Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September 2002, Manchester Conference Centre
FRIDAY 30th AUGUST
|Donald West||Preface by Chairman of Programme Committee|
|Philip Holborn||The Rainbow Hypothesis|
|John Beloff||Consciousness: Is it an Anomaly?|
|Mick O'Neill||The Psychic Lottery Project|
|Christine Simmonds||Sender Personality and Psi Performance|
|Matthew Smith & Michael Gordon||The Psychology of the Psi-Conducive Experimenter|
|Chris Roe, Nicola Holt & Christine Simmonds||Considering the Sender as a PK Agent in Ganzfeld ESP Studies|
|Michael Daniels||The Case of "Brother Doli"|
|Richard Wiseman & Jon Sykes||The Ghost in the Machine|
SATURDAY 31st AUGUST
|Chris Roe, Russell Davey & Paul Stevens||Are ESP and PK Aspects of a Unitary Phenomenon?|
|Louie Savva & Chris French||Use of a Complex Psi-Mediated Timing Task|
|Michael Daniels & Matthew Smith||"Psi Quiz"|
|Montague Keen||A Double Poltergeist|
|Maurice Grosse||The Enfield Poltergeist: Overview 25 Years On|
|Mary Rose Barrington||The Finn Poltergeist Revisited|
|John Harvey||Edmund Jones's Collection of Spirit Narratives|
|Eberhard Bauer & Fotini Pallikari||T K Oesterreich and Angelo Tanagras|
|Ian Baker||Remote Staring: A Research Review|
|Caroline Watt||Experimenter Effects with Remote Facilitation of Attention Focusing|
|Fotini Pallikari||Why Physics Is Important for Understanding Psi|
|Paul Stevens||Can we Build a Psi Detector?|
|Serena Roney-Dougal||Psi Experiments in a Yoga Ashram|
SUNDAY 1st SEPTEMBER
|Jezz Fox||The Role of Introspection in the Study of ESP|
|David Luke||Exploratory Investigation of Dream Precognition|
|Christine Simmonds, Jezz Fox & Nicola Holt||Schizotypy, Creativity and Psi Performance|
|Trish Robertson & Archie Roy||Mediumship Information Analysis|
|CiarŠn O'Keeffe and Richard Wiseman||Assessing Mediumship Communication|
|Montague Keen||The Physical Phenomena of the Cema "circle"|
As can be seen from the enclosed abstracts, we have a very full programme this year. This is because the Programme Committee received a large number of interesting proposals for which they wanted to find room. One consequence is that it will be necessary to keep closely to the timetable and in this regard the co-operation of both presenters and participants is earnestly requested.
In conformity with SPR tradition the topics include a wide range of interests including experimental work, theoretical discussions, research with mediums and investigations of spontaneous case reports. As far as possible papers covering similar interests are grouped together
The occasion of the conference will provide an opportunity for our President to mark the posthumous publication of an important book by a former President, Science and the Paranormal by Professor Arthur Ellison. It is appropriate also, in view of the publication of Tony Cornell's book on poltergeists, that there are to be several presentations on that topic.
We are fortunate this year in having among the presenters a distinguished parapsychologist from abroad, Eberhard Bauer from Freiburg, who has agreed to give an additional after-dinner talk on Saturday evening when he will describe a fascinating historical incident linking interests in early psychoanalysis and psychical research.
On behalf of the Programme Committee, Welcome to a different venue and Best Wishes for an enjoyable conference.
There is a need to address the problem that faces the SPR (and similar organisations) in that after more than 100 years no scientifically acceptable explanation has been found for the paranormal. In the field researchers have continued to record phenomena and in the laboratory efforts to reproduce phenomena have increased, but in neither case have explanations been forthcoming.
The result has been twofold. The scientific community (with some distinguished exceptions) has continued to rubbish the paranormal, while those satisfied that phenomena do occur are tending to cross the threshold from speculation to belief as regards their causes. This belief stems from what seems to them the inescapable, if unproven, corollaries of accepting the occurrence of the phenomena. Nowhere is this more true than over the question of the survival of bodily death. It would be churlish not to acknowledge that the nature of the phenomena invites such a belief, but crossing that threshold from possibility to belief is, it is argued, fraught with danger. It was William James who said "The greatest obstacle to discovery of the truth is to believe you know it already."
One only has to have a discussion with a religiously devout person - of any faith - to observe how a belief can crystallise from a molten possibility to a rock hard certainty. It frequently requires the open mind of a new generation before old beliefs can be revised. We all know that a rainbow is caused by drops of rain acting as prisms and splitting the white sunlight into all the colours of the spectrum. But it was not always so. One would need to be a student of ethnology to know what explanations of the rainbow were offered, possibly insisted on, by the priests of Incas, Aztecs, Aborigines et al, but we can surely assume there were some. The Old Testament has its contribution "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth"(Genesis 9, viii-xiii).
But in the same way that a rational, scientifically acceptable, explanation of the rainbow was eventually discovered so will it be with paranormal phenomenon. At least we hope so! The reservation stems from the possibility that the explanation exists, but our mental physiology is inadequate. But the hope that an explanation will be discovered I have called "The Rainbow Hypothesis".
Where the solution will come from we do not know, but it would seem that Time is a subject, which may still have something to reveal. (For some of us the idea of surviving for eternity is not very appealing). Another potential source is our own mental processes, knowledge of which continues to grow. The forms of paranormal phenomena are manifold - telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, dowsing, psychometry, PK - to name but a few. Will there be a single breakthrough which will explain the lot, or will each type have its own solution, or will there be groups of phenomena each group being explained by a single discovery? We do not know, but it would surely be against the trend of history for us, or our successors, never to find out. As a start it is hoped that the Rainbow Hypothesis will prompt some discussion.
We distinguish between the 'paranormal' and the 'anomalous'. The former contravenes some accepted scientific assumption, the latter has so far merely defied an explanation. Here we ask why consciousness should ever have arisen in a purely material world and we conclude that mind can never be fully explained solely in terms of the workings of the brain as cognitive scientists have assumed.
This paper will finish with a group lottery visualisation experiment. Lottery tickets will be bought and winnings shared amongst participants. It is free to take part and only takes two minutes but if you do not wish to participate then you may leave early.
This psychic lottery project has been gradually growing over the past two years. It is an ambitious project, intended to try to win the UK National Lottery Jackpot using psi. This paper has four sections. Firstly, it reveals the fundamental basics of the project and previous general psi evidence that suggest that it may just be possible to actually win the lottery. It then describes the design of the experiment and the computer program that it employs. Thirdly, it suggests the analyses that will be undertaken. Finally, it gives some idea of the progress so far.
BASICS OF THE STUDY: The project is partly based on the Ganzfeld results (Bem & Honorton, 1994). This is the most convincing evidence that the human mind is able to be aware of events that are happening at a distance. Most important of these is the PEAR precognitive sub-section of the Ganzfeld (Dunne et al, 1989), which seems to show that the mind can be aware of future events too. It is also based on the work of Zilberman (SPR Journal 1995), which revealed that the general population shows consistent variations in lottery winning of the order 5-15% dependent on various factors such as season and geomagnetic disturbance. A possible link between these results is that they both contain more positive results when geomagnetic activity is at a minimum.
The above studies concur that a large section of the population shows slight psychic abilities and that they all tend to do well (and badly) at the same times. Zilberman concluded that these percentages are too small to help an individual lottery player much. However I performed computer simulations, based on the premise that people can predict lottery numbers slightly above chance. These confirmed that it is possible to amalgamate many people's small psychic abilities into a larger group one, which can be profitable. The project attempts to do just that. Inspired by these results, the author and then two friends started trying to psychically predict lottery numbers. When all three of us had produced individually significant results I extended the project.
THE PROJECT DESCRIBED: The project itself involves people being invited to try to predict about six winning numbers for the subsequent lottery draw using a short period of visualisation. Actually, any potentially psychic method can be attempted. The experiment currently consists of about 50-100 participants independently attempting this. The participants email or phone their chosen numbers to me, hopefully with the time they were visualised. All the numbers are then input into a computer program, which collates and saves each participant's numbers, psychic method used and the time visualised. The computer sorts all the forty-nine numbers into order of popularity and assigns each a popularity value. Based on these values, it then produces a pre-determined total of sets of six numbers for use on tickets. The more people who take part, the more tickets I buy, from my own money. Prior to the lottery draw, all possible participants are e-mailed with the numbers on tickets purchased and the information necessary for an unambiguous division of any prizes among participants. This also allows participants to attempt group psychokinesis while watching the draw. However this is secondary since the primary experiment is precognitive. An e-mail showing each individual's and the group's results along with distribution of any prizes is sent later.
HOW PROGRESS WILL BE ASSESSED: If we can prove that winning lottery numbers can be predicted in any way using psychic means, then it would be extremely important. Clearly, winning the Jackpot would be extremely good evidence of this. Apart from that, hypotheses may be developed involving many different factors such as geomagnetic activity, order of balls drawn or visualised or even the lunar cycle. Radin (1997) found that lotteries and other gambling methods correlate with the Moon. It is also an opportunity to test Spottiswoode's (1997) finding that a Local Sidereal Time (LST) around 13.5 hours is most conducive to psychic abilities. Spottiswoode's results are important for the Ganzfeld but they require replication and so I encourage participants to use these times.
