This paper is a response to a call made by Richard Broughton (1988) to ask and try and answer questions on the 'why' of psi, rather than (concentrating on) the 'what', 'when' or 'where'. A number of parapsychologists have proposed that the function of psi may may be to serve the needs of organisms in a way that benefits their survival or effective functioning. Early theories focused on a psychodynamic perspective. A more pragmatic need-serving model called the 'Psi Mediated Instrumental Response' or PMIR was proposed by Stanford (1974a, 1974b). Of all the need-serving models, the PMIR model has been the most extensively discussed. Whilst it has the potential for a heavily biologically based emphasis, it does not do so explicitly and indeed later revisions appear to de-emphasise the straight biological need component (Stanford, 1990). This paper argues that the most obvious explication of a need-serving model of psi ought to in the first instance be heavily if not entirely based on evolutionary principles and attempts to do that by presenting a neo-Darwinian need serving model of psi. This newer model is titled Evolution's Need-Serving Psi (ENSP) to denote this heavy slant towards a biological emphasis and it gives an explanation as to why psi is likely to be based more on unconscious rather than conscious mechanisms. Furthermore it argues that one of the reasons why psi, despite theoretically conferring an evolutionary advantage on organisms, is an imperfect ability. It does this by postulating that ENSP operates by only partially scanning the environment for need-serving information. ENSP suggests that studies such as the pre-sentiment studies (Bierman, 1997; Radin, 1996) or the Defense Mechanism Test studies (Haraldsson & Houtkooper, 1995; Watt & Morris, 1995) are likely to be successful in demonstrating psi. ENSP also attempts to explain how training studies to enhance psi abilities could be altered to be more likely to show an increase in psychic functioning. ENSP predicts that psi is most likely to operate with respect to information relevant to a person's (or any organism's) biologically related family; and it is likely to be more useful in an unpredicatable environment than in a predictable one.
People are inclined to make assumptions about the nature of the world in terms of their perceived vulnerability to life events. Specifically, they tend to see the world as benevolent and meaningful and to see themselves as worthy individuals. These assumptive world views, while of doubtful validity, do facilitate a sense of security and psychological adjustment. This study explored the possible role of paranormal beliefs in maintaining assumptive world views. An Australian community sample of 135 adults completed a survey inventory comprising questionnaire measures of assumptive world views and paranormal beliefs. Regression analyses indicated that the strength of assumptive world views was predicted by paranormal beliefs, particularly belief in New Age constructs. The findings encourage the view of paranormal beliefs as a commonly used defence mechanism.
The paper explains the basic need in psychical research for reliably described phenomenological (self evident) analyses of non-physical experience, along with deficiencies of the hypothetico-deductive method. Study of concepts of 'Reality', and a clear definition of the 'non- physical', lead, in the light of the 'Fourfold Creative (or Learning) Cycle', to the distinguishing of six 'factors of Reality'. A 'points- system' for each factor, the total giving a General Index of Reality, is then applied to actual descriptions of non-physical experience of four different kinds: primary separation, secondary separation, dissociation, and tertiary separation. The fundamental differences in character of these four types thus emerge in a practical "scientific" way.
This paper reports an experiment investigating two dimensions of personality (extraversion-introversion and neuroticism) and ESP in the Ganzfeld. Our hypotheses were that high ESP scores would be associated with high extraversion scores and low neuroticism scores. Thirty subjects (receivers) were individually tested in a thirty-minute long Ganzfeld at the Instituto de Psicología Paranormal in Buenos Aires. Each receiver answered two questionnaires before the Ganzfeld session: Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI), which measures two personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) and the Pre-Ganzfeld Questionnaire, which rated their level of relaxation, mood, and expectation of success and motivation. One of us (JV) was the sender for all the sample. Each receiver had to 'guess' a target photograph taken from a CD that had 3,500 color photos of high resolution. We found a significant relationship between extraversion and ESP scores (Fisher's exact test p= 0.008, one-tailed, Phi= 0.482) (N= 25). There were no significant effects between ESP scores and neuroticism (Fisher's exact test p= 0.56 [one- tailed] ). There were also no significant effects between ESP scores and relaxation, mood, motivation and expectation of success before Ganzfeld session. We discuss the possibility that the Ganzfeld technique interacts in some way with extraversion and other variables that may explain the significant effect we obtained regarding extraversion-introversion.-----------------------
Some historians of psychology and medicine have argued that concepts and movements considered today to be metaphysical or pseudoscientific had significant influences on later developments. An example in parapsychology is the concept of survival of bodily death. Ideas of survival have been instrumental in defining important moments of the history of parapsychology. Two such moments were the founding and early work of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) and the development of the work of J.B. Rhine and his associates at Duke University. The concept of survival, embedded within the movement of Spiritualism, offered the SPR a set of phenomena to be investigated, including mediumship, hauntings, apparitions and other manifestations. Work on survival led J.B. and Louisa E. Rhine to Duke University and affected their later emphasis on the study of psi capacities of the living. It is also argued that survival was influential in the development of such non-spirit explanations of mediumship as psi-from-the-living and interferences from the mediums mind. The Spiritualist literature contains more discussions of these issues than is generally acknowledged. Parapsychology did not develop in spite of survival, but to some extent because of it.
