Friday 8th September to Sunday 10th September 2000, University College Northampton
FRIDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER
|P. Lamont||Conjuring Spirits or Conjuring Tricks in Victorian Seances|
|M. Smith & D. West||Investigating an anomalous human image on CCTV|
|C. O’Keeffe||Cold Reading as a Process of Enhancing Involvement between the Reader and the Listener in Psychic Detectives’ Accounts|
|J. Randall||The mediumship of Stella Cranshaw: a statistical investigation|
|J. Rousseau||Reflections on the significance of Permanent Paranormal Objects|
|T. Robertson & A. Roy||Preliminary Results from an application of the Robertson/Roy hard protocol to an assessment of the relevance of mediums’ statements|
|M. Willin||Witchcraft: Conceptions/misconceptions at the start of a new century|
|M. Grosse||Video recorded poltergeist knockings|
|G. Lyon Playfair||A permanent paranormal object exhibit: The Egely Wheel demonstrated|
SATURDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER
|M.R. Barrington||Hungarian Iris – Spanish Lucia: An update|
|D. Fontana||After death communications other than through a medium|
|M. Keen||The Aftermath of Scole|
|D. Delanoy, A. Roe & C. Brady||Exploring the role of Receiver and Agent in DMILS Studies|
|M. Smith, J. Fox & C. Williams||Developing a digital autoganzfeld testing system: Some initial data|
|V. Tandy||19Hz audio signals and apparitional experiences|
|A. Cornell||The Use of Instrumentation in Spontaneous Cases|
|S. Wilson, R. Morris & E. Pronto||Psi and Associational Processes: An Exploratory Study|
|E. Greening||Belief in the Paranormal and False Memory|
|S. Flint & C. Roe||A remote viewing pilot study using a Ganzfeld induction procedure|
|M. Colborn & M. Smith||Re-assessing the Cross Correspondences|
|C. Roe||Are ESP and PK aspects of a unitary phenomenon?|
|S. Roney-Dougal & J. Solfvin||Field Study of an Enhancement Effect on Lettuce Seeds|
|S. Blackmore & N. Rose||Horses for Courses: Testing Psychic Ability|
SUNDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER
|C. Simmonds & C. Roe||Personality Correlates of Subjective Anomalous Experiences and Psi Performance in the Ganzfeld|
|D. Rousseau||A new approach to classifying anomalous phenomena|
|P. Stevens||Is Micro PK a Misnomer?|
|R. Wiseman et al.||Understanding unusual experiences: The Hampton Court Project|
|J. Fox||A Systems Approach to the Investigation of Telepathy|
|N. Rose||Experiences and Interpretations of Sleep Paralysis|
In 1998 I related the extraordinary story of how Iris Farczady, a 16 year old Hungarian girl of good family and superior education, was 'taken over' by the personality of a Spanish cleaning woman, who manifested first as a trance entity but who stayed on for the rest of Iris's life. Lucia, as she has called herself ever since, will be 82 on 5th April this year, she remains convinced that she lived in Madrid and died there, aged 41, a few months before she was reincarnated into the young body of Ins in 1933.
The crux of the case is that careful examination of Iris's life history appears to leave no unexamined gap where she could have learnt Spanish, and the members other family were convinced that she had never had lessons or associated with Spanish speaking people. However, when Lucia took hold, she could speak only Spanish, and apparently could not understand Hunganan or German.
A substantial report on the case was published in 1936 by the Hunganan researcher Karl Rothy, and Cornelius Tabori, in a book published in English in 1954, wrote about how he met the family after reading this report, and ascertained that the girl's mother regarded her real daughter as dead, but treated Lucia as if she were a member of the family. The case will be reviewed sufficiently to enable those who missed or have forgotten the first instalment to follow this supplementary report.
It may be recalled that I, together with Peter Mulacz from Austria, Titus Rivas from the Netherlands, and Zsolt Banhegyi, a Hungarian physicist who introduced us to Lucia, visited her in her modest quarters near Budapest, and I shall show some extracts from the camcorder tape, where she will be seen conversing with Titus Rivas in Spanish. The three children of Lucia's marriage to an ethnic German Hungarian were, and remain, implacably hostile to anyone who wants to talk to Lucia about her 'previous life ' This nearly stopped us meeting her at all, and certainly prevented us from gathering information that might have thrown light on the case.
The situation has actually worsened. Peter Mulacz wrote a civil letter in sober terms to Lucia's older son, Raphael, a dentist practising in Munich, but received no reply. He also visited Budapest and contacted a Hungarian psychologist/hypnotist who would have been prepared to visit Lucia and attempt a hypnotic session with a view to calling on Iris to speak, but they were not able to secure a meeting through Zsolt Banhegyi or otherwise. Lucia's dependence on and fear of disapproval from her children has even resulted in her friend Zsolt being left on the doorstep when he took her an expensive birthday present. She thanked him hastily and said that she could not let him come in. They (i e her son Roland, his wife and their daughter) will not speak to Zsolt at all.
At the Spanish end, Titus Rivas wrote, with my co-operation, to every person in the Madrid telephone directory bearing the name Altares or de Salvo, about 50 letters. There were however no useful replies.
As the SPR has no members in Spain, I had a rather unofficial look at the membership list of the SMN, and found an English sounding Robert Goodman living in Madrid, with Journalism mentioned in his personal profile. I sought his help first in the placing of an advertisement in a widely read newspaper circulating in Madrid, naming Lucia and her alleged husband Pedro, and some of the names Lucia used to attribute to their children, but there was no response.
As I had hoped, Robert Goodman took a general interest in the case, and arranged with the editor of a popular paranormal magazine, Mas Alla, to take an attractively illustrated article from him summarising the whole case. It ended by asking readers to help find the family. There has been no immediate response to this either, but it is too soon to give up hope on this front.
A surprise feature that has arisen from Robert Goodman's participation is that while at an exhibition of old photographs taken of the quarter where he lives, Pozuelo, he spotted a photograph of a dingy and dilapidated street titled Calle Oscura. This is the street where Lucia claimed to have lived, and which no one has found listed or shown on street plans of Madrid. It turns out to have been re-named in 1940. A search of the local registry has not come up with any of Lucia's family names, but perhaps only what we should call ratepayers were included. This remains to be investigated. What also remains is to find out if people of Lucia's humble status would have had engraved churchyard headstones, or entries made in Church records. If a search of local churches and cemeteries could be productive then this would have to be undertaken before we gave up the search.
There will be some discussion about the interpretation of the case taken as a whole.
During the summer of 1998 we were approached by DS who claimed to have psychic ability and to be able to predict the outcome of horse races. DS was confident he could demonstrate that ability in experiments and we were keen to test him. Over a period of nearly two years we carried out a series of experiments to test his claims. At each stage he failed to demonstrate psi and we designed further experiments to take account of his own suggested reasons for failure.
DS chose to try guessing the suit of playing cards. In a simple pilot study, carried out in October 1998, SB randomly selected a card once a week and placed it in a location agreed with DS in the office at UWE. DS then phoned in with his guess and NR recorded the guess. Over six weeks DS correctly guessed the suit 3 times in six guesses. He guessed the number five times but was never correct. He said he could not make more frequent guesses but might do better if he had a list of words to look at, as he does in a betting shop.
DS and SB created three list of words. Each week SB randomly chose one word from each list and displayed it in her office at home. DS rang in and NR recorded his guesses. 18 targets were prepared. DS made guesses for 14 of them. None was correct. DS and NR discussed how the experiment might be made more like the horse betting situation DS is used to. They decided that a computer programme would be used to simulate a horse race.
In a simulated race between 5 horses DS was asked to predict the winner, making his guesses at home. NR ran one trial a week and DS rang in with his prediction at a regular time. When DS rang the race was run and the result recorded by NR. 10 trials were run between 22/4 and 22/6 1999. DS obtained 1 hit (MCE = 2).
Conversations with DS revealed that he was unhappy with ringing in his predictions from home and with other aspects of the experiment. NR redesigned the programme to meet the requirements and DS came into the University for further trials. In these experiments DS had to choose the winner from 10 'horses', completing 100 trials over a period of 10 weeks. The computer program recorded predictions and winner. NR recorded the rank of the predicted winner. In the 100 trials DS scored 6 hits (MCE = 10) and a sum of ranks of 578 (MCE = 550).
DS expressed concern over the pressure to make 10 predictions in a session, explaining that in the betting shop he sometimes let races run in order to get a feel for the race. NR therefore redesigned the computer programme to allow races to be run without a prediction, and told DS he could make fewer than 10 predictions or even none on a particular session. DS also suggested that stress in his daily life might be affecting his performance on the task. 20 trials were run over three sessions. The computer recorded all the data. DS scored 1 hit (MCE = 2) and a sum of ranks of 106 (MCE = 110). DS's claims about his performance and his reasons for failure became steadily more complex. SB therefore interviewed DS after this experiment, and the subsequent one. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed.