PROGRESS REPORT: The first three people who attempted it had produced winning numbers at roughly 20% above the chance expected totals (interestingly between Zilberman's and the Ganzfeld results' levels). If that level of success had extended to everyone involved then it should have quickly become a moneymaking proposition, which would probably have attracted hundreds of regular contributors, and we may feasibly have already won the lottery jackpot. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out quite that dramatically. Nonetheless, 400 people have contributed numbers between once and 200 times each. A solid team of about 30-40 regulars contributes numbers for most draws, along with a variable number of people who are occasionally inspired. Therefore, this is now developing into a large data set of psi attempts at all times of day and under all geomagnetic and other conditions. The paper will present some analyses of progress.
Author's note: I would like to thank the Society for Psychical Research who kindly funded this project.
Several researchers have suggested that psi may function as a system, as such incorporating a combined input from all the individuals involved (sender, receiver and experimenter) alongside more psychosocial dimensions (e.g. Dalton 1997, Parker 2000). Some work has recently concentrated on the experimenter effect, that some experimenters are psi-conducive, others are psi-permissive and others still are psi-inhibitory (e.g. Schmeidler 1997), however there has been little work done regarding the dynamics between sender and receiver in parapsychological research. This may reflect a " general lack of interest in the role of the sender which has been consistently neglected in empirical research" (Roe, McKenzie and Ali, 2001, p. 111). The sender role has been addressed on several occasions. For example, the presence of a sender was not found to be important where sender and no sender conditions were compared empirically (Morris, Dalton, Delanoy and Watt, 1995). However, the sender-receiver pairing in terms of closeness may have some relationship with psi, Dalton for example (1997) has suggested that psi hitting is encouraged from emotionally close pairs, in particular where pairs are biologically related (e.g. Dalton 1997b). Dalton and Utts (1995) found a relationship between different sex combinations (sender-receiver-experimenter) and psi. It seems that mixed sex pairs may be the best combination, which reflects findings in more conventional social psychological research. With a female experimenter, a male sender and female receiver pairing seemed to do the best in both PRL and Dalton's own data. Individual differences in the personality of the sender and how these relate to psi has received very little attention in the literature. Early work has however indicated that the combination of senders and receivers who are both artists attained a higher hit rate than where the receiver alone was an artist in a creativity and psi study (Gelardie and Harvie, 1975, cited in Roe et al, 2001). Roe et al (2001) found that psi scoring correlated moderately and significantly with sender scoring on verbal creativity (originality) and a trend toward a significant moderate relationship with figural creativity (Roe et al, 2001). Different relationships between personality variables and psi were demonstrated for the receivers. The individual difference measure considered in this research is schizotypy, a term derived from 'schizophrenic genotype' and indicating a greater disposition toward schizophrenia (Claridge, 1997). Recently, schizotypy has been reconsidered as a personality dimension by some researchers; as such it is a continuous dimension along which the normal population may be ranged. The schizotypy construct is multidimensional, comprising a positive factor, a negative factor, a social anxiety/disorganisation factor and an impulsive factor (e.g. Claridge 1997). Positive schizotypy has been found to relate to elevated beliefs in paranormal and anomalous phenomena, more perceived paranormal and anomalous ability and more paranormal and anomalous experiences (e.g. Simmonds 2001). There is some evidence that positive schizotypy relates to better performance at a psi task among receivers (e.g. Parker, 2000) and negative schizotypy may relate to worse performance among receivers (e.g. Simmonds, 2001). Previous work (see. Simmonds 2001) demonstrated weak non-significant relationships between a z score of the target rating and some aspects of schizotypy. Where 2 ganzfeld studies were combined, the relationships between personality traits of introvertive anhedonia (negative schizotypy, and a negative relationship with psi hitting) and temporal lobe lability (a correlate and potential biological substrate of positive schizotypy and a positive relationship with psi hitting) of receivers and psi scoring demonstrated small and approaching significant effect sizes.
This research addresses the sender personality in relation to psi hitting in a ganzfeld and a waking ESP control. The study was a within subjects, 2 condition (ganzfeld-control) design. Twenty-six sender receiver pairs took part in the study, each person maintained the same role in both conditions of the experiment, which were counter-balanced. Two experimenters took part in running the study1. A psi index was calculated by comparing the rating allocated to the target clip to the other ratings in a z-score analysis. Although there was no psi demonstrated overall according to sum of ranks analyses, in the ganzfeld condition, there was a significant deviation from chance when analysis was undertaken with the z score of the target rating. The z scores in the ganzfeld condition were also significantly higher than those in the waking control condition. It was found that in a waking control condition there was a significant relationship between the sender score on introvertive anhedonia and the index of psi scoring (positive relationship). In the ganzfeld condition there was a significant relationship between the sender score on temporal lobe lability and the index of psi hitting (positive relationship). This research indicates different interactions between senders and receivers during the ESP task according to the state of consciousness of the receiver.
The 'experimenter effect', in which some experimenters are consistently more successful than other experimenters in obtaining evidence for psi, continues to be a major challenge for modern parapsychology. The term 'psi-conducive experimenter' has been adopted to refer to a consistently 'successful' experimenter, whilst an experimenter who has been consistently 'unsuccessful' in obtaining psi effects is typically described as 'psi-inhibitory'. This paper reports on a questionnaire study that sought to examine the extent to which 'psi-conduciveness' could be predicted on the basis of personality data, attitudes towards psi, whether one practises a mental discipline and whether one has had any personal psi experiences. Fifty researchers were identified who had acted as an experimenter in at least one published parapsychology experiment and who were likely to be able to be contacted by the researcher either in person or by email. Of these, 38 completed and returned questionnaire booklets that included the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and a six-item questionnaire asking about attitudes towards psi in which participants were required to indicate their agreement or disagreement with each of the six statement on a seven-point scale (where 1 = 'strongly disagree' and 7 = 'strongly agree'). These statements were: 'Extra-sensory perception (ESP) is possible', 'I have some ESP ability', 'It is possible to demonstrate ESP ability in an experimental study', 'Psychokinesis (PK) is possible', 'I have some PK ability', and 'It is possible to demonstrate PK ability in an experimental study'. They were also asked to indicate whether they had ever practised a mental discipline and whether they had ever had any personal psi experiences.
Participants were also asked to rate the 50 named researchers according to whether they considered them to be 'psi-conducive' or 'psi-inhibitory'. Ratings were made using a seven-point scale ranging from 1 ('definitely psi-inhibitory') to 7 ('definitely psi-conducive'). For the purpose of this study, a 'psi-conducive' experimenter was defined as 'someone who consistently obtains positive evidence for psi', whilst a 'psi-inhibitory' experimenter was defined as 'someone who consistently does not obtain positive evidence for psi'.
A forward stepwise multiple regression revealed significant effects of belief in one's own PK ability and belief that it is possible to demonstrate ESP in an experimental study upon psi-conduciveness.
We conclude that future research in this area should attempt to examine the direction of causality of these relationships.
We would like to thank the Perrott-Warrick Fund for supporting this research.
One theoretical question that remains to be answered satisfactorily is whether the sender plays any active role in successful GESP experiments. In favour of such a role, we could note that many of the most impressive spontaneous cases seem to involve an 'agent' of some sort (cf. Beloff, 1993). In the laboratory, a number of studies have reported better performance when a sender or agent was involved compared with clairvoyance alone (e.g. Bierman & Camstra, 1973; Klein, 1972), suggesting that the agent may be able to somehow gently direct the subjects' mentation or choice of target. Further circumstantial evidence in favour of a role for the sender can be claimed from Honorton's (1995) meta-analysis which found that those studies that included senders generated better performance than those without, although the effect seemed to be confined to those experimenters who had used both conditions at some time. These results are compromised, however, by receivers often knowing whether or not a sender would be present, so that any differences in performance may be a simple psychological effect. Studies that have controlled for this have had mixed results (cf. Palmer, 1978). The moderating effect of variables such as the sender-receiver relationship and sender-receiver 'compatibility' suggests that the interaction between sender and receiver is highly complex and probably unpredictable in practice. The method used in this study is intended to control for this by adopting a much simpler procedure which holds constant the sender's relationship with the receiver essentially by adopting a protocol which does not require a human being to act as receiver. Work that has considered the role of the sender has unfortunately only made use of relatively crude assessments of the receiver's performance. Typically, this consists of a comparison of the proportions of direct hits for sessions in which senders are present with those for which they are absent. More sensitive measures are called for that do not rely on receivers who are able to attend to salient aspects of their own mentation and adopt appropriate judging strategies for any sender influence to be detectable. Rather a more direct measure of sender influence may be possible which is more reminiscent of current DMILS work (see, e.g. Braud, 1994; Braud & Schlitz, 1991). This approach has already been used with some success by one of us (Roe, 1996) in a study which gave rise to an effect size, r, of 0.257, which compares favourably with typical micro PK effect sizes. Here, an REG was treated as an analogue for a psychic reader in a pseudo reading. The REG was set to select statements from a pre-determined pool of descriptors, which the client of the reading subsequently evaluated for accuracy. Any influence the client might have had in 'causing' particular topics to come into the mind of the pseudo reader could be sensitively measured by considering whether and how the REG output differed from chance expectation. Our study similarly treated an REG as an experimental analogue of the receiver in a typical Ganzfeld ESP study. It was hoped that this would afford more sensitive measurement of any sender effect as mentations generated as a string of selected statements could be judged both holistically (blind judging of mentations, rank ordering all clips in the pool) and atomistically (proportion of correct statements versus that expected by chance). In this presentation we will overview the method used in this study and describe the promising outcome - which gave rise to a significant level of success for 'live' receivers and a suggestively positive effect for REG-generated mentations - in some detail. Plans for future work will also be outlined.
