Conference Abstracts 2007

The programme and abstracts from the 31st International Conference held in Cardiff, Sept 2007.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH

31st August to 2nd September, 2007, Cardiff University

CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

Friday 31st August

Longitudinal study of persons claiming past-life memories when they were children (including a tribute to the late Prof. Ian Stevenson)
Erlendur Haraldsson

A preliminary study of a boy who, from when he could talk, has spoken about having lived before
Tricia J Robertson

A conference experiment to win the Lottery jackpot
Mick O'Neill

Infrasound as a Factor in Reported Anomalous, Paranormal & Psychical Experiences Within a Disused Merseyside Shipyard
Steven Parsons & Ann Winsper

A Survey of Spontaneous Apparitional Experiences
Ann Winsper & Steven Parsons

Family backgrounds of highly psychic adults
Sylvia Hart Wright

Why Has Parapsychology Lost Interest in Survival Research?
Prof. David Fontana

Saturday 1st September

Paranormal beliefs and critical thinking skills across three levels of an undergraduate degree in psychology.
Janet Pitman

Social marginality and Belief in the Paranormal
Chris Roe & Nicola Martin

Paranormal belief and susceptibility to the conjunction fallacy
Paul Rogers & Tiffany Davis

Exploring the filter theory of psi-awareness: do we inhibit psi-mediated information when it is not needed?
Nicola Holt, Christine Simmonds-Moore & Stephen Moore

Testing for Telepathy Using an Immersive Virtual Environment
Craig Murray, Jezz Fox, David Wilde, Christine Simmonds & Toby Howard

Seven Years of Weird Science at Goldsmiths: An Overview of the Work of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit
Christopher French

Accounts of experiences by contemporary British spirit mediums
Hannah Gilbert

The psychology and phenomenology of mediumship: an exploratory survey
Elizabeth Roxburgh

Towards a conceptual replication of the Robertson-Roy experiments with mediums. A preliminary study with a psychometric subject.
Annalisa Bozzini & Stefano Siccardi

Delayed but not Immediate Time-Reversed Preference of Neutral Pictorial Stimuli in the Mere Exposure Paradigm
Alexander Batthyany & Ivan Spajic

Displacement in dream ESP research: Assessing the role of feedback during judging
Chris Roe, Simon Sherwood & Louise Farrell

The Effects of Staring Duration and Gender on the Detection of Remote Staring
Nicholas Felton & Richard Broughton

Sunday 2nd September

What are Students to make of Psychical Research?
John Poynton

Science plus psi: a report from the inside
Sean O'Donnell

Can parapsychologists and paranormal investgators work closer together?
John Fraser

Healers, Healees and Healing: Just Placebo Effect?
Robert Charman

An Exploration of Degree of Meditation Attainment in Relation to Psychic Awareness with Tibetan Buddhists
Serena Roney-Dougal, Jerry Solfvin & Jezz Fox

Perspectives on Paranormal, Transpersonal, and Religious Experience
Mike Daniels
 

ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS

Longitudinal study of persons claiming past-life memories when they were children (including a tribute to the late Professor Ian Stevenson)

Erlendur Haraldsson

No systematic research has been made on alleged reincarnation memories regarding their continuation into adult life. Interviewed were 42 persons in Sri Lanka who spoke of memories of a past life as children in the 1960-1980 to Stevenson and to Haraldsson in 1988-1991. They were asked about what they recalled about their previous memories, how these memories affected their lives, and a comparison is made with what they claimed to remember when they were children according to the original interviews. These and more results will be presented.

 

A preliminary study of a boy who, from when he could talk, has spoken about having lived before

Tricia J. Robertson

This is a personal account of an investigation into the statements made by a six year old boy who, from when he could speak, insisted that he had lived before on the Island of Barra, off the West coast of Scotland. From about the age of three, he insisted that he had another Mummy, who was missing him. He said that his Daddy had been killed, as he had not looked where he was going and a car knocked him down, and that he was with him when this happened. Among the details that he has provided through the years was the fact that when he lived before, he could see the aeroplanes landing on the beach. His present mother did not give a word of this any credibility, as she did not even know where Barra was. Only through the child’s persistence in telling everyone, especially his nursery teacher, all about his life in Barra, did this account come to light to a wider audience. This occurred through an advert in a local paper which read along the lines of “Do you, or anyone that you know, have memories of having lived in a previous life?” and the fact that the nursery teacher contacted the paper. A film company picked up on the account and subsequently arranged to have the family flown to Barra to test the credence of the statements made by the boy. Dr Jim Tucker, a parapsychologist from the University of Virginia accompanied the party who flew to Barra.

Mary Rose Barrington subsequently suggested to me that I gather further information about the situation. This process has begun with a series of taped interviews with the family and other witnesses concerned.

This presentation will examine the statements and their veracity, or otherwise, the attitudes of all concerned in the investigation, especially that of the boy and will demonstrate that the case is worth while and deserves further investigation.

 

A conference experiment to win the Lottery jackpot!

Mick O’Neill

As I have explained the details of the Psychic Lottery Project at three previous SPR conferences, this year we will only make a conference attempt at the lottery experiment itself. Lottery tickets will be bought and any winnings will be shared amongst participants and the SPR. It is free to take part.

Instructions will be given before the experiment and an instruction sheet distributed. A rough idea of what is done can be ascertained from the description below.

Project Description:
The on-going Psychic lottery project has so far attracted about 560,000 psi attempts in 45,000 sessions by 1,300 participants in six continents over eight years. As such, it may possibly be the most wide-ranging psychical research study ever carried out, involving a total of about 20,000 hours put in by the experimenter alone.

The project’s overall aim is to find out whether and how it may be possible to use psi to predict lottery numbers. If it is, we plan to win the UK National Lottery twice!

The projectís overall aim is to find out whether and how it may be possible to use psi to predict lottery numbers. If it is, we plan to win the UK National Lottery twice!

The principal bases of this research are the PEAR precognitive Ganzfeld results (1989) and the work of Zilberman (1995). This latter research suggested that the number of people who win lottery prizes varies dependent on certain factors, most importantly, geomagnetic disturbance.

The project involves people being invited to try to predict winning lottery numbers during a short period of visualisation. The experiment currently consists of about 100 participants independently attempting this for each Saturday draw. The participants pay nothing, but simply email or phone their chosen numbers to me. All the participants’ predictions are then input into a computer program that saves them and calculates which tickets to buy. Then, about £60 of tickets are bought per draw. Prior to the lottery draw, participants are emailed with the numbers on tickets purchased and the information necessary for an unambiguous division of any prizes among participants. After the draw they are emailed with their results and those of the group, including any prize division.

It is designed to be a free, easy and fun opportunity to test one’s psychic abilities against the lottery, help psychical research and possibly get rich. You are invited to take part in this conference attempt and/or join the ongoing experiment.

References:

Dunne B. J., Dobyns Y. H., Intner S. M. (1989). Precognitive Remote Perception III: Complete Binary Data Base with Analytical Refinements. Technical Note PEAR 89002, Princeton University.
Zilberman M. S. (1995). Public Numerical Lotteries - An International Parapsychological Experiment Covering A Decade. JSPR, 60, 149-160

Thanks are due to the SPR for support grants amounting to £3,000. Without their help, non-academic research like this will usually be impossible.

 

Infrasound as a Factor in Reported Anomalous, Paranormal & Psychical Experiences Within a Disused Merseyside Shipyard

Steven T. Parsons (Department of Psychology, Liverpool Hope University, UK) & Ann R. Winsper (Department of Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK)

In recent years Infrasound, normally defined as acoustic energy that has a frequency below that of normal human hearing, i.e. 20Hz, has increasingly been suggested as a causal factor in some reports of personal paranormal experiences. However to date this hypothesis remains poorly substantiated by field measurements. Apart from the seminal studies conducted by the late Vic Tandy at Coventry University (Tandy & Lawrence, 1998, Tandy, 2000) there is almost nothing that directly links subjective paranormal experiences with naturally occurring or man-made infrasound. A number of studies exist, mainly conducted by the US Military and Government agencies that have demonstrated that exposure to high and very high amplitude infrasound does alter the physiology and psychology of test subjects (von Gierke and Nixon, 1976).

During 2004, the authors were invited by members of staff employed at a two-storey office building within the former Cammell Lairds shipyard in Birkenhead to investigate a series of alleged paranormal experiences. Only the ground floor level was in use at the time, the upper floor had been abandoned for several years and was now used only for storage. The staff reported a range of personal anomalous experiences including the sighting of apparitions, cold spots, feelings of anxiety and unease and a sense of presence. Interviews revealed that all six members of staff had recently experienced something which they considered to be paranormal. Staff members had also reported sounds described as “the slamming of doors” and “footsteps” apparently coming from the abandoned upper floor. During their infrequent visits to the upper floor the staff described apparition encounters and feelings of foreboding and anxiety which at various times could be overwhelming. The investigation notes obtained over hundreds of hours showed that team members who were unaware of the staff experiences independently reported a range of anomalous experiences, including nausea, ear pressure, sudden onset headaches and anxiety, the sighting of apparitions and many instances of fleeting shadows and peripherally seen movement.

The first author has developed infrasound detection and measuring equipment and the offices provided a convenient location for this equipment to be field tested. We did anticipate a degree of environmental infrasound would be present as the building is surrounded by industrial premises and major roads, both of which are well documented sources of infrasound. The background infrasound level was found to be in the region of 30dB-40dB Sound Pressure Level (SPL) for much of the time. We were however, surprised to discover that the infrasound was at times much higher than the measured baseline levels, being up to 85dB (SPL) and manifesting as a series of periodic emissions within the range of 5Hz to 18Hz. Initially, we speculated that that these powerful but inaudible sonic energies where being caused by the nearby Mersey Tunnel, its entrance 500 metres away and directly in line with the office building. The Mersey Tunnel at 4.6 kilometres length and 13.4 metres diameter, we hypothesised may be acting as a gigantic infrasound generator - a traditional method of producing low frequency sound and infrasound is by blowing air through a very large pipe as in the case of a church organ. The Mersey Tunnel is continually fed a large volume of fresh air via a series of massive fans that blow up to half a million cubic metres of air through the tunnel at times of peak traffic flow and could be thought of as acting like an enormous organ pipe. During periods of lower traffic flow such as at night these fans can be systematically shut down, thus reducing air flow considerably.

Continued infrasound measurements and reference to the investigation team notes revealed that whilst it was likely the Mersey Tunnel was generating infrasound, it could not be demonstrated to be the cause of the high amplitude periodic infrasound which we observed mainly at night when traffic flow and thus fan air flow was significantly lower. Infrasound measurements were additionally taken at periods of high traffic flow during the evening and morning rush hour. These did show a general rise in the overall infrasound but failed to show the periodic high amplitude infrasound emissions that we had observed and recorded. An extended series of measurements was then carried out over a number of weeks during the autumn of 2006. This series of measurements finally traced the infrasound source to the generators and engines on ships moored in the basin of the adjacent ship repair facility less than 150 metres from the office building. The repair facility was only in use intermittently and when no ship was present the particular infrasound emissions were absent. When a ship was observed to be moored in the basin with its generators running, powerful infrasound emissions were measured at amplitudes of up to 85dB (SPL) at frequencies in the range of 5Hz-18Hz throughout the entire office building. These occasions also corresponded exactly to the written notes of investigation team members who reported sudden onset headaches, nausea, anxiety and an increase in reports of fleeting visual anomalies and apparitions. On one occasion a large car ferry was moored with its engines running, producing infrasound of >83dB (SPL) at 5Hz. This coincided with the visit to the building by an invited Medium. Without prior knowledge of the location he had been asked to walk around the building indicating areas within the building which he considered to be psychically active. His notes and indications on a plan of the building of those areas being spiritually active or having “denser” psychic energies corresponded remarkably to those areas where the highest levels of infrasound were being simultaneously measured. In areas of the building with lower levels of infrasound i.e. <70dB (SPL) the reported nature and extent of investigation team’s personal experiences were greatly diminished. The Medium reported “lighter” psychic energy present and less spirit activity whilst in the same lower infrasound areas of the building. These early discoveries lead us to suggest that: High ambient levels of infrasound or specific frequencies within the infrasonic region may be able to affect individuals and cause them to have unusual and unexpected physiological and psychological experiences. These personal experiences may then be interpreted with respect to an individual’s personal belief, knowledge and expectation as being of a paranormal or psychical origin.