From the interview DS still appeared confident that he could produce psi if environmental factors at home (such as good sleep and diet) could be improved, and if he had more motivation to win in each individual trial. He also studied his previous results in great detail and on this basis suggested to NR that he would get more 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, and 10 places and fewer 5, 6, 7 and 8's. NR redesigned the programme to record that information from each race. In addition DS was provided with toy money to make 'bets' with. For the 20 trials DS was given £40, allowing him to make an average bet of £2 per race - he could raise or lower that according to his confidence in the outcome. This (in theory) allowed us to take a measure of his confidence, as well as providing him with greater motivation to succeed. 20 trials were run over 6 sessions. DS scored 3 hits (MCE = 2) and a sum of ranks of 99 (MCE = 110). These results, although in the right direction, were not significant. There was no evidence that fewer 5, 6, 7 or 8 places were obtained. DS bet precisely £1 on each race for which he made a prediction, and there was no sign that he was more confident of his prediction when he won. The return of the stake was 7:1 which (with the return of the original stake) meant that he received £8 back for every £1 gambled. From the initial stake of £40, DS ended with a small winnings with a total of £44.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this process was the extent to which DS's explanation for failure to obtain psi became more complex over time and eventually overcame our ability to simulate features within the experiment. Whilst DS was unable to obtain results suggestive of psi, the results do gradually appear to be moving in that direction - and he did make a small winning in the final experiment. A further experiment is planned if DS is available later in the year.
Thanks to the Perrott-Warrick Fund for support of this project.
A cross correspondence occurs when what is written or spoken through one medium or automatist corresponds to or correlates to an extent that cannot normally be explained with what is written or spoken by or through another, and independent, medium or automatist. (Gauld, 1977, p. 594)
Between 1901 and 1930, a long series of cross-correspondences were reported in the writings and utterances of several automatists who were situated in various locations around the world. It is these cross-correspondences, typically referred to as the cross-correspondences, with which this paper is concerned.
The cross-correspondences appeared initially in the automatic scripts of two individuals. Mrs. Margaret Verrall, a lecturer in Classics at Cambridge University, had been producing automatic writing for some time and reported that these scripts characteristically contained a mixture of puns and verse, literary references and quotations, and references to acquaintances (Verrall, 1906). The second was 'Mrs. Holland' (the pseudonym of Mrs. Alice Fleming who was living in India), whose scripts contained elements that appeared to correspond with elements of the scripts produced by Mrs. Verrall (Johnson, 1908-9). Soon afterwards, cross-correspondences were being reported between the scripts of a number of additional mediums. These included Helen Verrall (Margaret Verrall's daughter), Mrs 'Willett' (the pseudonym of Mrs. Winifred Coombe-Tennant) and Mrs. Leonora Piper.
The cross-correspondences have received considerable attention from the SPR, both at the time they were produced and in the years that have followed. There are two main reasons for this strong interest: (1) the messages produced by the mediums were allegedly post-mortem communications from deceased founders of the SPR; (2) it was alleged the nature of the correspondences between scripts provided strong support for the 'survival hypothesis' that was difficult to explain in terms of ESP. Indeed, the cross-correspondences continue to be heralded as among the strongest evidence in favour of post-mortem survival (e.g., Roy, 1998).
This paper comprises an initial report on our attempts to re-assess the cross-correspondences with reference to the extent to which they represent strong evidence of either the survival or super-ESP hypotheses. We will consider: (a) how far the historical material can allow us to reasonably exclude error or fraud as possible explanations of the cross-correspondences and, (b) ways of making the material more amenable to modern assessment.
Gauld, A. (1977). Discarnate Survival. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.). Handbook of Parapsychology. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold. pp. 577-630.
Johnson, A. (1908-9). On the automatic writing of Mrs. Holland. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 26, 57-146.
Roy, A. (1998) The challenge of psychical research. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 36, 525-554.
Verrall, Mrs A. W. (1906). On a series of automatic writings. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 20, 1-432.
For many years investigators of spontaneous cases have sought to authenticate reported psychical effects by the use of various types of instruments. The alleged paranormal nature of visual, physical, auditory and olfactory phenomena and their possible hallucinatory or fraudulent cause, has always made an independent means of establishing their veridical nature essential as a backup for their actual observation. The development in recent years of more sophisticated and portable instruments to record paranormal physical changes in the environment (that must happen if the phenomena do occur as described), should have provided better tools for the present day investigator to achieve positive or negative evidence for their occurrence.
However, while instrument packages incorporating computer controlled 35 mm still, cine and infrared video cameras, movement, sound, temperature and electrical sensors, have been used in a large number of cases, no real significant positive results in the last 20 years, have been achieved. Although some small difficult to explain odd effects have been recorded in a few individual cases, the overall negative results when instruments are used, raises a number of important questions regarding the reason for such results and the type and further use of instruments.
I propose to briefly outline:
(1) the early use of instruments and results obtained before 1900, their development up to the 1960s.
(2) the greater degree of application to the investigation of spontaneous cases the increase in the sophistication and portability of instrumentation has allowed since then.
I will then describe the more modern instrument packages developed in the 1980s such as SPIDER and variations of it, the results obtained in over 100 cases and discuss the implications of those results as follows:-
"Direct mental interactions with living systems" (DMILS) refers to an experimental paradigm that examines whether a living system, such as an experimental participant (e.g., a 'receiver') can respond to the cognition of another participant (an 'agent') under conditions that preclude any currently recognised means of sensory interaction (Braud and Schlitz, 1991). The DMILS procedure most commonly used today involves an agent trying to alternatively activate or calm the electrodermal activity (EDA) of an isolated receiver, according to a randomised and counterbalanced schedule of activate and calm periods. In these studies, the agent's calm and activate schedule is unknown to the receiver. The most recent overview of the DMILS EDA involved a database of 30 studies, conducted over the past two decades (Schlitz & Braud, 1997). In 19 of these studies the agent was actively trying to either activate or calm the remote receiver's EDA, and in 11 studies the agent's activating and calming efforts consisted of either staring or not staring at the receiver via a closed-circuit video camera system. The combined outcomes of these studies showed a highly significant effect (combined StoufferZ = 6.17, p = 4.58 x 10 -10). Additionally, 47% of the studies obtained an independently significant outcome, where as only 5% would be expected to be significant by chance alone. Thus this database has a relatively high replication rate in comparison to other parapsychology databases.
But how should these results be interpreted - what do they mean? Often this work is seen as an analogue to healing research (e.g., Schlitz and Braud, 1997). This interpretation assumes that the agent is exerting an influence of some kind upon the receiver, much as a healer might influence a patient. However, an equally plausible explanation could be based on a psi-mediated placebo effect. Under this interpretation, the receiver is expecting an effect to come from the agent, and then, at an unconscious level, they use their ESP to gain knowledge of the agent's activate/calm schedule and self-regulate appropriately.
A large EDA DMILS study (120 sessions) was run to better understand the relative contribution made by the agent and receiver in producing DMILS effects. This study systematically varied the presence and absence of an Agent, and the receiver's knowledge of whether or not there was an agent, resulting in a study with four conditions. One marginally significant, predicted effect was obtained in the condition where there was no sender and the receiver knew there would be no sender (df=29, t = 1.73, p = 0.047). When the receiver knew that there would be an agent the outcome was of a similar size, but in the psi-missing direction. In the two conditions where the receiver was unsure whether or not an agent would be involved in the session (there was an agent in 30 of these sessions and no agent in the other 30 sessions) the results were very near mean chance expectations. These findings tentatively suggest that the receivers expectations may play a more important role than the mere presence or absence of an agent in producing DMILS effects.
Braud, W. G. and Schlitz, M. J. (1991). Consciousness interactions with remote biological systems: Anomalous intentionality effects. Subtle Energies, 2, 1-46.
Schlitz. M. J. and Braud, W. G. (1997). Distant intentionality and healing: Assessing the evidence. Alternative Therapies, 3, 62-73.
The authors would like to thank the Bial Foundation for funding this study.
When the SPR was founded in 1882, one of its stated objectives was:
"the careful investigation of any reports, resting on strong testimony, regarding apparitions at the moment of death, or otherwise..."
Such investigations formed a major part of the early work of the Society, and an impressive collection of reports was published in 1886 in the classic Phantasms of the Living. Many other cases, dealing with apparitions and other phenomena possibly suggestive of survival, have appeared over the years in the Society's Journal and Proceedings.
