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JSPR Abstracts 2013

January 2013

Comparing Artists with Controls on a Free-Response Experience-Sampling Task: Creativity and Anomalous Cognition

by Nicola J. Holt


Previous research reveals no clear relationship between psychometric measures of creativity and psi. However, artistic populations have consistently performed  at a higher level than controls in free-response ESP tasks, and in ganzfeld studies they have performed at a higher level than that reported in meta-analyses of all ganzfeld samples. The current study sought to investigate potential causes of this ‘artist-psi’ effect by using a broad range of creativity assessments, and by controlling for potentially confounding variables that have been associated with both creativity and psi in previous research: extraversion, belief in the paranormal, a tendency to have unusual experiences and self-confidence. The study also included both artists and ‘non-artists’ in order to avoid ceiling effects with some creativity measures. After considering the advantages of ‘ take-home’ ESP procedures an alternative ESP protocol was devised. This was based on experience sampling methodology and involved participants recording psi-impressions of a target video clip at their own impetus over a 24-hour period, making use of a personal digital assistant, which recorded both audio impressions and written notes and drawings, and at the participant’s instigation presented a questionnaire concerning the state of consciousness in which the impression arose. Two independent judges rated the similarity between participants’ reports and the target video clip and three decoy clips. Psi-performance was at levels commensurate with the performance of artists in previous free-response ESP research (r = 0.423, n = 30, with a hit rate of 43%). However, the planned sum-of-ranks analysis did not reach statistical significance (z = 1.03, p = 0.152, 1-t). Artists did not out-perform matched controls, which is possibly attributable to the autonomy enabled by the experience sampling protocol. In line with previous research, none of the creativity measures significantly predicted psi-outcome, although divergent thinking was negatively associated with psi magnitude, suggesting that creative thinking can either hinder or facilitate psi. The implications of these outcomes are discussed. 

A New European Case of the Reincarnation Type

by Dieter Hassler

When selection is restricted to solved cases not taking place in the same family,  there remain only a very small number of cases of the reincarnation type (CORT) that have been reported for Europe. The case described in this paper belongs formally to this rare category and consequently deserves recording. A number of features of the case are described: a premonition experienced by the subject’s mother; three announcing dreams and their accuracy; the subject’s specific behaviour, especially that relating to the opposite sex; a specific ailment affecting the subject; the subject’s special skills; and two incidents of a psychokinetic or poltergeist nature experienced by the previous personality’s mother after his death. Additionally, the case is rendered particularly unusual because it involves a chance encounter between the subject’s mother and the previous personality at the moment of the latter’s death, suggesting that the case could have evolved because this encounter offered an incentive for the previous personality to reincarnate with this particular mother. Because of the possibility of information leakage associated with this chance encounter, however fleeting that may have been, this devalues the case with respect to the child’s statements about his previous existence: at least in theory they can be explained by normal means. It is therefore a minor drawback that the case in hand is not particularly strong with regard to the subject’s statements.


April 2013

Anomalous Experiences and the Intuitive-Experiential Style of Thinking

by Harvey J. Irwin and Krissy Wilson

A survey of 116 Australian residents was undertaken to examine the relationship between the report of parapsychological experiences and each of two styles of thinking: the intuitive-experiential mode and the rational mode. In contrast with previous studies of parapsychological experiences, cognizance was taken of a distinction between a proneness to anomalous experiences and a proneness to attribute such experiences to paranormal factors. Intuitive-experiential thinking, but not rational thinking, was identified as a correlate of these two facets of parapsychological experience.

July 2013

On the Paucity Of Apparitions in Jewish Contexts and the Cultural Source Theory for Anomalous Experience

by Christopher M. Moreman

Cross-cultural study of ghost stories uncovered a peculiarity in the modern Jewish version. Ghost stories generally exhibit similar features, whether appearing in first-hand accounts or folklore. Surveys of first-hand apparitional experiences have identified common characteristics, of which two are presently of note: witnesses are often awake, and apparitions most commonly appear visually. Ghosts also appear in the scriptures of many religions, including Judaism. In the modern Jewish context, however, visual apparitions are rarely, if ever, reported, while they continue to appear in other cultures. This anomaly has ramifications for a ‘common core’ hypothesis of anomalous human experience, suggesting that a ‘cultural source’ theory may be necessary to explain, at least, apparitional experiences.


