Friday 14th September to Sunday 16th September 2001, Clare College, Cambridge University
FRIDAY 14th SEPTEMBER
|E. Wadge||Public Perceptions of Early Psychical Research|
|P. Lamont||Conjuring up Images of India|
|C. Bratcher||Psi after Darwin|
|G. Playfair||Ted Owens: A Case of Extremely High Strangeness|
|C. Moreman||Deconstructing the Cross-Correspondence Myth|
|E. Haraldsson||Three Cases in Lebanon of Children who Remember a Past Life|
SATURDAY 15th SEPTEMBER
|Mr. S. Wilson||Psi and Perception without Awareness|
|Dr. P. Stevens||ESP: A Sense of Imagination?|
|Prof. D. Delanoy||Individual Differences in DMILS Studies|
|Dr. A. Parker||Recording the Action as it happens: Digital Real-Time Ganzfeld|
|Dr. S. Sherwood||Revisiting the Role of the Sender Using a Ganzfeld Psi Task|
|Ms. C. Simmonds||A Comparison of Ganzfeld and Waking ESP Experiences among Schizotypes|
|Dr. C. Roe||An Investigation of Dream Clairvoyance Using Consensus Judging and Dynamic Targets|
|Mr. C. O'Keeffe||Interviewing Eyewitnesses in Spontaneous Cases: The Need for a Cognitive Interview Style|
|Mr. A. Cornell||Ghosts and Electromagnetism|
|Dr. R. Wiseman||The Psychological, Social and Environmental Factors Involved in an Alleged Haunting|
|Ms. E. Greening||The Effects of Suggestion and Belief on Recollection of Ostensibly Paranormal Events|
|Mr. L. Savva||Evolution and Psi: the Presentiment Effect as an Adapted Behaviour|
|Dr. S. Roney-Dougal||Enhancing the Germination, Growth and Disease-Resistance of Lettuce Seeds|
SUNDAY 16th SEPTEMBER
|Dr. M. Smith||The "Psi-Conducive" Experimenter Reconsidered|
|Dr. C. Watt||Experimenter Effects and the Remote Facilitation of Attention Focussing|
|Mr. A. Sabell||Inter-Subject EEG Correlations in a State of Joint Consciousness|
|Dr. J. Beloff||The Anomalous and the Paranormal|
|Prof. B. Carr||Is the There Space for Psi in Modern Physics?|
|Prof. B. Josephson||Stapp's Interpretation of Quantum Theory and the Effects of Mind|
|Mr. & Mrs. D. Rousseau||What is a White Crow Good for?|
The centenary of Frederic Myers's death provides a good opportunity for re-examining the birth of psychical research in the nineteenth century's last decades. Modern spiritualism had taken America and England by storm in the 1850s, but perceptions of its phenomena gradually changed; far from being 'modern', within a generation it was seen as distinctly outdated. The first flush of enthusiasm was tempered by criticism of séance conditions, revelations of fraud, and careless reporting. The SPR was founded to counter such criticisms by applying scientific principles and techniques to practices that many regarded as inherently unscientific. In founding the Society, Myers and his colleagues joined a longstanding debate involving spiritualists and critics, and trod a fine line between them for the next twenty years.
The debate over psychical research was a public one, conducted in print as well as in person. Heavyweight periodicals including The Nineteenth Century and Contemporary Review carried contributions from the likes of Huxley, Gladstone and Andrew Lang; such contributions often required answers from the SPR, as the widely recognised centre for psychical research. In this way SPR members (particularly the Sidgwicks and Myers) found themselves drawn into discussion with some of the era's most respected intellectuals, going into print not only to communicate their findings but also to defend their methods. On occasion, as I will show, they beat the critics at their own game.
Newspaper editors appreciated the value of a topic virtually guaranteed to provoke a response, and often welcomed the chance to pit one commentator against another. They set up controversies artificially within an issue, or allowed a rejoinder to articles in another newspaper. The fact that 'expert' status was a moot point within this newest of disciplines encouraged examination of some fundamental questions: who was an expert in this field? was it a proper scientific field? and how should research be carried out? This argument raged for half a century within the pages of daily papers and monthly periodicals: between Faraday and D.D. Home in the 1860s, between William Crookes and William Carpenter in the 1870s, between SPR members Henry Sidgwick and C.C. Massey in the 1880s. (SPR presidents William James and Ferdinand Schiller were still dealing with the issue after 1900.) Psychical research was unusual in highlighting the assumptions behind more orthodox science; paradoxically, its marginalised position helped to maintain it at the centre of debate about scientific investigation well into the next century.
Of course, it was not only those with professional interests in the matter who took part in the dialogues around it. As with many topics of urgent contemporary significance, psychical research made the transition outside its immediate environment and into the realm of fiction. Writers from Dickens to Du Maurier used psychical situations in their tales; many more writers (the Brownings, Conan Doyle and Kipling) drew on personal experience in their depictions. I will indicate some of the more surprising figures connected to the SPR, and also psychical research's appearances in late Victorian fiction.
This paper will discuss the reception of psychical research in the latterdecades of the nineteenth century, using public and private documents. It will outline earlier discussions of spiritualist phenomena, and place the SPR within a broad intellectual context that includes fictional as well as factual writing. Articles from the national press, both written by and written about the SPR's activities, will illustrate public perceptions of psychical research between 1880 and 1900, and how SPR members responded to those perceptions.
Scholars have increasingly recognised the historical, political, and cultural importance of how the West has constructed an image of the East (Said, 1978; Inden, 1990; Breckenridge & Van der Veer, 1993; Clarke, 1997; Chatterjee, 1998; King, 1999). While they have considered the theme of India as a mystical land, they have virtually ignored the role of reported anomalous phenomena in India. Yet such phenomena were central to how India was viewed by the British a century ago, when they were by far the dominant Western influence in the sub-continent, and they continue to shape how the West views India today. This paper describes how India came to be seen in Britain as a land in which anomalous phenomena occur.
Tales from India of anomalous phenomena date back several centuries, but it was not until the nineteenth century that they became widely read in Britain. Contemporary reports of phenomena also appeared throughout the nineteenth century and, in the last quarter of the century, Western conjurors began to publicly expose the methods of Indian magicians in an attempt to show that their feats were mere trickery. This was not, as might be expected, a response to the influence of either the Theosophical Society or the legend of the Indian rope trick. Rather, the suggested growing belief that Indian magic was genuine seems to have emerged from contemporary comparisons between seance phenomena and feats of Indian magic. On the one hand, the methodological link with the Davenport brothers was rejected by spiritualists, who framed much of Indian jugglery as genuine and comparable to seance phenomena. The mainstream periodical press, on the other hand, used Indian jugglery as a debunking tool, framing it as superior trickery to that used by mediums. The Theosophical Society emerged from Blavatsky's involvement with spiritualism, an interest sparked by D. D. Home, though the latter showed nothing but scepticism towards the phenomena associated with Theosophy, and was later cited in the mainstream press as part of an attempt to debunk Indian juggling. The modern legend of the Indian rope trick did not become widespread until the last years of the century, but its roots can be found in the early writings of the Theosophical Society and the broader discussion that surrounded seance phenomena.Victorian spiritualism can therefore be seen not only as the precursor to psychical research and modern parapsychology, but as a source of widespread cultural attitudes towards the East that remain to this day.
Breckenridge, C. & van der Veer, P. (1993). Orientalism and the postcolonial predicament: perspectives on South Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Chatterjee, A. (1998). Representations of India, 1740-1840. The creation of India in the colonial imagination. London: Macmillan's Press.
Clarke, J. (1997). Oriental enlightenment. London: Routledge.
Inden, R. (1990). Imagining India. London: Basil Blackwell
King, R. (1999). Orientalism and religion: postcolonial theory, India and the mystic East. London: Routledge
Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
I would like to acknowledge my debt to the Koestler Chair, University of Edinburgh, who provided funding for research of which this paper is a part. I would also like to thank Peter Lane, librarian of the Magic Circle, for providing some of the sources studied in the preparation of this paper.
The paper attempts to resite psi within a Darwinian, and, in particular, sociobiological perspective. The SPR was founded in a climate of endeavours to escape from the perceived unpalatable consequences of Darwinism. Fifty years ago, Sir Alistair Hardy considered that the greatest obstacle to recognition of our subject came from biology. His suggested regulatory function for a kind of psi within evolution did not dispel this impression, not least because the kind of psi he posited was not identifiable with forms apparently spontaneously evinced by humans. Failure to site psi within an evolutionary perspective has led to embarrassing populist attempts to cite it as a counter-example to Darwinism, generating the justifiable scorn of Richard Dawkinds and Susan Blackmore. Rejectors of psi commonly presume that the paucity of evidence for marked psi is a priori grounds for abandoning psychical research, because Natural Selection would have strongly selected for psychic faculties, should they ever have emerged. The paper questions this presumption.