"Bryn Cottage" is situated in a rural area near Mold in North Wales. In February 1997, shortly after the present owners Dr David & Mrs Rose-Mary Gower moved into the house, an Irish couple reported seeing a healing apparition of "Our Lady" at the top of an adjacent field. In March 1997, Rose-Mary took a photograph that showed a large face in a barn window. In May 1997, Rose-Mary reports seeing a white hazy figure standing alongside her daughter at the top of the field. In January 1998, the Gowers' 12-year old adopted son, who has Down's syndrome, saw a "Blue Lady" by the barn door. In October 1998, another daughter awoke to see the figure of a young monk at the bottom of her bed. A few days later, Rose-Mary reports a fleeting apparition of a monk walking outside the house. In October or November 1998, a dark stain of a cross appeared on a stone in the lounge fireplace. In January 1999, a brown stain of a word "tangnefedd" (Welsh for peace) was discovered on a wall in the lounge. That month, about 20 further stains of Welsh words (generally of a religious nature), crosses and figural outlines that resembled a monk appeared on the same wall. In April 1999 a monk-shaped stain appeared on a flat stone in the wall at the top of the stairs. Two days later, the Welsh word "mynach" (monk) was found very neatly carved down the centre of the stained stone. In May 1999 the "tangnefedd" stain disappeared, to be replaced by the same word now carved into the plaster. This was followed by the appearance of other plaster carvings, including crosses, monk-shaped outlines, and various other Welsh words of a religious nature. The paintwork in and around these carvings was apparently undisturbed. Over the next several months, further carvings and stains appeared on the lounge walls and fireplace, in other areas of the house, on outside walls, on stones in the garden, on the trunk of a holly tree, and an outside dog kennel. A name was needed to enable the family to refer to whatever was responsible for these phenomena. A monk seemed to be the most obvious candidate and the name "Brother Adolphus" ("Brother Dolly") was coined. Sometime later a message was found written on a notepad and signed "Doli". In March 2000, Rose-Mary took a photograph that seemed to show a dark outline, resembling the shape of a monk, inside the house. Another photograph of a carved wooden bench showed the apparently anomalous images of a white outline of a hooded figure and a crucifix. In the spring of 2000, a large monk-shaped outline and the word "mynach" appeared cut in the lawn. In July 2000, "iach‚d" (healing) was found neatly carved across the top of the stone at the top of the stairs. Two weeks later, "ffydd" (faith) appeared carved at the bottom of this stone. In September 2000, Rose-Mary took a photograph that showed a dramatic faceless white figure apparently reflected in a mirror. Other photographs taken by Rose-Mary have shown amorphous shapes in the mirror, a strange light and smoke in the lounge. Other phenomena reported include: Intrusions of Welsh religious words on computer screen, in emails and printed documents. Noises, including footsteps, latches being lifted, bangs and crashes, a crying baby, and indistinct voices. Smells, especially of incense and candle wax. Sudden unexplained drops in temperature in the lounge. Unexplained pools of water appearing on the floor inside the house, or on chairs and a bed. Personal items going missing, to be found later in unusual locations. Electrical and telephonic anomalies, such as clocks changing time or going slow, light bulbs flashing when switched off, and silent phone calls made from the house.
The investigation of this case to date has focussed on:
Results suggest suggest that while there are some highly strange features to these phenomena, it is not possible to conclude with certainty whether they indicate a genuine case of paranormal activity, whether they are the result of an elaborate hoax, or whether there is a mix of genuine and hoaxed phenomena. Some features of the case may indicate deception (e.g., spelling mistakes made in the Welsh words, suspicious features in some of the photographs). On the one occasion when a carving appeared on the wall during video surveillance, a lengthy break in the recording was discovered. On another occasion when stains appeared on the wall, their son may be observed at the wall behaving strangely. In late February 2001, the son reported that Brother Doli was going away because he (son) would be too old when he reached his sixteenth birthday. No further manifestations of the monk have occurred since that date and most of the stains have faded. A few stains and carvings of crosses have since appeared, together with others that say "Jane" and "Tom". Rose-Mary also reports a sighting of a young heavily pregnant girl, dressed in blue, and another of a longhaired youth. The word "Jane" is also reported to have appeared as intrusions in some emails and printed documents, and as a lawn cutting. The family continues to report noises (bangs and crashes) in the house, a pervasive sweet smell, as well as faint sounds that seem to be human voices.
This paper outlines a new approach to examining the 'ghostly' experiences that are often reported in allegedly haunted places.
Last year, the first author carried out a large-scale investigation into the allegedly haunted underground vaults in Edinburgh. People who had taken part in walking tours of these vaults had often reported anomalous experiences in certain vaults, including a sense of presence, apparitions, feelings of intense cold etc.. The investigation involved placing participants on their own in a vault, and asking them to report any unusual phenomena they experienced. The results revealed a significant correlation between the locations of the experiences reported on the walking tours and those reported in the experiment, suggesting that certain vaults were reliably associated with 'ghostly' experiences. Additional work suggested that this correlation was due, at least in part, to certain visual attributes of the vaults (e.g., their size, shape, etc.).
The present work built upon this previous research by examining the degree to which purely visual stimuli might produce 'ghostly' experiences. The experiment involved creating a highly accurate, computer-based, 'virtual reality' version of the underground vaults. The experiment was carried out as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and BBC1's Tomorrow's World Roadshow. Participants (N=80) were asked to wear a virtual reality headset that presented them with a visual experience equivalent to that of walking around the actual vaults. They were asked to 'walk' around the simulated vaults and report if they experienced anything unusual.
Although the computer programme only contained images of the vaults, approximately 40% of participants reported a variety of unusual experiences including apparitions, a strong feeling that someone was behind them and 'ghostly' voices.
The different interpretations of these findings will be considered, along with the implications for future research into ghosts and hauntings.
The first author would like to thank the Perrott-Warrick Fund for supporting this research.
There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that ESP and PK abilities are related, as some exceptional individuals who have shown impressive ability in one domain have also performed well in the other, for example Matthew Manning (Schmeidler, 1988), Bill Delmore (Kelly & Kanthamani, 1972) and Eileen Garrett (Healy, 1986). Of course it is possible for individuals to excel in disparate areas (such as academic and athletic achievements) without this coincidence suggesting a common underlying cause. However, more direct evidence of an association is found in the case of Ingo Swann (Schmeidler, 1973) who is reported to have caused a change in temperature inside a sealed thermos flask at a time when he was attempting to 'probe' (locate by ESP) the position of a thermometer inside the thermos. Swann produced a similar effect on a separate occasion (Targ & Puthoff, 1977), and Alex Tanous is also reported as producing detectable physical effects at the site of an ESP target on trials where his call was correct (Osis & McCormick, 1980). These examples seem to suggest that attempts to perceive a target by ESP may involve some physical influence that could constitute a form of PK. There has been surprisingly little empirical work that compares performance patterns on ESP and PK tasks, indeed there seems to have been little interest in performance patterns generally among PK researchers. This makes the task of making reliable judgements concerning points of similarity and difference between ESP and PK an almost impossible one if based only on already-published data. Irwin (1985), for example, has noted that although the empirical grounds for the unitarian view of psi are rather limited, at least as far as the context of performance patterns is concerned, this may be a consequence of "comparatively meagre quantities of data on performance patterns in ESP, [whereas] similar information for PK is deplorably sparse." Where performance patterns have been considered, they may be phenomenon-specific, as Schmeidler (1994) complains: "It has been frustrating to find that PK and ESP experiments seldom bear directly on the same question and that well-replicated results in one area often have no counterpart in the other" (p. 229). More research is needed that systematically considers the effects of the same variables upon ESP and PK performance using methodologically comparable tasks. This study was designed to explore the relationship between ESP and PK performance by testing for both using a common protocol so as to control for expectancy effects and experimental artifacts. Forty participants completed a computer-based greyhound racing game. Races occurred in two blocks of 12, with one block ostensibly requiring ESP for success and the other ostensibly requiring PK. In fact, within each block half the races were ESP trials and half PK trials, presented in random order. Overall performance was at chance levels for both ESP and PK trials, for informed and misinformed trials. There were no significant relationships between performance in the four conditions. Although paranormal belief did not predict task success, some other individual difference measures, notably state and trait anxiety and religiosity, showed some promise. Further work is underway to attempt to confirm these findings. In this presentation we will overview the method used (and hope to illustrate the program in action), describe the outcome in some detail, and discuss some suggestions for how to refine the method in future. Should any SPR member wish to replicate this work we are happy to provide copies of the program.