1: This is an revised version of the Gwen Tate Lecture sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research, and presented in London on October 4, 2001.
Problems concerning 'survival of death' are here seen to be rooted in the obscurity of the idea itself, along with limitations of thought due to retention of an inadequate world-view. The first Part of the paper sets out to overcome these defects initially by the study of first-hand evidence from two noted sensitives, some apparitional cases reviewed by Tyrrell, and the relevant experiences of the author. This leads to conclusions regarding dissociative states, personality-structure, apparitions, and separation to other 'worlds'. The second Part considers problems of identity, kinds of identification, and in particular the behaviour of non-physical 'doubles'. A comprehensive Life-World View, which finds room for the potentialities and actions of living beings in a hierarchy of non-physical spheres of activity, is then outlined. It is concluded that the line of consciousness distinguishing the 'core identity' of a physically-living individual cannot be cut short for ever.
In this experiment a double-blind design was implemented with the medium Laurie Campbell (LC). There were six sitters; three new sitters and three sitters who had successful readings in previous single-blind experiments. One of the latter was George Dalzell (GD, also a medium) with whom LC had been exceptionally successful in a previous experiment. The sitters were not able to hear the readings at the time they were conducted. Two transcripts, the sitters true transcript and a control transcript were blindly scored by each sitter. The most accurate and specific information was obtained for GD. The double-blind experimental design seems to rule out all conventional explanations of the findings, including rating bias of the sitters. It is hypothesized that convincing mediumship findings, especially using double-blind designs, may require the careful selection of gifted sitters as well as mediums for purposes of research.
Key Words: Anomalous information retrieval, mediumship, survival of consciousness, telepathy, superpsi, parapsychology
The late Arthur Ellison took a particular interest in research into the possibilities of survival after physical death and in the production of paranormal physical phenomena. The present paper details four instances of such phenomena which, at face value, may be associated with his wish to communicate his continuing existence.
Goswami's Physics of the Soul attempts to link quantum theory with survival. This essay finds no justification for his limitation of the idea of survival to a concept of "a soul looked upon as structureless quantum possibilities", without subject-object experience. Evidence for the observation of structured non-physical worlds with self-aware beings is reviewed and a discussion of the nature of 'self' leads to a conclusion that a broader view of survival can be taken than that offered by Goswami. Concern is expressed over unjustifiable extrapolation from quantum theory.
2: PHYSICS OF THE SOUL: THE QUANTUM BOOK OF LIVING, DYING, REINCARNATION, AND IMMORTALITY by Amit Goswami. Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, VA. xii + 287 pp. $16.95 (paper).
In this exploratory study we investigated the relationship between self-reported changes of attitude after out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and aspects of the OBE. Assuming the degree of complexity of the OBE would have an impact on the experient, we hypothesized a positive and significant correlation between an after-effect measure and the number of OBE features per participant. Other analyses were conducted in relation to demographic variables and to different features and aspects of the OBE. Eighty-eight OBE cases were obtained in reply to a call for cases published in newspapers, magazines, and on-line discussion boards. Of these individuals, 81% claimed to experience some change due to their OBEs. The results support the hypothesis of a positive and significant relationship between the number of OBE features and the measure of change. We also found positive significant relationships between the measure of change and measures of religiosity, OBE frequency, and OBEs at will. The best predictor of the OBE after-effects was the number of OBE features. Future work could use qualitative methods and test developmental models of the after-effects of exceptional experiences.
Many people claim to have known who was calling before they picked up the telephone, or to have thought for no apparent reason about someone who then called. We carried out a series of experiments to test whether or not people really could tell who was telephoning. Each participant had four potential callers, and when the telephone rang had to guess who was calling before the other person spoke. By chance the success rate would have been 25%. In a total of 571 trials, involving 63 participants, the overall success rate was 40%, with 95% confidence limits from 36% to 45%. This effect is hugely significant statistically (p = 4x10-16). We obtained similar significant positive effects both when the calls were made at randomly chosen times and when the calls were made at fixed times known to the subject in advance. With 37 participants, we compared the success rates with familiar and unfamiliar callers and found a very striking difference. With familiar callers, 53% of the guesses were correct (n=190; p = 1x10-16). With unfamiliar callers, only 25% of the guesses were correct, exactly at the chance level. This difference between the responses with familiar and unfamiliar callers is highly significant (p = 3x10-7). We also investigated the effects of distance between the callers and participants. With overseas callers at least 1,000 miles away, the success rate was 65% (n=43; p = 3x10-8). With callers in the UK, the success rate was lower (35%). In most cases, the overseas callers were people to whom the participants were closely bonded. For the successful identification of callers, emotional closeness seemed to be more important than physical proximity.