The substantive argument of the paper is that a sociobiological case, of necessity based on thought experiment, can, and must, be made that Natural Selection would not have left more powerful, or ubiquitous, psychic faculties than our experience suggests. A posteriori, this must, of course, be the case, if our evidence is soundly based. Game theory, science fiction, and some historical examples, suggest that developing psi giving actual or believed privileged access, or influence, would bear the seeds of societal, and its own, destruction. Marginal faculties that in origin were relevant to the location of, and threats to, close kin, may, a priori, be the most that we may expect to survive. The paper is intended to provoke refinements of such "armchair" sociobiological conjecture amongst Conference attenders. The behavioural disowning and trivialisation of psychic abilities that are otherwise manifest, may be rooted in censorship mechanisms with a sociobiological origin.
Be that as it may, the Society should recognise that it should come to terms with the constraints of the received Darwinian synthesis of evolution and genetics, and it should engage in its own thought experiments as to conceivable "faculties of man" that could be marginally selected for, and frame its research efforts accordingly. If we do not do so, and we make no conceptual progress in integrating particular forms of psi into our biology, sooner or later we shall be constrained to give up on psi, on Humean grounds, as belonging to the class of miracles, or legitimately discardable anomalous observations.
Ted Owens was, at least according to himself, "the world's greatest psychic", who claimed responsibility for "the greatest find in parapsychological history", this presumably being his ability to generate PK on a previously unrecorded scale over a period of some thirty years. Although he was never formally tested under controlled conditions. there is sufficient documentation from a wide range of sources to support, at the very least, his talent- for accurate precognition, and apparently also for feats of macro-PK.
For the last ten to twelve years of Owens' life, parapsychologists Jeffrey Mishlove and the late D. Scott Rogo built up a substantial file on him, receiving his predictions and collecting testimony from eye-witnesses of some of his more dramatic achievements. In 1977,Mishlove published his monograph "Preliminary investigation of events which suggest the applied psi abilities of Mr Ted Owens" (San Francisco: Washington Research Center), which was followed by his book "The PK Man" (Charlottesville: Hampton Roads, 2000).
Thanks to these two researchers we are able to draw some tentative conclusions about a most unusual man, one whom it would be easy to dismiss as a deluded crank were it not for the abundance of testimony, and also one who, had he been given the scientific attention he long sought, might have justified his self-assessment. Highly strange he may have been, but he deserves to be remembered.
On the centenary of the death of FWH Myers, it is perhaps appropriate to re-examine the large body of evidence purporting to come posthumously from Myers himself; the cross-correspondences. During a period spanning three decades, a number of mediums located around the globe claimed to receive messages originating from the deceased spirits of leading members of the SPR, particularly Frederic Myers. What seemed at first to be unconnected ramblings were soon discovered to contain complex patterns and hidden messages. Slowly, the workings of an experiment from the other side was pieced together.
Since the messages first began to appear, the cross-correspondences have been considered by many to be collectively the finest piece of evidence for survival coming from mediumistic communications. The complexity with which the messages come together and the apparent need for intelligent design make it seem impossible for any other explanation. Fraud has been rejected based upon the reputations of those intrepid investigators who were involved. But the main support for the survivalist theory lies in the fact that the super-ESP hypothesis is taxed beyond realistic limits when trying to account for the remarkable correspondences.
Despite the fact that the correspondences have long been regarded so highly, criticism still lingers. The number of investigators involved was very small and very little has been done with the data since it was first analysed. Reasons for this neglect include the sheer mass of data and the seeming strength of the initial conclusions. Concern grows, however, when one realises that the initial investigators were all intent on proving the reality of survival and were more than eager to find the strongest argument they could. Add to this the facts that the leading investigators, Mrs. Verrall and her daughter, were themselves mediums involved; that many of the mediums, while individually isolated, had at least some contact with Mrs. Verrall and/or her daughter; and that the phenomena decreased considerably after the death of Mrs. Verrall and then all but ended completely with the death of her daughter, and suddenly many questions arise out of what at first glance appears to be quite solid evidence.
A couple of experiments were attempted in the years shortly after the phenomena appeared aimed at determining the truth of these phenomena. However, these experiments were, once again, performed by individuals with the express desire to prove the truth of an afterlife. Aside from this, all of these experiments reveal some flaw in design that tends to favour the survivalist position. Experiments by Helen Verral, Alice Johnson and W. H. Salter will be specifically discussed.
With these questions, and the previous attempts to reconcile them, firmly in mind, it was decided that a new test was needed. To imitate the scripts of the mediums, passages from works of literature were chosen at random. Since the messages coming from the mediums were often rambling and incoherent, each pseudo-script was formed of five seperately chosen passages. In this way, three distinct pseudo-scripts were created. A limit was placed upon the length of each passage in order to keep the experiment to a manageable size. One must bear in mind that the disparity in size between these pseudo-scripts and the sometimes very lengthy cross-correspondence scripts would only make it more difficult to find randomly occurring correspondences in the smaller scripts.
Having created three pseudo-scripts, each imagined to come from a pseudo-medium, a group of eager investigators was then recruited. A group of post-graduates from the Department of English Literature was used in an attempt to mimic the depth of knowledge had by the original investigators. This group was encouraged to find as many correspondences as possible within the three pseudo-scripts. They were allowed to discuss ideas amongst themselves and to be as creative as possible in their efforts. Nothing was added to or removed from the scripts and the scripts were not altered in any way. Their task was simply to find the coincidences and correspondences.
In a short period of time, the investigators were able to track over thirty correspondences of varying strengths. Correspondences could be classed simple and complex as per Salter's demarcations. Some coincidences were quite startling, leading some of the investigators to wonder if the pseudo-scripts were truly random. Of these, at least two can be considered very strong. When compared to the so-called Hope, Star and Browning Case, the investigators agreed that the correspondences they found were at least as good, if not better.
The conclusion that can be drawn from this very simple experiment is that correspondences of the type found in the vaunted cross-correspondences can be recreated through random chance when determined and intelligent investigators are employed towards the same end. One does not expect such a small experiment to override the previous conclusions, but it certainly does bring the cross-correspondences into serious question. While this certainly says nothing about the survival issue in itself, it may well be that the cross-correspondences do not represent the strongest evidence of anything more than man's ability to find order in chaos.
During the last three years I have found and studied in Lebanon 30 new cases of children claiming memories of a previous life. The general characteristics of Lebanese and Sri Lankan cases are the same but they also differ in a few respects; among the Druzes in Lebanon cases are easier to find, and many more of them tend to be considered solved by the children's parents (93% versus 34% in Sri Lanka). As elsewhere the children usually start to talk about a previous life two to three years old, and usually request to be taken back to their previous family. Most common are statements about a violent death, namely 77 percent in both countries, they also often mention their previous name and names of people they knew, and about half of them state where they previously lived. I will present three cases as examples of Lebanese cases.
Wael lives 45 miles away from Beirut, and made 17 statements about a life in Beirut and "a place whereto he had to go by plane". A young man was found who had committed suicide and who had lived in Beirut and in California. Only one of Wael's 17 statements, some of them very specific, did not fit the life of this man, those family also reports a - for them - a crucial recognition by Wael.
As a young girl Nadine spoke of being strangled and drowned by her husband and made a total of 23 different statements. Her relatives report that as she started to speak about her previous life she would get so excited that her neck and throat would to become red and swollen. A year after we first met Nadine her parents found a woman whose circumstances of death correspond to Nadine's statements, but other aspects cannot be checked or do not fit.
Nazih made a great number of statements, also giving the name of the location where claimed to have lived previously. After his consistent requests for four years to go there and meet his family, and get his weapons and other belongings, his family finally took him to this location. He showed the way to a street where they quickly found a family, a widow with four children. The great majority of Rabih's statements, some of them very specific, fitted the life of the widow's husband who had been assassinated in the civil war. Besides, relatives of the alleged previous person report a number of remarkable recognitions by Nazih. According to their testimony the widow and her children questioned him and he described several incidents in their life that sufficed to convince all of them of his claimed identity. Some aspects of the case of Rabih make it almost "too good to be true". Many independent testimonies of several witnesses make it quite difficult to come up with a reasonable "natural" explanation for this case.
In 1996, a sitting by six Essex members of the Noah's Ark Society including SPR member Steve Hume was recorded on videotape. This shows a number of table movements and levitations which are not produced by any obvious normal means. Also to be heard on the soundtrack are examples of what are claimed to be 'direct voices'. Despite the imperfect quality of the tape, it offers some of the best evidence of its kind yet recorded. If the 'direct voices' are genuine, this may be the first evidence on video for their existence.
The last full sitting by the three authors of the Scole Report (Proc. SPR 58, pt 220) with the Scole Group on August 16th 1997, as reported in Chapter 12 (pages 297-304) resulted in the production of a tape recording believed to be unique in the history of so-called EVP (electronic voice phenomena). Two half-hour tape recordings were made synchronously. One (the Foy tape) recorded normally everything said and heard during a timed period. The second, in a similar Panasonic recorder from which the microphone had been removed, and which was held throughout by Professor Fontana, recorded on a new, blank tape only a passage of symphonic music, with an English-speaking voiceover, and which was clearly heard, and commented on, by the investigators and members of the Scole Group. The music was intended as a present to one of the investigators, who shortly recognised it as having a strong emotional connection with his childhood.