Studying Ernesto Bozzano: Suggestions for Future Historical Studies

by Carlos S. Alvarado

Ernesto Bozzano (1862–1943) was an important figure in the history of Italian studies of psychic phenomena. He was known in his lifetime for his bibliographical studies of psychic phenomena, as well as for his defences of survival of death, and his polemics with those that opposed spiritualistic interpretations of the psychic. Bozzano has received much attention in Italy. Nonetheless I believe more work could be done to understand him better, which is the topic of this paper. Several suggestions are presented for possible future studies. These are investigations of Bozzano’s (1) personal and intellectual development; (2) discussions of specific areas and phenomena; (3) concepts and theories; (4) use of rhetoric; (5) analytical method; and (6) reception. Work along these lines will not only contribute to our knowledge of Bozzano, but will also increase our understanding of the history of psychical research and spiritualism in Italy and in Europe in general.

October 2013

Tertullian’s Theory of the Soul and Contemporary Psychical Research

by Michael Potts And Amy Devanno

The ancient Christian writer Tertullian (160–220) accepts a corporal, ‘somatoform’ soul, using psi to support his theory. For example, he argues that precognition is caused by the soul being materially moved by something from the outside and that such movement is evidence that the soul is corporeal. He also includes apparitional experience and death-bed vision as evidence for a somatoform soul. Without accepting the particulars of Tertullian’s view, we believe that a study of Tertullian is useful for psychical research in at least three ways. First, Tertullian reveals again how the data from psi can be interpreted to fit different metaphysical viewpoints. Second, Tertullian shows that even in ancient times individuals struggled with reconciling the data from psi with the human experience of being embodied; if embodiment is essential in some way to human identity, what shall we do with psi? Finally, Tertullian’s general approach to the soul suggests that traditional believers in the great monotheistic religions may be able to find ways to reconcile the data from psi with their theological presuppositions in favour of the body being essential for full personal identity, perhaps by utilizing the idea of a temporary body between death and resurrection. Our hope is that those who believe — whether for scientific, philosophical, or theological reasons — that embodiment is essential for personal identity, and that a disembodied soul is untenable, will make new attempts to develop a theory that fits the data from psi.

Exceptional Experiences Amongst Twins 

by Göran Brusewitz, Lynn Cherkas, Juliette Harris And Adrian Parker

Two studies are reported here concerning the relationship between exceptional experiences in pairs of twins and their degree of attachment to each other. The initial study collated replies to a questionnaire given to a large number of twins who were attending a Twin-Day celebration. The further study used a highly selected series of replies from a postal survey of the twins in the Twin Registry. Both studies used the Exceptional Experiences Questionnaire, which recorded the frequency of remarkable coincidences, shared dreams and apparent telepathy, as well as the degree and duration of the attachments the twins experienced to each other. In the survey study, 60% of the responding twins reported having experienced events that they judged to be of a telepathic nature. Frequent telepathic experiences were reported by 11% and remarkable coincidences by 56% of the respondents. Identical twins reported having these experiences significantly more often and having a significantly stronger attachment to each other than was the case for nonidentical twins. A significant relationship was also found to occur between reporting a strong attachment and reporting many and more remarkable exceptional experiences. A large majority of the twins reported these experiences as having occurred in a waking state. Almost half of the twins reported the experience of telepathy to raise concern for the welfare of the other twin, often relating to a pain or illness, or injury. However, in the postal survey group about one third of the remarkable events were positive events. The use of a private language and the occurrence of shared dreams seem to be further hallmarks of these experiences.

Applying the Theory of Reasoned Action To a Computerized Test of Intuition, Part II: Decision-Making In a Hidden Test of Psi

by James Houran And Rense Lange

We tested whether intuition paralleled well-defined cognitive processes or whether psi could be a contributing variable as suggested by previous research. A convenience sample of hospitality executives (N = 62) responded both intuitively (spontaneous) and cognitively (reasoned) to a set of narratives via a computerized questionnaire that presented hypothetical situations that were conducive to intuitive thinking. Also embedded in the computerized task was a test of psi, thereby allowing correlations between a psi target and the two sets of responses. Covariates included Sex, Transliminality and Paranormal Belief (New Age Philosophy and Traditional Paranormal Belief). No Sex effects were found. Chance-level results on hit rate were observed, although hit rate did show patterns suggesting that some variables promote person-conduciveness to psi. Scores on Transliminality significantly and positively predicted scores on intuitive thinking, which in turn were significantly related to hit rate. New Age Philosophy was moderately correlated with Transliminality and intuitions, as might be expected, but it had no relation to hit rate. Most importantly, intuitive responses could not be entirely explained in terms of a conventional ‘weighting’ cognitive process inherent in many other contexts of decisionmaking. Thus, we found mixed support for our idea that inherently novel, spontaneous and ambiguous situations ( i.e. conducive to intuitive thought) overcome participants’ lower levels of Belief and Transliminality levels.