This initial infrasound field study forms the basis of future measurements at a range of geographically and typologically diverse allegedly haunted locations and associated control locations which it is hoped will produce a series of baseline measurements and also possibly link or otherwise ambient infrasound to reports of personal anomalous experiences. This series of field studies is being partially funded by a grant from the Society for Psychical Research (SPR).

References:

Gierke, H. E. von and Nixon, C. W. (1976). Effects of intense infrasound on man. Infrasound and low frequency vibration, edited by W. Tempest. London. Academic.
Tandy, V. and Lawrence, T. R. (1998). The Ghost in the Machine. JSPR 62, 360 – 364.
Tandy, V. (2000). Something in the Cellar. JSPR 64, 129 – 140.

A survey of spontaneous apparitional experiences

Ann R. Winsper (Department of Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK) & Steven T. Parsons (Department of Psychology, Liverpool Hope University, UK)

The authors have been running an on-line survey of apparitional experiences since early 2004. The aim of this survey has been to determine the type of apparitional experiences that are being reported, and to ascertain if this can aid in directing spontaneous case research in the 21st century.

It is a fact that many surveys, including the original Census of Hallucinations (Sidgwick et al, 1894) and the Mass Observation questionnaire (West, 1948), have discounted reports of phenomena that are not directly related to an apparitional experience – for example the sound of footsteps is discounted as it is classed as doubtful whether the impression was actually caused by a real sound that the percipient had not recognised (Sidgwick et al, 1894). This is due to the purpose of the original Census being to ascertain evidence of telepathy. However this causes us, as spontaneous case researchers, some problems in quantifying the evidence presented, as this particular phenomenon (the sound of footsteps) is commonly anecdotally reported in spontaneous cases. For this reason, we have considered all anecdotal reports at face value, to try and ascertain the type of experience that people believe they are experiencing, without subjecting the reports to our own subjective bias.

The survey requests participants to answer initial questions concerning belief and whether they think they have witnessed something they believe to have been a ghost. The majority of the survey asks more detailed questions concerning the details of the experience, and finally some basic demographic details concerning gender and age are asked for.

The survey has so far produced a total of 1801 responses, although it must be recognised that the sample of respondents is not representative of the population as a whole. This is due to the survey being accessible only through the authors’ website, which not only precludes people without internet access from accessing the survey, but by the nature of the site (being based on spontaneous case research) the people accessing the site are more likely to have had such experiences, with a corresponding bias of responses from experiencers and believers.

The authors will describe some of the results from the survey, and compare these results with previous surveys (including Persinger, 1974 and Green & McCreery, 1975) to ascertain if there are any significant similarities to or changes from the results obtained in previous surveys. Responses considered will include a discussion of the apparent opacity of figures reported, and responses concerning crisis apparitions. A high number of respondents reported that the figure appeared to be aware of them, indicating some form of apparent interaction between percipient and apparition.

One area of further study identified concerned a question that asked respondents to describe the period of history they thought the apparition was from. This proved to be the hardest part of the survey to analyse due to the wide variety of responses. However the authors decided at the beginning of the survey that rather than force people to fit their experience into a pre-defined historical period, it would be better to allow them to describe the historical period in their own words. Results from this part of the survey showed that sightings are more frequent as the period of history tends towards the modern day, however there are obvious peaks in the data in both the Victorian era and the period of time encompassing the two World Wars. This suggests that people may be interpreting apparitions in terms of historical periods they may be more familiar with (such as modern day, Victorian, 1st and 2nd World War). Also, it may be the case that ghosts are actually a phenomenon that fades with time, so we would expect to see more reported sightings of modern apparitions than ones from older periods of history (Smyth, 1984). The authors hypothesised that respondents may not be accurate in describing apparitions in terms of historical period. Limited anecdotal research by the authors has shown that people cannot distinguish different periods of dress by historical period – it can be almost impossible for someone without in-depth costume knowledge to distinguish between clothing from diverse periods of history ranging from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The authors are currently devising a study which will investigate the reporting of historical period by a group of participants, both apparitional experiencers and non-experiencers.

Results from other surveys discussing percipients’ surroundings during apparent apparitional experiences will also be discussed as being relevant to the validity of field research in preference to laboratory research when investigating the mechanism of apparent spontaneous cases.

Finally the authors will briefly discuss the problems they have found in acquiring detailed spontaneous case reports, mainly due to the proliferation of “paranormal investigation” groups over the last decade.

References:

Green, C. & McCreery, C. (1975). Apparitions. London: Hamish Hamilton.
Persinger, M.A., (1974). The Paranormal: Part I – Patterns. New York: MSS Information.
Sidgwick, H.A. et al., (1894). Report on the census of hallucinations. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 10, 25-422.
Smyth, F. (1984). Ghost Origins. In P.Brookesmith (Ed.) The Unexplained Volume 9; Great Hauntings. London: Orbis.
West, D.J., (1948). A Mass-Observation Questionnaire on Hallucinations. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 34, 187-196.

 

Family backgrounds of highly psychic adults

Sylvia Hart Wright

The question of how to persuade sceptics that psychic phenomena actually exist has never been dealt with successfully. Underlying this problem would seem to be the belief on the part of sceptics that, since they themselves have never had convincing psi experiences, reports of such experiences must be fraudulent or fallacious. This implies belief that unless sensitivity to psi is present to a significant degree in all educated, rational people, it cannot be present in any. And since by definition, paranormal events have no apparent material cause, skeptics see no reason to recognize their reality.

In my proposed talk I will argue that not only does the ability to perceive psi phenomena vary widely among individuals, but that elements in family heritage and childhood upbringing tend to predict whether such ability will be present in adulthood. These judgments will be based primarily on analysis of a database of 115 psychic men and women of varied ages and social backgrounds. Further evidence will be drawn from findings reported in scholarly books and articles. The most striking conclusion argued by my database is that if none of four predictors is present in an individual's life history, that person is highly unlikely to be sensitive to psi.

In an article published in the JSPR in 1999, I reported on 61 healthy, sane adults who had sensed contact with the dead and whom I had interviewed in depth. I had asked about attitudes in their families of origin toward psi and toward organized religion. Soon, because in my informal interviews a surprisingly high percentage mentioned parental alcoholism, I added an intentionally vague question, "Would you say your childhood was generally pleasant or was it difficult?" If the answer was "difficult," I asked in what way. Not all interviewees were equally responsive but aside from alcoholism in the home, many volunteered stories of what I came to call an "authoritarian /angry/abusive" (A/A/A) parent. This label applied not only to brutal tyrants but to the mother or father who was habitually cold and belittling, or who had a fiery temper often unleashed unpredictably. Of the 56 interviewees who by that time had provided me with detailed data on their childhoods, 18 reported that they had grown up among adults familiar with the paranormal; 17 had not come from especially psi-friendly homes but had had "generally pleasant" childhoods. Of those reporting "difficult" or "both" childhoods, 21 (37.5%) reported alcoholism in the home and 19 (33.9%) reported one or more A/A/A parents. Many respondents reported more than one such apparently predictive element in their childhood. Not all respondents who reported "difficult" childhoods had experienced alcoholic or A/A/A parents. Other sources of difficulty might include the death of the mother in infancy, congenital deformities requiring frequent operations, etc.

Since 1999 I have interviewed many more people who have sensed after-death communication and have started asking them all whether they experienced various kinds of trauma early in life, even if they reported having had a pleasant childhood. My proposed talk will feature 5 tables based on a database that I have amassed on a total of 115 individuals, psychic to various degrees, all of whom have sensed after-death communication. Most of them reported other psi experiences as well. These tables (below) parse out formative elements in their childhoods and family heritage, and measure the impact of these elements on their sensitivity to paranormal messages. The total number of individuals reported on varies from table to table, depending on the number who answered each particular question.

In Table 1, Frequency of Psychic Experience by Quality of Childhood, we find that respondents reporting difficult or "both" childhoods are far more likely (90%) to report having had 5 or more experiences, than those reporting pleasant childhoods (58%). Table 2, Frequency of Psychic Experience by Psi-Friendly Family Background, shows that a higher percentage (84%) of people from psi-friendly families reported 5+ experiences than did those from families that were not psi-friendly (61%). Table 3, Frequency of Psychic Experience by Alcoholic Parent, shows an even stronger impact for this variable. While 95% of the adult children of alcoholic parents reported 5+ psychic experiences, only 69% of those without alcoholic parents reported having had that many experiences. Table 4, Frequency of Psychic Experience by A/A/A Parent, shows similar results, except that females are more strongly impacted by this variable than males. Table 5, Respondents with 5+ Psychic Experiences Having Relevant Social Characteristics, describes only those high-scoring psychics for whom complete statistical data was available and summarizes much of the data in the other four tables.

No table is presented to describe respondents who did not report having either a stressful childhood or coming from a psi-friendly family. There were just 2 women in the database who reported pleasant childhoods, no pro-psi influences in childhood, no alcoholism and no A/A/A. There were NO men in the database who did not report any of these predictors in their background. It's my guess that the great majority of ardent sceptics come from this population of people, particularly men, whose childhoods were pleasant and whose families had neither belief in nor experience with the paranormal.

Elsewhere I have described at some length, evidence in the scholarly literature that both trauma in childhood and a family history of psi tend to create psychics. In the March 2007 issue of The Christian Parapsychologist, the editor did me the honor of quoting the conclusions of a recent article of mine on "Childhood Influences That Heighten Psychic Powers" which did not, however, discuss this database. If invited to present at the coming conference, I will be delighted to travel from the West Coast of the United States, where I live, to describe my findings on this subject.

Selected References:

Perry, M. (2007) Predispositions toward psi. The Christian Parapsychologist 17:5, 161.
Wright, S.H. (1999) Paranormal contact with the dying. JSPR 63:857, 258-267.
Wright, S.H. (2006) Childhood influences that heighten psychic powers. Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies 29:4, 183-192.

Why has parapsychology lost interest in survival research?

Professor David Fontana

Professor William MacDougall FRS, who was President of the SPR in 1920 and instrumental in founding the first ever parapsychological laboratory at Duke University, stated specifically ‘The principal aim of the SPR is to obtain, if possible, empirical evidence that human personality may and does survive in some sense and degree the death of the body (MacDougall 1928). One of the finest minds ever to be attracted to psychical research, MacDougall recognised that this aim not only motivated the founders of the Society, it continued to be the main inspiration behind much of its work for the first decades of its existence.

The paper will examine the reasons why, from the work of J. B. Rhine onwards, research into survival has assumed diminishing importance, not only for the SPR but for parapsychology in general. It will challenge the prejudices against this research that currently exist, and will argue not only that we must work to combat these prejudices but that the evidence in favour of survival is now stronger than ever. It will outline some of this evidence and offer guidelines for future research, emphasising that from a number of perspectives the question of whether or not we survive physical death is now more relevant than ever. It will also suggest that the current emphasis on laboratory work in parapsychology has led to a neglect of the field-based studies on which survival research largely depends.

Paranormal beliefs and critical thinking skills across three levels of an undergraduate degree in psychology.

Dr Janet Pitman, University of Glamorgan

In reflecting on the relationship between general cognitive ability and paranormal belief, one area of enquiry has been to consider that paranormal beliefs may be manipulated in part by a person’s exposure to training in the scientific method. Evidence of a link between scientific training and belief in paranormal phenomena would bolster the misattribution hypothesis (Wiseman and Watt, 2006) and validate the claims of many educators. For example, critical thinking training is the hallmark of a many science degrees with the emphasis on learning to apply the methods of critical reasoning beyond the particular context and regardless of personal beliefs.

Studies considering general scientific training have tended to consider relationships between type of academic course, belief and thinking ability. Participants are often students on different programmes, at different levels of study, with no study taking into account the different extent of training across all levels of an undergraduate program and indeed many do not mention the level of study of their particular cohort. The results from these reports are also rather mixed with some studies revealing that science students possess lower overall paranormal beliefs than humanities students (e.g. Diaz-Viela and Alvarez-Gonzalez, 2004), others showing the opposite pattern of results (Salter and Routledge, 1971), and some revealing no relationship between science knowledge and paranormal beliefs (Walker, Hoekstra, and Vogl, 2002). Studies involving specific paranormal training attempt to trace the change in beliefs as a function of this training. It is evident that negatively biased training reduces a range of paranormal beliefs (e.g. Morier and Keeports, 1994) whereas positive paranormal content appears to differentially effect beliefs (Irwin, 1990b) It is therefore clear that further research is necessary to compare beliefs and thinking ability across all levels of a degree programme and if possible with courses involving paranormal content.