The two tapes have subsequently been synchronised on one double tracked tape, so that one loudspeaker can reproduce the track recorded on the Foy tape, while the second track plays only the anomalous transmission. This synchronised tape has been further processed by a specialist American firm and placed on a CD. Thanks to extensive removal of the so-called white noise, akin to severe atmospherics, it is possible for listeners to obtain a clearer impression of what took place.
It is proposed to play a short section of Rachmaninoff s own recording of part of the second movement of his second piano concerto, and to follow it by an excerpt from the Foy tape (accompanied by an overhead transcription of the dialogue), followed by the relevant part of a cleaned-up section of the Fontana tape.
There are many apparent similarities between psi and subliminal perception (now known as 'perception without awareness' or PWA). However, the field of PWA has become methodologically more advanced recently, with parapsychologists being largely unaware of this progress. It is the purpose of this paper to outline the similarities between psi and PWA, and to introduce two experiments aimed at re-examining some of these similarities using techniques currently being employed in the PWA field.
Frederic Myers (1895) introduced the concept of subliminality in parapsychology (cited in Johnson, 1973) and since then a variety of parapsychologists have been impressed with the qualitative similarities between both phenomena (see e.g. Beloff, 1972; Roney-Dougal. 1981, 1986,Nash, 1986) For example, both phenomena seem subjectively similar in that subjects are rarely aware that they have received a stimulus and any responses based on either psi or PWA stimuli are often described by participants as 'pure guesswork' (Beloff, 1972).
Theorists in parapsychology have also been sensitive to these apparent similarities, pointing out that both psi and PWA information may be processed in the same way by the cognitive system (see, e.g. Stanford, 1990; Irwin, 1979).
Critiques of the methods used in parapsychology have been well documented, but the field of PWA is also faced criticism, mostly concerning the claims that stimuli are truly below the level of conscious awareness (see, e.g. Holender. 1986). This has led (in both fields) to a refinement of the methods used, in an attempt to circumvent the major methodological shortcomings. While parapsychologists have kept up with the advancements in their own field, they are largely unaware of the current standing of methods in the area of PWA. The consequence of this is that the vast majority of work comparing psi with PWA would now be viewed as flawed by the current standards, thus calling into question the conclusions drawn.
Two experiments will be described, aimed at re-assessing some of the apparent similarities between psi and PWA in light of new techniques. The first is a replication of a relatively new effect in the field of PWA. This effect focuses on the influence a stimulus outside of awareness can have on recognition memory, as measured by an "old/new' recognition task.
Based on the premise that psi information may be processed in me same way, and thus have similar effects, a second experiment will be outlined looking at me effect of psi on a similar task of recognition. In this experiment, a sender in a separate room attempts to influence the recognition memory of the participant.
Although the experiments are not yet complete, results of these studies will be presented at the conference. along with a discussion of the relevance of this type of research.
Beloff, J (1972) The subliminal and the extrasensory. In Angoff, A and Shapin, B (eds.), Parapsychology and the Sciences. Parapsychology Foundation: New York
Holender, D. (1986) Semantic activation without conscious identification in dichotic listening, parafoveal vision, and visual masking: A survey and appraisal. Behavioural and Brain Sciences. 9. 1-23.
Irwin, H.J. (1979) Psi and the mind: An information processing approach. The Scarecrow Press Inc: Johnson, M.LJ. (1975) ESP and subliminality. European Journal of Parapsychology, 1, 9-17
Nash, C.B. (1986) Comparison of Subliminal and Extrasensory Perception. Journal f the Society for Psychical Research. 53 (805), 435-453.
Roney-Dougal, S.M. (1981) The interface between psi and subliminal perception. Parapsychology Review, 12(4), 12-18.
Roney-Dougal, S.M. (1986) Subliminal and psi perception: A review of the literature. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 53, (805) 405-434.
The author would like to thank me Society for Psychical Research and the Bial Foundation for funding this project.
One enduring problem in extrasensory perception (ESP) research lies in determining which aspects of a percipient's mentation might relate to the target, and which are not relevant. In short, how can we differentiate between ESP and imagination? Consider for a moment that this may be a false dichotomy, that ESP is actually a part of imagination and not something separate at all; what we really mean by ESP is "imagination that relates to the target". Some might now assume that I have declared myself in agreement with the skeptics, implying that people who have psychic experiences are merely deluded daydreamers. In fact, nothing could be further from my mind. What I am suggesting is the antithesis of this: that daydreamers are perhaps unrealised psychics!
This presentation will put forward the idea that the source of creative thought may not lie purely within a person's mind or body as is usually proposed (e.g. Treisman & Faulkner, 1987). Instead, it may in part be due to external sources that perturb that person's ongoing thought processes. In short, part of the structure of an imagined experience may be the result of external influences from the environment - an idea which is finding increasing support in dream research (e.g. Nielsen, 1993) and for which there is also evidence from non-parapsychological fields such as bioelectromagnetics research (e.g. Stevens, in press). Moreover, if this external influence idea is correct, then imagination begins to look much more like the concept of ESP - where an individual's mentation is observed and then match this to a known external source (the target, the sender, etc.). All that appears to differentiate ESP and imagination is that the former is known, or discovered after the fact, to correspond to an external event.
So consider the idea that ESP is in fact part of a continuum of imaginative experience - an extension of a continuous process wherein our internal state is perturbed by a multitude of external forces but one where we have been able to extract useful information from those perturbations. These perturbations will not be strong else they would be directly perceived, but instead enter into conscious awareness as subtle alterations to 'normal* thought processes. This may manifest as a sense of unease or awareness of difference, or in symbolic form as our minds appear to use symbolism and metaphor to interpret weak (Dixon, 1971: pp. 81-2) or indirect information (Hunt, 1989: pp. 190-1; Hartmann, 1996). ESP can then be envisioned not as a single "sense" but instead a symbolic unification of a stream of weak and indirect information from a variety of sources. Perhaps we could go so far as to say that imagination may in part have evolved as a symbolic language linking an individual to their non-sensory environment.
Dixon, N. (1971). Subliminal Perception. McGraw-Hill: London.
Hartmann E (1996). Outline for a theory on the nature and functions of dreaming. Dreaming 6: 147-170.
Hunt, H (1989). The multiplicity of Dreams: memory, imagination and consciousness. Yale University Press: New Haven and London.
Nielsen, T (1993). Changes in the kinesthetic content of dreams following somatosensory stimulation of leg muscles during REM sleep. Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams 3: 99-113.
Stevens, P (2001). Effect of 5s exposure to 50 micro-Tesla. 20 Hz magnetic fields on skin conductance and ratings of affect and arousal. Bioelectromagnetics.
Treisman. M and Faulkner, A (1987). Generation of random sequences by human subjects: cognitive operations or psychophysical process? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 116: 337-355
The initial, primary outcomes of a large 120 session DMILS study examining the role played by the agent, and the receiver's awareness of the agent's role, were presented at the 2000 SPR conference (study title: Exploring the Role of the Receiver and Agent in DMILS Studies, by Delanoy, Roe and Brady). A variety of individual differences measures were taken in this study, but have yet to be reported. In this presentation a broad overview of the findings exploring individual differences in DMILS receivers and the agents will be presented. Then the specific individual difference findings from the Delanoy, Roe and Brady DMILS study will be considered. This work is laying the foundation for the planned DMILS research, funded by the Perrott-Warrick that will continue to explore the relationship between the personalities of the agent and receiver.
Acknowledgements: Deborah Delanoy, Alison Roe and Claire Brady would like to thank the Bial Foundation for funding the experiment 'Exploring the Role of the Receiver and Agent in DMILS Studies'.
Although there are clearly differing opinions as to how far the ganzfeld fulfils the requirements of being a replicable psi-experiment, there seems to be a general agreement about the need for high quality research using the standard ganzfeld technique with such controls as to make non-psi-explanations unreasonable, but with design that can also take us further in terms of theory development and testing. A further requirement is for such a technique is that it be inexpensive and readily exportable.
The paper describes the outcome of nearly two years work in producing an automated digital version of the ganzfeld which not only fulfils these requirements, but has some additional surprise merits. The paper also reports on the results of some initial testing.
The digital ganzfeld as developed in Gothenburg uses a computerised generation of targets in order to randomly allocate the target set from a digitised library of 30 film sets and then selecting the individual target film-clip for sending from the 4 in the set. A series of explicit instructions guide the sender and receiver through the various stages of the experiment with all the outcome at critical decisions points being recorded on the computer. The use of a computer management of the procedure, together with a security lamp activated by the door of the sender room, means that the staffing can be reduced the one experimenter who accompanies and stays with the receiver during the ganzfeld period and judging period.
