“Medium catches killer and proves life after death” was the memorable headline of the 27th October 2001 issue of Psychic News, referring to a then recent trial after which it emerged that a young woman named Christine Holohan had provided the police with a wealth of accurate, detailed and specific information about a murder a few days after the event, ostensibly received directly from the deceased victim. A more detailed account of the case was given by one of the detectives involved in the murder inquiry in the journal of the Police Federation (Batters, 2001). With his and Holohan’s full cooperation, we have examined the case in some detail and conclude that it could at least be said that “Medium provides key information that helps lead to the conviction of a murderer and is highly suggestive of discarnate survival”.
This paper is the third in a series of papers by Robertson and Roy that together describe and test a method of assessing claims of mediumistic communication. In this paper we describe the results obtained by applying the Robertson–Roy Protocol (RRP) in a designed suite of experiments that enables in each experiment (a) the categories (such as a recipient who believes he or she is a non-recipient) of all participants present to be unambiguously determined, (b) the operation of a variety of normal factors (such as body language and verbal response to a medium) to be controlled. The RRP was tested over two and a half years in a study involving 13 sessions held in a number of locations in England and Scotland, with some 300 participants from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Ten mediums delivered 73 sets of statements during these sessions. The study demonstrated that the RRP, although time-consuming both in application and reduction of acquired data, is a practical, repeatable and useful procedure in assessing the ability of mediums to transmit relevant information to recipients. The results of the study provided a reliable, and objective, quantitative measure of the significance to be placed in the higher fraction accepted by the recipients of the number of statements in the sets delivered to the recipients than those accepted by non-recipients in those sessions. Due to the design of the experiments the results cannot be due to normal factors such as body language and verbal response. The probability that the results are due to chance is one in a million. The evaluation by the Robertson–Roy weighting procedure of the statements delivered by the mediums is also shown to support the negation of a sceptical hypothesis.
This paper concerns a device that produces anomalous speech products similar in many respects to the Electronic Voice Phenomenon (although it was not intended to function in this way), and its purpose is to describe the characteristic behaviour of this device and its products, and to consider possible alternative explanations. For example, could what is happening simply be a case of stray pick-up — either electromagnetic or acoustic? To answer that question, experiments were carried out with the equipment relocated in an environment where communication in Spanish rather than in English was normal. Another possible alternative is considered: that these voices exist only in the mind, like an ‘audible Rorschach Test’ interpretation. An objective process for assessing the most probable meaning of the information contained in an anomalous speech product is outlined, with the conclusion that such products are real and have characteristics of communication.
The more impressive cases of children who claim to remember a past life may get published with greater frequency than ‘run of the mill’ cases, giving readers a skewed impression of the phenomena. Thirty children who speak about a previous life were briefly interviewed for the purpose of a psychological study in Lebanon. Three children were randomly selected for a thorough investigation from a pool of 29 of these children (the case of one child had already been investigated). In one case a deceased person was identified whose circumstances in life closely resembled the child’s statements. In another case no person adequately matching the child’s statements was found, and checking the correctness of her statements was impossible due to practical reasons. In the third case the child’s family was related to the alleged previous personality, which could have given the child and its parents ample opportunity to learn by normal means about the previous personality. In addition to the alleged memory aspect, some cases show perplexing psycho-physiological and behavioural features.
Over the years, ‘phantom battle’ phenomena (visual, auditory, or both) have reportedly been experienced in the area of Loch Ashie, not far from Inverness. But it is questionable whether the same type of battle has been witnessed on each occasion. Sightings of a phantom battle are said to go back many years, and the locality has also been the setting for other alleged apparitional phenomena. Reports of ghostly experiences in the area are discussed, and matters of historical relevance are considered. It is possible that some of the reported experiences relate to a battle fought centuries ago (around the time of the Picts), with a ‘recording and replay’ process being involved. However, so far as the author is aware, there is no historical record of an actual battle having been fought in the immediate vicinity of Loch Ashie.
The use of blind methods can help minimise experimenter bias and therefore can be one indicator of methodological quality. We present an interdisciplinary survey of the reporting of blind methods in scientific journals. The survey, of 1214 papers, aimed to replicate and extend upon an earlier survey. The findings showed very high inter-coder reliability and confirmed the overall pattern found in the previous survey, with parapsychology showing the highest level of reporting of blind methods (79.1%), and the lowest level being found for the physical sciences (0.5%). The implications of these findings are considered, and difficulties in making methodological comparisons across diverse research paradigms are highlighted.
In this study two variables were derived from the Australian Sheep–Goat Scale data of two large, mainly student, samples, namely the level of paranormal belief and the level of (alleged) paranormal experience. It was shown that the level of paranormal belief was relatively high (frequency distributions tended to be skewed towards the high end), while the level of paranormal experience was relatively low (frequency distributions were skewed towards the low end). A high priority was flagged for studies that examine the direction of causation: does experience lead to belief, or belief to experience, or do both processes occur?