In addition to comparing general scientific training, belief is often related to some independent measure of critical thinking. Some of the more ecologically valid measures involve a task with which science students may be familiar, such as evaluating a scientific paper. Results here are also mixed with some revealing that believers in paranormal phenomena have less critical thinking ability than non-believers (e.g. Gray and Mill, 1990), and others failing to reveal a difference (e.g. Roe, 1999). Roe argued that in performing critical evaluation tasks, participants may be more prone to cognitive dissonance effects than faulty reasoning per se. This hypothesis was supported in his study with participants producing more negative appraisals of the quality of articles which contradict their paranormal beliefs.

My study aimed to explore the relationship between paranormal belief and critical evaluation over three years of a psychology degree. This was achieved by measuring participants’ beliefs and evaluation of a mock report (that concorded with or contradicted belief) in the first week of term (session 1) across all three levels of undergraduate study and then again for levels 1 and 2 six months later (session 2). Level 2 students studied parapsychology at this level. The measures used were Tobacyk’s (1988) Paranormal Belief Scale and Roe’s abbreviated experimental reports and evaluation scale.

Between year analysis revealed a difference in belief across years with year 1 exhibiting less belief overall than years 2 and 3 (year 3’s belief was closer to year 1 but not significantly so). There was also a significant effect of the appraised quality of reports with years 1 and 3 assessing them to be of lower quality than year 2 (year 3’s quality appraisal was closer to year 1 but again not significantly so). No main effect for congruence was found, but an interaction of congruence and year neared significance. Separate analysis by year revealed an effect of congruence for year 2, with papers incongruent with belief receiving a more generous appraisal than papers evaluated by neutral believers the first time they were tested. The longitudinal measures revealed no significant changes in belief during either the first or second year as a function of session. An interaction was found between session and year with year 1 students slightly increasing and year 2 decreasing their quality assessment over time. Both groups ended with a similar level of quality appraisal in session two.

These results reveal some support for the relationship between belief and critical appraisal when viewed across the three years of training. The surprising congruence result for year 2 could be due to them having the highest level of belief and embarking on a parapsychology course. It is possible that self-monitoring (Snyder, 1979) of this situation led them to appraise incongruent papers highly in order to appear suitably evaluative for their parapsychology course. This explanation requires further research. In the long term it appears that our level 2 students, who were amongst the strongest believers, were more generous critics in session one and harsher critics in session two, whereas year 1 students exhibited weaker beliefs but became slightly more generous in their appraisal over time, revealing a possible effect of training

References

Díaz-Vilela, L., and Álvarez-González, C. J. (2004) Differences in paranormal beliefs across fields of study from a Spanish adaptation of Tobacyk's RPBS. Journal of Parapsychology, Fall 2004, Vol. 68 Issue 2, p405-421.
Gray, T, and Mill, D. (1990). Critical abilities, graduate education (Biology versus English), and belief in unsubstantiated phenomena. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 22 , 162 - 172.
Irwin, H.J. (1990). Parapsychology courses and students' belief in the paranormal. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 56, 266-272.
Morier D., D., and Keeports, D. (1994). Normal science and the paranormal: The effect of a scientific method course on student beliefs. Research in Higher Education, 35, 443-453.
Roe, C.A. (1999). Critical thinking and belief in the paranormal: A re-evaluation. British Journal of Psychology, 90, 85-98.
Salter, CA., and Routledge, L.M. (1971). Supernatural beliefs among graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. Nature, 232, 278-279.
Snyder, M. (1979). Self-monitoring processes. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 85-125). New York: Academic Press
Tobacyk, J. J. (1988). A revised Paranormal Belief Scale. Unpublished manuscript, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA.
Walker, W., R., Hoekstra, S., J., and Vogl, R., J., (2002). Science education is no guarantee of scepticism. Skeptic, 9, (3), 24-28.
Wiseman, R. and Watt, C. (2006). Belief in psychic ability and the misattribution hypothesis: A qualitative review. British Journal of Psychology, 97, 323-338.

Social marginality and Belief in the Paranormal

Chris A. Roe & Nicola Martin
Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes, The University of Northampton

Introduction

Irwin (1993, p. 26) has suggested that paranormal beliefs may provide “an assurance of order and meaning in the physical and social world [which] is thought to be essential for emotional security and psychological adjustment.” According to this account, paranormal beliefs arise in response to traumatic or anomalous events as a means of making such experiences intelligible, and as such reassure the perceiver that the world is essentially orderly, predictable and in principle controllable. In this respect, paranormal beliefs are thought to be similar to other belief systems in acting primarily to fulfil the ‘understanding or knowledge function’ (see e.g. Zusne & Jones, 1982, p. 230). Although this account may seem plausible in theory, it remains to be seen whether it has sufficient empirical support to represent a serious alternative to the claim that paranormal beliefs develop in response to genuine paranormal experiences.

Irwin (1994) has described three theoretical approaches to the nature of the psychological function that paranormal beliefs may perform. He refers to these as the psychodynamic functions hypothesis, the world view hypothesis, and the social marginality hypothesis. In this presentation we would describe two surveys that we have conducted to evaluate the predictions made by the last-named of these.

The social marginality hypothesis, originally proposed by Wuthnow (1976), claims that the people most likely to hold paranormal beliefs are members of socially marginal groups — for whom magical or ultra-religious beliefs may serve as a compensation for any hardship they might experience by virtue of being marginalised or disenfranchised — by offering the promise of future rewards or retribution. There are no objective criteria available by which to identify marginal persons. However, Emmons & Sobal (1981, p. 49) have offered a working definition of social marginality as “the possession of social characteristics or roles which rank low in terms of dominant social values”, and have emphasised its links with deprivation, unconventionality and psychological maladjustment. Wuthnow identified eight markers through which marginalised individuals could be identified: (old) age, (female) sex, (low) education, (minority) ethnic background, (broken) marital status, (un)employment status, (unattractive) physical characteristics, and (low) self-reported psychological well-being.

Studies to date that have looked at the effects of these variables upon paranormal belief have provided mixed support for the theory. However, it could be argued that none represents a fair test of the social marginality hypothesis, since many researchers seem to have misunderstood the predictions it makes (for example in looking for correlations when the theory does not predict linear relationships), have used classifications that do not map onto Wuthnow’s conception of marginality, or have used idiosyncratic measures of paranormal belief that are unlikely to apply more generally. Many studies have studied individual variables in isolation, despite the marginalising effects of one variable being likely to be overwhelmed by the effects of other, unmeasured factors; very few studies have sought explicitly to test the prediction that marginal factors can be summed to give an index which, in theory, should provide the clearest relationship with level of belief.

Method

In this presentation we will describe two studies that were designed to address the shortcomings described above, by: looking for differences across groups rather than correlations; categorising participants along each criterion in a manner consistent with marginality theory; using standard measures of paranormal belief; and calculating marginality indices.

Study one drew 277 subjects by random sampling from the Edinburgh District Register of Electors as source (see Roe, 1998). Questionnaires were mailed to respondents who returned them to the first author in a self addressed envelope. All participants completed measures asking about their sex, age, and marital status, and a measure of paranormal belief (the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale).

In study two 100 participants were recruited by opportunity sampling in London. Questionnaires were distributed by hand by the second author. All participants completed both the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale as previously, but also the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale. Marginality variables measured included: sex; age; marital status; education; ethnic origin; appearance; and sexuality.

Analysis

Both studies have been completed. In this presentation we will descibe the results of planned analyses to look for differences in paranormal belief for each factor separately and to look at the effects of index score upon level of paranormal belief.

References

Emmons, C.F. & Sobal, J. (1981). Paranormal beliefs: Testing the Marginality Hypothesis. Sociological Focus, 14, 49-56.Fazio, 1989).
Irwin, H. J. (1993). Belief in the Paranormal: A Review of the Empirical Literature. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 87, 1-39.
Irwin, H. J. (1994). An introduction to parapsychology. (2nd edition). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
Roe, C. A. (1998). Belief in the paranormal and attendance at psychic readings. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 90, 25-51.
Wuthnow, R. (1976). Astrology and marginality. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 15, 157-168.
Zusne. L. & Jones, W.H. (1982). Anomalistic psychology: A study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Paranormal belief and susceptibility to the conjunction fallacy

Paul Rogers, PhD. & Tiffany Davis
Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire

Previous research suggests that under conditions of uncertainty, people are prone to systematic and predictable biases in their judgements of probability. This is especially true when events co-occur. The tendency to misperceive the probability of events occurring together (i.e. ‘in conjunction’) as being more likely than the probability of either one occurring alone is known as the ‘conjunction fallacy’ (Tversky & Kahneman, 1982; Fisk, 2004). The conjunction fallacy may have particular relevance to perceptions of seemingly paranormal events such as when one thinks of a long-lost friend (event 1) who unexpectedly phones (event 2) at that precise moment (conjunction). Whilst numerous studies have shown paranormal believers to be poor judges of randomness and coincidence (e.g. Blackmore & Troscianko, 1985; Blagrove, French & Jones, 2006; Brugger & Taylor, 2003) none have yet examined whether believers are more prone to the conjunction fallacy than non-believers. The present study explores these potential differences across paranormal versus non-paranormal conjunctive events presented either as a probability or a frequency estimation task (cf. Fisk, 2004). An opportunity sample of 200 respondents (82 male, 118 female; mean age=22.2 years; sd=5.3 years) read 16 hypothetical vignettes concerning either a seemingly paranormal or a non-paranormal event (8 each) and indicated which of three potential event outcomes – two singular and one conjunctive – they believed to be the most likely. Respondents also completed a psychometrically sound measure of paranormal belief (Thalbourne & Delin, 1993) plus a standard demographics questionnaire. A 2 paranormal belief (believer vs. non-believer) x 2 event type (paranormal vs. non-paranormal) x 2 conjunction format (probability vs. frequency) mixed ANCOVA - controlling for respondents’ levels of qualification in maths, statistics and/or psychology - was performed with the total number of conjunction errors made serving as the dependent measure. As expected, believers made more conjunction errors for both seemingly paranormal and for non-paranormal events than did non-believers. Surprisingly, both groups made fewer conjunction errors for paranormal events than they did for non-paranormal events.

Finally, all respondents made fewer conjunction errors for paranormal versus non-paranormal events irrespective of whether they made the probability or frequency estimations. No other significant effects were found. Results are discussed in relation to paranormal believers’ susceptibility to the conjunction fallacy and more generally, to their tendency towards probabilistic reasoning biases.

References

Blackmore, S. & Troscianko, T. (1985) Belief in the paranormal: Probability judgements, illusory control and the chance baseline shift. British Journal of Psychology, 76, 459-468.
Blagrove, M., French, C., C. & Jones, G. (2006). Probabilistic reasoning, affirmative bias and belief in precognitive dreams. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 65-83.
Brugger, P, & Taylor, K., I. (2003) ESP: Extrasensory perception of effect of subjective probability. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(6-7), 221-246.
Fisk, J., E. (2004). Conjunction fallacy. In R., F. Pohl (ed.). Cognitive illusions: A handbook on fallacies and biases in thinking, judgement and memory. Hove: Psychology Press.
Thalbourne, M. A & Delin. P. S (1993). A New Instrument for Measuring the Sheep-Goat Variable: Its Psychometric Properties and Factor Structure. Journal of Society for Psychical Research, 59, 172-186.
Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D. (1982). Judgements if and by representativeness. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic & A. Tversky (eds.) (1982) Judgement under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. NY: Cambridge University Press.

 

Exploring the filter theory of psi-awareness: do we inhibit psi-mediated information when it is not needed?
Nicola J. Holt (University of Northampton, University of York), Christine A. Simmonds-Moore (Liverpool Hope Univeristy) & Stephen L. Moore (Uniersity of Northampton, Liverpool Hope University).