This work builds upon Savva and French (2001), undertaken to test the success of applying evolutionary theory to parapsychological research. Although two unsuccessful presentiment experiments did not support the hypothesis, it was felt that adapting another previously successful paradigm might well provide support for the hypothesis that psi is a 'pre-sense'.
It was Thouless and Wiesner (1946) who first proposed a pre-sense theory of psi. It is very easy to imagine the adaptive potential of a precognitive ability, where an organism that could make use of information about a future state would have a survival advantage over an organism that could not. If we suggest that the psi-signal, if it exists at all, only provides correct information part of the time (and research would suggest that this is only very slightly above chance) then it is easy to see why the conventional senses evolved over the initial psi-sense. Even a primitive eye would allow inference about future conditions (for example, locating a predator) to be more accurate than the psi-signal.
Psi-timing research has been conducted by a number of researchers (Lowry, 1981; Schmeidler & Borchardt, 1981; Radin & Bosworth, 1985; May, Radin, Hubbard, Humphrey, & Utts, 1985; Radin & May, 1986 and Braud & Shafer, 1989) and the overall conclusions from the area are positive. Psi-timing experiments generally consist of a behavioural component based on the timing of a key-press, which affects a complex process resulting in a hit or miss.
The current research is an adaptation of the Braud and Shafer (1989) methodology. Braud and Shafer's participants pressed a keyboard button which recorded the current time and used the number to seed a random number generator, which in turn produced a random number between one and six. The participant pressed a keyboard button a second time and produced another random number through the same process. The two numbers were then compared and the trial scored as a hit (if the two numbers matched) or a miss (if they were different).
The current study changed the Braud and Shafer methodology by replacing the second key-press with a simulated key-press (therefore making it a test of precognition). Also different was that a hit resulted in the presentation of a neutral picture, and a miss resulted in the presentation of a spider picture. It was hypothesised that those rating themselves as spider fearful after the experiment (using a fear of spiders questionnaire) would score more hits than the non-spider-fearful, using precognitive information about the threatening stimulus to illicit a behavioural avoidance response by timing the keyboard press correctly.
Fifty participants contributed 1800 trials, consisting of 36 trials per participant. The overall hit rate was 16.1% and did not differ significantly from the mean chance expectation (MCE) of 16.7% (t (49) = -.773; p >.05). The difference in scoring between the spider-fearful and the non-spider- fearful was tested through an independent t-test and was not significant, t (48) = .896; p>.05. The hit rate for the spider fearful group was 15.5% and did not differ significantly from chance (t (25) = -1.088; p>.05) and for the non-spider-fearful group the hit rate was 16.8% which also did not differ significantly from chance (t (23) = .123; p>.05). One thousand control trials were conducted before and after the experimental study (two thousand in total where both key-presses were simulated) and resulted in a combined hit rate of 16.2% which a binomial test found was not significantly different from MCE (p>.05). Binomial tests on the control runs, before and after, were also non-significant and showed that, individually, they did not deviate significantly from MCE.
The conclusions drawn from the results are that despite previous significant results, no evidence for a psi-mediated timing response can be found in the current study. No further psi-timing experiments are planned. However further research is being conducted to test the hypothesis that psi is a pre-sense.
The relative effects of prior belief in ESP, manipulated performance expectancy, and knowledge of target content on an ESP task were assessed using a novel interactive web-based experimental protocol. The task was a quiz that tested knowledge of parapsychology and the paranormal. Each participant was presented with twenty questions, randomly selected from a pool of 100 questions. The task involved guessing in which of four positions the correct answer would later appear. The ESP score was the number of correct guesses (MCE = 5). Following this, participants were presented with the twenty questions again, but this time with four alternative answers, and were asked to guess the correct answer. This provided a measure of the participant's knowledge of parapsychology and the paranormal. All participants were given the false information that the experiment was to test the hypothesis that ESP is more likely to occur when there is greater uncertainty about a situation. Software randomly assigned participants to either an "Easy" or "Difficult" condition. Participants were told that our expectation was that people who took a relatively difficult quiz would be more likely to use ESP to help them answer the questions compared with people who took a relatively easy quiz. In reality, because questions were randomly selected from the pool for each participant, there was no expected mean difference in question difficulty between the two conditions. Before taking the test, participants were asked whether they believed experiments like this could test ESP, and whether they think they have ESP. To examine whether the experimental manipulations actually influenced prior expectation, participants were also asked to guess how low or high their ESP score would be. Participants guessed their ESP score again before the presentation of questions with answers. After completing the quiz, participants also indicated how easy or difficult they had found the questions.
Data were automatically submitted to the first author by email after participants completed the ESP stage of the experiment, and again following the second, knowledge, stage. This was done in order to control for the possibility that participants who discovered during the second stage that their ESP guesses had been poor might discontinue the experiment at that time, thus artificially inflating ESP scores. In other words, ESP data were collected before participants received any feedback on their performance. Participants who completed both stages of the experiment were then shown their scores together with an assessment of their performance.
Following two pilot studies, the final version of the software was uploaded to www.psychicscience.com on 13th January 2002. Before beginning data collection, a quota sample of 2000 participants who completed both stages of the experiment was decided upon (1000 in each condition). ESP data will also be included from all participants who completed the first but not second stage prior to this quota being achieved. Participants who indicated that they had taken the test before were eliminated from the analysis. To further control for multiple submissions, data were also only used when they showed a unique combination of IP address, gender and age.
At the time of writing (April 2002), data collection is 90% complete and is due to be finished in May 2002. Analysis of the full data will be presented at the conference Planned analyses include (a) analysis of overall ESP performance, (b) comparison of ESP scores between expectancy conditions ('Easy' vs. 'Difficult'), (c) analysis of relationship between ESP scores and prior belief in ESP (d) analysis of relationship between ESP and knowledge.
We are grateful to the Perrott-Warrick Fund for supporting this research.
Shortly after moving into a refurbished and modernised house in Totteridge, North London in July 2001, my wife and I began to experience a number of odd disturbances. These included nocturnal radio broadcasts from bedside radios which were switched off, the kitchen smoke alarm siren which would howl with minimal thermal provocation, an electric iron which periodically tripped the fuse-box, several leaks, at least two of could not be attributed to plumbing faults, a very visible scratch mark across several floor tiles in a newly built bathroom, and a large daub of white paint-like substance which appeared on the top of my wheelie bin while I was working nearby. What finally persuaded me that something paranormal must be at work was the event of the smashed wine-bottles, thrust down from a wall-mounted wine rack in a locked garage.
Two mediums, Jenny Eales and Michael Ayes, were invited to help. They concluded that the trouble was attributable to the resentment felt by the former elderly occupant of the house, whose treasured garden had been desecrated and her home all but gutted for the benefit of the present occupants. Various identifying descriptions appeared to accord with what was known of the deceased lady in question, although not all the facts proved accurate when more information about the previous occupant was obtained from neighbours. The mediums, specialists in spirit release, counselled the resentful entity into the light.
For a short time, all was peaceful, but the trouble resumed shortly thereafter and with somewhat greater intensity. This time there were more witnesses. When Tricia Robertson was staying with us during the period of her lecture to the Society in mid-February this year, she reported that her bedside radio, which she invariably left on as an aid to sleep, had been switched off at the wall plug end, while Professor Archie Roy when shown into his room for the night, noted as 'spooky' the oscillation of the lights. Rather more significant was the subsequent breakfast table episode of a bunch of grapes, which rose from a fruit bowl and smashed itself on the ground before the gaze of both Mrs Keen and Professor Roy. Shortly after Mrs Robertson's departure we noticed a long vertical crack in the wall tiles above the bathroom adjacent to her room, a crack which both the chairman of the building firm and the carpenter who had worked on the loft conversion found it difficult to account for by any normal means. In addition a spray-bottle of Mrs Keen's perfume had been removed, the plastic spray nozzle twisted round, and the top replaced so that the perfume could no longer be expelled normally, but leaked out of the cap base. Two television sets also failed, both requiring costly repair work.
Jenny Eales and Michael Ayres returned to help cure the trouble. I will describe the steps they took to do so, the identification of the (fresh) entity allegedly responsible, the apparently successful spirit release operation, and the subsequent total absence of disturbing or abnormal phenomena.
As a footnote I shall mention both the steps taken to try to obtain verification of the second entity, Alfred House, and the message purporting to come from him which was subsequently delivered to my wife in my presence at the end of a seance with another medium a couple of weeks later.
As this famous case has been the subject of a great deal of comment and publicity over time, the presentation will review the evidence as it now stands after 25 years of comment and criticism on the conduct of the case, and the manner in which the evidence was amassed by the investigators.