The emphasis upon laboratory work in more recent years has tended to direct attention away from research into survival, but such research is now coming to be regarded with more favour, partly through the initiative of bereavement counsellors who find frequent reference by clients to experiences suggestive of post-mortem communications (see e.g. Lagrand 1997, 1999), partly as a consequence of reported experiences by individuals with the psychomanteum (see e.g. Moody and Perry 1993), and partly as a result of extended research undertakings such as the seven year programme of Guggenheim and Guggenheim involving detailed structured interviews with 2,000 subjects (Guggenheim and Guggenheim 1996). The decision by the SPR Council to establish a Survival Committee, and its recent agreement to provide financial support for Professor Delanoy's psychomanleum work at Northampton University College, are further indications of this renewed interest.
The paper will summarise these and other recent published findings, and discuss their relevance for our understanding of possible human survival after bodily death. A number of examples of ADCs from the author's own cases studies will also be presented, and suggestions made for future research.
Guggenheim, B. and Guggenheim, J. (1996). Hello from Heaven . New York: Bantam Books.
Lagrand, L. (1997). After Death Communications. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
Lagrand, L. (1999). Messages and Miracles: Extraordinary Experiences of the Bereaved. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
Moody, R. and Perry, P. (1993). Reunions: Visionary Encounters -with Departed Loved Ones. New York: Random House (re-issued 1994 by Ballantine Books).
The study of anomalous information transfer has occupied researchers for a number of years. Despite large research endeavours attempting to demonstrate conclusively whether such communication is possible (e.g. J. B. Rhine's work, and the work on the ganzfeld paradigm), there is still no resolution to the issue.
Irrespective of whether there is genuine information transfer in 'telepathic' occurrences, the concept of telepathy is still very real in a social context (i.e. most people have opinions on the topic). Therefore, the reasons for people's belief (and disbelief) in telepathy are deserving of investigation in their own right.
This presentation aims to outline a systems approach to the study of telepathy in which consideration of the physical components, the channels of communication, and the behaviour of the system at the moment of 'telepathic communication', are considered.
In order to achieve this, the study concentrates on two approaches to the investigation of telepathy. The first is aimed at the understanding of processes involved in the system through surveying people's opinions, beliefs, and experiences in relation to telepathy. The second approach is more concerned with the verification of these findings, and employs the experimental testing of telepathic ability.
The practicalities involve two levels of contact with participants. The first, close contact, involves detailed investigation of ganzfeld trials with a small participant pool. The second level of contact aims to gain less detailed information from a much larger sample of people by means of ganzfeld-type trials. These aim to mimic, in part, the ganzfeld procedure though require less involvement on the part of participants.
Initial findings from ganzfeld trials (concentrating on the actions of the sender during the trial period), and an internet-based ganzfeld-type study shall be reported.
In the future, participants in ganzfeld trials shall be asked to participate in pre-trial interviews examining their attitudes towards telepathy, and post-ganzfeld discussions in which their experience of the session may be considered.
We would like to thank the Society for Psychical Research for providing funding for some of the equipment used in this project, and Carl Williams for his support and allowing access to the equipment, and Helen Anderson, Dominic Basson, Helen Bowers, Clare Clancy, Aisha Perkis, Kevin Pilkington, and Zoe Sterling for acting as experimenters for the trials.
This study builds upon work conducted by Blackmore and Rose (1997) examining false memory and ESP, and is an extension to the pilot study presented at the SPR conference in 1999.
The first study involved 16 University of Hertfordshire undergraduate students and generated 47 false memories (mean of 2.9 per participant). The number of false memories generated did not correlate with participants' performance on the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) (Carlson and Putnam, 1993) or the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ) (Marks, 1973). There was, however, a significant correlation between the number of false memories generated and scores on the Belief in the Paranormal Scale (Tobacyk and Milford, 1983) (r = .513, p = .047). There were no significant differences between the number of false memories created by ESP and non-ESP targets.
A follow-up study was then conducted using 52 participants, all of whom were students at the University of Hertfordshire. In an initial session, participants were shown 24 stimuli containing one word labels of animals (e.g., DUCKS, HORSE). Half of these stimuli also contained a photograph of the animal whilst the other half did not. When presented with 'photograph and label' slides, participants were asked to concentrate on the photograph. When presented with 'label only' slides participants were asked to imagine a photograph of the appropriate animal. After viewing the slides, participants completed the Belief in the Paranormal Scale, the DES and the VVIQ.
In a second session the participants were presented with the 24 labels and asked to state whether a photograph of the animal had actually been seen or simply imagined during the initial session. When participants generated a false memory (i.e. incorrectly stated that they had seen a photograph that they had actually imagined), they were asked to describe the photograph that they believed they had seen. In addition, participants were asked to describe a corresponding number of actual memories (i.e. memories for photographs that had actually been presented and that they recalled seeing). Each participant also completed a covert ESP test. For each participant six of the twelve 'label only' slides were randomly chosen to act as ESP targets and placed into a sealed envelope. 175 false memories were generated (a mean of 3.4 false memories per participant). The number of false memories did not correlate with performance on the DES, the VVIQ or the Belief in the Paranormal Scale. There were also no significant difference between the number of false memories created by ESP and non-ESP targets. There were, however significant correlations between paranormal belief and VVIQ (r= .371, p = .0069) and DES (r = .311, p = .0237).
I would like to thank the SPR for assisting with the funding for this project.
Blackmore, S. and Rose, N (1997). Reality and Imagination: A Psi-Conducive Confusion? Journal of Parapsychology, 61 (4), 321-335.
Carlson, E.B. and Putnam, F.W. (1993). An Update on the Dissociative Experiences Scale. Dissociation, 6 (1), 16-27.
Marks, D.F. (1973). Visual Imagery Differences in the Recall of Pictures. British Journal of Psychology, 64 (1), 17-24
Tobacyk, J.J. and Milford, G. (1983). Belief in paranormal phenomena: Assessment instrument development and implications for personality functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 1029-1037.
The case concerns psycho-kinetic activity, in the form of knocking phenomena, surrounding a 7 year old boy.
The case was investigated by Maurice Grosse, assisted by Mary Rose Barrington, during the early part of the year 2000, commencing with the MG's first visit on the 3rd February.
The case was unique in that the knocking was persistent and responsive. It happened predominantly when the boy went to bed and was confined mainly to the bedroom, but it also happened away from home.
It was possible in these circumstances to monitor the activity under strict surveillance, and to determine to the satisfaction of both MG and MRB that the activity was inexplicable in normal terms. On reflection the case is exceptional in that not only was there no other poltergeist type activity to confuse the situation, but the phenomena bore a strong relationship to the phenomena experienced with the Fox sisters and MG's experiences in the Enfield Case. During a discussion of the case with the Spontaneous Cases committee, Dr Peter Hallson pointed out that the boy's reaction and response to the knocking, equates to the behaviour of some famous physical mediums in the past. I intend to elaborate on these points.
Interest generated by the publication in November 1999 of the Proceedings on the investigation into a mediumistic circle known as the Scole Group, accompanied by the presentation of enlargements of the several film strips derived from their sessions with the principal authors of the Scole Report, has produced fresh evidence relevant to the case against fraud. This will be briefly reviewed. Some are literary; some relate to the physical circumstances of sittings; some to the contents of the film strips.
The significance of the continued absence of any further evidence to suggest deception on the part of any member of the Scole Group, despite the widespread dissemination of summaries of the Report in the specialist media, will also be discussed.
The author will then survey the crucial issues generated by the Report, notably the criteria for satisfactory evidence of the paranormal, at different levels of general credibility. Examples will be given of some of the criticisms as illustrations of the questionable logical, or philosophical basis, on which they are founded. The weaknesses and merits of that basis will be examined. References will also be made to earlier experiments recorded in the Society's publications which encountered comparable reservations within and beyond the Society.
Social historians have tended to see Victorian Spiritualism in the context of the broader response to the theological issues that provoked the so-called 'crises of faith', and functional aspects of the movement in terms of class or gender (Oppenheim, 1985; Barrow, 1986; Owen, 1989). Very little attention has been paid, however, to reported Spiritualist phenomena. Yet such phenomena, particularly those associated with Daniel Home, challenged both scientific and religious views, and attempts to explain how they were produced occupied both the minds of his contemporaries and a significant amount of column space in the periodical press. So far as the latter is representative of the former, most contemporaries regarded Home as a trickster, and supported this view by claiming that conjurors could explain the details. Conjurors, however, do not appear to have known what was going on. Their failure to explain, no doubt along with the general rise of scientific authority, led to the discourse increasingly becoming a scientific one, yet mainstream science provided no additional clues.