A distinctive feature of digitised ganzfeld as used in Gothenburg, is that the mentation report of the imagery produced from the receiver in the ganzfeld state, is automatically regenerated in real-time with that of the target film being viewed and is likewise regenerated with the viewing of the control film-clips. This means that the judging procedure can be facilitated by potential real time correspondences occurring between the psi-derived imagery of the receiver and that of the imagery in the target film-clip. Use of this information should enable the target film to be relatively easily identified from the others in the set. A copy of the sound cards for these film-clips and mentation reports is automatically made available for external judging by being recorded as a server file accessible via ftp with a login-name and code to the restricted domain.
Retrieval of these sound files enables the set of film clips with the accompanying sound recordings to be regenerated for external judging. Another important feature of the new procedure as used here, is that an improved power or sensitivity in the testing situation is achieved by having two 14 minute sending periods (with a short pause in the interval). Two sets of film clips are selected from which the target films are chosen for each of these periods. Since the two trials per session are therefore statistically independent of each other, this means that each participant can in a single testing session with two direct hits achieve an impressive scoring level (p = 1/16). In practice this means that the baseline for chance scores becomes 6.25% instead of 25%, thereby increasing the sensitivity of the whole procedure. The dual session set-up also means that a control period can be randomly assigned to one of the two sending periods.
The digitised film library consists of clips selected according to the agreed upon criteria that they should contain sequences assessed as meaningful, as both visually and emotionally engaging, and as containing a potential psi-marker in terms of an apparently unexpected or unpredictable event. These films were placed into sets on the basis of maximum disparity in their content in order to facilitate the judging procedure. The Target Evaluation Scale is being developed to study how the aspects of the film content may relate to psi-performance.
The judging procedure can be carried by the receiver and /or by an external judge(s). In the case of the receiver making judgements, this can take place in the sender room following the sender's prior departure, or preferably in the receiver room where a second computer displays the target with its real time recording and the decoy controls. This computer screen is pulled forward on a retractable trolley arrangement which enables the receiver to stay in the reclining chair where the ganzfeld imagery had been produced and view the films from that position. This has a psychological gain of reducing the return to a full waking state and thereby facilitating the use of state specific memories ń that is images that might be lost to the waking state. Judging is carried out by selecting two films to be compared with the mentation report for real time (and possible time displaced) correspondences in imagery. Sound levels of the film and mentation report can be adjusted during this and movement through the film record can be accelerated according to the need of the judge.
Another new and important aspect of this procedure here, is the use of bookmarks to record the verbal descriptions of the film along with the still pictures which actually correspond in content and time. A real-time window can be set for this purpose at specified time margins (for instance at ±20 seconds). Lists of these bookmarks can potentially be made for all the four candidates for being the target film. Codes can be used to identify what are considered to be the more remarkable correspondences. This use of bookmarks can thus become a systematic method for working with the qualitative aspects of the mentation. With respect to the presence of high quality psi-mediated real-time correspondences between ganzfeld imagery and film content, one of our predictions is that these correspondences should be occur much more often with the target clips than with the control clips. A complete record of the blind judging of these enables us to evaluate this hypothesis.
Various psychological measures can be, and are being, accommodated in to this methodology: personality assessment prior to testing, state of consciousness reports and confidence of success ratings given before and after testing, and physiological monitoring during testing to identify correlates of high quality psi-imagery.
To date, a small pilot study has been carried and we will report on the results of this and our ongoing study.
The authors wish to express thanks to the Holler Fund, IGPP, Freiburg, and the BIAL Fund Portugal, for supporting this work
One means of assessing this possibility is to compare participants' performance under GESP conditions (where there is a sender) with that under clairvoyance conditions (where there is not). Unfortunately the interpretation of the outcomes of some of these studies is confounded by the fact that participants were aware that there would be no sender for some trials and this may clearly affect their expectancy or motivation - or even the perceived credibility of the phenomenon under investigation - in ways that could lead to what we term a psychological sender effect (cf. Irwin, 1999). Among the interpretations of the putative sender/no sender difference offered by Morris et al. (1995) is the suggestion that, to many participants, it seems somehow more plausible that someone must first observe the target and send them a signal before they can gain any information about the target, and that having a sender may simply increase the feeling of teamwork or diffuse responsibility for failures (or perhaps more tellingly for successes, reminiscent of the work of Batcheldor, 1966).
Of particular interest with respect to our study, is the free-response ganzfeld experiment by Raburn and Manning (1977). They manipulated both the actual presence of an agent and also the participant's information about the same, adopting a 2x2 design. Performance on trials when there was a sender was significantly superior to those trials when there was no sender, but also trials where participants believed there was a sender (whether or not a sender was in fact present) gave better scoring than when they believed the session to be a test of clairvoyance. This suggests that there may be evidence for an actual sender effect and also for a psychological experimenter effect (cf. Palmer, 1986). To our knowledge no attempt has been made to replicate this interesting finding, which we feel merits further more detailed investigation.
To investigate whether a sender is necessary and whether the receiver's knowledge (true or false) of the sender status can affect performance in the ganzfeld. To attempt to identify any particular strategies employed by the sender and receiver during trials and to explore whether any particular strategies seem to be associated with success.
This study is a full experiment consisting of 4 pilot trials and 60 experimental trials, and makes use of an automated ganzfeld system with sound attenuated receiver room. Prior to each trial, participants will complete a battery of measures. The sender and receiver will also be asked to provide information about the strategy that they used during the trial. On trials where the sender is not required, they will be asked to complete a number of activities that have been designed to occupy their attention so that they do not become bored, but to be relatively content-free so that they don't constitute an alternative psi signal.
Our primary psi measure will be the z score of the target clip's similarity rating, although we will also report the number of direct hits and sum of ranks data for completeness. Our planned analyses are:
We also plan to conduct exploratory analyses considering covariation of performance with personality and attitude measures.
Batcheldor, K.J.'(1966). Report on a case of table levitation and associated phenomena. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 43, 339-356.
Beloff, J. (1993). Parapsychology: A concise history. London: The Athlone Press. Irwin, H.J. (1999). An introduction to parapsychology (3rd ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarIand.
Morris. R.L., Dalton. K., Delanoy, D.L., & Watt, C. (1995). Comparison of the sender / no sender condition in the ganzfeld. The Parapsychological Association 38th Annual Convention Proceedings of Presented Papers, 244-259.
Palmer, J. (1978). Extrasensory perception: Research findings. In S. Knppner (Ed.), Advances in parapsychoiogical research vol 2: Extrasensory perception, (pp.59-243). New York: Plenum Press.
Palmer, J. (19S6). ESP research findings: The process approach. In H.L. Edge, R.L. Morris, J. Palmer, & J.H. Rush. (Eds), Foundations of parapsychology, (pp. 184-222). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Rahurn, L., &- Manning, R. (1977). Sender relaxation and expectation in telepathy. In J.D. Morris, W.G. Roll, & R.L. Morris (Eds.), Research in Parapsychology 1976. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
We would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Perrott-Warrick Fund. which has enabled us to conduct this study.
Anomalous experiences are common in the general population (e.g. Galiup and Newport, 1991) and often occur in altered states of awareness. Honor-ton (1978) has pointed out that 2 out of every 3 reported psi experiences occur m dreams or non ordinary' states. Tins leaves a third associated with perceived wakefulness. Hypnagogia - the state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, has been suggested to be conducive to both genuine paranormal experiences and misattribution or mislabeling of hallucinatory experience as 'paranormal' (Sherwood. 1998). Gumcy, Mycrs and Podmore (1886) for example, found that a large proportion of spontaneous cases occur in the 'borderland' state between wakefulness and sleep. Tins type of thinking is not restricted to the sleep onset period, and has been observed in relaxed wakefulness during daytime hours and accompanying a making EEG reading (Foulkes and Fleishcr, 1975, Hori, Hayashi and Morikawa. 1994). Those who are more likely to experience hypnagogia may be more likely to have subjective and objective paranormal experiences.
The incidence of anomalous and paranormal experiences is enhanced among those who have elevated scores on measures of positive schizotypy. a healthy analogue of schizophrenia (e.g. Simmonds and Roc, 2000). It is suggested here that this may be due to an increased propensity to experience hypnagogic states of consciousness at all times of the day. Schizotypal thinking, for example, has been described as phonomenologically very similar to hypnagogia (Mavromatis, 1987) and psychosis-prone individuals have been found to experience more hypnagogic imagery than non psychosis prone individuals (Jakes and Hernsley, 1987). McCreery (1997) has proposed that anomalies in the arousal systems of schizophrenics render them likely to experience qualitative changes of state, from waking to sleeping and sleeping to waking. This may occur at any time, even during daylight hours. Sleep can occur through an increase or a decrease in arousal (Oswald 1959), as such, McCreery (1997) suggests that among schizophrenics, a sleep reaction may occur as a result of both hypoarousal and hypcrarousal. Hypcrarousal (e.g. to environmental stress) may lead to moments of hypnagogic 'micro-sleeps' during wakefulncss (McCreery, 1997). Positive schizotypes may also be more likely to think hypnagogically during wakefulness.