As the investigator in charge of this case, the author believes it is time to represent the evidence as it unfolded in this very important event in the history of poltergeist type manifestations. Particular emphasis will be made to assess the viability of this evidence, and how it stands under the scrutiny of present day standards of investigation. The presentation will be accompanied by extracts from sound tapes made as the events took place, and how this evidence compares with other investigations, before and since.
Reference will be made to another case that was being investigated at the same time, and the link between the two cases that revealed some interesting and positive evidence for the similarity of phenomena in both locations.
At the 1989 Conference at Bournemouth I gave a very curtailed account of a stoning Poltergeist case that had persisted for more than seven years before SPR investigators became aware of it. Police had made many attempts to catch the 'vandals' presumed by the householder, Carol Finn (pseudonym) and by the police themselves to be responsible for daily attacks on the fabric of the house, the breaking of windows being a speciality. Carol had severely castigated the police for their failure even to catch sight of the stone-throwers.
My report was dubbed 'the spook who came in from the cold' because after all this outdoor activity the phenomena changed character once Carol had reluctantly accepted the possibility that paranormal forces might be responsible. The stoning then abated to occasional outbursts but indoors large scale poltergeist type events occurred daily - though not when any SPR researcher was present. It should be said that every member of the family could be exonerated from sole responsibility for the phenomena, in that some events occurred when that person was not present and concerted fraud was never a plausible explanation. Most of the major events took place when Carol was out of the house, but she did witness some quite violent phenomena.
Carol's brother and nephew, Gary, came naturally under suspicion, though not because of any thing they were known to have done, but my persistent questioning about exactly where they were when each incident occurred annoyed Carol to the point where I became persona non grata and it was soon after my expulsion that the Bournemouth report was given. However, a year or two later good relations were restored, and I was frequently round there viewing the scene following some disaster, like a flood from an unknown origin, glass flung around the room, paint upturned in the fridge/freezer, patterns sprayed on the ceiling apparently from Branston pickle, etc. etc.
After some chaotic years Gary, the nephew, left the house, and things quietened down. Carol, fearing a resurgence, did not invite further visits, though we remained in touch. Carol's mother died two years ago, and in the winter of 2000, after a gap of more than six years, I spent an afternoon at the house catching up with news. There have been no phenomena since the mother's death, and Carol now lives peacefully with her brother.
Carol has had a lot of time in which to reflect on the root cause of this very persistent poltergeist and she has developed a theory about the root of what she had always felt to be a deeply hostile force behind the outbreaks.
Usually when external entities are considered as possible candidates for poltergeist motivation it is a deceased personality that is the subject of this sort of speculation; but in this case there appears to be an alarming history of hatred emanating from another living person. This is a rather unusual sort of explanation.
A significant point in its favour is that while the hatred was directed at Carol and her mother, it was especially focussed on envy of the much bombarded house where they lived, which, like most outer London houses, has become disproportionately valuable over the years.
If this attribution is well founded it certainly broadens the scope of poltergeist investigation by adding the routine question: "And is there anyone who hates you?"
The paper explores the settings and visual iconography of ghosts and evil spirits described by Edmund Jones, an 18th-century Independent, Calvinist minister from the parish of Aberystruth in Monmouthshire. Jones collected and published accounts of apparitions in three works: the first, a book about apparitions (of which there appears to be no surviving copy) published in 1767, followed by a section in a volume on geography and religious history entitled A Geographical. Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth (1779), and, finally, a sequel to the 1767 collection called A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the Principality of Wales; To Which is Added The Remarkable Account of The Apparition in Sunderland (1780). The publications consist of copious testimonies concerning abductions by fairies, appearances of ghosts, devils, witches, and poltergeist activity, which, putatively, troubled the landscape and inhabitants of Wales during the 17th and 18th centuries. The works were intended not only as antiquarian collections of folklore but also (like earlier Protestant histories of spirits) to achieve a deeply, if narrowly, religious purpose -- to provide proof of the life to come, and uphold a biblical view of the transcendent nature of reality. Jones narratives render the geography of both place and mind. The narratives evoke a spiritually dark landscape (one that contrasts sharply with the cumulous idyll depicted by topographical and picturesque artists at the time) in which the malevolent dead and damned wandered. The accounts also present a tantalising insight into how, often, ordinary eighteenth century folk visualised the spirit world: an almost Blakeian vision of biblical and spiritual creatures, and a fusion of the natural and supernatural worlds. In particular, the paper examines how the descriptions of landscape helped convey a plausible sense of the apparitions' presence, and the various ways the lower orders fashioned these bizarre and unsettling manifestations of evil by combining and disrupting aspects of natural, human, and animal forms. Reference is made also to the broader context of religious imagery in visual art and the representation of the supernatural in the Bible. The paper draws upon a holograph entitled 'A Relation of Apparitions. Collected by Edmund Jones', of which a third (some forty-three accounts) may have comprised the substance of Jones's missing 1767 collection of apparition narratives.
The philosopher-psychologist Traugott Konstantin Oesterreich (1880-1947) from Tuebingen University belonged together with the biologist Hans Driesch (1867-1941) from Leipzig University and the philosopher August Messer (1867-1937) from Giessen University to the very few German University scholars who, after the First World War, became convinced that paranormal phenomena exist as scientific facts. They supported the idea that parapsychology should be integrated as a legitimate field of study within the University. Driesch had also the honour to be elected as president for the SPR in 1926/27. So it is not surprising that we find the names of Driesch and Oesterreich as academic leaders of the group of German psychical researchers who attended in 1930 the 4th International Conference for Psychical Research in Athens. These conferences, which were previously held in Copenhagen (1921), Warsaw (1923), Paris (1927) and afterwards in Oslo (1935), provided an important forum for somewhat isolated psychical researchers from different European countries in which memories of the "Great War" were still fresh. This makes it remarkable that the official conferences languages were the English, French and German.
The talk will highlight some of Professor Oesterreich's contributions to the field of German psychical research: (1) In 1921, he published a survey of the present position of the field to show the importance of paranormal phenomena for a "modern weltanschauung", which has left behind the "mechanistic" thinking (English edition Occultism and Modern Science, 1923); (2) in his Grundbegriffe der Parapsychologie (1921)†he dealt in an original way with the conceptual issues of parapsychological research, for example the distinction between "telepathy" and "clairvoyance"; (3) he observed a close relationship between dissociation of personality ("Ich- Spaltung") and the occurrence of psychic phenomena; (4) his monograph on Besessenheit (1921) can still be regarded as a source book dealing with cases of altered states of consciousness (possession, exorcism and multiple personality) from antiquity to modern times (English translation Possession 1930, Reprint 1966); (5) Oesterreich acted also as a forensic expert witness in cases of practical applications of mediumistic abilities ("Kriminaltelepathie"); (6) finally, he pursued the ambitious goal to establish a "Deutsches Zentralinstitut fuer Parapsychologie" (German Central Institute for Parapsychology) following the model of the British SPR. It was Oesterreich's personal tragedy that in 1933, when he has reached the top of his influence and academic prestige for the benefit of parapsychology, the Nazis came to power in Germany; Oesterreich was immediately forced to resign from his university post in Tuebingen because he was married with a wife of Jewish origin. He and his family survived the Second World War, but in 1947 Oesterreich died as a broken and embittered man.
Psychical research in Greece flourished in the 1920's, established by the admiral of the navy Angelos Tanagras-Evangelidis (1877-1973). Tanagras, a psychiatrist who had studied medicine in Germany, has had the chance due to his profession to travel around the world and make important connections with other centres of psychical research (such as with J. B. Rhine). The experience he got through these connections helped him establish a prestigious Hellenic Society for Psychical Research in 1923, based in Athens to which he became the president. His own prestige, personality and status enabled him to attract the elite of the Athenian society to become members of the Hellenic SPR. Among these members were university professors, high court judges, the head of the Greek bank, the chief of police, etc. He published a monthly magazine in which scientists such as A. Einstein and Madame Curie were portrayed as honorary members. Tanagras' articles were also published in German parapsychological journals. Tanagras introduced the theory of 'psychobolie' as the radiation fluidum that emanates from people penetrates matter, to account for psychical phenomena.
Tanagras trained to self-hypnosis a group of people (mainly ladies as 'sensitives'), with whom he worked in successful long-distance telepathy with other European countries, and psychometry reading experiments. In 1930 he organized the fourth international SPR conference in Athens in which many distinguished psychical researchers from Europe participated, such as Sir Oliver Lodge. The participants enjoyed the traditional Greek hospitality, which was offered luxuriously to them through a variety of activities including conference talks, sightseeing, and dinners with Greek music and dance. The end of the war found Tanagras unable to sustain the Hellenic Society due to the effects of his very old age heavy on his physical and mental health and his trusted collaborators either absorbed by their own lives, or departed.
The second part of this computer presentation will portray the personality and work of Angelos Tanagras in psychical research, some of his experiments with Professor Oesterreich in Tuebingen, as well as the atmosphere of the 1930 SPR conference in Athens.