Filter theories of psi postulate that psi-mediated information operates as a ‘weak stimulus’ that is likely to be filtered out of conscious awareness (e.g. Myers, 1903/2001; Thalbourne, Bartemucci, Delin, Fox, & Nofi, 1997), and that psi might more commonly function at a subliminal level, without representation in awareness (e.g. Roney-Dougal, 1986). As such, states of consciousness that reduce ‘cognitive noise’ (e.g. Honorton, 1977) and unstructured states with wide, diffuse attention (e.g. Braud, 2002) have been implicated in models of psi-awareness, augmenting faint impressions; as have characteristics associated with increased openness to weak stimuli, such as low perceptual-defence (Watt, 1994) and schizotypy (Simmonds, 2003). This paper presents the methodology of a study in which an experimental paradigm, developed to examine the efficacy of hypothesised filtering mechanisms of consciousness, is adapted to include a psi component.

Inhibitory processes are thought to play a role in selective attention (Milliken & Tipper, 1998), discarding behaviourally irrelevant information in order to reduce working memory load (Wuthrich & Bates, 2001). A stream of research has focused on ‘cognitive inhibition’, through experimental paradigms such as latent inhibition (LI). LI assesses inhibitory processes in selective attention. In a typical LI experiment there are two conditions, where, during a masking task, participants are either: 1) repeatedly exposed to a particular stimulus (the pre-exposure [PE] condition); or 2) not exposed to this stimulus (the non-pre-exposure [NPE] condition). The stimulus is irrelevant to this initial task and serves no function. Thus, it is hypothesised that those in the PE condition will inhibit its representation from awareness. In a subsequent task (the experimental task), this stimulus assumes relevant status; it must be attended to in order to solve a problem. Those in the NPE condition solve the problem faster; this is presumed to be because the stimulus has not been inhibited (e.g. Gray, Fernandez, Williams, Ruddle & Snowden, 2002).

The study that will be presented assesses whether psi-mediated information might be inhibited from awareness when it is not needed, thus affecting subsequent cognitive performance. A standard visual LI protocol has been replicated, and two conditions added: 1) psi-pre-exposure (ψPE), where a sender will attempt to transmit the stimulus telepathically during the masking task; and 2) non-psi-pre-exposure (NψPE). Thus, we ask whether psi works in a similar manner to the unattended stimulus in the normal processes of attention.

There is some evidence to suggest that high schizotypy and creativity abolish the LI effect (Carson et al., 2003; Gray et al., 2002) – where pre-exposure to the stimulus (with irrelevant status) does not lead to impaired performance on the experimental task. It has thus been inferred that schizotypy and creativity have in common less stringent filtering of mental elements into awareness. Creativity and schizotypy are incorporated in the current study to address the idea that certain profiles will relate to increased awareness of the (psi) stimulus. Further, it is predicted that belief in and experience of ESP in daily life will be associated with increased awareness of the (psi) stimulus.

Study hypotheses

It is hypothesized that: 1) performance on the experimental task will be impaired in the PE condition compared to the NPE condition; 2) there will be a significant difference in performance on the experimental task between the ψPE and the NψPE conditions (direction is not predicted, as the effect of pre-exposure has been shown to be bi-directional in LI research where weak pre-exposure improves rather than impairs performance); creativity characterised by ‘intrapersonal awareness’ (Holt et al., 2004), the positive dimensions of schizotypy (Simmonds, 2003) and belief in the paranormal (Thalbourne & Delin, 1993) will: 3) correlate significantly and negatively with performance in the PE condition (i.e. with enhanced performance on the experimental task); and 4) correlate significantly with performance in the ψPE condition.

References

Carson, S. Peterson, J. & Higgins, D. (2003): Decreased latent inhibition is associated with increased creative achievement in high functioning individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 499-506.
Gray, N., Fernandez, M., Williams, J., Ruddle, R., & Snowden R. (2002). Which schizotypal dimensions abolish latent inhibition? British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41, 271-284.
Honorton, C. (1977). Psi and internal attention states. In B.B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of parapsychology (pp. 435-472). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Holt, N., Delanoy, D. & Roe, C. (2004). Creativity, subjective paranormal experiences and altered states of consciousness. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 47th Annual Convention, 433-436.
Mason, O., Linney, Y. & Claridge, G. (2005). Short scales for measuring schizotypy. Schizophrenia Research, 78, 293-296.
Milliken, B. & Tipper, S. (1998). Attention and inhibition. In H. Pashler (Ed.), Attention, pp. 191-222. Hove: Psychology Press.
Myers, F. (1903/2001). Human personality and its survival of bodily death. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads.
Quekelberghe van, R., Alstotter-Gleich, C., & Hertweck, E. (1991). Assessment schedule for altered states of consciousness. The Journal of Parapsychology, 55, 377-390.
Roney-Dougal, S. (1986). Subliminal and psi perception: A review of the literature. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 53, 405-434.
Simmonds, C. (2003). Investigating schizotypy as an anomaly-prone personality. Unpublished Ph.D thesis. University of Leicester/University College Northampton.
Thalbourne, M., & Delin, P. (1993). A new instrument for measuring the sheep-goat variable: Its psychometric properties and factor structure. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 59, 172-186.
Thalbourne, M., Bartemucci, L., Delin, P., Fox, B., & Nofi, O. (1997). Transliminality: Its nature and correlates. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 91, 305-332.
Watt, C. (1994). Meta-analysis of DMT-ESP studies and an experimental investigation of perceptual defense/vigilance and extrasensory perception. In E.W. Cook & D.L. Delanoy (Eds.), Research in parapsychology 1991 (pp. 64-68). Meutchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
Wuthrich, V., & Bates, T. (2001). Schizotypy and latent inhibition: non-linear linkage between psychometric and cognitive markers. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 783-798.

 

Testing for Telepathy Using an Immersive Virtual Environment

Craig D. Murray (School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK), Jezz Fox (School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK), David J. Wilde (School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK), Christine Simmonds (Department of Psychology, Liverpool Hope University), & Toby Howard (School of Computer Science, University of Manchester, UK)

We have previously reported on the use of immersive virtual reality (IVR) as an experimental environment and medium for the study of telepathy (Murray, Simmonds and Fox, 2005; Murray, Howard, Fox, Caillette, Simmonds-Moore and Wilde, 2006). Our own Telepathy Immersive Virtual Environment (TIVE) uses three-dimensional computer graphics technology to generate artificial environments that afford real-time interaction and exploration in conjunction with head mounted displays (HMDs), sound, instrumented data gloves which allow participants to interact with virtual objects. In previous work we have suggested IVR overcomes (to a degree) the dislocation of sender and receiver and enables a more equitable balance between experimental control and ecological validity than in traditional telepathy research, as well as including multi-sensory target materials suggested by the research literature to be more conducive to higher hit rates. Here we provide the results of a test of telepathic communication using TIVE. A total of 200 participants (88 males, 112 females, mean age = 28.9, range 16-64 yrs, SD = 9.13) were tested in pairs, once as a sender and once as a receiver. This study did not find support for the psi hypothesis, either in terms of directional hitting or in a post hoc magnitude analysis, where the outcomes were no different from what would be expected by chance. As such, this indicates that the virtual reality experiment (as it is currently designed) is not conducive to above chance findings, or alternatively, that psi does not exist in the first place. For proponents of telepathy these results will be disappointing, particularly as they do not come close to the significant effect found in much ganzfeld research.

A number of potential criticisms of the present work will be discussed. For example, although we drew upon previous ganzfeld work as providing the theoretical underpinnings for much of our rationale for why immersive virtual reality may optimize the conditions expected to be conducive to observing telepathy in the laboratory, our study differs in other, perhaps more crucial ways to ganzfeld work. For instance, our study did not include any relaxation period which has been proposed by some researchers to be in part responsible for the significant effect found in some ganzfeld studies. Second, we did not select a particular ‘special’ population (e.g. ‘meditators’ and ‘creatives’) to take part in the study which previous work has suggested obtain better hit rates than student samples. A third criticism may be that, again unlike the ganzfeld where trials frequently last as long as two hours, our own trials lasted 7 minutes each. Some researchers may feel that this is too short a time to inculcate the necessary conditions for the occurrence of telepathy in the lab. A further argument maybe that in the present study participants took the role of a Receiver and Sender only once each, and an increased number of trials testing participants in the same roles might be more successful in demonstrating an effect.

Although we envisaged that IVR would provide a much more dynamic and multi-sensory rendition of target stimuli than has been achieved in previous research, and therefore provide an increased opportunity for the correct identification of the target by the Receiver, it may be that more meaningful targets might improve the potential psi-conducive nature of this type of study. The relationship of participants to the stimuli might be important in the likelihood that a correct identification will be obtained. For instance, one extension of the present work which we propose is the inclusion of people with a variety of phobias and the use of phobic material or objects such as spiders, snakes, blood and needles. The use of such participants and stimuli might be expected to increase the likelihood of correct target identification when such stimuli are the targets (or to inhibit this (psi-missing) when such material acts as a distracter).

The virtual environment itself could be modified further to include increasingly realistic objects which allow for more participant interaction. Future research dissemination will explore correlates of psi performance within the same study. This approach takes the view that the psi process may function differentially according to state of consciousness and personality factors. The null effect overall reported here may therefore reflect a systematic balance of psi hitting and psi missing.

References

Murray, C.D., Simmonds, C. and Fox, J. (2005) Telepathy and telepresence in immersive virtual reality. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 48th Annual Convention. Pp.236-241.
Murray, C.D., Howard, T., Fox, J. Caillette, F., Simmonds-Moore, C. and Wilde, D. (2006) The design and implementation of the telepathic immersive reality system. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 49th Annual Convention. Pp.100-114.

Seven Years of Weird Science at Goldsmiths: An Overview of the Work of the Anomalistic Psychology Research UnitChristopher C French (Goldsmith College, University of London)

Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as “paranormal”. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of, and belief in, the paranormal can only mean one of two things: either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims, or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of other psychological and physical factors. This presentation will provide an overview of work of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College. Anomalistic psychology may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, often aiming to provide non-paranormal explanations of such phenomena in terms of known psychological and physical factors.

Accounts of experiences by contemporary British spirit mediums
Hannah Gilbert (Anomalous Experiences Research Unit, University of York)

Historical accounts that have chartered and analysed the development of spirit mediumship in the West following the ‘Rochester Rappings’ of 1848, often suggest that by WWII this practise (having suffered numerous blows from a succession of exposures of fraudulent mediums, and the supposed debunking confession of Maggie Fox in 1888) had shrunk to a marginal presence in Western society; a mere shadow of its former popularity. I will however argue that, while interest in and the practise of mediumship is far from mainstream in the 21st century, there is yet a definitive presence of communities that have embraced a belief in the possibility of life after death as revealed by the practise of spirit mediumship. In Great Britain today, there is a substantial interest in spirit mediumship, no doubt fuelled by an increase in media attention and met by the growing availability of individuals and groups who offer to cater for such curiosities. While the Spiritualist National Union lists contact information for only 79 approved and certificated mediums living in the United Kingdom, the number of websites and directory listings suggests that there are significantly more people who believe they can communicate with the deceased, and are eager to aid the living who wish to communicate with loved ones they have lost.

Who are these contemporary spirit mediums? Considering the secular atmosphere of British society, how do people come to believe that they can actually communicate with the deceased and what might their experiences of such connectedness be like?

This paper will present a summary of findings from my recent doctoral research which has looked at the experiences and communicative practises of contemporary British spirit mediums. I will use information collected from 18 semi-structured interviews conducted with practising mediums living in Great Britain to illustrate similar trends in how individuals come to believe that they are able to communicate with the deceased, and how these individuals account for their experiences. I will focus on the importance mediums have placed on the sensuousness of their experiences, a quality often absent from analysis of spiritual experience, but nevertheless a quality that mediums regularly orientate to and struggle to encapsulate when recounting their experiences.

While Spiritualism has, historically, been considered the main organisational context in which spirit mediumship is orientated, studies suggest that many contemporary mediums operate outside of this setting, and that spirit mediumship is being adopted by other more eclectic spirituality groups, and increasingly so by groups of people interested in exploring supposedly haunted locations. This paper will further argue that while mediums adhere to group structures in regard to how they practise their mediumship in public spaces, the individuality of their experiences plays an important role in how they come to believe that they are able to communicate with spirits. It can further be identified in the reflexive nature of how they can use their abilities in both religious and more secular environments, and to meet the desires of differing clients. It will conclude by arguing for the importance of more reflexive and qualitative approaches to the study of mediumship that may hopefully lead to fascinating discoveries about the phenomenology and social relevance of such contemporary spiritual practises.