The Ganzfeld is a partial sensory deprivation paradigm which encourages a state of consciousness similar to hypnagogia. Despite controversy over the extent to which the ganzfield procedure is conducive to above chance psi scoring, it has been considered promising as a replicable methodology for encouraging psi performance in modem parapsychology (e.g. Milton, 1999). High scoring schizotypy measures increases the susceptibility of having anomalous perceptual experiences under partial sensory deprivation ganzfeld-like conditions. (McCreery and Claridge, 1996). There is also some evidence to suggest thatt positive aspects of schizotypy are related to enhanced psi scoring in the Ganzfeld (Lawrence and Woodley, 1998, Parkerand Westerlund, 1998, Parker. 2000).
A previous Ganzfeld experiment, presented at the last SPR. found that 4 aspects of the OLIFE schizotypy questionnaire (Mason Claridge and Jackson, 1995) yielded interesting, but non significant relationships with psi performance. This study seeks to replicate and extend the findings of that study. The Ganzfeld procedure attempts to reduce overall somatic 'noise' and arousal levels. Its effects may be different among tlie subtypes of schizotypes who are prone to anomalies in arousal anyway, and who may also experience hypnagogia as a result of increases in arousal. It will be interesting to observe differences in psi performance and subjective anomalous experiences associated with ganzfeld stimulation and which occur during a waking ESP control condition. It may be that some schizotypes perform optimally when not undergoing the partial sensory deprivation procedure, as they may be in a 'ganzfeld' state in normal waking consciousness. The ganzfeld condition may encourage a deeper hypnagoid state of consciousness among high scorers of some types of schizotypy, which may be more or less conducive to psi. Ganzfeld stimulation may otherwise be distracting for some individuals and performance enhanced in the waking condition. Alternatively, performance may not differ between the two conditions for schizotypes. Murre, Van Dalen, Dias and Schouten (1988) found no psi overall in either condition in their Ganzfeld-Control study, but there was indication that individual difference effects were consistent across both. A comparison between waking and non waking conditions is of interest in order to compare high and low scoring schizotypes within and across the conditions with regard to psi performance, subjective psi success and hypnagogic experiences. Differences are expected in psi performance and subjective psi and hypnagogic experiences between high and low scorers on the 4 sub scales of the OLIFE schizotypy questionnaire.
This experiment also addresses alterations m reality testing and source monitoring among high and low scoring schizotypes; associated with hypnagogia; among those who perceive themselves to be successful at psi and among those who actually are successful at psi in both waking and ganzfeld conditions. Few studies have directly compared experiences and psi performance between a ganzfeld and non ganzfeld ESP condition among the same group of participants (Murrc ct al, 1988). Thus, a direct comparison between the effects of the ganzfeld and a waking control can also be made with regard to the psi conduciveness of the ganzfeld procedure as a -whole. It was predicted that there would be psi in both conditions given that Milton (1998) found no difference between the results of meta-analyses for psi ganzfeld investigations and waking free response designs.
This investigation had a within participants design, each pair of receivers and senders (N=27) took part in both the Ganzfeld and waking ESP conditions (in the same roles). Sessions were counterbalanced for order. There were two experimenters running me study, therefore half the sessions were run by one and half by the other. The measure employed to assess schizotypy was the OLIFE scale. A psi index was calculated by z score of target rating (Stanford and Mayer. 1974).
In criminal investigations in the UK, eyewitness-interviewing has reached a certain standard known as the Cognitive Interview devised by Geiselman and Fisher in 1987 (Fisher & Geiselman, 1992; Fisher, Geiselman & Raymond, 1987). This technique is based on various psychological principles of memory and social dynamics, and has been shown to enhance the amount of accurate material obtained from interviewees (Aschermann, Mantwill & Kohnken, 1991; Kebbell & Wagstaff, 1999). Given the importance of eyewitnesses in spontaneous phenomena cases, a similar interviewing style should be expected. A content analysis of taped interviews with eyewitnesses in apparition cases (supplied from various different investigating groups), using established content category dictionaries, has revealed poor interviewing strategies. An emphasis on the interviewer attempting to extract the truth rather than seek the truth has resulted in frequent interruptions, increase in closed questions, leading questions, interviewer-domination and multiple questions (and the confusion that results). The problems and implications (especially in the interpretation of reports from early SPR research) associated with such an inconsistent and damaging interviewing strategy are discussed. The author proposes the standardisation of interviews in spontaneous phenomena cases, and that, although several groups provide training in and claim to promote the Cognitive Interview approach (which the results contradict), there is a need to be more rigid in this regard and to stress the importance of such a development within the context of psychical research.
Aschermann, E., Mantwill, M. & Kohnken, G. (1991). An independent replication of the effectiveness of the cognitive interview. Journal of Applied Psychology, 5, 489-495.
Fisher, R.P., and Geiselman, R.E. (1992). Memory-enhancing techniques for investigative interviewing: the cognitive interview, Springfield. IL: Charles Thomas.
Fisher, R.P., Geiselman, R.E., and Raymond, S.E. (1995). Critical Analysis or Police interviewing tecnmques. Journal of Police Science Administration, 15(3): 177-185.
Kebbell. M., and Wagstaff. G. (1999). The Effectiveness of the Cognitive Interview. In D. Canter and L. Alison (eds) Offender Profiling Series I - Interviewing and Deception. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, pp 23-39.
I would like to thank CSICOP and the University of Hertfordshire for assisting with the funding of this research.
Ghosts have been a universal human experience for centuries. They were considered in the past. as also to some extent today, to be the strongest evidence for mans survival of his bodily death. Such interpretation is understandable in view of their abnormality, the circumstances in which they occur and the apparent veridical nature of some phenomena such as crisis and collective cases.
Detailed studies of apparitions over the years have however, produced alternative explanations for their occurrence, which mainly suggest that the living human percipient is in someway responsible. Both hypotheses exhibit weaknesses in detail and share factors that tend to contradict their claims, which leave either explanation not proven to any acceptable degree.
I propose to briefly describe examples of cases that support both the discarnate and living minds responsibility for the phenomena and highlight the contradictions they display. I also propose to discuss how geomagnetism and in particular the latest suggestions that, high frequency sound waves, cold spots and electromagnetic systems could possibly be considered responsible for the creation of ghosts. Such theories in the absence of any clear and unambiguous understanding of the cause and affect of apparitions and haunting events would appear to be grasping at psychological straws. In the light of the complexity involved in many well-evidenced cases of such phenomena there remains much that needs further research before we can be sure of their true cause.
Dr Paul Stevens, Dr Caroline Watt and Ian Baker, Koestler Parapsychology Unit, University of Edinburgh
Emma Greening and Ciaran O'Keeffe, Perrott-Warrick Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire
This work built upon a previous study conducted by the authors at Hampton Court Palace. The experiment aimed to systematically examine some of the psychological, social and environmental factors that might contribute to the experiences reported in allegedly haunted locations. The experiment took place in Edinburgh's The South Bridge Vaults. These underground rooms were originally built as storerooms and workshops in the late eighteenth century. A well-known tour company, Mercat Tours, now uses the vaults as a venue for historical tours centering around underground Edinburgh. During the past few years several people on these tours have reported experiencing unusual phenomena in the vaults, including seeing apparitions, being touched by an unseen presence and suddenly feeling extreme cold. The authors decided to conduct an investigation into the vaults as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The experiment centred on ten of the vaults. Prior to the experiment a representative from Mercat Tours rank ordered each of the vaults on the basis of the number of unusual experiences reported on their tours. Approximately 240 members of the public, in 24 groups of up to 10, completed a questionnaire about their belief in ghosts and were then each asked to stand alone in one of the vaults and report any unusual phenomena that they experienced. Neither the experimenters nor participants were aware of the location of the phenomena reported previously in the vaults. Results revealed a highly significant positive correlation between the locations of the unusual experiences reported on the Mercat Tours and those in our experiment. In addition, people who believed in ghosts reported significantly more experiences than disbelievers. Various measurements were taken in each of the vaults, including air temperature, air movement, magnetic fields and ambient light levels. Some of these measurements suggested that environmental factors may play an important role in the onset and reporting of unusual experiences. The implications of this methodology and results for future research into allegedly haunted locations will be discussed.
We would to thank the Perrott-Warrick Fund and the University of Hertfordshire for funding this work
Previous research has demonstrated that that misleading suggestion can influence recollection (Loftus, Feldman and Dashiell, 1995) and recollection of ostensibly paranormal events can be influenced by paranormal belief (Wiseman and Morris, 1995), These studies used these two concepts as a means of investigating recall of a pseudo-psychic demonstration.
Participants completed a Paranormal Belief Questionnaire (Wiseman and Morris, 1995), then saw a video containing a demonstration of an apparently paranormal key-bending. It showed a performer selecting a key and appearing to psychically bend it. After this, the performer placed the key on the table and suggested that the key was continuing to bend. This suggestion was, in fact, false - the key did not continue to bend. An alternative video containing no such suggestion was shown to participants in the Non-Suggestion condition. After viewing the videos, participants completed a questionnaire relating to the events on the video. Question 3 assessed the effect of the suggestion by asking them to respond to the statement 'After the key was placed on the table, it continued to bend' on a seven point scale.