An investigation was conducted to record reactions to disturbing psi experiences and to explore their emotional and intellectual processing. Thirty-two subjects participated in weekly group sessions involving humanistic group therapy. The activity involved three stages: (a) emotional support, (b) intellectual and emotional processing, and (c) group-closing and interpretation. Using the Q-sort technique, an evaluation was made of emotional and intellectual thinking and feelings, motivation to be a group member, comprehensibility of the experiences, their integration into life, emotional and intellectual meaning, and emotional disturbance prior to entry into group and after group therapy designed by ourselves. Over three-quarters of the sample reported fear — in different forms — to be the predominant emotion; wonder, perplexity, well-being and anxiety were also reported. Scores on a measure of disturbance decreased as a consequence of the group activity (mean pre-score = 4.85, mean post-score = 1.70), which is consistent with emotional processing and integration. Members reported that therapy had made them feel they had been listened to, accepted, understood, and supported by the therapist as well as the other group members. More than half said that the group activity contributed to their personal or spiritual development; others found a fresh interpretation for their psi experiences, or felt emotionally better in their interpersonal relationships, and/or found new meaning in their lives. Group members felt able to learn to handle their own capacity for engaging in constructive personal, interpersonal and spiritual growth. We conclude that humanistic group therapy can be effective with people who have distressing experiences, such those involving paranormal phenomena, and so may be an appropriate method for the further parapsychological exploration of many paranormal experiences.
This study investigated the role of reality testing deficits in the formation of belief in the paranormal. In the present context reality testing is taken to entail the person’s inclination to test critically the logical plausibility of his or her beliefs. An earlier study of this relationship by the author (Irwin, in press) was partially compromised by the use of an index of reality testing deficits that was potentially contaminated by a small number of items implicating paranormal belief. The current research therefore constitutes a constructive replication of the original study in that it surveyed the relationship of facets of paranormal belief to a deficit in reality testing when the measure of the latter had no items concurrently incorporating specifically paranormal beliefs. A questionnaire survey of 161 adults from the general Australian population revealed that two fundamental facets of paranormal belief were predicted by reality testing deficits. The findings are discussed in relation to the cognitive bases of the formation of paranormal belief.
The present study assessed previous research suggesting the causal or mediatory roles of magnetic fields, temporal lobe symptomatology, paranormal belief and other contextual variables, and transliminality in the induction of haunt experiences, in the context of the case of a woman reporting a sensed presence in two rooms of her house. The hypothesis that the experience of a sensed presence results from the intrusion of the right-hemispheric equivalent of the sense of self into left-hemispheric awareness (Persinger, 1992, 1993b) was additionally tested. A blind investigation revealed that local ambient magnetic fields measured in the two rooms exhibited significantly greater peak magnitudes and strength variability than in the other rooms of the building. The experient displayed an unremarkable amount of temporal lobe symptoms and reported that the experiences did not tend to be localized to the left side of her body. Prior paranormal belief appears to have contributed to the construction, maintenance and interpretation of the experiences, but neither suggestion, nor ‘old-style’ décor, seems to have played a strong role. The cessation of the experiences following a communal cleansing ceremony is best accounted for by a socio-psychological understanding of primitive (lay) healing rituals, and thus appears to have resulted from a collective suggestion effect.
The ability of people to guess who is calling on the telephone has recently been tested experimentally in more than 850 trials. The results were positive and hugely significant statistically. Participants had four potential callers in distant locations. At the beginning of each trial, remote from the participant, the experimenter randomly selected one of the callers by the throw of a die, and asked the chosen caller to ring the participant. When the phone rang, the participant guessed who the caller was before picking up the receiver. By chance, about 25% of the guesses would have been correct. In fact, on average 42% were correct. The present experiment was an attempt to replicate previous tests, and was filmed for television. The participant and her callers were all sisters, formerly members of the Nolan Sisters band, popular in Britain in the 1980s. We conducted 12 trials in which the participant and her callers were 1 km apart. Six out of 12 guesses (50%) were correct. The results are significant at the p = 0.05 level.
Research into the possibility of survival of physical death has been one of the major interests of this Society, and our Proceedings and Journal provide an excellent record of the way in which this interest has featured in our work. This paper lists some of the reasons why survival research is nevertheless still unpopular with many parapsychologists, and virtually ignored by scientists in other disciplines. These reasons are critically discussed, and suggestions made as to how research into survival might develop in the future.