Though many contemporaries no doubt would have accepted the broad accusation of trickery against Home, anyone comparing the available explanations with the available evidence would have become increasingly aware of the gap between the two. Those who had attended Home's seances were certainly aware of this gap, as were Spiritualists more generally. In terms of understanding Victorian Spiritualist beliefs, this is important. Spiritualists repeatedly stressed that they had become convinced by the evidence. As nobody else seems to have been able to provide an adequate alternative explanation, perhaps it is time more credit was given to the reasons they themselves gave for their beliefs. The wider discourse about Home's phenomena suggests an overwhelming rejection of supernatural agency, despite no adequate natural explanation being available. The response of mainstream scientists - to question the scientific competence of those who had tested Home, and to argue that what they reported had not in fact happened - could be seen as supportive of a Kuhnian view of science, in which the dominant paradigm may ignore (or even suppress) anomalies of fact or theory (Kuhn, 1970). The views of the periodical press (which included false accusations) suggest that the threat posed by Home's phenomena may be viewed in more general sociological terms, such as Weber's notion of modernity as a 'dis-enchantment of the world', or as a battle in what Bauman has called modernity's 'war against ambivalence' (Bauman, 1991; Bauman, 1992). This paper details how such a battle was fought in the mid-Victorian period. That similar debates about paranormal phenomena continue to this day suggest that the war has never ended.
Barrow, L. (1986). Independent Spirits: Spiritualism and English Plebeians, 1850-1910. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Bauman, Z. (1991). Modernity and ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity press.
Bauman, Z. (1992). Intimations of postmodemity. London: Routledge.
Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Oppenheim, J. (1985). The Other World: spiritualism and psychical research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Owen, A. (1989). The Darkened Room: women, power and Spiritualism in late Victorian England. London: Virago Press.
This study examined the structure of Cold reading strategies employed in psychic detectives' accounts of murder cases. Cold reading involves a set of theoretically related strategies designed to make an account appear more convincing than it actually is (Hyman, 1989). Textual analysis and scalar procedures revealed that in the 8 case studies examined, this type of discourse employed devices that are known to facilitate the involvement of the listener in 'co-authoring' the text. This occurs by virtue of the listener interpreting meaning in ambiguous information (Forer, 1949). It is suggested that part of the reason why psychics are still used by police departments, despite no evidence for them being any more accurate than control groups, relates to the fact that such devices are successful in engaging the listener. This may prompt a more generous appraisal of the account than if it were based purely on logic and deduction. The wider implications of this finding are discussed.
Forer, B. R. (1949). The fallacy of personal validation: A classroom demonstration of gullibility. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 44, 118-121.
Hyman, R. (1989). The Elusive Quarry: A scientific appraisal of psychical research. New York: Prometheus Books.
THE PERMANENT PARANORMAL OBJECT?
The permanent paranormal object (PPO) has long been considered to be the researcher's Holy Grail. I have obtained the loan of an object which, I maintain, could not have been produced by any normal means in view of the eye-witness testimony at the time of its production and of attempts to produce a similar effect in a well-known scientific laboratory. The object itself will be produced, full details of the replication attempts will be given, and normal explanations will be invited.
THE EGELY WHEEL.
John Rudkin, Peter Matthews and I will present the initial results of our research into this intriguing gadget. Audience members will be able to try it out and offer their opinions as to what it measures and whether its inventor, George Egely, is justified in his claim that it measures "vitality".
Dorothy Stella Cranshaw (known in the literature as "Stella C.") was born in 1900 in North Woolwich, where her father was a charcoal burner. By the time she met Harry Price, early in 1925, she was 22 years old and working as a nurse in one of the London hospitals. They met during a rail journey. Stella told Price how, as a child, she had experienced flashes of light, raps, cold breezes and the spontaneous movement of small objects such as match-boxes. Price was excited at finding someone who appeared to be a natural "medium", and persuaded her to take part in a number of sittings.
Stella gave three series of sittings for Price and his associates, here designated as Series I, Series II and Series III. They took place in 1923, 1926-7 and 1928 respectively. Series I was fully written-up and published in book form by Price (1925), Series II and III have been published in abbreviated form by Turner (1973) but with some inaccuracies. Series III was also written up by Hope (1928). The original records of all three series are in the Harry Price Library at the University of London. The phenomena observed included raps, messages, flashes of light, levitations of tables and other objects, the violent smashing of furniture and even - on one occasion - an apparent precognition.
THE PRESENT STUDY
At the time of the Stella sittings the use of statistical methods was in its infancy. I decided to explore the possibility of applying such methods to the surviving records in the hope of discovering something new, or at least confirming some of the qualitative impressions given by Price. My first step was to assign an activity index to each of the sittings. This was meant to be a rough estimate of the amount of mechanical energy expended in each seance. It consisted of a number between 0 and 5 - the latter being assigned to the most violent sessions in which furniture was smashed. I then looked for correlations between the activity indices and other features of the seances, such as the drops in temperature recorded by Price, the presence or absence of luminosity effects, decline phenomena, and the balance of the sexes among the sitters.
1) The Decline Effect
A very marked decline was found for Series I (the 1923 sittings) but not the other two Series (P=0.0076, Fisher's exact probability test). There is actually a slight increase in activity towards the end of Series III (P=0.04). There is a significant fall in the mean activity index between Series I and Series II (1=2.11, d.f. = 30, P=0.043). It is suggested that the presence of Mrs Eileen Garrett, a well-known medium in her own right, among the sitters during Series I may have helped to enhance the phenomena in this series. Mrs Garrett was not present during Series II or III.
2) Luminosity Effects
Flashes of light and similar phenomena were seen in most of the sittings of Series I, but were less common in the later Series. Pooling the data of all three Series, I performed a t-test of the difference between the mean activity indices of seances in which lights were seen and seances in which they were not (or were not reported). This gave P=0.06, which just fails to reach significance. It is not clear, therefore, whether there is any connection between the flashes of light and the violence of the telekinetic phenomena.
3) Thermal Effects
In Series I there is a very significant correlation between the activity indices and the drops in temperature (r = 0.694, d.f. ==11, P= 0.0085). As a double check, and to avoid problems of non-normality, I confirmed this by a non-parametric test. Calculations by Robertson (1945), Plesch (1999) and others have shown that even a slight cooling of the air inside a room would provide enough energy for all the effects attributed to poltergeists and physical mediums.
4) Balance of the Sexes
Price remarks 'It may be worthy of note that those sittings in which the more violent physical movements took place are those in which the masculine and feminine elements are either in balance numerically, or where the feminine is dominant in number". This remark was made only in connection with Series I, but, to my surprise, I found evidence of its truth in all three Series. For each Series I computed a t-value for the difference in the means of the activity indices between sittings in which men predominated as sitters and sittings in which women predominated or the numbers were equal. Each Series gave an independently significant result (P-values: 0.048, 0.046, 0.015). The P-value for all three Series combined was 0.00025, and a non-parametric test (counting the numbers above and below the mean in the two categories) gave P=0.00l4. There can be no reasonable doubt, therefore, that the intensity of phenomena during all these sittings was affected by the male/female ratio among the sitters. It is suggested that this points towards some sort of interpersonal field effect, and also shows the relevance of sexuality issues in the generation of psi phenomena (McBeath, 1985).
Hope, Lord Charles (1928). Some sittings with Stella C. Brit. J. of Psychical Research, 2, 65-78.
McBeath, M.K.(l985). Psi and Sexuality JSPR, 53 , 65-77.
Plesch, P.H.(1999). A thermodynamic approach to some paranormal phenomena. JSPR, 63, 217-219.
Price, H.(1925). Stella C: An Account of Some Original Experiments in Psychical Research. Hurst & Blackett, London.
Price, H, (1945). Poltergeist Over England. Country Life, London.
Robertson, A.J.B. (l945). The poltergeist problem: a physical view. In Price (1945), 578-581.
Turner, J. (1975). Stella C. Souvenir Press, London.
In a two and a half year study carried out by T. Robertson and A.E. Roy of the degree of acceptability of sets of statements made by mediums to recipients, it was found that there was a highly significant gap between the percentage of a medium's set of statements accepted by the person to whom they were addressed (the recipient) and the percentage of the set of statements accepted by people the set was not addressed to (the non-recipients). The probability that the results were due to chance was in the region of one in one thousand million. This first phase study was an attempt to test the sceptical hypothesis that mediums' statements are of such a general nature that they can be accepted as readily by non-recipients as by recipients. While the results of the first phase study ostensibly falsified the sceptical hypothesis, a number of non-paranormal factors could have produced some or all of the large gap between the acceptance percentages of recipients and non-recipients.