In Study 1, participants were shown either the Suggestion or Non-Suggestion video. Participants in the Suggestion condition gave a significantly higher mean response to Question 3 than those in the Non-Suggestion condition, but there was no effect of belief.
Study 2 aimed to examine the degree to which participants believed that they had actually seen the key continue to bend. Half of the participants in each of the two suggestion conditions received the original questionnaire containing the statement 'After the key was placed on the table, it continued to bend', and the other half received a questionnaire containing the statement 'After the key was placed on the table, I saw it continuing to bend'. Responses to these statements were recorded immediately after seeing the video. Participants who received the 'Continued' questionnaire gave a significantly higher mean response than participants who received the 'I saw' questionnaire and in both conditions there was a significant effect of suggestion.
Overall, the results show that verbal suggestion can significantly influence memory of an ostensibly paranormal event.
Loftus, E.F., Feldman, J., & Dashiell, R. (1995). The reality of illusory memories. In D.L. Schacter (Ed.) Memory distortion: How minds, brains and societies reconstruct the past. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wiseman R. & Morris, R.L. (1995). Recalling pseudo-psychic demonstration. British Journal of Psychology, 86, 113-125.
Thanks to the SPR and the University of Hertfordshire for funding this project.
This paper will present the findings of two experiments conducted to test the success of applying evolutionary theory within parapsychology. There has been little research into anomalous cognition that has considered the underlying phenomena as an adapted behaviour. Lewontin (1979, cited in Dawkins, 1982, p.21) writes " in order for a trait to evolve by natural selection it is necessary that there be genetic variation in the population for such a trait". Dawkins (1982) adds, "And 'genetic variation in the population' for a trait X is exactly what we mean when we talk, for brevity, of a 'gene for' X" (p.21). Could the concept of a 'psychic gene' be useful for parapsychological research?
Using this idea as the basis of the research it was hypothesised that the best stimulus material to use in an experiment would be one with evolutionary significance, that is, a stimulus that can be assumed to elicit an innate response. Given the widespread incidence of arachnophobia, photographs of spiders were identified as a suitable type of stimulus. This fear probably reflects an evolved response to a potentially fatal threat in our evolutionary past. Use of such stimuli may reflect a more naturalistic means of testing for psi, which may parallel spontaneous case research where individuals report intuitions before potentially fatal events.
Research into the presentiment effect (Bierman & Radin, 1997; Bierman, 1997; Bierman & Radin, 1998) has suggested that the methodology can provide impressive, seemingly paranormal results, where participants seem to show physiological differentiation between calm and emotional stimuli before stimulus presentation, that is, a precognitive effect. However, instead of using pornographic or violent images, as in the previous studies, in the current research spider stimulus material was used. This combination of a presentiment study with evolutionary significant stimuli was seen as a good test of the success of applying evolutionary theory to parapsychological research.
In study one, participants were opportunistically assigned to either a spider or a control condition. A measure of arousal was recorded through skin resistance, using specialised equipment. Participants were naive as to the nature of the experiment and were told only that their arousal level was being measured to establish a baseline. Participants were shown ten pictures, each for one second. The first five consisted of five neutral pictures, the second five, four neutral pictures and a target. The position of the target stimulus within this sequence of five stimuli was randomly determined. If a participant was in the spider group, the target was a spider picture. In the control group the target was another neutral picture. After the last picture, participants were required to fill in a fear of spiders questionnaire.
Study two was a replication of the first study, with the methodological improvement that participants were randomly assigned to the condition groups and a double-blind methodology was employed whereby the experimenter (LS) was unaware of which condition a participant had been assigned to until data analysis was complete. The results of study one were possibly suggestive of a paranormal effect. While the planned statistical tests produced a non-significant but suggestive result, the post-hoc tests did produce a significant result, although in the opposite direction to that expected. It was found that those participants who were afraid of spiders and presented with a spider became more relaxed before its presentation than for other participants. The results of study two were wholly negative, with no significant differences found.
To conclude, it can be asked how successful has investigating the presentiment effect as an adaptive behaviour been? For the two studies described above, the answer is "not very." However the results are fairly typical of parapsychological research, where the first study is suggestive and the second produces results at chance level. Study two was, however, conducted using better procedures and suggests the results of study one are due to some systematic error.
However psi cannot be completely dismissed. As Blackmore (1991) writes "Psi might always be around the next corned, and there [are] plenty of comers to look around" (P.127).
Blackmore, S. (1991). The elusive open mind. In Frazier, K. (ed). The hundreth monkey and other paradigms of the paranormal, (pp.126-135). New York: Prometheus Books.
Bierman, D. J. (1997). Emotion and Intuition I, II, III, IV, & V. Unravelling Variables Contributing to the Presentiment effect. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 40th Annual Convention held in conjunction with the Society for Psychical Research, pp 49-62.
Bierman, D. J. & Radin, D. I. (1997) Anomalous Anticipatory Response on Randomized Future Conditions. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84, 689-690.
Bierman, D. J. & Radin, D. I. (1998). Anomalous Unconscious Emotional Responses: Evidence for a Reversal of the Arrow of Time. Toward a science of Consciousness, TUCSON III. MIT Press. In press. From the World Wide Web: http://wwfw.psv.uva.nl/resedu/pn/PUBS/BIERMAN/review.html
Dawkins, R. (1982). The extended phenotype. Oxford: W.H. Freeman & Co.
In parapsychology there is a classic healing experiment in which seeds are stressed, then randomly assigned to either a healing or control group. Several of these studies have found that there is greater growth and healthier plants from the healed tray. For a review of studies see Benor (1993).
This basic laboratory experiment was taken out on a field trial at an organic farm. In this experiment the healthy organic seeds were not stressed beforehand, as we are looking here for greater health in the "enhanced" plants.
This initial pilot study had 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.
In the presence of the experimenter (SRD) and the randomiser, one jar of seeds (HX) was "enhanced" by the healer (GB) while holding the jar on the table, thumbs touching the lid; the second (C1) and the fourth Jars (C2) were untreated controls; the third Jar (nonHX) was handled exactly as GB handled his, but by a person who claims no healing ability. When everyone had left the room, the randomiser assigned labels (a,b,c,d) to the four jars of seeds and had no further contact with the experiment.
There were eight trials beginning in April, the final harvest being in December. The seeds were planted, germinated and grown in the polytunnel for approximately three weeks on average. This crop was then planted out in the field. When first sown, the grower (H) recorded the numbers that germinated on each day and measured their growth during four stages; from the shoot plus leaves breaking through the soil, to the leaves fully opened and the second leaves appearing.
At a time determined by H. half of each group of lettuces were harvested one week and the remainder the following week. Each lettuce was harvested by cutting at ground level and weighed to give gross weight. The outer leaves were trimmed and then they were reweighed to obtain net weight. Before trimming the plants were checked for fungal damage; after trimming, for slug damage The data was sent to JS for analysis and the randomiser revealed the codes.
Results & Analysis
The results do not favour hypotheses 1 and 2, but there is a measure of support for hypothesis 3.
1) Germination data:
Germination Day 1: (F(3,28) = 0.60. p = .623)
Germination Day 4: (F(3,28) =1.57, p = .220)
2) Growth Rate
Gross weight: The ANOVA showed no significant differences among the four groups on gross weight (F(3,48) = 2.08, p == .116).
Net Weight: The same analysis as for gross weight was performed. There are no significant differences among the groups. (F(3,48) = 1.20, p = .320).
Total Yield: For each trial, JS summed the net weight in each group, then ranked the groups 1-4, greater yield getting lower ranks. The ANOVA showed no significant differences among the four groups (F(3,48) = 0.69, p = .562).
3) Health Parameters
Slug Damage: For each trial, JS computed the average slug damage ratings for each group, then ranked them, lower slug damage getting lower ratings. ANOVA showed no significant differences among the groups (F(3,48) = 1.75, p = .170).
Fungal Damage: The same analysis as for slug damage was performed. There is a trend towards a significant effect here (F(3,24) = 3.13, p = .044), particularly C2 having significantly more fungal damage than either HX or nonHX groups. The HX group has the least fungal damage.
The first point that is revealed by the data is that group C2 tended to be consistently, though non-significantly, larger in growth than the others. This is so far not understood. The second point is that there is no noticeable effect of the healer on germination. Could this be a difference of taking a laboratory experiment out to the field, where conditions are of a necessity less controlled?
And thirdly, the only significant difference found in the experiment was in the region of health parameters. We are working here with a healer. The seeds were perfectly healthy organic seeds, whereas in previous laboratory experiments the seeds have always been stressed in some way, so that the healer was clearly being asked to "heal" the seeds. In this case he was given the less defined task of "enhancing" the seeds so that they would germinate faster, grow bigger, more would germinate and grow and they would be healthier. This is quite a multi-task, so it is interesting that the one significant finding is with regard to fungal growth, which is the only real parameter of health that was measured.