The dreams and visions of Eva Hellström, as reported in her personal notebook, were subjected to a number of analyses. They included Krippner and Faith’s ‘exotic dream’ categories, Casto’s Spirituality Scoring System, Strauch’s content analysis for ‘bizarreness’, a rating scale to judge correspondences between the report and the ‘precognized’ event, and the geomagnetic conditions at the time of the dream or vision. Even though the veridicality of anecdotal reports of this type is open to question, such analyses provide useful information regarding the inner world of the experient. Further, they suggest research avenues for more highly controlled studies.
The present work develops a theoretical model of spontaneous precognitive dreaming. Previous explanatory models of precognition are reviewed. Out of these, only the model that hypothesises a displacement of physical signals backwards in time (STT) and the model that proposes precognition as a form of memory (MT) allow for clear and very different predictions of data. A large individual series comprising 124 precognitive dreams experienced by the author and recorded continuously during the period 1996–2000 is used in the analysis. Four sets of empirical data are measured in the series: Attrition, Topology, Consolidation and the effect of Rivastigmine. The predictions based on the STT model and the MT model are contrasted with the data actually observed. The data observed appear to be compatible with a memory model while at the same time providing evidence against the possibility of backward displacement of physical signals.
Data collected in the majority of ‘the sense of being stared at’ experiments indicate that people tend to respond correctly when being stared at, and at chance when not being stared at. After statistical adjustment for overall response bias (the tendency to respond ‘yes’), this asymmetry disappears. But such an analysis assumes that response biases are constant across all trials. The question arises as to whether response biases may differ during stare and no-stare conditions. In a small-scale replication study with feedback after each trial (N = 625 trials), hit rates similar to those reported by Sheldrake were obtained, and a nearly significant difference in response biases was observed between stare and no-stare trials (p = 0.06). This asymmetry was observed primarily in the first six trials in 20-trial runs, arguing against a subliminal cuing hypothesis.
This paper describes a pilot study in which participants completed a telepathy task that was intended to encourage psi-mediated impressions by stimulating participants with a combination of visual and auditory noise. This method has traditionally been employed to induce hallucination-like experiences in the laboratory and so was considered to be potentially psi-conducive. We also evaluated different methods for judging the target sets, and explored the relationship between ESP performance and personality. Twenty trials were conducted with an opportunity sample of students, friends and colleagues of the authors, with CS serving as experimenter and JF serving as sender for all participants. The participants were each asked to give a running commentary on the impressions they experienced while listening to white noise and watching a computer monitor displaying ‘visual noise’ during a 15-minute sending period. Subsequently they used their impressions to judge which of four video clips had been seen by the sender. Judgements of similarity did not produce a psi-hitting effect; the hit rate was 10% compared to the 25% that would be expected by chance. A sum of ranks analysis revealed a significant psi-missing effect (z = 2.4, p < 0.016). Confidence ratings gave a hit rate of 20%, and a sum of ranks analysis revealed a trend towards a psi-missing effect (z = 1.8, p = 0.072). For experimenter ratings, however, the hit rate was 35%, and the sum of ranks was non-significantly better than chance (z = –1.0, p = 0.317). Correlations with personality variables were generally non-significant, although there was a significant negative relationship between impulsive nonconformity and ESP confidence (r = –0.59, p < 0.01). The implications of the findings are discussed, particularly in relation to state/trait preference for psi performance and Palmer’s (1997) magnitude-direction theory. Despite the psi-missing observed here, it is suggested that the sensory noise paradigm merits further attention, particularly given apparent similarities in the characteristics of mentations provided by receivers here and those generated in the ganzfeld. With methodological adjustments, such as the introduction of a relaxation period to help in the transition between ‘everyday alertness’ and an ‘ESP mentality’, it may be possible to develop an alternative protocol that is psi-conducive.
Kant’s writings still cast a shadow over the intellectual acceptability of psychical research, and require close scrutiny on that account. The issues have a focus in Kant’s relatively early work, Dreams of a Spirit-Seer (1766), which concentrates unfavourably on the writings of Swedenborg and paranormal experience. Kant admitted that his mind was “conflicted” over the acceptability of Swedenborg and the paranormal, and that the tone in Dreams was “ambiguously expressed”. Examination suggests that this “ambiguity” is more accurately seen as duplicity. In Dreams Kant believed that “human reason” sets the limits or “proper district” for scientific investigation, yet he limited the capacity of human reason to customary states of life. All observation is brought under the rule of conventional concepts of space and time, and paranormal phenomena are then dismissed as “nonsensical things”, as he termed them. In subjugating experience to a line of reason that requires bringing observations under conventional “rule” or “laws”, Kant had no safeguard against the naïve dismissal of paranormal phenomena, despite his development of a “critical” philosophy. Such proscriptions based on ignorance and prejudice posing as “human reason” are still a burden to ground-breaking areas of science such as psychical research.