Among such factors were (1) the use by the medium of body language and verbal responses by the recipient, (2) the psychological 'set' of the recipient influencing him or her to accept more readily statements purporting to be relevant to the recipient (3) the psychological 'set' of non-recipients influencing them to accept less readily statements not made directly to them.
The Robertson-Roy hard protocol was devised to produce a methodology that was at least double blind in that (a) the medium did not see the audience nor did the audience see the medium, (b) the medium did not know in any normal way who the recipient was, (c) the members of the audience did not know in any normal way who the recipient was, (d) the results of the experiment were reduced by an investigator who did not know who the recipient was, (e) neither of the investigators could singly fake the results.
The hard protocol has been used to produce a suite of-experiments that enables the ' normal' factors (1) to (3)'s effects to be assessed . In the present paper the preliminary results obtained from the application of this suite of experiments will be presented.
In parapsychology there is a classic healing experiment (e.g. Scofield & Hodges, 1991, Solfvin, 1982) in which seeds are stressed then randomly assigned to either a healing or control group. These are cared for and their growth rates measured by blind assistants. Several of these studies have found that more seeds germinate, they germinate faster, and there is greater growth and healthier plants from the healed tray. For a review of healing studies see Benor (1993). This basic laboratory experiment is being taken out on a field trial at an organic farm. In this experiment the healthy organic seeds will not be stressed beforehand, as we are looking here for greater health in the "enhanced" plants."
This initial pilot study will have three primary hypotheses:
1) The "enhanced" seeds will have a greater rate of germination.
2) The "enhanced" seeds will have greater growth than the control.
3) The "enhanced" seeds will have better health than the control.
Radford Mill Farm near Bath has agreed to be the organic farm for this project. The crop is lettuce. In the presence of the experimenter (SRD) and the randomiser, one jar of seeds (1) is "enhanced" by the healer (GB) while holding the Jar on the table, thumbs touching the lid; the second (2) and the fourth jar (4) are untreated controls; the third jar (3) is handled exactly as GB handled his, but by a person who claims no healing ability. When everyone has left the room, the randomiser assigns labels (a.b.c.d) to the four jars of seeds and has no further contact with the experiment. The seeds are planted, germinated and grown in the polytunnel for three weeks. This crop is then planted out in the field.
RESULTS & ANALYSIS
There will be ten trials beginning in April. At a time determined by the grower (H), half of each group of lettuces will be harvested one week and the remaining halves the following week. The following assessements will be made:
1a & 1b): Germination Rate
When first sown, H records the numbers that have germinated on each day with the final tally giving the total number germinated (a) and the continuous record giving us rate of germination (b).
2a & 2b): Growth Rate
Each lettuce is harvested by cutting at ground level and weighed to give gross weight (a). After the outer leaves are trimmed for market they are reweighed to obtain (b) net weight.
3a & 3b): Health Parameters
After the trimming, each lettuce will be assessed for slug damage by noting the number of holes in each leaf. This will be recorded on a five point scale, with 1 indicating little slug damage to 5 indicating much damage (a). The plants will also be checked for fungai damage, again on a five point scale (b).
After all data has been recorded, the randomiser will reveal the codes and the data will be tested:
1) by a series of one-way (group) ANOVAs of the proportion germinated, one ANOVA for each day during germination period;
2) by 2 x 4 factorial ANOVA, where the first factor is a delayed harvesting blocking factor (1st harvest, 2nd harvest) and the second factor is group (A, B, C, D), using gross weight as dependent variable. This will be repeated using net weight as dependent variable; 3) by 2 x 4 factorial ANOVA using slug damage ratings as dependent variable, and repeated for fungal damage ratings. For all three analyses: specific contrasts will be applied to compare group 1 vs. 2+4; group 1 vs. 3; and group 3 vs. 2+4.
Taking laboratory work out into the field is an exciting and worthwhile step. Parapsychology suffers by being almost entirely experimental, and this has divorced it from its foundation in peoples' everyday experience. One of the traditional uses of blessing or prayer was to ensure healthy crops so that the community had a good harvest and could last through the winter, so this experiment is starting to take parapsychology back into daily life.
Benor, D. (1993). Healing Research: Vol. 1. Helix Press.
Scofield, A.M. & Hodges, R.D. (1991). Demonstration of a healing effect in the laboratory using a simple plant model. JSPR, 57, 321 - 344.
Solfvin, J. (1982). Studies of the effects of an induced expectancy structure on the growth of corn seedlings. European Journal of Parapsychology, 4 (3).
Gertrude Schmeidler has posed the question: "Is it proper to use psi as a general term for ESP and PK? If it is - if they are alike enough to be classed together - is there any need for the separate terms?" (Schmeidler, 1988, p. 172). Her question makes explicit an assumption that underlies much of the work in parapsychology, albeit rarely stated, that psi is an intrinsically unitary domain within which ESP and PK are complementary expressions of an inherently undifferentiable and integral set of processes (see also Irwin, 1985, p. 35).
But this assumption has not yet been subject to any kind of systematic test. Empirical evidence that bears on the question of whether ESP and PK are simply expressions of a unitary phenomenon is at best circumstantial. At worst it reflects a lack of interest in the literature in performance patterns for ESP and more strikingly for PK performance. Where patterns have been identified for one domain they may not have been studied in the other domain so that comparisons are limited. Nevertheless there is some suggestion that similar personality types excel at both tasks (e.g. Feeling Perceiving types on the MBTI, cf. Schmidt & Schlitz, 1989) but that ideal circumstances are polarised for certain variables (such as participant relaxation and environmental geomagnetic flux). If replicated these patterns must surely tell us something meaningful about the nature(s) of these phenomena. Comparisons are made more difficult, however, because the mode of testing for ESP is quite different from that for PK and apparent differences may be artifacts caused by situational factors.
In this paper I will overview the empirical evidence to date that bears on the question of a unitary psi, focusing in particular upon the effects of belief (cf. Roe, 1996), personality type (Schmeidler, 1994), effects of relaxation/tension (Gissurarson, 1997), release of effort or linger effects (Schmeidler, 1988), position (decline) effects (Irwin, 1985), and effects of geomagnetic activity (Braud & Dennis, 1989) to see if a coherent picture emerges of the relationship (if any) between ESP and PK performance. I will also argue for a more systematic test of ESP and PK of this relationship than has been conducted previously. The paper is not empirical in the sense that I will not be describing any new data.
Braud, W.G. & Dennis, S.P. (1989). Geophysical variables and behaviour: LVII. Autonomic activity, hemolysis, and biological psychokinesis: Possible relationships with geomagnetic field activity. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68, 1243-1254.
Gissurarson, L.R. (1997). Methods of enhancing PK task performance. In S. Krippner (Ed.) Advances in parapsychological research vol 8. (pp.88-125) Jefferson, NC: McFarland..
Irwin, H.J. (1985) Is psi a unitary domain? Analysis in terms of performance patterns. Parapsychological Journal of South Africa, 6, 34-46.
Roe C.A. (1996). Clients' influence in the selection of elements of a psychic reading. Journal of Parapsychology, 60, 43-70.
Schmeidler, G.R. (1988). Parapsychology and psychology: Matches and mismatches. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Schmeidler, G.R. (1994). PK: Recent research reports and a comparison with ESP. In S. Kripppner (Ed.) Advances in parapsychological research vol 7. (pp. 198-237.) .Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Schmidt, H. & Schlitz, M.J. (1989). A large scale pilot PK experiment with prerecorded random events. In Henkel, L.A. & Berger, R.E. (Eds.) Research in Parapsychology 1988 (pp. 6-10.) Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
This paper will describe a study conducted by the second author in which elements of two previously successful parapsychology methodologies were combined. There is some evidence to suggest that ganzfeld-induced altered states of consciousness may be psi-conducive (e.g. Parker, 1975; Braud, 1978) and also that under some circumstances it may be possible for individuals to have access to information about locations that are remote from them (cf. Utts, 1996). In this study participants served as remote viewers but underwent a ganzfeld induction procedure before attempting to describe a randomly-selected target site at which an agent was located.
Fourteen pairs of participants were tested with one member of the pair acting as the remote viewer and the other as sender/agent. A target location was selected randomly with replacement from an array of eight selected by the first author that were qualitatively different but could be reached from the laboratory within 15 minutes on foot. The agent was given a sealed envelope that contained a description of the target site including instructions on how to reach it from the laboratory. The agent was instructed to open this envelope once they had left the building and proceed directly to the target site. Two stopwatches were started simultaneously, with one being given to the agent and one kept by the experimenter. After 15 minutes had elapsed the ganzfeld session began, with the experimenter remaining in the sound-attenuated room with the receiver to keep a written record of their mentation. The ganzfeld session lasted for 25 minutes, after which the agent returned to identify the target site. No judging was undertaken by the senders themselves. After fourteen trials had been completed copies of all the mentations were forwarded to a blind judge along with descriptions of each of the eight locations in the target pool. For each mentation the eight target locations were ranked in terms of similarity, with the most similar being ranked '1' and least '8'.