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.
Experimenter effects continue to play an important role in parapsychological research, especially with regards to the issue of replication. In this paper the concept of the 'psi-conducive' experimenter is reconsidered, as are its implications for replicating psi effects. Research that has begun to explore allegedly 'psi conducive' experimenter variables such as the experimenter's expressed belief in psi, the experimenter's expectancy of a successful experimental outcome, experimenter 'warmth', and experimenter personality is reviewed. It is concluded that there is evidence to suggest that the experimenter's expressed belief in psi, expectancy of success, and the warmth of the experimenter-participant relationship can distinguish 'psi-conducive' experimenters from 'psi-inhibitory' ones. However, evidence does not support a relationship between personality characteristics and success as a psi experimenter. Four unresolved questions regarding 'psi-conducive' experimenter variables are considered.
Firstly, are psi-conducive experimenter variables independent of each other? For example, although some studies have typically attempted to manipulate an experimenter's belief in psi whilst other studies have attempted to manipulate the experimenter's expectancy about the outcome of the experiment, no studies have tried to manipulate these variables independently of each other within the same study. Such a study would allow us to assess the relative impact of these variables upon psi scores and the extent to which they interact with each other.
Second, are psi-conducive experimenter variables independent of other allegedly psi-conducive variables? For example, it is not clear how experimenter variables interact with other variables relating to the psi-testing situation (e.g., forced-choice vs. free-response methods). A strong case can be made that experimenter variables are likely to be more important in free-response methods, especially those employing 'receiver optimisation' methods such as the ganzfeld, given that participants are typically tested individually and there is considerably greater sustained interaction between the experimenter and participant.
Third, how do psi-conducive experimenter variables impact upon psi scores? Two general hypotheses have been put forward in response to this issue. One is that experimenter variables such as belief in psi and expectancy of success are communicated to participants and so influence the participants' beliefs and expectancies regarding the experiment. A second hypothesis that has received considerable interest from parapsychologists is that, as the source of psi cannot be clearly delineated in psi experiments, experimenter effects are mediated by 'experimenter psi'. It is suggested that greater replicability of psi effects is to be achieved once the relative importance of psychological and psi factors is better understood. Research which helps to clarify the limits of psi, and therefore experimenter psi, will help resolve this issue.
Finally, can psi-conducive experimenter variables be exploited to enhance psi effects? It is suggested that psi research should draw upon research into placebo effects and social psychological research on persuasion and attitude change in order to identify the most effective ways of exploiting psi-conducive experimenter variables.
The preparation of this paper was aided by the support of a grant from the Perrott-Warrick Fund.
Many factors may contribute to experimenter effects in parapsychology. Two studies explored how participants' beliefs about the previous psi research track record of their experimenter might affect their responses on questionnaire measures of belief in psi, confidence of success at a psi task, perceived success at the psi task, actual success at the psi task, and evaluations of the experimenter. Participants (60 in each study) were allocated to either a positive expectancy or a negative expectancy condition. Prior to having any contact with their experimenter (CW) .they read a simulated one-page background article that either depicted CW as having a previous track record of positive psi results (positive expectancy condition) or as having a previous track record of null psi results (negative expectancy condition). Participants then completed questionnaire measures of belief in psi, personality, and confidence of success at the psi task. The psi task was remote facilitation of focusing of attention. The participant ("helpee") attempted to focus their attention on a candle and holder, and indicated by pressing a hand-held button when they felt their attention had wandered from the focus. Whilst doing this task CW, located in a separate, sensorially isolated room, either simultaneously focused on a similar candle and holder ("help periods") or did some irrelevant task ("control periods") according to a random but counterbalanced schedule of 16 one-minute epochs (4 help-control pairs, 4 control-help pairs). Following the psi task. but without knowing its results, participants rated their perceived success at the task and rated CW for warmth, professionalism, and the degree to which she instilled confidence for the psi task.
We predicted a remote facilitation of attention focusing effect, indicated by fewer distractions during the help periods compared to the control periods (measured by the index PSI). In addition, we predicted that positive expectancy participants would have greater PSI scores than negative expectancy participants, and that there would be an interaction between participants' belief in psi and their expectancy condition which would affect their PSI results. Due to a computer error, psi results could not be reported for study one. Participants' ratings of confidence of success, perceived helping, experimenter warmth, experimenter professionalism, and experimenter's ability to instill confidence for the psi task were consistently more positive in the positive expectancy condition than in the negative expectancy condition, but not to a statistically significant degree. Study two, conducted to replicate and extend upon study one, found no indication of remote facilitation of attention focusing. There was no difference between PSI scores in the positive expectancy condition compared to the negative expectancy condition, and no interaction was found between belief and expectancy condition. As with study one, participants in the positive expectancy condition gave higher ratings to the experimenter than those in the negative expectancy condition. Post hoc, it was found that participants' evaluations of the degree to which the experimenter instilled confidence in the task were significantly more positive for the positive expectancy group. compared to the negative expectancy group, for studies one and two combined. There was no consistent correlation between personality factors and the other measures taken in studies one and two.
We are grateful to the Perrott-Warrick Fund for supporting this research. Thanks also to Dr Paul Stevens for providing computing support.
At the 1999 SPR Conference, we reported on a proposed study looking into EEG (Electro-encephalograph) brain wave correlations between sensorally isolated individuals. Measuring physiological response is widely accepted as a very useful avenue for psi research which may circumvent some of the problems associated with detecting (what might seem to be) weak psi signals.
The work attempted to replicate Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum's ground-breaking EEG studies (Subtle Energies, 1993). This work appeared to demonstrate a mental link between empathically connected individuals. There was a 'sender' whose brain was stimulated by visual flashes and an isolated 'receiver' whose brain also appeared to simultaneously respond. In some way the EEG brain wave (evoked potential) was becoming a 'transferred potential' in the brain of the non-stimulated subject.
Assuming a real and anomalous connection between brains; the manner of improving this connection is vague; in our main study we attempted to do so through using subjects who had a close emotional link to each other. We also used an auditory stimulus (a tone pip) as opposed to a visual one.
Our hypotheses tested whether there would be a significant change in the amplitude or frequency of the normal EEG waveform in non-stimulated subjects, when comparing the period directly before to directly after the tone pip. We also contrasted this with the results for a control group who did not meditate and know or interact with the other subject. There were 12 pairs of meditators, and 12 pairs of controls.
A less formal pilot replication by one of the authors had previously appeared successful (Fenwick et al., 1998), however the present study was less than conclusive. In this paper possible explanations for our mixed results will be discussed and the associated theoretical issues will be expanded. Possibilities raised will include the experimenter effect, ecological validity and sensory leakage.
Fenwick, B. C. P., Vigus, N. and Sanders, S. (1998). The Transferred Potential. Unpublished pilot study.
Zylberbaum, j. G-Z., Delaflor, M., Sanchez Arellano, M. E. and Guevera, M. A. (1W3). Human Communications and the electrophysiological activity of the brain. Subtle Energies. 3(3), 25-43.
It may help us to understand what we mean by the 'paranormal' if we distinguish between the 'paranormal' and the 'anomalous'. Both present challenges to science, and indeed, to commonsense, but, whereas calling something anomalous Implies no more than that an acceptable explanation has yet to be found, , calling something 'paranormal' implies that it defies an explanation either in commonsense or in science as currently understood. For example, if, tomorrow, we were to encounter an extra-terrestrial alien on our doorstep, that would indeed be anomalous, where did it come from? how did it get here? but it would not, ipso facto count as 'paranormal'. On the other hand, If someone here on Earth were observed to levitate unaided, that would, indeed, count as paranormal inasmuch as It would defy the law of gravity. Whether anyone ever has levitated - and I can think of at least five well substantiated claims - is controversial. What is not controversial is that, if someone were to levitate, that would qualify as 'paranormal'.
Parapsychology, the experimental study of the paranormal, is today an experimental science whereas .anomalistics: if we may call it that, is an observational science-Parapsychology is represented by such journals as the Journal of the S.P.R., The Journal of the American S.P.R. and the Journal of Parapsychology, 'anomalistics, if we may call it that, is represented by journals such as Journal of Scientific Exploration or, say, the Fortean Times. To call something anomalous' implies no more than that it still awaits an acceptable scientific explanation. To call something 'paranormal' is to imply that it lies outside the scientific world view as currently understood. Here we shall argue that what underlies all paranormal phenomena is the intervention of mind in the physical universe.
Attempts are often made to legitimate psi phenomena by invoking some principle of of modern physics, such as the observation effect which resolves the paradox of an entity being both a wave and a particle depending on the set-up involved. Here we argue that such an approach to the paranormal cannot be sustained. In the last resort it is the duality of mind and matter that underlies the paranormal. So long as mind acts only on the brain, no question arises because, in principle, all such action can be described in purely physical terms of stimulus and response. But, when mind acts on the external world, which is the essence of a psi phenomenon, this can only be understood in dualistic terms. Parapsychology, one could say. is the empirical confirmation of the dualistic metaphysic.