Research into remote staring (or "unseen gaze") has been conducted since Titchener in 1898, and considerable progress has been made into this area over the years. In this presentation a summary of the research into remote staring will be provided, from Tichener's (1898) original work, through to Braud, Shafer and Andrews' (1993a, 1993b) work suggesting methodological changes with the use of closed-circuit television links between starer and staree and the use of electro-dermal activity as the dependent measure. Other studies will also be examined, such as Wiseman and Schlitz's (1997, 1999) influential experimenter effect studies, and finally the most recent works such as Sheldrake's (2001) experiments with children.
This presentation will also show how there are areas within nonverbal communication research, such as research into the emotive influence that gaze has on a staree (e.g. McBride, King and James, 1965; Nichols and Champness, 1971) and anthropological research into evil-eye belief, such as how widespread this belief is around the world (e.g. Maloney, 1976), which can inform the remote staring literature. Hopefully these areas can widen our understanding of the remote staring effect. This presentation reflects some of the work that I have been conducting for my PhD.
The paper reports the fourth study in a series investigating experimenter effects with a remote facilitation of attention focusing psi task. The "helpee" is asked to focus attention on a candle, and to indicate by pressing a button whenever they feel distracted. The number of distractions forms the dependent variable. Simultaneously, in a distant room, the "helper" follows a randomised counter-balanced schedule of 16 one-minute "help" and "control" periods, consisting of 4 help-control, and 4 control-help pairs. During the help periods the helper focuses on a similar candle and attempts mentally to assist the helpee to focus. A remote influence effect would consist of the helpee having fewer distractions during the help periods, compared to the control periods. Session questionnaires measured participants' belief in the paranormal, their expected and perceived success at the psi task, and asked them to evaluate their experimenter's warmth, professionalism, ability to instil confidence in the task, and belief in the paranormal. The present study also measured the experimenters' personality, and performance on two cognitive tasks: Ravens' advanced progressive matrices, and a syllogistic reasoning task. The study consisted of two parts. Firstly, "trainee experimenters" were recruited on the basis of their belief or disbelief in the paranormal, as measured by questionnaire. Nine psi believers (mean belief score = 70, SD = 4.24) and five psi disbelievers (mean belief score = 28.6, SD = 6.11) were individually trained how to conduct a session incorporating the remote focusing psi task. Secondly, an additional 18 participants were recruited, each of whom was asked to bring a friend. The trainee experimenters each conducted at least one psi session with one participant pair. Participants swapped roles so that each was helper once and helpee once, so for each psi session there were two psi trials. One experimenter did 3 sessions, two did two, and the remainder did one session each, giving a total of 18 sessions and 36 psi trials. Results: Overall, the mean number of Help presses (12.03, SD = 11.34) was significantly lower than the mean number of Control presses (13.47, SD = 11.32); related t = 2.085, p = .04, 2-t, df = 35; effect size r = 0.33. This indicates an effect of remote facilitation on the focusing task, with participants showing significantly fewer distractions during the epochs when they were being remotely helped compared to the control epochs. It was predicted that those participants tested by experimenters who were psi believers would have higher scores on the psi task than those who were tested by disbeliever experimenters. The results supported this prediction: The overall significant psi effect in this study is entirely due to those participants with believer experimenters, who have independently significant psi scoring (effect size r = 0.50). Those in the disbeliever experimenter condition scored at chance (effect size r = 0.07). These effect sizes differ in the predicted direction to a marginally significant degree (Z = 1.202, p = .0575, 1-t). There were no significant differences between participants or experimenters on the questionnaire measures.
Psi phenomena refer to the ability of life in general, but of humans in particular, to interact with the rest of physical reality beyond their senses. There is no doubt that the definition of what is real and what is not, can take a highly subjective character when it comes to the function of the brain and the images it creates. How real is a dream? The brain can easily fool us. But, in our case, as physical reality we shall refer to the concrete, objective reality which is confirmed by robust experimental evidence, even if some aspects of that evidence has not as yet been given a complete description.
To fully describe and understand that physical reality has been the job of physics. Consequently, if psi phenomena are a real and not an experimental artifact or brain delusion, physics in particular should be involved towards its understanding. In their search for understanding reality, physicists are specialized into a rich variety of fields of study. Yet, there have been very few physicists involved in psychical research and many distinguished too among them.
Based on my twelve-year-old theoretical and experimental research in micro-PK, this talk will offer a model to its description that also accounts for the effect of precognition. The description will invoke the experimental evidence for and against micro-PK, the serious criticisms against it while remaining faithful to the current laws of science.
An enduring problem in our attempt to understand psi is that we cannot reliably distinguish between a causal effect and a chance coincidence, resulting in a need to rely on large numbers of experimental trials and statistical analyses. Even then, we still cannot say which specific trials were chance and which were psi. Much of the time, we cannot even be sure it is the psychic/participant and not the experimenter who is producing the effect! This has meant that results are often inconsistent and theory-building is difficult. Something that would prove a boon to research would be a way of identifying chance outcomes i.e. a psi detector. However, given that we know next to nothing about what psi is or how it works, this might seem like an impossible task. How can we build a detector when we are unclear on what we are trying to detect? A clue might lie in micro-psychokinesis (micro-PK) research.
Micro-PK is often seen as being the small-scale equivalent of macroscopic psychokinesis. Instead of bending spoons or levitating obects, the micro-PK agent alters probabilities and manipulates atomic level phenomena. However, as I pointed out at an earlier conference (Stevens, 2000), micro-PK seems more akin to a transmissive aspect of ESP as changes in the target system are still within the bounds of that system's normal activity. As I said then, "the target system is acting more like a sensitive detector than an overtly influenced system". This is also suggested by experimental studies: Berger (1988) and Radin (1989) reported that micro-PK data showed trends that allowed it to be matched to the agent that produced it; Stanford and Fox (1975) report on cases of apparently unintentional micro-PK; and Stanford et al (1975) detail instances of micro-PK when the agent is unaware that this is part of the experiment. A recent student project at Edinburgh also showed that unintentional micro-PK effects occurred during attempts to remote-view a visual target. Such studies seem to be showing that micro-PK effects are not necessarily the result of a willed attempt at influence but are more generally associated with attempts to use psi. They also indicate that there may be a consistently ordered structure in the data associated with individual micro-PK agents.
So perhaps the random event generator (REG) used in micro-PK studies is the psi detector that we have been looking for? Not quite. The "psychic signature" studies showed such weak patterning that identification was only slightly better than chance levels. Part of the problem may be with the design of typical REGs, all of which make use of some truly random physical process, the most common being the randomly varying current found in electronic components ("electronic noise"). The problem is that, over the years, certain techniques were used to ensure that REGs were not responding to environmental events (e.g. fluctuations in the electrical supply) but could only be affected by "paranormal" means. Although this may sound useful, there is a huge assumption here: that micro-PK is not itself a direct influence but one which depends only on the final form of the output and not on the underlying processes of generation. Indeed, this assumption is explicitly stated in the literature (e.g. Schmidt & Pantas, 1980; May et al, 1995) even though recent analyses suggest otherwise (Ibison, 1998). So as the REG output is only indirectly connected to the underlying random processes, perhaps it is not so surprising that micro-PK studies show inconsistent results.
A better approach might be to construct a target system where the output is directly linkedbig to the underlying processes. This would mean more information could to be gained about how the system changes in response to human actions, helping us to better understand what the effect involves and maybe allowing differentiation of the effects due to different people. Such a system has been constructed based on a noise diode, which produces Gaussian white noise between 10Hz and 20kHz, covering the range of frequencies likely to be associated with the biological, physiological and mental activity of humans. Initial work will look to see how the system activity differs in the presence of a human engaged in a variety of mental activities when compared to that same human attempting simple ESP and PK tasks, thus evaluating the idea of a psi detector. In the longer term, it is hoped that the new system will enable further investigation of the psi signature idea - if there are consistent patterns associated with individuals, then the implications for parapsychological research would be profound, especially the question as to how a psychic could manage to focus on one individual within the 'noise' of the masses of humanity.
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by an equipment grant from the Society for Psychical Research.
In the 1970s, there were several experiments which suggested that meditation and relaxation help one to attain a state of consciousness which is conducive to psychic (psi) awareness (e.g., Braud & Braud, 1974; Honorton, 1981). Traditional yogic texts suggest that as one develops yogic ability, so do the "siddhis," or psychic powers, manifest.
This experiment is designed to explore, within the context of an ashram, where there are many people who have studied yoga for varying lengths of time and have achieved different levels of awareness, whether or not different levels of yogic ability, and different states of consciousness, are conducive to psi functioning. The hypothesis is that those with a greater level of yogic ability, i.e. more years of practice, and greater degree of attainment will show greater psi awareness; and that a relaxed, meditative state will be more psi-conducive, than no pre-session preparation.
There were two different approaches: the first was within the classroom doing group experiments, and the second was individual sessions, looking at various different topics chosen by the students.
Part 1: Group Experiments
These were run with the postgraduate students doing Yoga Psychology and Applied Yogic Science MSc courses at the Bihar Yoga Bharati, which is a university running within an ashram. Every week they had a practical class as part of the parapsychology course that SRD was running and the end of each practical was devoted to doing the group experiment.