The ranks given to the actual target location can be combined to give a binary score by treating all rank positions from 1-4 as a 'hit' and ranks 5-8 as a 'miss'. On this measure, 12 of the 14 trials were hits, which is significantly above chance expectation (p <.02, 2-tailed). Considering the weighted sum of ranks, where more credit is given for higher ranks to give a more sensitive measure, the observed value of 42 is highly significant (p = .008, Milton & Stevens, 1997). The results will be further exlored during the presentation, in particular with respect to qualitative data, and some attempt will be made to account for the data in terms of preferential biases (after Hyman).
Braud, W.G. (1978). Psi-conducive conditions: Explorations and interpretations. In B. Shapin & L. Coly (Eds.) Psi an states of awareness: Proceedings of the 26th annual conference of the Parapsychology Foundation. (pp. 1-41.) New York: Parapsychology Foundation.
Milton, J. & Stevens, P. (1997). An extended table and computer program for exact sum of ranks probabilities. In R. Wiseman (Ed.) Parapsychological Association 40th annual convention proceedings of presented papers. (pp. 240-262.)
Parker, A. (1975). States of mind: ESP and altered states of consciousness. London: Malaby Press.
Utts, J. (1996). An assessment of the evidence for psychic functioning. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10, 3-30.
Sleep paralysis (SP) is a frightening experience of not being unable to move at sleep onset or upon awakening, often accompanied by hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations. SP is one of the symptoms of narcolepsy but also occurs in normal individuals (incidences vary between 5% and 58%). Whilst SP may be quite common, lack of knowledge about the condition among the public and medical practitioners may lead to unnecessary fears, and inaccurate diagnosis. It is also believed that SP may form the basis of some ostensibly paranormal experiences, e.g. supernatural assault and alien abduction.
Over a period of two years we collected a total of 196 cases of SP and coded them into a database of features associated with the experience. In these cases the feeling of a malign presence and hearing buzzing/humming noises were prominent concomitant features of SP. Other features included the feeling of limbs being touched or pulled, hearing voices or laughter, feelings of flying or floating, and out-of-body experiences. These findings and a typical description of SP based on these cases were presented to the joint PA/SPR conference (Rose and Blackmore, 1997).
"I went to bed at my normal time, though I was a little overtired. As I lay on my back in bed and began drifting off to sleep, I suddenly woke up, but was completely unable to move. I could hear or feel a strange buzzing or vibrating noise inside my head, and at the same time I felt a horrible presence in the room with me. My eyes were open and I could see my bedroom. I could see this dark shape, like a shadow, standing at the end of the bed. I tried to call out, but felt I couldn't breathe, and I could only manage a strangled cry. It felt like I had a heavy weight pressing down on my chest. I could feel this dark shape getting closer to me and I was terrified. I heard or felt it say something to me, but I couldn't make out the words. It felt like it started to pull me upwards off the bed by my legs.
"I struggled, desperate to move or cry out, but could not. In a final effort I concentrated on moving one finger, and with a struggle I managed to move it just a bit. Then suddenly it was over, I broke free of the paralysis and the presence disappeared."
The majority of people in the case collection offered no explanation for the experience, although some offered a rational or 'skeptical' explanation. A minority interpreted their experience as involving supernatural or extraterrestrial entities, and some believed that their experience was somehow brought on by supernatural attack or alien interference. The case study produced rich data regarding the content of people's experiences of SP, but no incidence of SP or the experiential features can be inferred. This survey attempts to determine the incidence of SP among a student sample and examine the experiential features of those who report SP. Participants were asked if they had ever suffered SP (Have you ever had the experience when going to sleep, or perhaps as you were waking up, of suddenly feeling paralysed; as if you could not move your arms or legs and could not speak or cry out?). Those who reported SP were asked to fill in a questionnaire on the experiential features of the experience based on the categories that arose from the case study. Those participants who did not report ever having had SP were asked to read the typical description of SP (above) and asked to rate statements about the cause of such an experience. 10 broadly 'paranormal' causes were given (e.g. 'The person had a psychic experience', 'The person was being attacked by a by a spirit or ghost') and 10 broadly 'skeptical' causes (e.g. 'The person was having a hallucination', 'The person had a dream but thought they were awake').
A pilot study (n = 35) has been completed, in which 40% of respondents reported SP, and the most common features were fear, feeling that a ghost was in the room with them, hostile presences, unexpected pain, and false awakening. Of the non-SP participants the most common explanation given was false awakening. There was a positive correlation between attributing paranormal cause to the experience and people's score on the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (n = 21, r = 0.785).
A larger study (n = ~200) is now being carried out. The experiential features of SP will be compared to those found in the case study. In addition the causal attributions of non-SP sufferers will be examined. The hypothesis is that believers will make more paranormal causal attributions.
Rose, N. and Blackmore, S. (1997). Experiences of sleep paralysis. Joint conference of the Parapsychology Association and the Society for Psychical Research. Brighton, 1997.
We would like to thank the Perrott-Warrick Fund for the financial support of this project.
One of the greatest desiderata of psychical research is to obtain a Permanent Paranormal Object (PPO). Such an object would be impossible to create by normal means under any circumstances; its existence alone would testify to a paranormal origin, without needing any reference to its history.
The problem with targeting effort towards producing a particular PPO is that it is hard to conceive of a PPO without some reference to a world model. Given the range of implicit model assumptions, it is reasonable to suppose that only a proportion of the PPOs that are being pursued will actually be possible.
The literature of spontaneous cases forms a useful tool in this regard, as it gives an indication of the range of phenomena for which there is anecdotal evidence. Unless the assumptions underlying suggested PPOs are made explicit, it would be easy to direct effort towards producing a PPO that would require the real-world to display behaviour that is without precedent in the literature.
There is merit in examining the implications of various PPO models carefully in the light of anecdotal evidence of what is likely to true about the real world. This would allow PPO attempts to be focused on those areas most likely to succeed or to produce information that can be used to discriminate between alternative models.
This paper examines some of the most sought after PPOs and discusses what it would and would not tell us about the world, if such objects could be produced. Next, some suggestions are made for various categories of PPOs that would illustrate different forms of paradigm failure. It is hoped that these guidelines will assist researchers involved with physical mediumship to set sensible and useful targets for their experiments.
This paper presents a classification system for anomalous phenomena that has the potential to improve the accessibility and usefulness of anomalous data.
Parallels are drawn with the classification of disease in medicine, where diseases are described in terms of symptoms, and grouped according to the bodily system that appears to be malfunctioning. By following this analogy, it is shown that traditional spontaneous phenomena (diseases) can be characterised as combinations of unique anomalies (symptoms) of the sort typically investigated in laboratories. This approach validates both classes of terminology in common use, and clarifies their scope and value.
Next, a high level schematic is derived that represents an orthodox view of the main components of the interaction between the physical and mental worlds. Within this schematic, it is possible to identify the areas where anomalous behaviour has been reported, and those where it has not. This structure forms the basis for the classification system that is proposed.
This work forms a core part of a broader project to create a catalogue of 'best in class' anomalous cases. The aim is to present a relatively model-neutral repository for the best data that the field has to offer, in order to facilitate their use in ongoing scientific enquiry.
On Saturday 17 April 1999 the close-circuit television camera in the reception area of Moor Lane Mill in Lancaster, Lancashire, captured an image of a male figure walking into the reception area before stopping in the centre of the room. The man appeared to stand in the same position for over 5 minutes. The two security guards on duty noticed the image on the television screen and were concerned for the health of the man. One guard went to investigate whilst the other continued to watch the image on the screen. The first guard returned to report that there was nobody present in reception, although the second guard noted that the image was still present on the screen and that he had not seen the first guard appear. The second guard then went to look in the reception area only to find nobody there, whilst the first guard continued to see the figure's image on the screen. The guards claim to have continued watching the image for several more minutes before the image 'disappeared'.
The above experience was related to the company's Facilities Administrator who was also shown the video tape on which the image had been recorded. It was at this point that the Society for Psychical Research was contacted in the belief that the image may have been that of a 'ghost'.
This paper outlines the investigation of this case undertaken by the authors on behalf of the Society. The focus of this investigation has been upon examining the video tape displaying the image and exploring conventional (i.e., non-paranormal) explanations for the image's appearance.
The ganzfeld paradigm continues to be popular with researchers taking a process-oriented approach to ESP testing. Recent reviews have suggested that further research is needed to establish the extent to which ganzfeld findings are replicable across laboratories and researchers (Bem & Honorton, 1994; Milton & Wiseman, 1999).