If psychic phenomena are part of the domain of science, they must be governed by natural laws rather than being anarchic. According to reductionism, physics is the most fundamental branch of science, in which case it is natural to assume that it can be extended to accommodate psi. However, although some psychic phenomena may turn out to be explicable in terms of current physics, others are almost certainly not and this suggests that either reductionism is false or physicists' claims to be close to a "Theory of Everything" are premature. On the other hand, history shows that the prevailing view of physics regularly undergoes paradigm shifts, with the picture of "ultimate reality" becoming progressively distanced from common-sense reality, so there is no reason why some future paradigm should not be compatible with psi. This paper discusses a specific proposal for what form this paradigm might have.
In addressing this question, it is important to understand which type of psychic phenomena one is seeking to incorporate into physics. In this context, it is useful to classify them into four classes:
(1) spurious phenomena which are delusional, in the sense that they result from fraud or the mind's innate tendency to see patterns in random data;
(2) phenomena which are real but have a simple explanation within the current physical paradigm, despite some people's attempts to endow them with paranormality;
(3) phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis which are inexplicable by current physics but which nevertheless seem to involve an interaction with the physical world;
(4) phenomena which are purely mental and may involve no interaction wth the physical world at all.
While this classification is useful, there is considerable scope for disagreement on which phenomena should be assigned to each class and there is particular ambiguity at some of the class boundaries. The ambiguity at the 2/3 boundary arises because of the emphasis on "current" physics in the definition of class-3. One might hope that the boundary between class-2 and class-3 would gradually shift as physics advances, so that "paranormal" phenomena become "normal". However, even within the context of the physical paradigm which prevails at a particular time, people will disagree on where the 2/3 boundary comes. Some people claim that current physics - or at least some of its more exotic formulations - already suffice to explain many class-3 pheneomena. However, other class-3 phenomena seem to require a more radical conceptual shift and demand a new paradigm which makes direct reference to mind.
The boundary between class-3 and class-4 is also ambiguous since it is unclear whether phenomena such as apparitions, past-life memories, out-of-the-body experiences and near-death experiences are "purely mental" or also involve an interaction with the physical world. A crucial feature of such phenomena is that they seem to involve some form of space or higher reality structure, which is not the same as physical space but subtly interacts with it. One might therefore hope that the domain of physics could be eventually extended to incorporate such a space, in which case at least some "mental" psi phenomena may transpire to be class-3. The question of whether psi can connect with physics then reduces to determining how far the 2/3 boundary will eventually penetrate into what is currently regarded as class-3 and how far the 3/4 boundary will penetrate into what is currently regarded as class-4.
In order to put the notion of a "space for psi" on a more formal basis, one needs to go beyond the common-sense idea of reality. The naive notion of physical reality is that there exists a 3-dimensional space in which are localized both the physical objects themselves and the sensors through which we observe the objects. Each observer has only partial information about the space (eg. his eyes provide an essentially 2-dimensional projection of the space) but the fact that one can find a 3-dimensional configuration which predicts a set of 2-dimensional projections concordant with those which are actually presented to the different observers is what is meant by stating that the physical world is real. One may say that the physical world is a 3-dimensional structure which consistently reconciles how everybody within that world perceives it. Although relativity theory implies that the physical world is 4-dimensional, with the objects and observers being represented by world-lines and the perceptual fields being 3-dimensional, the notion that the world is real because there exists a higher dimensional structure which reconciles our perceptions of it remains the same.
This paper suggests that the space required to accommodate psychic experiences must be regarded as a reality structure of more than four dimensions. This "Universal Structure", as it is termed, may be viewed as a higher dimensional information space which reconciles all our different experiences of the Universe. Its key features are that it involves higher levels of time and necessarily incorporates physical space (including its past and future), as well as non-physical parts which can only be accessed by mind. This Univeral Structure is shown to be intimately connected with the higher dimensional space invoked by modern physics. More precisely, the proposal invokes a particular form of the Kaluza-Klein paradigm, recently advocated by Randall and Sundrum, in which the physical Universe is viewed as 4-dimensional "brane" in a higher dimensional "bulk". This approach suggests the possibility of formulating a more precise mathematical description of the interaction between matter and mind.
Stapp (2001) has proposed a worldview whereby quantum mechanics describes a set of possibilities operated upon by mind in a series of "mental events" which grasp a whole unit of structural information, and inject it into the quantum state of the universe, mind itself lying outside the realm of quantum mechanics. We discuss a variant of this in which information is primary and there is no strict division between mind and matter but rather these are complementary modes of description of reality (cf. Conrad et al. 1988, Josephson and Pallikari-Viras 1991, Josephson 2001), one (quantum mechanical) being concerned with describing states and the other (biological) being concerned with processes and their interactions. Organised activities relevant to biological function will typically appear as noise and not register in a quantum mechanical account despite being biologically effective.
Biological systems self-organise to make the best use of the information available, and that part which they can deal with is meaningful for them even if hard to quantify in objective terms. Two biosystems can organise themselves so that they deal with information in a cooperative manner, leading effectively to telepathic behaviour. This cooperation can develop from an initial 'resonance' type situation through mutual adjustments designed to increase cooperation strength.
Conrad, M, Home, D. and Josephson, B. 1988. Beyond Quantum Theory: A realist psycho-biological interpretation of physical reality,
Josephson, B.D. 2001, 'Beyond quantum theory: a realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality' revisited, http://arXiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0105027/
Josephson, B. and Pallikari-Viras, F. 1991, Biological Utilisation of Quantum Nonlocality, Found. Phys. 21, 197-207 (http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/papers/bell.html).
Stapp, H.P., 2001. Science, Values, and the Nature of the Human Person, http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/paris2.txt.
It has often been said that you only need to see one white crow to be able to refute the statement that all crows are black. Many of those who study the paranormal, do so in search of the one 'white crow' case that would refute the assumption that science will be able to explain all aspects of human experience in terms of a materialist, reductionist world-view.
If a parapsychological white crow exists, it would need to be an event or object for which we cannot give an account of how it might have happened or arisen given the laws of our paradigm. Once having arisen, its existence would probably not break any assumed laws of nature, only the process of its arising would be unexplainable. An example might be say linked wooden rings: it could exist without causing any unusual effects, but ordinary physics could not explain how it might arise.
There is an interesting analogy to this thought in the world of metamathematics, and we can use it to draw some interesting conclusions about what the existence of white crows would imply. In this field, mathematicians and philosophers tried to clarify logical reasoning by developing a formal mathematical language to capture logical processes. They would start with certain axioms, then define fixed rules by which axioms could combine or change, and then investigate what new mathematical statements could be derived from the axioms and rules. A collection of axioms and production rules is termed a 'deductive system', and it mirrors, in a simple way, the fundamental concepts and natural laws of physics that tell us what we expect to encounter in the real world. Plainly put, there is a simple analogy between the deductive systems of mathematics and the causal systems of physics. A deductive system in mathematics can be represented by what is called a 'formal system', which is a list of all the statements that are true within the deductive system. In our analogy a causal system can be represented by the collection of all events and objects than can exist within the causal system.
In 1931, Kurt Gödel stunned the mathematical community by publishing his now famous Incompleteness Theorem. This showed that any formal system whatsoever would contain true statements that cannot be derived from the axioms of that formal system. To show that they are nevertheless true require the use of a more powerful deductive system, of which the given formal system is a subset. Gödel's proof was arguably the most profound discovery in the history of logic, and its implications have prompted intense philosophical and scientific debate over the past 70 years. Gödel's theorem is often loosely paraphrased as meaning that 'there will always be some true things that can't be proven', and 'it's not possible to build intelligent machines'.
To return to our analogy, an inexplicable outcome that exists in a given causal system is like an underivable truth that exists for a given formal system. And just as in mathematics additional axioms and/or inference rules from a greater system are required to show that these statements are true, so in the real world additional fundamental objects and/or natural laws not part of the ordinary world would be required to generate these novel outcomes. If such outcomes actually occur in the ordinary world, the ordinary world must be a constrained subset of a more general real world. We would have to concede the existence of a greater reality of which our normal experience is just a subset. It would imply that this 'General Reality' contains additional objects and rules which are not normally accessible or active within our 'Special Reality', but can nevertheless interact with it under particular circumstances.
So do white crows exist? This may well be debated for many years to come, but to our mind there are cases that are sufficiently pale to justify our thinking about what they would imply, when looked at within this context. In particular, the attributes of candidate white crows could be revealing about the possible nature of 'General Reality', suggesting new directions for experimental work. In our paper we will briefly review some of these indications, including suggestions that mental processes may be part of the causal interactions within 'General Reality', and that 'General Reality' may be hyper-dimensional. We see in this an opportunity for a new approach to the mind/body problem; one that contains elements of monism and dualism but is distinct from either.