 

The psychology and phenomenology of mediumship: an exploratory survey
Elizabeth C. Roxburgh (Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes, University of Northampton, UK)

Introduction

Previous investigations into mediumship have tended to focus on a proof-orientated approach, which have either tried to provide evidence for the existence of post-mortem communications (e.g., Robertson & Roy, 2001), or have been sceptical of alleged mediumship abilities (e.g., O'Keeffe & Wiseman, 2005). These approaches ignore important features such as the subjective meanings attributed by mediums for their claimed abilities. Rather than test whether communicating personalities derive from a discarnate source or are a product of the medium’s mind, the approach taken in this research is more process-orientated: The experiences of mediums and their insights into the mediumship process will be explored. To my knowledge, no previous work has attempted such a detailed exploration.

There are several studies in the recent literature that have attempted to investigate the topic of mediumship from the psychological perspective, to see if there are any necessary or sufficient attributes that appear to define a medium, including: a questionnaire and personality study of 50 British self-styled psychics and mediums (Hearne, 1989); an interview and personality study of seven disciples of the channelled entity “Ramtha” in the United States (Krippner, Wickramasekera, Wickramasekera, & Winstead, 1998); a case study to explore mediumship from the psychodynamic perspective (De Carvalho & Do Amaral, 1994); and the interface between mediumship and “multiple personality disorder” (e.g., Hughes, 1992), particularly whether mediumship is analogous to dissociative identity disorder or exhibits signs of psychopathology (Reinsel, 2003).

In this presentation I will describe ongoing research at the University of Northampton that is designed to build on Reinsel’s work by exploring spirit possession mediumship and dissociative experiences to see whether these are associated with mental well-being or pathology, or whether the mediumship role might be functional, as suggested by recent cross-cultural studies (Laria, 2000; Moreira-Almeida, Neto, & Greyson, 2006). Stage one consists of a survey investigation of two sample groups: practising spiritualist mediums and a comparison group of non-medium spiritualists. Approximately 230 spiritualist mediums who have won awards for mediumship demonstration from the Spiritualist National Union (SNU) will be included in the survey. An additional 500 spiritualists who do not consider themselves mediums will be given the survey package.

The aims of this investigation are to explore whether: a) there are any variables that are characteristic of mediums b) Different experiences of mediums have an effect on their interpretation of mediumship, the type of mediumship they practice, or their development as a medium c) Mediumship is associated with well-being or pathology.

Method

Observations were initially made of mediumship demonstrations at a local spiritualist church and participation was gained on a week-long residential training course held at the Arthur Findlay College entitled: “Mediumship, Spirit Awareness and Developing Your Potential”. Attendance at an informal awareness group intended for the development of psychic and mediumship ability is also ongoing. These exploratory experiences contributed to the design of a mediumship activity questionnaire to be included in the research and will also aid in the production of an interview schedule for a later study.

The survey package includes; a cover letter, which contains a brief introduction to the research, information on ethical issues, and details of how to complete the survey; a pre-paid return envelope; a separate envelope to place personal details in; contact details of the researcher and a questionnaire consisting of two parts: a) Mediumship Activity Questionnaire b) Five psychological measures as follows: Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES); Boundary Questionnaire (BQ-18) short-form; Mental Health Inventory (MHI-17); Big Five Inventory (BFI); and the Creative Experiences Scale (CES).

The survey pack was piloted with three spiritualist mediums to assess whether any of the questions or instructions were ambiguous, unclear or offensive. Following this, 1000 packs were produced to use in the survey. Names and addresses of approximately 230 mediums who have gained awards for demonstrating their mediumship at spiritualist churches are available in the public domain and are obtainable via the SNU website. These mediums will be sent a survey pack with a pre-paid return envelope for the completed survey. A separate envelope will be included in the pack for mediums to include their personal details, in case they would like feedback on the study and/or would like to take part in an in-depth interview for a later study.

A random selection of churches will be visited in person so that the research can be explained to the Church President and survey packs can be left in the church for potential non-medium spiritualists to take and complete. This will include church members and/or individuals who have come to see a mediumship demonstration. An advantage to visiting the Churches in person is that concerns about the research can be clarified, and it ensures packs are left for distribution.

In this presentation I will describe progress to date and invite suggestions for the design of stage 2, which will entail in-depth interviews with practising mediums to explore the phenomenology and aetiology of their experiences.

References

De Carvalho, A. P., & Do Amaral, C. E. G. (1994). Mediumship, psychodynamics and ESP: the case of Cristina. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 60, 29-37.
Hearne, K. M. T. (1989). A questionnaire and personality study of self-styled psychics and mediums. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 55, 404-411.
Hughes, D. J. (1992). Differences between trance channeling and multiple personality disorder on structured interview. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24(2), 181-192.
Krippner, S., Wickramasekera, I., Wickramasekera, J., & Winstead, I., C.W. (1998). The Ramtha phenomenon: Psychological, phenomenological, and geomagnetic data. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 92, 1-24.
Laria, A. J. (2000). Dissociative experiences among Cuban mental health patients and spiritist mediums. University of Massachusetts, Boston, US.
Moreira-Almeida, A., Neto, F. L., & Greyson, B. (2006). Dissociative and psychotic experiences in Brazilian Spiritist Mediums. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
O'Keeffe, C., & Wiseman, R. (2005). Testing alleged mediumship: Methods and Results. British Journal of Psychology, 96(2), 165-179.
Reinsel, R. (2003). Dissociation and mental health in mediums and sensitives: A pilot survey. Paper presented at the Parapsychology Association Convention.
Robertson, T. J., & Roy, A. E. (2001). A preliminary study of the acceptance by non-recipients of mediums' statements to recipients. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 65(863), 91-106.
Smith, J. A. (1996). Beyond the divide between cognition and discourse: Using interpretative phenomenological analysis in health psychology. Psychology and Health, 11(2), 261-271.

Towards a conceptual replication of the Robertson-Roy experiments with mediums. A preliminary study with a psychometric subject.
Annalisa Bozzini and Stefano Siccardi

We are a small group of independent researchers; our work is being conducted thanks to one of the oldest Italian Societies for Psychical Research, namely the “Associazione Italiana Scientifica di Metapsichica”, but outside any academic institutions. We have planned to carry out experiments with subjects claiming to have some psi abilities, like clairvoyance, telepathy, mediumship etc., provided they are testable within the conceptual schema of the Robertson-Roy protocol. Our experimental project will be a long one, that will last several years. We are presently testing a first psychic, for his ability (psychometry) to obtain information about the owners of small objects, holding them in his hands. We have conducted a few informal and some formal sessions. Formal sessions have been run “blind”, that is the psychic received the objects in closed envelopes; he did not meet their owners before his statements had been tape recorded, written down in separate sentences and judged by the participants in the experiment, both recipients and non-recipients. Moreover, when the subjects receive the sentences to judge, they do not know which ones were intended for each of them, so that the recipients themselves act as “internal controls” for the acceptability of the statements. In the final part of each experiment, that is after we have collected all the statements from the participants, we let the psychic meet them, and observe their interaction, the psychological attitude of the recipients, etc. The same sentences are afterwards submitted to some “external controls”, that is to people that were not present at the experiments, but that matched the recipients for age and sex. We then calculate the weight of each statement and that of the set of statements that were addressed to each recipient, according to the procedure described by Robertson and Roy.

As our work is still in progress, and we have run only a few sessions, we have not yet obtained significant results: so our presentation will be mainly concerned with methodological issues, and observations related to our pilot data. First of all, we will briefly expose the Robertson-Roy protocol itself, our implementation, some limitations and caveats. We will then describe some extensions, that we introduced in order to tentatively evaluate additional characteristics of the psi process. Namely: 1) the recipients and controls were asked to complete a “sheep-goat” questionnaire, to test their faith in the paranormal; 2) we added two extra versions of the sentences lists, in which we asked subjects to judge their applicability and emotional valence using a 5 points likert scale, instead of a simple “yes/no”. As a last topic of our paper, we will discuss alternative data analysis strategies, that could complement the computations proposed in the original protocol. For instance we have considered: computing the significance of data; searching for exceptional hits; using the so-called confusion data; evaluating the coherence of subjects’ answers; comparing the quantitative data to the behaviour of the recipients when they meet the psychic and talk with him, after a formal session has ended or during an informal one.

References

Robertson T. J., Roy A. E., A preliminary study of the acceptance by non-recipients of mediums statements to recipients, JSPR, vol. 65, p. 91-106, 2001
Robertson T. J., Roy A. E., A double-blind procedure for assessing the relevance of a medium’s statements to a recipient, JSPR, vol. 65, p. 161-174, 2001
Robertson T. J., Roy A. E., Results of the application of the Robertson-Roy protocol to a series of experiments with mediums and participants, JSPR, vol. 68, p. 18-34, 2004
Schouten S. A., An overview of quantitatively evaluated studies with medium and psychics, JASPR, vol. 88, p. 221-254, 1994
Stahl S., Permutation-based methods for examining confusion data in experiments, JP, vol 68, p. 381-401, 2004
Timm U., Die statistische Analyse qualitativer paragnosticher Experimente, Zeitschrift fuer parapsychologie und grenzgebiete der psychologie, VIII, p. 78-122, 1965

Anomalous Affect II: Delayed but not Immediate Time-Reversed Preference of Neutral Pictorial Stimuli in the Mere Exposure Paradigm
Alexander Batthyany, Dept. for the Theory of Science, University of Vienna, Austria & Ivan Spajic, Faculty of Philosophy, Zagreb, Croatia

In recent years, several reports have been published about unusual time effects in human information processing. These effects have been termed time-reversed interferences (TRIs) (Klintman 1983; 1984), or, more generally, time-reversal effects (TRE) (Savva, Child, Smith 2004). The basic finding of this relatively new branch of research is that under some circumstances, subjects appear to react to stimuli which they have not yet consciously encountered, and about whose occurrence they have no explicit knowledge of (at least not by any of the known information channels).

In contrast to most of the classical anomalous cognition research, contemporary TRE research does not rely on overt verbal reports of anomalous cognition of future events, but makes use of indirect measures like reaction time, likeability ratings, electro dermal activity, heart rate variability, and similar variables.

The new emphasis on the cognitive unconscious also allows for more detailed psychological theory development since the findings are not obscured by explicit mental processes. For example, according to the recently developed “precognitive habituation” (PH) protocol (Bem 2003), there is a complex relationship between visual perception and affective arousal and time-reversed reactions to visual stimuli. Both the valence and arousal dimensions of the stimuli and the reactivity of subjects have been implicated as mediators of the TRE-effect in the precognitive habituation protocol; also, it has been shown that subliminal and supraliminal exposure of the stimuli produces different outcomes, depending again on the complex interrelationship between stimuli and personality characteristics.

Last year, our group presented another significant replication of precognitive habituation, the first study which uses not only pictorial, but also words as strongly affectively valenced stimulus material. Our findings were still significant in the expected direction, but only with negative stimuli (which were rated as very affectively arousing by our subjects). In the present presentation, we looked at the other end of the affective spectrum and used only strictly emotionally neutral stimulus material.

In short, the purpose of the current studies was to (a) again replicate a basic TRE-effect and (b) to add some important refinements to the experimental procedures with the intention to further test the scope, limits and boundary conditions of the TRE-effects. Hence in order to deepen our understanding of time-reversed processing, our research group set up a new study design which differs from the “classical” precognitive habituation protocol in several decisive ways:

(1) Our stimuli pairs were geometrical figures with no affective valence or arousal potential; thus the conventional phenomenon underlying our study was not affective habituation, but the (better researched and established) “mere exposure effect”.

The mere exposure effect refers to the empirically well established fact that “mere repeated exposure of the individual to a stimulus is a sufficient condition for the enhancement of his attitude toward it" (Zajonc 1968:1). The mere exposure effect is known to be comparatively stronger when the initial exposure to the (usually neutral) stimulus is at a subliminal level and there is no explicit memory of the previous exposure, which implies that the affective preference occurs without conscious cognitive involvement. Accordingly, the effect is best detected with indirect measures (such as spontaneous preference, likeability, or “goodness” ratings), while direct (explicit) measures usually fail to bring about significant results (Reingold & Merikle 1988). Basically, then, our study was a mere exposure study run in reverse, with spontaneous preference measured before the actual display of the stimulus. However, our study was not merely a reverse mere exposure protocol, but added a few refinements to the experimental procedure.