Paul Stevens, from the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at Edinburgh University, kindly designed a portable free-response ESP programme. Each week the experiment was run firstly with the 1st year postgraduate students, and then with the second year students. They, therefore, had a similar procedure with different target pictures.
The first week was an introduction to ESP testing in general, ending with the free-response test. The second week was an introduction to psychological testing in parapsychology and before the test the students completed an attitude questionnaire, a mood questionnaire and a questionnaire, which was devised specifically for this research, on level of yogic ability attained. SRD then gave them a short 15 minute relaxation exercise at the end of which the students were asked to become aware of the target. The third week SRD led the students in a 30-minute meditation prior to the test. The final week was devoted to the out-of-body experience, and in this session SRD led the students in a version of yoga nidra which she has adapted, together with a traditional technique for learning how to go out of body, at the end of which they were asked to view the target picture.
The results show that the 2nd year postgraduates overall exhibited a greater degree of psi awareness, and that the meditation session gave the strongest positive results. This is, therefore, an interesting preliminary trial with useful information to be gleaned from the results.
Part 2: The Individual Sessions
These were run with either small groups of postgraduate students or students working on their own with SRD. They chose those topics on which they wanted to work and sorted themselves into four groups. All these four groups used the computer programme that was being used in the group experiments in the classes. One group investigated whether or not there was a relationship between the level of yogic ability attained and psi awareness; another whether increasing the distance between sender and receiver affected psi awareness; two students looked at whether willpower affects psi awareness; and another two whether the dream state is conducive to precognitive psi awareness.
Sadly we were unable to test advanced practitioners .The results show that those who have done one or two years yoga exhibit a whole range of psi scoring with no clear effect on target scoring. The distance group had overall positive psi and no effect of distance; the dreamers had psi-missing, and the will power pair did not complete sufficient trials for analysis.
However, this was a good beginning to some research that could be very interesting. The chance to work in an ashram is a rare one and I am very grateful for the opportunity presented. The students were interested and were only lacking the time to participate fully. Hopefully next year we will be able to formalise this research and do it under more controlled with people who have a wider range of yogic attainment.
Since the work initiated by Rhine in the 1930s (e.g. Rhine 1937/1950) much of the emphasis of studies into ESP has concentrated upon the statistical analysis of data in order to evaluate ESP performance. Whilst the introduction of techniques such as the ganzfeld were aimed at shifting the emphasis from proof-oriented to process-oriented research, the manner in which the processes were investigated remained largely statistical (e.g. through the use of psychometric measures whose scores could be correlated with a measure of ESP performance). With such approaches, the experiential aspects of events and protocols receive little attention. At times, reference to some of these aspects is made in passing (e.g. through the reporting of correspondences between receiver mentation and target content, e.g. Schlitz and Honorton, 1992), but it has only been recently that the importance of formal qualitative analyses has begun to be considered (e.g. Parker, Persson, & Haller, 2000). Here it is maintained that an understanding of such experiential aspects of studies is essential in gaining a full appreciation of ESP and the methods that are being used to evaluate it. Two sources of relevant information are 1) post-session discussions in which participants are asked to reflect upon their experiences of the session, and 2) researchers acting as their own participant and then performing an introspective analysis of their experiences. Whilst the latter of these may produce highly idiosyncratic findings, the fact that the findings are based upon the researcher's own experiences means that there is a richness/fullness that is not available when gaining data through asking other people to interpret their, equally idiosyncratic, impressions. Thus, the findings from such studies may be used in combination with other sources of data to gain a fuller appreciation of ESP phenomena. This presentation relates the author's own experiences in a series of 12 ESP trials (due to technical considerations the series was reduced from the intended 16 trials to 12 after the first trial) for which there were 2 primary aims. One was to concentrate upon the experiential aspects of participating in such studies, the other was to test the equipment being used (this was digital autoganzfeld software, DigiGanz, being developed at the time). The author acted as his own experimenter (there was no sender) and was placed in ganzfeld stimulation for 20 minutes per trial. The DigiGanz system uses two networked computers (a 'sender' machine and a 'receiver' machine) that communicate with each other in order to co-ordinate each trial. During the ganzfeld stimulation period a video clip was repeatedly played on the 'sender' computer in another building. The outcome of the series was that of the 12 trials the target was rated highest 5 times (i.e. 5 direct hits), second 6 times (i.e. 11 binary hits), third once, and not rated fourth (it should be noted that the study was exploratory in nature and therefore there were no pre-planned statistical analyses). This pattern of outcomes did not allow the originally intended analysis of comparing experiences surrounding hits and misses. However, there were many interesting aspects to emerge from the study that are discussed in the presentation. These aspects concern the manner in which decisions were made during the judging procedure, the author's reactions to the ganzfeld stimulation, his 'fear' and 'apprehension' about the pattern of results as they emerged, and the methods used by the author to 'protect' himself from the outcome (either hits or misses) of trials. Some of the material in the presentation concentrates on extracts of the mentation during the sessions, whilst other material concentrates on the contents of a diary that was kept during the study. In terms of the decision process used during judging there seemed to be two distinct stages. The first came from the initial reaction to the items in the judging set. This resulted in the 'ruling in' of some items and the 'ruling out' of others (typically 2 of each). The second stage involved choosing between the items that had not been ruled out. Often there were similarities to the imagery experienced during ganzfeld stimulation with both, and sometimes there were many similarities with one and only a few similarities with the other. In some cases, however, having one specific detail of the imagery that matched one specific detail of a clip in the judging set made a stronger impression than the more holistic associations between the general feel of the imagery and the content of a clip as a whole. In these cases, the final decision on which clip to give the higher rating was based upon guessing which information was more likely to be extrasensory in origin. Thus, two types of decision were identified. Firstly there were 'knowledge based' decisions in which the initial judging set was pruned by ruling out clips for which there was a strong feeling that they were not the target. Secondly there were 'chance based' decisions in which the final decision was made in relation to the remaining items largely on a whim. Thus, from these experiences it is argued that the aim for the trial (e.g. whether to attempt for a direct hit or a binary hit) should not be decided until after exposure to the judging set. This is contrary to current convention in which researchers are expected to state their intended analysis before running the study. In addition, it is felt that other experiential aspects of the procedure were very rich in terms of gaining an insight into the possible mechanisms through which ESP phenomena may work. Despite the fact that it may not be possible to generalise these findings directly to other people, they suggest a need for greater flexibility in the manner in which studies are run, and their data analysed.
Research has shown that 33-68% of spontaneous cases of ESP seem to occur during dreams (Van de Castle, 1977). Furthermore, 3.2% of dreams reported in one dream report survey were classified as psi-related, one percent of which were classified as precognitive (Krippner & Faith, 2001). Experimental studies of dream ESP have primarily focused on telepathy and clairvoyance with noticeable success (e.g. Ullman & Krippner with Vaughan, 1989; Sherwood, Dalton, Steinkamp, & Watt, 2000). Whereas a recent investigation into dream precognition did not show such similarly promising results (Sherwood, Roe, Simmonds, & Biles, 2002), although the authors did make some suggestions for methodological improvement. Another more recent exploratory experiment into dream clairvoyance also failed to replicate earlier successful findings (Roe, Sherwood, Luke, & Farrell, in press), but revealed the problematic nature of experimentally eliminating precognition from this particular clairvoyance design, and the subsequent issue of possible precognitive target displacement with subject judging. Most notable was the occurrence of impressive misses which indicated the possible precognitive observation of decoy clips rather than target clips.
The present study aimed to overcome the possible clairvoyance/precognition interference by utilising a solely precognitive design. The current study also aimed to counter the problem of target displacement by attempting to make the target more meaningful than the decoys. Target focused dramas were performed after target selection to increase the meaningfulness of the target as compared to the decoys, in a way somewhat similar to the psycho-dramas utilised in the Maimonides dream trials (Ullman & Krippner with Vaughan, 1989). The design also incorporated the use of home TV and video-recording equipment to explore the possibilities of home centred experiments that could be easily replicated and expanded by students and the interested lay public.
Four participants, one of whom was also experimenter, took part in 3 pilot and 20 experimental trials using dynamic targets. For each trial one target, selected after participant target rating, and three decoy clips were randomly selected using a pseudo-RNG and sampled en vivo from 19 available TV broadcast channels. The Dependent variable was the correspondence rating between the participants' dreams and the target clip for both independent and group judgements. Predictor variables included whether the judgement was individual or group consensus, individual ratings of confidence of success, dream vividness, dream recall, and sheep-goat measures. Two of the four individual performances were above chance, one scored at chance expectation and one scored below, although no performance was statistically significant. Surprisingly, group consensus performance was below chance and, contrary to past findings, was below that of overall individual performance, although again findings were not significant.