Psychodynamic depictions of the functions of paranormal belief imply that such belief may serve as a psychological coping mechanism. The relation between the intensity of paranormal beliefs and three global coping styles was investigated in a sample of Australian adults. Canonical correlation analysis revealed a weak relationship between global paranormal belief and the combination of avoidant coping and a lack of task-oriented coping. The findings are interpreted to suggest that the activation of paranormal beliefs either serves only a minor role as a coping technique or is a relatively specialized adaptive response to a particular class of perceived threat to the person's psychological well-being.
In order to test the hypothesis that belief in the paranormal is a substitute for belief in God, 9 previously collected data-sets were examined. Not only was theism the most commonly selected option in all the data-sets, but, contra hypothesim, belief in the paranormal was positively correlated with theism in all the studies, significantly so in 7. The median correlation was +0.29, and thus the association is replicable but not large.
During a period spanning three decades, from approximately the 1900s to the 1930s, a number of mediums located around the globe claimed to receive messages originating from the spirits of deceased members of the SPR. 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 were 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.
Debate has all but died on the veracity of these phenomena, however, largely due to the sheer mass of the data collected over the years. The handful of previous experiments are herein described and revealed to exhibit problems that negatively affect their value in the debate. This paper reports the findings of a new study aimed at correcting the problems of its predecessors and laying the groundwork for future study.
To provide scripts similar to those of the mediums, passages from works of literature were chosen at random. Thus, three pseudo-scripts, each imagined to originate from a pseudo-medium, were analysed by a group of '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 encouraged 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. The investigators' 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. Some coincidences were quite startling, leading some of the investigators to wonder if the pseudo-scripts were truly random. When compared to specific cases from the original literature, the investigators concluded that the correspondences they found were at least as good, if not better. If they are correct, then it follows that if a determined group of investigators can find correspondences of a certain quality within a purely random sample, there may be no need to consider the Cross-Correspondences as anything more than the result of a combination of chance and ingenuity.
Most of the once-famous physical mediums of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been forgotten; few are known even to parapsychologists. This paper examines the life and work of one such, F. W. Monck, traces the influences which helped to shape his career, and discusses the accusations of fraud made against him. Some of Monck's phenomena were obtained under conditions which seem to preclude deception, and several eminent researchers were impressed by them. Assuming the phenomena to be genuine, the author speculates on the possible implications for our knowledge of human nature and the future development of our subject.
The homologue of left hemispheric (language) processes in the right hemisphere may be the primary neurological basis for encounter experiences. Thus, their perception should typically be located to the left of the experient's body. We tested this prediction in a convenience sample of 268 participants who completed a measure of encounter experiences, the Revised Transliminality Scale, the Boundary Questionnaire, the Rasch-scaled version of the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale, and the Briggs-Nebes Handedness Scale. Results are consistent with the notion that encounter experiences are related to specific aspects of thinner (or thicker) mental boundaries, but that this association is not mediated by bilaterality. Encounter experiences also showed no preference for body side. Accordingly, we found no support for the hypothesis that encounter experiences are the awareness of the right hemispheric equivalent of the sense of self. Rather, our findings suggest that there are different variables which facilitate the initial detection/perception of encounter experiences as opposed to affecting the content of encounter experiences. Overall, the confluence of significant correlations between encounter experiences, certain forms of mental boundaries, and paranormal beliefs supports the idea that these experiences partly reflect imagery, ideation, affect, and perception that derive from regions across thresholds -- a process that we speculate can occur under different physiological conditions.
It has been suggested (Blackmore & Rose, 1997) that experimental manipulations that encourage the generation of false memories may provide a promising medium for generating or detecting ESP. The present study was intended to replicate this original effect with an improved method and a larger sample size. Ninety-eight participants were presented with 32 word stimuli via PC; 16 of these were illustrated with pictures whereas the other 16 were not, and instead participants had to imagine an appropriate picture. Half of the words were for concrete objects and half were for abstract concepts. A week later participants completed measures of paranormal belief and transliminality and were then given a surprise recognition task in which they had to identify which words had been presented with pictures and which they had only imagined pictures for. Attached to the response sheet was an envelope containing images for some of the to-be-imagined words, which constituted targets for a hidden psi task. Participants generated 416 false memories, in which they reported having seen a picture that they had in fact been asked to imagine. Of these, 212 were for target pictures and 204 for control pictures, and overall performance was not better than chance expectation (t = 0.81, p - 0.42). There was no evidence to suggest that high scorers on measures of belief in the paranormal or transliminality were more likely than low scorers to produce false memories per se, or to produce them for target pictures over controls. The author concludes that although intuitively plausible, there is no empirical support for the suggestion that the process of inducing false memories can provide a fruitful medium for studying ESP.