(2) A set of two, instead of one, stimuli pairs (i.e. four different pictures) were used for each target-to-come, the first pair of each set in black and white, the second pair of each set displayed the same figures, but slightly degraded and in colour.

(3) Subjects took part in two studies and where asked to give preference ratings for each pair per set. In Study 1, subject expressed their preference for the black/white pairs, in study 2, they expressed their preference for the coloured/degraded pairs. Thus, each pair was rated twice, though due to colouring and degrading, the pairs looked sufficiently different as to make subjects believe that they took part in two independent studies. Immediately after the second and last preference rating in each run, the target was displayed subliminally for several times.

(4) The time factor was altered considerably in this study: whereas the classical precognitive habituation protocol allows only for a rather small time span of several seconds between preference rating and target display, up to 20 minutes or more passed between the preference judgements and the subliminal display of the target in study 1, whereas in study 2, the time window between choice and target display consisted of a few seconds (as in most precognitive habituation studies).

(5) Since our studies focused on a reversed mere exposure effect, a new set of individual differences measures were used in this study, namely those factors which are known to have impact on the scope of the mere exposure effect.

As expected, study 2 (immediate subliminally exposure after choice of target-to-be) generated no significant findings at all, neither for the main effect, nor after taking the individual differences variables into account. This non-significant finding is in accord with what Bem (2003) recently reported as an already established outcome and possible boundary condition to the precognitive habituation protocol: obviously, affective habituation does not work with neutral stimuli, neither run forward nor run backwards.

Yet strangely enough, the results of study 1 (delayed subliminal exposure to chosen neutral material) were almost uniformly significant to very significant, both for the main effect and for the individual difference data. The fact that the 20 minutes delayed choice-exposure coupling of neutral stimuli generated findings as strongly suggestive of an anomalous process as was the case in our study 1 was totally unexpected and calls for replication by independent research groups.

The presentation will include some theoretical speculation on the effect we captured in our study and will also offer some suggestions for other researchers for further experimentation within the same and similar paradigms.

References:

Bem, D. (2003). Precognitive Habituation: Replicable Evidence for a Process of Anomalous Cognition. Modified version of a presentation given at the 46th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association.
Bem, D. J. (2003). Precognitive habituation: Replicable evidence for a process of anomalous. Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 46th Annual Convention. 6-20.
Bem, D. (2004). Precognitive Avoidance and Precognitive Déjà Vu. 47th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association.
Bem, D. J. (2005): Precognitive Aversion. In: The Parapsychological Association Convention 2005: Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 47th Annual Convention. 31-35
Bierman, D. J. & Radin, D. I. (1997). Anomalous anticipatory response on randomized future conditions. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84, 689-690
Bierman, D. J. & Radin, D. I. (1998). Conscious and anomalous non-conscious emotional processes: A reversal of the arrow of time? Toward a Science of Consciousness, Tucson III. MIT Press, 1999, 367-386
Dijksterhuis, A., & Smith, P. K. (2002). Affective habituation: Subliminal exposure to extreme stimuli decreases their extremity. Emotion, 2, 203-214
Reingold, E. M. & Merikle, P. M. (1988) Using direct and indirect measures to study perception without awareness. Perception and psychophysics, 44, 563-575
Savva, L., Child, R. & Smith, M.D. (2004). The Precognitive Habituation Effect: An Adaption Using Spider Stimuli. 47th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association.
Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Monograph Supplement, 9 (2, part 2), 1-27

Displacement in dream ESP research: Assessing the role of feedback during judging
Chris A. Roe, Simon J. Sherwood, & Louise Farrell,Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes, The University of Northampton

Evidence from spontaneous cases suggests that instances of ostensible ESP are most common while dreaming (Rhine, 1962), and early experiments at the Maimonides Medical Center involving ESP in dreams were remarkably successful (Ullman & Krippner, with Vaughan, 1973). More recently, dream ESP protocols have been proposed that do not require REM monitoring and awakening of participants during dream periods, and so have obviated the need for complex equipment and resources (Sherwood & Roe, 2003). In a typical study (e.g., Sherwood, Dalton, Steinkamp & Watt 2000), participants sleep in their own homes as normal and simply endeavour to keep a dream diary; essential experimental controls are not compromised, because computerised methods allow the target to be selected randomly, played automatically in a manner that ensures security from sensory leakage, presents material systematically to participants for judging, and scrupulously records all data before revealing the target. Sherwood and Roe (2003) found that although post-Maimonides replications have been extremely varied in method and heterogeneous in outcome, the cumulative database still gives rise to a significant deviation that suggests a dream ESP effect.

However, much of the research on dream ESP to date has been proof-oriented, concerned simply with demonstrating that an anomaly has occurred, rather than being process-oriented and concerned with mapping patterns of performance. Consequently we have been particularly interested to identify optimal persons or conditions for eliciting a dream ESP effect (e.g., Roe, Jones, & Maddern, 2007; Roe, Sherwood, Farrell, Savva, & Baker, 2006). In terms of identifying optimal persons, in the present study we sought to apply Honorton’s (1997) four-factor model of predictors of success among novice participants derived from the results of ganzfeld ESP experiments. He found that better performance was associated with participants who reported prior psi experiences, had previously participated in formal testing (but not involving the ganzfeld), were classified as Feeling-Perceiving (FP) personality types on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and who practised a mental discipline such as meditation. We were interested to see if these might also apply to dream ESP performance.

In terms of optimal conditions, we were concerned to explore in a free response context the possibility of ‘displacement’, in which the information generated by a participant during a given trial seems to correspond with one of that trial’s alternative targets (see Carpenter, 1977; Palmer, 1986). It has been suggested previously that this may be due to the participant being precognitively aware of this item, in preference to the target item. Anecdotal evidence from earlier dream ESP studies has been suggestive of a displacement effect (Roe et al., 2007), and we planned to explore this more systematically here by contrasting performance in a standard judging condition in which participants are presented with the target along with three decoys (and in which displacement is theoretically possible) with a feedback condition in which participants are only exposed to the target clip (and so displacement should not be possible). We predicted that performance, as assessed using a blind independent judge’s ratings, would be significantly better for the feedback condition.

Study design

This study consists of 40 trials involving participants drawn using opportunity sampling and via a volunteer database. After completing a participant information form that includes measures of Honorton’s four factors, participants are asked to keep a dream diary for three consecutive nights, consisting of a practice night and two trial nights. For each of these nights participants sleep at home, as normal. Upon awakening they complete the dream diary, writing down as much detail about their dreams as possible. Participants can include any associations between their waking lives and their dreams that they feel might be relevant to the trial. The practice night allows participants to become accustomed to this procedure. On trial nights a computer in the University of Northampton campus randomly selects and then repeatedly plays a target video clip between 2:00am and 6:30am (different clips are selected for each of the trial nights). This procedure is automated such that no one knows the identity of the target clips until they are revealed after judging. The participant’s task is to try and incorporate elements of the target material into their dreams.

Having completed all three nights, the participant travels to the University sometime during the day to complete the judging. They are met by LF, who discusses with them their experiences, and are then taken to the judging computer; in the judging condition they are presented with four video clips (i.e. the target from that trial night and 3 decoys) and rate each on a scale of 0-99 for similarity with their dream mentation. After the four clips have been rated, the target is revealed. In the feedback condition the participant views only one clip (i.e. the target for that trial night) and then discusses this with the experimenter to identify any correspondences. The participant is not able to amend any information once the clips are revealed. The order of conditions is counterbalanced across participants. After all data have been collected, an independent judge, who is blind to the target and to the condition allocation, is employed to judge the data for both trial nights by giving similarity ratings for the target clip and three decoys.

Prespecified analyses

Data collection is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed in July. We expect to be able to report on the results of planned analyses at the convention. Our primary analyses involve: a comparison of performance between the standard ‘judging’ condition and the ‘feedback’ condition; a test of the claim that performance, as represented by the z-scores for the independent judge’s similarity ratings for the target, will be positively associated with each aspect of Honorton’s (1997) four-factor model, extraversion and paranormal belief.

References

Carpenter, J. C. (1977). Intrasubject and subject-agent effects in ESP experiments. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of parapsychology (pp. 202-272). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold company.
Honorton, C. (1997). The Ganzfeld novice: four predictors of initial ESP performance. JP, 61, 143-158.
Palmer, J. (1986) Statistical methods on ESP research. In H.L Edge, R.L. Morris, J. Palmer, & J. Rush. Foundations of parapsychology (pp.138-160). Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Rhine, L. E. (1962). Psychological processes in ESP experiences. Part I. Dreams. JP, 27, 172-199.
Roe, C.A., Jones, L., & Maddern C. (2007). A preliminary test of the ‘four factor model’ using a dream ESP protocol. JSPR, 71, 35-42.
Roe, C. A., Sherwood, S. J., Farrell, L., Savva, L., & Baker, I. (2006). Assessing the roles of the sender and experimenter in dream ESP research. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 49th Annual Convention, 205-215.
Sherwood, S. J., Dalton, K., Steinkamp, F., & Watt, C. (2000). Dream clairvoyance study II using dynamic video-clips: Investigation of consensus voting judging procedures and target emotionality. Dreaming, 10, 221-236.
Sherwood, S.J., & Roe, C.A. (2003). A review of dream ESP studies conducted since the Maimonides dream ESP programme. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10, 85-109.
Ullman, M., & Krippner, S., & Vaughan, A. (1973). Dream telepathy: Experiments in nocturnal ESP. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

The Effects of Staring Duration and Gender on the Detection of Remote Staring
Nicholas Felton & Richard Broughton, Division of Psychology, The University of Northampton

The phenomenon of feeling like you are being stared at and upon examination finding you are correct is an experience which approximately 80% of people (Braud et al, 1990, Sheldrake, 1994) believe that they have experienced. A number of experiments in which participants attempt to detect when they are being stared at have been conducted and increasing safeguards against sensory leakage have been employed; such as one way glass (Colwell, 2000) and CCTV systems (Williams, 1983). Experiments usually involve participants taking on the role of either sender or receiver; with the notable exception of Wiseman and Schlitz (1997; 1999; Schlitz et al 2006) in which the experimenters filled the roles of the sender but also found an experimenter effect. A meta-analysis by Schmidt et al (2004) found an overall small but significant effect (d=0.11, p=0.01), also standards for further testing were given, which this study attempted to adhere to.

A review of relevant studies also revealed variations in the duration of staring.

This study aims to investigate whether the duration of staring could explain some of the varying results between studies using staring durations of 10secs, 30secs and 1min. Thirty two participants were recruited in dyads using traditional method of having 1 sender and 1 receiver. A CCTV system was used to reduce the possibility of sensory leakage. Gender was recorded, as a survey (Sheldrake, 1994) revealed that females are more likely to believe they have experienced the phenomenon. To minimize any occurrence of a sheep-goat effect, only participants who believed in the phenomenon were employed. Steps were taken to reduce an experimenter effect: by keeping the experimenter blind to the actions of the sender and also preventing problems associated with selecting from a closed deck.

A staring effect was found (t= 3.036, DF=31, p=0.0025 one tailed). An ANOVA revealed no significance for the effects of gender F (1,26) = 1.39, p = 0.248) but a significant effect for the effect of duration was found (F (2,26) = 5.72, p = 0.009). Therefore the shortest duration of staring provided the most successful detection.

One interpretation of these findings is that participants in the 10 second trials were reacting to an initial ‘hunch’, such that may be associated evolutionarily with the detection of a threat, whereas participants in longer staring durations, may have had such instincts diluted in the passage of time by thought processes and other cognitions.

Future research should possibly include both self-report method and EDA and future self-report studies should include an ‘unsure’ category to eradicate guessing in such experiments. Also Further investigations involving EDA should aim to study smaller staring durations than the usual 30 second duration associated with this method.

