed and that he was fine.”
In 1997, the couple found few researchers serious about post-death experiences and presented the Bigelow Chair in Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas with a gift of $ 3.7 million. Charles T. Tart, a spiritually inclined transpersonal psychologist, and Raymond Moody, a writer who popularized the study of near-death experiences, became the first two chairs, but Mr. Bigelow discontinued the program after a few years. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make enough progress on research issues,” he said.