Covariation of target rank with daily preoccupation, dream vividness and dream recall did not reveal any significant relationships, although there were strong intercorrelations among the predictor variables. However, a post hoc analysis of the results in terms of Palmer's (1975, unpub, after Roe et al, in press) interaction model found a relationship between motivation and magnitude of rank indicating the possible utility of this model in interpreting results. The combined sheep-goat score was found to correlate significantly with number of direct hits (r = .949, p < .05). However, caution is raised over the interpretation of post hoc analyses and interpretations of results were N is small. Overall the study was not successful in establishing evidence for precognitive dreaming at a statistical level, although the number of trials and motivation may have affected the findings. Nonetheless the study did provide some very interesting anecdotal anomalies which fell outside of the empirical remit of this study but which may be interpreted as instances of psi or profound synchronicity. In addition an assessment of the utility of the experimental protocol would seem to suggest that this type of research is effective and viable as a naturalistic alternative to the laboratory environment.
Author's note: This study formed part of the testing of the DigiGanz autoganzfeld system. We would like to thank the Bial Foundation for funding the development of this system.
There is undoubtedly a relationship between hallucination and the experience of psi phenomena; indeed, one of Louisa Rhine's four categories of spontaneous experiences was the hallucinatory variety. The phantasms of the living case collection (Gurney, Myers and Podmore, 1886) featured both telepathic and purely subjective hallucinations. These bore many resemblances but some differences. More recently, it has been noted that a large majority of hallucinations occur in a psi context (Neppe, 1988). Several investigators have incorporated visual or auditory noise in the instigation of hallucination-like experiences. For example, it has been demonstrated that normal participants report hearing a song amid white noise, when no such song is presented (e.g. Mintz and Alpert, 1972). Likewise, normal participants report images amid visual noise, where no images are present (e.g. Jakes and Hemsley, 1986). Jakes and Hemsley's investigation started with the suggestion that there would be patterns in the noise, which participants should try to detect (although no patterns were actually programmed). Participants were seated in front of a visual display screen, which presented a changing random pattern of dots for 10 minutes in a dimly lit room. On consideration of the effects of visual noise, a pilot study was undertaken addressing the efficacy of a 'visual noise' paradigm as a psi-conducive methodology. The apparatus employed was similar to that used in the ganzfeld set up, with a sender and receiver. The main difference being that for this study, the receiver was not placed in sensory deprivation but instead sat in a comfortable chair looking at a screen of visual noise, whilst white noise was played through headphones for a period of 15 minutes.
There were 20 trials in this investigation. Receivers were recruited through colleagues and friends of the experimenters in addition to others (e.g. students) who were aware of the work. JF acted as sender and CS acted as experimenter in all trials. The investigation focused on three issues. Firstly, the relationship between schizotypal personality and ESP performance as schizotypy relates to both increased reporting of hallucination in visual noise (Feelgood and Rantzen, 1994) and heightened ESP performance (Parker 2000). Secondly, the relationship between creative personality and ESP performance, given that creative individuals are more willing to identify and develop themes, images, and metaphors in ambiguous stimuli (Smith and Faeldt, 1999) and demonstrate heightened ESP performance (e.g. Dalton 1997). Thirdly, a comparison of methods of rating during the judging period was undertaken. These methods were 1. the level of similarity between imagery elicited during the sending period and the items in the judging set, 2. the level of confidence of each item in the judging set being the target, 3. the subjective level of liking the items in the judging set, and 4. The experimenter's rating of target identity.
For both types of participant judging, there was no psi hitting effect. For similarity, the hit rate was 10% and a sum of ranks analysis revealed a significant psi missing effect: z =2.4, p < .016 (2-tailed). For confidence, the hit rate was 20% and a sum of ranks analysis revealed a trend toward a psi missing effect, z = 1.8, p = .072 (2-tailed). (2-tailed). For experimenter rating, the hit rate was 35%; the sum of ranks analysis resulted in a value of z = -1.0, p= .317 (2-tailed). By performing correlations between the amount that people liked the clips and the similarity and confidence ratings awarded to the target, it was found to be the case that people did not select targets based on their subjective liking of that clip (for similarity, r= -0.06 p > .8, for confidence, r = 0.135 p >.6). With regard to personality, correlations were examined between 2 of the rating measures (confidence and similarity) and the following personality variables: Unusual experiences, Cognitive disorganisation, Introvertive anhedonia, Impulsive nonconformity, Temporal lobe lability and creative personality. Of these, three significant correlations were demonstrated, these being between impulsive nonconformity and ESP (confidence), r = -0.59, (p<.01); creative personality and ESP (confidence), r= -.6, (p<.01); creative personality and ESP (similarity), r = -.6, (p<.01). No other significant correlations were demonstrated, although some demonstrated small to moderate effect sizes between personality variables and psi. The implications of the findings are discussed, particularly in relation to state/trait preference for psi performance and Palmer's (e.g. 1997) magnitude-direction theory. Explanations for the negative relationship between creativity and psi peformance are explained with reference to cognitive flexibility and associational fluency, which may interfere with the psi process.
In terms of the use of the visual noise paradigm, the authors maintain that despite the psi-missing observed from the present implementation, it is a technique that merits further attention. From the study, the authors are under the impression that the mentation provided by receivers is similar, and possibly indistinguishable, in nature from ganzfeld mentation and therefore that this approach may be of use in the investigation of ESP. Also, casual observations in relation to the protocol, such as the need for a relaxation period to help in the transition between 'every-day alertness' and an 'ESP mentality' have provided pointers that may assist in the development of a protocol that is psi-conducive rather than one that results in psi-missing. Suggestions and improvements for future work are discussed.
The original experiment carried out by Robertson and Roy was designed to test the sceptical hypothesis that the statements made by mediums to recipients are so general that they could as readily be accepted by non- recipients. A two-year study involving 10 mediums, 44 recipients and 407 non- recipients ostensibly falsified that hypothesis. The average fraction of the set of statements accepted by the recipient was significantly larger than the average fraction of the same set of statements accepted by non- recipients, the probability of the results being due to chance being smaller than one in ten thousand million. A number of non- paranormal factors were listed as possible reasons for the seeming falsification of the hypothesis. (1*)
A suite of experiments was subsequently designed to assess the effects of these factors, the relevant factors being:
The new suite of experiments was based on a hard protocol, which enabled single, double and triple blind procedures to be utilised. It enabled the following conditions to be met:
The details of the hard protocol can be found in (2*). This hard protocol has now been applied on a number of occasions over the past two years. A presentation of the results obtained from the experimental data acquired will be given.
Wiseman & O'Keeffe (2001) recently outlined some of the potential methodological and statistical pitfalls that can occur when researchers attempt to test claims of mediumistic ability. In this talk the authors will briefly outline an experimental protocol that they designed to minimise these problems, and describe how this procedure was used to test the alleged mediumistic ability of five British mediums. The experiment involved several methodological elements, including; the medium and client being in separate rooms, the mediums being unaware of client's identity, the experimenter being blind to client's identity, the mediums' statements being assessed blind and the analysis of these statements also being performed blind. In short, the authors believe that the proposed methodology and analyses minimises several potential problems such as sensory leakage, temporal cues, and the biased assessment of statements. In addition, the protocol provided an environment in which the mediums felt that they could demonstrate their abilities. The relevance of this procedure for the future of research into mediumistic ability will be discussed.
The second author would like to thank the Perrott-Warrick Fund for supporting this research.
During the course of three seances controlled by Mrs Margaret Wehling and Mr Norbert Roth (later Mr and Mrs Roth) in Mrs Wehling's West London home, in the Spring of 2000, a variety of physical phenomena were observed by witnesses, who included four members of the SPR Council. The sittings were held as a direct response by the SPR to Mrs Wehling's invitation to discuss the sort of controls the Society would require as a safeguard against deception. Earlier that year, Mrs Wehling had shown to many of those who were present during the refreshment breaks which follow SPR lectures in Kensington a number of Polaroid films which she said had been produced by spirit entities during seances at her house. The primary aim of the sittings was to ascertain what types of control measures would be acceptable to both parties, the invited investigators and the Cema group (as Mrs Wehling called it) or their presumed spirit collaborators. It was felt that this could be determined only by trial and error, having regard to the type of phenomena in question, the personalities of those involved, and the physical conditions in which the seances were or could be held.
Although the conditions for control were not ideal, those which prevailed during the third and final sitting I attended in company with Professor David Fontana, Mr Maurice Grosse, and my wife, before Mrs Wehling's departure for Australia and the later breach with the medium and his wife, were sufficiently watertight in relation to the production of films to rule out fraud.
I will describe the set-up, assisted by overheads, and will provide a brief account of the layout of the seance room, the opportunities for deception, the roles of Margaret Wehling and Norbert Roth and the medium, the range and variety of physical effects witnessed, heard or experienced and the obstacles which appeared to limit opportunities for deception. However, I, concentrate on the manner in which Polaroid films were created in darkness during the third sitting from numbered plates contained in a fresh cassette inserted by the investigators into a newly-purchased lens-capped Polaroid Joycam camera. There will be an opportunity to examine the original camera used, the actual pictures and enlargements, as well as artistically bent forks, and two scorch-holes in the plastic netting which separated the Cema group and investigators from the area in which nearly all the phenomena were created.