References:

Braud, W. Shafer, D. Andrews, S. (1990) Electrodermal Correlates of Remote Attention: Autonomic Reactions to an Unseen Gaze. In Henkel, L & Schmeidler (Eds) Research in parapsychology 1990: Abstracts and Papers from the Thirty-Third Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association, 1990 (pp 7-11) London: Scarecrow Press Inc.
Colwell, J. Schröder, S. Sladen, D. (2000) The Ability to detect unseen staring: A literature review and empirical tests. British Journal of Psychology 91, 71-85.
Schiltz, M., Wiseman, R., Watt, C. & Radin, D. (2006). Of two minds: Sceptic-proponent collaboration within parapsychology. British Journal of Psychology. 97, 313-322
Schmidt S., Schneider R., Utts J., Walach H. (2004) Distant intentionality and the feeling of being stared at: Two meta-analyses. British Journal of Psychology, 95, 235-247
Sheldrake, R. (1994) Seven experiments which could change the world. Vermont: Park Street Press
Williams, L. (1983) Minimal cue perception and the regard of Others: The feeling of being stared at. Journal of Parapsychology 47, 59-60
Wiseman, R. & Schlitz, M (1997) Experimenter effects and the remote detection of staring.The Journal of Parapsychology 61, 197-207
Wiseman, R. & Schlitz, M (1999) Experimenter Effects and the Remote Detection of Staring: A Replication. The Journal of Parapsychology, 63 232–233

 

Science plus psi: a report from the inside
Sean O’Donnell, Ph.D.

As a ‘hard’ scientist (physics, chemistry) who deliberately learned to reproduce psi more or less routinely many years ago, I’ve always considered there’s a striking imbalance in the formal literature. In contrast to perhaps a million hours of research since 1882, there’s hardly a dozen primary reports by psi experients, first-hand accounts of what psi competence actually requires and feels like to do.

I quote from some six of these primary reports to show that, although they may differ in expression, they still agree in their various conclusions overall (1-6) .

A personal history

These reports further substantiate my own experience in the deliberate development of psi intuition over many years. This began with my early judgement that there were just too many ‘coincidences’ in my everyday affairs. Later I spent a year as a prospecting geochemist - which involves the study of weak anomalies in search of hidden ore.

And since the search for psi is really rather similar to this generally successful enterprise, it occurred to me that similar techniques should be applicable in the former case.

So that, by centering in on the essentials of paranormal anomaly in this way, deliberate psi learning in many modes (mostly numerate) soon became quite feasible. Likewise it grew clear why conventional parapsychology was - and remains – methodologically inadequate for psi’s various subtleties.

The experience of psi

Those numerate psi skills which I attempted (mostly successfully!) – ranged over more than a dozen different modes in all. They included playing cards, Zener cards, roulette, singular electrons, computerisation, numerate everyday human futures, etc.. Always however the same general mentality and special features could be discerned at work. They were indeed much as reported by those others I’ve quoted above, and somewhat as stated by C.Tart in a curiously abandoned learning exercise (7).

My personal attitude, to such an unusual activity as deliberate psi learning, was and remains just one of intellectual challenge. And my continuing weekly effort is much less than those greater hours many devotees spend on crosswords, SuDoku, golf, TV!

Still I can report that controlled reproduction of numerate psi firstly requires an adequate recognition, of a rather special ‘low-noise’ mentality which I term the psi-state. Thereafter this recognition must be followed by deliberate and prolonged practice, always aimed towards maximising the desired psi mentality. This psi-state becomes progressively easier to recognise, or share and discuss among those who have experienced it. But it is very hard to describe to outsiders (and almost impossible with sceptics!) – mainly because (as yet) we have no adequate words for the same.

It can however be partially communicated or circumscribed through various adjectives – of which ‘calm, cool, alert, happy, determined, interested, teleological’ are the most useful currently.

Conversely there are many other contrasting ‘high-noise’ mentalities where psi must tend to be obscured – and even some wherein censorious psi-missing may intervene. Again these last can be usefully communicated through various adjectival antonyms to the former list – words like ‘sad, tired, annoyed, aggravated, flustered, tremulous, disinterested, hostile’ etc.

Again, too, all these support those various reports from others I have quoted above. The difference now is that the extra primary input from ‘hard’ science can make things much easier to understand.

The ‘Observer Effect’ is predictable….

For one thing deliberate psi numeracy shows many similarities to other more ordinary high-concentration skills. Professional golf provides a very useful comparison in some respects (8). For example controlled psi numeracy scoring tends to show close adherence to ‘current form’, a familiar concept in golf and most other sports.

Pragmatically also psi can usefully be considered to emanate from a Child-centered faculty (9). But it tends to be censored by repressive Parent input – a finding which makes eminent sense in view of how the human infant seems to form its views on time (10). Though psi can still be encouraged to “show itself off” routinely – but only if one arranges the requisite psychological background with some care.

Conversely, this paranormal competence may just refuse to function – or worse go into negative psi-missing - when more Parental anti-factors intervene. So that the ‘Observer Effect’ – so long contentious or uncertain in parapsychology – then readily emerges as a predictable normal outcome, one easily depicted by diagram as I show.

A largely temporal phenomenon.

A final and unavoidable consequence, of due primary experience combined with some science competence, is that psi is most simply seen as a purely temporal phenomenon. But to see this quite clearly that common term ‘precognition’ is demonstrably inadequate as I show. Instead the experience of psi is more closely described - and further explained - in terms of pre-call or anti-memory (11).

And indeed the possibility of something very similar, is now emerging from certain sectors of neurophysiology (12) .

Finally, too, when psi is considered like this in terms of anti-memory, it melds into greater congruence with normal science very readily. For then it substantiates the ‘static’ interpretation of space-time inherent in relativity, as my final quotations from eminent physics commentators show.

References

(1) – Gilbert Murray in Proc. SPR – p.239 – 1932
(2) – Mary Craig in. – Mental Radio – U. Sinclair - N.Y. 1934
(3) – Sherman H in – Thoughts Across Space – N.Y. 1970
(4) – Heywood R. in – The Sixth Sense - Pan 1966
(5) – McMoneagle J.in – Remote Viewing Secrets – Hampton Road – 2000
(6) – Robinson C in – Paranormal Review – July 2006
(7) – Tart C – Learning to use ESP –Univ. Chicago P - 1975
(8) – Gallwey T – The Inner Game of Golf – Cape 1981
(9) – Berne E – Games People Play – Penguin – 1966
(10) – Piaget J – The Construction of Reality in the Child – Basic – 1954
(11) – O’Donnell, S. – Paranormal Review – October 2005
(12) – Marshall J – Memories of the Future – New Scientist - March 21 – 2007

What are Students to make of Psychical Research?
John Poynton

I invite you to consider two conceptions of psychical research and parapsychology. The first comes from An Introduction to Parapsychology, published this year in its fifth edition by Harvey Irwin and Caroline Watt (McFarland & Co, Jefferson and London, 2007). The second conception comes from Oxford dictionaries, which are much researched documents of English usage. Any divergence of a textbook from standard language warrants some enquiry, not least because there is a need for students to know what they are being introduced to.

The Introduction to Parapsychology draws a distinction between parapsychology and psychical research, the latter being “field studies of the sort that predominated in the days when such interests were known as psychical research, the study of phenomena apparently mediated directly by the mind or ‘soul.’” (p. 2). What is implied here is that psychical research with its idea of ‘mind’ is passé, to be spoken of in the past tense. The term ‘mind’ or ‘mental’ does not appear in the book’s index; parapsychology is seen as the study only of experience, “of appearances, of how that experience seems to be” (p. 1). In contrast, the Oxford Popular English Dictionary (1998), a distillation of lengthy entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, defines ‘parapsychology’ as “the study of mental phenomena outside the sphere of orthodox psychology,” which is not too different from the definition of ‘psychical’, “of the soul or mind.” This idea of parapsychology differs conspicuously from the textbook presentation.

The Introduction has an agenda of reconciling the practice of parapsychology with what is taken to be professional science, especially psychology. Students are told that the task of researchers is that of “determining the extent to which the phenomena are explicable within the framework of accepted principles of mainstream science.” (p. 1). It is not made clear what “framework of accepted principles of mainstream science” the student is supposed to imagine. At what margin is one to distinguish “accepted principles of mainstream science” from the very diverse developments in physics, cosmology and neuroscience? For example, much relevance is seen by several parapsychologists in ideas about nonlocality and quantum entanglement that are circulating in physics, and even spreading into biology: are these ideas part of a “framework of accepted principles” or not? One gains the impression that the presumed principles are those generated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the direction of materialism, with no serious notice taken of the fact that materialist ontology is finding decreasing support in several areas of contemporary science. Given their orientation, the authors find that ‘the paranormal’ is as difficult to accommodate intellectually as do their more conventional colleagues in psychology. They adopt a view, “that paranormal phenomena exist is at least uncertain,” with the result that ‘parapsychology’ has to be decoupled from ‘the paranormal’ if their subject is seen as having a chance of acceptance within the conventional psychological fold. And following the tendency of keeping psyche out of conventional psychology, they have to steer clear of the idea of ‘mind’.

The Oxford dictionary procedure is to treat ‘mind’ as definable in common English usage. The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition, 1989) devotes five pages to the word ‘mind’, the most relevant one being “the seat of a person’s consciousness, thoughts, volitions and feelings ... the incorporeal subject of the psychical faculties.” This leads to the term ‘parapsychical’ in the Oxford English Dictionary, “of or pertaining to mental phenomena etc., for which no adequate scientific explanation exists.” And this leads further to the term ‘paraphysics’, “subsidiary or collateral to what is physical.” The term admits more fundamental thinking beyond the range of the Introduction’s experience-limited ‘parapsychology’, by enquiring into what processes actualize any experience. One could go even further by introducing the term ‘paracosmology’ to cover the study of what processes underlie the manifestation of any world on any occasion of observation in a variety of states. These extra terms could be justified if one accepts the view in the Introduction that “parapsychological research rightly is conducted predominantly within the broader context of the scientific investigation of behavior and its phenomena are best understood in the light of an appreciation of the principles of psychology.” This contrasts with the dictionary definition of ‘parapsychology’, which is “outside the sphere of ordinary psychology.” It could be granted that the very term ‘parapsychology’ limits the subject to psychology and psychologism; terms like ‘paraphysics’ and ‘paracosmology’ may come into use as being more positive about the existence of currently-regarded ‘paranormal’ phenomena, and enquire into the substructure of their nature. Psyche then enters discussion in a different context, under the question of whether and to what extent the psychical and the physical are separable, a question that has engaged some of the greatest minds in the physical sciences, not to mention in philosophy. We do not encounter such weighty topics in the cleaned-up parapsychology of appearances.

What are we to make of all this? Are we content to see students diverted from our Society because they are told that psychical research is passé? The situation calls for a clarification of the kinds of field our Society usefully investigates, and what to call these fields. A characteristic of the SPR from the start has been the tendency not to exclude any particular line of research or thinking. SPR members do however tend to sit more comfortably with some worldviews than with others. Materialism gains little support, neither does reductionism, nor positivism, the latter being a ‘reading-off’ of what is presented without probing into substructure. This approach is shown in the Introduction by a concern primarily with appearances, without enquiring into the substrate of these appearances, a substrate that seems to entail more than what is physically manifested. ‘Mind’ is what ‘comes to mind’ in this situation, carefully avoided in the Introduction. This is not to say that the term ‘mind’ is so straightforward that it can be used in a hard-and-fast distinction between positivist and mentalist classifications of parapsychology and psychical research. Even ‘mind’ itself is a construct, something we invent so that we can speak about an infinity of awareness. Nevertheless the investigation into the relationships between mind and matter has occupied psychical research in a meaningful way, engaging with what may be termed non-physical substructure, or the ‘paranormal’ if that term is preferred. Instead of the usual term ‘non-physical’ I like the term ‘hyperphysical’ which appears in the Oxford English Dictionary meaning “above or beyond what is physical.” The dictionary cites a seventeenth century astronomer: “We don’t introduce Hyperphysical Causes to defeat Natural, but only to unite them and make them agree.” That could be a statement of what psychical research is about, as long as "agree" does not mean forcing the one into the other. I see psychical research as covering the wide expanse of fields that could loosely be termed parapsychology, paraphysics and paracosmology, fields that lead from individual experience, to the manifestation and operation of local environments, to what seems universal. As all of this is perceived through the operation of psyche, it could all be included within the bounds of psychical research, and it can all be integrated within the procedures of science, as in the work of Michael Whiteman.

I suggest, then, that psychical research is treated as a more encompassing field than parapsychology, especially when it is given the positivist limits of the Introduction to Parapsychology, where psyche is put out of the back door and the ‘paranormal’ excluded. But even given a broader view of parapsychology, one may hope that a student is further introduced to wider enquiries into existence and its manifestations, which have been an enduring feature of psychical research.