In this paper, we describe a new "digital" autoganzfeld testing system under development at Liverpool Hope University College. This system aims to build upon the strengths of previous systems (such as those developed at Psychophysical Research Laboratories, New Jersey, and the University of Edinburgh) whilst streamlining the design where possible to encourage others to attempt replications.
The system, designed by Jezz Fox and Carl Williams, incorporates two Apple Macintosh computers linked via modem through a telephone line. This allows the easy networking of computers between any two locations. The system presents materials in Apple Computer's Quicktime technology, thus allowing a variety of target types to be used, examples being static targets (digital photographs), dynamic targets (movie clips), and audio clips (music). The system also controls target randomization, target presentation, and data storage.
Together, the features are aimed at producing an easy-to-use, cheap, and robust ganzfeld system that maximises the integrity of the data collected (e.g. by eliminating the possibility of sensory leakage).
We also report data from a 55-trial pilot project using the above system. Data were collected as part of undergraduate student projects exploring relationships between a number of psychological variables and ESP performance in the ganzfeld. The overall hit-rate did not differ significantly from mean chance expectation (13 observed hits, 13.75 expected). However, reasonable relationships were observed between some of the process variables and performance.
Bem, D. J. & Honorton, C. (1994). Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 4-18.
Milton, J. & Wiseman, R. (1999). Does psi exist? Lack of replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 387-391.
We would like to thank the Society for Psychical Research for providing funding for this project, and Helen Anderson, Dominic Basson, Helen Bowers, Clare Clancy, Aisha Perkis, Kevin Pilkington, and Zoe Sterling for acting as experimenters for the trials.
Survey investigations have revealed that anomalous experiences are widespread in the general population (e.g. Gallup and Newport, 1991). Such experiences are therefore one part of the array of human experience and are a valid and fruitful area of investigation irrespective of the objective existence of psi. Subjective paranormal experiences are commonly associated with states of confusion between reality and imagination, for example the hypnagogic state of consciousness (at the borderline between wakefulness and sleep). Reality-imagination confusions seem to be a common substrate to a range of both spontaneous cases and laboratory investigations of psi (Blackmore and Rose, 1997). Anomalous experiences may result from two possible sources; firstly by alterations in consciousness and hallucinations which seem psychic but are in fact due to meaningful coincidences or fantasy. Secondly, borderline states may be conducive to genuine psi. The Ganzfeld paradigm appeared in the general psychological literature as a method for the induction of hypnagogic imagery (Bertini, Lewis and Witkin, 1965), although it is not yet firmly established that the Ganzfeld and hypnagogia are equivalent states of consciousness. The Ganzfeld has been adopted and widely employed in parapsychology since the 1970's (e.g. Honorton and Harper, 1974) and has, despite controversy, elicited hit rates significantly higher than chance would predict on many occasions. The authors of the current investigation take a process oriented approach and consider personality correlates of performance at the psi task and subjective anomalous experiences which occur during the Ganzfeld session.
Personality types assessed in this investigation were schizotypy and temporal lobe lability. Schizotypy is considered by some researchers to be a personality dimension along which the normal population may be ranged. Thus, high scoring but non-clinical - 'benign' or 'happy' schizotypes seem to be the well-adjusted analogues of their clinical schizophrenic counterparts. This group has been found to exhibit less extreme manifestations of schizophrenic cognition, including anomalous beliefs and a range of anomalous experiences. There is little in the literature assessing the possible link between schizotypy and veridical psi performance, however, schizotypy has been found to be a predictor variable in attaining telepathy hits in the Ganzfeld paradigm (Lawrence and Woodley, 1998; Parker and Westerlund, 1998).
High scoring schizotypes have been found to experience more hypnagogia in waking life. There also seems to be an increased permeability of the normal boundary between conscious and pre conscious processes in the mind of the schizotype. In accordance with previous findings (Lawrence and Woodley, 1998; Parker and Westerlund, 1998), high scoring schizotypes would be expected to attain a greater hit rate in the Ganzfeld paradigm as more psi information may be accessed than in normal waking consciousness. They would also be expected to experience more general subjective anomalous experiences and more indices ol the hypnagogic state ol consciousness, for example the alteration of time perception ( e.g. Aniiker 1963). Temporal lobe epileptics are another group who seem to both experience anomalous phenomena and hold paranormal beliefs. 'Temporal lobe lability' is understood to be a personality variable ranging from normals through to clinical groups such as epileptics (Persinger and Makarec, 1993). Temporal lobe lability may also vary within the brain of an individual and is affected by various experiences, such as fasting, meditation and the consumption of certain drugs (see Persinger and Makarec, 1987) which have also been associated with anomalous experiences. Scoring high on scales measuring temporal lobe lability has been found to correlate with a variety of measures of anomalous experience and belief in the normal population. Prior investigations have assessed temporal lobe lability in a sensory deprivation paradigm similar to the Ganzfeld and found that high scorers experience more anomalous phenomena. Despite the links with subjective paranormal experiences, temporal lobe lability has yet to be assessed as a correlate ofpsi performance.
A Ganzfeld investigation was undertaken in the Division of Psychology at University College Northampton to assess the relationship between the personality variables of schizotypy and temporal lobe lability and both objective and subjective psychic experiences. Schizotypy was assessed by means of the OLIFE questionnaire which is a 4 scale inventory assessing different types of schizotypy (Unusual Experiences, Cognitive Disorganisation, Introvertive Anhedonia and Impulsive Nonconformity). This was employed in order to ascertain which aspects of the schizotypy construct are associated with which anomalous experiences and/or psi. Temporal lobe signs were assessed by use of the Complex Partial Epileptic like signs sub-scale of the Personal Philosophy Inventory (e.g. Persinger and Makarec, 1987 ). Other variables assessed included the emotionality of the target, the relationship of sender to receiver, the personality of the sender, previous psychic experiences belief of success and several indices of the hypnagogic state (as a phenomenological assessment of the Ganzfeld as hypnagogic state and to observe any possible relationship to psi performance). The investigation comprised 12 pilot sessions and 40 experimental sessions. The overall hit rate was 30%. The results were analysed by a sum of ranks analysis which was not found to be significant overall. It was found that emotional valence correlates negatively with psi, i.e. the more extremely negative in terms of emotionality the more likely it is that the target will be rated highly by the receiver (ratings were converted into z scores). Results were not as expected in that neither schizotypy (or any of the subscales of schizotypy) or temporal lobe signs correlated significantly with telepathy. Although there were weak but non significant corrielations with the z score of the target rating in the cases of Cognitive Disorganisation, Introvertive Anhedonia and Temporal Lobe lability. Schizotypy was also positively and significantly correlated with the hypnagogic index of time distortion. There were no correlations between any subjective measures of success in the psi task and actual performance although several subjective measures inter-correlated. This study highlights the need for further study of personality and psi performance as well as the study of subjective anomalous experiences.
The idea of microscopic psychokinesis (micro-PK) is generally considered to have started with John Beloff and Leonard Evans in 1961 when they looked for evidence of PK in a system involving radioactive decay. They stated that such a system was used due to the increasing evidence (from dice-tests and similar) that "...psychokinesis is statistical in nature". They also thought that "...it seems less improper to suppose that the mind might exert a direct influence on matter by introducing a slight bias in a pattern of probabilities than by interfering with gross energy exchanges". It was assumed that, although the nature of the target system changed drastically, the underlying phenomenon would be the same. While this may be the case, this paper will look at this assumption in more detail and ask whether micro-PK can usefully be compared to macroscopic psychokinesis (macro-PK).
The usual split between micro-PK and macro-PK is in the nature of the effects that may be observed. If it is obvious in one or a few trials, usually to naked eye observation, that an effect is present, then it is macro-PK. Classic examples include "poltergeist" type movement of objects, and metal-bending. If however statistical analysis is required to determine if an effect is present, especially if the effects are microscopically small, then it is micro-PK. An example is the current random-event generator (REG) experiments.
|Statistical analysis||Naked-eye observation|
|Multiple measurements||Single or few measurements|
|Small amount of energy needed ?||Large amount of energy needed ?|
However, there are some areas of research which don't easily fit into either category. Dice experiments were analysed statistically, yet were considered macro-PK due to the large size of the affected elements. The random mechanical cascade experiments of Cox (1974) and later of the PEAR labs are lumped together with micro-PK studies even though the target system is macroscopic. So maybe the size of the system isn't the best way to differentiate the phenomena.