 

Can parapsychologists and paranormal investgators work closer together?
John Fraser

A discussion to explore the current relationship between Parapsychologists (defined for this purpose as Laboratory based experts in this or closely related fields, who bring experimental methods to the study of normally repeatable psychic phenomena;) with Paranormal Investigators (normally self or peer trained specialists in spontaneous outbreaks of apparent Paranormal Phenomena in the world at large.). Also exploring whether and how this relationship can be improved for the mutual benefit of the subject.

There have been ongoing observations made within the Society regarding two SPR conferences co-existing as one roughly splitting into the two camps as defined above. It would thus I believe be very apt to discuss whether and to what extent such divisions are real or simply based on misunderstanding, and to encourage practical suggestions on how the two approaches can be greater integrated (assuming there is a desire to do so). It is also an area that I myself am particularly interested to follow up on, following Questionnaire feedback received after the paper I presented at last years Conference “ Is Paranormal Field Research a Waste Of Time? “
Subject Matter –

Examples of pertinent questions to be discussed might be:-

Can lab-based techniques be adapted to be used in Spontaneous Field Research and would they add to technique, expertise (especially in the provision and use of equipment) and credibility of that research without constraining its spontaneous nature.

Under the present Academic climate is it a problem ‘politically’ for universities to be seen to be promoting such research? If so is there any way to overcome this?

Are there specific attitudes / beliefs or practices within Paranormal Investigations which make it difficult for parapsychologists to participate and lead to their exclusion?

Is interdepartmental co-operation such at universities that a Parapsychology Dept may be able to obtain additional expertise from other departments (e.g. acoustic or electromagnetic expertise from Electronics/ Physics based faculties?

What type of support if any would paranormal investigators like from parapsychologists?

Is there any assistance that parapsychologists would seek from paranormal investigators?

If /when unable to assist in field research, is their any back up assistance parapsychologists can and would wish to provide. (This is especially pertinent to people-centric phenomena discovered by paranormal investigators which are in principle quite verifiable under laboratory conditions).

Does each of the related disciplines respect what the other is trying to achieve?

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC OFFERS OF HELP OR REQUIREMENTS OF HELP THAT ARE NEEDED IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

 

Healers, Healees and Healing – Just Placebo Effect?
Robert A Charman

‘Yes’ says mainstream science, including medicine and psychology. Emotional belief can initiate physiologically beneficial reactions sometimes resulting in ‘miraculous’ improvements. The outcome depends upon the stage of the condition, whether mental or physical, the personality of the patient, or client, and the personality of the healer. Strong emotional belief can evoke positive physiological reactions in a person through, for example, increased release of pain relieving endorphins in the brain, improved immune system activity, directed autonomic nervous system activity and accelerated tissue healing. Belief, and belief alone, drives placebo effect. Subjective intention, as in healing intention, stays firmly within the mind of the intentioner. It does not, and cannot, go anywhere else. Therefore it cannot have a direct effect upon another person.

An open and shut case if ever there was one.

‘No’ say some 25,000 UK healers and their thousands of grateful clients, who we will term ‘healees’. From the sensations they experience during a healing session, such as heat, cold, tingling together with coincident, or subsequent, symptom relief with, sometimes, apparent cure, they believe that healing intention is a therapeutic agent in its own right. It is not ‘just placebo’. Healing, they say, involves a direct interaction between healer and healee, usually interpreted as some form of ‘healing energy’. Outcomes from laboratory trials on the effect of directed healing intention on bacteria, cancer cells, plants and animals together with both near field and distant trials of healing with patients and controls offer support for this belief in an X factor other than placebo (see Benor 2001 for detailed review).

How can we resolve this? Outcome statistics, however compelling, can never confirm that healing intention was the agent of effect because the alternative inference of placebo response cannot be discounted. The only way to settle this debate which, in one form or another, rages across parapsychology as a whole is to correlate statistical outcomes indicating anomalous phenomena, such as healee response during healing, with objective neurophysiological data, preferably from both participants. In other words, if anomaly A, then expect neurophysiology data B, and vice versa. The question is, what data?

In this talk we will consider some typical case histories and then review results from EEG, fMRI and polygraph studies of paired participants indicating that mainstream opinion may be misplaced. Direct brain to brain communication does seem to occur in controlled circumstances. Whether this is purely a brain to brain phenomenon which sometimes reaches conscious telepathic awareness, or whether brains are responding to mental communication, even if at non conscious level, remains unresolved.

A plea will be made that studies using modern, lightweight, digital monitors worn by participating healers and, where appropriate, by clients could provide physiological data that could be correlated with beneficial outcomes. If no physiological indicators linking healer and healee beyond chance correlation are found, then placebo response would be the most reasonable inference. If robust indicators are found, then placebo effect is not the whole answer. Assuming that such AB correlations do exist, the data would allow hypotheses and predictions amenable to confirmation or refutation. The same would apply if this plea was acted upon across parapsychology from ganzfeld studies to telephone telepathy. They are not separate phenomena. They are different manifestations of psi. Linking psi with its neurological correlates would legitimise its existence. Psi would join consciousness and the rest of our accepted faculties awaiting brain-mind resolution.

References

Benor, D.J (2001) Spiritual Healing: Scientific validation of a healing revolution. Vision Publications. USA.
Cade, Maxwell C., Coxhead, N. (1979) The Awakened Mind. Element Books.
*Charman, R. (2006a) Has direct brain to brain communication been demonstrated by electroencephalographic monitoring of paired or group subjects? JSPR , 70, 1-24
*Charman, R. (2006b) Direct brain to brain communication – further evidence from EEG and fMRI studies. Para Rev, 40. 3-9
*Charman, R. (2006c) Something really is going on. Correspondence. JSPR, 70, 249-
Laszlo, E. (1996) The Whispering Pond. Element Books (Chapter 8)
Playfair, G L (2002) Twin Telepathy. Vega. (Chapter 8)
Wirth, DP., Johnson, C,A., Horvath, J,S., MacGregor, J,O,D. (1992) The effect of alternative healing therapy on the regeneration rate of salamander forelimbs. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 6(4): 375-390

* These literature reviews on studies using EEG and fMRI monitoring of paired participants are available online at www.spr.ac.uk

 

 

An Exploration of Degree of Meditation Attainment in Relation to Psychic Awareness with Tibetan Buddhists
S. M. Roney-Dougal, Psi Research Centre, UK, J. Solfvin, Centre for Indic Studies, Univ. Mass., Dartmouth, USA,
J. Fox, School Psych. Sciences, Manchester Univ., UK.

In the 1970’s there was interest in researching meditation as a psi-conducive state (Schmeidler, 1994), partly as a result of the teachings of Patanjali in which he states that psychic abilities manifest on attainment of Samadhi (Honorton, 1977). There are two possible interpretations of Patanjali’s sutras. The first, on which previous research has been based, is that as one practices meditation so, bit by bit, one’s psychic awareness begins to manifest. The other is that the psychic abilities manifest only once Samadhi has been obtained. Two studies were run in a Yoga University ashram (Roney-Dougal & Solfvin, in press), and the data left this matter unresolved. Whilst overall the results were non-significant, selected data from the first study did show a significant difference between the advanced meditators and the student beginners. This was not replicated in the second study. In both studies the advanced meditators scored in the psi-hitting direction with a 33% direct hit rate which, if research had continued, may well have resulted in a cumulative deviation from chance.

It was decided to extend this research to Tibetan Buddhists, who have an extensive tradition of psi being used by advanced meditators. In Buddhism there are two meditation disciplines: the shamatha discipline of one-pointed concentration and the vipashana discipline of contemplative insight (mindfulness). Many traditional Mahayana and modern Tibetan Buddhist texts (e.g. Lamrimpa, 1995; Conze, 1990) relate meditation attainment in these techniques to development of psychic powers.

Tibetans actually separate two types of “clairvoyance.” They consider that the one Western parapsychologists research is a low-level ability that is unreliable and subject to fraud. Many people are considered to have this ability and Tibetans consider that it is an inherent ability resulting from past life karma, which could benefit from training in meditation. The clairvoyance you attain as a result of meditation is considered to be a high-level ability which is reliable.

This series of experiments started by repeating the previous research and working with beginners and advanced meditators. The hypothesis was that participants’ degree of meditative attainment, as assessed by the Meditative Attainment Questionnaire (MAQ), would correlate positively with psi scoring, such that the more advanced meditators would rank the target correctly significantly more often.

The precognition computer programme (PreCOG), originally developed for this field research in India by Jezz Fox for an Apple Macintosh G4 powerbook laptop, was further developed for this study. The software guided the participant through the procedure beginning with a data entry screen to enter trial and participant details, to the preparation and trial periods, and ending with the rating and feedback stages. There were 25 target sets, which were static pictorials comprising pictures of Tibet.

The MAQ was designed with help from David Luke. This questionnaire assessed the number of years the participants had practised meditation, including all the different types of meditation practise. Each participant estimated the number of hours that they practised the various techniques.

The study included any Tibetan monks, nuns or Western Buddhist students who wanted to participate. There were a total of 24 participants, but 6 dropped out before completing the required 8 sessions, resulting in a total of 18 participants.

A basic free-response design was used in which PreCOG chose a picture at random from a 4-picture pool. Half the sessions used a clairvoyance protocol and half used a precognition protocol. After meditating, the participants aimed to visualise the target, and after that saw the set of four pictures, one of which was the target. These were rated on a 100-point scale according to similarity with the visualization experience. The target picture was then shown. This clairvoyance/precognition design has both a randomised double-blind design and inbuilt fraud control, so there is no need for specially designed rooms or any other laboratory facilities. Therefore it is ideal for research “in the field.” It is also a suitable method to use with Tibetan people who have a tradition of precognition (oracles and Mo divination) being used by the lamas in their monasteries, as well as the use of clairvoyance for discovering reincarnated monks.

The hypothesis was tested by standardising the participants’ session rating deviation scores (TrDev) and correlating these with their MAQ item scores. Pearson correlations were used and tested for significance with t-tests. Of these age, years of overall practice and years of meditation practice all correlate with the session scores (Pearson r = 0.52, p <0.05), with the number of hours of overall practice giving a lower correlation (r = 0.31).

There is a non- significant trend in this study towards psi-missing (TrDev = -0.105). Overall, scoring on clairvoyant trials was at chance (TrDev = -0.088, t(71) = 0.867, 2tail p = 0.389) with a psi-missing trend on precognitive trials (TrDev = -0.123, t(71) = -1.327, 2tail p = 0.189). There is no significant difference between the two sets of trials (t-diff (142) = 0.800, 2tail p = 0.425). This is to be expected with such a wide range of participants. There were, however, three participants who scored most strongly in the psi-missing direction, one of whom scored independently significantly. These three all reported that as children they had had memories of previous lives as monks in Tibet. Two of these reports were independently confirmed and verified. No other participant made such a report. There was also significant psi-missing from the group of three Rinpoches.

References

Conze, E. (trans. & ed.) (1995). The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom, New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidas
Honorton, C. (1977). Psi and Internal Attention States,” in B.B. Wolman (ed.), Handbook of Parapsychology, Van Nostrand Rheinhold, N,Y., pp.435-472.
Lamrimpa, Gen (1995). Calming The Mind: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on Cultivating Meditative Quiescence. Ithaca, N.Y., USA: Snow Lion.
Roney-Dougal, S.M. & Solfvin, J. (in press). Yogic Attainment in Relation to Awareness of Precognitive Targets, J. Parapsychology.
Schmeidler, G. (1994). ESP Experiments 1978-1992, In S. Krippner (ed.), Advances in Parapsychological Research, vol. 7, McFarland, USA, pp.104-197.

Perspectives on Paranormal, Transpersonal, and Religious Experience
Michael Daniels

In this talk I question the relationship between paranormal, transpersonal and religious experience through examining phenomenological and conceptual distinctions and similarities between these classes of experience. Major varieties of experience are considered and the relationships between these are clarified in terms of a dimensional model which recognises an interaction between (1) What is experienced (Experiential Context) and (2) How an experience is related to the self (Experiential Mode). I suggest that a full understanding of paranormal, transpersonal and religious experience requires a model which recognises at least five different modes of experience that operate in each of five different contexts. This results in a model that proposes 25 distinct forms of mystical or anomalous experience. Implications of this approach and model for the disciplines of parapsychology, transpersonal psychology and religious studies are discussed.