Based on the observed effects, micro-PK be considered to be more akin to a transmissive aspect of ESP than to macro-PK. The micro-PK target system might change its state or its activity through the influence of some form of energy but the observed changes are still within the bounds of that system's normal activity i.e. the target system is acting more like a sensitive detector than an overtly influenced system.
To make this clearer, consider the following analogy: cases of micro-PK are similar to one person, Sally, talking to another, Jim. Sally can be seen as being like the micro-PK agent and Jim is the target system. As Sally talks, she emits sound-waves (vibrations in the air) which are detected by sensitive hairs in Jim's ears. In such a case, we would rarely call Sally an 'influencer', even though she has caused part of the target system (Jim) to change. The key aspect is, I think, that the change is small and the resultant activity within normal parameters - Jim is constantly being affected by sounds from all around but ignores them as they are not meaningful. When Sally talks, however, he pays attention to the small changes as they relate to the greater context of communication between the two people. Going back to micro-PK, the REG will be constantly producing random events and sometimes its overall activity will produce the same patterns and changes in magnitude as we would see in a micro-PK experiment. We only consider those changes meaningful when we consider them in the larger context, comparing the timing and direction of the changes with the influencer's intention.
Macro-PK and micro-PK could lie at the opposite ends of a continuum and be due to the same underlying mechanism (whatever it is) but without knowing whether this is the case, there seems little point in emphasising a strong link between the two. If comparisons need to be made, it would seem better to compare micro-PK to ESP as the magnitude and nature of the observed effects are more similar. Until we discover a unifying mechanism, micro-PK experiments can tell us little about macro-PK and vice versa. Micro-PK cannot be taken as proof of the existence of macro-PK, but neither can it be used to deny it.
Beloff, J. And Evans, L. (1961). A radioactivity test of psychokinesis. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 41: 41-45.
Cox, W.E., (1974). PK tests with a thirty-two channel balls machine. Journal of Parapsychology, 38: 56-68.
Nelson, R.D., Dunne, B.J. and Jahn, R.G. (1988). Operator-related anomalies in a random mechanical cascade. Journal of Scientific Exploration 6: 311.
My first paper published by the Society for Psychical Research was written with Dr Tony Lawrence of Coventry University. We describe my apparent encounter with an apparition and show how a 19Hz audio signal might under certain conditions create this sensory phenomenon.
The mechanics and physiology of this effect were outlined but it was noted that little work on the effects of infrasound had been done in the last 20 years. Measuring the level of infrasound and quantifying its properties is not particularly difficult but does require very expensive specialist equipment. It was decide to design a device, which would provide an infrasound equivalent of a litmus test with some indication of amplitude. It was during the testing of this device in the 14th Century cellar beneath the Tourist Information Centre in Coventry, that some interesting results were obtained.
The Cellar has a history of apparitional experiences reported by a number of individuals. The prototype device indicated the presence of infrasound and it was decided to investigate the nature of this using more sophisticated equipment. The results of these experiments were startling in that there was a very clear infrasound wave present in the cellar at exactly the frequency predicted by the original work (19Hz). In addition, it is consistent and peaks in amplitude at the location where most people report apparitions or feelings of unease. This investigation is described in the recent paper, "Something in the Cellar". It also provides the subject for this conference paper together with a discussion of future plans.
I shall provide a personal view of the state of witchcraft in Britain at the present time. (The speaker is an initiated witch and member of a coven.) This should help to clarify the huge amount of misinformation which the media often attaches to the activities of covens and solo witches (hedgewitches). Historical origins and future goals will be suggested. Aspects of ritual magick (sic) will be discussed including spell casting and divination together with the strength of evidence for the presence of paranormal phenomena. Question time will be an important part of this talk to allow members of the audience to raise issues of relevance to them.
The way in which psi information is processed once it has entered the cognitive system is of great interest to parapsychologists. As long ago as 1947, Tyrell posited the notion of 'The modus operandi of paranormal cognition'. Tyrell postulated that the percipient constructed by sub-conscious paranormal means a product called the 'mediating vehicle', which is not itself paranormal. It is the product of psychological processes which we all possess. Essentially, what Tyrell was suggesting was that psi may 'piggy-back' on to normal psychological processes. This seems to make intuitive sense, as it would be economical for any psi information to make use of any ongoing cognitive processes.
One possible 'vehicle' for psi may be associational processes. Stanford (1973) has advocated using word association because - "...They would have some validity, it would seem vis-a-vis the way ESP would most commonly have to function in life experience. Extrasensory information normally has to become imposed on, mediated by, or interact with ongoing associative processes in the individual" (page 148).
Using word association (a technique whereby participants are presented with a word, and are asked to respond with the first associated word which comes to mind) as a test for ESP has many advantages. For example, we don't have to tell the participant that he/she is expected to 'use ESP now', which can lead to considerable self-consciousness. It should, therefore, be more spontaneous, and 'real'. Also, individual trials are independent, thus we can avoid the tendency for subjects to rationally pattern there responses (e.g. I've called a star three times in a row, I'd better call something else now').
We conducted an exploratory study of psi and associational processes. We used as stimuli, homophones (words which sound the same, but have different meanings), matched for familiarity. Participants were not explicitly told about the psi nature of the task. A coin was tossed between SW and EP to determine who was to be 'sender' for that session. The sender then talked the subject through the procedure, before retiring to a separate sending room. Homophones were presented after 15 seconds of white noise. During this 15 seconds, the sender attempted to influence the interpretation of each homophone by viewmg a randomly chosen visual image relating to one interpretation of each homophone. Meanwhile, the experimenter listened to the receivers responses, noting down each response. After completion of the word list, the experimenter revised responses with the subject, in order to clarify any ambiguities and to determine which words were misheard.
We discarded responses which did not correspond to one of the two assigned interpretations. or when the subject misheard a word. This was conducted after each session, by the experimenter, who was blind to the target list. Out of 291 appropriate responses 128 were misses (44%) and 163 were hits (56%). This gives a z score of 1.82 which is non/significant. During the course of the study, it became clear that some words showed a distinct response bias in our subjects. This gave us an opportunity to look at this, as Stanford (1967, 1973) has suggested that responses favoured by a non-ESP bias tend to be less accurate than responses not favoured by such a bias - to the degree that such a bias exists.
We then divided up responses based on the biases observed for each homophone. A pattern emerged suggesting that the least favoured responses resulted in a larger 'hit' rate. Overall, the least favoured responses resulted in 43 hits out of 70 (61.4%, z == 1.91, non-significant).
Results suggestive of an experimenter effect were also obtained, with SW performing significantly above chance when sending (59.2%, z = 2.05), and EP performing almost at chance levels (52.4%, z = 0.62).
Although non-significant, these results do suggest that word association may be a useful vehicle for psi. Due to the exploratory nature of this study, we did not know what to expect concerning biases. However, there did appear to be a pattern (non-significant), which requires further study. Rex Stanford has previously studied the effects of response bias on ESP, suggesting that least favoured responses may elicit more hits, due to the decreasing the false-alarm rate which can be expected when responding in a way that is favoured by a bias. Stanford has successfully found such a response bias effect on three occasions, each using a different measure of ESP. Response bias as a concept may be useful, as it is intuitively appealing regarding how psi may work in the real world.
This study examined the role that psychological and physical factors may play in the creation of unusual experiences commonly associated with the presence of a ghost (e.g., a sudden drop in temperature, a sense of presence, strange smells etc.).
The study involved over one thousand members of the public and took place at Hampton Court Palace in May 2000. Groups of forty people were shown into a room, given an initial talk about the project and asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their belief in the existence of ghosts and the degree to which they expected to experience unusual phenomena in the Palace. They were then taken to one of two sites within Hampton Court: The Haunted Gallery and The Georgian Rooms. Both sites had been previously identified by Palace warders as places in which members of the public frequently reported unusual experiences.
Participants were asked to quietly walk around the sites and, if they experienced anything unusual, to indicate their exact location on a floor plan and provide a brief description of then-experience. Half of the initial talks suggested to participants that the Haunted Gallery had been associated with far more unusual experiences than the Georgian Rooms. This suggestion was reversed in the other half of the initial talks.
Results indicate that approximately one third of participants reported at least one unusual experience. These experiences included perceived sudden drop in temperature, a feeling of dizziness and a strong sense of presence. Many of these experiences were rated as extremely intense and approximately a fifth were attributed to the presence of a ghost. The suggestions given during the initial talk had a significant impact upon the intensity and attribution of the experiences.
The location of the experiences were not evenly spread throughout the two sites, but instead tended to cluster in certain areas. These areas were later monitored by magnetometers, a thermal imager, heat sensors and photographic equipment. The results of this aspect of the investigation have yet to be analyzed, but will be presented at the conference.
We would like to thank the Perrott-Warrick Fund for helping to support this project.